Postponement of General Conference – Next Steps

Yesterday, the Commission on the General Conference announced that General Conference 2020 has been postponed yet again. This postponement is a result of the Global pandemic with which we have all come far too familiar. Additionally, the Council of Bishops have set May 8, 2021 for a Special Called Session of the General Conference to be convened virtually across the world.

The purpose of the Special Called Session is in order to suspend the rules of the General Conference to consider using paper balloting for 12 items of legislation. As you may now know, the Book of Discipline is not designed to assist the Church in functioning well during a global pandemic. By approving these 12 items, the Church will be able to move forward until it becomes reasonable to hold an in person General Conference. By exercising the use of paper ballots, we will experience the best possible opportunity for all delegates to participate.

Attached you will find a General Conference FAQ which will assist in answering your questions. I suspect these answers are inadequate to fully respond to all of your questions. These are unprecedented times and we are seeking to be adaptive to the circumstances that this Global Pandemic has created.

I will be meeting next week with our General Conference and Jurisdictional Conference delegates to explore what this means for our life together. I anticipate the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference will meet in July of 2021 at which time those bishops eligible to retire would do so. It is also my hope that the final vote for the Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference would be held. It is the Jurisdictional Conference that sets Conferences’ boundaries, so this is the last vote necessary for us to fully embrace our new conference. We then would anticipate our organizing conference to be in the fall of 2021.

While I understand the frustration of many regarding these decisions, the desire of both the Commission on the General Conference and the Council of Bishops is to allow our delegates to fully participate in the legislative process without disenfranchising anyone from full participation.

As we continue walking through this season of Lent, let us remember that our particular work in the Nashville Episcopal Area is to strengthen local churches to make Disciples of Jesus Christ so that the world might be changed. We continue to press forward with our work “looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfector of our faith.”

May the peace of Christ dwell richly within you.

Bishop McAlilly