Thursday, April 23, 2020
Based on data and opinions of public health experts and community officials, Shriners International has cancelled its 2020 Imperial Session, scheduled for July 2020, in Kansas City. In determining whether the 2020 Imperial Session could be responsibly held, the perspective of Shriners International was to take a global vision with local focus. The Imperial Session is truly an annual international gathering at one physical location. The Imperial Divan, the 2020 Convention Corporation, and the staff of Shriners International closely monitored developments and worked closely with the Kansas City Health Department in planning the 2020 Imperial Session. This planning was always undertaken with the hope and expectation that the convention would proceed, as long as it was reasonably safe to do so, based upon the trajectory of the Coronavirus and governmental quarantine and/or stay at home orders, actions based upon data and opinions provided by public health professionals.
Based on the information provided by public health professionals and recent governmental extension of existing public health orders, Shriners International determined that the safety of attendees and the safety of the community could not reasonably be provided on or before the start of the 2020 Imperial Session in Kansas City and therefore cancelled the 2020 convention, due to the impossibility of safely hosting it.
Imperial Sir and First Lady, Jeff and Cheryl Sowder, are extremely sorry that they will not be able to personally welcome Shriners from all over the world to celebrate fun and fellowship in Kansas City. They have dreamed and planned for more than a decade to have Shriners join them for an incredible experience in Kansas City. While the worldwide pandemic prevents us from meeting in Kansas City and renewing our acquaintances, it does not prevent us from renewing our commitment to the important work of the Shrine.
Additional information related to governance issues for Shriners International and Shriners Hospitals for Children, in the absence of the respective annual meetings of each corporation, will be provided in the near future.
In spite of our disappointment, Shriners are encouraged to stay safe, stay strong, and stay involved with everything we can do now in preparation for doing more in the future.
Yours in the faith,
Jeffrey L. Sowder