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I would like to invite you all to evaluate the annual meeting held May 20th, 2012. Because people who were not able to attend may also have comments about scheduling, advertising, advance material etc., I am inviting anyone, member or not, attendee or not, to evaluate.
Please take a minute to describe the following:
What would you change?
Respond by posting a reply to this discussion or by emailing or calling Natty Averett, Board Chair, firstname.lastname@example.org, 703-868-8189.
Natalia 'Natty' Averett
With regard to calling the question, it is a non-debatable motion but can be objected to. It can be approved by unanimous consent (the Chair calls for objections and if there are none then the motion passes) or by a two-thirds majority vote. Per Robert's Rules, the second is not required for the motion, as is the case for most non-debatable motions (the purpose of a second is to make sure the body does not enter into debate on something that only one person really cares to move forward with). The Chair can immediately respond to the motion by asking if anyone objects to closing debate and, if there are objections, a second to the motion must be offered in order for the vote to move forward. Any voting member at the meeting, or the Parliamentarian, can appeal to the Chair to call for objections. The only appeal made was one by Chris Gregory to have a hand vote, which was honored although, per Robert's Rules, is not required and is not recommended for anything but small bodies where all hands can be seen and only in those circumstances where a voice vote is inconclusive. I did not call for objections on the two occasions I recall the question being called because the circumstances did not seem to call for it. In the case of the minister emeritus vote, when I asked if there was more debate/discussion no one responded except to call the question which meant that if the question had not been called the debate was going to end anyway (the Chair ends debate when there are no more comments at all or when there are no longer both pro and con comments remaining). In the case of the budget, several questions were asked and comments made that did not actually relate to whether or not the person would vote in favor of adopting the budget. They were more general questions about how finances work at UUCA and about the terms of the new mortgage and construction loans that have already been approved by the congregation and initiated with the bank. It seemed several folks were ready to vote and I was ready to question whether or not these questions were in order when the motion to call the question was made. When I asked for confirmation, multiple people "called the question." It seemed to me that the one person who was waiting to speak at the time had, per Robert's Rules, met the limit of how many times a single person may speak on the same motion on the same day before the body must resolve to allow the person to speak again if he/she is going to speak. These circumstances made calling for objections seem unnecessary. Several people did say after the meeting that they didn't feel comfortable with calling the question so maybe I should have called for objections as a courtesy.
Thank you for your remarks and for serving as Parliamentarian.
I applaud all the efforts that have been made to over the past few years that serve to shorten the amount of time required for the annual meeting. Giving most of the awards during the service was a great idea, both shortening the meeting time and allowing for more people to help celebrate the wonderful volunteers. Also, although I wasn't really in favor of it, having the budget be a straight up or down vote instead of allowing for amendments makes a big difference in the amount of time needed for that process. But, alas, the meeting was much too long. The Nominating Committee chair's comments and the Board Chair's recommendations went on way to long for me. I'm afraid I got very frustrated and instead of feeling inspired, which I think was probably the intention of at least some of it, I felt irritated and resentful. The important vote to make Rev. McGee minister emeritus, happened so late in the meeting that a lot of people had left and it was a good thing that no one called to check on the quorum. I'm in favor on setting a time limit for personal remarks. Overall the meeting was run very efficiently. I would continue to look for ways to keep it to 2 hours maximum.
Thank you Beth for taking time to reflect on the meeting, particularly for reflecting on the impact of changes that have been made and recommending additional adjustments.
For reference for those who were not at the meeting, it was scheduled to start at 1 pm but we did not have a quorum until approximately 1:15. It adjourned at approximately 2:45.
The main items of business were the election of officers (preceded by the bylaws-required report of the Nominating Committee), the adoption of the budget (preceded by the Treasurer's report) and the vote to confer the title of Minister Emeritus on Rev Michael. Additional reports included the report on the Strategic Plan (the Strategic Plan calls for annual presentation), reports on Stewardship, Capital Campaign, and the General Assembly delegates appointed by the Board to represent the congregation. Reports closed with the Chair's Report, which included a summary of the Board's report included in the UUCA annual report, comments from the Chair, extracted from a longer report posted with material for the annual meeting, the presentation of the Chair's Award and the introduction of the Minister Emeritus resolution. With the reading of the congregational covenant, benediction, chalice lighting and the standard agenda items like approval of minutes and statement of purpose of the meeting, there were 21 items total on the agenda.
A lot for a nice late spring day.
My perspective: member since last Sept. and attending since Sept. 2010. This was my first AGM.
1. I am amazed at the work done in this church and I am so thankful I found this wonderful place. The leadership and volunteers are beyond anything I have ever seen.
2. Having said that I think it is imperative to maintain the connection between leadership and volunteers--between the governing process and the membership. Meetings that are widely perceived as too long (as was clear from listening to comments around me as I left) reduce attendance and participation.
3. No matter how good our intentions are there are limits with which we must cope. For example if you are coaching first graders in an athletic activity you must use the first 30 seconds well because after that they will hear little. If you are giving a speech to adults, the desire to listen wanes dramatically around the 17th minute and can be perceived by the increased cough level and the increased levels of movement. Bottom line is that no matter what we perceive has to be done there are practical limits. When we ignore these realities we pull the rug out from under ourselves.
4. I agree with Beth that an up or down vote on the budget was a good idea. Many opportunities exist to be involved in the minutiae of budget construction before the AGM.
5. I also agree with Beth that moving the awards to the services was excellent. I felt a warmth and appreciation toward the recipients. I am afraid that warmth would have been replaced with irritation had the awards been added to this meeting--a very unfortunate result.
6. Most overly long meetings get that way by adding many small bits that could be skipped or reduced. I offer a few example solutions.
a) Recognize that the AGM is primarily about governance and only marginally about education and communication. For example one can determine if there will be any nominations from the floor before extended presentations of candidate qualifications, particularly if such qualifications have already been presented to the congregation within page 2 and on the web and by weekly e-mail. If there are no nominations such presentations are unnecessary.
b) Introductions of trustees and staff are unnecessary at the AGM as opportunities for such communication abound elsewhere in weekly services, on the web, in page 2 and by e-mail.
c) Reading of statement of meeting purpose is unnecessary as it has been widely available before hand.
7. An overlong meeting now and then is a small price. I remain very thankful for having found this tolerant community.
Thanks for asking….
I’m no fan of long agendas with lots of business and little discussion,
BUT I left the annual meeting with a sense of gratitude, mostly because of your remarks at the end. Your guidance to our congregation intrigues me.
Several points linger in my mind (on a daily basis!).
I think you urged our congregation (not just ministers and trustees) to:
• Put first things first—don’t be too busy for spiritual leadership;
• Be accountable—explicitly and implicitly—for the results of projects we take on;
• Know you can’t get new outcomes from doing the same old things;
• Avoid assuming that “our own way” is “the best way;”
• Take advantage of learning and growth opportunities;
• Be humble, and ask ourselves to become better people;
• Care for one another and the church proactively (provide more pillows for softer landings when we take risks of leaping into new adventures).
Did I get that right? Did you really say those wise things to us?
I applaud you Cynthia for holding Natty's comments up.
They were valuable and salient and because of the lateness of the hour and her reading them at lightening speed because she could sense that she was losing the crowd, I think you may have been one of the few who heard them.
I have heard some concerns about the length of the meeting in general and the Chair's comments in particular and I agree it was a long meeting, but it was our annual congregational meeting. I feel obliged to have some patience once a year. I think the chair works awfully hard all year (in Natty's case --two years) and deserves to have an opportunity to speak on what they have gleaned over their tenure and we owe it to them to hear what they have to say. Could it have been shorter? yes, probably...but c'est la vie.
Anyway...Thank you both.
Still, what to change: We do need to keep working on keeping meetings short--always a tough trick when people want to speak. I agree with the suggestion of setting time limits on personal comments, including those from the people up front.