Registration for the UCC’s Special Edition General Synod opens mid-May
Ready. Set. Register.
The Synod registration system is ready to go. In a few weeks, United Church of Christ delegates, national and Conference staffs, partners, church members and other visitors will be able to register for the July event.
Special Edition General Synod, to be held virtually for the first time ever, takes place July 11-18. The events team pushed back the May 1 registration start date to do a little fine-tuning to the process.
“There will be a few dozen people representing different constituencies invited to test the system,” said the Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson, associate general minister and General Synod administrator. “We have a very robust program and we wanted to test registration with live participants across the myriad of categories. So we can identify any potential glitches in the system beforehand.”
Thompson wants to be ready. She said because the Synod is online and widely accessible, she hopes to double or even triple attendance this year. “We hope to reach into the broader constituency of the church and invite those who might not have an ability to attend in person to join us at this virtual event.”
Meet.ucc is the platform the denomination is using for Synod. It is a permission-based platform designed to provide each attendee with a custom experience, depending on what events and activities one chooses to attend and participate in.
To plan that personalized Synod schedule at registration, each person will create a unique login to access the platform. That means there will be no opportunities for group registration.
“Everything needs to be planned at the registration site,” Thompson said. Even vendors interested in the virtual exhibit hall have to use the site to secure their participation. More information on the exhibit hall is coming soon.
“The UCC events team will be working with Conferences that would like to provide payment for all delegates,” Thompson said. “Each individual delegate would still need to register themselves to set up their access and schedule on meet.ucc. The Conference can remit payment by check for all delegates to the national setting.”
Hub for all activities
By registering at meet.ucc.org, participants will get access to other platforms for specific parts of Synod. These include:
- Zoom, for most activities requiring two-way audio-visual communication.
- Vimeo, where prerecorded content — including worship services — will appear in high definition.
- Frontline Faith, for the 50 workshops to be offered July 7-10.
- Accelevents, for the virtual exhibit hall.
The business of the Synod, however, will take place on meet.ucc itself. For delegates and others involved in that agenda, it will be the center for parliamentary procedure and function as the “bar of the house.” A more detailed article on this platform, developed by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), is in the working stages.
All participants with voice admitted to the bar of the house — delegates, officers, staff and others — can expect to take one of nine mandatory training sessions for meet.ucc in beginning in late June. Those individuals will be asked to choose their training session when they register.
Contest will track Synod signups
The virtual event is open to all. Some sessions, like the worship services, are free, but registration is required. Planners hope to build on this first-time opportunity with a “congregational challenge” that spurs interest and invites attendance.
The Rev. Anna Golladay, of UCC partner Convergence, is working with national staff on the marketing effort.
“We want to encourage every single UCC congregation to send at least one member to General Synod,” she said. She noted that, in the past, churches may not have even thought about sending people to the biennial gathering because of travel and other costs. But now, since anyone who would like to see what happens at Synod can do so, administrators decided to make it interesting.
“We are creating this challenge between congregations and Conferences,” Golladay said. “We will be tracking the number of people registered from every church in each Conference. The total will be tracked by the percentage of congregations participating in each Conference, so locations with larger number of churches don’t have an advantage.”
The numbers registered by each Conference will be posted on a leader board, first in early June and again a few weeks before Synod.
The top three Conferences will be announced on Thursday, July 15, during an 8 p.m. EDT evening of celebration. While prizes have not been mentioned, Golladay said Synod planners are still working on incentives.
“We really do believe this friendly competition will create some momentum within Conferences to get people coming to the event,” she said.
In addition to business, workshops and worship, there are 41 optional events for which attendees can register. Most are free. The sessions are scheduled for the Monday through Thursday evenings, July 12-15, and late morning Saturday, July 17, EDT.
The gatherings, which include educational presentations, panel discussions, open houses, alumni meetups and other social functions, are hosted by various UCC organizations. Participants should designate chosen events at the time of registration. A complete list can be found here on the General Synod website.
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