By Lindsay Peyton
Delegates are invited to attend a virtual Pre-Conference Session, a preview of the upcoming Annual Conference business session and an opportunity to delve into proposed resolutions. The Pre-Conference Session will help delegates fully understand the resolutions and offer time to ask questions.
The scheduled times for Pre-Conference 2022 are:
- 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 1 for Central Northwest, South and Southwest Districts. Spanish translation and closed captioning will also be available.
- 6:30 p.m. on Monday, May 2 for Central North, Southeast and North Districts.
- 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 3 for Central South, East and West Districts.
Rev. Kip Gilts, Assistant to the Bishop, explained that the Pre-Conference sessions will remain virtual to allow greater attendance, accessibility and convenience. The meetings moved to Zoom in 2020 to preserve safety during the pandemic.
If someone cannot attend on a certain day or time, they are welcome to sign up for a different slot.
Together Again for Annual Conference
The theme for this year’s Annual Conference, is “Praise the Lord my Soul” based on Psalm 104. “Bishop Jones, the worship and communications teams produced the logo based on Psalm 104, which is the prayer of celebration to God as our creator,” said Shannon W. Martin, Director of Communications. She explained that participants will experience this theme throughout the 2022 Annual Conference, in sermons, worship and everything you see on the big screen.
Annual Conference 2022 is scheduled for Sunday, May 29 through Wednesday, June 1 at Hilton Americas-Houston, 1600 Lamar Street, 77010.
Being in person this year reminds Gilts of the lyric from “Together Again,” a song recorded by Buck Owens, Emmylou Harris and Ray Charles, “Nothing else matters/ We’re together again.”
The Annual Conference has been virtual for the past two years. While much has still been achieved in the modified format, there is no substitute for gathering together, Gilts said.
He especially looks forward to worshiping in-person, as well as celebrating new ordinands. “We have a lot of wonderful candidates stepping forward,” he said.
Still, Gilts said the pandemic is not over, and variants continue to arise. That is why several extra measures are being taken to ensure that Annual Conference 2022 is safe.
- Houston Methodist Hospital is providing 5,000 KN95 masks. “That’s enough for two for every delegate,” Gilts said. The KN95s are more effective and longer-lasting.
- While masks are optional, a mask-only section will be available in the assembly room for guests.
- Hand hygiene stations will be available throughout the hotel. The Hilton Americas staff will assist with creating as much physical distancing as possible
- The Annual Conference will be streamed, except the executive session for clergy. This will allow delegates and guests to follow the events if they prefer not to be physically present.
- While voting and speaking will not be available virtually, matters that require further deliberations and discussions will be held during an in-person Tuesday business session. This makes it possible to attend for a shorter period of time – in consideration of delegates uncomfortable in large gatherings.
2022 Conference Plans
Gilts said the worship team is already at work, bringing more than 30 worship leaders together to build an inspiring experience. Preaching also promises to be powerful this year, with Bishop Scott J. Jones preaching on Sunday’s Opening Celebration.
Special guest Bishop James Swanson of the Mississippi Conference will take the stage on Tuesday. “He’s a fantastic preacher,” Gilts said.
He added that the Annual Conference will provide an opportunity to hear from partners in ministry, including Houston Methodist Hospital, Lakeview Conference Center and Methodist Retirement Communities.
Each has navigated the pandemic in innovative ways to protect the community. “We’ll have a chance to congratulate them,” Gilts said.
He explained that the Conference will also celebrate the Lydia Patterson Institute’s Executive Director Dr. Socorro de Anda. “This is her last year, and she has done fantastic work,” he said. “Dr. de Anda will introduce us to her successor Carla Cordoza.”
He added that business sessions will be informative and that presentations will be made by the Council on Finance and Administration (CF&A), future discernment task forces and conference leadership, focused on innovation, collaboration and accountability.
“There will also be deliberations and decisions that will be course-setting for the Conference,” he said.
Four resolutions will be up for a vote during the Annual Conference:
- A Policy to Prevent Hate Speech in the TAC. “This is really about improving the level of conversation at Annual Conference,” Gilts said. “Oftentimes, we move into language that can be harmful or offensive.” This resolution would particularly prevent hate speech.
- Forward in Love. Gilts explained that because the General Conference has been canceled, this resolution was amended to keep the spirit of the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation. “It’s about being gracious to one another, with a goal of mutual respect,” he said.
- A Resolution for a Two-Thirds Majority to Remove the TAC from the UMC. Because discussions of possible disaffiliation as a Conference from the UMC to join the Global Methodist Church (GMC) have been underway, this resolution would require a two-thirds majority to pass.
- Reasoning with Grace. This measure addresses the calling of a special session in August or September by Bishop Jones for the purpose of receiving resolutions related to disaffiliation. All resolutions would be submitted 60 days in advance.
How to prepare
The Pre-Conference meetings will allow for presentations, conversations and deliberation over these and other vital issues. Videos describing each resolution will be viewed and representatives will be available at each session to answer questions about background, rationale and what-ifs.
Attending the Pre-Conference meeting, reviewing the videos and reading the journal on the Guidebook App are the best ways to prepare for the Annual Conference, Gilts explained.
Here are actions to take now:
- Register for Annual Conference. Look for an email from Jan Ervin at dated Feb. 16. Email Ervin if you cannot find your registration link.
- Reserve your room at the Hilton Americas Houston by calling 1-800-HILTONS with the SRP codeword: 1PX to obtain the block rate. Reservations may be made online by clicking https://book.passkey.com/go/MethodistChurch2022.
- Download the Guidebook App after May 1 at https://www.txcumc.org/tac2022 and start reading the Pre-Conference Journal.
- Pray for a successful 2022 Session of the Texas Annual Conference.
“Those prayers now are important,” Gilts said. “And make sure you’re at the Pre-Conference meetings. There will be a lot of critical information and discussions.”
For more information on TAC 2022, visit https://www.txcumc.org/tac2022
Note from the editor: The Pre-Conference Journal and Guidebook App will be available on the Texas Annual Conference website by the first of May.