Fun with By-Laws

Let’s face it, there are few things more boring in the life of any organization than its by-laws. In fact, I am fond of recommending them to anyone in our church suffering from insomnia (along with the book of Leviticus).
At the same time, we couldn’t operate without our by-laws. They provide us with our church governance structure and formal ways of evolving as a congregation. The key word there is “evolving”. Most by-laws are not too flexible which causes them to move from where they should be: at the heart of the church.
We are blessed with flexible by-laws in our church. Some twelve years ago (yup, it’s been that long!) we suspended the original by-laws to try something new; an experiment in church governance. Turns out it wasn’t just a success, it was noticed by others in our Conference and I have been asked on more than one occasion to share with other churches just what we did.
The short version (your welcome) is that we streamlined how the church operates. We created our current Board of Deacons and Board of Trustees.
As we have worked with this system, however, two things have occurred:
  1. We switched things up even more but never got around to including those changes
    in the actual by-laws (because, again, who wants to join the by-law re-writing
    committee? Anyone? Hello?).
  2. A felt need to change one of the big pieces in our structure has come to light.

Consequently, you will have the chance to vote on some by-law updates (lucky you!) at the Spring Congregational coming up this Sunday after worship. Be sure to pick up a copy of the proposed updates and look them over before the meeting (but not during the sermon!).

The long and short of it is this: We need to include the position of New Member Deacon at Large in the actual by-laws. We have had this position for years but never formally included it.
We would also like to begin a Community Relations Deacon position (which is a bit more palpable than “Public Relations”) to elevate our visibility in the wider community.
Additionally, the Board of Deacons and the Board of Trustees have only met separately once or twice (12 years ago). We always meet together. With the Deacons viewed as those overseeing the spiritual life of the church and the Trustees overseeing the administrative life of the church there is, in my view, a false idea that what the Trustees do is not “spiritual” when in fact it is. Everything that is done in the church to further its mission is spiritual work, faithful work, ministry.
Therefore, one of the proposed updates is to eliminate the language of “Trustees” and make these positions “Deacons”. We would then have just one Board (which we essentially have now anyway) to be called the Board of Deacons. The Senior Trustee positions would be eliminated and the Senior Deacons would be viewed as heading up the one board.
These changes come to the Spring Congregational Meeting on recommendation of the current Board of Deacons and Board of Trustees so as to better reflect how we operate.
In true democratic fashion, this is all up for discussion at the meeting along with a new Slate of Officers! Hope to see you there!

 

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