Hospitality or empty calories? Believe it or not, the question of cookies was one of the items up for debate, as part of the preparations for General Synod 2013 in the office of the Southern California Nevada Conference. Rest assured, the hosts of this week’s event in Long Beach came down on the side of hospitality, and there will be boxes and boxes of cookies around the convention center – just a bit later than usual.
"There was discussion about whether or not it was time to ‘retire’ the practice of General Synod cookies," said Sharon Kayser, Chair of Visitor/Delegate Welcome and Reception committee. "The feelings were mixed, about the welcome that the cookies represent as well as the junk food aspect. The Program and Planning Committee was actually leaning toward not having cookies, but members of the Local Arrangements Committee wanted to extend that visible sign of welcome to the delegates. The compromise was that cookies would be available on Monday and Tuesday, for those long business sessions when the delegates really need the boost."
The cookies will go out on Sunday during community worship, as a visible sign of welcome, and will be available from then on. The baking goal is 3,000 dozen, and Kayser is pretty confident, based on the interest in baking, that they will exceed that number. But that's a lot fewer than recent Synods, so the glut of sweet stuff shouldn’t be as evident. And if you are going to be donating blood on Friday and Saturday during the Red Cross blood drive, there will be cookies available "early" to boost your blood sugar.
Since the UCC is very intentional about inclusivity, Kayser devised a system for the cookie effort so all who want to indulge can safely do so, even if they need to stay away from gluten or nuts. Most of the cookies will be served in labeled containers, indicating if the bakers made them sugar-free, gluten free,
vegan or with nuts. Kayser started stocking up on the containers last fall at Costco and distributed them with labels in place to church cookie captains and bakers last month.
Two ironies in this: While the Southern California Nevada Conference sponsored the Healthy Eating resolution at the 2011 General Synod 2011, the group is feeling good about the effort to "load delegates up on sugar," said the Rev. Libby Tigner, SCNC Associate Conference Minister for Church Relations. Also, "California also has a healthy "fruits and nuts" stereotyped image, but we can't bring anything like that into the convention center."
The convention center is restricting bringing in any other snacks from outside the facility, so enjoy the cookies without the guilt!