Conversation with the Board: Bylaws Amendments

Sunday, December 5, 10:30–11:15 a.m. in the Knatvold room or via Zoom

Every 20–30 years an organization should consider revising and updating its Bylaws. Or at least that’s the conclusion UUC’s Bylaws Working Group reached last year. The result, which will be voted on by the Congregation at the January Special meeting, is a completely reorganized and modernized set of Bylaws that can guide UUC for the next decades. If the Congregation approves these revisions much will continue exactly as before. But some important modernizations and changes will occur as well.

The Bylaws Working Group, Rosemary Daszkiewicz, Chuck Harwood and Jon Luopa (and formerly, John Webber), worked throughout most of the last church year to develop the proposed revisions, which you can review here. Although the number of articles was reduced from ten to five, most all of the provisions found in the current Bylaws can be found in the new Bylaws. The Working Group created a side-by-side chart that includes the new proposed bylaws and provides information to explain what provisions of the existing bylaws are included.

In general, the recommendations of the Working Group are unanimous. However, on three issues there is a minority report proposing a different path than the one recommended by the majority. Votes on these issues will be conducted separately at the Special Meeting, ensuring the Congregation establishes the appropriate path forward.

The three issues for which there is a minority report are:

  • Removal of a Member: The current Bylaws only address removing from the membership roll a Member who ceases to participate in the annual pledge process without making arrangements to do so. The Member may appeal membership status to the Board of Trustees. The majority of the working group recommends adding to the bylaws a provision that a Member also may be removed from membership by joint decision of the Senior Minister and the Board of Trustees President, which may be appealed to the Board of Trustees in a closed session. The minority report proposes that such a decision to remove a Member be made by the Board of Trustees in the first instance, with no appeal option. [See discussion under Proposed Article II. Membership.]
  • Parliamentarian: The current Bylaws require the Moderator to appoint a parliamentarian at every annual or special meeting. The majority proposes giving the Moderator the discretion to appoint a parliamentarian, reasoning that the Moderator may choose to not seek a volunteer for this role if there are no potentially-controversial issues on the agenda. The minority report prefers keeping the requirement of a parliamentarian mandatory. [See discussion under Proposed Article III. Congregational Meetings.]
  • Nomination Process: The current Bylaws make the Leadership Development Committee responsible for nominating a slate of candidates annually for open Trustee and Moderator positions, plus 3-4 candidates for the Leadership Development Committee. Because the challenges of filling a large number of elected positions annually have left no time for the Committee to engage in leadership development activities, the majority proposes replacing the existing Leadership Development Committee with a Nominating Committee consisting of 3-5 members appointed by the Board of Trustees and chaired by a Trustee, none of whom are candidates for any office. The Board of Trustees would establish a new committee focused solely on leadership development. The minority report prefers keeping the system as it is because it increases the democratic process.

Two meetings were planned to hear from the Congregation about these proposed changes to the Bylaws. The first was held on November 21 and the second is coming up on Sunday, December 5, downstairs in the Knatvold room between services, with an option to attend by Zoom. Check the church calendar for details. If there is sufficient interest, an additional Zoom-only session will be scheduled for a weekday evening.