Greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,
I am writing to let the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference know that I have prayerfully decided that the bulk of our annual conference sessions this fall will be virtual and not in-person (face to face). The continual rise in COVID 19 cases, the threat of a second wave in the fall, the age of most of our constituents, and the budgetary challenges we are facing has led me to this decision.
I will be meeting with the annual conference session committees to determine the details and we will be in touch as plans are worked out with more specific information. We plan to keep the same dates that have been previously announced, but with a few changes. We will not be gathering at the Oaks Convention Center. Understanding that all social distancing and other health precautions will be observed, the dates are:
The schedule is as follows:
Many annual conferences across the country have opted for virtual sessions with great success so we will be able to learn from their experiences. Ensuring electronic accessibility for our voting delegates is a priority for us. We are committed to providing accessibility for individuals with disabilities and those who speak Spanish. We will also continue to receive our special Annual Conference offerings online and/or by mail.
I realize this is a huge change from what we are used to doing. The fellowship and resourcing that is typical of an in-person event will be limited and the agenda will be smaller. However, this will help us to do things in a new way that may facilitate even greater options for ministry in the future. As Isaiah 43:19 reminds us “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Our God is a way-maker, doing new things for a new generation. Please be in prayer as we embark on this venture of Annual Conference 2020.
Bishop Peggy A. Johnson
Philadelphia Episcopal Area
Paragraph 32 of the Book of Discipline states that at the beginning of each quadrennium, the Annual Conference shall “provide for the election of additional lay members to equalize lay and clergy membership of the annual conference.” Eastern Pennsylvania Conference Resolution 2002-15 states that “each District Committee on Nominations shall nominate the additional lay members.” That resolution goes on to state that “in making their selections, the District Committees on Nominations shall consider gender, age, ethnicity, geographic equity and circuit churches with no lay member.”
2020 is the last year of the current quadrennium, so we will only be electing persons to fill open lay member slots, and to ensure that enough reserve member slots are filled should elected members not be able to attend the 2020 Annual Conference Session. If you would like to submit your name, or wish to submit the name of another person, in consideration for any open Lay Equalizing Member positions, or as a Reserve Lay Member, please submit your name to your District Office. Each District Committee on Nominations will then bring a slate of nominees to the floor at this year’s District Conference.
Please note that each local church is to elect a Lay Member of Annual Conference to represent their congregation. If that Lay Member cannot serve, the local church must elect a replacement (if no Alternate Lay Member has already been elected). If a Lay Equalizing Member cannot serve, however, the District Nominations Committee will supply that person’s replacement from its list of already elected Alternate Members. Any Equalizing Lay Member who cannot serve should therefore contact their District Office as soon as possible to allow sufficient time for a substitute to be arranged.