The COVID-19 pandemic is changing everything we do, including the congregational annual meeting. The People’s Church board and other leaders are finding new ways to do things that preserve our commitment to democracy and keep each other safe.

To this end, we will hold the annual meeting online immediately following the May 17 service. Members will vote at this online annual meeting on two items:

  • election of new board members and new members of the nominating committee
  • continuation of our current church budget at current funding levels on a month-to-month basis until it is safe to gather again

The congregation will vote on these two items because they are crucial for continuity of the church’s governance and finances. Until we can safely meet in person and amply discuss proposals, church leaders have decided to limit the agenda to these most basic items.

All candidates selected by the nominating committee are running unopposed. The names of candidates and brief biographical introductions were included in the April newsletter. No nominations by petition were received.

Continuing the current budget acknowledges the need to follow our customary deliberative process before we consider making changes. We will want to meet in person to have the careful conversations about priorities that precede consideration of a new budget.

How will we vote?
People’s Church members will vote in one of two ways – using an online survey tool or a paper ballot. At the conclusion of the meeting, households that receive their newsletter via email will receive the link to an online form for voting. Church members who receive their newsletters by mail will be sent a paper ballot via US Mail on Monday, May 18.

What will the meeting look like?
Instead of sitting in the church, we will appear in little boxes on the screen as we do during the church services by Zoom. The board will lead the meeting. Those attending will have an opportunity for discussion. Voting will not take place in Zoom, but by online survey and paper ballot, as described above.

What about amendments?
If amendments are proposed, the initial vote by online form and paper ballot will be on any amendments. Once that vote is tallied, a second online form and set of paper ballots will be sent for the final vote.

What about Robert’s Rules of Order?
Robert’s Rules of Order and the People’s Church bylaws do not allow for virtual meetings or virtual voting. They were not written with this global pandemic – or recent technological advances — in mind. Your board thinks that this method of meeting strikes the right balance of democracy and safety during the pandemic.

When will we vote on a new budget for the 2020-21 Fiscal Year and on joining the Kalamazoo Climate Crisis Coalition?
Once it is safe for us to gather in person again, your board will set a date for a congregational meeting for discussing and voting on these items, as well as any other congregational business that may arise in the meantime.

What if I have questions about this?
On May 3 after the church service, you can stay on Zoom for an annual meeting information session. Board members and finance committee members will be available to answer questions about the process and content of the annual meeting.

Feel free also to reach out to current board members – Elizabeth Warner, Steve Ferguson, River Artz-Iffland, Cary Betz-Williams, Sharon Caron, Karen Friedel, Denise Hartsough, Susan Moerdyk, and Allen Webb.

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