Written by Daniel Hazard
Something for everyone
In addition to a full schedule of General Synod 27 plenary sessions, workshops and business meetings, Grand Rapids, Mich., will also be the site of several pre-Synod events.
"Early birds" arriving in Grand Rapids will have an opportunity to experience one or more of the following events:
UCC History, Theology and Polity
How have Congregational, Christian, Evangelical and Reformed traditions helped to shape and maintain the UCC. The Institute will meet for 12 intensive days, beginning at 2:30 p.m. Monday, June 22, and running through noon Friday, July 3. Evening and weekend activities will be included. For more information and for an application, log on to <ucc.org/synod/pdfs/politycourse.pdf>.
Conference on Environment, Faith
"Holy Water: A Conference on Environment and Faith" will be held from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 25, at East Congregational UCC in Grand Rapids. East Congregational is located at 1005 Giddings Ave. SE, Grand Rapids.
Co-sponsored by the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries, the event will feature several water-related workshops and field trips. Sheila Holt-Orsted will present "Water Woes," the story of one family's fight to obtain non-contanimated drinking water. Worship speaker will be Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell.
Scripture contains nearly 1,200 references to water, which is literally and metaphorically a sign of God's care for and sustenance of the earth and its inhabitants.
The cost of $35 per person includes program, workshops, lunch and afternoon field trip. To register or obtain further details, log on to <act.ucc.org/site/Calendar> and navigate to June calendar events.
NY Conference Bike Challenge
Protesting U.S. auto dependency and oil gluttony, and witnessing environmentally sound alternatives, cyclists from the New York Conference plan to ride bikes from Syracuse, N.Y., to General Synod 27 in Grand Rapids, Mich. Staying overnight at UCC churches along the way, the group will spread the good news of creation-friendly ways to organize our communities and our transportation needs.
Riders will raise funds to create a New York Conference Fund, designed to help local congregations go green. In addition to New York riders, UCC members from Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, California and Washington may make the trek as well.
Riders plan to meet in Grand Rapids by the evening of Wednesday, June 24. For more information or to register, visit <ucc.org/environmental-ministries/bike-schedule>.
Humane Immigration Policies
In 2008, an immigration coordinating committee sponsored by Justice and Witness Ministries formulated a strategy toward shaping immigration. Toward that end, a one-day consultation on immigration will be held from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Thursday, June 25 in the Grand Rapids Convention Center.
Invited keynote speakers are Tom Barry, Director of the Transborder Project, and Jorge Bustamante, Special Rapporteur on immigration to the United Nations. Workshops are to focus on: the New Sanctuary Movement; labor and human rights; theology of immigration; understanding border dynamics; and the causes of migration.
Registration is limited; a $35 registration fee includes lunch and resources. For more information or to purchase tickets, log on to <act.ucc.org/site/Calendar> and navigate to June calendar events.
Coalition's National Gathering
Carrying the theme of "Growing Bold," the UCC Coalition's National Gathering will be held June 22–25 as a celebration of Open and Affirming, exploration of what ONA can be in its fullest expression, worship, fellowship, celebration and engagement.
Keynote Speaker on Tuesday, June 23 will be Hector Lopez, retired Conference Minister for the Central Pacific Conference and the first Latino ordained in the UCC.
For more information the National Gathering or to register, visit <ucccoalition.org/programs/gathering>.
Family Multicultural Festival
The first Children's and Families Multicultural Festival will be held Thursday, June 25, at St. John's UCC in Grand Rapids, Beginning at 1 p.m., the planned theme is: Immerse Yourself in Friendship. Sponsored by the Congregational Vitality & Discipleship Team through the Ministry for Children and Families, the festival will be held at the church, 1934 Bridge Street, NW in Grand Rapids.
Creative art, face-painting, authentic African-storytelling, line-dancing and jewelry-making will be available for people of all ages, races, cultures and ethnicities.
For more information, contact St. John's Church at 616/453-2497.
Candle Cloth Project
Every local church represented by a delegate or visitor at General Synod 27 can be involved in a special Covenant of Prayer Partnership opportunity. By preparing a prayer and a quilted fabric candle cloth, the local church will share them with everyone at Synod and, in particular, with another local UCC church.
Prayer partnerships will occur among the various local church families as the prayers and candle cloths are exchanged before synod adjourns.
Details about the process and instructions for creating the candle cloth will be shared with a local church after the Covenant of Prayer Partnership form, which must be completed by April 1. Forms may be downloaded from <ucc.org//synod/general-synod-candle-cloth>, or may be requested from Susan Towner-Larsen, UCC, 700 Prospect Ave., Cleveland, OH 44115.
Christian Preservation Project
In UCC history, many historical resources are available on local congregations and wider church bodies within Congregational, German Reformed and German Evangelical traditions. But very few resources exist regarding the "Christians" who united with the Congregationalists in 1931 to form the General Council of the Congregational and Christian Churches.
Project Coordinator Barbara Brown Zikmund will lead a half-day meeting titled "The Christian Movement in UCC History" on Thursday, June 25. The goal is to refine next steps to preserve and disseminate knowledge about the Christian heritage in the UCC.
For further details, send an e-mail to <XnPreservationProject@verizon.net>.
For more information: