Q:In view of invitation to share in MHA's 70th Celebration, is it too late to request change to start date of Oyster card from Saturday 6th July to Friday 5th July?
Sorry - I don’t have a definite answer for you, so you should assume it’s too late and make your own arrangements for the 5th. If I geet a different answer I’ll post here.
If you are new to the Conference, you’re entitled to a first-time speaker card. You can collect these from the Press Office at any time. You’ll find us in the Maurice Barnett room at Central Hall, and it will be well signposted. It’s on level one at the “back” of Central Hall - go through the exhibition area and turn left after the toilets. The stewards will help if you need it.
Holding (and waving if necessary) the card will allow you to jump to the front of the queue of people waiting to speak. (Because there are two queues, you may have to wait for someone to be called from the other side first, but you’ll be first in your queue). You need to be obvious about holding it so you and it catch the eye of whoever is presiding at that point. You can only use it once, so choose carefully, but please do use it and make your voice heard.
Q:Hi, Do we need a ticket for the Sunday Morning worship or do we get one automatically?
Members of the Conference will have a ticket. Guests, friends et al will need to apply for one.
Q:Thanks for the email about conference papers. Will each volume be available electronically. I know that each report is online but it would be good not to have to save each report individually for use at conference.
Each report will be available as an individual PDF, but we will also create a single PDF of the whole agenda. For obvious reasons, that will not be available until quite close to the start of the Conference.
Volume 1 is on its way to you now, and Volume 2 should follow in a couple of weeks. The third part will be the Memorials, so a single PDF of the whole lot has to wait until all three are ready.
Where you’ll stay, what you’ll eat
From our Conference organiser:
“All Conference reps will be staying at Imperial Halls in South Kensington http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/summeraccommodation in the Southside and Eastside Halls. There are double rooms for those who are bringing partners.
Breakfast will be served at Imperial Halls; lunch will be grab bags and dinner is served at Imperial Halls for reps arriving on Friday and at Central Hall the rest of the time EXCEPT for Sunday, when people will be able reclaim the cost of an evening meal up to the usual allowance of £15.
Imperial Halls is 3 stops by tube (South Ken > St James) and we are arranging pre-paid Oyster cards for reps.”
The registration system for booking all this will be online soon.
As way of introduction: my name is Toby Scott, and I’m the Director of Communications for the Connexional Team. At Conference this means I’m running the press office, and overseeing the web and social media work. You’ll find me either in the press office at the rear of Central Hall, or standing somewhere in the Conference hall to keep an eye on what’s going on. During some of the breaks I’ll be at the Connexional Team stand.
Please say hello if you see me, and I’m happy to answer any more questions you have. I’m a long way from being an expert on the Conference, but I’ve picked up enough to know who to ask.
Q:I notice that the info you are giving is that we are all staying at Imperial College - do you have to sign up for meals- breakfasts?
I’m afraid I don’t know. All the information about the Conference will be sent in due course to all Conference members - this posts are for new Conference members. I’ll try to find out and will post here if I do, but all you need to know about accommodation will be sent to you by the Conference Arrangements Team.
Please keep the questions coming - I’ll do all I can to answer. I do appreciate that where you’ll stay and what you’ll eat are real worries ahead of attending an event for the first time, and I will try to find out.
Part 6 - debating (cont.) and voting
We’ve discussed the general shape of debates, and how to introduce yourself. But what other things can happen during a debate? This might occur while you’re speaking, or you may introduce them.
The official list is in the Conference Rules of Procedure, which is at the start of the Agenda. I strongly suggest you read it.
In short, at any time, anyone can move any one of the following:
- The vote be now put or now taken (i.e. no more speeches, lets vote!)
- The vote be not put (i.e. the debate ends, there is no vote, no deicison is taken.)
- The matter be referred to the Council or a committee.
- The debate be adjourned (with either a time to resume stated, or to be agreed later)
- That the Conference adjourn (which must specify when it will resume.)
I must admit that I’ve been telling people about these options for years, and never had them come up. And then in one session last year we had all all of the first three!
As with all things, the trick is to pay attention. If any of the above are moved, there will be a vote immediately on it, and then - depending on the outcome - either business continues or the matter at hand is voted on.
The one key thing about voting: you have to be in your seat. The rest of the time people can and do move about, or take a break, but you have to be in your seat to vote.
Voting is usually by a show of hands, or sometimes a verbal assent. A resolution is moved, and the President or Vice President will say “Conference agreed?” or “Please show; those in favour? [Pause] Those against?”
“Conference agreed” tends to be used when there is little chance of anyone voting against. Conference is in theory saying “agreed” but this tends to turn into the “Methodist grunt.”
If asked for a show of hands, the President/Vice President will ask first for votes for, then against. If it is close, you may be asked to show again. If it is really close, then scrutineers will be asked to perform a hand count. Yes, your votes are public. No, abstainers are not asked to show. Yes, majorities are relative, not absolute: if three people are present, it only takes two votes to win.
Conference has, in the past, experimented with electronic voting, and probably will do so again. If so, that will be explained.
Part 5 - social media
Social media and Conference
It a nutshell, tweet away. The official hashtag is #methconf, and we’ve found over the last few years that Twitter tends to be where the Conference social media action is. We will also feed through into Facebook, and keep both this Tumblr and Google+ updated, but the live conversation is on Twitter.
However, please note:
- There’s no guarantee you’ll be near a socket (in fact, it’s very unlikely), so if you bring a device think about how you’re going to keep it powered during the sessions.
- Don’t disturb those around you. Tablets and smartphones are less of an issue, but laptops with noisy keyboards are not going to go down well.
- Please respect the Conference as our governing body and those taking part. You can disagree with what’s being said, but personal comments or attacks only diminish us all.
- Strictly no online activity during closed sessions, or any reference to them afterwards.
- Keep your phones and other devices on silent. Beeps, texts and rings will be fined.
- There is a wifi network at the venue, but you’re sharing it with up to 300 other people, so don’t expect it to be speed, and please don’t use it to catch up on your TV viewing.
There is a live video stream from the Conference, and in recent years speakers have sometimes included both the #methconf and the live stream in their “hello.” That’s great - its wonderful that people around the world can be connected to the Conference in these ways. But the people who vote are in the room and matter most.
Part 4 - Debates, joining in
One of the things that comes up again and again from new members and visitors to Conference is that it moves quickly, compared to some other governance bodies. It certainly doesn’t hang about.
The video at this link gives a good overview of quite a complex debate from 2010. What you have is a Notice of Motion introducing a new piece of business. This in turn is amended by another Notice of Motion. To further complicate things, the proposer of the original NoM wants to amend the text. This is allowable, but of course this now requires the proposer of the amendment to adjust the text of that to fit.
Whenever you have an amendment to a proposal then the debate will follow this form:
- The original proposal is introduced and moved
- [There may be some debate of the original proposal]
- The amendment is moved
- The amendment is debated
- Conference votes on the amendment, which is either successful or not
- [Depending on what the amendment does to the original, there may be further debate on what has either been amended or not]
- The Conference votes on the amended or un-amended original, as appropriate.
If there is more than one amendment, the Conference Business Committee will try to work out the best order to introduce them. If two or more amendments are similar in effect, they may also ask the proposers if one of them is willing to withdraw.
And while you’re think about speaking, here’s another update. In the videos, you’ll see the “traffic light” system that tells speaker how long they have. That has now been replaced by a single light, thus:
Green means go, red means stop. Flashing, I believe, means stop very soon. Remember: nobody ever complained that an address to the Conference was too short.
As always, for to ask a question, click the ? at the top.
Part 3 saying hello
Christian conferring is at the heart of the Conference - discussing, debating and at times disagreeing, but all in a prayerful, Christian environment. And that means getting up to speak.
Once Conference begins its business, there are two tribunes at the front of the hall, just in front of the platform. Anywhere else might call these tribunes “podiums” or even “lecterns” but this is the Conference. Near those tribunes will be a row of seats where people waiting to speak sit. Usually, the President or Vice President will call people from alternate sides, in the order they arrived in the queue. This is both to give everyone a fair chance and to keep the debate moving. As soon as the speaker on one side ends, the next on the other side should be moving and ready to speak. If the queues are unbalanced, the President or Vice President may ask people to move across.
We’ll go into more detail about how the debates are structured, but first you need to know how to introduce yourself. This video is a quick summary of how it works, and please take time to watch it.
But the easy rules to remember are:
- Address whoever is in Wesley’s chair.
- Address the Conference
- Say who you are, and who you represent.
So, if a male Vice President is in the chair, I’d say “Mr Vice President, Members of Conference; Toby Scott, Connexional Team.” If either the President or Vice President is a woman, it would be “Madam President” or “Madam Vice President.”
This is important. If you forget, you’ll quickly find members of Conference shouting “Name!” at you. You need to do this every time you speak.
Another group who want to know your name are the reporters and photographers from the Methodist Recorder. Don’t be shocked if they catch you as you sit down and ask for confirmation, or a spelling.
A final note on the tribunes: one of the tribunes can be raised or lower to accommodate wheelchair users; the other can’t. If you are a wheelchair user, just use the side that suits you.
Q:Where will we be staying? This is isn't mentioned anywhere!
Good question! I’m sorry you haven’t been told this yet. My understanding is that you’ll be staying at Imperial College accommodation at South Kensington, which is a few stops away from Westminster on the Central Line, and that you’ll be given Oyster cards so you can make your way there and back each day.
I’m sure my colleagues in the Conference Arrangements Team will be in touch soon with all this information, but I’ll give them a nudge.
Welcome to Conference, part 2 - what to bring, what you’ll get
Each Conference member brings different things with them, but one old hand sent in this list, which you might want to bear in mind:
• Agenda (essential)
• A5 ring binder and hole punch (for Order Paper, Notices of Motion, Daily Record and notice sheet). Others use treasury tags or bulldog clips. - NB: You’ll be given an A5 ring binder.
• Bottle of water
• Pen; highlighter pen. Something to mark your place in the Agenda.
• Layered clothing: each venue can be either hot or cool depending on where you sit.
• Sweets (with non-rustling wrappers!)
In this photo, note: A5 binders, highlighters, cards indicating district, and so much water…
So what will you receive?
Well, when you arrive at the Conference, you’ll need to register, and at that point you’ll receive a bag with some useful information and materials in. You’ll also receive a badge, which you should wear at all times. The stewards are tremendously helpful and hardworking, but they will not let you in without a badge.
As noted above, you will be given an A5 ring binder, (but not a hole punch). Each day, you will receive:
- The Order Paper for the Day
- Any Notices of Motion (usually on two sheets)
- The Daily Record of the previous day
- Sometimes a notice sheet.
The best place for all these is the A5 ring binder. Since everyone has an identical binder, you’ll want to write your name on it in the most prominent way imaginable.
The two different sheets for Notices of Motion are as follows:
- Notices of Motion that amend other Conference papers start their numbering from 101 and are (usually) on green paper.
- Notices of Motion that introduce new business start their numbering from 201 and are (usually) on yellow paper.
Both types of Notice of Motion are the same in how they are introduced and dealt with. The distinction just makes it easier to keep track of them - one number from 101 will always refer to another item of business.
And if you want to do it all electronically…?
Increasingly, people have and use laptops or tablets for Conference. This is fine. You’ll find all of the Conference papers on the main Conference website as they are published. You’ll also find each day’s papers on the site each morning, although I can’t guarantee they’ll be online before the Conference starts.
You’ll receive the paper versions anyway, but you can be paperless in your usage if you wish. The only catch is that it is very unlikely you’ll be near a power socket, so you need to be confident your batteries will last.
As it happens, I do Conference in a paperless fashion, with a laptop in the office and my tablet for carrying around the hall. But I make sure I have paper copies of everything on my desk just in case.
That’s it for this time. As always, you can ask questions by clicking the ? at the top or this link: http://methodistchurch.tumblr.com/ask
Welcome to Conference (part 1)
- The hall is set out for the weekend sessions, which aim to get as many people in as possible. Once the business starts on Monday, the hall is set out “classroom style” i.e. with desks. (If you want to see this transition, click here for yet another time-lapse http://methodistchurch.tumblr.com/post/26409151955/conference-sunday-methconf)
- On the bottom left you’ll see the booths for the translators. They provide live translation into Spanish and French for overseas members and guests.
- In front of them are some public seats, and in front of them are the press desks (with the whiter table cloths). Most years these are occupied only by the Methodist Recorder, but other journalists do come at times. Please don’t sit at them.
- What we’d call the stage in any other circumstance is called the platform during the Conference. The little red blob in the centre behind the table is Wesley’s Chair (although this is not a certain historical claim.) Whoever is presiding at that point sits in that chair - President or Vice President. Whoever is in that chair is in charge.
- A bell is rung to indicate that Conference is about to start a session, and at that point you stand if you can. The platform party (i.e. those whose duties require them to sit on the platform) then enters. Remain standing until the person in Wesley’s chair invites Conference to be seated. In the video, the former Presidents and Vice President’s also enter, sitting in reserved seats at the front.
Make your voice count
Today is International Human Rights Day, an opportunity to celebrate human rights, highlight issues and advocate for the full enjoyment of human rights by everyone, everywhere.This year, the spotlight is on the rights of all people — women, youth, minorities, persons with disabilities, indigenous people, the poor and marginalized — to make their voices heard in public life and be included in political decision-making. Find out more here.