By Paul Black
PEORIA – Bishop Frank Beard has announced that Bishop James Swanson, resident bishop of the Mississippi Annual Conference, will be the guest preacher at the 2023 Annual Conference June 8-10 at the Peoria Civic Center.
Swanson, who will be retiring from active assignment with the Council of Bishops Dec. 31, will be participating in the Service of Ordination and Commission on June 10 and may undertake other responsibilities as a guest of the Annual Conference. Details are still being finalized for the three-day Annual Conference
Bishop Beard also announced that in continuation with the quadrennial theme of “There is a time for everything…,” the 2023 theme will be A Time to Plant and A Time to Build, as the annual conference begins focusing on the mission of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference even amid some churches disaffiliating and charting a different course for their ministries.
Two special sessions – on May 6 and on Dec. 2 – will be a part of Annual Conference sessions for 2023. These two special sessions will be held online to deal with resolutions for disaffiliating churches. The Annual Conference has the final authority on approving these resolutions as per the Book of Discipline (2016) and recent Judicial Council decisions clarifying issues that have emerged.
While the two special sessions will be virtual, the June 8-10 session will be in-person only with a live webstream available to watch but credentialed persons will not be able to vote and participate in the plenaries. The 2023 session will also include the possibility of voting for new General Conference and Jurisdictional Conference delegates during the clergy and laity sessions.
The election is dependent upon a ruling from the Judicial Council as to whether new elections are needed since the current delegation, elected in 2019, did not have General Conference in 2020. At issue is whether the General Conference session, scheduled for April 23-May 3, 2024 in Charlotte, N.C. is the 2024 General Conference or whether it is the 2020 General Conference which was postponed three times due to the Covid pandemic, technological challenges over 14 time zones globally and the inability of international delegates to obtain visas to the United States.