Annual Conference Q&A

5/19/2021

 

Why must we have the annual conference virtually? 
Let us begin by saying that none of us WANTS to have a virtual annual conference. We would much rather be with everyone in person! Although there has been great progress with vaccinations, we are just not there yet to gather together in such a large group. Your safety is our concern. 
 
I don’t have the virus and I have been vaccinated, can I show up anyway?
No. There is nowhere for you to show up. There is no congregation or audience present on site for the annual conference. Our leadership and all of our voting members will be spread out across the conference – all connecting thanks to technology. When more than one leader is in a space, they will be physically distanced and be following additional strict safety protocols. 
 
When is the clergy session and ordination?
The Clergy Session of the 2021 Memphis Annual Conference will be held via Zoom Webinar on Thursday, June 3 at 9:00 a.m.
All Clergy are invited to attend the Clergy Session, however only current and retired Elders and Deacons in full connection with the Memphis Conference will be able to vote in this session.
The 2021 joint daytime Memphis Conference and Tennessee Conference Service of Licensing, Commissioning, and Ordination will be live-streamed on June 19. More details will be available soon.
 
When is the 2021 Memphis Annual Conference?
Thursday, June 3 at 1 p.m. 
Opening Worship, First Business Session, and More
All clergy and lay voting members will be provided with log-in credentials and voting codes.  Non-members will be able to view sessions online via live stream.  
Currently, we plan for this session to end at approximately 5 p.m.
Friday, June 4 at 9 a.m.
Memorial Recognition, Second Business Session, and More
All clergy and lay voting members will be provided with log-in credentials and voting codes.  Non-members will be able to view sessions online via live stream.
Currently, we plan for this session to end at approximately 12 Noon.
 
What kind of technology do I need to participate as a voting member of the annual conference?
Voting members will need a computer, tablet, or smart phone to participate and vote at annual conference. You can use just one device for everything, but it may be visually easier if you watch proceedings on a computer and use the voting feature with your smart phone or tablet. You will not be on camera, but your voice will be heard when you are recognized by the bishop to make comments, ask questions, put forth motions, etc. that the whole annual conference body needs to hear.
We strongly encourage everyone to review all pre-conference materials found on the website and the annual conference app. Going back and forth to multiple screens during the session will unnecessarily complicate your experience. If you want to submit questions regarding any pre-conference materials, please send them to info@memphis-umc.org.
During annual conference, you will have the ability to ask technical and procedural questions by typing into a Q&A form included with the Zoom webinar. Instructions will be given during the training sessions held prior to annual conference.
 
What if I don’t have WiFi access or an email address?
If you do not have WiFi at your home, we encourage you to make arrangements now to use a computer and the internet at your church or a friend or relative’s house or office for the training session (see below for dates/times) and also for the afternoon on Thursday, June 3 and the morning of Friday, June 4. 
It is not necessary to have an email address to watch or to participate in this year’s annual conference, however, voting members must have internet access to participate and to vote. To make sure you do not miss any annual conference messages, you may want to send us a relative’s email address and ask if they will make sure you receive the information.

Will Closed Captioning be Available?
Yes. We have instructed our tech team GNTV to enable the closed captioning feature via Zoom. Zoom has a variety of options for creating closed captioning in your meetings and webinars, which provides subtitles of the spoken in-meeting communications. This may be used for participants to more easily follow the conversations, or to meet accessibility requirements. Learn more

Voting codes are sent out from GNTV to the email address you have provided to your church/district office.
If you do not have an email address or need to add one, please contact your district administrator as soon as possible. You will receive a personal, private Voting Code from our production partner, GNTV via email a day or two before the training sessions in early June.  It will be sent from a GNTV email address. Voting codes are sent via U.S. Mail to those with no email address.  Alternate Lay Members will not receive a voting code unless the Lay Member cannot serve.  Then after the appropriate people have been notified (see next question), a new, personal, private Voting Code will be assigned to the Alternate Lay Member.
 
What steps as a Member to Annual Conference do I need to take if I am unable to fulfill my duties?
Lay voting members can turn over voting credentials to the alternate voting lay member from their church. Please make this decision as soon as possible so a voting code can be obtained for that alternate voting member. In the event a lay member cannot participate they must:
  • Contact their pastor.
  • The pastor will email the district superintendent and district administrative assistant notifying them of the need to release the lay member and which elected alternate will be replacing the elected lay member.
  • Upon approval, the district office will contact annual conference voting officials about the change.
  • A valid voting code will be submitted to the alternate member.
 

Will there be an orientation or training on how to participate?
Two training sessions will be offered on how to participate online during the annual conference.  These training sessions are for both Laity and Clergy. Below are the dates and times for those training sessions.  To participate in annual conference you will need to attend one session.


 
Training Sessions for all Clergy & Lay Voting Members

If you were unable to attend the live training or want to go back over it some more here is a 
Recording of the Training Session

(please attend one  of the following)
Friday, May 28 – 12 noon CST
Saturday, May 29 at 12 noon CST

Our production partner for the annual conference is GNTV. They have successfully produced several annual conference sessions throughout the country. GNTV will send links for these training sessions to eligible voting members when they send voting codes to them.
You will find helpful virtual event quick guides and cheat sheets on the GNTV website: https://www.gntv.info/virtual-events/virtual-event-quick-guides/
New features and updates from GNTV and Zoom:
  • Voters will now only need to input their Voting Code one time.  They will log in to the site and then vote on all eligible ballots.
  • Voters will not have to enter a Ballot Code for each vote, this will happen automatically.
  • There is a new feature called “Get Recognized.”  This is a link to a submission form for members to be able to quickly respond about the business before the conference.
 
Do I need to do anything else to prepare for the annual conference?
As with previous conferences, all voting members are expected to review reports and resolutions that are submitted to the annual conference for action. These are posted to the AC 2021 Memphis Annual Conference Event Page on the conference website and in the annual conference app and will be updated as needed. 
 
What will we be voting on at the annual conference?
Resolutions and reports that require a vote will be available for your review on the conference website and in the annual conference app, as noted above. 
 
Can we vote later if voting is when we can not attend? 
Late votes will not be recorded. If you cannot participate on Thursday, June 3, or Friday, June 4, please notify your district office. You can turn over your voting credentials to the alternate voting lay member from your church. Please make this decision as soon as you can so a voting code can be obtained for that alternate voting member. 
 
Will we have an Annual Conference offering?
The 2021 Memphis Annual Conference offering will go to support our Camping & Retreat Ministries. Restrictions due to Covid-19 hit our camps and retreat center hard. We welcome your gifts during this annual conference to support these wonderful ministries.  More information and details can be found on the Annual Conference Offerings page.
Online giving is preferred at the above link. Checks can be mailed to the conference office: Memphis Conference, PO Box 10667,  Jackson TN 38308 (please note that this is for the Annual Conference Offering)
 
Will I be able to ask questions during the sessions?
Yes. You will be able to type your questions into the Zoom webinar Q&A feature. The bishop and conference secretary will monitor questions as they come in and will respond as if we all were in person. If you are recognized to speak, your voice will be heard by everyone attending. You will not appear on the screen and do not need a camera.
If you have technical questions, you may call the GNTV helpline at 478-216-7709 with your questions. (Here is a Q&A explanation from GNTV: Zoom-QA-One-Sheet)
 
Will I be able to chat with other attendees during the Zoom webinar annual conference sessions?
The annual conference planning team has asked GNTV to turn off the chat feature during the annual conference sessions to reduce distractions and to simplify the learning curve for those members who are unfamiliar with the technology we are using. We in no way want to restrict people from communicating with the body.
As is done during in-person annual conferences, all voting members have the ability to be recognized to speak. Online, that will be done through the Zoom webinar Q&A feature. When you are recognized to speak, your voice will be heard by everyone as long as your device has a microphone (you will not appear on the screen and do not need a webcam to participate).
 
What about those who are retiring? 
A video montage of the retiree’s voices will be presented during the annual conference as part of the Board of Ministry report. This way, we all can celebrate the faith, life, leadership, and ministry of all those who have retired.
 
Will there be a Memorial Service?
Because we are not able to safely meet in-person to worship, we will not have a traditional in-person Memorial Service. However, those who have died during the past year will be recognized and remembered on Friday, June 4 in a virtual Memorial Service that begins at 9 a.m. A Memorial Booklet will be available online and in the annual conference app for everyone to view.
 
When will the List of Clergy Appointments be available?
The List of Clergy Appointments will be posted on the conference website and in the app at the end of annual conference. If you find an error, please contact your district office so a correction can be made.

How do we get the Annual Conference mobile app?
The mobile app has been freshly updated and is available in Google Works and Apple App stores as "MAC-UMC."  New content regarding this year's Virtual Annual Conference is being provided as available. Please download the MAC-UMC mobile app for your device.  It isn't mandatory to have the app to participate and vote in Annual Conference, but it can be helpful. The voting ballot, for example, may be loaded on your device app while viewing the webinar on your computer. 

 

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