How to conduct a Conference meeting
The Conference Meeting is the foundation on which all other activity of the Society is developed. It’s the place in which all Members can experience the sisterly and brotherly relationship that should exist in the Society and where the work of the Members is organised.
Conferences meet regularly at a place and time suitable for the Members. It is desirable to meet weekly and at least fortnightly. It is important to regularly review this arrangement, as work and family commitments may necessitate a change in Meeting time for Members.
Make sure your Meeting space is comfortable and private enough to allow uninterrupted and confidential discussion. Ensure that the location is accessible for all Members. You could utilise a Parish hall, a local community agency or even share the responsibility to have it at people’s homes. You may consider an occasional rotation process of venue to keep the “newness” and vitality alive in your Meetings.
As the Conference President you have a wonderful responsibility to lead and support the Members, and how you conduct the meetings will go a long way to determining your success as President. Preparation is very important to leading a positive, life giving and effective Meeting.
Any correspondence should be sorted through prior to the meeting, and relevant information summarised for the meeting. Flyers or information sheets should be available for people to look at or take with them. Check with the Secretary prior to the meeting about anything you think needs attention.
If Members have concerns or questions about something raised in the
correspondence, they can be referred to appropriate people for further discussion if necessary.
“Conferences are units of action” and your role as President is to ensure that people do not get distracted by debating or presenting their personal views about issues arising from correspondence. You have the responsibility to keep the focus on the Mission and the Work of the Society in serving the poor.
- The Conference Meeting is the time for self reflection and renewal of heart, mind and action. It is the place for all people to reflect on their work, discuss joys and experiences and also share any concerns they may have.
- The purpose of gathering together regularly is to support each person in their spiritual growth, discuss new opportunities for living out the Mission of the Society and strengthen the friendship between Members. The Conference is a sacred place of joy, love and fellowship for those who attend and for those who will receive help.
- Home visitation must always be done in pairs. The hours should be convenient to the family being visited, as well as the Society Members. Where the need is urgent, a person can take an auxiliary Member along for support and assistance.
Suggested Agenda for Conference Meetings
- Opening prayer (prayed together)
- Spiritual reflection and discussion: This is a very important time in the meeting for Members to reflect on their life, their work and any issues that impact on their commitment and ability to live the Mission and Culture of the Society. Use of prayers, songs, readings, articles and the Spiritual Readings Booklet is encouraged. The Spiritual Advisor should lead this and encourage participation.
- Apologies: Encourage people to let you or the Secretary know prior to the meeting if they are unable to attend
- Minutes: These should be brief and factual, recording the final decisions made.
- Matters arising: There may need to be some discussion on the business arising from the previous minutes – that is, whether or not decisions have been effected and actions taken. Refer the action list which should be attached to the minutes of each meeting
- Correspondence: You should have a sound knowledge of all correspondence prior to the Meeting. Most of it will only need to be summarised. Ensure that dates of events, sessions and activities are included, which Members may like to attend. Only selected letters need to be read in full. The Secretary can assist you in this area as well as support you in preparing correspondence for appropriate action.
- Treasurers Report: A written Conference document of receipts, expenditure and present balance should be presented at each meeting.
- Collections: One secret collection is to be taken up at each Meeting for the work of the Conference,
- Visitation overview: This is a very important part of the Meeting. Reflection, thoughtful attention, and discussion of each of the families visited must be given, to ensure that the most suitable response and care is offered. The reports should not be long, and the person’s privacy and dignity must be respected at all times. It is a time to share insights and learning, helping us to respond to other people’s needs. This is the time to discuss issues such as referrals to other agencies, resources or further support that can be offered.
- Allocation of tasks: Keep in mind that not everyone is comfortable undertaking certain responsibilities, including visits. An individual can decline to undertake a particular visit if they want to. Other duties may also be required, such as, making phone calls, pick ups organizing jumble, making up parcels or other Society/Parish-related responsibilities that impact on the Work of the Conference.
- Reports from Social Workers or other activities undertaken by Members on behalf of the Society
- General business
- Closing prayers