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Upcoming Board of Trustees Meetings:
Board members are available for casual or serious conversation a half hour before most Board meetings.
A longer description of Policy-Based Governance is below, but the Board will essentially address each of its policies twice this year. First, the Senior Minister (as Executive) will provide the Board with his interpretation of the Board’s policy along with planned metrics and indicators of progress or compliance. Second, at a later date, the Board will monitor the policy to evaluate the Senior Minister’s progress or compliance. This monitoring calendar lists which policies the Senior Minister will interpret and which policies the Board will monitor each month. Until we develop a clear way to record and present policies, interpretations, and monitoring results in a unified way, we will gather approved interpretations here and monitoring reports here.
Introduction to UUCA Governance
Following congregational polity, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington (UUCA) is a self-governing congregation, choosing our own ministers and lay leadership, handling our own finances, and choosing our own delegates to the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). We are associated with the UUA, but we govern ourselves.
The basic authority for all matters concerning the Church rests with the congregation, which has adopted a representative form of democracy. The church’s governing documents are the Articles of Incorporation and the bylaws. The bylaws, adopted by the congregation on June 12, 2011, succeed the constitution, which was first adopted in 1951. The bylaws may be amended by the membership at a properly noticed congregational meeting by a two-thirds majority.
The congregation elects a Board of Trustees, currently composed of nine Church members. A Trustee may be elected for up to three consecutive two-year terms. Four of the Trustees are elected in even-numbered years, five in odd-numbered years. The membership also elects a Secretary and Treasurer who report to the Board.
The Annual Meeting of the membership takes place on a Sunday two to five weeks before the end of the Church year on June 30. The agenda includes the election of trustees, officers and other officials; a report from the Board; and the adoption of the church budget covering the fiscal year that begins July 1.
Generally, the Board holds a business meeting on the third Tuesday of the month. Minutes are posted, after they are approved by the Board, on the Governance Docs link to the right. The Board of Trustees operates under its Policy Manual which describes the Board’s system of governance and policies.
Policy-Based Governance at UUCA
When it adopted the bylaws, the Congregation gave the Board “general supervision and direction of the affairs of the Church.” The Board also has the authority to adopt policies and procedures for the governance of the congregation, and the authority to delegate duties to an Executive.
The Board has elected to follow a policy-based governance model in exercising its authority and in fulfilling its responsibilities. Accordingly, the Board has delegated the management of Church operations to the Interim Senior Minister as the Executive. The Board, however, has retained its authority to govern.
The Board governs, in part, by setting organizational “Ends,” which are the intended results, effects, and outcomes of the Church's activities, the differences the Church wants to make in people's lives. The Board holds the Executive accountable for attaining the Ends it articulates, and it monitors carefully organizational performance by measuring progress in attaining the Ends.
In setting the Church's Ends, the Board also articulates who it is governing on behalf of. The Board itself is fully accountable for all of its actions to these moral owners of the Church, which include not only the present congregation, but also the congregations of the future. In policy-based governance as practiced at UUCA, the Board puts a special emphasis on envisioning the Church of the future, and the Ends are articulated with more than present members and friends in mind.
Once the Ends are articulated, the Executive interprets them, and the Board reviews the reasonableness of the interpretations. Sometimes the review results in refinement of the Ends. You can find the current articulation of the Ends by clicking on the link to the Board's Policy Manual to the right.
The Board allows the Executive to determine the means for achieving the articulated and interpreted Ends without specific approval of the Board. The Board does not involve itself in the means that are employed by the Executive, although the Board does set written limitations on the Executive. These are constraints on the authority of the Executive, which establish the prudence and ethics boundaries in which the Executive operates. The Board monitors compliance with the Executive Limitations.
To make this governance approach work, the members of the Board and the Executive strive to develop a collegial and non-adversarial relationship, and they consider each other to be members of a team. Roles are respected, and boundaries are made clear.
The role of the Board is to govern; and in matters of governance, as opposed to operations, the Board is in charge. To govern effectively, the Board speaks with one voice. The authority of the Board does not reside in any individual Board member; it acts as a body or not at all. The members of the Board have all agreed to a covenant among themselves.
Under the Church's bylaws, the Board does not have authority over the religious affairs of the Church. The congregation has put our ministers in charge of the Church’s religious activities, and that extends to all aspects of worship. Our ministers have freedom of the pulpit and in the community, and they are expected to express their faith, values, views, and commitments, and they are able to do so without fear or favor. Also, if a minister is called by the congregation, he/she may only be removed by a vote of the congregation at a meeting of the membership.
The last piece of the governance puzzle at UUCA is linkage with the present and future congregations. The Board stays in constant dialogue and conversation with the present membership, but it also anticipates what lies and ahead and molds that future.
One of the primary responsibilities of the Board is to keep this linkage strong and authentic. When voices within the congregation become audible, it is likely that those voices come from a segment of the congregation. The Board owes those voices its ear, but also owes the silent segments the recognition that one group may not represent everyone.
The Board is also guided by the Church’s mission and values, and by our congregational covenant.
The Treasurer, elected by vote of the congregation and under the direction of the Board of Trustees, is responsible for the proper receipt, accounting, management, and disbursement of Church funds within policies established for financial control and oversight. The Treasurer is responsible for protecting church assets, ensuring the maintenance of records, and submitting periodic reports to the Board. The Treasurer also submits a report at the Annual Meeting of the Congregation.
To carry out these responsibilities, the Treasurer responds to requests from the chair of the Board of Trustees and consults on a regular basis with the Church Administrator and the Executive.
The Treasurer monitors the work of the three Assistant Treasurers, who are elected by the Congregation. The Treasurer also assists the Board appointed Audit Committee.
The Nominating Committee is elected by the congregation to nominate a Church member to serve in each elected position on the Board of Trustees, other officer positions, and special committees. At each Annual Meeting, the Nominating Committee nominates a slate for the lay positions to be elected by the Congregation at the meeting. Its slate also includes nominees to serve on the Nominating Committee itself. The Nominating Committee also recommends to the Board of Trustees a slate of delegates to the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association.
Statements in the Name of the Church
People in our Church often feel called by faith to witness for social justice in the larger community. In doing this, we should all feel comfortable with following our consciences, and with identifying ourselves publicly as Unitarian Universalists. In another vein, we should always feel free to encourage others to become a part of our faith community.
When you are communicating outside of the building or you are in cyberspace and not on the Church's website, labeling anything with our Church's name must be done only after consulting with Church staff.
For an archive of Board meeting minutes and other governance documents, click here.
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