Management & Leadership in Ministry Roberts Rules Definitions
The most commonly used„terms‟, defined in everyday language, and listed in alphabetical order.
Amendable: Whether or not the „motion‟ can be altered in any way (striking out, adding, or substituting), prior to the business meeting voting on the issue.An Appeal or Objection: A person may „challenge‟ the validity of the chairperson‟s ruling on any matter. This appeal is immediately put to the vote (generally with no debate) to determine if the „ruling‟ has the support of the majority of those in attendance.By-Law: Major governing/procedural rules of the organization that are highly unlikely to change (i.e.: the members will meet at least once per year to transact the business of the church). Different than: Standing Rules
Commit or Refer: a decision of the business mtg. to send an item of business to a committee for their additional input, research, recommendation or action.Debatable/Undebatable: whether or not the person in charge of the business meeting, can or can not allow there to be „discussion‟ about the motion being considered. Some „motions‟ are not debatable … the assembly simply & immediately votes (yes or no).
Dividing the Question: When the motion being discussed has a number of „sub-points‟, the business meeting may request the motion be divided into smaller statements & voted on individually, rather than as a whole.A Division of the Vote/Assembly/House: Anyone challenging the validity or accuracy of the report of the voting, may insist that those who voted in favour or against a motion, physically „stand or raise their hand‟ in order to verify the count.
Ex-Officio: A person serves on a committee or board BECAUSE they also hold another office in the church (i.e. The elected treasurer of the church, is ex-officio on the Church Board and on the Finance committee).The Floor: indicates which person presently has the right to be speaking (or which motion is presently before the business meeting for their consideration).General Consent: Many motions, elections and reports may be received or approved by the congregation, without the necessity of a formal vote (i.e. simple nods of the heads).
Lay on the Table /Table a motion: This is an undebatable motion which requires a majority vote. Effect is that the issue or motion being discussed is temporarily set aside and no longer discussed or voted on, until a majority vote to „take from the table‟.Majority Vote: Simply means “more than half”. Generally a vote of 50% + 1 carries the decision. In the case of an odd number of votes (half of 17 votes = 8.5) a majority vote is 9.
A Motion: A statement which the business meeting will eventually vote on (either to approve or reject). A „motion‟, a „question‟, a „resolution‟ are for all intents & purposes, synonymous terms.Orders of the Day: This is the officially approved „agenda‟ of the business mtg. It provides the agreed upon sequence & timeline in which business is to be conducted. For instance an „Order of the Day‟ may be that at 9:30 a.m. we recess for a 10 minute coffee break, OR between 8:15 – 9:15 p.m. the Orders of the Day calls for the „receiving of the financial report‟.
Plurality Vote: an election based on who receives the largest number of votes (not necessarily a majority vote). i.e. 10 people vote for 4 candidates …it is possible that no one will receive 6 votes (a majority)A Point of Order: A person attending at a business meeting may interrupt the proceedings to object to the behaviour of another person in attendance, or the appropriateness of „how‟ a matter of business is being conducted. The person raising the objection simply states “A point of Order”…at which time the chairperson makes an immediate ruling on the concern. (Different that a “Question of Privilege”)
Precedence: Determining which order the various items of business must be dealt with. (pecking order …)Previous Question: (Calling the question). A motion requiring a 2/3 vote, which forces the end of debate & requires an immediate vote on the motion.
Pro Tem: Latin term: „For the time being‟ or a temporary assignment ( i.e. Mary was absent, so Bill was asked to serve as the business mtg. secretary „pro tem‟). Also identified as: „pro tempore‟ or „P.T.‟Question: “Are you ready for the question” means: are you ready to vote on the motion? (the question being „What is your vote/pleasure/will concerning the motion before the assembly?”
Questions of Privilege: All business discussions can be interrupted at any time, by a person asking for clarification about procedures, or the rights & responsibilities they have as members of the business meeting.Standing Rules: the agreed upon general practices of the organization which tend to change from time-to- time (salary ranges, vacation time). These rules can be changed without giving advance notice to the assembly (spur of the moment). See By-Laws
Two Thirds Vote: Means at least twice as many people are in favour of the action/motion, as are against the motion. If the business meeting has an indivisible number of people voting … 2/3 means you must round the number UP. 2/3 of 100 votes = 66.666% If 66 people voted in favour of the motion, this would NOT BE SUFFICIENT to carry the vote. 67 votes are needed.
When do we need a 2/3 vote?A 2/3 vote is required whenever … the rights of the individual or the organization are being limited/ restricted; or previously made decisions are being over-ruled or over- turned (decisions made prior to the present meeting) Amend or Rescind the Constitutions, Bylaws, or Agenda Amend or Rescind Something Already Adopted; Suspend the Orders of the Day; Refuse to Proceed to the Orders of the Day; Take up a Question Out of its Order. Limit or Extend Limits of Debate; Call for the Previous Question. Take Away Membership or Office; Discharge a Committee.
Quorum: Generally: Attendance of 50% +1 of the membership is needed in order to make decisions & conduct the official business of the organization. The by-laws usually establish this percentage; for instance in the Wesleyan denomination an appropriately/duly called Church Board mtg. or Annual Business mtg. can be conducted with whatever number of members are present. The by-laws indicate you do not need 50% + 1 to have a quorum. HOWEVER … it is unwise to make decisions for the church, without an adequate representation of people being present
A Reconsideration: Any person in attendance at a business meeting may request that a decision of the business meeting be „reconsidered‟. The business meeting must vote 50% +1, in order to reopen discussion on a previously decided matter. Only someone who voted on the winning side of the previous vote, may request a „reconsideration‟.
Vote: If even one person indicates a preference that a formal vote be taken on a motion, election or report (as opposed to a „consensus vote‟) then the chairperson is required to take an official vote by the membership. Some jurisdictions require an official motion & election take place (ballot vote) for the election of officers. A formal vote is usually done by ballot, although raising of the hand, voice or standing votes are sometimes used.