By Caleb Hennington
Digital Content Editor
This story was updated on March 23, 2020 to reflect the announcement that General Conference will be rescheduled to 2021.
The Executive Committee of the Commission on the General Conference has announced that General Conference 2020, previously scheduled for May 5 – 15 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, will no longer occur as planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Executive Committee was notified by the Minneapolis Convention Center that events taking place through May 10, 2020 will be restricted, following recommendations made by the Minnesota Department of Health, the governor of Minnesota and the mayor of Minneapolis.
Current recommendations in Minnesota are that events with 50 or more people either be postponed or canceled.
The General Conference is a quadrennial event that brings together delegates from not only the United States of America but from countries in Africa, Europe, and Asia as well. More than 43% of delegates are from outside of the United States.
This year’s General Conference will bring together 862 delegates from all over the world, as well as communicators, bishops, venue staff, and spectators, bringing the total in attendance to well over 1,000 individuals.
The Commission met by teleconference on March 21 to discuss plans for the event, including setting new dates for the General Conference. In a press release sent on March 23, the Commission determined that General Conference will not meet in 2020, and will instead work with the Minneapolis Convention Center to determine a rescheduled date in 2021.
“Because it is important for people to be safe and to make sure that all delegates from around the world can participate, I am grateful the decision has been made to postpone General Conference,” said Bishop Mueller of the Arkansas Conference. “I hope that all Arkansas United Methodists will continue to demonstrate a spirit of unity we are experiencing during this pandemic as we walk into the future.”
The Rev. Mark Norman, Southeast District Superintendent and Lead Clergy Delegate of the Arkansas Delegation, shared his own relief at the decision to postpone General Conference, and offered a word of advice for how United Methodists should continue forward following this announcement.
“With this global pandemic we have to make the safety and health of the entire General Conference a priority. My concern is how we will move forward as denomination. On one hand it is a good thing to have more time to have fruitful conversations. On the other hand if we fill this extra time being mean and rude to one another, we destroy our witness in the world! I have truly loved the recent creativity and passion of Arkansas United Methodists. Let’s use our energy serving our neighbors and sharing the gospel beyond the walls of our churches!
For more information regarding General Conference 2020, please check the General Conference page on our website at arumc.org/gc2020. We will also be updating our social media with any breaking news regarding General Conference 2020.
The Commission’s press release can be read here: www.umc.org/en/content/united-methodist-general-conference-to-be-postponed
The March 23 press release can be read here: https://www.resourceumc.org/en/content/general-conference-to-move-to-2021