The Commission on the General Conference, in a March 16 press release said:
As concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic continue to escalate, the Commission on the General Conference will meet on March 21 via teleconference to discuss plans for the 2020 General Conference, scheduled for May 5-15, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minn.
According to the United Methodist Book of Discipline, in the absence of a convened General Conference, only the full Commission, as the duly authorized committee of the General Conference, can set the date of the quadrennial meeting. (Paragraphs 14 and 511.4a) This would include making a decision and announcing a new date.
The Executive Committee of the Council of Bishops has asked for the postponement of the 2020 General Conference because of the new Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. A press release was issued by the COB office early this afternoon. Below is the text of the press release, which also is posted on the COB website unitedmethodistbishops.org
The Executive Committee of the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church has asked for the postponement of the 2020 General Conference, set to begin in six weeks, because of the new Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic.
In a letter to Kim Simpson, Chairperson of Commission on the General Conference and Rev. Gary W. Graves, Secretary of the General Conference, the bishops cited travel restrictions to the US and possibility of potential spread of the virus and quarantine as the main reasons for seeking the postponement.
The General Conference is the top policy-making body of The United Methodist Church, which meets once every four years to revise church law, as well as adopt resolutions on moral, social, public policy and economic issues. It also approves plans and budgets for church-wide programs. It is scheduled to meet May 5-15 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The bishops are also concerned about the essential value of a global church that gathers with a fairness of representation, adding that they believe that injustice would occur if a number of delegates from a particular area are not able to be present, due to visa or health restrictions.
“We write out of a deep love for our global church and as a tangible way of giving spiritual and temporal oversight in our role as shepherds and we are guided by the core value of helping delegates to do their best work,” said the letter signed by COB President Bishop Kenneth H. Carter and COB President-Designate Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey.