From Bishop Swanson: COB Asks to Postpone 2020 GC

3/13/2020

My fellow Mississippi United Methodists,

I want to make you aware that today the Executive Committee of the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church has asked for the postponement of the 2020 General Conference due to the coronavirus being declared a pandemic. I am fully in agreement with this request not only out of caution for the health and well-being of all those involved, but also to adhere to God’s word as Hosea 12:6 calls us to “maintain love and justice.” Though it is disappointing, the last thing we want to do is put people’s health in jeopardy and gather to make decisions for the entire church, when many of our brothers and sisters –in the United States and abroad—are not included in discerning where God is calling us in mission and ministry around the world.

As it pertains to corporate worship in our faith communities here in Mississippi, at this time I want to leave that decision in the hands of the church and the clergy as to how and whether they gather for worship. The Mississippi Conference and its local churches will take direction from the CDC and our state health agencies. Respectively, congregations should adhere to any cautions coming out of local, county and city health departments. I strongly encourage you to abide by the best practices and strategies made available to you via your district and conference communications.

The statement from the Council of Bishops is below:



 

WASHINGTON, D.C.  - The Executive Committee of the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church has asked for the postponement of the 2020 General Conference, set to begin in six weeks, because of the new Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic.
 
In a letter to Kim Simpson, Chairperson of Commission on the General Conference and Rev. Gary W. Graves, Secretary of the General Conference, the bishops cited travel restrictions to the US and possibility of potential spread of the virus and quarantine as the main reasons for seeking the postponement.
 
The General Conference is the top policy-making body of The United Methodist Church, which meets once every four years to revise church law, as well as adopt resolutions on moral, social, public policy and economic issues. It also approves plans and budgets for church-wide programs. It is scheduled to meet May 5-15 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
 
The bishops are also concerned about the essential value of a global church that gathers with a fairness of representation, adding that they believe that injustice would occur if a number of delegates from a particular area are not able to be present, due to visa or health restrictions.
 
“We write out of a deep love for our global church and as a tangible way of giving spiritual and temporal oversight in our role as shepherds and we are guided by the core value of helping delegates to do their best work,” said the letter signed by COB President Bishop Kenneth H. Carter and COB President-Designate Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey
.

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