Nashville, Tenn.: The Executive Committee of the Commission on the General Conference has been notified by the Minneapolis Convention Center that they are restricting events at the venue through May 10, 2020, following recommendations by the Minnesota Department of Health, the Governor of Minnesota and the Mayor of Minneapolis to postpone or cancel events involving 50+ people in order to slow the spread of coronavirus. As a result of this decision, the Executive Committee is announcing that the General Conference will be postponed and will not occur May 5-15, 2020 as planned.
Out of concerns for the health and safety of all those affected amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Executive Committee has been monitoring the situation for some time and had scheduled a teleconference meeting of the full Commission of the General Conference for March 21 to discuss plans for the event. Only the full commission is able to set a new date or decide on an alternate plan. That meeting will go forward as scheduled, although it is not known at this time how quickly they will be able to announce new dates.
“This news is not unexpected based on the current guidance from health officials and we expect to move forward with new plans as quickly as possible,” said Kim Simpson, chair of the Commission.
While the Commission was already considering many requests to postpone the event due to the growing pandemic and processing the complexities which would result from that decision, the announcement by the convention center that those dates will no longer be possible means that the church will not incur significant financial penalties for cancellation of the contract.
“Our focus in this moment is not solely on the gathering of the General Conference for the work we have been called to do, but is on the individuals, families, churches and communities around the world whose lives are being impacted by this pandemic,” said Simpson. “We recognize the struggle to deal with the physical, emotional and spiritual needs which come with the unknown. We are confident that local United Methodist churches will be finding new ways to be in community with their neighbors and meet their evolving needs.”
About General Conference
General Conference is the top policy-making body of The United Methodist Church, which meets once every four years. The conference can revise church law, as well as adopt resolutions on current moral, social, public policy and economic issues. It also approves plans and budgets for church-wide programs.