Ten ‘Unexpected Places’ at General Synod 2015
General Synod 2015, a five-day gathering that begins this week, will be filled calls to justice for the marginalized, matters of governance, on-stage celebrations and thought-provoking speakers and preachers. With so much taking place in such a short time, here are suggestions for 10 unique events – all Unexpected Places participants will be sure to experience the voice of the Stillspeaking God.
General Synod 2015 will take place June 26-30 at the Cleveland Convention Center.
So, in chronological order, here are 10 things you won’t want to miss at the 30th General Synod:
Address by the Rev. John Dorhauer
The nominee to become the ninth general minister and president of the UCC, the Rev. John C. Dorhauer, delivers his remarks to the delegates and guests that will spell out his vision for the denomination if he is elected. Dorhauer will take the stage for 30 minutes and share why he believes the UCC matters more than ever, his passion for ministry, and how he would lead the mission and national setting of the church. When and where: Afternoon plenary begins at 2 p.m. on Friday, June 26 in the Plenary Hall.
Words from a Pulitzer Prize winner
Cleveland native Connie Schultz is a nationally syndicated columnist and regular essayist for Parade Magazine. A former writer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, she is also a contributor to the New York Times, the Washington Post, Politico and ESPN Magazine. Schultz won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for newspaper columns that judges praised for providing “a voice for the underdog and the underprivileged” — a concept that rings true throughout the UCC. When and where: Morning plenary begins at 8:45 a.m. on Saturday, June 27 in the Plenary Hall
Our Pride on Parade
For the last two years, UCC members and congregations have been the largest faith group present at the Cleveland Pride Parade. Last year, there were 350 people representing the denomination in the parade. Imagine how large the group might be with General Synod attendees joining in to show their support for LGBT persons. The parade route passes in front of the Cleveland Convention Center as it winds its way through downtown Cleveland before concluding on a pier on Lake Erie. When and where: 12 p.m. on Saturday, June 27
Help feed the homeless
In a boundary-breaking dinner, the Youth and Young Adults program at General Synod will break bread with persons in need in Cleveland’s Willard Park, welcoming all to the table. In partnership with Bread for the World and city agencies dedicated to hunger and homelessness, UCC youth will provide meals to underprivileged people at the Meal in the City (an optional dining meal). Be sure to bring a blanket or a beach towel — this is a picnic-style experience — and maybe a musical instrument. Even if you can’t attend, a donation helps local agencies whose mission is to feed the needy. When and where: 5-7 p.m. on Saturday, June 27 at Willard Park.
General Synod has never had a dance, but organizers wanted to give it a try in the Rock and Roll City this year, so everyone is invited to take the floor for a spirited evening at the General Synod Dance. Cleveland, home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, has a lot of great bands and this dance features the sounds of The Ovation Band, 13 musicians with a combined 100 years of experience in the entertainment industry. When and where: 7:30-10 p.m. on Saturday, June 27 in the Youth Hall
Reading Changes Lives
If you plan to bring school supplies to help stuff backpacks as part of the Stuff the Pack General Synod Service Project, consider going the extra mile for literacy and spend an afternoon learning how to change lives by becoming a literacy tutor. Rob Shindler, author of Hot Dogs & Hamburgers: Unlocking Life’s Potential by Inspiring Literacy at Any Age and special guest, Kurt Karakul, Executive Director of Third Federal Foundation, will share their passion for raising literacy rates at the Tutor the Tutor event. Northeast Ohio programs will be on hand to sign up interested individuals. When and where: 12:30-2 p.m. on Sunday, June 28 in the Junior Ballroom
Bishop Dwayne Royster will lead Community Wide Worship — the Sunday worship service that invites the public — that is expected to see more than 4,000 people in attendance. Royster is the founding pastor of Living Water United Church of Christ located in the North Philadelphia section of Philadelphia. He is also the Executive Director of POWER: Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild. A musical prelude before the worship begins will welcome attendees and help prepare minds for prayer. When and where: 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 28 in the Plenary Hall
Meet Mitri Raheb
The Rev. Mitri Raheb is the pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem and the founder of a consortium that operates a university on the West Bank. Raheb, a contextual theologian, is the author of 16 books and numerous articles. The preacher for Monday night, Raheb’s appearance ties together the quest for peace in Israel-Palestine with racial discrimination — two topics the General Synod will consider often– through different resolutions, a prayer service, and a public witness and march to the offices of the Cleveland Indians to call for a change in the team and logo. When and where: 8:45 p.m. on Monday, June 29 in the Plenary Hall
The General Synod Exhibit Hall will house displays from more than 100 exhibitors. Among the displays are a solitary confinement cell, meant to raise awareness to end solitary confinement and issues of mass incarceration, and the “Be the Church” mini-workshops, taking place in the exhibit hall throughout the week, where visitors will have the opportunity to share success stories and new ideas for ministry and spiritual growth. More information about these workshops, as well as the other exhibits, can be found in the General Synod program book distributed at the convention center. When and where: Open various hours each day; Check your program book for details
Tour the Amistad
The chapel on the ground floor of the UCC national offices will be open to welcome Synod guests to Amistad Chapel UCC, one of the denomination’s newest congregations. Shuttle bus service is available. When and where: Tours are scheduled for Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Check your program book for a tour schedule
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