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Annual Congregational Meeting: January 24, 2021

A Simple Guide on How to Take Part
Remember, a quorum of our membership is required

With the Annual Congregational Meeting coming up on January 24th, I’ve prepared some helpful guides so our voting members can participate as fully as possible for the meeting.


The first thing we are asking is for voting members to register for the Annual Meeting.

Q: How and why do I register?
A: If you are a voting member of St. John’s, you are entitled to voice and vote at the Annual Meeting of the congregation. Because of COVID-19, we are asking that voting members register by calling the church office so we have an accurate expectation of a quorum for the meeting and so we can ensure those who wish to participate in the meeting have the materials they need to do so.
After you have registered for the Annual Meeting you will be provided with a meeting ID for Zoom, and beginning Wednesday, January 13th, you will be able to pick up a voting ballot during regular church office hours.

Q: Why do I need a ballot if this is an electronic meeting?
A: Our congregation’s constitution indicates that a ballot is required for certain items that require a vote. These items will appear on the ballot for the Annual Meeting.
On January 24th, be prepared with your meeting ID and voting ballot on hand. Voting members can start calling into the meeting at 11am.

On January 24th you will have the option to join the meeting either by computer or by phone.

Q: Is there a significant difference between using a device with video or calling in via phone to join the meeting?
A: The biggest advantage to using a device with video to join the meeting is the ability to see other members of the congregation on screen during the meeting. Aside from that, all participants will still be able to participate during the meeting fully if they choose to call in or join with video.

If you will be joining the meeting by calling in, please follow the directions below:

Using your landline, touchtone phone or your cell phone, dial 1-312-626-6799. This is the phone number that will connect you to Zoom Communications, the service we are using for our Annual Meeting.

You will be prompted to enter the meeting ID, followed by #.

You will then be prompted to enter your participant ID. A participant ID will not be needed for this meeting, so please press # again when prompted to enter the meeting.

You may hear hold music and a message that you are in the waiting room after connecting to the meeting. This is normal, and you will be soon connected to the meeting.

After being connected to the meeting, you may hear the Pastor or a council member read your phone number and ask you to identify yourself for the attendance record of the meeting. During the meeting you will have two important phone commands:
  • *6 toggles mute/unmute.
  • *9 indicates a raised hand. *9 is especially important during the meeting for phone participants, as it will indicate if voting members have a question during the meeting, and it will also be used for a “show of hands” for some items during the meeting.
If you will be participating via video, please follow the directions below:

Please, first make sure the device you are using is no more than 5 years in age, and has a camera and microphone. If your device does not fit into this category, please use the directions above to participate by calling in. Using your device’s web browser (Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.) navigate to https://zoom.us/join.

Once on the page, enter the meeting ID and click the blue “Join” button. You can then click the blue “Launch Meeting” button.

If you do not want to install the Zoom client on your computer, you can click the “Join from Your Browser” link, which is next to “Having issues with Zoom Client?”

Once the meeting loads, you may see a message that you are in the waiting room. This is normal, and you will be soon connected to the meeting.

After being connected to the meeting you may hear the Pastor or a council member ask you to identify yourself for the attendance record of the meeting. During the meeting, you will have the ability to interact by using the mute/unmute microphone button as well as by raising your hand on the screen.
After the business portion of the meeting has concluded please return your voting ballot to St. John’s within two hours. Pastor will be present along with 1-2 council members to mark that your voting ballot has been received.

Q: Why can’t we just mail our voting ballot back to St. John’s?
A: Our congregation’s constitution prohibits “voting by proxy or by absentee ballot” (C10.05). As such, the person who filled out the voting ballot must accompany the ballot for delivery to St. John’s on the same day as the Annual Meeting.
After the ballots are counted and tabulated, the results will be posted on the St. John’s Facebook page and be shared by use of the St. John’s Phone Tree.

Additional Q&A

Here are a few more answers that may be useful in preparing for the Annual Meeting

Q: Can we even have a congregational meeting electronically/remotely?
A: Our congregation is fortunate in that its constitution does not prohibit the use of electronic meetings. However, because our congregation’s constitution does not prohibit the use of electronic meetings, we default to Illinois state statutes that do allow for such use. We then follow those statutes.
Q: What if there is a nomination from the floor? How will we address those additions that may not have been printed on the voting ballot?
A: The voting ballot will include space for “write-ins,” should such nominations be made.
Q: What happens if the call is dropped or my internet connection is not stable during the meeting?
A: Please try to call back into the meeting if your call is dropped. If your device does not have a reliable internet connection, please consider calling into the meeting.
Q: Will minutes be kept for this meeting?
A: Yes, our congregation’s constitution requires that minutes be taken at all meetings of the congregation. To assist in the minute-taking for this year’s meeting, it will be recorded in real time and archived for review.
Q: I’ve lost/misplaced my voting ballot, the meeting ID, or another document for the Annual Meeting what do I do?
A: Contact the church office as soon as you are able, and arrangements will be made to pick up replacements of those items. The latest replacements can be made available is 10:30am on the day of the meeting.
Q: I’d like to participate in the Annual Meeting this year, but I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. Will there be a practice day?
A: Yes, on January 10th at 11:00am we will have a practice meeting. If you would like to participate in the practice meeting, please contact the church office.
Q: Was any special training offered to our congregation’s leadership in preparation for this year’s Annual Meeting?
A: Yes, both Pastor and our Council President attended a virtual workshop offered by the Northern Illinois Synod called “How to have a Congregational Meeting in a Pandemic.” A video recording of this meeting was also shared with the Congregation Council via email. In addition, three members of council and the Pastor have formed a committee to ensure the logistical matters for this year’s meeting were cared for in the best possible way, considering the circumstances.
Q: What happens if there is not a quorum for the Annual Meeting?
A: If there is not a quorum, then the Congregation Council will choose an alternate date for the Annual Meeting. Please note that there are multiple items in both our congregation’s constitution and other legal agreements that require decisions to be made during an Annual Meeting.
Q: In a previous newsletter, there was a note that if there were a blizzard or perhaps other inclement weather the meeting would be postponed to the following week. If this meeting is happening electronically, why would there need to be a postponement for inclement weather?
A: The postponement in this case would be for the safety of both those returning a voting ballot and for those who would be collecting and tabulating the voting ballots. Remember, the only part of the meeting that is electronic this year is the business portion of the meeting. The return and collection of voting ballots requires voting members physically return their voting ballot.
Q: How will the collection of the voting ballots work?
A: As noted in the step-by-step guide, after the business portion of the meeting has concluded, voting members are instructed to return their voting ballot to St. John’s within two hours. Pastor will be present along with 1-2 council members to mark that your voting ballot has been received. To drop off your voting ballot for collection and tabulation, the voting member must accompany their voting ballot so that we remain compliant with our constitution’s provision prohibiting “voting by proxy or by absentee ballot” (C10.05). As such, the person who filled out the voting ballot must accompany the ballot for delivery to St. John’s on the same day as the Annual Meeting. This means that if there are multiple voting members in a household, all voting members who filled out a voting ballot must accompany the ballot for delivery. voting ballot collection will take place in drive-thru fashion. Vehicles will enter the main parking lot from Eighth Street and stop at Door 8. Either the Pastor or a member of council will then collect the voting ballot and mark off that your voting ballot has been delivered so that it may then be tabulated by another council member.
Q: What would prevent a voting ballot from being collected or tabulated?
A: If a voting ballot is not returned accompanied by the voting member that cast the voting ballot, we legally cannot accept it for tabulation as this violates the congregation’s constitutional provision prohibiting “voting by proxy or by absentee ballot” (C10.05). Likewise, if a voting ballot is received by mail, this would also not be able to be counted becuase it would also violate this constitutional provision. The same also would be true for any voting ballot received after the two-hour collection window as these would be considered votes cast after the close of a meeting.
Q: The answer to the previous question noted that in some instances a voting ballot could not be legally accepted for tabulation. What might be the legal consequence for such tabulation of a voting ballot that should not have been collected?
A: Our congregation, as a member of a denominational body, is legally incorporated as a non-profit institution. As such, our congregation’s constitution serves as a governing document. Therefore, if a provision is broken, especially a provision that relates directly to the governance of our congregation, then we would be at risk of losing our non-profit status. This is an extremely serious violation and one that makes our congregational leadership potentially liable as they are legally considered the board of directors for our congregation.
Q: What should we do if we have other questions about the Annual Meeting?
A: Please call the church office and we will do our best to address your questions.