The 2020 Vision Conference in Orlando and the COVID-19
For all the latest updates go to the website HERE.
Date: Thursday,May 7th, 2020
From: WDS2020 Conference Planning Team
THE WORLD DISCIPLESHIP SUMMIT IS OFFICIALLY POSTPONED UNTIL SUMMER OF 2022 in ORLANDO FLORIDA
It is with mixed emotions that we will be unable to host the VISION Conference in Orlando this summer. However, it has become apparent that the impact of COVID19 has overshadowed the possibility to actualize this worldwide event this year as planned. We, like many of you, were certainly looking forward to a time of fellowship and celebration, and so this is a disappointment for sure.
IT IS MUCH BIGGER THAN ORLANDO 2O2O
Our primary concern right now is not a gathering in Orlando this July. Instead, we are surrendered, knowing that we must yield to a much greater need going on globally. We have not experienced a time such as this, where every country on earth is concurrently fighting a global pandemic. Even after the spread of COVID19 begins to subside, we must collectively turn our attention to navigating forward beyond the crisis. This will be a time of rebuilding economically, emotionally, and spiritually. May God give us guidance and grace to forge ahead.
WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW:We would certainly recommend you contact your airline, any of your previously scheduled travel commitments, attractions (Disney, Universal, etc. as they are honoring cancellations to the best of our understanding), and likewise cruises, AirBNB, VRBO, Timeshares, and other plans you may have secured. Most, if not all, are understanding of this unprecedented time, and we hope that you will be able to receive travel credits or cancellations and refunds.If you made a hotel reservation through WDS2020 - you do NOT need to cancel at this time. (More info below)
PERSPECTIVE AS WE PLAN FOR THE FUTURE
James 4:15says of all our plans, “If it is the Lord’s will, we live and do this or that.” And likewise,Proverbs 16:9says, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” All our plans going forward are most definitely subject to God and His perfect will! We did not see this global shutdown coming, but we know that God is doing something big in all of this. Hindsight - as they say - is 2020. But God has been very faithful and gracious to us in Orlando, even during this difficult process. And thus, we are also faithful and excited to see the glory God might receive at this time, and our prayer is that HIS NAME will be made great among the nations. We pray for you, your churches, and your communities at this time. May this disruption and distance bring us closer together and closer to HIM who loves us!
VISION CONFERENCE REIMAGINED:JULY 28 - AUGUST 7, 2O22
As was mentioned in a previous update, the case for a two year postponement (2O22) makes the most sense in light of this global pandemic and financial recession that will follow. As we searched for new dates, it became apparent that our PEAK attendance numbers surpassed the capacity of our Conference Venue and Hotels here in Orlando because of the events already scheduled in 2O22 and others who were looking to reschedule.
FLATTEN THE CURVE
So in order to find available dates, we have decided to stagger the conference, such that we will not be bringing together every track on the same weekend. In essence, this cuts our demand in half, but over a period of two (2) successive weekends, with the International Leadership Conference (ILC) in the middle. Instead of hosting more than 20,000 disciples over the same four days, we’ll see two (2) distinct waves of attendees that will put less demand on the hotels, nearby restaurants, public flow within our venues, and an overall reduction of our mass gatherings at any one time. The Conference will remain INTERNATIONAL, and our hope is that the additional two years and new dates will be received favorably for both international and domestic travelers.
NEW DATES FOR THE WORLD DISCIPLESHIP SUMMIT:
JULY 28-31 ICMC (Campus) and ISC (Singles)
JULY 31-Aug 3 ILC (International Leadership Conference)
AUGUST 4-7 FAMILY (Parents, Single Parents, kids, Middle & High Schoolers)
WHAT ABOUT THE EPIC GATHERING OF MORE THAN 20,000 DISCIPLES?
What we are proposing is a change to what most of us envisioned with regards to a World Discipleship Summit, where every attendee gathers in one room for our general sessions. A couple of thoughts on this. As was already mentioned, the venue and hotels could not support our peak attendance in one weekend. Secondly, it does seem wise in light of our current health crisis to reduce the number of disciples meeting together at any given time. Think of this time as an “Olympic Village” approach - where disciples from around the world will meet together in Orlando, although their “events” will be held at various times.
FIRST WAVE:We’ve decided to kick off the VISION 2O22 conference with the CAMPUS and SINGLES. They will start with a General Session on Thursday Evening July 28th, and conclude all together on Sunday Morning July, 31st. A lot of the Campus/Singles programming will be separate, but with some general sessions together. We have seen a great partnership between the Campus and Singles over the years, as the life transition from graduation to vocation provides that opportunity.
VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY:Our hope is that many Campus and Single Disciples will join the ICMC and ISC from July, 28-31, then head out to DisneyWorld, Universal, SeaWorld, or other attractions around Orlando for a few days. Then we invite you to come back and volunteer to serve at the FAMILY CONFERENCE! We will have needs in the Giant Cow (3-10), the KidZone, and the Special Needs Programming (all ages) that we plan to offer families. There will be no additional registration cost for you to come back as a Volunteer.
MIDDLE WAVE:The International Leadership Conference (ILC) will kick off on Sunday evening July 31st, and conclude on Wednesday Morning August 3rd.
SECOND WAVE:The next phase of the conference would be for Families of every shape and size. We plan on bringing back the Giant Cow (ages 3-10), as well as programming for our YOUTH (Middle School and High School). We hope that our Single Parents will find this conference attractive and we will provide specific programming for you in the FAMILY Conference as well. We also plan on having our FOREVER FAITHFUL track as promised! This caters to our empty-nesters, parents with grown children, couples who don’t have kids, or even older disciples who are not in the “child-rearing” phase of life - which may include widows, divorcees, or anyone who is simply excited to make an impact for God well into their retirement years. TheSPANISHConference will be held concurrently with the FAMILY Conference, such that you too can take advantage of Giant Cow (ages 3-10) and Youth Programming (ages 11-18).
PLEASE GIVE US A MOMENT TO ADJUST!
In some respects, we know this announcement was long in coming. In other respects, we in Orlando now need some time to catch our breath and plan internally. In light of all this, we are respectfully asking for a window of time to finalize all of these changes. We are moving rapidly, but we may need another couple months to finalize all of the more immediate details and we promise to keep you updated on our progress! Please take this time to evaluate whether or not you are able to join us in Orlando in 2022. We really hope you can come. We cannot wait to host you in our city.
HOTELS:If you booked through our WDS2020 hotel reservation site, WE WILL CONTACT YOU. There’s no need to cancel at this moment. We have all those bookings with our Housing Bureau managed by ConferenceDirect. The specific hotel DOES NOT have your registration on file, so please do not contact them. No charges will be made to your account during this time if you just leave it alone. We have secured many of the same hotels at nearly the same rates for 2022. Our plan is to begin to EMAIL everyone with a reservation in our system and give you the option to REVISE and UPDATE your stay in Orlando. You may want to move to a new hotel, revise the length of your stay, or you may want to cancel altogether. So please wait until you are contacted by our Housing Bureau via email. You may also need to update your personal information, credit card, etc. at that time.
If you made a reservation outside of our Housing block (AirBnB, VRBO, Timeshare, or other Hotel reservation websites, etc.) you can certainly go ahead and contact them right away to make changes or cancellations.
REGISTRATION: Again, we do need some time to plan with our Registration team, so if possible please hold off until we give you further instructions. We hope that the vast majority of you will keep your registration in place, as we will certainly honor it for 2022. We know that some will need to cancel. Some of you will need to revise your reservation status once new dates are finalized. We will be providingreduced price upgrades. We want to make the option to STAY REGISTERED as attractive as possible for you. In two years, many life-stage changes will happen, and as a result we will offer the following:
POSSIBLE UPGRADES THAT MAY OCCUR OVER THESE TWO YEARS:
Child will reach (3-10) age group
Child (3-10) upgrade to Youth (11-18)
Youth (11-18) may need to upgrade ICMC (Campus)
ICMC (Campus) upgrade to Adult Price
Anyone: UPGRADE TO THE ILC (See below)
UPGRADE TO THE INTERNATIONAL LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE (ILC)
In July of 2020, the ILC was going to be held concurrent with every other conference track, which left many of you conflicted on which to attend. However, now we are having the ILC independent of the other conferences, and that may give you the option to join the ICOC Leadership, Teachers, Elders, Deacons, Evangelists, Women’s Ministry Leaders, Ministers in Training, Interns, Administrators, and Lay Leadership.
If you have registered or want to register or upgrade to the ILC (Leadership Conference),attendance to one of the other weekend Conferences will be included!This will give you (2) conference tracks for the price of the ILC. If you have already registered for the ILC - you just need to pick which weekend conference to attend: Weekend 1: Campus & Singles or Weekend 2: Family, Forever Faithful, & Spanish.
PRICING FOR ALL UPGRADES WILL BE FORTHCOMING
EXHIBITORS:If you have registered to be an exhibitor, you will be given the option to remain an exhibitor for 2O22. We will contact you by email.
MEETINGS BOOKED:If you have booked a meeting space, you will be given the option to reschedule as well. Again, we will contact you by email.
CANCELLATION:As mentioned, we need some time for adjustment. If you or your family is in a dire financial condition due to COVID19, we understand that you might not be able to wait it out. At this time, due to the years of costs incurred, some cancellation fees will remain. There will likely be a wave of requests made of our registration team right now, so we would appreciate your patience. We are so grateful for all who will keep their registration in place for now and consider joining us in 2O22.
WE ARE RELIEVED AND THANKFUL AS WE PROCEED
In light of all the challenges we faced approaching this decision, theWDS Planning Teamis very thankful for this new direction. We have the blessing of the ICOC Global Leadership team to proceed in such a way as to maximize the years of planning and honor the many financial commitments we’ve already made. We know there is still a strong desire to be together, but we also know that July of 2O2O is not that time.
As a planning team, we are thankful for the support of our many partners. You all have been patient, supportive, and gracious. We would also like to take a moment to recognize those who have made this work a true joy, and know that their continued involvement will make 2O22 possible:
ConferenceDirectfor their incredible wisdom, experience, connections, and understanding during this precarious time. They are managing the overall conference, all of our housing registration bookings and hotel contracts, working with our conference venue, and overall just keeping us in a strong position to negotiate and reschedule. Without their support, the burden on the Orlando church staff would have been unbearable.
CustomReg: We are thankful for our registration team - CustomReg, who continues to work with us and respond promptly, though all their staff are currently working remotely!
AV MATTERS:We are thankful for AV Matters - our Audio/Visual Vendor and strategic partners here in Orlando. They have hosted our planning meetings for years, and have provided invaluable advice and experience. Like many small businesses in the Event industry, this economic shut down has cost them immeasurable lost revenue.
OUR MANY ORLANDO PARTNERS: We sympathize with the many hotels and venues here in Orlando, who have been trying to navigate this health crisis with all of us. We are thankful for our WDS hotel partners, including but not limited to the Rosen Hotels, the Hyatt Regency, the Hilton Orlando, and our contracted Marriott properties at SeaWorld, as well as many other hotels along International Drive that made room for our group. We want to thank VisitORLANDO for their service to our event. They continue to offer their services to us at no cost, and are committed to the success of our event and the challenges we are facing in rescheduling. We are very grateful for the Orange County Convention Center, who has offered us their venue utilizing Orlando community funds to keep our registration fees as low as we can make them. Without their generosity, we could not host this conference at these prices.
VENDORS, SPONSORS, and EXHIBITORS:We are thankful for our sponsors, vendors, exhibitors, and other partners who are on this journey with us. We want to bring GIANT COW Ministries, Chance2Dance, and our Kidzone team and all of our other vendors, sponsors, and exhibitors with us into 2O22. We know that you are being affected economically during this time as well, and losing out on untold income during this crisis. We hope you will remain with us in two years.
ICOC Global Leadership and Volunteers:We are very thankful for the ICOC Global Leadership groups - the Catalyst Team (AT Arneson as Chairman from the Chicago Church), the Regional Family Chairpersons (33 couples representing our congregations worldwide), the ICOC Events Committee, and each of the Service Teams, Track Leaders, and Worship Leaders that have stepped up to help plan the conference. Without your volunteer efforts, there is no conference. Thank you for the time spent in preparation for 2O2O, and we look forward to an outstanding spiritual feast in 2O22 because of your prayers and efforts.
HOPE worldwide:We are heartbroken that HOPEww will likewise have to reschedule their Youth Corp plans and service brigades surrounding the WDS2O2O conference. Our meetings with HOPEww were some of the final site visits and planning meetings we had before COVID-19 began to shut everything down. They are currently focused on humanitarian needs within our immediate fellowship of churches in the countries most vulnerable during this lock down. HOPEww was scheduled to collect a freewill offering at the close of our WDS2O2O meeting on July 5. To make a donation, please visithttps://www.hopeww.org
DisciplesToday:DisciplesToday continues to help us facilitate promotion and communication of updates. They are a valuable resource in our fellowship of churches. We are thankful for their input and support over these years.
Keydogo: Thanks for being there for us when we needed videos filmed and produced. And our many church leaders thank you for making all your videos about 1 minute long, so they can spare a little time in their service to promote our global gathering. We look forward to more work together.
Orlando Church of Christ:Elders, Staff, members, and Board of Directors. There is no way to calculate the amount of time, energy, effort, and prayer that has been given by the staff, eldership, board of directors, and members of the Orlando church. We thank you for your service and professionalism. Many of us were looking forward to August of 2O2O - when this (5) year phase of planning and execution would have been completed! Instead, we are on board for two more years. It is an honor to serve the brotherhood of believers in this way. We hope to see all you in our city in 2O22 - LORD WILLING!
Many more who are known to God and us.This effort has been helped by so many who have given of themselves for the benefit of others. We are thankful for our many advisors, volunteers, and marketers. Thanks to Hans Rasmussen, our web designer and social media consultant, who has done enough work to be called “Assistant Director” but refuses to be known as such! He has also been a great friend and confidant in this journey.
OUR ATTENDEES!Lastly, and most importantly - we are thankful to YOU - disciples of Jesus Christ around the world who have registered and joined us in this journey. We are thankful for your prayers and support. We appreciate your patience and uplifting words as we continue to navigate through the storm. We cannot wait to be together with you in person.
We will post further updates on this issue as necessary.