MNYS Town Hall Meetings

Metropolitan New York Synod, ELCA

Town Hall Quadrant Meetings


1. To share information, ask questions, and offer observations that affect the congregations and people of the synod

2. To clarify and understand the goals of the synod.

3. Being mindful of the synod’s current task to prepare for the election of a new bishop, to encourage the presence and participation of the richly diverse communities of the synod.



1. Announce the town hall meetings taking into consideration as many avenues for connection as possible with ample allowance of time. The possibility of providing a written overview of the town hall process for early distribution should be considered.

2. As part of the announcement phase, seek questions from attendees which are to be sent to the synod office in advance. All pre-submitted questions or comments should be written on a common form which will include the person’s name, congregation, etc. The Bishop and synod staff will organize the questions into categories which will provide for a more focused approach to the content of the meetings.

3. If time allotment doesn’t permit all questions/comments to be considered, the bishop and staff will be open to further engagement after the town hall meetings.

4. Seek a location which is hospitable not only in size but in having ample light, open space, and good audio capability. The ambiance of the space is an important influence to the mood of the gathering.

5. Have a person or two who will serve as a sergeant of arms or have a plan in mind for handling disruptive behavior or emergency needs.

6. Have key synod metrics handy: trends, demographics, vacancies, etc.

7. Ahead of each quadrant meeting:

  • appoint two persons per town hall meeting to take thorough notes
  • appoint someone who will monitor individual statements with a timer
  • appoint someone to be present at each gathering who is skilled in answering constitutional questions, etc.

8. Each host site is asked to provide snacks and beverages.



1. Each attendee signs in

2. Prayer/devotional

3. Brief opening remarks (by a person who is generally viewed as a synod leader, who is neutral, and has been observed to be least blaming)

4. Bishop McCoid serves as moderator for all town hall/quadrant meetings

5. Though some questions have been pre-selected in the preparation phase, there will be open space for questions and comments from the floor:

  • A two-minute time limit will be kept for all questions and comments
  • All questions and comments will be directed to the moderator, not across the room to each other
  • If cross-conversation begins to disrupt the previous two points, the moderator will stop the process and restore order (this process encourages a more organized gathering with enhanced ability to listen and think for oneself)
  • In the event that someone continues to be disruptive to the process, he or she is asked to be silent for the remainder of the meeting or is asked to leave (or escorted from the room). This, of course, would be an extreme situation but better to be prepared than not.
  • The above four points should be articulated prior to the beginning of the meeting by the person making brief opening remarks and agreed upon by those gathered. This enhances the moderator’s ability to restore the agreed upon order if necessary.

6. Other possibilities for consideration:

  • Seek several individuals from each quadrant who are willing to serve as part of a panel which might open each gathering by discussing/answering several of the pre-selected questions sent in during the preparation phase. This panel could serve as a panel throughout the gathering as an advisory/assistant panel to the bishop’s role as moderator – only speaking at his invitation. This panel could also serve well as a group to conclude the gathering by reviewing what they’ve heard during the gathering as higher priority statements.
  • Might a review of the synod’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats serve as a good starting point for discussion – perhaps for the panel?
  • Other open questions for consideration: What’s working? What’s not working? What are the current obstacles?



1. Good structure corrals anxiety.

2. A quick fix rarely works well.

3. Taking time allows better resolution of the challenges.

4. Like a concert master’s task, we do best when we (play) are different together.

5. Cutoffs will encourage pernicious functioning and keep things stuck.

6. The way we manage the changes while moving ahead is a witness to people.


In addition:

1. Stay loose

2. There will be skeptics

3. It might even be fun