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April 13, 2023
Dear Clergy and Lay Members to the Iowa Annual Conference,
In accordance with our standing rules and Paragraph 603.5 of The Book of Discipline, I hereby call for a special session of the Iowa Annual Conference on May 23, 2023, beginning at 6:30 p.m. CDT. The special session will be conducted via electronic conferencing using Zoom.
The special session shall be held for the sole purpose of voting on the Iowa Annual Conference Board of Trustees' recommendations for the churches disaffiliating per Paragraph 2553 of The Book of Discipline. Please see the attached FAQ for additional information.
Thank you for your prompt attention and response to this important matter.
Blessings in Christ,
Bishop Kennetha J. Bigham-Tsai
Questions About the May 23, 2023, Special Called Session
What is the purpose of the May 23, 2023, Special Called Session of the Annual Conference?
The sole purpose of this Special Called Session of the Iowa Annual Conference is to vote on the expected motion by the Iowa AC Board of Trustees to ratify the Disaffiliation Agreements reached with certain disaffiliating local churches of the Annual Conference per Paragraph 2553 of the 2016 Book of Discipline, as amended in 2019.
Why are we having a special session rather than voting on disaffiliation during the regular session of the Annual Conference?
Bishop Kennetha Bigham-Tsai and the Cabinet wish to care for the process of disaffiliation in a way that most honors the needs of disaffiliating local churches and that will allow the Iowa Annual Conference to move on and heal. The hope then is that the regular Iowa Annual Conference session, June 2-4, will be centered on mission, ministry and hope.
Will there be an opportunity to recognize those who are leaving and their contributions to our Conference?
Yes. A special liturgy of blessing and sending for these churches is being developed. This liturgy of “sending” will be a part of the Special Called Session.
How will I register for the Special Called Session?
If you have registered for the June 2023 Annual Conference session, you will automatically be registered for the Special Called Session and voting information will be sent to you electronically. If you have not yet registered for the June 2023 Annual Conference session, please do so as soon as possible.
Will this impact the Special Session in November 2023?
No. The special November 2023 session, just prior to the sunsetting of Paragraph 2553, will take place as scheduled. This November 2023 Special Session is for those local churches that are still discerning or for those local churches, for other reasons, that were unable to meet the deadlines necessary for the first phase of the disaffiliation process under Paragraph 2553 to be included in the June 30, 2023, effective date disaffiliations.
Will this impact the clergy session of the June 2-4 annual conference?
No. The regular clergy session will be conducted on June 2 as planned. That session will be hybrid (both in-person and electronically).
Will any disaffiliations be acted upon at the June 2023 Annual Conference session?
No. By acting on the June 30, 2023 disaffiliations earlier, this will allow the regular June session of the Annual Conference to be focused on mission, ministry and hope.
If I am disaffiliating with my local church or withdrawing, do I have to attend the June 2023 Annual Conference session?
No. As we work to bless one another in ministry going forward, you are excused and not required to attend the June 2023 Annual Conference session. We do encourage you to register for the June Annual Conference session in order to get voting credentials for the Special Session. Please select the virtual attendance option. Registering and getting credentials for the Special Session does not then require you to attend the June 2-4 Annual Conference.
For clergy, who are withdrawing under Paragraph 360.1, which is a voluntary status change, the Board of Ordained Ministry will receive that report in a procedural vote that will happen early in the agenda of Clergy Session. You are not required to attend Clergy Session.
Will the ratification of the Disaffiliation Agreements on May 23, 2023 cause the obligations of a disaffiliating local church under their Disaffiliation Agreement, or Effective Date of June 30, 2023 (as defined in the Disaffiliation Agreement), to be changed?
No. The obligations of the local churches and the effective date of June 30, 2023 under the terms of Disaffiliation Agreements being considered on May 23, 2023, will not change.