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From the Vice-President
The Joy of Hosting Our Annual Meeting
by Vice President Wren
Those of us who have hosted in the past know how much work it can be. One host literally moved the earth to create a hillock and a peaceful spot in the woods where attendees would not see traffic on the nearby road. It was also an excellent place to scramble up and greet the first light of morning. Last year (2006), the annual meeting was simply that - an annual meeting. This year was different.
The first order of business is to thank the Red River Study Group for hosting this year’s Henge of Keltria’s annual meeting in Shreveport, LA. These lovely people showed us true southern hospitality. The food was great, and the conversations lively. Four of us spent twelve hours traveling in a crowded truck to get there, and it was well worth the drive.
Since before the Henge’s incorporation, the annual meeting has been held in various locations ranging from Kansas to Syracuse, NY, and Minneapolis to Georgia. Our by-laws state that once a year the board of trustees will hold a meeting, which is open to the membership. Nothing in the by-laws says that we have to throw a weekend long party; however, With members and trustees traveling so far, it makes sense to linger a day or two. So how is it that these annual meetings move around so much? The answer is found in the Correspondence Course.
When a student successfully completes the course of study, and the Council of Elders grants the go ahead for an Initiation, the question arises, “Your place or mine?” Either the candidate must go to the Keltrian performing the ritual or vice versa. Such was the case in 1998, when I was living in Los Angeles, and a correspondent of mine was ready to elevate to Yew. Dedications, initiations and elevations are even more meaningful if the candidate has friends and family present to welcome and congratulate them after the ritual. Traveling to the candidate is a good thing to do if at all possible. In this particular instance, the ritual was taking place at the same time of year as the annual meeting, so we combined them.
It also occurred to us that folks who don’t have the resources to travel to the annual meeting could attend if the meeting was held closer to their home. This also gives the trustees an opportunity to meet members in person. We currently have board members residing in California, New York, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Georgia and Ontario, Canada. With an annual meeting that moves around, trustees have longer or shorter trips to attend, which evens out the travel obligations.
Any member can host an annual meeting. You do not have to be a part of a Grove or Study Group. In fact, non-members are not excluded from attending the meeting. The only difference is that they cannot vote. In the past, we have had people sign up on the day of the meeting. It’s understandable that folks would want to meet the trustees before committing membership fees.
All a proposal to host involves is who, what, where and when (which is coordinated with the Henge secretary). In the past we have gathered at a sanctuary, members’ homes, a working farm, a state park and the rehearsal room of a bagpipe band. Members who live in an urban area are encouraged to make arrangements to gather at a hotel. I still think a beach house would be fun. The sky is the limit. Hosting the annual meeting does call for the labor of making choices and local arrangements such as how food will be handled; one year we simply ordered pizza. Where people will stay is another consideration. A list of local hotels solves this, or how many tents will fit in your backyard or location of choice. The possibilities of performing rituals should be taken into account. The proposal can be simple or extravagant.
Scheduled activities can include rituals and/or workshops, or nothing except the annual meeting. In Shreveport, although we had workshops scheduled, we took an organic approach with board members speaking on subjects needing clarification. For example, we rehearsed the ritual songs prior to performing a rite. Another topic covered was using small, but pertinent tokens rather than food for the Remembrances of the God and Goddess honored at a Feast. By taking this approach, we had an opportunity to field questions that may not have come up in the course of the usual workshops. We thought this worked well.
Personally, I do like to see the annual meeting move hither and thither. This takes us to new places and adventures. More importantly, it gives the board of trustees the opportunity to meet and greet members and potential members in person.
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