The United Church of Christ General Synod Planning Team is inviting people across the wider church to bookmark the recently released GS 33 website to learn more about the denomination’s first online biennial gathering.
“We hope that members of the UCC and others interested in attending will visit the website and become aware and familiar with the offerings coming for this Special Edition General Synod,” said the event’s administrator, the Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson. “This is the first virtual Synod and we hope that the opportunity to be present, to learn more about the UCC and to be engaged in the life of the church will be of active interest to many in the UCC.”
Right now, the website offers a running list of United Church News stories pertaining to General Synod, information about the resolution process, moderators, leadership team and the beginnings of a marketing toolkit.
There are also introductions to the new General Synod Worship Director, the Rev. Tracy Howe Wispelwey, UCC minister for congregational and community engagement, and the Rev. Trayce Potter, UCC minister for youth/young adult engagement. She’s coordinating the Youth @ GS experience.
Wispelwey has experience working as a campus minister and community organizer, along with international touring and directing experience for worship and art for international ecumenical gatherings in the U.S., Europe, and Latin America.
“Synod worship will be both faithfully United Church of Christ and justice building, which embodies something unique and specific in every moment and every context. Within the Gospels, we see this in the ministry of Jesus, too,” Wispelwey said. “I hope that people who are familiar with the UCC will worship with us and come away saying, ‘That was faithfully United Church of Christ,’ and ‘I have never experienced this before in worship.’”
Potter, a former church pastor, has much experience programming events for youth – the virtual National Youth Event, UNITE! 2020, most recently.
“Young adults are vital members of the United Church of Christ,” Potter said. ”We want every youth who attends to walk away with a deeper understanding of their faith and connection to the church. With deep focus on creating authentic community, youth at General Synod will journey together to discover ways to put their faith into action.”
The Synod work of the Rev. Chris Davies, leader of the UCC’s Faith INFO (Faith Education, Innovation and Formation) team, is also profiled. Her working group is coordinating workshops and hope to present around 50 of them.
“The workshops, to be selected early next year, will reflect the United Church of Christ as it is and equip us as we continue to live into our discipleship in Christ, the values of the United Church of Christ, and a just world for all,” Davies said, noting that planners hope to make the workshops available for use as resources for local churches after the event.
Registration for the Special Edition General Synod will open on Jan. 1. Registration fees will soon be set by the United Church of Christ Board, after it receives the updated event budget. The planning team is working through that now. Event planners also are involved in firming up details for the technology, including the General Synod app.
“To ensure that the entire church is informed and invited to participate, we have launched something new for the first-ever virtual General Synod,” said Cynthia Bailie, director of OPTIC, “A General Synod newsletter. Visit the General Synod website and sign up to be on the mailing list. Please consider also providing your cell phone number for keeping you informed via occasional text messages. We are excited to communicate with you in these new ways and hope to share in the excitement for General Synod.”
“There will be new information coming out periodically on the website and through the General Synod newsletter,” said Thompson, associate general minister. “I would invite all who are interested to sign up to receive the newsletter and return to the website often and to consider attending General Synod in 2021.”