2023 PNW Annual Conference Session
Frequently Asked Qustions
For the first time, members of the 2023 Pacific Northwest Annual Conference will participate in fully hybrid conference sessions. This means change for members, regardless of whether they attend in person or online. This FAQ has been produced to help to answer questions and will be updated as news questions and answers emerge.
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As an area, we continue to monitor the impact and prevalence of COVID-19 in our communities. If you are planning to attend annual conference in person, you should expect some combination of masking, testing, and the requirement to stay home or isolated if you are exhibiting or experiencing any cold or flu-like symptoms.
COVID-19 has disrupted many of our normal practices, including how we gather for this annual meeting. We know that some people are excited to return to an in-person format and understand that others prefer or require an online option. The venues we are meeting in have capacity limits, and those limits are further impacted by our desire to avoid overcrowding these spaces.
There are several expenses that are directly related to an in-person meeting that are not present for online participation, just as there are some benefits to attending in person that translate poorly into virtual space. Our registration costs were estimated to help our gathering account for some of the in-person expenses without passing them along to those participating remotely.
We anticipate that there may be an opportunity to welcome a limited number of in-person guests to the 2023 Pacific Northwest Annual Conference Session. Still, we are prioritizing the registration of our lay and clergy members. Once registration closes and we have a better sense of how the facilities align with those who wish to attend in person, we will share more information on how guests can attend. At the very least, we expect to offer live streaming of most annual conference events for guests on our website – pnwumc.org/ac2023
Before COVID, conversations would frequently occur about the increasing costs of gathering 500 to 600 annual conference members. Beyond the expenses that the conference would directly see, we know that each member had additional costs, including but not limited to housing, travel, and time away from work and family. Many of these expenses have gone up with inflation. We also understand that in a growing number of churches, these costs are carried by clergy and lay members to conference with partial or no support from the local church budget.
In practical terms, there was already concern that our model for gathering had the side effect of disenfranchising members whose voices matter. We are using this opportunity, coming out of COVID, to try something new that makes hosting the conference more affordable for members and leaves more money in the local church for mission and ministry.
Registration costs for our 2019 annual conference session cost $185 per person before late fees were applied. This price was inclusive of a required meal package. This year, registration costs $70, with the option of adding a $65 meal package. Comparing apples to apples, registration with a meal package will cost $50 less than in 2019.
We certainly hope not. In part, we are continuing to contract with GNTV to help us ensure this doesn’t happen. Over the past couple of years, GNTV has proved to be a reliable partner in managing our online conferences and voting needs. In addition, they have also developed expertise in helping conferences to meet in a hybrid fashion, as we are doing this year.
Deadlines for registration to annual conference are earlier this year to give the annual conference sessions planning team and staff adequate time to prepare for and welcome members in person and online properly.
The University of Puget Sound is offering its meal services to us at an affordable rate. To take advantage of this opportunity, we need to provide them with a reliable count before our annual conference session. If you would like to take advantage of the convenience of campus meals, you must select this opportunity when you register.
While dorm-style accommodations aren’t a good fit for everyone, we are happy that the University of Puget Sound is willing to offer this affordable option for our members. The university requires each person staying on campus also to have a meal package. Even with this requirement, the cost of staying on campus is significantly less than it costs to stay in a hotel.
We are exploring options for childcare. In the registration process for those choosing to attend in person, there is space to share the needs members have. Conference staff will contact parents needing childcare with more information, including childcare registration after our initial registration closes. We expect childcare may cost approximately $75 per child.
All members, including those attending in person, will need a cell phone or internet-capable device to vote and be recognized to speak during the annual conference. While we are working with our venue hosts to be able to provide some internet to those who need it, it is the recommendation of our voting provider, GNTV, that in-person attendees use their cell phones and existing carrier plans as much as possible. Using the same tools will help all conference members, those joining online or in person, to participate equally.
In-person members should plan to download (to a tablet or laptop) or bring a printed version of the PCH materials they would like to have ready and be prepared to use them with limited personal space.
While it would be possible to process disaffiliations during a regular annual conference session, a special session will allow us to focus specifically on this work, honor voices that need to be present in the space and leave room to say a good goodbye to churches that have decided to leave.