Overview of the Bylaws Proposal for the September 23, 2018 Membership Meeting
Dear Unity family, during this past year and a half, the Bylaws sub-committee has been reviewing the current Bylaws (2002), incorporating many of the changes that were proposed in the Bylaws Proposal considered in 2017, as well as new items from Unity Worldwide Ministries (UWM) template. The new proposal (Bylaws 2018) will be discussed and voted on the Special Membership Meeting on September 23rd, two weeks after the Town Hall meeting of September 9th. In preparation for that meeting, we are making available the proposed Bylaws 2018 and our current Bylaws on our website.
Here are highlights of changes we are making to the Current Bylaws.
The proportion of votes required for approvals was decreased form the current 75% to a ⅔ majority. We felt that 75% is an unusually high level for approval of measures. Most institutions have a simple majority of votes, reserving a higher threshold for very special items that require the consent of a larger portion of the organization, such as bylaws amendments, with a typical requirement of 60% for those cases. We felt that a ⅔ majority (67%) is still a strong enough requirement that requires the consent of a large portion of voting members. (Throughout the document)
Quorum: We currently have a very lax quorum requirement (all those present and voting). Probably this quorum fits small churches. But with the size of our church we felt that meetings have to have the presence of a reasonable portion of the congregation to be meaningful. Therefore we are proposing the following quorum rule: 15% of Active Members (Section 2.5.D)
Creation of Active Membership. The Bylaws Committee discussed this issue at length, with resistance to its adoption by most members of the committee. But the realities of the administrative needs of our church made maintaining an accurate count of active members a must. So we kindly ask you to support the adoption this measure. See Section 2.3.B Terms of Membership. We tried to make it less cumbersome by asking members to renew their desire to maintain active membership every two years instead of the UWM recommended annual renewal. Active membership allows us, for example, to easily know when we have quorum to vote on important issues for the congregation. Active membership is not being proposed to be exclusionary. All we want is to have an accurate picture of members that are involved in the congregation. To be an active member all one has to do is to fill out a card saying so. If you forget to send the card in time, we will let you update your status as soon as you let us know. If you move away and then move back, you’ll simply have to let us know you are back and we will add update your status immediately.
Section 2.3, Terms of Membership, also has added rules for discontinuation, removal and reinstatement of membership.
Change in expenditure threshold that requires membership approval: the greater of $30,000 or 10% of operating budget. (See Section 2.5.H Membership – Power and Authority, and Section 4.1.D Board of Trustees – Duties)
Added description for the positions of Associate and Assistant Ministers. (See Section 3.2)
Expanded description to the role of Alternate Board member, including being counted for quorum in Board meetings and the right to vote in meetings when the alternate is needed to reach quorum. (See Section 4.3).
More flexibility in voting and participation in meetings: (Section 2.5.G)
a. We included electronic participation & voting at meetings.
b. We are allowing absentee voting by mail.
Many of our members are participating online during Sunday services. Since they are an integral part of our community, we wanted to extend them and any member that might be traveling at the time of membership meetings, the possibility of attending and voting virtually at the membership meetings. Similar for persons that for different reasons cannot attend physically or virtually, we want to extend to them the chance to have their voices heard by voting by mail. This is a departure with current practice but we consider it a more inclusive and fair measure.
Expanded description of our relationship to Unity Worldwide Ministries (UWM), see Article I.
The new approach was recommended by the new UWM template Bylaws. It emphasizes that our church has the right to participate in the structure of UWM and that UWM has resources that are accessible to all Unity churches and their members.
The Current Bylaws (2002) and the proposed Bylaws 2018 documents can be found at our website:
For more information, contact Karin Reinhold, Bylaws sub-committee lead