A year ago, we were forced to announce the cancellation of the 2020 AFHE Convention.
Up until last year, homeschoolers from across Arizona had been able to meet every year for 36 years straight. The convention was a constant for homeschooling families–a regular time of refreshing, encouragement, and fellowship. But that wasn’t possible last year. A broad array of pandemic-driven challenges, including loss of venue, travel restrictions, and shifting governmental regulations prevented us from gathering together.
From the day we made the decision to cancel the 2020 Convention, we began focusing on the details of what it would take to be able to hold the 2021 Convention.
The challenges were significant:
Our regular venue, the Phoenix Convention Center, was unwilling to commit to a 2021 convention. Indeed, at this time the soonest any portion of the PCC will hold an event (a single-evening concert) is at the end of August. And we do not know when they will return to holding large convention events. Due to the pandemic, finding a venue that would have the needed spaces, be affordable, and also be available and willing to commit to a 2021 convention was a difficult task.
Speakers and Vendors
The pandemic severely disrupted the availability of the many speakers and curriculum/resource vendors who normally travel to Arizona for the convention. Travel was either impossible or impractical. We knew the pandemic disruptions were taking a toll on the finances and plans of our regular speakers and vendors.
God Makes the 2021 Bounce Back Possible!
When we began planning the re-emergence of the Convention in 2021 there were no guarantees anywhere. As we prayed and planned, the Lord answered prayer after prayer. Each of the major challenges became a testimony to God’s faithfulness. Our friends at Grand Canyon University invited us to hold the 2021 Convention on their campus, one of the few facilities in Arizona that can accommodate an event of the scale of our gathering. The GCU campus offers many exciting features that will be a boost to your 2021 Convention experience. To offer just a few examples: parking is FREE, there are multiple convenient restaurant options located on campus, and live streaming.
The men and women who regularly speak at homeschool conventions across the country were also praying. As we reached out we found that many speakers and vendors were prepared to commit to July of 2021. We were able to embark on the long process of signing the many contracts and agreements that make convention possible.
The Lord also answered our prayers specific to AFHE’s finances. During the pandemic upwards of 20% of nonprofits either failed or are on the brink of failing, but God had other plans for AFHE. In the fall we held a membership drive, and you responded strongly, encouraging us that we could continue to move forward with a 2021 convention. Next, the Lord blessed AFHE with an amazing end to 2020 financially. Our giving campaign exceeded our plans and expectations. Financially we were on track to bounce back!
Finally, the Lord continues to encourage us that homeschoolers across the state are ready to get back together! In March we held our Homeschool Day at the Capitol event at Arizona’s State Capitol complex in Phoenix. Despite frustrating conditions–like all of the State buildings being closed to the public–homeschoolers showed up in very strong numbers. Our event was one of the largest events held at the State Capitol during the Legislative Session. We hear from you all on a regular basis as we prepare to open registration for the convention: You are ready to get back together; and so are we!
We’re Back! Convention 2021
This is just a summary of how faithful God has been. We wish we could share with you all the miracles large and small. They have brought tears to our eyes as the Lord has shown that He cares about His children and makes a way when the path is uncertain.
And the Lord is not done yet! We are close to opening registration. The new venue and a host of new circumstances are pushing back our expected timeline. But we are close.
We know that many of you are disappointed that GCU is requiring face coverings to be worn indoors. We understand. But it is important for you to understand that it is GCU’s generosity and willingness to host this year’s convention that is enabling the 2021 AFHE Convention.
As you are thinking and praying about joining homeschoolers from across the state in July please consider the following:
- Our Venue: Simply put, out of the venues available at the time we needed to lock in a location, GCU was the venue that was able to most closely meet our capacity and technology needs to allow us to make the Convention happen in 2021. Convention is a massive series of interrelated projects. The foundation of those projects is the venue. We are grateful that GCU was willing to commit to hosting us 9 months ago enabling all the other details to move forward.
- Having Grace with One Another: The pandemic has hit everyone hard. It’s been frustrating for everyone. For some it’s also been terrifying and tragic. As we return to meeting together in great numbers in a multi-day convention format, please have grace with one another (Philippians 2:4).
- Fellowship and Unity: What we have missed the most is being together. The “secret sauce” to the AFHE Convention is you! This is our time to be present with one another, encourage one another, and enjoy community together.
If, after prayer and consideration, you believe it is best for your family to remain at home, we understand and we support you in making that decision. Outside of in-person attendance, you have several other options. This year we are: (1) offering a live stream of many of the sessions; (2) you can, as always, purchase a complete set of audio recordings of every session over the 2 day convention; and (3) many of our wonderful vendors have robust websites that allow you to purchase online anything that you might purchase in person.
Together we can move forward and work toward a more traditional convention for 2022. However, we do hope to see each of you very soon.
The AFHE Board
Peter and Allison Gentala
Shawn and Cindy Duell
Joshua and Stacey Sugata
Michael and Kristina Abbott
Stay Up To Date! For more information on the 2021 AFHE Convention, including updates, visit https://www.afhe.org/convention/.