As we are coming around to annual meeting season again, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share with you some information we created and shared in Elizabeth Presbytery and Newton Presbytery back in 2019. It may have been shared in the other presbyteries at that time as well, and came out of the work of many stated clerks and parliamentarians around the denomination as we sought to find a “decent and in order” way to get our business done while socially distant. I hope it might be a help to you in this season, and also be a reminder of how and why we have been doing things the way we have been doing them in this season.
My advice continues to be to avoid hybrid meetings, as they put participants on unequal footing with regard to being heard and getting the attention of the chair. It is better to have all participants participating in the same way, whether electronically or in person. While the COVID numbers and rates of transmission have improved drastically in the past few weeks, it is important that your session consider the wisdom of having large in person gatherings at this time. When we had first began this process back in March of 2020 we talked about following objective measures, and were looking for a case rate of under 10 in the community as an indicator, so far none of our counties have made it back to that level yet.
It has been a great blessing to me during this whole pandemic era to watch you all make faithful and caring decisions, taking into account the needs of the most vulnerable in your communities, and really living into a theology of the Body of Christ. I pray that you will continue to discern faithfully and offer a re-sharing of the attached information about zoom meetings in the hopes that they might be helpful. I remain available as a conversation parter as you seek to plan and am happy to help you figure out how to accomplish whatever tasks you need to as a congregation.