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2021 Annual Conference will meet virtually June 7, virtual worship service dates announced

1/25/2021

A word from the Conference Secretary (1/25/2021):

Dear Lay and Clergy Members of the Annual Conference,

Bishop Lawson Bryan, in collaboration with the Annual Conference Program Committee, the officers of the Annual Conference, and the Cabinet, announces that the 2021 South Georgia Annual Conference session will be held virtually.

During the past 10 months, Bishop Bryan and the Program Committee have closely monitored the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as we planned for the 2021 event. Throughout, we remained cautiously optimistic about hosting Annual Conference in-person in June. The Program Committee met on January 20 to assess the current state of public health and review the 400 survey responses from laity and clergy about the format of the 2021 session.

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise not only in our own area but across the country, we have reached the difficult decision that we cannot safely host an in-person event in June. Thanks in part to the responses to the survey sent earlier this month, we feel confident that this decision is the best one to protect the safety of our members.

Our contractual obligations with the convention center in Columbus and Valley Hospitality - the group that handles the hotel blocks for our conference - necessitate us making a decision now rather than waiting closer to June. Reaching a decision before January 28, 2021, means we will not forfeit more than $3,000 in vendor deposits. We also want to treat our business partners in Columbus fairly, giving them time to secure other clients for the dates we are releasing. In addition to being a good steward of the conference’s funds, making the decision at this time allows our conference committees the necessary time to plan for an outstanding virtual session. 

“I know that our desire is to be together in the same room with our South Georgia family. Connection and fellowship are things we highly value,” Bishop Bryan said. “However, I am appreciative of the input of our laity and clergy in the survey that let us know we are not yet ready to meet in a group of 1,000 people. I am also appreciative of the thoughtful and careful deliberation of the program committee as we seek to make wise decisions to prepare the safest environment for our Annual Conference Session.”

The theme for the 2021 Annual Conference Session is “Alive Together at the Table.” 

“The Lord has prepared the South Georgia table for us,” Bishop Bryan said. “You have proven that we know how to be together at the table  - even virtually - and we want to respond to Christ’s invitation to come to the table.” 

We look forward to welcoming you to the virtual 2021 Annual Conference session on Monday, June 7.

Alive Together at the Table,

Meredyth Earnest,
SGA Conference Secretary

2021 SGA ANNUAL CONFERENCE SESSION: DATES TO NOTE
Just as in 2020, a lot of thought and care is going into what our virtual Annual Conference looks like and how both the business sessions and worship services will flow. 

The virtual clergy session is set for Tuesday, June 1, 2021, from 10 am - noon, and the one-day virtual annual conference session is set for Monday, June 7,  beginning at 8:30 am.

In addition to the business sessions, an online Retiree Recognition Service will take place Tuesday, June 1 at 7 pm to honor and recognize clergy retiring in 2021. An online Memorial Service to remember clergy and clergy spouses who have passed away in the past conference year is set for Thursday, June 3 at 7 pm.  

Those approved for provisional membership or full connection at the clergy session will be commissioned or ordained in a local church setting on Sunday, June 6. The Commissioning and Ordination Service(s) will be live streamed so the entire conference may share virtually in this important worship experience. 

More details about all of these events are forthcoming.

SGA CONFERENCE GATHERING | October 9, 2021
In addition to the June annual conference session, Bishop Lawson Bryan has set Saturday, October 9, 2021, as a post-General Conference gathering. Our hope is that this gathering will take place in person at a conference-central location to be announced at a later date. However, if it is not yet safe to do so, Bishop Bryan has asked that all members plan to gather virtually.

RESOLUTIONS 
As in 2020, resolutions will not be considered at the 2021 Annual Conference session due to the virtual nature of the conference. Please review the resolutions page for details.

BOOK OF RECOMMENDATIONS AND REPORTS | Available by May 1 
Business items for the 2021 Annual Conference session are contained in the Book of Recommendations and Reports (BOR). The purpose of the BOR is for delegates to have the necessary recommendations and reports to read and study prior to the conference session. The BOR will be made available to the conference by May 1. 

DELEGATES TO THE 2021 ANNUAL CONFERENCE SESSION
Churches are to ensure that the name and email address of the lay member(s) representing their church is entered into the conference database - through the Local Church Dashboard - no later than April 1, 2021. Especially important in a virtual meeting format, this information allows us to deliver communication to delegates, along with the necessary individual voting credentials (to be sent closer to the session date(s)). If you need assistance with this process, please contact your District Office.

2021 ANNUAL CONFERENCE SESSION TIMELINE
*Please note: Details are forthcoming. To receive updates, please be sure an email address is entered into the Conference database for all clergy and lay members.

March 10    Book of Recommendations and Reports Submission Deadline
April 1        Delegate Contact Information Submission Deadline
May 1        Book of Recommendations and Reports Published
June 1        Virtual Clergy Session 10 a.m. - 12 noon 
June 1        Virtual Retiree Recognition 7 pm
June 3        Virtual Memorial Service 7 pm
June 6        Service(s) of Ordination/Commissioning (live-streamed)
June 7        Virtual Annual Conference Business Session -  8:30 am

QUESTIONS
For questions regarding the business of Annual Conference, please contact Meredyth Earnest, Conference Secretary, at meredyth@sgaumc.com. For general inquiries, contact Kelly Roberson, Director of Communications, at kelly@sgaumc.com.

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