Dear Members and Friends of the DSC,
Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus, Lamb of God!
I want to share with you two announcements that were made yesterday, February 25, 2021, related to the General Conference.
First, the Commission on General Conference announced a further postponement of the 2020 General Conference due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and challenges in making the event and travel safe and equitable for all. Our United Methodist Book of Discipline is clear that the Commission is obligated to “take necessary measures to assure full participation of all General Conference delegates.” The Commission determined that the full participation was not achievable through an in-person or virtual gathering in 2021 and has now rescheduled the 2020 postponed General Conference, which was to take place from August 29 to September 7, 2021. The new dates for General Conference are August 29 to September 6, 2022. The location will remain in Minneapolis, MN.
After much examination and consultation of several options, this decision was not made lightly. COVID-19 cases continue to rise in different parts of the world and over 500,000 people have died in the United States alone. While efforts are being made to distribute the vaccines, they are not yet available widely enough across the country and the globe. In addition, many of the General Conference delegates do not have access to adequate technology and accessible voting security to be able to meet digitally. These inequities were the basis of the decision to postpone into 2022.
Second, the Council of Bishops announced they have called a virtual special session of General Conference on May 8, 2021 to act on several items needed to authorize administrative functions. During this special session, delegates will utilize paper and mail ballots to enable 12 “Emergency Interim Actions” until the 2022 General Conference can take place.
The bishops also have set a new timeline that includes special sessions of the jurisdictional conferences to be held virtually in July 2021 (for the purpose of retiring bishops, announcing coverage of areas, and determining if or how many bishops will be elected in each Jurisdiction). The timeline also includes regular in-person sessions of the jurisdictional conferences in the fall of 2022 (for the purpose of electing bishops, making assignments for the new quadrennium, electing members to General Boards/Agencies, etc.). Under this timeline, General Boards and Agencies would maintain their current memberships until after the postponed General Conference in 2022.
I invite you to hold our Desert Southwest delegation in your prayers as they prepare for these upcoming gatherings.
As a reminder, preparations are underway for the 37th Annual Session of the Desert Southwest Conference, which will take place virtually within the days inclusive of June 10-13, 2021. Information will be coming soon.
In the meantime, our work continues as we focus on eliminating racism in all forms, exploring new ways to deepen our walk with Jesus during this pandemic, keeping our congregations and our communities safe, assisting with the vaccination against COVID-19, and committing our prayers, (virtual) presence, gifts, service and witness to our United Methodist Church.
May 8, 2021
Special Called virtual General Conference to vote on 12 “Emergency Interim Actions”
June 10-13, 2021
37th virtual Annual Session of the Desert Southwest Conference (our AC Session will fall within these days. Specific dates and times will be announced soon.)
Special called virtual Jurisdictional Conference to retire bishops, announce coverage of episcopal areas and determine if/how many bishops will be elected. (Specific dates and times will be announced soon by the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops.)
Official retirement date for Bishops to retire (as voted upon at the special jurisdictional conference)
August 29 – September 6, 2022
In-person postponed regular General Conference
In-person postponed regular Jurisdictional Conferences to elect bishops, make episcopal assignments for the new quadrennium, elect members to General Boards/Agencies