In light of this very unusual and challenging year of COVID-19, we have had several conversations about how the Gathering would look this year. Our ABC Ohio Board of Regional Ministries met to discuss the concern of bringing 175 people, many of them in the at-risk category, together for a two-day event. In light of the risks to participants, the Board and Staff came to the conclusion that this year’s event will be different than past Annual Gatherings.
The 2020 ABC Ohio Annual Gathering will take place on Tuesday, October 6 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel North in Columbus, the same location as past years. We will meet at 1 PM with Dr. C. Jeff Woods, Acting General Secretary of the American Baptist Churches USA as our keynote speaker. Pastor Benjamin Payne and the praise team of the First Baptist Church of Seville will be our worship leaders. The afternoon will include a brief business meeting, which is required by our region’s constitution. We anticipate that the event will conclude by 4:30 PM. Because of the high risk of banquet-style meals, there will be no meal functions.
We know that some of you will enjoy participating in the Gathering in person. We will practice social distancing in our room arrangement and program. Masks will be required for all who attend. The hotel has assured us that they will take an abundance of precautions to meet safety standards while we are there.
We also know that many of you will want to be part of the day, but will not want to participate in person. We urge those who are ill, at risk, or have a desire to be cautious, to stay at home and participate with us electronically. The event will be live-streamed, so you will be able to be part of the afternoon in real time. More information about the live-streaming will be made available closer to the time of the event.
There will be no charge for this year’s Annual Gathering, but advanced registration will be required. In about a month, we will send registration information so that your church may register delegates and guests. This will assure that we are adequately prepared for the business meeting and for set-up at the hotel.
We are looking forward to 2021 as we anticipate being together for a more complete Annual Gathering next year. You and your congregations remain in our prayers as we continue to navigate the challenges of COVID.