The local arrangements table: Questions? Ask me!
The local arrangements table: Questions? Ask me! Photo: The United Church of Canada

Local Arrangements Team Helps Commissioners Feel at Home

Commissioners and guests at the 43rd General Council have been made comfortable throughout the day with nutrition breaks and other expressions of hospitality. Volunteers work from the time individuals arrive until they leave at night to ensure that their needs are met.

Cathy Gradante, chair of the Local Arrangements Committee, speaks highly of the volunteers from Bay of Quinte Conference and All Native Circle Conference—the co-hosts of GC43—who have given their time to ensure the council runs smoothly. “Our volunteers help with anything,” says Gradante. “Assistance with communion, basic first aid, information and guidance to ensure people get where they need to go.”

The United Church Women (UCW) from Lakeridge Presbytery have also made a major contribution—providing fresh-baked muffins and cookies during the nutrition breaks.

The Local Arrangements Committee consists of 10 members, each of whom chaired a sub-committee related to a specific hospitality concern:

  • Sue Genge: assisted chaplains and greeted individuals as they entered the building
  • Judy Ormshaw: coordinated stewards, who travelled from across the country to participate
  • Jackie Harper: oversaw care of participants
  • Brien Page: arranged transportation within the city of Oshawa and for those with accessibility requirements
  • Sandra Farrow: coordinated volunteers for GC43, as well as the fifty volunteers for the Festival of Faith
  • Frank Hamper: the facility support person
  • Calvin Stone: managed the registration and welcome of commissioners, guests, volunteers, and staff
  • Evan Smith: representative of All Native Circle Conference
  • Bev Oag: General Council Office representative
  • Cathy Gradante: chair

“We’re here to ensure that people are happy they’re here,” says Gradante. “We make people feel welcome, make them feel at home, and make sure they are as comfortable as possible.”

The Rev. Evan Smith, representative for All Native Circle Conference on the Local Arrangements Committee and minister at Toronto Urban Native Ministries, created all of the stoles for the Moderator nominees with her partner Jess Swance-Smith.

Having been a commissioner at the 42nd General Council in Corner Brook, NL, Gradante says that working on the Local Arrangements Committee gave her a deeper appreciation for the work that goes on behind the scenes. “There are a lot of people planning for a long time,” she says. “This shows the level of dedication and passion for The United Church of Canada. Even if they are not commissioners, these people want to be part of this historic General Council.”