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Supporting Synod: Pilgrim Place’s Extravagant Welcome!

by Janet Vandevender

Janet Vandevender

Janet Vandevender

     Do you believe in the future of the United Church of Christ?  Residents  – and staff – of Pilgrim Place, the retirement community founded for missionaries 98 years ago in Claremont, do! 

     At a recent supper gathering, UCC residents of Pilgrim Place, now local church pastors, community organizers, YM/YWCA Executives as well as missionaries) heard about the plans for General Synod 29 in Long Beach, including the topics of the fifteen or so resolutions to be discussed and the names of preachers, speakers, and entertainers to be featured at our national gathering in Long Beach June 28 – July 2.  Pilgrim Place and the UCPension Boards are co-hosting a Saturday workshop for clergy considering retirement at Pilgrim Place.  And a busload of Pilgrim Place residents will go to the Sunday afternoon worship at the Long Beach Convention Center.  There is a lot of enthusiasm for Synod among these folks who have served and been nurtured by the UCC for most of their lives.

     Pilgrim Place residents also learned that our Southern California Nevada Conference (SCNC) will be covering almost all of the costs for all the children enrolled in childcare during the Synod as well as for the expenses of our own youth stewards.  The conference has also offered to pay the registration fees for any volunteers who request that support.  On Saturday, the conference is hosting an afternoon of family activities–free–on the green adjacent to the convention center.  And, as is the tradition for Synod, SCNC will be providing bags for delegates and visitors to the event.

     SCNC Board has determined that there are not sufficient funds in the operating budget to cover Synod-related expenses. As a result, SCNC has been seeking contributions from local churches, individuals, related agencies such as Retirement Housing Foundation and national church agencies.

     At our supper, we learned that at the last Synod, the cost of child care for a family with three children came to $825.  And we heard the stories of young families staying away from Synod because of these enormous costs of child care and were particularly struck by it.  If it is not financially possible for our young families, including many young clergy families, to participate in our national gathering, what is the future of the church?  The Pilgrims heard this concern deep in their hearts.  And the Pilgrims responded!  To date, $19,000 has been pledged or contributed to the conference by UCC residents and staff to help cover these important costs. One resident comments that while she may no longer be able to attend Synod because of her health, she surely can help cover the child care costs of a future missionary or strong lay leader.

     When the Rev. Petra Malleis Sternberg, pastor of First Congregational UCC of San Bernardino, heard that Pilgrim Place had responded in this way, she wrote,

”Thanks VERY VERY much!  I had already seen the price for Synod child care this year, and was thrilled!  Such good news, and I had already shared it with the 2030 clergy Facebook page and had thanked Susie (Bjork, co-chair with Ginger Joseph for children’s program for this Synod) for this.  It really does make an enormous difference, and is absolutely an extravagant welcome!  But yes, I would say we are the present 🙂 of the UCC too. 

Thanks again! Now I’m really looking forward to Synod and to being able to participate!”

     Do you believe in the future of the UCC? Find one of the many ways to help host our national meeting June 28 – July 2 in Long Beach.  Check out the volunteer opportunities on the conference website.  Support Synod financially by writing a check designated for Synod to your local church.  Come to the beach party on Saturday afternoon. Join us for worship on Sunday June 30.

     This is the first time that General Synod has met in Southern California/Nevada.  Let’s welcome extravagantly our sisters and brothers from across the country to General Synod and affirm once again that “God is Still Speaking!”Pilgrim Place Logo

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