In a specially called meeting December 23, Women of the ELCA’s executive board decided how and when to hold the organization’s convention and gathering.
The meeting and Just Love Gathering were initially scheduled for July 14-16, 2020. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, the board, in its April 2020 meeting, rescheduled the convention and gathering for early August 2021.
“Since the April board meeting, the coronavirus has spread in ways that few would have imagined,” said Linda Post Bushkofsky, churchwide executive director.
As of December 23, more than 323,000 people have died in the United States due to the coronavirus, she said. More than 18.2 million people have been infected to date in the U.S. Leading epidemiologists describe the current trajectory of the virus as a “surge upon surge upon surge.”
Therefore, believing that in-person meetings will be unsafe into 2021, the executive board approved three recommendations:
- That the Eleventh Triennial Convention, currently scheduled for August 3-5, 2021, be held virtually (or digitally) on those same dates.
“The triennial convention cannot meet virtually until the 2017 voting members amend the constitution to allow for virtual meetings,” said Bushkofsky.
Before the organization can hold a virtual convention, she said, voting members of the Tenth Triennial Convention (2017) must approve it. “So, the staff will take steps necessary to be in touch with the voting members regarding proposed changes to the constitution.” Those proposed changes were made by the executive board at its October 2020 meeting.
- That the Just Love Gathering, currently scheduled for August 5-8, 2021, be postponed and registration refunds be offered. Staff will then find other ways to build community and bring women together virtually in 2021 and 2022.
- That the Twelfth Triennial Convention and a Gathering be held in Phoenix, Arizona, during the week of September 18, 2023.
“The executive board recognizes that the recommendations carry with them several other implications,” Bushkofsky said. “Despite the challenges, we feel that these are the best options at the current time.”
Feature photo: Voting machines at the 2017 Triennial Convention in Minneapolis