Orientation/Refresher for First Time Participants and Guests — and How We Use Zoom for Online Presbytery meetings

The information on this page will be updated from time to time as we approach each upcoming meeting. In the meantime, the general information below may be helpful for any session, congregation (or maybe even other presbyteries) as they plan for online meetings.

Last update: Monday, May 15, 2023.

Participating in a meeting of the Presbytery of Tampa Bay for the first time? 

This is the place for you!

Our Special Meeting called for 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 1, 2023, will be held online. Registration information has been sent to ministers, session clerks, and others eligible to participate.

Start here: Helpful Information for First-Time Commissioners and Guests to a Stated Meeting of the Presbytery of Tampa Bay (Updated 3/9/2023)

IMPORTANT ZOOM INFORMATION for all online meetings

Zoom regularly updates its apps and computer (“client”) software and sometimes makes changes to the features we use for feedback and voting, so it is vital that everyone check for updates in their installed Zoom client or visit Zoom’s Download page for the most recent release for your computer or device before joining a presbytery meeting.

If you need help with how to update your current software, please visit Zoom’s Upgrade/update to the latest version page.

If you don’t already have Zoom, you can download the right Zoom software for your desktop or laptop computer by clicking here. The “Zoom Cloud Meetings” mobile apps are also available from links on that same page.

  • NOTE: we strongly encourage you to use a desktop or laptop for presbytery meetings even if you have Zoom on another device. Several of the features we use for participating and voting in our meetings are much easier to use on a computer than they are on a smartphone or tablet.

If you’ve never joined a Zoom meeting before, the 1-minute video and info on Zoom’s help page on Joining a Meeting is a great place to start.

  • Zoom’s help page on Getting Started on Windows and Mac has more detail (though some of the options described there may not be available in our meetings).
  • You can also get a preview of the in-meeting feedback and voting controls we use on Zoom’s help page on Participant controls in a meeting. That page includes specific info on how those will look on computers, Android, and iOS devices.


Bill Wildhack, Stated Clerk for the Presbytery of Tampa Bay, hosts online Zoom orientation for first-time participants — and anyone new to using Zoom to participate in a Presbytery meeting — before each online meeting of the Presbytery.

If you’re a first-timer to a meeting of our Presbytery or on Zoom (or just want a refresher!), plan to join us for an online orientation session before the meeting. Information on those sessions is sent to ministers and clerks of sessions ahead of time, and a link is included in a follow-up Zoom registration confirmation email sent to all participants.

In the meantime, you can click here to view a video with Stated Clerk Bill Wildhack created before an earlier online meeting to walk you through some of the Zoom features we use in our meetings that not everyone has used in smaller settings.

Even if you consider yourself VERY familiar with Zoom, you’ll need to know how we use Zoom to seek recognition, take attendance, and vote.

Please see below for tips on using Zoom, especially in the “Additional Technical Guidance” and “Zoom Expertise” documents, and send an email to Stated Clerk Bill Wildhack through our “Contact Us” page with questions.

PRESBYTERY OF TAMPA BAY Information on our meeting and how we use Zoom

Click on the links below for additional background and resources about meetings of the Presbytery of Tampa Bay, how we’re using Zoom for conducting our meetings right now, and how to use Zoom in general. NOTE: All links will open in new tabs to make it easier for you to come back here!


Already have Zoom on your device? Be sure to update it regularly (and especially no later than the day before a presbytery meeting):

Are you new to Zoom or is Zoom new to you? Along with the information and links in the “Additional Technical Guidance“ at the link above, here are some direct links to get you up to speed with how to use Zoom or to update your software to the latest version — and please keep in mind that it is easier to use Zoom’s meeting and feedback features on a laptop or desktop than on a tablet or smartphone:

Have other questions about Zoom?  Check out Zoom’s Frequently Asked Questions.

Considering having a congregational or another meeting electronically?

We have some ideas and notes on things to consider when using Zoom for larger meetings while in-person gatherings are still limited.

When planning to hold a meeting (session, deacons, or a congregation) while larger, in-person gatherings are limited, never lose sight of the bottom-line standard for electronic meetings as described in Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised (12th Edition): the meeting must “provide, at a minimum, conditions of opportunity for simultaneous aural communication among all participating members equivalent to those of meetings held in one room or area.” (RONR (12th ed.) 9:31)

In other words, everyone has to have the same opportunity to hear and be heard as everyone else while discussing a matter before a vote. There are ways to do that using Zoom and other tools, but don’t compromise on that minimum standard.

Hybrid meetings, with some attending in person and others attending via Zoom or another electronic platform, present additional challenges.

Stated Clerk Bill Wildhack has put together this document with some thoughts and ideas; please contact him directly at (813) 868-4800, opt. 2, or send him an email through our “Contact Us” page with other questions.