The 2021 Central Texas Annual Conference meeting will again be primarily convened virtually, via a live Zoom webinar. However, limited in-person seating is available for all events except the Service of Commissioning and Ordination (seating available via invitation only). All AC21 Services & Business Sessions will be held at First Methodist Waco (Main Campus).
The online or Zoom processes and procedures will be very similar to those used in the 2020 Online Annual Conference, though a few tweaks and improvements have been implemented based on feedback received in the post-AC20 survey. Please see the following important information and instructions.
All members to Annual Conference with voice and voting rights who have registered for AC21 should have received an email and a confrimation screen requesting you to activate your personal Zoom link. Voting members to AC21 will NOT be able to access the Zoom Webinar until they have activated their Zoom link (a process that should take less than 30 seconds to complete). If you received the confirmation screen and/or email and have not yet completed your registration in order to access your Zoom lik, please do so at your earliest opportunity. If you have not received the email with the link, please let the conference team know at either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Each registered clergy and lay member will have a unique link. As such, each clergy and lay member must be on a separate device to actively participate in the meeting (i.e. one vote per device). We recommend using a computer (desktop or laptop) or a tablet. You may access the meeting on a mobile phone, but the voting application is more difficult to navigate on a phone.
The Clergy, Local Pastor and Laity Sessions of Annual Conference will also be held via Zoom (no in-person options). A seperate Zoom link will be required to access these meetings. Clergy and lay members to Annual Conference will receive an email a few weeks before the event to activate an additional Zoom link for the Sunday afternoon Clergy (3 p.m.), Local Pastor (4:30 p.m.) and/or Laity (5 p.m.) session on June 20. If you do not receive the email to activate the Zoom link for the clergy or laity session by June 7, please contact your District Administrator (ctcumc.org/districts).
While most are now quite familiar with Zoom meetings, there are a few distinct differences with the Zoom Webinar experience.
Participants in the meeting will not be able to see each other. The only persons you’ll see on the screen are those who are presenting or have been recognized by the chair to speak “from the floor” during the meeting (aka “panelists”). Bishop Lowry and Darlene Alfred, conference Lay Leader, will be visible throughout the entire meeting, all other panelists will join the meeting as scheduled or as needed.
Seconding a motion, requests to be recognized, questions, tech support, etc. will all be done through the Q&A tab. Because participants are not visible, Bishop Lowry cannot see or hear you. As such, conference members will use the Q&A function at the bottom of the webinar screen to request to be recognized in order to make a motion, offer an amendment to a motion, call the question, make a point of order, etc. More details on this process are below (see How to be Recognized by the Chair below). Please do not use the Q&A to make comments that do not require the attention of the chair or to chat with your friends and colleagues.
The chat feature will be active during this meeting. However, chat will NOT be regularly monitored by the conference staff or AC21 production team. If you wish to be recognized by the chair, have a question or need technical support, you must use the Q&A function (see bullet above).
The meeting will follow the agenda as listed in the Preliminary Report as closely as possible. The Agenda for the meeting begins on page 8 of Preliminary Report. ctcumc.org/ac21-preliminary-report.
Please try to be cognizant of the time in breaks so that you don’t miss anything. The only break noted on the agenda is the lunch break scheduled for noon. However, if breaks are needed throughout the day, Bishop Lowry will call them. Please note when a break is called, Bishop Lowry will give a return time (i.e. “we’ll be back a 11:05.”) The meeting will resume promptly at the stated time.
Times listed in the agenda are approximate and subject to change. We will try to move through the agenda as efficiently as possible, so at times we may be ahead of schedule, and the possibility exists that we may lag behind the stated times. Bishop Lowry will not gavel the meeting closed until all the required business of the conference has been concluded.
If you’d like to be recognized by the chair to make a motion, call the question, speak to or against a motion, make an amendment, make a point of order etc., you will need to type your question, motion, amendment, request to speak in the Q&A tool. Please make sure you are using the Q&A and not Chat as Chat will not be monitored for requests of the chair or tech support.
We will be following our Guiding Principles and Best Practices and Roberts Rules of Order. Requests to be recognized will be handled as we would if we were in person, so consider entering your request in the Q&A like walking up to one of the mics in the room at an in-person meeting.
Bishop Lowry will be notified of all requests in the order in which they are received. Bishop Lowry will do his best to recognize requests in the order they appear - both for online participants as well as those attending in-person.
When making a request in the Q&A, make sure to include the nature of your request – make a motion, amend a motion, speak FOR or AGAINST a motion, etc. – your first and last name and your church and district.
We will follow our long-standing practice of three speeches for and three against with a time limit of three minutes per.
When you are recognized, you will be temporarily made into a panelist, which means you’ll be seen and heard by those viewing the meeting on the Webinar and livestream. Please, make sure that you are as well-lit as possible – in other words not in a dark room or standing in front of a bright window – and speak clearly and loudly.
When you are made a panelist, you will be temporarily logged out of the meeting as a participant. This means that you’ll “go dark” from the meeting for a few moments. This will happen automatically so please don’t click on anything or try to log out and log back into the meeting. This process usually takes around 10 seconds. The same thing will happen in reverse when you are returned to the meeting as a participant.
Voting will be done by the Zoom Polling feature.
Once Bishop Lowry opens the vote, a voting or polling pop up will appear on your screen. To cast your vote, click on either the yes, no or abstain button and hit submit.
You will have 60 seconds to cast your vote in most circumstances. Bishop Lowry may cut the time short or extend it a bit if necessary.
Once the ballot is closed, Bishop Lowry will call for the results and they will appear on the screen.
The Online voting tally is not the final vote totals. Members to Annual Conference participating in person will have their vote counted in the room by Conference Tellers. Bishop Lowry will announce the final, combined totals of the online and in-person vote
Please note that there is only one vote allowed per login. This is why everyone participating virtually had to register for the Zoom meeting and needs to be on a separate device. If you and your family member/friend are both conference members with voting rights and are sitting socially distanced in the same room and viewing this through the same computer, you are only going to be able to cast one ballot. Each clergy and lay member of the Conference needs to be on a separate device to vote (pcs or tablets are recommended vs. a mobile phone for voting).
All content related to Annual Conference 2021 can be accessed via the conference website at ctcumc.org/ac21.
The Preliminary report is at ctcumc.org/ac21-preliminary-report
Annual Conference videos can be found at ctcumc.org/ac21-videos.
Prior to Annual Conference, you’ll find videos to be played during AC21 from some of our ministry partners like GBHEM, Lydia Patterson, Methodist Children’s Home, etc.However, following the conclusion of AC21, this page will be more robust with video clips from AC21, such as this year’s Episcopal Address, the annual Laity Address, the Youth Address, Retirement videos and more as they are available.
The conference is being livestreamed for guests and visitors. Only lay and clergy members with voice and/or voting rights will participate via the live Zoom webinar. The livestream can be viewed on our conference website, ctcumc.org/ac21-live and on the conference Facebook page facebook.com/ctcumc.
If you experience any difficulties with logging into the meeting, or issues with audio or video, first try logging out of the meeting and then logging back in. This fixes approximatly 90 percent of Zoom hiccups. It may be necessary to turn your system off and back on again before logging back in.
Please have as few other programs or web browser windows open as possible as too many other programs running will likely slow things down or cause interruptions in the Webinar.
If you need tech support during the meeting, send a request through the Q&A feature as the tech team will be watching the Q&A throughout the meeting to answer questions and help with any tech issues they can. You can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and/or email@example.com
We look forward to being with you online this June 20-22.