Written by Anthony Moujaes
The UCC’s biennial General Synod is coming back to the Buckeye State for just the second time since the United Church of Christ moved its headquarters to Cleveland two decades ago. Based on the recommendation from the Synod Program and Planning Committee, members of the UCC’s Executive Council voted Friday night to bring General Synod 30 to Cleveland in 2015.
W. Mark Clark, UCC associate general minister, showed council members a pair of videos of downtown Cleveland attractions and the Cleveland Medical Mart & Convention Center. The Cleveland MMCC will feature approximately 90,000 square feet of high-tech, flexible meeting rooms of varying sizes to accommodate keynote sessions, seminars and panel discussions. It will also feature a 30,000 square foot ballroom with views of Lake Erie.
The decision to use the Cleveland MMCC as the hub for Synod business and celebration blends nicely with the UCC’s push of its Mission 4/1 Earth environmental campaign. The state-of-the-art Cleveland MMCC, scheduled to complete construction next year, has earned a silver-level LEED certification from the National Resources Defense Council, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group. The NRDC website says “achieving LEED certification is the best way for you to demonstrate that your building project is truly ‘green.’”
Clark said during a Synod committee meeting that the UCC had considered Baltimore, but the city couldn’t meet the denomination on the three dates it proposed. Indianapolis was also a possibility, as Clark mentioned how it was “an astoundingly pro-convention downtown.” But neither could match the cost-savings from having Cleveland as a host.
“We think we could save in excess of $300,000 by having Synod [in Cleveland],” Clark said. “There is continuous downtown development, and the city is excited to have us here.”
Ohio Conference Minister the Rev. Bob Molsberry handed out buckeye nuts to the members of the UCC’s Executive Council as he extended the invitation to bring General Synod 30 to the Buckeye State -- the state nickname for Ohio. The last General Synod in Ohio took place in Columbus in 1997.
“Cleveland has rebounded considerably since I was here in 1987 for General Synod,” he said.
Molsberry said bringing General Synod back to Cleveland is fitting because it was the site in 1987 that initially discussed moving the national offices from New York City. The Ohio Conference has spoken with the national setting for “several years” about bringing General Synod to Ohio, but only recently did Cleveland surface as the likely host, Molsberry said, after Clark helped gather information for logistics, pricing and locations.
“We’re excited because we think this will infuse energy in our conference,” he said.
The Executive Council, which convenes twice a year, scheduled its next session for March 8-10, 2013.