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Church Election Questions


Guest Bruce in Louisville

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Guest Bruce in Louisville

I have two related questions about balloted elections and business sessions in a church setting.

We have three worship services each weekend. We do balloted elections for two items a year: approval of the budget and election of deacons. In the case of the budget, all discussion and amendments has been done in a single business session the weekend before. In the case of the deacons, a slate is presented to the church via publications and then voted on. (The bylaws specify that the slate as brought by the nominating committee is the only persons that can be voted on, as the nomination process has been completed before.)

In both cases, at each service we call the church into business meeting, hand out ballots, vote, collect the ballots, and adjourn the meeting. Having recently been made moderator, I have had to brush up on my Robert's, so I am aware that we are actually holding separate "meetings" within one "session." Here are my two questions:

1. Since the only item of business is the ballot vote, we are in effect only holding an election. Is it necessary to actually call the church into business session, or can we just hold the election by passing out and collecting the ballots?

2. At this year's budget discussion, I led the body to use the motion "fix the time to which to adjourn" to end the discussion business session and specify that we would vote that coming weekend. Was this the correct motion to use?

Thank you, in advance, for any advice you can give this new moderator.

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In both cases, at each service we call the church into business meeting, hand out ballots, vote, collect the ballots, and adjourn the meeting. Having recently been made moderator, I have had to brush up on my Robert's, so I am aware that we are actually holding separate "meetings" within one "session." Here are my two questions:

1. Since the only item of business is the ballot vote, we are in effect only holding an election. Is it necessary to actually call the church into business session, or can we just hold the election by passing out and collecting the ballots?

2. At this year's budget discussion, I led the body to use the motion "fix the time to which to adjourn" to end the discussion business session and specify that we would vote that coming weekend. Was this the correct motion to use?

Thank you, in advance, for any advice you can give this new moderator.

To be perfectly correct for the first question, yes. The question on the election of deacons should be "put" at the meeting.

It is appriate, if these are two meetings within the same session, to adjourn to a specific time and place.

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The adoption of the motion to Fix the Time to which to Adjourn does not adjourn the current meeting; it merely sets a meeting for the continuation of the current session.

Do your bylaws actually prevent nominations from the floor and write-in candidates?

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Guest Edgar

1. Since the only item of business is the ballot vote, we are in effect only holding an election. Is it necessary to actually call the church into business session, or can we just hold the election by passing out and collecting the ballots?

I believe that the polls can be open outside of the context of a meeting.

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Guest Bruce in Louisville

Thanks, all, for your feedback.

The bylaws have a fairly long and detailed process for nominations, vetting of nominees, and presentation of the slate. The voting is essentially to allow the church to approve or disprove the slate as presented. If someone is not approved, that spot is declared open and filled later following the procedure for filling vacant seats. (Convoluted, I know, but actually simpler than it was before we redid the bylaws this year.)

Based on the feedback, it appears that we have to be called into business session in order to vote, UNLESS our bylaws state otherwise. We've done it this way for so long that everyone accepts the multi-service business session as normal, so I don't think I'll try to change it for now. Perhaps later we'll make it clearer and/or more RONR-like.

As for the motion -- it is not Fix the Time to Adjourn, but Fix the Time to Which To Adjourn (http://www.netplaces...-to-adjourn.htm). We are noting that this business session will be continued in a subsequent meeting at the specified time or times. The church has not, in the past, used the idea of "session" versus "meeting," but I think this will make sense if explained.

Thanks to all, again, for your help.

Bruce Maples

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In the Presbyterian Church (USA) a ban on nominations from the floor is unconstitutional and they'd be electing elders and not just deacons.

You take me much too seriously -- my reference in #12 -- "predetermined" -- went back to John Calvin and his theological convictions, not the current Presbyterian constitution and/or bylaws.

But your information, Alan H, is interesting: are you telling us that there is an explicit statement in the bylaws that there shall, or must, be the opportunity for floor nominations? Good for the P-Church.

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But your information, Alan H, is interesting: are you telling us that there is an explicit statement in the bylaws that there shall, or must, be the opportunity for floor nominations? Good for the P-Church.

What's the matter? Don't they have faith in RONR?

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You take me much too seriously -- my reference in #12 -- "predetermined" -- went back to John Calvin and his theological convictions, not the current Presbyterian constitution and/or bylaws.

But your information, Alan H, is interesting: are you telling us that there is an explicit statement in the bylaws that there shall, or must, be the opportunity for floor nominations? Good for the P-Church.

Yes G-2.0401 of the current book of order which is part 2 of the Church Constitution.

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Okay, time to get back to RONR. :)

I was wonderin when that was gonna come. I liked Dr Stackpole's pun in post #12, but I cringed about where it was likely to meander from there. I did spend a few fruitless minutes looking for a pun on G-2.0401, but you know what?

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