The prodigal GA pallets return

The prodigal GA pallets return

Freight company doesn’t explain how shipment bound for UUA General Assembly went missing in June.

Elaine McArdle
Woman holding up a T-shirt from GA 2015

Ellen McClaran, a member of First Unitarian Church in Portland, Oregon, holds up one of the shirts that General Assembly volunteers would have worn. (© Elaine McArdle)

© Elaine McArdle


It was the great mystery of General Assembly 2015 in Portland, Oregon: Where had the pallets gone?

Two days before the Unitarian Universalist Association’s annual convention began on June 24, UUA staff found that two pallets were missing from the phalanx of 31 pallets shipped from Boston to Portland carrying all the equipment and supplies needed to host the 4,500-person event.

The two missing pallets held special green T-shirts to designate the 200-plus volunteers from around the country who worked at GA. It carried stoles for the choir, collection baskets, iPads for staff, and green cleaning supplies, including tongs to pull recyclables out of garbage cans so they could go into the recycling bins.

The shipping company had no idea where along the cross-country route they’d disappeared and couldn’t find them. Under the calm and resourceful leadership of Janiece Sneegas, GA and Conference Services director, volunteers quickly adapted, buying colored bandanas to replace the T-shirts so delegates could easily spot them and using hotel pillowcases to collect offerings during the Sunday worship service.

Then, in July, the pallet mysteriously reappeared in Boston after taking an unplanned detour to Minneapolis that the freight company couldn’t explain.

This fall, Sneegas and her staff sent the T-shirts to the volunteers. “We knew people would appreciate having them,” she said. “They are beautiful shirts.”