12th Assembly 2009

Members cool on voting cards

New voting cards arrived at the Assembly on Thursday evening in time for Friday’s business.

votingcardsThat followed complaints from some Assembly members regarding advertising on the cards distributed with Assembly papers.

The Uniting Church meeting process involves voting members using blue and orange cards. These can express feelings, cool or warm, towards what is being proposed and indicate assent or dissent.

The cards initially distributed included the words “yes” and “no” as part of an advertising strategy.

The Rev. Robert Renton, from Port Phillip West Presbytery in Melbourne, said over many years he had grown used to using the blue and orange cards to express his feelings.

“They form a useful task in working towards a consensus,” he said. “That doesn’t mean to say that from time to time we don’t have to go one step beyond consensus and work with the reality of making a formal decision.”

Assembly General Secretary the Rev. Terence Corkin said the coloured cards had worked well in the past and ordered new, plain cards for the meeting.

“A lot of people are seeing the cards with ‘yes’ and ‘no’ as being voting cards and that voting is rushing to a conclusion too fast,” he said.

“So they are trying to build a culture, practice and processes that give them time to be involved in discernment.

“Without having ‘yes’ and ‘no’ it reminds us that the cards are about all sorts of things including ‘I need more information’ or ‘can you help me understand’.”

He said getting new cards was about clearing away the “yes” and “no” messages to give the space for the other things to happen.

Stephen Rothery, Queensland Synod youthful member, said he was more interested in what was being said during a session than what was on the cards.

“I’ve spoken to a few people. Some felt that the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ perhaps didn’t represent what the cards were intending, to show how you feel towards something — warm or cool.

“But at the end of the day, in my mind, if you were to push everyone here for a one word answer whether they agree with something it would be ‘yes’ or ‘no’.”

Grant Finlay from Congress said he had heard people say they would prefer the cards not have advertising.

“But I’ve heard other people say it is a convenient way to promote accounting services and that the Assembly should pass a resolution as to whether they want advertising material on the cards or not.”