United Methodist General Conference To Be Postponed

March 19, 2020

Nashville, Tenn.: The Executive Committee of the Commission on the General Conference has been notified by the Minneapolis Convention Center that they are restricting events at the venue through May 10, 2020, following recommendations by the Minnesota Department of Health, the Governor of Minnesota and the Mayor of Minneapolis to postpone or cancel events involving 50+ people in order to slow the spread of coronavirus. As a result of this decision, the Executive Committee is announcing that the General Conference will be postponed and will not occur May 5-15, 2020 as planned. 

Out of concerns for the health and safety of all those affected amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Executive Committee has been monitoring the situation for some time and had scheduled a teleconference meeting of the full Commission of the General Conference for March 21 to discuss plans for the event. Only the full commission is able to set a new date or decide on an alternate plan. That meeting will go forward as scheduled, although it is not known at this time how quickly they will be able to announce new dates. 

“This news is not unexpected based on the current guidance from health officials and we expect to move forward with new plans as quickly as possible,” said Kim Simpson, chair of the Commission. 

While the Commission was already considering many requests to postpone the event due to the growing pandemic and processing the complexities which would result from that decision, the announcement by the convention center that those dates will no longer be possible means that the church will not incur significant financial penalties for cancellation of the contract.  

“Our focus in this moment is not solely on the gathering of the General Conference for the work we have been called to do, but is on the individuals, families, churches and communities around the world whose lives are being impacted by this pandemic,” said Simpson.  “We recognize the struggle to deal with the physical, emotional and spiritual needs which come with the unknown. We are confident that local United Methodist churches will be finding new ways to be in community with their neighbors and meet their evolving needs.”

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A Summons to Witness, Protest, and Promise

We give thanks for this Summons to Witness, Protest and Promise written by the cabinet of the North Carolina Conference.  In our ongoing collaboration, we affirm these words alongside them.  Across our state, we invite all United Methodists to be a part of building “the new world God promises as heaven in time descends to earth.” (Revelation 21)

A Summons to Witness, Protest, & Promise

We, United Methodists in The Western North Carolina Conference, join our voices with The North Carolina Conference in witness, protest and promise in these times of violence against our Black brothers and sisters.

We believe. . .

We believe that the Holy Spirit is indeed poured out upon all people.
We believe that in baptism, we are incorporated into God’s mighty acts of salvation, and commissioned to resist evil, injustice and oppression, in whatever forms they present themselves.
We believe that God’s intent for humanity is community, compassion, and holiness, and that justice has been marred by the history of enslavement and racism.
We believe that repentance is urgent for the historic and ongoing violence against Black girls and boys, men and women.
We believe that in the wounding of Black bodies we see Christ crucified.
We believe that those who have been steeped in white privilege, through repentance, can be transformed into humble servants of the living God.
We believe we are called to work for the day when God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven.

We protest. . .
We protest violent murders of Black men and women, most recently Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.
We protest the narratives of fear and suspicion that divide people from one another.
We protest our historic failure to ensure all our churches are places of hospitality, welcome, and belonging for our Black brothers and sisters.
We protest the historic and continuing suppression of voting and other basic rights.
We protest all incendiary public leadership in this time of crisis and turmoil.
We protest the lack of will in our communities, our state and our country to protect the lives of our Black brothers and sisters, and especially the most vulnerable, the young and the old.

We promise. . .
We promise to use our voices, resources and power to dismantle white privilege and racist systems, especially within our own United Methodist Church.
We promise to read the Scripture with ear and eye attentive to the continued call toward God’s will for all people.
We promise to exercise the right to vote and to work against voter suppression.
We promise to create around ourselves at all times hospitable space for all people.
We promise to name prejudice when we see it and to receive the correction of others who see prejudice in us.
We promise to be life-long learners, to constantly make adjustments in the way we use our power and influence, to be active participants in the building of the beloved community, and ultimately growing always in holiness toward the perfection we see in Christ.

Signed,

Bishop Paul Leeland
Laura Auten
Carl Arrington
Michael Bailey
David Christy
Amy Coles
Bev Coppley
Beth Crissman
Otto Harris
David Hockett
Kim Ingram
Linda Kelly
Mark King
Melissa McGill
Samuel Moore, Jr.
Dan Pezet
Mark Ralls
David Snipes
Caroline Wood
Jane Wood

Hope Morgan Ward
Tim Russell
Edie Gleaves
Ray Broadwell
Gil Wise
Gray Southern
Mike Frese
Kenneth Locklear
Randy Innes
Linda Taylor
Dena White
Tara Lain
Ismael Ruiz-Millan
Jon Strother
Beth Hood
Lisa Yebuah
Greg Moore
Steve Taylor

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