Two versions of 2020 Memphis Annual Conference are currently being planned
By Delores Smith
Chair, Memphis Annual Conference Planning Team
The Memphis Annual Conference Planning Team is looking at all options for how to safely convene the 2020 annual conference session.
The team, which is now meeting via Zoom, already announced that the usual 3-day session will be shortened to a 1½ day format on Friday and Saturday, September 25-26 at Germantown United Methodist Church.
This will not be the last meeting of the Memphis Annual Conference. Due to the postponement of 2020 General Conference and the 2020 Southeast Jurisdictional Conference, the new Tennessee Western Kentucky Annual Conference will not meet until 2022.
At this 2020 Memphis Annual conference, attendees will experience the laying of the foundation for the new conference and carry forth and cultivate a sense of hope for the mission of The United Methodist Church in that new conference. They also will foster and celebrate our connection and God’s provision while also meeting our disciplinary requirements of holy conferencing.
The hope is for the session to meet in-person. However, given the unpredictability caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the planning team is thoroughly researching remote (district host site) options, as well.
The primary concern is for the safety of those individuals who attend annual conference. In recent years, a large percentage of conference attendees have been over 60 years old. While COVID-19 is a serious concern for everyone, this older age group is at a higher risk for severe illness from the virus.
We also want to provide a remote way for students to participate this year since the new dates fall when schools will be back in session.
If county, state, and church leadership deem the annual conference is able to meet, all recommended sanitation and hygiene precautions will be taken. Even so, the planning team realizes that some members of the annual conference may feel uncomfortable meeting in such a large gathering.
Currently, two versions of annual conference are being planned:
- A hybrid model is being planned that includes an in-person meeting at Germantown UMC, coupled with the availability of remote (host) locations in each district for voting delegates if they chose. These locations have not been determined at this time.
- Also, a plan for a fully remote annual conference session is being developed. A decision on whether to meet in-person or fully remotely will be made by early July.
Training for how to participate remotely will be made available to all clergy and lay members of annual conference this summer.
No matter which plan is pursued, the Memphis Annual Conference will convene Sept. 25-26, 2020.
As new information becomes available, it will be posted on this Memphis Conference website and communicated in the Memphis Conference weekly e-news. If not already receiving, subscribe here.