We write to you in unprecedented times to share some unprecedented news: In a special called meeting of the General Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) via Zoom on Sunday, July 19, 2020, the board voted to cancel the 2021 General Assembly originally scheduled for July 31-Aug. 4, 2021, in Louisville, KY.
This was not a decision that was made lightly. After many weeks of prayer, investigation and long discussion, it became obvious to us that we needed to act in the best interests of the Church going forward. The COVID-19 pandemic has made travel and large gatherings ill-advised until the situation becomes more stable.
We have worked closely with staff to explore all our options. Regional ministers and presidents of the general ministries were consulted as well. All of us were united in our desire to keep our members safe. When we took the situation to the Administrative Committee, they, too, were in agreement it would be best to not gather in person next summer. The health and safety of our church family is far too important to risk meeting in an environment when we can’t be sure that everyone will be safe.
Deciding now to cancel the event, even as we don’t know yet know what next summer will bring, is also an act of stewardship for the Church. There will be financial implications to cancelling, but had we proceeded in planning an event which needed to be cancelled at a later date, or one which was only sparsely attended, we might have incurred even greater expense.
We join you in grieving the loss of this beloved event. While we have some mourning to do before we can begin to find a way forward, we also see this as an opportunity: an opportunity to take a collective deep breath, an opportunity to listen courageously to the Holy Spirit, an opportunity to imagine new ways of gathering and doing business together as a church.
We know you may have many questions and thoughts about this situation, and so we invite you to register for a live conversation tomorrow evening, via Zoom and also streamed to Facebook and YouTube. In that conversation, we will share more about the process by which we arrived at this decision and reflect on the opportunities this change offers us. If you aren’t able to join us, the recording of the session will be available on the General Assembly website. You are also welcome to send your questions to email@example.com. We’ll be gathering up the most common questions and sharing responses later this week on the General Assembly website.
Even in these difficult days, and maybe more so in these difficult days, we are united in our conviction that God is with us. Over these past several months, we have often prayed together using the words of Romans 8:38-39, which would have been our theme scripture at the General Assembly: There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
We know this to be true.
Terri Hord Owens,
General Minister and President
Belva Brown Jordan,
First Vice Moderator
Second Vice Moderator