The Illinois Baptist State Association is encouraging messengers to the Nov. 4 IBSA Annual Meeting to register by Oct. 16, so planners can make arrangements for social distancing and other COVID-19 prevention measures. A letter was sent to churches in early September with instructions for registering online or by mail. Questions about registration may be directed to CaroleDoom@IBSA.org.
The gathering, usually held in conjunction with the IBSA Pastors’ Conference across three days, was condensed to one day, and moved from the Crowne Plaza in Springfield to Tabernacle Baptist Church in Decatur. The IBSA Board took that action in July in response to limitations caused by the pandemic. The church can accommodate approximately 300 people properly distanced in their sanctuary which normally seats up to 1,200. Masks will be provided for messengers and guests; hand sanitizer stations will be posted, and temperature checks will be set up at the entrances.
The 2020 IBSA Pastors’ Conference was postponed, and the ancillary meetings and exhibit hall were canceled to avoid prolonged personal interaction. Additionally, child care will not be provided. “Pivot and Persevere” is the theme for the meeting, which will begin at 1 p.m. and last about four hours.
“We are doing everything we can to make meeting in person for this year’s IBSA Annual Meeting as safe and responsible as possible, following state and CDC guidelines,” said Nate Adams, executive director of IBSA. “We also want those who need to stay home with health concerns to be able to participate as fully as possible online, both with advance information on the IBSA.org website and through the livestreaming and recording of the meeting.”
The Annual Meeting will be livestreamed online, with a highlights reel posted later for those unable to travel or gather in groups. The Book of Reports will be posted online in mid-October. Questions related to the published reports may be submitted prior to the meeting by e-mailing BarbTroeger@IBSA.org.
“I’m hopeful that these steps may actually result in larger engagement by more Illinois Baptists than normal,” Adams said, “and prepare us to expand the reach and impact of the meeting in future years.”
Pastor Jacob Gray of Ten Mile Baptist Church in McLeansboro will preach the annual sermon, and Pastor Sammy Simmons of Immanuel Baptist Church in Benton will bring the IBSA President’s message.
“One of the reasons why I am excited to gather for the Annual Meeting is because I need the brotherhood that makes up IBSA during this hard season of leading that can be so emotionally and physically draining,” Simmons said. “I am also looking forward to hearing how God is at work and moving mightily all across the state, even when our churches can’t do some of the things we normally do.”
The executive directors of IBSA, Baptist Children’s Home and Family Services, and Baptist Foundation of Illinois will bring their annual reports and budgets, and messengers will conduct the necessary business of the state association. Some reports from national ministry partners will be limited to videos, which will be posted online for those who wish to view them.
While a rise in COVID-19 cases in central Illinois is not expected to further affect plans for the Annual Meeting, messengers are encouraged to check online prior to November, just to be sure.
Simmons said he hopes the abbreviated meeting will encourage Illinois Baptists as they hear about all the ways God is working in a difficult season.
“During these unique times, we are reminded how much we need each other. We are in this together,” he said. “I pray that this year’s Annual Meeting will remind you of the blessings of God and of being a part of your big Illinois Baptist family.”
Download the meeting schedule and more at IBSA.org/ibsaannualmeeting.