Our Annual Meeting will be held on Sunday, April 28 right after church. Please see the warrant on the door of the sanctuary for details of the business to be considered. This year, the Parish Committee is proposing some changes to our by-laws as a way to bring into line our practices with our governing rules. Among the proposed some changes is a change to the way we define membership in the church. In addition, we are have expanded and edited committee descriptions so they are clearer and also changed the procedure for calling a new Minister to be more in line with UUA expectations. Because this can be a lot to digest at a meeting, we are making available a summary of changes and a copy of the current by-laws with proposed changes marked in red so that you can read them in advance.
Summary of Changes:
Bylaw Revision Highlights April, 2019
Proposed by Parish Committee at the Annual Meeting, April 28, 2019
- Article II – Purpose:Inserts the Covenant of First Parish Watertown.
- Article III – Non-Discrimination: New article, using language suggested by the UUA. Subsequent articles are re-numbered.
- “This congregation affirms and promotes the full participation of persons in all our activities and endeavors including membership, programming, hiring practices, and the calling of religious professionals, without regard to race, color, gender, physical or mental challenge, affectional or sexual orientation, class or national origin.”
- Article IV – Membership:Redefines membership requirements to extend voting rights to all members, who may join at age 15 or having completed the Coming of Age program. Removes positive requirement for financial contribution of record, but emphasizes the importance of financial and other stewardship of the church as a responsibility of members.
- Article VII – Standing Committees
- Reorganizes listing of standing committees into categories of Governance and Program Committees. Adds section numbering and re-numbers paragraphs.
- Moves Nominating Committee from Article VI (with Officers) to Standing Governance Committees.
- Adds Helen Robinson Wright Fund Distribution Committee as a Standing Committee, following existing language of the HRW Fund Indenture of Trust (VII.A.5).
- Adds language for Standing Committees previously approved at Annual Meetings: VII.A.4 Safe Congregation Committee (2018), VII.B.11 Communications Committee (2016).
- Article VIII – Trustees:Adds paragraph 4, indentifying Trustees of HRW Charitable Fund, following existing language of the HRW Fund Indenture of Trust.
- Article XI – The Minister
- The changes in this article bring us in line with the recommendations of the UUA and expectations of a ministerial candidate for the process of calling a new minister.
- Changes committee vote requirement from two-thirds to unanimous.
- Deletes redundant and self-conflicting old paragraph 2.
- Changes requirement for a vote to call a minister from 4/5 to ninety percent of a Parish Meeting.
- Changes requirement for a vote to dismiss a minister from a simple majority to 4/5 majority of a Parish Meeting.
PDF of full draft of with proposed changes: Proposed 2019 By-law revisions
The church is governed by the Parish Committee, made up of seven members elected by the congregation at the Annual Meeting for a term of three years. The Parish Committee sets policy, hires staff, and manages the overall direction and business of the church.