For many of us, opting to have meetings electronically makes good common sense — Electronic meetings can save money, time and travel. It’s no wonder then that the United Church of Canada is encouraging electronic meetings as it transitions from a four to a three court governance.

But given that the Church also serves in multiple rural locations, Alberta and Northwest Conference’s Executive pondered whether local communications systems would permit full participation in electronic meetings for everyone. The Executive asked Allan Buckingham, Communications and Technology Consultant to research rural capability within the current ANW Conference boundaries. Buckingham is also owner of the online worship resource, Together We Worship, and is chairing the Business Committee for this coming summer’s General Council meeting in Oshawa, Ontario.

Buckingham surveyed 31 communities throughout the current boundaries of Alberta and Northwest Conference. While each community had at least one internet provider as well as LTE cell, in some of the smaller communities slower internet speeds would make live video interaction more difficult.

The 12-page report is helpful information for the church as it plans for the future, says Planning and Administration Chair Sue Brodrick. While electronic meetings are technologically feasible for many people, “if you don’t have the right communication system in town, you can only participate in a meeting with a cell phone.”

Brodrick sits on the current General Council Executive which has two electronic meetings under its belt. In its latest meeting in early March, most GC executive members participate in the meeting sitting in front of their computer and everyone uses their telephone for sound. For those in rural communities where video conferencing isn’t feasible, the church administration ensures Executive members have all documentation in paper in order to participate in the meeting.

You will find the ANWC Technology Use Options report HERE. ANWC Technology Use Options Report It is also a helpful document for congregations considering live-streaming for worship and other programming.