As the Covid-19 pandemic continued to surge, the Peninsula-Delaware sessions team worked tirelessly to find the safest option possible to carry out our historic gathering. Conference teams condensed the standard program – typically scheduled over a three-day conference – into two half-days centered largely on business matters. Lay and clergy members began the session by approving several organizational motions that allowed The Pen-Del conference to conduct business and allowing voting virtually. Once approved, delayed only 142 days, the conference held its first-ever webinar Clergy and Laity sessions on Oct. 24, 2020.
The tradition continued even in our virtual webinar format. The clergy session started with the same hymn that is sung at the beginning of every annual conference, "And Are We Yet Alive." While the program may have looked the same, the presentation of the candidates and voting, looked very different. When all was said and done, all provisional and elder ordinands were approved and set to be commissioned and ordained at ordination service that would take place on Nov. 14, 2020.
Webinar format didn't slow down our laity session, either. Our lay leader, Yvonne Jackson, was serving in her role for that last time and she prepared a wonderful session for the more than 400 hundred laity who attended. There were videos that highlighted the role of women, spotlighted a longtime United Methodist leader, and even ended with a performance of a local ventriloquist.
Bishop Peggy Johnson urged the laity to come together during this unusual time of the church and the pandemic and unite as we journey through the uncertainty that is upcoming.
Almost three weeks later, the official business session was conducted through a webinar format on Zoom. Hundreds of voting delegates were practiced and prepared to vote on the 12 resolutions that we before them. All resolutions were prerecorded and presented to the conference through video format. Five of the resolutions that were noteworthy were the resolution to reduce our annual conferences districts from four to three, and to approve four churches for disaffiliation. All resolutions passed.
After the voting had ended, a prerecorded call to action video was shared. The call to action was done by the Rev. Rob Townsend, conference director of Connectional Ministries, and the Rev. Lester Justice, director of Strengthening the Black Church.
During their presentation, they highlighted the work that had been done over the last eight months in the midst of a global pandemic and racial unrest around the country. This included weekly sessions and conversations at the conference office, a weekly webinar meeting by one of our district superintendents that was titled, "Solidarity Wednesdays, and workshops that were being done across the conference.
A video was also shared that honored our retirees. There were 14 newly retirees and six that were re-retiring, bringing the total to 20. During the video, each was honored by showing their years of service, locations that they served, and some of their favorite memories.
The following day, a limited number of conference leaders and staff gathered at Connection Community Church in Middletown Delaware to conduct the Memorial and Ordination services. Everyone who was participating or working the services wore facemasks and practiced social distancing. After the memorial service, the entire sanctuary was cleaned and sanitized as well as other safety precautions to protect against the potential spread of the virus.
During the ordination service, three new provisional members were commissioned; Joshua Berry, Samuel Mitchell, and Vernette Dow White. Two full elders were ordinated; Ronald Bell, Jr. and Zachary Wheeler. Carlos Reyes-Rodriguez was also ordained as a full deacon.
AC2020 members approved the report of the Council on Finance and Administration. The 2021 budget is $379,351 lower than the 2020 budget – a 7 % decrease.
Church Closings: 1.
Other Reports: The 2021 Peninsula-Delaware Annual Conference is scheduled for June 10-12, 2021, at the University of Maryland Eastern shore.
Names of delegates for 2021 General Conference:
Megan Shitama Weston
Number of people ordained as elders: 2
Number of people commissioned as provisional elders: 3
Number of people commissioned as full deacons: 1
Number of clergy retired: 20; 14 new & 6 re-retired.
2019 Membership stands at 70,019.
2019 Worship attendance stands at 26,127.
2019 Church school attendance stands at 7,107.
Professions or reaffirmations of faith for 2019: 887.
Adults and young adults in small groups for 2019: 11,506.
Worshippers engaged in mission for 2019: 14,217.
— Doug Lanter, Communications Director, Peninsula-Delaware Conference
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