18th May 2020 Update
In view of the ongoing Coronavirus emergency, Swanwick has now cancelled all bookings until 26 July, which includes the weekend of Annual Meeting. Connexional Committee met on Saturday, using Zoom, and considered a number of alternatives that included holding a meeting later in the year, whether at Swanwick or in an alternative location. However, we concluded that there was too much uncertainty for us to suggest an alternative date or venue, given the risk that restrictions might still be in place or could be re-imposed. Also, a number of people are uneasy about meeting as we normally do, even if it was permissible by then. It was therefore decided that we would cancel Annual Meeting 2020 altogether, and we would carry forward our booking to 2021, as was agreed at last year’s Annual Meeting. The Constitution permits Connexional Committee to alter previously-agreed decisions about Annual Meeting in exceptional circumstances, and I hope you agree that the present circumstances do merit this action.
Some business cannot be deferred, and Connexional Committee has decided to hold a ‘postal’ ballot on a number of essential matters. These matters include ratification of the constitutional changes approved last year, election of officers (including a President-Elect) and Connexional Committee members to serve for 2020-1, approval of reports for 2019-20 and Notices of Motion, generally relating to finance. You may also know that we have received an application to join the Connexion from a fellowship in Somerset that is in the process of leaving the Methodist Connexion of churches. Connexional Committee recommends that this application be approved, and we decided to use this as a trial of the postal ballot process, before submitting other business decisions to the churches. Further information about West Camel Methodist Church will be forwarded shortly, and we ask church secretaries to consult their members on this matter by whatever means are available to them. Votes must reach the Resource Centre by 30th June at the very latest, if they are to be counted. Methods of voting have not been finalised, but may include recording votes by e-mail (asking for a ballot paper to be scanned as an attachment), which is probably more reliable than relying on the post at this time. It may also be possible to vote via the Connexional website, with suitable security measures in place so that only churches are able to vote. Experience from this ballot will determine how the rest of the voting will be conducted.
25th March 2020 Update
There have been a number of questions relating to Annual Meeting. Because Swanwick has only cancelled bookings until the end of May, the Connexion would incur a sizeable cancellation fee if we were to cancel at this stage. If it is possible to return to normality thereafter (a big ‘if’), there would be no reason why Annual Meeting could not go ahead in July as planned, and we should have enough prior notification to make the necessary arrangements. If, however, limits on social gatherings persist, and our booking has to be cancelled by Swanwick, we would be offered the opportunity to reschedule Annual Meeting at a later date. Hopefully we would have enough opportunity to consult over an Annual Meeting later in 2020.
However, there is a good possibility that we may have to look at an alternative way to conduct the business of Annual Meeting, at least for this year. Several Christian organisations are having to consider this at the moment as many usually hold their annual conventions in the months May to July. Our Connexional Officers are keeping in close touch with what is happening elsewhere and will keep you informed on any developments whilst Connexional Committee will be asked for approval should any further action become necessary.
Early March 2020 Update
There is currently some uncertainty around this meeting and whether it will take place or not due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Whilst we are uncertain, we would still ask churches to book delegates and visitors as if the meeting were going ahead. However, we would ask that no payments are sent at this point. If we decide to go ahead with Annual Meeting, we will invoice churches for any fees required. Thank you.