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Actions Commonly Used Under ‘Robert’s Rules of Order’

Also see How Rules of Procedure Serve the Church

Main Motion

One of the ways that the Rules of Order help keep meetings orderly and productive is to require business to proceed by making a motion for action. This means that discussion is supposed to occur only when there is something for the congregation to decide to do. Someone must make a motion, and then the congregation may discuss whether or not they think that motion should be approved or not. Once debate is over, the congregation votes. For instance, a motion to adopt revisions to the bylaws or a motion to approve the budget. When someone raises a motion such as this, it is called the main motion. The motions described below are all actions that affect the main motion in some way or move forward the voting on the main motion. 

Point of Information

Saying “point of information” is simply a way to ask a question to the chair that relates to the motion currently under debate. It could be a question for the elders about what the effects of a motion would be if it passed, or a request for information that would help in deciding on the motion under discussion.

Point of Parliamentary Procedure

Saying “point of parliamentary procedure” is how one asks the chair for help with using the Rules in order to try to do something during the meeting. It is perfectly fine to stand at the microphone and ask the chair if the Rules allow you to do a particular thing, or how you should phrase what you are trying to say.

Move to Amend

A “motion to amend” is a motion to change the language of the current motion under discussion in some manner. It could be to add language, delete language, or just reword things. The congregation must then discuss the changes and vote yes or no on whether to accept the amended language. If the motion to amend fails, then discussion on the original main motion language continues until a vote is taken. If the motion to amend passes, then the language of the original main motion is changed according to the amendment, and the congregation then discusses the revised language until taking a vote on the main motion. 

Move to Divide the Question

A “motion to divide the question” is used when a main motion for the congregation to vote upon has several parts that could be decided independently (meaning each part would still make sense and work correctly if some parts were passed and some rejected). It enables the congregation to vote separately on each part rather than voting up or down on the whole set. 

Move to Postpone Until [later in agenda/later date] OR Indefinitely

A “motion to postpone” is a way to move a motion under discussion to a later time in the meeting or a future meeting date. A motion to postpone may also ask to postpone the question indefinitely, and if the congregation votes to approve a motion to postpone indefinitely, this effectively kills the main motion until someone decides to raise it before the congregation at a future meeting. 

Note: A motion that is voted down by the congregation, postponed indefinitely, or ruled out of order cannot be raised again in the same meeting.

Point of Order

Raising a “point of order” is used when the Rules are not being followed or a member of the meeting is talking out of order. It is a request directed to the chair that the chair apply the Rules. 

Object to the Ruling of the Chair

Saying “objection to the ruling of the chair” is the proper way to disagree with the chair’s application of the Rules. Instead of two people arguing about who is right about the Rules, the congregation has the final vote on how the Rules are being handled at a meeting. If someone objects to the ruling of the chair after the chair has made a decision on a point of order or a motion being out of order, then there must be someone to second the objection in order to call for a vote. If no one seconds the objection, the objection is over. If there is a second, then the congregation votes to uphold the chair or overrule the chair. 

Move to End Debate/Call the Question

A motion to “call the question” can be used when discussion seems to be going on too long or covering the same ground again. It must be seconded, and then a two-thirds majority of the congregation must vote to agree to end debate. If approved, then all discussion ends and an immediate vote on the main motion will be taken.