The California-Pacific Conference of The United Methodist Church held its 38th Annual Session in a hybrid format, with an opening session online on Tuesday, June 7, in the evening, an online day on Wednesday, June 15, and both online and in-person activities at the Orange County/Costa Mesa Hilton in Costa Mesa, California, on Friday, June 17, and Saturday, June 18, 2022.
The following is a summary of data from the post-event evaluations and a plan for when/how the Sessions Task Force will communicate pertinent information about the 39th Annual Session, to be held June 2023.
In 2022, there were 1105 registrants, including 675 in-person attendees, and 11% self-identified as first-timers. Many evaluations focused heavily on the comparative experiences of members in Costa Mesa and online this year, online only for the last two years, and the many years on the campus of the University of Redlands. On a scale with 5 being the best and 1 being the worst, 80% of respondents rated their overall “experience of this annual conference” along with “content and program” with a 4 or 5, making this a highly successful event.
During the Session, we used the VPOLL voting system, making it possible for all voting members to cast a vote regardless of how they chose to participate in the conference. Unfortunately, there were some glitches with the Wi-Fi connectivity for those participating on-site. Still, the overall experience of the system was good. 54% marked a 5 rating, 21% marked a 4, while less than 10% of respondents scored 1 or 2.
When asked: “Assuming public health conditions permit large gatherings, should the Sessions Task Force continue to offer an online option for those who are unable to attend in-person?”, 92.5% of respondents marked “Yes.” These data confirm a need for hybrid experiences with simultaneous electronic voting options that creates parity for those online and those in person.
One of the open-ended questions that garnered the most activity and responses asked: “What is your ideal setting for an annual conference and why?” The responses were wide-ranging yet narrow in focus, with 14% noting the University of Redlands as an ideal setting and 85% citing a variety of “other settings” as ideal. Those who made explicit comments about the University of Redlands held to the longtime history and nostalgia of the annual pilgrimage. In contrast, others noted the sacredness felt in the Chapel during worship. Even with those who did not name the “University of Redlands” or “the Chapel,” a few noted a preference for a chapel or sanctuary space for worship and ordination services. Some were more ambivalent about the actual place but were conscious of the costs for local churches to send members to participate.
Among the considerations to be included in future planning were notations about the responsiveness of event or location staff, just wages and treatment of the event space employees, and accessibility for those with varying abilities.
Since the adjournment of the 38th Session, the Sessions Task Force has already ventured into the process required to plan and host a stellar event next June. The University of Redlands, convention hotels, and other event spaces in Orange County, San Diego, and Los Angeles are under consideration. The Orange County/Costa Mesa Hilton, a union property, serves as the baseline for our future negotiations on exclusive space use, room rates, and food options.
The Sessions Task Force will share information regarding location, costs, theme, and program content as it becomes available. Although we do not know the exact timing of such decisions, members can expect the following:
- September 2022: General updates on the bidding process, geographic considerations, and other factors will determine the best location.
- October 2022: Narrowed list of possible locations, venue capacity, costs, and parameters that will guide the final decision before signing a contract.
- November 2022: Present the final decision on location (determined by Sessions) and dates (specified by the episcopal office).
Barring any unforeseen challenges, the Sessions Task Force will move ahead with the decision on location and provide opportunities for input when warranted. The next annual conference session will be an accessible, in-person experience with online components, electronic voting, and opportunities to worship and serve together.
Livestreamed video links of the 38th Annual Session of the California-Pacific Conference are available at calpacumc.org/ac2022.