American Baptists to Shift 2021 Biennial to Virtual Format - Word&Way

American Baptists to Shift 2021 Biennial to Virtual Format

The Executive Committee of the American Baptist Churches USA’s Board of General Ministries voted Thursday (Sept. 10) to move the ABCUSA’s Biennial Mission Summit in 2021 to a virtual format due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The Biennial was originally scheduled for June in Puerto Rico, and the Executive Committee now hopes to hold the 2023 Biennial in Puerto Rico.

“We are living in unprecedented times that call for unprecedented decisions,” the Executive Committee said in a statement. “Although we would love to gather in person, we realized that even with social distancing and other safety protocols that we just could not keep you as safe as we would like if we continued to plan for an in-person meeting.”

Then-American Baptist Churches USA General Secretary Lee Spitzer (second from right) leads a time of communion at the 2019 ABCUSA Biennial Mission Summit in Virginia Beach, Virginia. (American Baptist Churches USA)

“Making this decision now is an act of stewardship. Canceling at a later date or hosting a meagerly attended event could incur greater penalties,” the statement added. “We will now begin a new round of seeking input as we begin to plan for a virtual meeting. We invite you to imagine a new virtual Biennial Mission Summit with us as we plan for next year.”

The American Baptist Churches of Puerto Rico is one of the regional bodies of ABCUSA. In total, ABCUSA includes about 5,000 churches with about 1.3 million members, which includes 113 churches and about 25,000 members in Puerto Rico. The 2019 Biennial was held in Virginia Beach, Virginia.