Virtual Meetings Are the New Norm
With a rather unusual turnout, the once a year all congregational church meeting took place like so many other gatherings: virtually. There were many comments in the moments leading up to the meeting that included several conversations about the rather stellar showing for a meeting that typically draws very few beyond the church council members, pastors, and office staff.
Taking more than the normal 30 minutes, however, the virtual meeting started with program reports and ended in a conversation about the metrics for determining just when the congregation might eventually return to in person worship.
The head pastor provided a thank you to the staff and the church council for their continued support of the pastors during these most unusual times. The new staff member who has been hired to film and then post the online services has access to the new sanctuary cameras that have been installed in the last two months. These professionally recorded and edited services are of much higher quality than the methods that were used when the in person services were initially suspended.
During the pandemic, the church staff has continued to be as creative as possible, with the pastor citing that the congregation’s food pantry now serves 80 to 90 families a week, compared to the 30 per week that visited before the pandemic.
The assistant pastor echoed many of the comments made by the lead pastor, adding that he finds it rather humorous that these comments about thinking outside of the box are occurring in the virtual boxes everyone attending the meeting is in on their computer screens.
The director of membership recognized the volunteer efforts of the congregation member who helped the staff navigate the first months of the pandemic by creating online worship services before the new cameras were installed. This report also indicated that the last of the new church directories had finally been mailed out after the entire process was delayed because of the pandemic.
In his report of the youth and family ministries work, another staff member cited their accomplishments, but indicated that it really had been a long 11 months so far.
The children’s ministries staff member, who is retiring within the next month, indicated that it took a whole staff effort for her to continue her work when many people just assumed that the connections with the youngest children might have just stopped. She went on to say that it has been very lonely in the building with many weeks only having one or tow staff members in the building at a time, but she knows that the decisions that were made helped to keep the congregation safe and contribute to the health of the greater community.
The children’s ministry programming is designed for youth up through fifth grade, but it has been extended to sixth grade to help students transition for upper elementary through the first year of middle school. Middle school programming included fifth and sixth grade connections with each other because this is the group that are going to be friends. Some congregation members expressed concerns that parents continue to be provided the relearning support they need to help teach their children about the sacraments that church leaders want children to know about.
Churches, of course, are not the only non profits that are having to deal with the challenges of the pandemic. In fact, the need for arbitrators, experienced mediators, and attorney fees have been a part of many businesses and non profits alike. Attempting to navigate the payment of leases on expensive buildings that are sitting vacant are just one example of some of the reasons that lawyers, arbitrators, and other financial services experts remain in demand.
Fortunately, when legal problems occur and arbitrators are needed, there are still many ways that these cases can be handled virtually. The trend that began in 1962 when 11.5% of federal civil cases went to trial continues to lend itself to the needs of the pandemic. Today, for instance, experts say the percentage of civil cases that actually reach trial in the Federal courts is estimated to be about 1%. This means that many of the negotiations with arbitrators are able to take place virtually and can help people on both sides of the trial limit physical exposure.
Virtual Meetings Are the New Norm