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Op-Ed: Guide to Some Issues with Proposed Policy Changes

Opinion piece by Alice G, Nick, and Claire 

Guide to some issues with Proposed Policy Changes

Your Church is your most local form of governance and your most local community. Policies, budget, and leadership matters; the Church can only fulfill its mission and be the best it can possibly be if members take an active role in reviewing these documents and asking important questions. Here’s stuff Alice G, Nick, and Claire noticed. This is not a statement on behalf of Young Souls or the Young Souls Board, but our personal work on sussing out the proposed policy changes.

 

Proposed Policy Comments Potential Problems How we plan to vote and why
A process for removal of a member from Church

Addition to Bylaw Article IV, Section 4.

Utilization of the Congregant Behavior Policy

Allows the Board of Trustees to suspend and remove a congregant’s church membership by ⅔ Board vote.

Provides methods for congregants to resign their membership at any time.

Church’s covenants and policies will guide and provide reasons for the suspension and removal of membership

Specifies communication policy and appeal process for member whose membership has been revoked.

This has the intent of removing members from the church who could be a danger to others. Having a policy like this is important to protect our congregants.

The Policy on Congregant Behavior did not go through substantial congregational review as outlined in Policy Governance Framework Part II, 2 & 2a. It was passed in a September Board meeting with no public feedback.

The change specifies using the “Policy on Congregant Behavior” in addition to the other covenant’s and policies. Why name only this policy, and not name the Covenant of Right Relations and the Conflict Resolution Policy as well?

Vote No on this Motion:

Because the Policy on Congregant Behavior was not introduced and substantially reviewed before the entire congregation, the Bylaws should not be changed to be allowed to use the Policy on Congregant Behavior.

Change in who can attend Board meetings

Change to Bylaws Article VII, Section 5.

The Board of Trustees meets once a month but wants the ability to meet more often to get work done. Currently, the Officers are invited to all Board of Trustee meetings, including executive session where sensitive information is discussed as needed.

This change is proposed because the Board of Trustees wants to meet more frequently to get more work done and is not able to accomplish everything in one meeting/month.

The qualification of “regularly scheduled monthly” meetings means that the Officers do not have to be notified of additional Board of Trustee meetings.

With the proposed change, Officers will no longer be allowed to attend executive session.

There are no provisions in the proposed change that mandate the report-back of these additional meetings, and no such rule exists within the Policy Governance Framework (Section F, Part 1. On page 13 for the Board Agenda description)

The Policy Governance Framework Part II, Section B 7 still grants access to executive session.

These changes allow the Board of Trustees to meet without having to report to anyone that they are meeting.

The change limits the participation of church Officers in Board of Trustee meetings. This does not match the description of the Secretary in the Bylaws (Article VIII, Section 2.) and the Policy Governance Framework (Part II, Section B.2) that specifies that the Secretary takes minutes at every Board meeting.

Since Officer terms are 1 year versus the Board of Trustee 3 year terms, it is much more likely young adults will be able to accept a nomination to be an Officer. This change, therefore, limits potential involvement of young adults.

Proposed Amendments:

Strike “regularly scheduled monthly”

Add back in the “(including those held in executive session), but”

Leave in the last two sentences of changes proposed to give the Board of Trustees the opportunity to have additional brainstorming, action based meetings, and executive sessions.

Add to the end: “Any additional working or special meetings held between regularly scheduled monthly Board meetings must be reported and documented during the next monthly Board meeting.”

Addition of the Senior Minister to be a non-voting member of the Board of Trustees

Addition of Section 4 to Bylaws Article IX.

Currently, the Senior Minister is a member of the Executive Team (the Sr. Minister, Associate Minister, and Executive Director). The Sr Minister is also makes all staffing decisions.

The Board of Trustees is the body that reviews the Senior Minister. The entirety of the Policy Governance Framework Part III Board of Trustees Relationship to Executive Team and Staff outlines the ways in which the Board of Trustees reviews the Sr. Minister and the Executive Team.

This was a recommended change made through a review process done by the UUA.

By making the Sr. Minister an ex-officio non-voting member of the Board of Trustees, that gives the Sr. Minister the right to attend all Board of Trustees meetings and all privileges of Board of Trustees membership other than the right to vote. The Senior Minister will have access to all executive session meetings.

This bylaw creates conflicts of interest for the Senior Minister by not allowing the Board to have confidentiality or privacy from the Senior Minister during their evaluations and other potential reviews.

Vote No on this motion.

There is not sufficient separation of power between the Board of Trustees and the Executive Team with this change.

The 2018 Proposed Budget

Includes 2015-16 Actuals, Jan-Oct 2017 Actuals, ‘17 Budget, ‘17 Projected, and 2018 Proposed Budget

More historical data than what is presented in many other budgets during UU Annual meetings

Salaries of staff and ministers are lumped

Benefits not disclosed for staff or ministers

In order to reach a balanced budget, we need to raise ~150k more than in 2017 (with ~20k of that from a large congregational event)

Can we un-bundle the staff taxes and the staff benefits that are currently mingled between the ministers and staff?

Can we get a breakdown of ministerial & staff salaries? This is a practice at some other UU churches of our size.

What is the “large congregational event” and how did the estimate get decided upon?

What happens if we are not successful at raising all of the required funds?

Vote Yes to keep our church open k thx

 

FYI if you have questions about documents and groups of people:

Document How It Works / Details
Bylaws (most recently changed in 2015)
    • 9 pages
    • quasi-legal wording
  • Can only be changed by a congregational vote
  • Delegates responsibility to the Board of Trustees, Officers
  • Provides framework for church procedures, nomination of lay leadership, etc.
Policy Governance Framework (most recently changed June 2017)
  • 27 pages
  • Quasi-legal wording
  • Is adopted and can be changed by the Board of Trustees
  • Contains more specific policies than the Bylaws – much more flexible to change
Covenant of Right Relations (adopted in 2013)
  • 2 pages
  • Adopted by the congregation during an Annual Meeting
  • Our agreement as congregants for how to treat one another with respect and kindness
  • Frequently read during meetings where tough conversations may happen
Conflict Resolution Policy and Process (most recent change in December 2013)
  • 9 pages
  • Created the Committee on Right Relations (CRR) and Right Relations Team (RRT)
  • Rules of how to engage when not in right relation with another member of the All Souls Congregation
  • Protections of the process only apply to members of All Souls DC
Policy on Congregant Behavior
  • 5 pages
  • Adopted by the Board of Trustees in their September 2017 board meeting
  • Outlines procedures to be followed when a congregant is being dangerous, disruptive or disrespectful
  • Calls for formation of Disruptive Behavior ad hoc committee to deal with incidents in cases when conflict resolution policy and process is not chosen as a solution
The Board of Trustees Made up of 9 voting members. They elect a President and Vice Presidents within the group. Terms are 3 years. They rotate out 3 people at a time. It is possible to run for two consecutive terms. Current and former Board members are called upon to serve on standing and ad hoc committees that govern the church.
Officers of the Church Made up of 6 members with specifically defined roles. Moderator, Secretary, Treasurer, Membership, Assistant Secretary, and Assistant Treasurer. They all have one year terms. It is possible for them to run for reelection.
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All Souls Annual Meeting on Sunday 12/10/2017

Fellow Young Souls,

 

The All Souls Annual Meeting will take place this Sunday after second service lunch. As the Young Souls board, we STRONGLY encourage you to attend and participate in this process. At the meeting, congregants will be voting on the 2018 budget and several changes to the bylaws.

 

According to our 5th principle, we value the democratic process in our congregation and now it is time to act. Below is a synopsis of what will be discussed at the meeting. It is not our intention to provide any opinions on how you should vote, instead we hope to empower you to vote with your own judgement and morals in mind.

 

CRITICAL/How to determine if you are eligible to vote:

  1. Verify that you are a member of the church. This means that you attended the 3 hour class and signed the book.

  2. Verify that you have made a donation of record. Login to your church account -> Giving-> My Giving History. Be sure that there is a donation listed there. If not, considering making a donation of $1. This will enable you to vote.

 

How to know what you will be voting on:

  1. Read the attached PDF.

  2. The super short summary of items that will be voted on are:

    1. the proposed 2018 budget.

    2. changing the legal name of the church to reflect DC code.

    3. the adoption of the 8th principle

    4. the creation of a process to remove members from the church

    5. Clearer descriptions of who is allowed to attend board of trustees meetings

    6. Making the senior minister an ex officio member of the board of trustees

 

You must be physically present at the annual meetingthis Sunday, at 1:15pm in order to vote. Please RSVP on facebook and come be apart of our larger congregation.

 

Please feel free to reach out to the board (youngsoulsboard@googlegroups.com) at any time with questions or concerns. DO NOT reply all to the listserv to discuss the contents of what will be voted on. We hope to see you on Sunday.

 

With compassion and gratitude,

Alice KG, Constance, Justine, Alice KN, Claire, Nick, and Jason

The Young Souls Board