By: Rev. Cindy Gregorson
Registration for Annual Conference Session is now open! Here is what you need to know:
- It will be a one-day session on Saturday, Aug. 29. Session one will be from 9:30-11:30 a.m. Session two will be from 1:30-3:30 p.m.
- Clergy Session will be on Friday, Aug. 28 from 1:30-3:30 p.m.
- All members of annual conference who wish to participate in debate or vote must register for the event. The registration fee is $25, which helps cover the cost of delivering a virtual session.
- The annual conference session will be live streamed to our Facebook page; all non-voting visitors should not register for the event and can instead watch via Facebook. The Clergy Session is a closed session and therefore will not be live streamed.
- The event will occur on a Zoom business webinar platform. You will need a computer or tablet with a camera and a microphone to fully participate. All members are expected to test out their technology and do a run through of the procedures we will be using for the virtual session on either Wednesday, Aug. 19 between 9 and 10 a.m. or Thursday, Aug. 20 between 7 and 8 p.m. (Sessions are expected to last about 35 minutes; an hour is set aside for those who have connection issues.)
- We will hold five virtual pre-conference events for members of the 2020 Annual Conference, each hosted by one of the district superintendents. You are encouraged to attend the one hosted by your superintendent but you may register for the one that works best for your schedule. At these events, attendees will review the legislation and watch an engaging leadership report. This is the best venue to ask questions, as the annual conference session itself will need to be very structured in order to accommodate the large number of people in attendance. Here’s the pre-conference event schedule (you’ll be asked to select one of these when you register for Annual Conference):
- Tuesday, July 28, 6:30-8:30 p.m., North Star District
- Thursday, July 30, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Big Waters District
- Monday, Aug. 3, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Southern Prairie District
- Wednesday, Aug. 5, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Twin Cities District
- Tuesday, Aug. 11, 6:30-8:30 p.m., River Valley District
- The Annual Conference Session will open with worship, remembering of the saints, and the episcopal address. The morning session will also include a time of looking at where we are headed as an annual conference and celebrating our people, including those who are to be licensed for ministry, those graduating from Course of Study, those being commissioned as lay ministers, deaconesses, and home missioners, and ELI Project interns. The focus of our afternoon session will be legislation, and we will conclude the day with a worship service honoring our retiring clergy.
- We are collecting a Love Offering that’s focused on helping the most vulnerable through Emma Norton Services, Simpson Housing Services, Joyce Uptown Foodshelf, and the Minnesota Conference Committee on Native American Ministry’s diaper drive. An email with information about this offering, and a video you can use to promote it, will be sent to you within the next two weeks. We ask that you provide your gifts ahead of time by either donating online or mailing your check to the annual conference office. We will announce the total during worship at our Annual Conference Session.
- At this point (assuming it is safe to gather), the Commissioning and Ordination service for clergy is scheduled to be held on Saturday, Oct. 17 at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis. It will be live streamed so that people can watch remotely.
- The conference materials packet, including legislation and reports, will be available for download by July 15.
- You can learn more about registration, technology, how to be prepared, and see some FAQs, here. You can see a draft schedule here.
These are unprecedented times, are they not? But the good news is that we are always the church, whether we can meet face-to-face or through the gift of technology. There is much to celebrate in terms of the ways we have been innovating and responding, and it will be important to come together to lament and grieve for all that we have endured. That old hymn that was the gathering song for the circuit riders as they came together for annual conference is particularly poignant this year: “And are we yet alive, and see each other’s face?” We will gather. We may not see each other’s faces in the same way, but we will rely on God’s grace and trust it is enough.
Rev. Cindy Gregorson is director of ministries for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.