TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 8, 2012) - When The United Church of Canada's national meeting, the General Council, rolls into Ottawa this month, hundreds of local volunteers will be waiting to help make everything run smoothly.
Local arrangements co-chairs Barbara Reynolds and David Stafford, both of Ottawa, have been working for more than two years getting ready for an estimated 600-700 delegates, youth, children, global partners, staff, and guests who will be arriving August 11 to the site of the meeting, Carleton University.
In fact, Reynolds and Stafford began their work three years ago by attending the last General Council meeting, which was held in Kelowna, British Columbia, in August 2009.
"Throughout that General Council people saw us wandering everywhere with a clipboard making notes and asking a lot of questions," says Reynolds. "It was orientation by immersion!"
Stafford explains that one of the first tasks when he and Reynolds returned home was to start recruiting the hundreds of volunteers who will be needed during the week-long meeting, August 11-18.
All sorts of jobs need to be done, including organizing transportation to and from the airport and other points of arrival and departure in the city.
There is also a committee that's been planning excursions for visitors to enjoy an afternoon learning about the nature of ministry in the region. Three options, among many, include a downtown justice walk, a visit to two churches that are leaders in the green movement, and a tour of two unique affordable housing projects.
As always, one of the biggest challenges is making sure the daily supply of 1,200 cookies and 600 muffins find their way to the meeting. Local United Church congregations throughout the area have taken up this challenge, and thousands of homemade treats will be delivered to the university for everyone to enjoy.
Ottawa and area United Church members and ministry personnel will also staff various positions, including the Registration and Information Service where volunteers welcome delegates when they arrive and are available to answer questions as the meeting proceeds. A team of chaplains will be on hand to provide care and counsel for anyone who needs a listening ear during the meeting, and a dedicated group of stewards is responsible for keeping delegates organized and comfortable throughout the meeting's long hours of deliberation.
Reynolds and Stafford are both confident that all their volunteers are ready to go.
"Three years ago, Barbara and I were watching Kelowna-area church people welcoming General Council to their community. Now it's our turn, and we're looking forward to enjoying every minute of a week of 18-hour days," laughs Stafford.