The Session recommends that the congregation amend the congregation’s by-laws by adding the following.
Article VI. Section 4 C [Electronic meetings] The Session of First Presbyterian Church of New Canaan may, from time to time when physical meetings are impractical, arrange to meet and conduct business via electronic video and/or audio teleconference. Reasonable notice of the date, time and set-up procedures of electronic meetings will be given by the Clerk of Session or Moderator. The conduct of electronic meetings will conform as closely as possible to the procedures for physical committee meetings set out in the latest edition of Robert’s Rules of Order, including (but not limited to) those for quorums and recording of minutes. Actions taken in teleconference meetings shall be reported in the same manner as any other actions are reported. Minutes of teleconference meetings shall be treated as official minutes, must be approved by the entity at its next physical or electronic meeting, and shall be kept and forwarded in the same way as minutes of physical meetings. In the event that any two members object to the electronic or telephone procedure, then in that case the decision shall either be postponed until the next regular meeting or a special meeting must be convened.
Article VI. Section 4 D [Email voting] The Session of First Presbyterian Church of New Canaan may, from time to time cast binding votes through email or other commonly used but individually addressed electronic tool. Email voting is limited to action items believed to be routine and not controversial. In such cases the chair or moderator of the entity will make a motion (a second is not required) by sending the motion’s text and any significant background material to all members of the body. The Session’s Clerk of Session, moderator, or designated staff member will also include any announcement which clearly indicates the deadline for receipt of responses and offers any and all members the matter. Members of the group voting will use the “respond all” facility of email or otherwise respond in a way by which all participants can see all the votes. Email voting produces a valid action when the number of voters responding meets or exceeds the group’s normal quorum, and the measure being voted on receives positive responses from at least 3 / 4 of those members who respond. The Chairperson or Moderator will report the result of the email vote, and it will be recorded in the minutes of the next meeting.
Rationale From time to time, the Session has found it necessary to take action on straight-forward, non-controversial matters between regular Session meetings. Currently, the only option in such matters is to call a full meeting of the Session. The Session would like to have the option of using teleconferencing and email voting, rather than holding an in-person meeting. This method would be limited to non-controversial actions. If any member of the Session disapproves of using this method for that particular action, consideration would be postponed until such time as the Session can hold a face-to-face meeting. After some investigation, the Session found that some other churches have approved such a measure. It is allowed under Robert’s Rules of Order and by the Presbytery in these very limited circumstances. At its meeting on February 13, 2018, the Session approved a motion to recommend such a change to the congregation.