February 26, 2021
Dear Members and Friends of the West Virginia Conference,
Yesterday, the Commission on General Conference shared the news some had been expecting –there is a further postponement of the 2020 General Conference session. The General Conference session will now take place August 29 – September 6, 2022, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The United Methodist Church is a global Church, and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to negatively impact the safety of large gatherings and travel.
In light of the announcement of the further postponement of the General Conference, the Council of Bishops has set a date of May 8, 2021 for a Special Called Session of General Conference that will be convened online.
The sole purpose of the Special Called Session is to act upon a process that will allow voting to take place on twelve legislative items in relation to the Book of Discipline. These 12 items would “authorize administrative functions for the continuation of the mission and ministry of the Church during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Essentially, the Special, one-day session of General Conference is necessary to suspend the rules, so that paper ballots might be used to consider 12 pieces of legislation. The 12 legislative items slated for consideration would resolve some difficulties in our Book of Discipline which currently prevent the Church from functioning appropriately since the Church is unable to gather for its regular General Conference session until 2022. Paper ballots will allow the Conference elected delegates from around the globe to cast their vote on the 12 administrative items.
The following items are linked to this letter for your information and clarification:
- A General Conference FAQ sheet created by the South Eastern Jurisdictional (SEJ) College of Bishops
- The press release from the Commission on the General Conference
- The press release from the Council of Bishops
In this time of global pandemic, I continuously give thanks for our West Virginia Conference Churches, the pastors, and the lay leadership. These are difficult, challenging, and uncertain times, yet you faithfully shine the light of Christ. You continue to give hope to the hopeless and to care for our neighbors with the love of Christ. You have adapted and learned to accomplish worship, mission, and ministry in new ways. Your witness, faithfulness, and dedication to multiplying the Good News of Christ brings me joy!
Please keep the West Virginia Conference delegation members in your prayers. The delegation has been praying and meeting together.
We are in a continued time of disruption, not unlike what Jesus experienced in his journey to the Cross. May we all do as Jesus did when He walked among us: pray for God’s will to be done, and share God’s sacrificial, life-saving love.
Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball