Annual Meeting Planners Call for Behavioral Covenant; Focus on Vision

Annual Meeting Planners Call for Behavioral Covenant; Focus on Vision

By Tiffany Vail
Associate Conference Minister for Communications

The Nov. 1 - 2 Annual Meeting of the three Southern New England conferences will have a new and different feel from prior meetings, with a new focus on lifting up nuanced perspectives during plenary, and on hearing vision-inspired local church stories during break-out sessions.

Wednesday, Oct. 23 at midnight, is the deadline to pre-register for the meeting. Register online here.

The four Boards of Directors have each voted to recommend that delegates adopt a common Behavioral Covenant and new Rules of Procedure, to guide all plenary sessions at the meeting.  The Rules of Procedure differ from those used in the past in Connecticut and Massachusetts as follows:
  • Rather than “pro” and “con” microphones or paddles, delegates who wish to speak about a motion will be asked to select one of three colored paddles, representing “I believe….”, “I wonder….”, and “I pray…”
  • “I believe” allows for definitive “pro” and “con” statements for those who are clearly for or against a motion.
  • Moderators will pay close attention to make sure diverse perspectives are heard.
  • Points of order and parliamentary questions will be heard at a separate microphone designated for this purpose.
Delegate materials are being prepared for the Annual Meeting
Planners say they hope the covenant will help everyone involved to remember to treat one another well during the meeting, and hope that the new paddles will allow participants to express more nuanced perspectives, allowing more room for discernment of the will of the Holy Spirit.

Read a letter from planners about everything that is new at this Annual Meeting here.

Friday afternoon, prior to the the start of worship and plenary sessions, delegates will be invited to come hear stories from across the new conference and to share their own. These stories will be examples of how local churches are already carrying out faithful and innovative ministries embodying the Vision and Purpose of the new conference.

"Local churches are where disciples are made and where most ministry happens.  We have spent the last two meetings more focused on larger institutional matters; it’s time to turn more attention back to our congregations and the way they are living out God’s love and justice," the moderators said, in the announcement about what is new at the meeting.

While four of the breakout sessions will focus on local church initiatives, the fifth will look at the vibrant covenant international partnerships of the conferences, which are being inherited by the new conference.

In a sign of the three historic conferences coming closer to the Jan. 1 formation of the new conference, there will be no individual conference plenary sessions at this meeting, as there were at the last two.

Instead, on Friday evening, after opening worship, delegates will stay together in a single plenary session as each historic conference takes turn accomplishing its business. Rather than taking the time to shuttle people in and out of the meeting room, the moderators will ask delegates to stay, pray for one another, and learn about one another by listening to their deliberation and decision-making.

Because delegates will be voting on some items related to their historic conferences, and on other items that relate to the new conference, voting cards will be two-sided. All cards will be white on one side, for taking action related to the Southern New England Conference.The reverse side of each card will be one of three other colors representing the three historic conferences; these will be used on Friday evening only, for actions relating to historic conferences.
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