Mark your calendars and plan to participate in the 2021 Annual Conference. Part one convenes June 3-6; part two will be held in October. “How Shall We Sing the Lord’s Song” is the theme.
The Commission on the Annual Conference has determined that the 2021 session will be held in two parts, the first fully online in June, and the second in October, based on the progression of COVID-19. The theme for 2021 is, “How Shall We Sing the Lord’s Song…?”
Part one online, Thursday, June 3 – Sunday, June 6.
Annual Conference will open on Thursday, June 3, with an online clergy session broadcast from the Lansing Media Center. A laity component is still being developed. On Thursday evening, opening worship will be led by Bishop David Bard.
The Friday, June 4 session will be similar to Annual Conference 2020. The time together will include key reports from finance, trustees, laity, and nominations. Votes will be taken on essential matters. Friday will also include teaching time and more worship.
The plan for Saturday, June 5, is a day of local church mission and service. Following an online devotion, local churches will be encouraged to engage in activities related to annual conference themes. Churches are invited to share those activities on the conference Facebook page.
For Sunday, June 6, a dynamic pre-recorded worship service will be available for local churches to share as their worship gathering for the week. It will be accessible weeks in advance as an entire service and as editable components so local churches can utilize the service as they wish. The service allows local church clergy to fully participate in the Annual Conference during the week with a time of respite. A Service of Recognition, Commissioning, and Ordination will be held on Sunday afternoon for the 2020 and 2021 classes of new church leaders. The details of that service are pending consultation with the Board of Ministry. Following this service, Bishop Bard will recess the annual conference session until October.
Part two online, in-person, or a hybrid of both in October.
Because of the current uncertainty of the spread of the COVID-19 virus, it is unclear if October will be a virtual, in-person, or a hybrid approach. It is likely to be held over a weekend. Equally uncertain is the timeline for making this decision.
Currently, General Conference is scheduled for August 29 through September 7, 2021. The General Commission on General Conference announced they are considering all options, including going online. Michigan Conference Secretary Rev. Joy Barrett is a part of the committee determining the next steps.
Bishop David Bard observes, “As with many of you, I am disappointed that we will not be gathering together in June for our 2021 annual conference. Making this decision so early will help us plan for and provide a richer virtual annual conference experience in June.”
The bishop adds, “I look forward with delight to coming together again in the fall. It will be a joyous celebration. It will also allow us to care for the necessary business that was not cared for in June and consider the business relevant following General Conference.
The Rev. David Eardley, chair of the Commission on the Annual Conference Session, celebrates the success of the first-ever Virtual Michigan Annual Conference in 2020. Eardley said, “Building upon what we learned and your helpful feedback, we will offer expanded capability to connect with one another in greater ways as we worship and conduct the work of the annual conference.” He continues, “I hope that this portion of the Annual Conference will engage United Methodists from all across Michigan in an encouraging and inspiring manner.”