Dear Sola 5 brothers and sisters,
You will no doubt be aware that, earlier this year, we announced that the Sola 5 conference would be hosted in Johannesburg from 2–4 September. It was due to be hosted by New Covenant Baptist Church. That was before the coronavirus pandemic sent countries around the world, including Southern Africa, into varying degrees of lockdown and quarantine.
The South African government took a pretty hard line very quickly, which included bans on public—including religious—gatherings and international and even inter-provincial travel. Initially, lockdown was announced for three weeks, but that has been extended a number of times since then.
South African restrictions have begun to slowly ease and, a few weeks back, President Ramaphosa announced that religious gatherings would be permitted subject to a limit of fifty people per gathering and strict sanitizing and social distancing protocols. Just last week, he announced that conferences for business purposes would be permitted, subject to the same restrictions. Crucially, however, no easing on international or inter-provincial travel was announced.
All of this has direct bearing on our plans for the Sola 5 conference. While the concessions for religious gatherings and conferences for business purposes would, strictly speaking, afford us opportunity to move ahead with conference planning, two matters prevent us from doing so very easily.
First, without easing of international and inter-provincial travel, the conference would be effectively limited to Gauteng-only churches. While we could, strictly speaking, meet the required quorum for constituting a business meeting with representatives from the Gauteng churches, it would go against the spirit of the constitution to exclude churches from other regions and countries.
Second, the annual conference always draws well in excess of fifty people, and particularly when it is hosted in Gauteng. In fact, if each church in the association only sent a single representative to the conference, we would still exceed the limit of fifty attendees.
In light of these factors, the steering committee has decided that it would be wisest to forego this year’s conference. These are unusual times for all of us. The pandemic has affected our families and our churches, and now it is affecting our association. This is not a decision that the steering committee has taken lightly, and restrictions could potentially further ease between now and September, proper planning prevents us from leaving this decision to a later date.
Of course, there are still some constitutional requirements to be met: membership renewals, steering committee nominations, and voting on new applications. The steering committee has not had opportunity to discuss these matters in detail, but we plan to do so soon and we will make known plans as soon as we have reached a consensus.
If you have any questions in this regard, please feel free to shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.