I first began attending Annual Conference as a child with my Dad, mother and siblings. While Dad participated in meetings, we had a great time together visiting with friends, shopping at the Cokesbury display and enjoying each other. We would accompany Dad to worship in the evenings.
I have a different focus at Annual Conference these days than I did when attending as a child. One dynamic is the same, though. I still love Annual Conference!
The Annual Conference planning team and Cabinet are hard at work making plans for an enjoyable and meaningful 2021 meeting. We are grateful to see the number of COVID-19 cases declining in our state and nation. We will continue to help mitigate the pandemic by again hosting a virtual Annual Conference.
Satellite venues will be available by pre-registration only for voting members of the Annual Conference who are without technology or internet access to participate from their homes. Do No Harm guidelines will be observed at each of the satellite venues.
Our 2021 Annual Conference theme is Disciples Building Disciples and the theme verse is Acts 11:26. “ . . . and when he (Barnabas) had found him (Saul), he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for an entire year they met with the church and taught a great many people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called “Christians.” (NRSV)
Dates and times: Annual Conference will launch on Friday, June 4 with virtual Clergy Executive and Laity Sessions. Saturday, June 5 will be devoted to a virtual Plenary Business Session and worship, including Ordination, Commissioning and Licensing and Celebration of Life Services.
Venue / Satellite locations: Those who are able to participate from home are encouraged to do so. Local congregations are requested to assist their clergy and lay members without reliable internet capabilities at home in finding a safe, local location and internet-connected devices to participate. Also, as we did last year, we will offer satellite venues for those without internet access available to them.
Technology: We will use the same technology as last year using a Zoom Webinar for the main sessions. Voting will take place via an online system run by GNTV Media Ministry, our annual conference partner for over 20 years and experts in the field of producing Annual Conferences. Training sessions will be offered to members prior to the Annual Conference on Zoom features and the voting system.
Web address for more information: More information will be available at www.umcna.org/ac2021. Clergy and Lay members of Annual Conference are encouraged to visit the web address regularly for updates.
I look forward to the worship, business and celebrations that will take place at our 2021 Annual Conference. Blessings to each of you in your ministry and service.
As always, it is a privilege to serve as your bishop.
North Alabama Conference