The Times They Are A-Changin’
By Chris Matthews
These past few months have been turbulent times. This has affected Minnesota Atheists in ways that no one expected when the current board took office on March 1. We expected to review the radio show, the building search, membership building plans, and other topics of inter- est.
The first unexpected change was the cancellation of the March public meeting, a result
of the initial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic response here in Minnesota. This occurred just a couple days before the planned meeting, and left us with no time to implement an alternative. We had planned to have our annual review of the organization’s goals, and solicit member feedback regarding our upcoming year and beyond. We expected to review the radio show, interest regarding a potential building, how we planned to grow our membership, and other topics of interest.
We tentatively planned to have a public meeting in April, but the uncertain public health situation and lack of experience in holding a
virtual event left us unable to follow through. We similarly missed the May meeting, and we haven’t taken on planning a public meeting during our traditional summer picnic months.
We plan to hold a public meeting in September to end the longest period between public meetings that Minnesota Atheists has experienced.
We have been holding virtual board meetings every month. The board has made several decisions that we want to share with our members and readers. At a glance, we’ve addressed the following list of issues. Look for additional information regarding each of these items in other articles in this newsletter.
- We are not recommending any physical meetings or events at this time.
- We are asking members who need help to reach out, and we are seeking volunteers to help us with this effort.
- We have suspended the Atheists Talk radio program. Atheists Talk is now a podcast.
- We have issued a statement regarding recent community unrest.
- We have modified the newsletter schedule.
As always, the board welcomes input from members on these or any other topics. Monthly board meetings are usually held every first Wednesday at 6:30p.m. We use Zoom to facilitate our virtual meetings. If you are interested in at- tending a board meeting or otherwise providing input to the board, please contact us using one of these methods:
- Send an email to email@example.com
- Send an email to any board member individually — see the email addresses on the last page of this newsletter
- Call us at 612-588-7031
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we all adapt to the ever-changing world we find ourselves in.
On the Newsletter
The board discussed the newsletter schedule at our meeting on July 1. In response to the changed world with respect to COVID-19 and limited physical meetings, we decided to reduce the frequency of published newsletters. These changes are also an attempt to control costs as we are also seeing declines in our donations.
After the July/August/September newsletter that you are currently reading, we tentatively plan one more newsletter for the last quarter of 2020. Expect the October/November/December newsletter to be published prior to our next on- line public meeting.
We plan to discuss the newsletter schedule changes with our members during the September business meeting, so this plan is subject to change based on feedback. For example, we might decide to switch to two-month newsletters, or back to monthly newsletters at some point. Depending on feedback and on changes with the conditions that prompted this schedule change in the first place, the 2021 newsletter schedule may also be affected. Expect an update in upcoming newsletters.
At this time, we are not recommending any indoor, in-person events. We are using best-available public health information, and we are being cautious out of concern for the health and wellness of our members, many of whom are advanced in age and/or have health issues that put them at increased risk of COVID-19 complications.
We informally review this decision each month at our virtual board meetings, and we will provide an update in the future when we believe it is safe to resume indoor, in-person events.
We do plan to have a September monthly public and business meeting — virtually. Based on our experience with that meeting, we will likely continue with virtual public meetings until further notice.
Since the middle of March, COVID-19 has resulted in the cancellation, postponement, or virtualization of most in-person gatherings, and Minnesota Atheists is no exception to this. These typical past meetings and events did not occur:
- Our monthly public meetings in March, April, and May
- The summer freethought picnics in June, July, and August
- The Twin Cities Pride festival and parade in late June.
In addition, American Atheists national convention in April was rescheduled to April 2021, and the CONvergence convention scheduled for August has been postponed to August 2021.
Finally, due to required planning lead time and the unlikely resolution of the pandemic in time, the board has tentatively decided not to have this December’s annual solstice celebration event.