By Paul Black
SPRINGFIELD – Bishop Frank J. Beard, in consultation with the Cabinet and Sessions Committee Executive Team, has announced the 2021 Annual Conference will be June 11-12 and will be conducted virtually.
The theme for the 2021 Annual Conference is A Time to Heal, based upon Ecclesiastes 3
Utilizing the knowledge gained from the virtual 2020 Annual Conference, participants will be able to offer speeches for and against and ask questions during the plenary session, slated for Saturday, June 12 from 10 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4 p.m. The Annual Conference will be using the Zoom platform, utilizing the polling feature for voting (the same as last year) and the Q & A feature for posting questions or asking for recognition to speak for or against the motion.
No amendments or changes to the legislation will be possible. However, the Sessions Committee will be holding Pre-Conference meetings to address both technological issues as well as answer questions on the legislation.
Registration will open April 6 on the Zoom platform and because of needing secure access to the room, persons will register and receive two log-ins – one for either the clergy or laity session on Friday, and one for the joint plenary session on Saturday. These registrations will be cross-checked and verified prior to issuing the unique access code to the participant.
Churches are reminded that any changes to who will represent the church as lay member to annual conference needs to be approved by the district superintendent and sent to Doug Stone at firstname.lastname@example.org This includes the additional equalization member if your church qualified for it last fall. Early attention to this matter will greatly assist getting credentials returned to the appropriate person(s).
There will also be six or seven remote sites throughout the conference where persons can attend the clergy/laity and plenary sessions and watch the live stream. Locations of those sites will be announced in the near future. Persons will need to present their credentials to the marshal in order to be seated and participate in voting.
Clergy Session will be held virtually from 1 to 4 p.m. Friday, June 11. The Laity Session is tentatively slated for 5 to 7 p.m. Friday.
Bishop Sharma Lewis, episcopal leader of the Richmond Area (Virginia Annual Conference) will be preaching opening worship on Saturday.
Ordination and Commissioning services will be a week later – on Saturday, June 19. Commissioning will be aired in the morning with Ordination in the afternoon. Both services will be held with limited seating for family at Champaign Faith UMC. It will be aired live via the webstream.
The annual Memorial Service, which remembers those clergy, spouses and members of the annual conference, will be aired Thursday, June 10, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and the Retiree Recognition Service will be aired Friday, June 11, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Both services’ broadcasts will premiere at those assigned times but playback will be possible on all broadcasts of the Annual Conference following their airings.