The Future Working of PCN in a Post Covid World
Since March 2020 all organisations have had to adapt to working in a world where social and work gatherings have been proscribed.
PCN is no exception. Conferences have been cancelled, groups have not met, trustees have not travelled to their meetings. However new forms of networking have emerged and, in some measure, thrived. At the present time ( March 2021) many of our PCN groups are holding regular Zoom meetings and some groups report large attendances, with some groups inviting speakers from across the globe to address their members. There are concerns that some PCN members are excluded from such meetings because of technological and other reasons. And obviously there is a desire for real meetings once again when restrictions are lifted and it is safe to meet. Each PCN group will, of course , have to resolve these issues as best as it can.
PCN as an organisation has embarked on staging our own webinars, with the first ,with Brian McLaren, attracting over 250 participants. PCN trustees have been meeting on Zoom. Our website is now advertising a range of online events being hosted by different organisations. PCN members have asked which progressive churches are offering on line worship services, which they might ‘attend’.
In so many ways, as this pandemic has closed down so much ( tragically businesses etc) a new world of interconnected events and meetings etc has opened up and this is clearly so for PCN.
What then of the future?
PCN trustees have discussed these matters and are of a mind to adopt the following procedures:
1. Trustees meetings in the future will consist of two residential meetings (as now) and the other two day-meetings to be held on Zoom, with the possibility of extra zoom meetings if needed. This will also have the benefit of some financial savings.
2. PCN Groups will of course make their own decisions but the trustees will give every support to any group that wishes to have a mixed economy of real gatherings and on line meetings. PCN holds an enhanced Zoom licence so group convenors can book a slot with Sarah for their group meeting which will not have any time restraint. If a PCN group wishes to widen its participation to PCN members in general, ( for example to hear a guest speaker) that can be done via a notice on the website and in our monthly bulletin.
3. Online Groups. In all likelihood there will be an increase in online -only groups, some of them focussing on different subjects/courses etc. The recent on line Galilee course is an example. There already exists a Facebook Discussion group. Any such online group which uses the name of PCN would be expected to have a PCN member as its coordinator.
4. Conferences. We hope that we will recommence our PCN conferences for they have proved to be such a positive experience for people to meet other like-minded folk. PCN will take the necessary precautions at such events in line with any government regulations and advice. The safety and well-being of our members and the general public is of paramount importance. We already make efforts to record such conferences and it may be that we can live-stream such events in the future. In the past we have invited speakers from North America but we do need to consider the environmental/climatic consequences of air travel and whether such speakers should be asked to give talks on line.
5. AGM. This year our annual meeting will be an on line event and we hope we might have maximum possible interaction from members.
6. A Wider Demographic? There is no doubt that PCN, like so many similar religious organisations, has a membership of predominantly middle and older age and mostly white people. The world of on line communication and the proliferation of social media platforms has been transforming and PCN members will probably have spent greater time using Zoom or Facetiming with family and friends than ever before. Going forward with a mixed economy of real gatherings and on line events and groups might open up opportunities to PCN to connect our message and work with a much wider audience in terms of age and background. Further consideration might be given to this at both local and national networking levels.
Chair of Trustees.