First Unitarian Church Governance
First Unitarian is a self-governing, collective, democratic congregation of our members which are governed by Congregation adopted by-laws.The Congregation gathers for an annual meeting each year, typically the third Sunday in January.
The elected Board of Directors represents the Congregation and conducts the business of the Congregation, subject to the authority granted under our Bylaws. The Board governs through Board policies and acts on behalf of the Congregation’s mission. The Senior Minister serves as our spiritual, programmatic, and administrative leader. Our organizational structure is illustrated here.
The main issues of governance are reserved for the Congregation including approving Church Bylaws, electing the Board, adopting the Church budget, and the call of the Senior Minister. The Congregation also elects members to serve on the:
- Leadership Succession Committee
- Finance Review Committee
- Endowment Committee
- Board of Directors (see below)
The Board establishes goals, adopts policies, and delegates authority to the Senior Minister for the operations and programs of the Church. The Senior Minister serves as head of staff. The management of the Church operations is shared between staff through the Senior Minister and the Board, with areas of responsibility changing from time to time by mutual agreement. At the start of the fiscal year, the Board and the Senior Minister develop goals and priorities for the ministry of the Church.
Specialized tasks such as finance, membership, personnel, and stewardship are delegated by the Board to committees of volunteers. Members participate in and lead these programs, teams, and committees, fulfilling the charge provided by the Board.
Our shared governance structure is illustrated here.
Board of Directors
A policymaking Board of Directors through planning, ensuring responsible stewardship of resources, making choices about goals and strategies, adopting policies, and monitoring performance, governs first Unitarian. The Board documents its work by producing minutes, policies, and strategic planning documents. Board policies are included in the Congregation and Board Policy Manual.
Our current Board members are:
Gwen Sawyer, President
Meghan Shattuck, Vice President
Linda Skye, Treasurer
Alisa Cooper de Uribe
The Rev. Angela Herrera, ex officio
The Board holds its business meetings on the third Tuesday of each month at 6:30PM in the Memorial Hall. Members and friends are welcome to attend.
The Senior Minister, as head of staff, leads and directs the spiritual, programmatic, and administrative work of the Church. The Senior Minister has the Board-delegated authority and responsibility to make all operational decisions, adopt administrative policies, speak on behalf of the Church, and allocate Congregational resources except as specifically limited by the Bylaws or these policies. Major areas of responsibilities include the care for members, friends and guests and the management of staff, facilities, and resources.
Annual Meetings and Reports
The Annual Congregational Meeting brings members together at the end of the Church year, usually the third Sunday in January, to vote on the budget for the upcoming fiscal year and elect new representatives. The Board President, Senior Minister, and Treasurer report the accomplishments of the last year and conduct the business specified in the meeting notice. An Annual Report is prepared each year and provided to the membership online. Papers copies are also available by calling the office at 884-1801.
The Leadership Succession Committee (LSC) presents nominees for election to the Congregation for positions on the Board, Endowment, Finance Review and the LSC.
Programs and Councils
Program Teams and Councils are responsible for the Church’s ministry and programs. They are defined as “those activities, which enrich the lives of the Church’s constituents and its community”. They include worship, religious education, social justice, community caring and community activities. Church Staff is responsible for supporting the effectiveness of Program Teams and Councils. Councils form when multiple teams in crucial areas of the Church’s ministry (such as RE and Social Justice) need a structure to come together to share information, leadership, and administrative tasks. Volunteer Church members run the programs of the Church with management support from the staff. The staff also runs some programs directly.
Congregation and Board Policy Manual
The Policy Manual is divided into eight categories providing the framework for its organization. Individual policies are sections within a category. These categories are: Governance, Finance, Affiliations, Programs, Staff, Safety, Facilities, and Communications.
Each policy has an “owner” which is the entity or group that has the authority to make changes and create new policies. Policies are hierarchal in nature, as follows:
This entity may make or change any Church policy. By-laws must be changed in accord with the by-laws themselves.
The Board is subject to the policies made by the Congregation. The Board may change policies related to staff, teams, and committees, except Standing Committees. These policies establish lines of authority as well as roles and responsibilities for the Board, ministers, staff, and lay leaders. The Board is subject to the Congregational policies.
These groups include Board, Endowment, Leadership Succession, and Financial Review Committees. Standing Committees are governed by the Church by-laws.
Board Committees and Teams
These entities may create and change policies that help them carry out their work.
This group may change and create policies within their established areas of authority.
The Board has approved five chapters categories of the Policy Manual which are:
- 1.0 Governance (approved August 2015) – Seven policies establish roles and responsibilities for the Board, ministers, staff, and lay leaders as well as lines of authority among them.
- 2.0 Finance (approved December 2015) – Eleven policies establish the framework for managing the financial resources of the Church. The Congregation entrusts the financial management of its affairs to the Board, the Senior Minister, as Head of Staff, and the Endowment and Financial Review Committees. The approval of the annual operating budget, the purchase/ construction/ sale of property and incurrence of debt are reserved to the Congregation.
- 3.0 Affiliation and Participation (approved March 2016) – Three policies establish categories of affiliation, tracking mechanisms and expectations of those who participate in Church activities or activities on Church property.
- 4.0 Programs (approved June, 2016) – Eleven policies comprise the Program chapter. These include Board committees, program policy, and councils, membership Committee, Landscape Committee, green sanctuary, animals on campus, and selection of delegates and scholarship recipients.
- 5.0 Staff – These policies include the Personnel Manual, Church as an employer, and the Personnel Committee.
- 7.0 Facilities (approved March 2016) – Five policies defines how Church buildings and grounds are used and cared for.
- 8.0 Communications (approved March 2016) – Two policies establish guidelines for development and ongoing management of print and web-based publications and communications venues.
As the Board approves policies in each category, they will be included in the Policy Manual and posted on the Church website.
Task Force Members: Geri Knoebel (chair), Pat Diem, Christine Robinson, and Gwen Sawyer.
Church Governance Links