The date for Albright EMC’s Annual Meeting was coming up but still, there was no permission to host a group size that could accommodate all the church members and interested adherents. Even if they split the congregation up they would need 6 dedicated spaces with sound capabilities and all of the other requirements necessary to ensure participant safety.

Thankfully their Annual Meeting is held in June and the church is set on 5 acres of property, with no neighbors on 3 sides. They began to plan. All reports were prepared early enough to allow the Agenda and Annual Report package to go out by mail and arrive before the designated deadline date for meeting materials. They created a streamlined agenda so the meeting would not be longer than necessary.

On the day of the meeting, they made parking lines in their lot, 12-14 feet apart. With this plan, people could either choose to stay in their cars, or they could bring a lawn chair and sit on the left side of their car, as long as their own passenger side window was closed, as well as the passenger side window of the car to their left. Most people brought chairs.

On entry, each car stopped at the greeting station where gloved and masked volunteers were taking attendance. Here they handed in proxies, received ballots and a new pen, received printed instructions about practical matters such as access to washroom facilities and the FM channel to tune in to the meeting. Next an attendant guided participants to their parking spot, and each car parked, ferry-style.

Verbal presentations were limited to only a few, and everyone involved in the meeting itself maintained social distance. It was a year without PowerPoint but people commented that they received the information they needed from the written and verbal reports and the visuals weren’t missed.

A recording secretary sat off to one side. Tellers wearing gloves picked up ballots using pails. For the question period, questions could come either by text message, or one of the pastors would approach a person with a hand up, while keeping distance, ask for the question, and then speak the person’s question into the mic.

They accomplished what they needed to do. After the meeting, several drove their cars to various areas of the parking lot and others pulled up, distanced but close enough for conversations. Many stayed around enjoying one another’s company in this manner for well over an hour after the meeting adjourned.