The Commission on the General Conference recently announced that Minneapolis, Minn. will be the site of the 2020 General Conference, tentatively scheduled for May 5-15, 2020. Minneapolis is part of the Minnesota Annual Conference, which has more than 70,000 members and 353 congregations, and along with the Dakotas Conference, constitutes the Dakotas-Minnesota Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church.
The United Methodist Church's top legislative body will meet at the eco-focused Minneapolis Convention Center, which has 87 meeting rooms, a 3,400-seat auditorium and 475,000 square feet of exhibit space. Minneapolis is one of Forbes' 30 most visited cities in the U.S. with more than 27.9 million visitors in 2012 to the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.
"The Dakotas-Minnesota Area is honored to be chosen to host the 2020 General Conference. The Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul are one of the most diverse and 'international' metropolitan areas in North America. And, the Dakotas are home to one of the fastest growing population areas in the United States," said Bishop Bruce Ough. "We believe this is an ideal setting for the global gathering of The United Methodist Church."
Delegates from Africa, Europe, Asia and the U.S. will attend the gathering, which the Commission expects to attract up to 7,000 visitors. The economic impact of the event on the area is roughly estimated to be about $7,917,000.
Factors considered in choosing a meeting site for the 11-day event included the availability of adequate space, costs of airfare and lodging, sales and room taxes, and the proximity of hotel rooms. Minneapolis was one of three sites that made the final cut for consideration, edging out Detroit and Columbus.
"The entire site selection committee was impressed with the welcome, the site and facilities, but more importantly with the accessibility and ease of access that Minneapolis offers," said Frank Beard, committee chair. "We look forward to coming to Minneapolis / St. Paul for our 2020 General Conference and enjoying the richness and diversity that is offered."
Connections Housing will be the official housing company for both the 2016 and 2020 General Conferences, responsible for managing all aspects of housing, including hotel relationships, negotiations and contracting. Attendees will make hotel reservations via their call center, and they will create a custom housing website for the General Conference using Passkey technology, the worlds most advanced and secure event housing technology. They will also provide on-site services during the conference to ensure that reservations are accurate and in order, and that accommodations are satisfactory.
As a site for General Conference, Minneapolis has some historical significance. It was in Minneapolis in 1956 that the General Conference of the Methodist Church authorized the ordination of women. General Conference was last held in the North Central Jurisdiction in Cleveland, Ohio in 2000 and in Indianapolis, Ind. in 1980. Historically, the site of the General Conference has rotated among the church's five geographic U.S. jurisdictions, but that may soon change.
"The Commission enthusiastically affirmed its intention to hold General Conference 2024 outside of the United States," said Judi Kenaston, Commission chair. "We are aware that there are some challenges to overcome, but we are looking now at what steps can be taken to achieve this goal."