Special Edition’ General Synod Recorded a Number of ‘Firsts’

by Connie Larkman

July 11


The United Church of Christ “Special Edition” General Synod is a first-of-its-kind event. The biennial national meeting – the first-ever to be held entirely online – opened at 3:30 p.m. ET on a Sunday,July 11, first with youth and young adult gatherings and then with worship.

The 2021 General Synod runs eight days, July 11-18, instead of the usual five. There are four plenary sessions scheduled instead of the usual eight. Some fast facts:

This “Special Edition” event has 2,596 registered attendees, of which 715 are voting delegates. Of those delegates:

634 represent the 38 UCC Conferences.

48 are members of the United Church of Christ Board, with the other 33 representing the Historically Underrepresented Groups: the Council for American Indian Ministry; the Council for Youth and Young Adult Ministries; Ministers for Racial, Social and Economic Justice; the ONA Coalition; Pacific Islander and Asian American Ministries; the UCC Mental Health Network; United Black Christians; United Samoan Ministries; UCC Disabilities Ministries; and the Colectivo de UCC Latinx Ministries.

In addition, there are 88 associate delegates, who have a voice, but do not vote.

In the virtual exhibit hall, visitors will find 82 vendors.

39 optional events are on the schedule.

Forty-one sponsors have committed $187,000 to support the event. The UCC financial ministries – the Church Building and Loan Fund, the Cornerstone Fund, the Insurance Board, the Pension Boards and United Church Funds – the five Gold-Level sponsors – contributed $75,000 to that total.

The events team has secured 25 Zoom licenses to pull together an online event of this magnitude.

Planners have recruited more than 100 ‘Special Synod Support,’ which include 52 volunteers from across the church and 53 national staffers on special assignment. They also trained 30 people to staff the Help Desk to answer calls about navigating the online event.

General Synod is taking place through July 18.