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Annual Conference goes virtual Oct. 17

Annual Conference goes virtual Oct. 17
Photo by Matt Brodie. Conference leaders decided to hold AC2020 virtually partly after the successful virtual clergy session, held Aug. 1 (above).

The 2020 South Carolina Annual Conference will convene Oct. 17 as an all-virtual session to ensure the health and safety of lay and clergy delegates amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It will be our first Annual Conference that does not involve gathering in person.

Good News TV—our regular Annual Conference media partner—will host the virtual gathering and help coordinate participation via Zoom video conferencing and voting on a separate, secure platform. GNTV already has helped conduct more than 20 virtual UMC annual conferences, clergy sessions or laity sessions in the past four months.

AC2020 will be patterned after the Aug. 1 virtual Clergy Session, during which more than 500 participants voted on some two dozen matters with no significant problems. A week later, the 2020 Service for Ordination and Commissioning was live-streamed with limited in-person attendance.

“Based on the smooth and successful virtual execution of both the Clergy Session and the Ordination Service, we are confident we can accomplish the necessary and important business of the Annual Conference in a virtual space,” Resident Bishop L. Jonathan Holston said. “I am grateful for those who are working diligently to prepare for a fruitful and efficient session.

“And while we are disappointed that we won’t be able to come together in person, we look forward to celebrating a remarkable year of vital ministry. South Carolina United Methodists have indeed gone beyond the bounds of expectations over the past year to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

While conference planners have devised a broad framework for the session, many details are still being finalized. In the coming weeks, delegates will receive detailed information about how to participate. All delegates will be encouraged to participate in a virtual training session that will be scheduled soon.

In the spirit of transparency, Annual Conference is traditionally open to the public. To that end, AC2020—originally scheduled for June 7-10 at the Florence Center—will be live-streamed so anyone can observe the proceedings online.

Delegates from 975 local United Methodist churches will work through a truncated agenda, largely featuring business matters that The Book of Discipline mandates must come to a vote each year. That includes reports from certain conference boards and commissions, the conference budget for the coming year, and resolutions dealing primarily with church closings.

Delegates are encouraged to begin preparing for AC2020 by studying the reports, videos and other resources available at umcsc.org/ac2020.

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