The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s 2020 General Assembly will be an online experience instead of an in-person gathering due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CBF Executive Coordinator Paul Baxley announced in an April 2 statement.
Instead of traveling to downtown Atlanta this summer, attendees will be invited to set aside June 24-26 “for a series of virtual experiences of worship, inspiration, education, fellowship and business,” Baxley said.
The virtual format, event schedule and other information will be forthcoming to those who have already registered. He added registration remains open and that no action is required to cancel hotel reservations made at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta which was to host the gathering.
CBF’s decision comes days or weeks after other faith-based organizations canceled or postponed scheduled gatherings.
Among Baptists, the Baptist World Alliance announced March 27 it was pushing its World Congress, held every five years, to 2021 in Rio de Janeiro.
The Alliance of Baptists, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina and Southern Baptist Convention were among those to announce meeting cancellations earlier in March.
At CBF, a decision on General Assembly was held off as its COVID-19 Work Group, Governing Board and meeting planners sought “the right solution” that balanced health concerns and the need to provide ministry in “highly unusual times,” Baxley said.
“Our journey to do that has taken time and has led us to the announcement today,” he said.
CBF’s leadership has been inspired by the “boldness” with which churches have moved into virtual spaces for worship and ministry.
Baxley said it is “essential that our Fellowship do what each of your congregations is doing, namely find ways to carry out our ministry with faithful agility in the midst of this pandemic.”
The mission of the Fellowship and its partner churches and ministries is too important not to hold the annual assembly in some form, he said.
“The need for us to find ways this June to connect with one another in all the ways available to us is sufficiently urgent that we believe we must find a way.”
Baxley also touched on the economic impact the pandemic is having through canceled events. He called for prayer for Hyatt Regency Atlanta employees, most of whom are furloughed, and for their colleagues throughout the hospitality industry.
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