Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

Yesterday, the SCE Executive Committee met and voted unanimously to cancel our in-person meeting in Costa Mesa and to hold a virtual meeting in its stead.

In this letter I want to explain how and why we made this decision and how we intend to proceed.  I append to this letter a skeletal timetable of the new program.  

On the evening of December 23rd, I learned that the SJE decided to cancel their in-person meeting.  By the end of December 24, after conversations with the Cabinet (Jennifer Herdt, Bryan Massingale, and Steve Long) and our Talley Management team (Andrea Taylor and Erin O'Leary), I wrote to the Board saying that we needed the Executive Committee to convene on Monday morning to reconsider our in-person meeting. I noted the pervasive spiking of the virus, the emerging chaos of the airline cancellations, the struggling responses of our hospitals, the SJE’s cancellation and a similar, imminent one from the SSME. I noted too that many members were conveying to me that they would be relieved if we cancelled.  

We voted recognizing a much higher risk in-person gathering. Moreover, we imagined the resentfulness that could emerge among those who would show up as well as among those who forewent presenting because of the virus, to say nothing of those who could later get infected, exposed, quarantined, or stranded.  All of this led us to decide that only a virtual meeting could provide us a way to be in solidarity with one another.   

Still, we needed to inform the hotel first and this took longer than we expected.  While I cannot share with you here the SCE’s own losses regarding the hotel cancellation, I will do so as best as possible at the business meeting. I can say that we have addressed the matter thoroughly. 

Going forward.

I attach here the program that we have designed and can staff.  I hope you will be pleasantly surprised to see that we have kept intact the program in a way to maximize participation.  In these past few days, I never thought we could you present with this.

For the presenters, the SCE will send out tomorrow Wednesday, December 29th at 4 PM EST instructions with a link for signing up for your timeslot. There will be three mailings, one to concurrent presenters, one to the caucuses, interest and working groups, and one for “ad-hoc gatherings.” Please note, the concurrent mailing will include all who were originally accepted even if you subsequently withdrew.  Furthermore, this will be a live sign-up as it will be for the other two mailings as well. You must be prepared with a list of preferred timeslots. This is the only way we can have a program ready to meet as scheduled. Therefore, please contact your fellow panelists and conveners now, designate who will sign up for your session, and confirm the date/time slots that you want prior to going onto the link. Being a live sign, you can only select 1 slot and that will be yours. Please note, for the sign-up for the concurrent sessions there will be only 5 slots for each of the 13 sessions and these will be on available on a first come, first served basis. I realize that this is not much time, but this is the way we need to work with one another in order to go forward.

If you are registered, you will automatically have access to the virtual meeting.  If now that we are virtual, you want to register, please do; registration remains open. If you decided previously to cancel your registration and want now to re-register, please do by contacting [email protected]

If you reserved a hotel room at the Hilton Costa Mesa and wish to cancel, the hotel is requiring that all guests cancel their own individual reservations. Please make sure to cancel no later than 72 hours prior to your scheduled arrival date to avoid being charged. Let me note, if you do decide that the sun of Costa Mesa is calling you, you will be able to keep your existing reservation at the SCE group rate.

Regretfully, we cannot assist you with losses regarding travel. Airlines and institutions have such differing policies on this matter that we cannot give any meaningful guidance.

The business of the Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics will proceed largely as planned. Authors who have received links to (re)submit their papers still need to upload their manuscripts for review by January 3rd. We are asking that reviewers that are assigned to papers stick with their papers. Given changes in the schedule that come with moving to the virtual meeting, we understand that it is possible that some reviewers will not be able to make it to the session for the paper they are refereeing. We ask that reviewers attend the sessions for the papers they are reviewing if they are able. If you have questions or concerns, contact Kevin Carnahan at [email protected].

Finally, I want to share with you my incredible sadness about this. This year we brought on the new LGBTQI+ Working group, the first mid-term meetings, the theme of examining our institutions, and a robust poster session.  I felt enormous satisfaction with how we proceeded this year and was looking forward to celebrating all this in person with you.  I know that you too shared the same hope and expectation.

None of us could have anticipated how this pandemic would continue to upend our best plans and hopes.  I ask you, in this shared loss, to please join me in participating in this virtual conference and working with us to make it a success we can be proud of.

Stay safe and Happy New Year,

James F. Keenan, S.J.

SCE President