The 2020 Vision Conference in Orlando and the COVID-19
For all the latest updates go to the website HERE.
Date: Monday, April 13, 2020
From: WDS2020 Conference Planning Team
We are still unable to announce any change in the status of the 2020 World Discipleship summit at this time.
Although we are in ongoing communication with the Hotels, the Convention Center, and our Global ICOC Leadership, there are factors beyond our control that are preventing us from making a final decision regarding the conference in 2020, or the possibility of rescheduling our event for 2021 or perhaps even 2022.
Those factors beyond our control are these:
Current travel restrictions, stay at home orders, and WHO and CDC recommendations continue to be extended, and in some cases through the months of May and June. This would impact our event as our meetings begin the final week of June, prior to the July 2-5 WDS dates.
However most hotels and airlines are NOT issuing changes to July bookings, and the hotels and convention center here in Orlando are following suit.
Because of this, the hotels are unable to extend us the courtesy of a force majeure clause that would release us from the financial liability from our contracted hotel commitments.
This may end up changing depending on the spread of COVID19 and extensions of the limits on travel and mass gatherings.
But until we can reach an understanding with our contracted hotels, we cannot at this time cancel or postpone the conference.
And because these factors are beyond our control, this is also preventing us from setting a date by which we can announce a final decision, as many of you are requesting (understandably) so that you can plan accordingly.
OBVIOUSLY, THIS IS FRUSTRATING TO ALL OF US.
The WDS2O2O planning team, the ICOC Leadership, and YOU – the attendees – are all wanting to solidify our plans and modify if necessary, as we are now less than 3 months away from our scheduled event. The decision to reschedule may indeed become inevitable as the spread of COVID19 and predictions of its duration continue to unfold. But we cannot make that call today due to our current contractual obligations. We need to work respectfully with our hotel and convention center partners in order to move forward in this unprecedented time.
2 Corinthians 8:21 For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.
FINDING NEW DATES
In the meantime, the WDS Planning Team in Orlando is working with the Orange County Convention Center and surrounding hotels to secure an available window for the summer of 2021, and even exploring the summer of 2022. We originally secured these dates almost 5 years ago when space was readily available. Now we are competing with many other events already scheduled in 2021 or 2022, and others who are looking to reschedule.
2-year postponement (Summer of 2022) was brought up by many in our ICOC Leadership team, who believe that the global pandemic and financial recession that will follow may require more time to recover. We understand that many of you have lost employment, or are not being paid currently, or have taken a reduction in pay. Most churches are experiencing a significant drop in weekly giving, and in countries where online giving is not as prominent, they will be hit even harder. Thus, a one or two year pause may give disciples and churches the time to bounce back from this recession and allow us all to focus on the more critical aspects of life, work, and ministry. We also pray for our world as it enters a time of healing, grieving, and recovery.
NOTE: There is still a chance that we will have to cancel the Conference altogether. This will be a last resort if all reasonable possibilities for this year, 2021, and 2022 are exhausted.
WE TOO ARE IN THE STORM, SO RIDE IT OUT WITH US IF YOU CAN.
While you may already be looking to reschedule your summer travel plans, we would like to ask as a courtesy that – if possible – you would PLEASE HOLD OFF from contacting the WDS Registration and WDS Housing Team to cancel your registration and/or your hotel reservations.
Like you, we in the Orlando church along with our partners that comprise the WDS Planning Team are in the midst of this crisis ourselves. Multiple members of our WDS team have already lost friends and loved ones during this time and are grieving. We are now juggling our own personal health concerns, our changed living and working conditions, and our ever-changing church needs. Add to this the massive undertaking of trying to manage and/or reschedule this worldwide event.
Our vendors and partners in the event and tourism industry are likewise under great strain and responding to their rapidly changing world and untold loss of business. This is adding to the challenge of finalizing these decisions. Some of our contracted hotels are closed, some are scaled back and staff has been minimized, and some are simply being inundated with rescheduling requests.
REGISTRATION: Our hope is that the vast majority of you will keep your registration in place whatever the decision, as we will certainly honor it for 2021 or 2022 if indeed we move to postpone. Others may simply need to revise their reservation status if new dates are actualized (i.e. a Child 3-10 may move to Youth 11-18, Youth 11-18 now may be in Campus by the time the conference happens, not to mention other changes, etc.).
HOTELS: If you made hotel reservations through our WDS Housing Bureau, please hold off on contacting us at this time. The Hotel itself DOES NOT have your registration so there is no need to contact them either. At this point, we just need time to continue to work with our hotels, review and update our policies as necessary, and communicate internally with our team. We will provide instructions in the coming days so you know how best to proceed.
CANCELLATION: If you or your family is in a dire financial condition due to COVID19 such that your monies are a necessity right now, we understand that you may need to contact our team to cancel. Please be patient as we respond to your request. At this time due to the years of costs incurred to host this event, cancellation fees will remain.
We know that for some this may be frustrating. For others – and especially those who have organized events such as this – you are sympathetic to the burden placed on the host church faced with these decisions less than three months before the meeting is actualized. We have received countless private and public messages of reassurance from disciples around the world who are praying for the WDS Planning team and the Orlando Church leadership. We feel your prayers, your support, and your grace. We are humbled and beyond thankful for the goodwill we have received from so many, and you make our work a joy, not a burden.
Please continue to pray for a speedy resolution, and know that we will make information available as soon as we are able.
The WDS2O2O Planning Team
World Discipleship Summit
2400 S. Goldenrod Rd., Orlando, FL 32822