All-Conference Online Gathering to be Held in September

All-Conference Online Gathering to be Held in September

The Southern New England Conference will hold an All-Conference Gathering - online - on Saturday, Sept. 26. Clergy, delegates, and all those interested are asked to save 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM on that date.

Conference leaders postponed the planned June Annual Meeting due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, meeting planners see it as unlikely to be safe – or even allowable - to hold a large gathering in the fall, so the Board of Directors has agreed that the September meeting should be held online.

This gathering may not count as an Annual Meeting. The Conference is incorporated in Massachusetts, where the law specifies that Annual Meetings of non-profit corporations must take place in person. The Massachusetts legislature has passed emergency legislation allowing virtual annual meetings during the recent state of emergency and for 60 days thereafter – which at this point means July 18th.  It remains to be seen whether that might be extended into the fall.

“The Massachusetts law was clearly written in a pre-pandemic world”, said Dawn Hammond, Associate Conference Minister for Policy and Finance. “It puts many nonprofits in a bind – the law and our bylaws require us to hold an in-person Annual Meeting, but public safety precludes this. Fortunately, we have received legal advice that it will not threaten our nonprofit status if we can’t hold a legal meeting.”

Whether or not any voting matters can come before the meeting, the intention is for worship to be a centerpiece, and for Conference leaders to address the gathering. The hope is that there will also be a candidate for Executive Conference Minister to introduce - that search is ongoing despite the current situation. Delegates may be asked to affirm the selection of the candidate.

“The most important thing about Annual Meeting has always been to come together - to worship, encourage and challenge one another, and celebrate the covenant we share” said Hammond. “Our Annual Meeting Steering Team is eager to create an engaging, Spirit-filled opportunity to consider the new ways we are called to be the church in this new time.”
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