United Methodists reschedule meeting — and decision on splitting — to 2021

United Methodists plan to head to Minneapolis for their General Conference in 2021, where they will discuss the denomination's future. The meeting was postponed for more than a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Supporters of full inclusion for LGBTQ people in United Methodist Church life hold hands in the observers’ area at the 2019 United Methodist General Conference in St. Louis on Feb. 25, 2019, while waiting for vote totals to be displayed. Photo by Mike DuBose/UMNS

(RNS) — The United Methodist Church has rescheduled its General Conference for Aug. 29-Sept. 7, 2021, at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis.

And it’s looking into ways to use technology to ensure delegates can participate in the quadrennial meeting, according to the Commission on the General Conference.

The General Conference — during which delegates from across the globe are expected to discuss a proposal to split the denomination over the inclusion of its LGBTQ members — had been set for earlier this month in Minneapolis. It was postponed in March when the convention center announced it was restricting events at the venue to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

RELATED: United Methodists would’ve met this week to consider a split. What are they doing instead?

“We’re grateful that we were able to secure new dates while keeping the site of General Conference in Minneapolis. Nearly seven years of pre-planning and preparations by the host team have gone into this event,” commission chair Kim Simpson said in a written statement.

A group of young delegates had circulated a petition asking the commission to reconsider rescheduling the meeting at the start of the academic year.

The commission “expressed regret” in a statement that it was unable to accommodate that request without losing a substantial amount of money, finding a new meeting location or pushing the event to 2022. It also agreed to gather a group, including young delegates, to explore online voting and recommend other possibilities to the commission.

“Including young adults in the General Conference is always an important consideration. We affirm that their voices need to be heard,” Simpson said.

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