By-Laws of First Parish Unitarian Universalist of Arlington, Massachusetts
APPROVED: October 31, 1964. ADOPTED: June 9, 1965
AMENDED: January 27, 1967; January 24, 1969; January 21, 1972; January 23, 1976; February 29, 1976; May 15, 1977; January 25, 1980; January 30, 1981; January 27, 1984; November 2, 1986; May 3, 1991; April 5, 1992; May 15, 1992; May 12, 1995; February 23, 1997; May 15, 1998; May 18, 2003; May 23, 2004; May 20, 2007; May 16, 2010; November 21, 2010; October 30, 2011; March 25, 2012; May 20, 2012; May 18, 2014; May 15, 2016
The name of this Church shall be the First Parish Unitarian Universalist of Arlington, Massachusetts.
ARTICLE II—Purpose and Mission
The purpose of this Church is to unite its members in worship, fellowship, and service in accord with Unitarian Universalist principles and, in keeping with those principles, to advance the mission of this Church as adopted by its membership in a congregational meeting.
This Church shall be a member of the Unitarian Universalist Association and assume the responsibilities of this relationship.
This Church 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 or gender presentation, physical or mental challenge, affectional or sexual orientation, class, or national origin, and without requiring any particular religious belief or creed.
Section 1. The membership of this Church shall consist of:
a. All members of the First Congregational Parish (Unitarian) in Arlington on the date of the adoption of these bylaws (June 9, 1965).
b. All members of First Universalist Society of Arlington on the date of the adoption of these bylaws (June 9, 1965).
c. Any person who has signed the Membership Book since June 9, 1965, and remains in good standing as per Article V, Section 3 of these bylaws.
d. Any person 18 or over in agreement with the purposes and bylaws of this Church may become a member upon formal application addressed to the Clerk and upon signing the Church membership book. Because the church is sustained primarily through the contributions of its members, membership carries the expectation that all members will pledge annual financial support as stewards of our church community and be active in the congregation. Because the church recognizes that people’s financial situations may fluctuate, no fixed giving level is established by the church and no members will be excluded from the church because of financial hardship.
e. A person between the age of 13 and 18 shall be eligible to join the church as an Associate Member and sign the Youth Membership Book. Students age 13 or 14 need to have completed the Coming of Age program to be eligible to sign the Youth Membership Book. An Associate Member may become part of committees with the exception of the Trustees, Finance, and Parish Committees, but will not be able to vote at congregational meetings. Associate Members are not expected to contribute financially through an annual pledge, but are welcome to contribute if they so choose.
Section 2. The right to vote at Annual Meetings or other congregational meetings is limited to members who have attained the age of eighteen years and shall have been members for at least thirty days. No person shall be denied the right of voice at business meetings. Only members of legal age shall be eligible to hold elective office or to serve on the Trustees, Parish, or Finance Committees.
Section 3. No person shall be removed from membership until such time as the member files with the Clerk notice of withdrawal, or, until the member fails during a period of two years to evidence a desire to remain a member, provided that the Clerk, at the direction of the Parish Committee, has made an effort to notify any such member before removing the name from the membership roll.
ARTICLE VI—Congregational Meetings and Voting
Section 1. Congregational meetings, including the Annual Meeting, may be called by the Parish Committee, or shall be called in response to a written request signed by thirty members. Any such requested meeting shall be held within thirty days of receipt of the request by the Clerk. All meetings shall be at such time and place as shall be fixed by the Parish Committee. The Annual Meeting of the congregation shall be held between April 25 and May 31, at which meeting officers and committees of the congregation shall report.
Section 2. All congregational meetings shall be called and the members warned by the posting of a warrant stating the time, place, and articles for action at such meetings at the Meeting House of the Church at least six days before the holding thereof, or in such other equivalent or further manner as the Parish Committee may direct; and in any event a warrant of the meeting shall be mailed at least six days prior to the meeting to each member. Such mailing may be made to such member by U.S. mail or by electronic mail.
Section 3. All congregational meetings shall be presided over by the Moderator. In the absence of the Moderator, the members shall elect a Moderator pro tem, who will serve at that meeting only.
Section 4. Twenty percent of the recorded voting membership eligible to vote shall constitute a quorum for all congregational meetings except when considering (1) the call of a minister called by a vote of a congregational meeting, (2) the dismissal of a minister called by a vote of a congregational meeting or (3) the sale or purchase of real estate, in which cases, thirty percent shall constitute a quorum.
Section 5. Members must cast their votes in person: that is, voting by proxy is not permitted.
Section 6. Nominations from the floor shall be permitted for elections of officers and members of committees defined in these bylaws.
ARTICLE VII—Parish Committee
Section 1. The Parish Committee, subject to the prime authority of the congregation, is the principal policy-forming and administrative body of the church. The Parish Committee has full authority and responsibility, except as limited by these bylaws, to act on the business and programs of the church. The Parish Committee shall have general charge of the property and funds of the Church, exclusive of the property and funds under the custody and control of the Trustees of Trust Funds. The Parish Committee shall also have general charge of the conduct of all its business affairs, and the control of its administration, including the appointment of such committees as it may deem necessary.
Section 2. The Parish Committee shall consist of the Clerk, the Treasurer, and seven other members, all of whom shall be members of the Church.
a. The members of the Parish Committee, other than the Clerk and the Treasurer, shall each be elected for a term of three years. A person who has served two consecutive three-year terms as a member of the Parish Committee shall not be eligible for election to any seat on the Parish Committee until after the expiration of one year running from one Annual Meeting to the next Annual Meeting.
b. The terms of office of all Parish Committee members so elected shall run from the end of the Annual Meeting at which they are elected until the end of the Annual Meeting at which their terms of office expire.
Section 4. The Parish Committee shall make a written report to the membership on at least an annual basis, and otherwise shall inform the membership of major policy decisions.
Section 5. Meetings of the Parish Committee shall be open to the membership, except when matters relating to personnel or litigation are taken up in executive session.
Section 6. A majority of the voting members of the Parish Committee shall constitute a quorum. Any action by the Parish Committee may be decided by a simple majority of the votes cast by those present at the meeting, unless this majority limit is otherwise specifically increased in the Parish Committee’s policies or otherwise provided in these bylaws.
Section 7. Any officer of the Church or member of the Parish Committee may resign by giving notice in writing to the Chair or may be removed by a two-thirds majority vote of the members of the Parish Committee or by vote of a simple majority of the voting members present at a congregational meeting.
Section 1. The officers of the Church shall be the members of the Parish Committee, the Assistant Treasurer, the Moderator, and the Auditor.
Section 2. The following officers shall be elected by written ballot at an Annual Meeting: the Clerk, the Treasurer, the Assistant Treasurer, the Moderator, and the Auditor, each for a term of three years. A person who has served two consecutive three-year terms as an officer shall be ineligible for re-election until after the expiration of one year running from one Annual Meeting to the next Annual Meeting. Only members of the church are eligible to serve as officers. The Clerk shall be a resident of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Moderator and the Auditor may not serve concurrently as members of the Parish Committee.
Section 3. The terms of office of all officers so elected shall run from the end of the Annual Meeting at which they are elected until the end of the Annual Meeting at which their terms of office expire.
Section 4. The Chair and Vice Chair of the Parish Committee shall be selected by the Parish Committee from among its members, excluding the Clerk and the Treasurer.
Section 5. Except as otherwise provided herein, the authority and duties of the officers shall be as prescribed in writing by the Parish Committee.
Section 6. The Chair shall coordinate the administrative functions of the Church and shall represent the Church on all appropriate occasions.
Section 7. The Vice Chair shall act in the absence of or at the request of the Chair, at which time she or he shall have all powers and functions applicable to the Chair.
Section 8. The Moderator shall preside at all congregational meetings.
Section 9. The Clerk shall be the official secretary of the Parish Committee and shall ensure that proper records are maintained and that proceedings of the Parish Committee are regularly reported to the congregation. The Clerk shall be responsible for notifying the membership by mail of all congregational meetings and of all matters to be acted upon at said meetings, shall preside at congregational meetings in the absence of the Moderator until a Moderator pro tem is chosen, and shall keep a record of the proceedings of such meetings. The Clerk shall perform the duties of the Chair in the event of the simultaneous absence or incapacity of both the Chair and Vice Chair.
Section 10. The Treasurer shall receive and safely keep all money and other property of the church entrusted to his or her care, which excludes monies, securities, and properties under the control of the Trustees of Trust Funds; make disbursements as directed or approved by the Parish Committee; keep a complete account of the finances of the Church in records belonging to the Church, including direction and coordination of any public accounting firm employed by the Church; render a current statement at each regular meeting of the Parish Committee and of the membership; and ensure that all federal, state or local returns, reports or other items required by law are properly prepared and filed with the appropriate authorities in a timely manner.
Section 11. The Assistant Treasurer shall perform such duties as the Parish Committee shall prescribe, and from time to time may be designated by the Parish Committee to assume all the duties and obligations of the Treasurer.
Section 12. The Auditor shall conduct, at least annually, an audit of the Treasurer’s records, the records of the Trustees of Trust Funds and the records of such other committees as the Parish Committee may direct.
Section 1. Vacancies caused by resignation or inability to serve in an office of the Church shall be filled by the Parish Committee until the next Annual Meeting, except in the office of Moderator, which may be filled only by vote of the membership at any congregational meeting.
Section 2. Vacancies occurring in any elected committee may be filled by the Parish Committee until the next Annual Meeting. If three or more vacancies exist at any one time in the Parish Committee, a congregational meeting for the purpose of filling these vacancies shall be held within thirty days.
Section 3. Vacancies shall, at the next Annual Meeting, be filled by election for the remainder of the term for which the officer or committee member was originally elected.
ARTICLE X—Committee and Duties
Section 1. The Standing Committees of the Parish shall be as follows:
a. Trustees of Trust Funds; Religious Education Committee; Music Committee; Finance Committee; Denominational Affairs Committee; Membership Committee; Property Committee; Social Justice Committee; Human Resources Committee; the Leadership Development Committee; and the Stewardship Committee. The beginning and ending of the terms of the Standing Committees shall be coterminous with those of the officers. Members of the Standing Committees shall be elected by the Annual Meeting for terms of three years except when a lesser term is required to fill a vacancy. The terms of the several Standing Committees shall be staggered, so that, in any given year, approximately one third of the members of each committee are elected.
b. Except with the consent of the Parish Committee, no member shall serve more than two consecutive three-year terms on any one Standing Committee of the Parish without a year intervening.
Section 2. The duties of the above committees shall be as follows:
a. The Trustees of Trust Funds shall have the custody and control of monies and securities received by legacy or otherwise to be held as permanent funds. They may invest and reinvest the same and may pay to the Treasurer all or part of the net income thereof. New bequests and gifts received by the Trustees and prior to acceptance of the same by the membership at a Parish meeting may be added to the permanent funds of the Parish, except where conditions imposed by the donor specifically require such a gift or bequest be segregated from the permanent funds.
b. The Religious Education Committee, with the approval of the Parish Minister so far as any religious services are concerned, shall conduct a Church school and shall also provide for adult education and youth programs. For these purposes, it may authorize necessary expenditures not to exceed the amounts appropriated and contributed for the purpose.
c. The Music Committee shall have charge of music programs of the Parish within the appropriation in the annual budget made for the use of the Music Committee. For these purposes, it may authorize necessary expenditures not to exceed the amounts appropriated and contributed for the purpose.
d. The Finance Committee shall, with the approval of the Parish Committee, be responsible for financial planning, monitoring the financial affairs of the church, and preparing the annual budget.
e. The Denominational Affairs Committee shall be responsible for promoting, publicizing, and advancing the programs and needs of the Unitarian Universalist Association above the parish level.
f. The Membership Committee shall be responsible for increasing the active membership of this Church.
g. The Property Committee, with the approval of the Parish Committee, shall supervise the maintenance, repair and improvement of the Church property and grounds.
h. The Social Justice Committee shall study, inform and enlist support from members of the congregation on contemporary issues that involve our belief in human dignity.
i. The Human Resources Committee shall help to create and regularly review employee policies. It shall also regularly review the staff pay structure and benefits packages. It will play an advisory role and make recommendations to respective managers or the Parish Committee when asked to do so.
j. The Leadership Development Committee shall facilitate the participation of individuals in church committees and groups, promote leadership development, nominate people to fill vacancies on standing committees and as parish officers prior to Annual Meeting each year, and publicize to the congregation the availability and rewards of committee and group participation.
k. The Stewardship Committee shall direct the raising of gifts and pledges for the general expenses of the church.
Section 3. The Parish Committee may appoint from time to time such ad hoc committees as it may deem necessary.
Section 1. The Ministers of this Church may include one or more Parish Ministers and other ministerial staff, as needed.
Section 2. A Senior or Associate Minister shall be chosen at a congregational meeting held for that purpose. An Assistant Minister or specialized ministerial staff may be chosen at a congregational meeting held for that purpose or may be hired by the Parish Committee. Any person so chosen shall be in ministerial fellowship with the Unitarian Universalist Association.
Section 3. A Minister who was chosen at a congregational meeting shall serve until he or she resigns or is dismissed by vote of a congregational meeting held for that purposes. A hired Minister may be terminated by vote of the Parish Committee or as may otherwise be provided by the terms of the applicable employment Agreement. Three months’ notice is expected to be given by a minister or by the Church in the event of a resignation or dismissal except as may otherwise be provided by the terms of an applicable employment agreement.
Section 4. The Parish Minister(s) shall have responsibility for all religious meetings and services held in the Church buildings, and no religious meetings or services shall be held without the Parish Ministers’ knowledge and consent. The Director of Religious Education shall be responsible to the Religious Education Committee for the implementation of a Church school as well as adult education and youth programs. The Director of Religious Education shall make recommendations to the Religious Education Committee concerning program, philosophy, and curriculum.
Section 5. It shall be the duty of the Parish Minister(s) to keep an official record of funerals, child dedications, services of union, and marriages.
Section 6. The Parish Minister(s) shall serve in an advisory capacity to all Church committees.
ARTICLE XII—Fiscal Matters
Section 1. The fiscal year of the Church shall be from July 1 to June 30.
Section 2. In its management of the affairs of the Church, the Parish Committee shall expend only such sums as have been appropriated by adoption of the annual budget or by special vote taken at the Annual Meeting or at another congregational meeting or are designated gifts or grants that are intended by the giver to be used before the following fiscal year.
Section 3. At each Annual Meeting, the Parish Committee shall submit an operating budget for the coming fiscal year. The budgeted expenditures may not exceed the anticipated income. A budget shall be adopted by a simple majority vote of the voting members present at the meeting. Once a budget is approved, the Parish Committee may authorize and expend the funds as budgeted; however, the Parish Committee may reallocate funds among the line items of the approved budget so long as the amount reallocated does not exceed ten percent of the total budgeted expenditures.
Section 4. Each committee of the Church, whether standing or appointed shall have the right and responsibility to direct expenditure of funds allocated for its use in the annual operating budget.
Section 5. The Parish Committee may borrow money for church expenses, if necessary; however, no borrowing of money nor financial contract may be made without approval of the members of the Church in a congregational meeting if such borrowing or contract involves more than ten percent of the current annual operating budget.
ARTICLE XIII—Memorial Garden
In accordance with policies enacted by the Parish Committee, the Parish shall establish and maintain a Memorial Garden for the burial of the cremated ashes of deceased individuals. The Parish shall maintain a suitable permanent record of all individuals whose ashes have been buried.
ARTICLE XIV—Rules of Order
The rules contained in the current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised shall govern the Church in all cases to which they are applicable and in which they are not inconsistent with these bylaws. The Moderator may appoint a parliamentarian to serve at congregational meetings.
These bylaws may be amended at any congregational meeting if two-thirds of the members present and voting approve such amendments, provided that any proposed amendment has been published in the notice of the meeting.