Hello, and welcome to the North American Division!*
It's a beautiful autumn day here in Columbia, Maryland. This is the time of year that we would be preparing to welcome hundreds of executive committee members, their family, and other special guests for the year-end business meeting of the North American Division. That would be any other year except this year, 2020. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in following federal, state, and local guidelines — not just here in Colombia, but wherever you live — we have decided that it will be safer to hold these meetings virtually. There are a lot of precautions we've taken to make sure that it is safe, and that it works smoothly.
We want to take a few moments to show you what precautions are being taken for those who will be here in the building helping to facilitate the virtual meetings, and what that experience will be like for you. First thing we need to do, however, to be safe, is put on a mask. First requirement of anyone that's going to be going in the buildings is that we have to wear a KF94 mask, so we want to make sure that we follow those requirements. All right, let's go. …
OK, so my temperature checked out normal, which means I can come in. I signed in; they keep track of everybody in the building. Now we're going to head over to the auditorium where we're hosting NAD Year-End Meeting 2020. …
So here we are in the auditorium of the North American Division. Typically, this is where we have up to 400 seats, and the executive committee members and guests sit in here for the business meetings. But now, because of COVID-19, this is going to be the nerve center for the virtual edition of the year-end meetings. One of the first precautions that we're taking is limiting the amount of people who will be here in this room. It'll be the secretariat team that's helping to facilitate these meetings and running all aspects of virtual voting, conversations, and just ensuring that everything runs smoothly — supported by our IT department that will also be here in this room. There will also be a few members of our communication media team that will be helping to transmit and broadcast this to you. And finally, the officers — the president, secretary and treasurer of the North American Division — will sit up at the top chairing the meetings. To ensure that they are safe, we have put plexiglass shields between each person sitting in this room. And there's going to be plenty of hand sanitizer, as well as social distancing to make sure that everyone in this room stays safe. Once the meetings are ready to begin, if you're an executive committee member, you will be participating via Zoom. If you are a church member who is not in the executive committee but wishes to watch the meeting, you will be able to watch across our social media platforms as we stream the meetings live, as we do every year.
You may ask yourself: if you're participating via zoom, how do you interact with the meetings? Let's say, for example, a motion is made. And after the motion is made and seconded, you wish to comment. Using the chat function in Zoom, you will contact the session secretary. The session secretary will note that you wish to speak. That message is relayed to the secretariat team handling that and you will be given permission to speak, and your microphone will be unmuted in the order in which those requests are received. Once discussion has ceased, and we're ready to vote on the issue, executive committee members will be able to vote anonymously via Zoom. After each motion, when the vote is called, you will simply vote on the motion, and again, anonymously, you will be able to vote The votes are tallied almost instantaneously, very similar to what happens when we're here in person.
Once the meetings are taking place, it won't be just you that can see the participants here in our building. With these monitors here, the chair and the secretary of each session will be able to see you [executive committee members] — all of the participants will appear on these screens to create a truly interactive experience.
While we're so very disappointed that you can't join us here in person in Columbia, Maryland, we're very glad that we are able to connect virtually to do the business of the church. So again, please be safe. And thanks again for joining us online. Take care!
* Minor edits for clarity made to this transcript