ANNOUNCEMENT OF “CALLED” MEETING OF THE CONGREGATION, SEPTEMBER 13, 2020
Dear Members of First Presbyterian Church of Valparaiso,
In March of this year, as Covid-19 became a world-wide pandemic, the Church as we knew it was forced to change in order to continue to do God’s work in our world. Nevertheless, we still seek to follow the guidance of our Book of Order and our Bylaws, but for obvious reasons these need to be updated/modified to allow for these new and changing circumstances.
Currently, our Bylaws can only be changed at a Congregational Meeting, and then only with a two/thirdsmajority! However, because of health concerns, we are physically unable to meet at all as a congregation and therefore unable to conduct church business of any kind!
After considering all possibilities, Session has decided to call a Meeting of the Congregation which will look a bit different. The letter you are reading (which is being delivered to you either by USPS mail OR electronically via the church office) will serve as the first notice of the Called Meeting for September 13, 2020. This meeting will not actually take place, however; the ballots that you return will be counted September 13 and serve to record your “presence” at the meeting. You are being asked to vote on each of the Amendments that are detailed below.
We are asking you to vote in one of three (3) ways: mail the enclosed postcard to the Church Office (to the Attention of Clerk Judy Hollar); OR return your postcard in the Drop Box located near the front entrance of the Church (Door A); OR vote electronically . All responses need to be returned to the church office by September 13, 2020; the votes on that date will constitute the Called Congregational Meeting.
As noted above, according to our Bylaws WE NEED TWO/THIRDS OF OUR MEMBERS TO APPROVE THESE CHANGES TO OUR BYLAWS! THAT MEANS WE NEED 210 POSITIVE RESPONSES! It is IMPERATIVE that EVERY MEMBER VOTE! If these amendments do NOT pass, future congregational business of the church (such as electing new Elders and Deacons) will be paused indefinitely.
Therefore, we ask you to carefully read and consider the following two amendments that Session has approved. Then promptly return your ballot in whichever way works is easiest.
The FIRST amendment that needs to be passed will allow us to conduct an electronic Congregational Meeting. This will be an addition of Section 9 to Article V (Ecclesiastical Meetings) and will read as follows:
Section 9: The polity and theology of the Presbyterian Church recognizes the importance of meetings of the church according to the Book of Order. There is no substitute for the richness of conversation and debate that is possible when we gather in one place to listen and watch and open ourselves to the work of the Spirit. There are circumstances though, when being physically present with one another is impossible or impractical. During extraordinary times when we must use other means of accomplishing the business of a governing body when we cannot meet face to face the following will be allowed: Virtual meetings by Zoom or another type of video conferencing tool, conference calls, email or postal mailings to gain the input from the congregation. (This policy is guided by the national church policy CM – 18 - Guidelines for electronic assemblies when participants are unable to meet face to face which was issued August, 2009. This information can be found on the PCUSA website which is www.pcusa.org )
Second, our Bylaws currently allow the Session to have only twelve Elders in total. You will know by now that the Congregational Nominating Committee has selected FIVE candidates for the Class of 2023 which would bring the total number of Elders to thirteen! Without amending the Bylaws, this cannot happen. It has been suggested that it is advisable to always have an odd number on a team or committee so that tie-breaker votes are unnecessary. A second reason FPC Valpo desires to increase the number of Elders is that Session has expanded its undertakings and outreach and currently feels the need for additional help within the ministry teams and committees. This is especially true with our increased presence online and with all the technology we are currently using.
Therefore, the SECOND amendment will change the wording of Article II (The Session), Section 1. It will read as follows:
Section 1: The Governing Body of the local church is the Session. The body consists of the moderator, any other installed minister and an odd number of elders not to exceed fifteen but no fewer than nine. (changed wording is indicated in bold)
If you have any questions, PLEASE CONTACT ANY ELDER, the Clerk, or the Pastor, but as noted above, WE NEED TWO/THIRDS OF OUR MEMBERS TO APPROVE THESE CHANGES TO OUR BYLAWS! THAT MEANS WE NEED 210 POSITIVE RESPONSES! It is IMPERATIVE that EVERY MEMBER VOTE!
Although we do not know what the future holds for FPC Valpo, God does know. We pray that the Holy Spirit will move in your hearts to allow these Amendments to be approved so that we can continue to do God’s work, in our congregation, in Valparaiso, and in the wider world. Thank you for your prayers as we move forward together!
Brad Dirks Rick Exley Matthew Byerly
Elizabeth Monroe Ken McAloon Kim Croarkin
Andrea Phillips Lisa Pavlopoulos Sharon Kinsey
Chip Wilkes Jacki Phillips Vic Klancer
Moderator, Rev. Kimber-lee Adams
Clerk, Judy Hollar