How Decisions are Made at UUCWC

by Pete Rafle, Vice President, Board of Trustees

It has come to our attention that the working of the UUCWC Board of Trustees is something of a mystery to many of our members. Our community has steadily grown in the past three years so this is a good time to explain to members, both new and old, how the decision making process actually works.

The “system” of governance used at UUCWC is known as Policy Based Governance. Policy governance was created by John Carver who stated,” Governance exists in order to translate the wishes of an organization’s owners into organizational performance.” The “owners” of UUCWC are the members of the congregation. This is a system of governance that was initially adopted by non-profits, but has since been tailored to the needs of many UU congregations and the UUA.

Policy-based governance is constructed so that the Board has two basic functions. First, they are responsible for the financial well being of the Church and its long term oversight. They are responsible for ensuring that funds are available for salaries and for the maintenance of the buildings, facilities and grounds.

Second, framed by the vision and mission of UUCWC, they discern and oversee the policies and goals to be achieved for the community. The Board receives suggested goals from the Minister, the UUA, committee chairs, and individual members. It also may initiate goals. The Board studies and discusses each proposal before determining it as a goal fitting into the missions of UUCWC, i.e.: worship and spiritual development, lifespan religious education, community outreach and involvement, denomination presence, social and environmental justice, and community fellowship.

The Board also has the ability to address goals and policies that are not assignable to a particular committee or ministry. In those cases, a short term task force is created and charged to accomplish a specific task and to report back to the Board with progress or recommendation.

Policy-Based governance places the Minister as the Executive of the organization. The Minister leads the staff, ministries, and volunteers in devising the means of implementing the goals. Technically, the committees “report” to the Board and ministries “report” to the Minister. The Minister gives the Board regular progress reports. The Board and Executive constitute a leadership team. There is cross-consulting, which means that the committees and ministries are in charge of fulfilling their missions as they see fit, while coming to the Board or Minister to clarify policy concerns, request guidance, have funds approved (board only) and confirm major decisions that may have a fiduciary and/or larger, church-wide implications.

Examples of several policies implemented during the past six months are:

  • The Board supported the implementation of The Racial Justice-Rooted Congregation which initiated the Praxis study group, meeting monthly to analyze our congregation’s commitment to anti-racism.
  • The Board charged the Co-Chairs of the Capitol Campaign to devise a committee structure and select leaders and members.
  • The Board endorsed the content of the 8th Principle as proposed by BLUU and DRUUMM.
  • The Board supports the RJI initiative to begin the process of meetings, education, and discussion to bring the 8th principle to the congregation for a vote in June 2018.
  • The Board created a task force to develop an evaluation procedure for any seated UUCWC minister.

We hope each of you will feel free to discuss this topic with Board members and the Minister.