Our Committee on Minutes (Minutes Committee) is a work group not a deliberative body. It is a legacy of the days when there were no recording devices other than the human being frenetically taking notes with pen on paper. While seeing to the recording of the business of the assembly is the responsibility of the secretary, it has been deemed prudent to have a team of people taking notes so as not to miss something and ensure accuracy by comparison. In 2015, we introduced videography and live streaming of the assembly. The saving of the video allowed for review of the action, increasing the accuracy of the minutes. One would think that a team of human recorders is now obsolete. In 2017, we learned not to be so complacent. Our videographer was unable to attend because of injury. Fortunately, we were able to make an audio recording. Nevertheless, over dependence on technology could put us in a precarious position. Having a team of humans seems a salutary redundancy.
Taking minutes is not as onerous as most seem to imagine. One does not take a verbatim (a word for word transcript of everything that is said) when taking minutes unless a special order is made to do so—this is very rare! When this happens—which it never has in WV-WMD—it usually entails a narrow set of statements and not the entire proceedings. It is also customary that a person, who desires his/her words be entered into the record, present a written copy of his/her speech to the secretary.
According to Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, §48,
In an ordinary society, unless the minutes are to be published, they should contain mainly a record of what was done at the meeting, not what was said by the members. The minutes should never reflect the secretary’s opinion, favorable or otherwise, on anything said or done.
The secretary will provide Minutes Committee members with detailed instructions on the recording of the action.
Minutes Committee members work in shifts. No one, except the secretary, is taking minutes the entire session. When committee members are recording, they do so alongside others. Usually 2-3 committee members are recording at one time. When action is heavier, more members are recording. This allows for breaks. There are often long spans in which no action is taking place, e.g., during a keynote address. During these times, committee members may be told by the secretary that they can relax and even leave their post for a short time. When looking at the assembly program, Minutes Committee members do not take minutes outside of the “business meetings,” meaning committee members have no obligations at worship, workshops, etc..
Minutes Committee members should be able to use a laptop or mobile device on which they can engage in simple typing. Most committee members prefer to provide their own device because of familiarity. A few laptops are kept handy for those members who do not have their own. Basic typing skills are helpful—hunt & peck will not serve well.
It is also important that a Minutes Committee member have hearing sufficient to understand what is said by the speakers at the mics. Being able to pay attention is also important.
It is not necessary that the Minutes Committee members know everyone in the synod. Speakers and those making motions are required to announce their names whenever they come to the mic for their benefit.