Faith United Church of Christ
CONSTITUTION & BYLAWS
On May 7th, 2017 these Bylaws were passed for a transition period of three years by a congregational vote of 22 in favor and 2 against. Revisions were made by Pastor Scott Simmons on July 25th, 2017 moving the comments section to the back of these Bylaws.
CONSTITUTION OF FAITH UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST
PART I - NAME
The name of this church shall be Faith United Church of Christ (Inc.) of Indianapolis,
County of Marion, State of Indiana.
The avowed purpose of this organization shall be the worship of the triune God, the
preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the practice of loving service towards the
needy, the building of the kingdom of righteousness, the furtherance of Christian
unity, and the promotion of Christian fellowship.
This congregation shall be an organic member of the United Church of Christ and
shall be governed by the Constitution and By-laws and Rules and Regulations of said
The Articles of Faith of the congregation shall be those of the United Church of
Christ of which it is a member.
PART II - MEMBERSHIP
All baptized persons are members of the church.
Persons who have been duly received into its communion by
confirmation, by letter of transfer, or by profession of faith, and have not
been excluded by the process of Christian discipline, shall be
communicant members of this congregation and shall be entitled to all its
rights and privileges.
Communicant members in good and regular standing shall have right to
voice and vote in the congregation, and also to represent the
congregation or charge on the Consistory or other judicatories of the
church as provided in the By-Laws.
Members guilty of misconduct, which brings reproach upon the church,
shall be disciplined in accordance with the rules of discipline.
PART III - MEETINGS
The congregation shall hold an annual meeting and such other meetings
as are provided for in the By-Laws.
Ten (10) percent of the members in good standing shall constitute a quorum.
PART IV - ADMINISTRATION
CONGREGATIONAL MEETING. The supreme legislative and administrative
power of the congregation is vested in the congregation itself assembled in
meeting, duly and legally called, as provided in the By-Laws.
CONGREGATIONAL PREROGATIVE. It shall be the prerogative of the
the congregational meeting to decide such questions as the buying and selling of real
the property, building projects, extensive repairs of church property, the call and
rejection of a pastor, the direction of the work of the congregation, as well as any
change of the Constitution and such other powers and prerogatives as may be
herein set forth. For the transaction of all other business, the administration of
the church is entrusted to the Consistory chosen and composed as provided for in
PART V - AMENDMENTS
Additions and alterations of this Constitution may be proposed in any regularly
called meeting of the congregation. They shall be referred to the Consistory
which shall consider the same and report to the next duly called meeting of the
congregation. Said additions and alterations can be adopted only by a two-thirds
majority of all voting members present.
The Bylaws may be amended in any duly called meeting of the congregation by
a majority vote of the members presents and voting.
Approved as amended, 1-22-06
ACCOUNTABILITY LEADERSHIP STRUCTURE
The logic of our new bylaws follows the Accountability Leadership Structure that is detailed in the book Winning On Purpose by John Edmund Kaiser. The diagram below gives an overview of this structure. The strengths of this model come from the clear role division and the single lines by which authority and accountability flow. The objective of this model is to empower the servant leadership of individual members so that our mission to “lead people to a growing relationship with Jesus Christ” will be fulfilled.
BYLAWS OF FAITH UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST
Overview of Mission and Organizational Structure
Jesus Christ is the sole head of the church at Faith United Church of Christ (Faith UCC).
Faith UCC exists to “lead people to a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.” Particular emphasis is placed on leading new people who do not currently have a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. The method for how this mission is accomplished is the Discipleship Process embodied in our three core values: (1) Intentional Relationships, members lead others by inviting and investing in them; (2) Growing Faithfulness, persons follow God through action and trust, and; (3) Servant Leadership, persons see and do what needs to be done.
The organizational structure of Faith UCC which supports this work is described in this document. It begins with the congregation who elects a Governing Board (GB). The GB governs the church through high-level strategy, policy, and evaluation of the Senior Pastor’s (SP) leadership. The SP keeps the vision, recruits and directs Ministry Leaders (ML). The ML manage various ministries of the church in order to empower members to perform ministry. The community that Faith UCC is called to serve receive the benefits of our ministry.
At Faith UCC, the Governing Board (GB) holds the Senior Pastor (SP) accountable by defining goals, measuring progress towards meeting these goals, and establishing performance driven outcomes that are derived from the Guiding Principles. The Senior Pastor (SP) leads the church within the written Guiding Principles set by the Governing Board (GB) and holds the Ministry Leaders (ML) accountable for the implementation of the ministry of the church. The ML manage the various ministries of the church and hold members accountable for carrying out the ministry of the church. The members of Faith UCC, with the guidance of the SP and ML, do the ministry of the church.
Section 1: Governing Board (GB)
1A: Qualifications required to serve on the Governing Board (GB):
- They are a disciple of Jesus Christ and a member of Faith UCC.
- They support the Faith UCC mission to “lead people to a growing relationship with Jesus Christ” and affirm the outward focus of the church.
- They are engaged in the Discipleship Process of Intentional Relationship, Growing Faithfulness & Servant Leadership.
- They will sacrifice for the purpose of furthering the mission of Jesus Christ.
- They will consistently practice the spiritual discipline of providing financial support to the church. An exception for financial hardship may be applied by the Senior Pastor to this requirement.
- No two persons who are closely related may serve simultaneously. This requirement explicitly includes members of the same family. The SP and GB members shall use good judgment in application of this requirement when nominating new members.
- Paid staff of Faith United Church of Christ are ineligible for the GB. The sole exception is the SP.
- They shall actively participate in the GB meetings, processes, and workings of the church leadership structure. Contribution of their ideas, time, and energy is expected.
- They shall be trustworthy in the handling of sensitive information.
- They shall complete a leadership development class led by the Sr. Pastor.
1B: The Responsibility of the Governing Board (GB)
- The GB will be composed of 5 persons: A Chair, the secretary, the Senior Pastor (SP) and additional members to fill the maximum number of membership.
- The Chair shall facilitate and keep the GB on focus during meetings.
- The Chair shall set the agenda for the meetings in consultation with the SP.
- The Chair shall oversee the GB’s self-evaluation.
- The Chair shall oversee and conduct the SP’s yearly evaluation.
- Senior Pastor (SP)
- The SP will attend and be an active part of the meetings of the GB through demonstrating leadership and inspiration.
- The SP shall be involved in the selection of the members of the GB. The pastor will have special responsibility to provide that each member of the GB meets the requirements of membership. The SP will conduct leadership development classes to create a pool of candidates for membership of the GB.
- The SP shall work with the Chair to ensure necessary items are on the agenda.
- The GB shall have the responsibility to ensure that Faith UCC is accomplishing its mission to “lead people to a growing relationship with Jesus Christ”.
- The GB shall define “high level” strategy and goals for Faith UCC as relates to the mission by establishing and revising the Guiding Principles.
- The GB shall meet at a minimum of four times per year. The GB meetings will focus in rotation in emphasis on the following foci of the GB: Connecting with Christ, Connecting with people, Updating the principles, Monitoring performance. The GB meeting agendas will be developed by the chair with consultation with the SP. The means of a consent agenda can be utilized for GB actions that require no discussion or deliberation.
- The GB shall have the responsibility to recommend and accept members both on an annual and as needed basis.
- The GB shall hold itself, both corporately and individually, responsible for the delivery of results according to the accountability principles. Each year the GB will meet to perform the evaluation of the SP’s performance as determined by the Guiding Principles and results based on the goals derived from the Mission Principles. The evaluation will be held early in quarter 4.
- The GB will hold the SP accountable through the means of appropriate reward for results achieved and consequences for lack of results.
- The GB is responsible for outlining benefits and consequences for accomplished results or lack thereof.
- The GB will consult Winning on Purpose by Kaiser to guide its work as a board.
1C: The Boundaries of the Governing Board (GB)
- The GB will uphold the Constitution of Faith UCC and operate within the boundaries of these Bylaws.
- The GB shall not manage or direct the Ministry Leaders (ML). This will be handled by the SP.
- The GB may authorize any immediate expense outside the budget, but, if that expense exceeds $2000.00, it must receive the approval of the congregation. In the event of an emergency causing impending damage to the physical structure, the GB may authorize emergency repairs. A congregational meeting will be called as soon as possible to explain the emergency and actions performed.
- GB members’ term limit will be four years. One member will rotate off the GB each year. Former GB members must wait a year before being re-elected to the GB for another four year term. Members of the GB shall be selected via the following process:
- GB will convene in August to nominate a prioritized list of candidates to replace members whose terms shall end on December 31st. The following rules apply to this process:
- The SP can veto, without requirement for explanation, any name from consideration. This power is provided to ensure that each member of the GB meets the requirements of membership.
- All members of the GB, including the SP shall vote.
- A majority vote is the minimum requirement.
- The GB will present to the congregation candidates for election at the Annual Meeting in November. Priority will be placed on giving the congregation the option to chose from several qualified candidates.
- GB will convene in August to nominate a prioritized list of candidates to replace members whose terms shall end on December 31st. The following rules apply to this process:
This next point is meant to be a fail safe against a dysfunctional or ineffective board.
- In the event of ineffective governance by the GB, a church member or the SP may call a special congregational meeting. To call this meeting a petition stating the reason signed by no less than 10% of active members is required. A vote will be held at the meeting to dissolve the GB and elect a brand new board. This requires approval by 2/3rds of all voting members present at the vote. Only the business stated in the petition may be addressed at the special meeting.
Section 2: Senior Pastor
2A: Calling a Senior Pastor
- When calling a Pastor, the congregation shall reserve the right to explore all avenues available and recommended to them through the bylaws and guidance of the United Church of Christ.
- It is within the authority of the GB to appoint a Pastoral Search Committee.
- The GB shall nominate one candidate for the Pastorate to be voted upon by the congregation.
- The congregation shall consider only one candidate at a time and shall vote by ballot for or against his/her election.
- If he/she is elected, the GB shall then tender him/her a call according to the form prescribed by the Southeast Association of the Conference. The call must be confirmed by the Association or the Conference.
- The change in Pastor(s) shall be in accordance with the bylaws of the United Church of Christ.
- The Pastor(s) shall be elected for an indefinite period.
2B: Dismissing a Senior Pastor (SP)
- In the event of ineffective leadership by the SP, the GB can call a special congregational meeting to recommend dismissal of the SP. To bring this recommendation to the congregation, fifty percent (50%) of the GB must vote in its favor. A recommendation for the dismissal of the SP must receive approval of 2/3rd of all voting members present. Twenty-five percent (25%) of the congregation must be present at this vote. Only the business stated in the public notice may be addressed at the special meeting.
- In the event of ineffective leadership by the SP, a church member may call a special congregational meeting. This will require a petition stating the reason signed by no less than 10% of members. A vote will be held to dismiss the SP. This requires approval by 2/3rds of all voting members present at the vote. Twenty-five percent (25%) of the congregation must be present at this vote. Only the business stated in the petition and public notice may be addressed at the special meeting.
- It shall be incumbent upon the chair of the GB or a designated member to call said special meeting within two (2) weeks from receipt of said petition. Proper notice shall be given of the time, place, and purpose of a special congregational meeting. Announcement in worship for two (2) weeks in advance or written notice one (1) week in advance of special meetings shall constitute proper notice.
- In order to terminate this relationship, three month’s written notice shall be given, except by mutual consent.
- In the event of a gross violation(s) of “The Ordained Minister’s Code” found in Section One of the United Church of Christ’s Manual on Ministry, http://www.ucc.org/ministers_manual, immediate termination may be permitted with congregation approval.
2C: Role of the Senior Pastor (SP)
1: Relationship to the Governing Board (GB)
- The SP is held accountable by the GB through the written Guiding Principles of Faith UCC.
- The SP is a voting member of the GB on all matters with the exception of the evaluation of her/his position.
- The SP leads the board through inspiration and is responsible for maintaining the vision of Faith UCC. The SP is responsible for guiding the education of the board.
- The GB relates to the operations of the church solely through the SP. The GB supports and protects the leadership of the SP.
2: Relationship to the Ministry Leaders (ML)
- The SP shall lead the ML (paid and unpaid positions) by offering direction.
- The SP shall develop the teams and committees deemed necessary to meet the strategic goals set by the GB.
- The SP shall delegate authority to the ML as necessary for the operation of the church and fulfillment of its ministry.
- The SP holds authority over the ML and is accountable to the GB for their work.
3: Relationship to the Congregation
- The SP shall lead the congregation through teaching and pastoral care.
4: The Senior Pastor’s rights to compensation
- The SP’s salary will be paid promptly in biweekly installments.
- The SP’s compensation shall be sufficient to relieve him/her of temporal cares as far as possible and to preserve the dignity of his/her calling, subject, however, to the provisions of the contract between the SP and congregation. The GB shall consult current compensation guidelines set by the Indiana-Kentucky Conference of the United Church of Christ. These can be found online at www.ikcucc.org → “For churches” → “Resources”.
Section 3: Congregational Meetings
- The Annual Meeting of the congregation shall be held in the month of November of each year. The purpose of this meeting is:
- to adopt a budget for the coming year
- to elect new Governing Board members
- to conduct other business, as required.
- A special meeting shall be held in the month of January of each year. At this meeting,
the Governing Board and the Senior Pastor shall submit their Annual Report(s) in writing.
- Other special meetings of the congregation may be called only by the GB or by petition to the GB and duly received by the chair of the GB signed by not less than ten (10) percent of the members.
- It shall be incumbent upon the chair of the GB or a designated member to call said special meeting within two (2) weeks from receipt of said petition. Proper notice shall be given of the time, place, and purpose of a special congregational meeting.
- Announcement in worship for two (2) weeks in advance or written notice one (1) week in advance of special meetings shall constitute proper notice.
- Only such business as has been mentioned in the call may be transacted at such special meetings. The GB may call a meeting with the best notice practical in the case of an identified emergency.
Official Year- The official year of the congregation shall be from January 1 to December 31.
Section 4: Trustees
- The members of the Board of Trustees shall be elected by the congregation to serve for an indefinite period.
- Termination of Trusteeship may be affected by the congregation or Trustee upon one month’s notice.
- Duties of the Board shall be limited to holding of property and shall not include maintenance thereof.
- The Board of Trustees shall consist of three members of the congregation in whom the real and personal property of the church shall be vested. Holding of property shall be in accordance with the Articles of Incorporation and of the Constitution and By-Laws of Faith United Church of Christ.
Section 5: Property
- The congregation may, in its corporate name, sue and be sued, hold, purchase, and receive title by gift, grant, or other conveyance of and to any property, real or personal, with power to mortgage, sell, or convey same.
- In case of an equal division in the communicant membership of the congregation, representatives of both parties shall meet, have all real property appraised, and negotiate or mediate an equal division of all real and other property. In case of dissolution of the congregation, the title to the property shall vest in a charity (ies) deemed suitable by the congregation.
- Use of church property – If the church property is to be used by non-church members or outside organizations, permission must be secured from the SP.
Section 6: Discipline
Faith UCC is an inclusive community that will remain a safe place for all people. Any behavior that is harmful or disrespectful will be subject to disciplinary action.
- Behaviors that are deemed intentionally dangerous to others will not be tolerated. Individuals will be asked to leave immediately. Law enforcement will be called if necessary.
- Behavior that is unintentionally dangerous and/or disrespectful behavior will be addressed directly by the SP. If this does not resolve the situation, the SP will involve members of the GB for a second intervention. Failure to respond to this second intervention will result in the person being asked to leave the church and termination of membership. Confidentiality will be maintained by the SP and the GB.
- Individuals may appeal to the GB for review of their case. Individuals reserve the right to appeal to the congregation. At this point, confidentiality will be forfeited by the individual.
Section 7: Finances
- The finances of the congregation shall follow the congregationally approved budget.
- The Budget shall be composed of three parts: Current Expenses, Benevolence, and Building Maintenance.
- The Budget shall be prepared in all details, accepted by the GB, and presented for approval to the Annual Meeting of the congregation.
- The total estimated expenditures of the Budget shall not be exceeded by the Sr. Pastor, except with expressed approval of the congregation.
Section 8: Obligation to The United Church of Christ
- Conference Meetings – A delegate and alternate from this congregation shall be elected each year by the SP to attend the Annual Meeting of the Conference. The SP shall also arrange that delegates of the congregation attend the various other meetings of the Conference and the Association. The portion of the traveling expenses prorated by the Conference, as well as the registration fees of the Pastor(s) and delegates, are to be paid by the congregation.
- Support – The congregation shall regularly contribute towards the support of the United Church of Christ.
- Reports – This congregation, either through its SP or competent officer, shall make such reports to Conference authorities as may be required of it.
Section 9: Active Membership
NOTE: This section is NOT being recommended by the Consistory for implementation at this point. It is included to highlight the need for our leadership to come to a definition of “member” or “active member”. This will be worked on by the GB in the near future. Below serves as an example.
An active member is considered someone who does two or more of the following:
- Has attended on average two (2) worship services per month over the past year as determined by their signing of the pew pad.
- Has participated on average once (1) a month over the past year in an official church role. For example, volunteered at the food pantry, lawn mowing, participated in community groups, served on the GB or as a financial officer.
- Has contributed financially each month for the past year.
In August 2016 the Consistory (leadership team) empowered a sub-committee to work on Faith UCC’s organizational structure that is outlined in our Constitution and By-Laws. The five members of the sub-committee are Pat Summitt, Steve Sandberg, Angela Burns, Linda Normington and Pastor Scott Simmons. This group met seven times before presenting to the Consistory in February 2017 the Draft Proposal for the updated ByLaws. The work of this sub-committee was guided by the book Winning on Purpose by John Edmund Kaiser and documents from Southport United Methodist Church.
Please note, changes were made only to the bylaws. The Constitution of Faith UCC has not been changed.
Regarding the bylaws, it is important to note that no system is without weak spots or places of potential abuse by leaders. What follows is commentary on the weak spots identified and discussed by the Consistory (leadership team).
Governing Board (GB) would replace the Consistory. Responsible for oversight, policy and future planning.
Senior Pastor (SP), why “senior”? This allows our system to stay consistent when we achieve growth.
ISSUES FOR DISCUSSION
- Five members (including the Senior Pastor (SP)) on the Governing Board (GB). See Section 1, B, 1.
This issue was less controversial than we expected. Most everyone agreed that a church our size would do better with a smaller group of board members. Two reasons for this are: (1) less people on the board means more people for Ministry Leader roles; and (2) a smaller group can work more efficiently together.
This concentration of authority to a smaller amount of people carries risk that we must all be aware of. Faith UCC has a history (2002-2007) when a smaller group of individuals aligned with the Senior Pastor (SP) to lead Faith UCC in a direction deemed unhealthy by many members. As a safeguard to this potential place of abuse, we included an efficient mechanism by which members can hold the GB and SP accountable. See section 1C4c.
- Senior Pastor’s (SP) authority to call special meeting. See Section 1, C, 3, a, iii
Much of the Consistory’s debate centered around the expanded role of the Senior Pastor’s (SP) authority. This is a legitimate concern considering the past that Faith UCC has had. We resolved most of the tension around this issue in two ways. First, it was pointed out that in the Accountability Leadership Structure (the new approach we are adopting as detailed in Winning on Purpose), the SP’s expanded authority is matched by expanded accountability. Key to this new system is removing management responsibility from the GB so that they can focus on holding the SP accountable through regular oversight and a written document titled “Guiding Principles”. In our current system, there is little formal structure for the evaluation of the SP. This will change. Second, often the resistance to the increased authority turned out to be emotional rather than rational. In the case of the SP’s authority to call a special meeting, revoking this formal power would not eliminate the SP’s ability to call meetings. For example, the SP could simply ask a trusted member to call the meeting. If our goal is to create a culture of trust at Faith UCC, then why not eliminate such behind the scenes maneuvers by giving formal authority where it is practical.
- SP’s authority to veto candidates for the GB without explanation. See Section 1, C, 4. a, 1.
Many are concerned that this provision would allow the SP to “stack the desk” in his/her favor. Again, the distrust created by past experience loomed large in our discussion. Two points moved the Consistory in favor of this provision. First, the need for the SP to have privilege of confidentiality. Consider a potential board member has hidden drug addiction. This would be reason to veto the candidate. Yet, we all agreed that this information, if shared in pastoral confidence, should be kept secret by the SP. The second point was the role of the GB and congregation in holding the SP accountable. If a situation should arise where the SP’s vetoes created distrust, then a much larger issue is likely at hand. Sections 2B1 & 2B2 provide authority to remove the SP if needed.
- SP’s authority to vote on the GB. See Section 3, C, 1, B
Debate over the SP’s expanded authority surfaced again at this section. As much as anyone can tell, the SP has never been a voting member at Faith UCC. While there are members of the Consistory that disagree with this change, the majority were in favor. The deciding issue was whether or not the SP was really going to be a member of the GB. The GB is tasked with oversight of the SP and setting the long-term direction of the church through written policy and priorities. Without a vote on issues of policy and priority, the SP is not a formal stakeholder in those decisions. As a full voting member of the GB, the SP would have to support the decision of the GB. If the SP was not a voting member, the SP may not be compelled to support all the GB’s decisions. A lack of alignment between the GB and the SP would contribute greatly to ineffective and dysfunctional leadership at Faith UCC.
A second issue also surfaced during debate on this section of the bylaws. When Faith UCC hires a SP, it is to the role of preacher, teacher, caregiver and leader in the congregation. If the church does not have confidence in the SP to do those things, then the church should fire that individual and find someone who they trust. In fact, this new structure is intended to help the church become better at objectively assessing the performance of the SP and removing persons who are ineffective in that role.
- Do we include a definition of Active Membership or Membership? See section 9.
This section is not intended for inclusion in this updated version of the bylaws. It is included in this draft solely to bring the important issue of membership to the table for future review. A sign of our disorganization at Faith UCC is our lack of a meaningful measurement of membership. When I arrived, no one was able to tell me exactly how many members we have. We still do not know. The reason being, we lack a useful standard for making this determination. This is an issue that we intend to work on if and when the new structure and new GB are established.