District Conference

     At their meeting on Monday, June 8, 2020, the Middle PA District Coordinating Team unanimously approved a recommendation by the District Conference Program and Arrangements Committee to suspend the usual in-person meeting of District Conference for 2020 (was scheduled for Saturday, October 3, 2020 at Pine Glen COB) in favor of a recorded celebration of our congregations that will be available for our churches to use later this year. Program & Arrangements Committee has been meeting frequently over the past months, carefully assessing where our district is in terms of the state color-code phases regarding COVID-19 restrictions and what implications these have for district conference this Fall. Even though all counties of the Middle Pa District are or will soon be in the green phase, the committee identified several factors of uncertainty that exist now as we look to the future: 

 

The green phase state guideline regarding social distancing and restrictions of large gatherings to 250 or less.

The health risk and other extra precautions needed with food preparation.

The onset of the normal flu season in the Fall.

The continued presence of the coronavirus and the lack of testing and a vaccine.

Individual preferences and comfort level with a larger gathering like district conference.

 

     Across the denomination, there are some districts planning a virtual conference while some are cancelling.  The committee discussed at length the possibility of some sort of virtual gathering via ZOOM or other means.  At the Pine Glen Church, the designated site for this year’s district conference, the WiFi capabilities there are not consistent and often weak.  The committee recognized that this could be the case in many locations throughout the district.  The committee also recognized that doing a virtual district conference might also exclude those who do not have such capacity available to them.  It was also pointed out that a virtual district conference would require a high degree of technical prowess and precise coordination.

     In reviewing the business aspects of district conference, it was noted that the only two items requiring voting for the district were the approval of the slate and the approval of the 2021 mission plan. Co-executive director Jerriann Wenger represented Camp Blue Diamond in this discussion.  The camp’s annual meeting occurs as part of district conference,  however the Camp was willing to adapt to whatever decision Program & Arrangements committee made.  2021 financial planning for both the district and the camp already acknowledges that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on future finances.

     Another aspect of District Conference discussed at length was its spiritual unity aspect.  This led to the vision for the creative video with sharing from our congregations and the camp as to how we all continue to do the work of Jesus, peacefully, simply and together, in the midst of a world-wide pandemic.  In contrast to a live-stream, virtual version of District Conference, such a recording will enable each of our congregations to choose when and in what context it is used.

     All of the above considerations resulted in the approval by the District Coordinating Team of the following recommendation by the District Conference Program & Arrangement Committee.

That 2020 District Conference be cancelled this year. As an alternative to a physical meeting, a video will be created highlighting and featuring our congregations in celebration  of how they have lived out Jesus Christ during this year of pandemic.

The 2020 Mission Plan be carried over through 2021.

Those in outgoing leadership positions be asked to serve an additional year.

 

     It is the prayer of the Coordinating Team that this recorded celebration of our congregations  will serve to bring us all together in a new way, helping us to realize that each of us is part of the greater Body of Christ we call the Middle PA District.  Our hope is that it will be an instrument to inspire us as we together seek to be the voice, the hands and the feet of Jesus Christ.  Pastors and congregations will be contacted in the summer months for planning each church’s participation in the celebration video.