Dreary weather doesn’t dampen spirits at UCC open house
The doors were open wide at the United Church of Christ’s new national offices in Cleveland on Wednesday, Oct. 19.
Staff held a community open house for church family, friends and local partners, and despite the rainy, cold and damp day outside, the afternoon event was warm and well attended.
The three national officers – General Minister and President John Dorhauer and Associate General Ministers Traci Blackmon and Karen Georgia Thompson — all recorded welcome videos so they could personally greet every visitor as they made their way through the space.
Dorhauer’s played in the lobby, Blackmon’s was viewed in the Amistad Conference Room, and Thompson’s welcomed visitors to what will soon be museum space.
Space for ‘more interactions’
The three executives each took small groups around the offices in walkabouts that ran about 20 minutes.
Dorhauer was overheard telling a guest that the new layout is very conducive to communication and collaboration.
“Since we’ve been here I’ve had more interactions with staff members than I had while at 700 (the former church house at 700 Prospect Avenue),” he said.
He told the visitors via video that “we are very proud of what we are” in the new offices, citing new technology and a new 21st-century design model in a space with amazing views. But he emphasized that the national setting’s “continuing warmth, hospitality and call to love hasn’t changed.”
“We hope in this new place a new ministry, a new vision will be birthed, and we share that with you, our partners,” he said.
Church and civic leaders
“I love this place,” exclaimed the Rev. Deb Blood, Conference minister in the Northern Plains. “I’d like to come here and work remotely!”
She was happy to be Cleveland to see the space and renew acquaintances with two UCC Global H.O.P.E staffers, the Revs. Elena Larssen and Mark Pettis. They all have North Dakota ties.
Cleveland Councilman Kerry McCormack and former councilman Joe Cimperman, now president of UCC partner Global Cleveland, also stopped by to view the new space and offer congratulations on the move.
New and familiar faces
There were also lots of familiar faces of former UCC national employees in the crowd.
“This place has gorgeous views, clean lines, beautiful and powerful wall murals, along with decorating touches which reflect UCC history,” said Susan Sanders, who served the UCC in several capacities before retiring in 2014. “That, and cozy conversation spaces, all lend themselves to reflect the extravagant hospitality and justice response to the gospel which the UCC seeks to live out.
“It was great to visit with former colleagues and meet new staff.”
And those unable to attend were not forgotten. The General Minister and President released a video tour of the space so others not in person could get a tour of the UCC’s new offices at 1300.
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