The 236th session of the Eastern PA Annual Conference, May 20-22, will take place mostly online for a second consecutive year, after making history with that first-time format in 2020. The conference business session will again be held via a Zoom webinar, with pre-recorded reports and eBallot voting on Friday, May 21. Non-members will again be able to view the session livestreamed on the Conference’s Facebook page.
This year’s session will include resolutions with legislative debate and amendments allowed. But the plan is to reduce the amount of session time given to debate and amendments by urging members to read resolutions once they are published and respond promptly with any questions and suggested revisions to resolution authors.
All resolutions are due to the Conference Secretary, the Rev. Jacqueline Hines, by March 5. Any revisions the authors make to their initial resolutions, in response to questions and suggestions, will be due to the Conference Secretary by April 2. Perfected resolutions will be published by April 13. The Conference Commission on Sessions made these and other decisions to ensure efficiency and fairness at its Jan. 12 meeting.
This year the Annual Conference will return to having a guest preacher for the opening worship service and an afternoon teaching session. The conference’s Latino Commission will conduct opening worship Friday morning at 9 AM. The Rev. Dorlimar Lebrón Malavé, who was to preach at the postponed 2020 Annual Conference, has been re-invited to be our guest preacher. Part of a growing cadre of Latinx young adult leaders in the UMC, she is the pastor of First Spanish UMC (FSUMC) in New York City, also known as “The People’s Church.”
Bishop Mark Webb, leader of the Upper New York Episcopal Area, will preach at the Service of Ordination and Commissioning on Saturday afternoon at 2 PM. President of Discipleship Ministries’ board since 2016, he was formerly a pastor and superintendent in the Susquehanna Conference and a Harry Denman Evangelism Awardee in 2002.
Resident Bishop Peggy Johnson will preach and celebrate Communion Saturday morning, 10 AM, at the Memorial Service for clergy and clergy spouses who died during the past conference year. Both services will be hosted again by Olivet UMC in Coatesville and attended onsite, respectively, by families of ordinands, commissionees, and deceased clergy and clergy spouses.
On Thursday, May 20, preceding the start of conference business, the annual Clergy Session (9 AM to 12 PM) and Laity Session (1 to 3 PM) will meet. The Rev. Jacqui King, Director of Leadership for Congregational Vitality at Discipleship Ministries, and a frequent speaker and trainer in our Conference, will be the Laity Session keynoter.
The 2021 Annual Conference theme is “Come to the Water,” celebrating baptism and all that it means for Christians in today’s world.
Important dates prior to the Annual Conference are:
March 5: Deadline for resolutions to be submitted to the Rev. Jacqueline Hines, Conference Secretary.
April 18: Conference members will meet at 3 PM via Zoom to vote on a motion to suspend the Session Rules of Order and thus, allow for a second online Annual Conference with online voting. District Conferences will then convene in separate Zoom meetings at 4 PM to handle key District matters.