Changes in Meeting Agendas and Procedures

The Supreme Council has issued new (Guidelines for Council Meetings - document #10318) and some associated Questions and Answers. The changes are effective immediately and councils need to implement these changes as soon as it is practical to do so (some must wait for in-person meetings to resume). Supreme has not set a “deadline” to complete implementation but with final approval of the changes expected by the Supreme convention in August 2021, the end of this fraternal year in June is a good goal. Some of the changes can be done immediately by simply changing the agenda of meetings. There was a webinar on the changes on Dec. 17th and here is a PDF of the slides from that webinar.

Action items for council leaders:     

  • Take some time and download the booklet and Q&A documents and read them.
  • Councils are expected to hold two (2) meetings per month: an Officers’ (Planning) meeting and a Membership (Council) meeting and on separate dates.
  • The primary goal of these changes is to make meetings more relevant to members. Much of the business that is not essential is moved out of the Membership meeting (see next item). We want to keep meetings under one hour. We want Membership meetings to move away from tedious reports and long-winded debates and be more interesting to the average member.
    • Committee chairmen should limit reports to 3 minutes each. Allow 5 minutes for the District Deputy and Field Agent. Allow 10 minutes for the Grand Knight report. If someone needs more time, they should discuss this with the Grand Knight in advance.
  • Matters requiring full council votes (e.g. budgets, elections, out of budget expenditures) will still be necessary during Membership meetings. Matters such as “Can the council support this?” and other new programs and activities should first be brought to the attention of the Grand Knight and then discussed at an Officers’ meeting unless it is an emergency matter.
  • There is a NEW order of business for meetings and agendas. Grand Knights, officers, etc. should adopt this promptly as well as the new script for conducting a meeting. Note: the language used at meetings has changed including the opening. All of this is in the booklet linked above. and here are links for easy printing:  New Council Meeting Agenda, New Grand Knight's Meeting Script, New Officer's Meeting Agenda.
    • Sign-in sheets or online logs of attendance are encouraged, and roll calls are no longer needed. Recorders and secretaries should note which officers are in attendance for purposes of minutes.
    • Meeting minutes should be distributed by e-mail or on password-protected areas of web sites. If this happens, it is presumed that members have read them so only corrections and a motion to approve (not dispense with reading) is needed.
    • Financial Secretaries primarily report at Officers’ meetings. Treasurers report at both but with limited summaries at Membership meetings. Books should always be open to inspection by arrangement to any member, officer, and the District Deputy.
    • The Odes are no longer part of the standard meeting agenda. Not prohibited but not needed or recommended.
    • The role of the Lecturer should be revived in councils that lack one. It’s an appointed position not elected.
    • Fourth degree reports and District Deputy and Field Agent reports are done before old business.
    • The recommended opening prayer is the Lord's prayer. The specified and recommended closing prayer is the Prayer for the Canonization of  Blessed Michael McGivney (document #10502 rev 10/20)
  • There is also a NEW layout for council meeting rooms. The seating and table arrangements have changed. Something to remember when in-person meetings resume.
  • The booklet includes extensive guidelines on parliamentary procedures for meetings. Council officers should review these procedures.
  • All officers and committee chairmen are expected to attend the Officers’ meeting.
  • Councils are encouraged to plan social time before or after the Membership meeting. As most councils are in an online meeting mode at present, this is something to do adapt to by allowing some chat after the meeting concludes.
  • Guests are permitted at meetings with prior approval by the Grand Knight and a vote by the officers or members (depending on which meeting is affected). The past practice to do this at the beginning of a meeting is still a good one. Meetings are not open to anyone to just attend (or connect to online) but not closed or secret either. With planning and a vote, a meeting may be attended by prospects, families, etc.
  • Most new business items should first be raised at an Officers meeting as that is where planning is done. If it results in a need for money not budgeted, then the financial change must be approved by the members at a membership meeting. All councils should approve a budget annually and thus eliminate the need for budgeted expenditures to be individually voted upon.
  • Exemplifications before meetings are still encouraged where councils can do them. (Use of the state sessions is recommended at present.)
  • Grand Knights should appoint a “tech coordinator” (preferably not one of the top officers) wherever possible. Being Grand Knight or Recorder and doing the management of online meetings, meeting room technology such as microphones and cameras, etc. simultaneously is not the best solution. Remember that once in-person meetings resume councils must still allow for online connections.
  • Councils need to update their by-laws to comply with these changes. (If councils use the “standard” by-laws from Supreme then it will be taken care of when the Supreme Advocate revises the standard). Since this process can take months in councils that have their own by-laws, it should begin ASAP.