How to liven up your Annual Parish Meeting

It’s annual meeting season. Back when I was a rector, I liked them to go smoothly, like well-scripted legislative machines. Now that I merely attend the meetings, I prefer to see some fireworks. So, without further ado, here are some ways to spice up your annual parish meeting.

1. As soon as any conversation about the budget begins, seize the microphone and ask an arcane question, but in an innocent tone. Something like this, “In administrative expenses, about how much of that was spent on paper clips?” When the treasurer admits she or he doesn’t know, then say, “So what you’re saying is that spending is completely out of control?”

2. During the rector’s remarks, enlist a few friends and start a slow clap. Doesn’t really matter when, but it’s especially effective if he or she has just complimented something like the Christmas fair or the flower guild.

3. Nominate someone from outside your church for high office, preferably a famous person. For bonus points, make up the title. “I nominate Sam Waterston as senior doge.”

4. Make obscure parliamentary motions. “I move to that we postpone to a time certain and then consider by paragraph with limited debate.” “I move for division of the house, with the ayes going to the epistle side and the nays going to the gospel side.”

5. There’s always the real chuckle-getter: “I appeal the decision of the chair.” For added fun, make it about the invocation or the opening remarks.

6. If your coffee at coffee hour is lousy, here’s your chance. Propose a vote of no confidence on the coffee machine, the ingredients, and whoever thought Folgers was a good idea.

7. Bring your own laptop, projector, and 12′ screen. Live tweet the entire meeting, and put your tweets on the screen. Or, at key moments, offer an “alternative narrative” to the official PowerPoint presentation.

8. Make sound effects throughout the meeting. If someone objects to the flatulence noises you are making, retort, “So, what are you, some kind of Augstinian body hater?”

9. Explain that you have been studying Episcopal polity, and you know that bicameral assemblies are all the rage. Demand an immediate change to a bicameral annual meeting.

All kidding aside, if you are part of a congregation, go to your annual meeting. It’s a great way to learn about the life and ministry of the place. Make sure you thank all the people who serve in many, many ways to ensure your congregation can carry on.

But if you are near Hingham, MA, please try out all nine of these ideas tomorrow whilst my archnemesis is trying to preside at his meeting.

7 Responses

  1. Laurie Atwater says:

    These are extraordinary! I don’t think #6 will go over in Hingham, though — I hear they get a custom roast from a local cafe. Lucky ducks…

  2. Eric Funston says:

    I thought Sam Waterston already WAS arch-doge of the Hingham parish.

  3. Pseudopiskie says:

    If I weren’t Bishop’s Warden, I’d be sorely tempted to try these today. Likewise #6 wouldn’t work. We do have good coffee. Thanks.

  4. Muthah says:

    Another one–at least from the rector’s point of view: Announce your retirement. It works every time!

  5. Helene says:

    A couple of years ago, when the Indianapolis Colts (our city’s team) was playing in the Super Bowl against the NO Saints, I made a motion that “just for today, let’s change our church’s name from ‘ALL SAINTS’ to ‘ALL COLTS.’ ” The motion was denied, but it was funny.

  6. Lambkin says:

    Most parishioners aren’t familiar with Roberts Rules of Order. The result is that issues are decided and rushed through by the ones who already hold the power – the ones who know those rules. At our annual meeting, no one could catch a breath as the process whizzed by. Not very democratic.

  7. Peggy says:

    Excellent suggestions, especially #1! The guy who used to do that retired to Florida, so maybe I should take over. I look forward to our annual meeting next week.