Newsletter - Chips Off The Rock - July 2020
I suppose July resides in our minds as a month of hot weather and fireworks. July, for the Church of the Brethren, lives in our memory as the time when our yearly Annual Conference meets in some far away city. The fireworks always enlighten the delegates on the 4th. I remember watching them in many places: over the Ohio River, in a distant city park, and across a wide field full of families on blankets, all looking skyward.
As you may already know, the Annual Conference has been cancelled. Here are some statements from their website, brethren.org/ac/2020/ :
The Leadership Team, in consultation with the Program and Arrangements Committee, recommends to the 2019 Standing Committee that the 2020 Annual Conference in Grand Rapids, MI July 1-5 be cancelled. We further recommend that the theme, program, and featured resource leaders for the 2020 Conference be deferred to the June 30-July 4, 2021 Annual Conference in Greensboro, NC. And we recommend that the Compelling Vision and other items of business (other than the ballot, which will be addressed in a separate motion) become the business of the 2021 Annual Conference.
The health and safety of attendees, volunteers, and partners is our first priority. We have carefully monitored guidelines issued in response to the COVID-19 challenge from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as authorities in the state of Michigan. The uncertainty of governmental decisions regarding stay-at-home restrictions and how many people may gather at an event, as well as the expectation that social distancing will continue to be required through the summer, according to federal guidelines stated thus far, makes it difficult to know how many Brethren would attend and whether the convention center would be allowed to host our Conference.
Our second primary concern has been the financial circumstances we would face if we would decide to cancel. We have now been able to negotiate with the convention center and three hotels in Grand Rapids that they will waive the $665,000 cancellation penalties. In return, we have agreed to return to Grand Rapids our next available year, 2024.
As an alternative there will be some online plans for the week (find links on brethren.org/ac) :
On Wednesday, July 1, 7:30 pm, a 25-minute children’s worship experience.
On Wednesday, July 1, 8:00 pm, a Denominational Worship Gathering centered around the theme “New World Coming”.
On Thursday, July 2, 8:00 pm, an hour-long music celebration featuring Church of the Brethren musicians from across the denomination.