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Questions & Answers Regarding the Virtual 2020 Tennessee Annual Conference
Why must we have the annual conference virtually?
Let us begin by saying that none of us WANTS to have a virtual annual conference. We would much rather be with everyone in person! But, as we discovered when some churches reopened using strict guidelines – physically distancing themselves, wearing masks, avoiding congregational singing and recitations – people still got sick. Your safety is our concern.
I don’t have the virus, can I show up anyway?
No. There is nowhere for you to show up. There is no congregation or audience present on site for the annual conference. Our leadership and all of our voting members will be spread out across the conference – all connecting thanks to technology. When more than one leader is in a space, they will be physically distanced and be following additional strict safety protocols.
When is the clergy session and ordination?
The Clergy Session of the 2020 Tennessee Annual Conference was held via Zoom Webinar on Tuesday, August 18 at 2:00 p.m.
There were training sessions for all clergy that will prepare them for annual conference as well. The training that will be offered in September is the SAME training. Those clergy who received voting codes for the clergy session will use the SAME VOTING CODE for annual conference session voting on September 19.
The 2020 Service of Licensing, Commissioning, and Ordination was live-streamed on August 21. The service was split into two parts and was only open to a very limited number of invited guests. Strict health safety protocols were followed. A recording of the 2020 Service of Licensing, Commissioning, and Ordination will be broadcast on Friday, September 18, at 7 p.m. from this website.
When is the 2020 Tennessee Annual Conference?
Friday, September 18 at 7 p.m.
A recording of the Service of Licensing, Commissioning, and Ordination will be shown as part of the annual conference live stream. A link will be available on the conference website at tnumc.org/AC2020 and in the annual conference app.
Saturday, September 19, 2020
Annual conference business sessions, recognitions, and worship will begin online at 9 a.m. on Saturday, September 19, 2020. This session will be available to everyone via live stream as in the past. Only voting members will have the necessary access codes to be able to participate in asking questions, making comments, and voting.
What kind of technology do I need to participate as a voting member of the annual conference?
Voting members will need a computer, tablet, or smart phone to participate and vote at annual conference. You can use just one device for everything, but it may be visually easier if you watch proceedings on a computer and use the voting feature with your smart phone or tablet. You will not be on camera, but your voice will be heard when you are recognized by the bishop to make comments, ask questions, put forth motions, etc. that the whole annual conference body needs to hear.
We strongly encourage everyone to review all pre-conference materials after they are posted on August 18 to the website and to the annual conference app. Going back and forth to multiple screens during the session will unnecessarily complicate your experience. If you want to submit questions regarding any pre-conference materials, please send them to AC2020@tnumc.org.
During annual conference, you will have the ability to ask technical and procedural questions by typing into a Q&A form included with the Zoom webinar. Instructions will be given during the training sessions held prior to annual conference.
What if I don’t have WiFi access or an email address?
If you do not have WiFi at your home, we encourage you to make arrangements now to use a computer and the internet at your church or a friend or relative’s house or office for the training session (see below for dates/times) and also for the whole day on Saturday, September 19.
It is not necessary to have an email address to watch or to participate in this year’s annual conference, however, voting members must have internet access to participate and to vote. To make sure you do not miss any annual conference messages, you may want to send us a relative’s email address and ask if they will make sure you receive the information.
Voting codes are sent out from GNTV to the email address you have provided to your church/district office. If you do not have an email address or need to add one, please contact your district administrator as soon as possible. Voting codes are sent via U.S. Mail to those with no email address.
What steps as a Member to Annual Conference do I need to take if I am unable to fulfill my duties?
Lay voting members can turn over voting credentials to the alternate voting lay member from their church. Please make this decision as soon as possible so a voting code can be obtained for that alternate voting member. In the event a lay member cannot participate they must:
- Contact their pastor.
- The pastor will email the district superintendent and district administrative assistant notifying them of the need to release the lay member and which elected alternate will be replacing the elected lay member.
- Upon approval, the district office will contact annual conference voting officials about the change.
- A valid voting code will be submitted to the alternate member.
Where do I register?
There is no registration required for the 2020 Annual Conference. Each district provided the Conference Secretary, Rev. Monica Mowdy, with a list of Lay Voting Members who were elected at their church charge conferences to serve. The conference office maintains a database of all clergy who are eligible to vote.
Everyone on these lists will receive unique, personal voting codes to vote online. This will be sent via email from GNTV. If a voting member did not provide their church or district with an email address, they will receive a letter in the U.S. Mail with that code.
Your code is private and personal. Do not share it with anyone. There is no record of how individual members vote, only aggregate numbers will be available.
Will there be an orientation or training on how to participate?
Several training sessions will be offered on how to participate online during the annual conference. Clergy had opportunities to learn in August prior to the clergy session. Lay sessions will be offered in September.
Having been through the August session will prepare clergy well for answering questions their lay members may have about the process.
Below were the dates and times for those training sessions:
Training for Clergy (attend one of the following)
Monday, August 17 – 10 a.m.
Monday, August 17 – 3 p.m.
Tuesday, August 18 – 1 p.m.
All clergy were invited to attend and participate in the Clergy Session on Tuesday, August 18 – 2 p.m. Only current and retired Elders and Deacons in full connection with the Tennessee Conference were emailed voting codes for this session. They need to keep those voting codes for use during annual conference sessions! (Annual Conference voting codes will be sent out to additional clergy and lay voting members of annual conference in September.)
Training for all Clergy & Lay Voting Members (please attend one of the following) – This is the SAME training received by clergy prior to the clergy session, so only those who did not receive training need to attend.
Tuesday, September 8 – 5 p.m.
Friday, September 18 – 11 a.m.
Our production partner for the annual conference is GNTV. They have successfully produced several annual conference sessions throughout the country over the past few months. GNTV will send links for these training sessions to eligible voting members when they send voting codes to them.
You will find helpful virtual event quick guides and cheat sheets on the GNTV website: https://www.gntv.info/virtual-events/virtual-event-quick-guides/
Annual Conference Worship & Business Sessions
Saturday, September 19 – 9 a.m. – approximately 4 p.m. with a lunch break
(Note: Tennessee Conference leaders who have been asked to speak or moderate discussion during sessions will have Leadership Training on Sept, 18 at 9-11 a.m. and Dress Rehearsal – run full agenda on Sept. 18 at 2-4 p.m.)
Do I need to do anything else to prepare for the annual conference?
As with previous conferences, all voting members are expected to review reports and resolutions that are submitted to the annual conference for action. These were posted to the conference website and in the annual conference app on August 18 and will be updated as needed.
Also, partner organizations have submitted “exhibitor” materials for your review.
What will we be voting on at the annual conference?
Resolutions and reports that require a vote will be available for your review on the conference website and in the annual conference app, as noted above.
A motion was made and approved at the 2019 annual conference to have the 2020 Tennessee and Memphis annual conferences approve a structure and financial plan for the new Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference. This information will be presented during the Saturday morning session. However, to review a more robust presentation, please review the new conference webinar when it is posted at TWKUMC.org.
Can we vote later if voting is when we can not attend?
Late votes will not be recorded. If you cannot participate on Saturday, September 19, please notify your district office. You can turn over your voting credentials to the alternate voting lay member from your church. Please make this decision as soon as you can so a voting code can be obtained for that alternate voting member.
Will we have an Annual Conference offering?
The 2020 Tennessee Annual Conference offering will go to support our disaster response teams and ongoing Tornado Recovery Connection activities associated with the March 2020 storms. Checks can be mailed to the conference office: Tennessee Conference, 304 S. Perimeter Park Drive, Suite 1, Nashville, TN 37211 (please note that this is for Tornado Response)
Online giving is preferred since our staff continues to work remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions. Online giving link: Tornado Response.
Will I be able to ask questions during the sessions?
Yes. You will be able to type your questions into the Zoom webinar Q&A feature. The bishop and conference secretary will monitor questions as they come in and will respond as if we all were in person. If you are recognized to speak, your voice will be heard by everyone attending. You will not appear on the screen and do not need a camera.
If you have technical questions, a phone number will be available so you can contact the production team with your questions. (Here is a Q&A explanation from GNTV: Zoom-QA-One-Sheet)
Will I be able to chat with other attendees during the Zoom webinar annual conference sessions?
The annual conference planning team has asked GNTV to turn off the chat feature during the annual conference sessions to reduce distractions and to simplify the learning curve for those members who are unfamiliar with the technology we are using. We in no way want to restrict people from communicating with the body.
As is done during in-person annual conferences, all voting members have the ability to be recognized to speak. Online, that will be done through the Zoom webinar Q&A feature. When you are recognized to speak, your voice will be heard by everyone as long as your device has a microphone (you will not appear on the screen and do not need a webcam to participate).
What about those who are retiring?
As we have done before, a video montage of retiree’s voices will be presented during the annual conference as part of the Board of Ministry report. This way, we all can celebrate the faith, life, leadership, and ministry of all those who have retired.
Will there be a Memorial Service?
Because we are not able to safely meet in-person to worship, we will not have a traditional in-person Memorial Service. However, those who have died during the past year will be recognized and remembered on that Saturday in a virtual Memorial Service. A Memorial Booklet will be available online and in the annual conference app for everyone to view.
When will the List of Clergy Appointments be available?
The List of Clergy Appointments is now posted at https://www.tnumc.org/2020-clergy-appointments/. If you find an error, please contact your district office so a correction can be made.
Can I go back and read the emails sent from the annual conference design team before I was elected to be an At Large member?
Yes! Those emails are archived on the Annual Conference 2020 Email Updates page.
Do you have a question that is not addressed here?
Please contact us at AC2020@tnumc.org so we can continue to add needed information to this page!