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Pandemic again shifts Annual Conference to virtual event

Yet again, the pandemic has forced S.C. conference leaders into an all-virtual Annual Conference.

Normally a four- or five-day event held in person with nearly 2,000 attendees from every church in South Carolina, this year’s Annual Conference will be an abbreviated online session slated to begin June 5.

Conference Secretary the Rev. Ken Nelson, who also serves as Orangeburg District superintendent, said the shift from in-person to virtual prioritizes the health and safety of South Carolina’s lay and clergy members and the broader community, who “continue to be our top concern,” Nelson said.

The theme is “Seeking A More Excellent Way: Trusting, Believing and Knowing God is With Us.”

GNTV Media Ministry will host the virtual gathering and help coordinate participation via Zoom video conferencing and voting on a separate, secure platform. In the spirit of transparency, Annual Conference is traditionally open to the public. AC2022 will be live-streamed so anyone can observe the proceedings online.

The Florence District and Pisgah United Methodist Church in Florence will host AC2022 at the Florence Center, where in-person attendance will be limited strictly to those who must be on site to conduct the business of the Annual Conference.

Bishop L. Jonathan Holston, resident bishop of the South Carolina Conference of the UMC, will preach the worship service.

Bishop Gary E. Mueller, resident Bishop of the Arkansas Conference UMC, will preach the ordination service.

And Dr. Robin Dease, former Hartsville District superintendent for the South Carolina Conference and now the senior pastor of St. Andrew By-the-Sea UMC, Hilton Head, will preach the memorial service.

Holston said he and other conference leaders look forward to celebrating at Annual Conference the many ways South Carolina United Methodists have embraced the conference’s “four priorities” over the past year: developed leaders, engaged with their communities, connected with and grown disciples, and measured and evaluated their current realities and missional possibilities

“While we would prefer to be gathering in person, we trust, believe and know that God is with us as we seek a more excellent way—even across the digital landscape,” Holston said. “The abundance of mission and ministry endeavors across South Carolina these past two-plus years shows us that connecting virtually still allows us to do more together than we could ever accomplish apart.”

The full schedule for AC2022 is still in development, including how many days the virtual session will last.

Online registration for lay and clergy members will run from April 15-May 11, and pre-conference packets and video reports for the session will posted in mid-April at umcsc.org/ac2022.

Two virtual training sessions are slated for June 1 and June 6 to help clergy and laity understand how to navigate the virtual event, including how to cast votes.

Learn more about AC2022 at http://umcsc.org/ac2022

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