Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky, in consultation with members of the Greater Northwest Area COVID-19 Crisis Management Team and District Superintendents, has made the difficult decision to cancel June’s Shared Annual Conference session in Puyallup, Wash.
Instead, Bishop Stanovsky is working with leaders from the Alaska, Oregon-Idaho and Pacific Northwest Conferences to schedule individual Conference gatherings – perhaps virtually – in the fall to deal with the essential business of each Conference for 2020.
Currently, the state of Washington has a stay-in-place order on large gatherings in effect until at least May 5. Most projections have the disease continuing to impact the region beyond this date making it unlikely that any large gathering could be safely held in Puyallup this June.
Bishop Stanovsky made this declaration in accordance with the rules of The United Methodist Book of Discipline, requiring the affirmation by a majority of the district superintendents of all three conferences.
“I take very seriously John Wesley’s principle of doing no harm,” Stanovsky said. “We will continue to err on the side of caution when it comes to the health and welfare of our lay and clergy members. Life is a sacred gift, and in this season, we can do this to protect it, so we shall.”
The cancellation of the Shared Annual Conference Session and the likelihood of individual Annual Conference sessions this fall raises many questions about the process, timing and decision-making for things normally occurring in June. Bishop Stanovsky is working with leaders in each Conference to identify alternative ways to accomplish the necessary business. As more is known it will be shared through Conference communications. Your Conference leaders ask for your grace as they make difficult decisions during this unprecedented time in our history.
Plans for 2021 Annual Conferences await final determination about the dates of General and Jurisdictional Conferences, but if possible, Bishop Stanovsky hopes to reschedule the Gathered Session with all three Conferences in June of 2021.
For more details, visit the Greater NW Area website. This decision may raise some questions for you, and we encourage you to submit those questions online.