When I joined the Board two years ago I never thought I would be on the Bylaws Task Force, let alone excited about attending the meetings. After spending this year with some amazing people (Marty Friedman, Regina Podhorin-Zilinski, Mike Hanson, Bernice Husk, and Colleen McCourt) on the task force these are some of my lessons learned.
- The bylaws are essential to clarify the way we do business and how the different entities of congregational life interact with each other. They clarify the roles of the minister, the Board, and the committees and ministries, and how they work together.
- Clarifying the essential components to the path of membership, the benefits of membership and who can hold leadership roles in committees as well as the Board.
- Identifying the “standing committees” that report to the Board as well as ministries that report to the Minister.
- The bylaws give you a sense of the purpose of the congregation, its values and how we want to be in relationship with each other. They reflect the desire to be transparent about finances and how decisions are made.
- The bylaws clarify the role of the Board in a policy based governance structure, which is what we are and invites members of the congregation to attend Board meetings to be a part of the process. They also provide checks and balances in the system.
I’ve learned that the bylaws have been adapted over time to meet the needs of a growing congregation that has increasing complexity. The role of the task force was to look at the entire document and remove/revise components that felt more procedural in nature or could better be captured in a policy. The idea is that it is easier to change a policy or procedure than bylaws, which needs to have a congregational vote to change. A draft has been shared in a couple of listening circles and we took your feedback and gave a near-final draft to the Board for review. Looking forward to voting on it at the Annual Meeting this June. Feel free to email me if you are interested in seeing the draft before it goes out to UUCWC members in May.
Here are some of the main changes:
- Gender inclusivity (moving us away from binary distinctions of she/he)
- Differentiating called minister from a hired minister
- Called minister is responsible for hiring and supervising staff in consultation with the Board
- Board members are elected while chairs of committees are appointed by the board
- Removal of a congregational vote for termination of a member or board trustee
- Slimmed down the purpose section and referenced 8 principles
- Focus on removing language that sounds like procedures or policy
- Revised youth member section
- Specified that financial audit should occur at least every 5 years
If the bylaws are approved in June the next task will be to form a task force to review all our policies and procedures.