April 27, 2004
A UMNS Report By Jackie Campbell*
— Despite John Wesley’s historic counsel that “for studious persons,
about eight ounces of animal food and 12 of vegetable in 24 hours is
sufficient,” delegates and visitors to the 2004 General Conference of
the United Methodist Church will enjoy sugary snacks during breaks at
the April 27-May 7 worldwide gathering here.
|Volunteers at Christ UMC in Bethel Park, Pa., packed nearly 4,000 cookies to be distributed at the 2004 General Conference.|
the estimated 82,500 homemade cookies for the nearly 1,000 delegates
and some 4,000 volunteers, staff and visitors to the legislative
assembly wasn’t a simple matter.
the caterer for the David L. Lawrence Convention Center has an
exclusive contract, under normal circumstances absolutely no food can be
brought in to the venue. Event organizers had to engage in
extensive negotiations and specific rules had to be agreed upon before
convention center officials would waive the rule and allow donated
snacks to be served. General Conference officials had to promise that
none of the cookies or other snacks would be purchased. The
cookies had to be unloaded from delivery vehicles by convention center
employees and served by catering staff.
permission was granted, bakers were recruited in the United Methodist
900 churches throughout western Pennsylvania. Plans were drawn up to
uniformly package fresh cookies, label them and get them to the
convention center during the event.
Ovens in homes and churches were fired up as bakers brought out their favorite recipes.
Christ United Methodist Church in Bethel Park, south of Pittsburgh, for
example, an army of volunteers reported for kitchen duty last week. The
Rev. Brian Bauknight, senior pastor, monitored the making and packaging
of nearly 4,000 cookies.
the chair of the General Conference host committee, Bauknight offered
to taste the treats, perhaps to maintain quality control. “They wouldn’t
give me a sample,” he lamented. “I had to wait until they dropped one,
pick it up and invoke the ‘five-second rule.’ It was delicious with a
cup of hot coffee.”
bakers were permitted to use their own recipes, but no creative
packaging was allowed after cookies came out of the ovens. Convention
center rules required cookies to be placed in sealable plastic bags,
three to a pack, labeled and placed in pizza boxes for delivery.
pizza boxes fit perfectly on those trays that the caterers use to move
food around,” said Dottie Crooks of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church
in Allison Park, who chairs the Refreshment Services Committee with Kitt
MacMichael and Lois Albright, also of St. Paul’s. Each pizza box can
hold six to eight dozen cookies.
out the cookie logistics fell to the trio. They recruited
volunteer coordinators in each of the church’s 11 districts in Western
Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference. Each district was asked
to gather at least 625 dozen cookies and get them to the convention
center at a specified day and time.
was panic at first,” Crooks admitted, “but it’s all settled down. We
started out with no money. Some churches are donating labels and baggies
or getting other items instead of baking so the cost has been spread
“It’s been a pretty positive experience and it’s taken in all kinds of people,” said Crooks.
of those people is the Rev. Robert Higginbotham, superintendent of the
Kane District, the area farthest from Pittsburgh. Later in the
week, he’ll load his Honda with pizza boxes from five gathering points
in the district in northwestern Pennsylvania and head for the convention
of the bakers are women, but Paul McCormick created a lot of the
cookies that were contributed by the Garden City United Methodist Church
inherited the baking gene from his mother,” said his wife, Lodi.
“He always bakes all the Christmas cookies for our family and makes the
most luscious fruit cake. The ones for General Conference are
Cherry Winks, which are really healthy since they contain Rice Krispies,
coconut and oatmeal.” Perhaps Wesley would approve.
*Campbell is a staff writer for the United Methodist Church’s Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference.
News media contact: (412) 325-6080 during General Conference, April 27-May 7.
After May 10: (615) 742-5470.