“Be strong and of good courage, and act. Do not be afraid or dismayed; for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.”—1 Chronicles 28:20
When the original in-person Annual Conference was in the planning stages, it was decided that the theme would be courage. The differences over the place of the LGBTQ community in the United Methodist Church, the stirrings of a schism that ensued and the bold, risky steps that some people made solidified this decision.
Now months later when plans are being amended to accommodate a virtual Annual Conference on the mornings of October 5 and 6, the theme of courage resonates even more loudly throughout GNJ.
The virtual Annual Conference will still have the traditional service of remembrance, the reading of appointments, an offering and ordinations, but it will be abridged to accommodate the online format. In part this will be done by accepting questions via online prior to the start of the conference.
Also, six Legislative Information Sessions, both day and evening, will be held starting on September 17 to give GNJers an opportunity to learn more about the upcoming legislation, get their questions answered and feel more confident about their votes on October 6.
“We realize the apprehension that’s associated with having a virtual Annual Conference, but safety is still our top priority. I’d much rather meet in person, of course, but that’s just not possible right now with the uncertainty still surrounding the pandemic.” said Bishop Schol.
He added, “These sessions are a chance to digest what you’ve learned, engage with others and then feel good about the decisions you make at Annual Conference.”
At the forefront of those legislations is the newly-released A Journey of Hope Plan, an initiative developed in consultation with leaders and experts from across the country and more than 100 leaders from GNJ including ethnic caucuses, GNJ leadership and GNJ staff to take a proactive role in ending racism. This legislation will be discussed at both the afternoon and evening sessions on September 17.
Also on the schedule is legislation for Camp Aldersgate, the overall budget, the closing of 13 churches and more. Online voting will occur on October 6 before adjournment at 12:30 p.m.
Much like David told his son in Chronicles that it is time to act with courage knowing that God is by your side, the Greater New Jersey Conference is hoping to come together in October and get the work finished so that together local churches can work on the transformation of the world.
For additional details, visit www.gnjumc.org/2020annualconference/.