Board Goals: Building Board Practices

The Board met for its fall retreat earlier this month and we focused on building goals for the congregational year. Our strategy for developing goals was informed by an article we read from Rev. David Pyle and Paula Cole Jones about board practices that was featured at General Assembly this year. The essential themes from the article were about moving to a multicultural paradigm where building a Beloved Community is at the center of the UU principles. The writers invite us to move away from “tasks and agendas” and towards a series of board practices that the Board engages in throughout the year. These board practices not only guide what the Board does but also allow the board to discern what it should not be focused on if it wants to be strategic and policy based which is what we are working towards. The article invites us to think about Board members as religious leaders rather than managers of the church.

We spent a decent amount of time wrestling with these ideas as well as exploring different types of decision making processes. Our new by-laws no longer require us to use Roberts Rules of Order. We discussed the pros and cons of Roberts Rules as well as other structures such as consensus building, dynamic facilitation, democratic rules of order, and Martha’s Rules. Some of the value of consensus building is that you try to hear everyone’s opinion when making certain big decisions and the final vote invites people to think about whether they can “live with” the proposal even if they don’t love it. The Board has agreed to try consensus building this year as part of their process as well as Martha’s rules and hopes to have more information available by the February 2020 Council Meeting.

Below are the seven board practices that will incorporate Board goals this year that we hope to chat more about at Council meeting, Board chats, committee meetings as well as Board meetings that you are welcome to attend at any time.

  1. Center the mission in decision making and work of congregation. Our mission is to create a welcoming, caring religious community. Within this community, we encourage and affirm the individual’s quest for authenticity, wisdom and spiritual deepening. We gather to celebrate the wonder of the cosmos and the mystery of life, its passages, its joys and sorrows. Compelled by justice, we give voice to societal concerns and reach out to touch the lives of others. Aware of our profound potential to affect the individual and global community, we commit our personal resources to each other and our shared sacred mission.
  2. Fiduciary Responsibility focuses on the way we utilize resources. Resources is not only focused on money but also incorporates where human energy is focused in terms of time and tasks as well as how space is used. We will continue to support Capital project. We are also exploring the Treasurer duties and how that can be redistributed in a way that makes the role sustainable over time. We have a Treasurer Team (Interim Treasurer, Finance Chair, and Congregational Administrator as well as members of Personnel and previous Treasurers) that is taking the year critically investigate the role and responsibilities and will make recommendations for changes and possible addition of bookkeeper at annual meeting.
  3. Capturing Congregation’s institutional wisdom in policy. With the approval of the new by-laws in June 2019 we are revamping our policies and procedures to support the way we work. We will be reaching out to various committees and ministries to help capture this wisdom so that future members, friends, and leaders will have resources to help them navigate congregational life.
  4. Assessing Congregational health. We want to find ways to assess our health. We have forums in place such as Council Meeting in October and February as well as monthly informal chats with board members during middle hour. The Board has recommitted to Board liaisons this year which means board members are attending committee meetings more consistently so there is stronger communication and collaboration between the Board and committees. The Board is also inviting committees and ministries to come to Board meetings at least once during the year. The Board will also be exploring the possibility of having a survey in 2020. Another area of congregational health is staffing. We have to ask ourselves are we staffed appropriately to maintain health? The Board is excited to be supporting Rev. Kim in taking a sabbatical this year from January through April which is not only healthy for her but also invites us as a congregation to take a pause and go on a journey of discovery.
  5. Planning for Congregation’s future. This addresses staffing, programming, whether we need full time or part time assistant minister, bookkeeper, maintaining and expanding the building, Capital project.
  6. Building and maintaining relationships. Are there meaningful relationships in and across groups? How is the communication in congregation?
  7. Becoming Beloved Community. Centering the 8th principle. Journeying toward spiritual wholeness by building a diverse multicultural Beloved Community that accountably dismantles racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.

If you want to read more about Board Practices check out this article from General Assembly’s Practice of Board Leadership workshop.