The mission of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia is to nurture and respect each other in our spiritual growth and pursuit of meaning and to create a welcoming and engaging environment through which we work for positive change in the community and the world.

 Governance is the system by which a congregation exercises its authority to make decisions—through its Board, Committees, Councils, Clergy, other Professionals, etc.

For the sixty years of our history our governance has consisted of a Board of Trustees with numerous standing committees reporting to it and paid staff for office administration, religious education, and a minister. This is a common governance structure used by small to mid-size congregations; however, many of us are beginning to see that we have grown beyond this model. Such a structure creates a bottleneck by requiring committees to run everything by the board, a time-consuming and frustrating process.

In June 2016, the UUCC Board established an ad hoc committee, UUCC Governance and Structure, with the goal “to review, analyze, and revise our UUCC governance structure, ensuring a clearer picture of who we are as an organization. This would include, but not be limited, to revising and updating all position descriptions for not only our staff, but the various roles that our members and friends play – committees’ responsibilities, the chairs’ duties, and those of the members of the various committees and groups. Not only was this a goal of the Board, but was also among the highlighted goals identified during our Start Up weekend in January, when we learned that the attached organizational chart (See page 6.) was what we have at this time – very linear and it really doesn’t reflect who we are nor is there a set of guidelines for what each does to support our congregation.”

What follows summarizes the work of this committee. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the members of this committee (Rev. Jennie Barrington, Richard Culler, Regina Moody, Bob Whitaker), as well as to the members who sent in their comments. Regina Moody, especially, needs to be recognized for the hours (and years) and love she has put into this important work. We could not have done this without her invaluable knowledge and insight.

In carrying our directive:

  • We examined UUCC documents available online. Many of these document previous efforts at restructuring UUCC’s governance.
  1. UUCC history:
  2. Mission and Vision:
  3. Governance and organization: Including:
    1. Board goals:
    2. Bylaws:
    3. Policy manual:
  1. UUCC Bylaws Endowment Appendix
  2. UUCC Bylaws Endowment Appendix Signature Page
  3. Strategic Plan Summary:
  • We read the Long-Range Plan (presented to the Board in 2006) and the 2011 Strategic Plan.
  • We researched other resources including (Also see page 8.):
  • The UUA website pages: Policy Based Governance: A Resource for UU Congregations
  • Dan Hotchkiss’ book, Governance and Ministry: Rethinking Board Leadership, Second Edition. Available from inSpirit ( or or other book sellers.
  • Governance for UU Congregations
  • We analyzed UUCC’s current organization and structure. (See the charts on pages 9 – 17.)
  • We received input from five members of the congregation. (See pages18 – 19.)
  • We considered what an organizational chart might look like with UUCC governance and ministry separated (See page 7.)
  • We looked at the organization and structure of other UU congregations, some of which are listed in a comparison table in UUCC Governance and Structure Ad Hoc Committee Supplemental, attached separately.
  • We consulted Kathy McGowan of the Southern Region staff. Kathy McGowan,, 518-859-9267.
  • For ease in understanding the terms and concepts found in this report, please see pages 20 – 23 for Definitions of Basic Terms & Essential Concepts.


  1. Begin the process to move toward a modified policy governance structure as outlined in Dan Hotchkiss’ book, Governance and Ministry: Rethinking Board Leadership, Second Edition. This model of governance allows the Board to focus on the critical areas of planning (Strategic Planning, Long-range goals, Mission and Vision) and governance while the minister and staff are empowered to handle the day-to-day business of programming, education, ministry and care of the beloved community.
  2. Seek guidance from Southern Region staff. Kathy McGowan,, 518-859-9267.
  3. Work with our incoming minister to distinguish between those programs and activities that constitute ministry and those that encompass organization and governance. (See what separation of governance and ministry might look like in the organization chart on page 7 and the flow chart in UUCC Governance and Structure Ad Hoc Committee Supplemental, attached separately.)
  4. Develop a complete Policies and Procedures Manual.
  5. Appoint a Governance Team to monitor and oversee the change process, to educate the congregation about this change and to relieve the Board from having to add this duty to their already full agenda. This process generally takes 2 to 3 years to complete. A potential Pulpit Editorial or Unigram article, written by Regina Moody (pages 27 – 28), might be a good introduction for the congregation on the need for governance and structure change.
  6. Review and consider the recommendations offered in the Input from Members on pages 18 – 19.
  7. Encourage all Board members, committee chairs and other congregation leaders to read Dan Hotchkiss’ book, Governance and Ministry: Rethinking Board Leadership, Second Edition. Also see UUCC Governance and Structure Ad Hoc Committee Resources Used. There is excellent additional material available on the UUA website. (Links are provided above.)
  8. Consider the proposed Temporary Team Structure for UUCC Standing Committees, pages 24 – 26. The rationale for this temporary structure is included with the chart.
  9. Have Teams meet with their Board member/leader at least once a year to develop a calendar of activities and/or fundraisers that support our Mission.
  10. Coordinate calendars with other Teams so that we maximize our support for our Mission as well as the whole of our beloved community.
  11. Post the Who to Go to for What (See UUCC Governance and Structure Ad Hoc Committee Supplemental, attached separately.) in the Social Hall so that members and friends can see at a glance who might be able to answer their questions or concerns most effectively. (This also redirects some of the myriad requests that, to-date, are heaped entirely on the President’s plate.)
  12. Add the Sexual Misconduct and Abuse Response Team composition to the Bylaws. See the Safety Policies and Procedures for Children and Youth Ser
  13. Delete Coffee Hour on Sundays until a group or individual steps up to organize it. This has become an onerous burden for a few individuals on the Caring Committee; a duty that is not and should not be part of their duties as indicated by the responsibilities given to the Caring Committee in our Bylaws. One idea offered was for different committees to rotate responsibility for Sunday Morning Coffee Hour. Other suggestions: pay someone to provide Sunday Morning Coffee Hour; have members bring coffee from Starbucks or another local coffee shop; have Coffee Hour catered; buy 4 or 5 Keurig machines and let folks make their own.

I will be at GA next week when the Board meets so I will be unable to answer any questions at that meeting. However, I will be happy to attend the August Board meeting, if needed, to answer questions.

Respectfully submitted,

Keitha Whitaker, Chair; 803-605-8625

The Congregation
The minister
The Board of Trustees
Nominating Committee
Finance Committee
Endowment Committee
The staff
Religious Education Committee
Membership Committee
Caring Committee
Worship Committee
Program Groups
Denominational Affairs Committee
Building & Grounds Committee
Personnel Committee
Other committees created by Board
Partner Church Committee
Coffeehouse Committee
Committees enclosed by dashed lines are mandated by By-laws, but subordinate to Board
Authority flows downward in this chart; responsibility flows upward


The Congregation
The minister
The Board of Trustees
Leadership Development Committee
Finance Committee
Endowment Fund Committee
The staff
Adult Religious Education Committee
Membership Committee
Caring and Hospitality Committee
Animal Ministry
Social Action Committee
Denominational Affairs Committee
Building & Grounds Committee
Personnel Committee
Green Sanctuary Committee
Partner Church Committee
Children and Youth Religious Education Committee
If we separated ministry and governance on our current organizational chart it might look like this.
Shared Ministry Committee
Worship Committee
Technology Services Committee
From our Bylaws: Adult Religious Education, Building and Grounds, Caring and Hospitality, Children and Youth Religious Education, Denominational Connections, Endowment Fund, Finance, Green Sanctuary, Leadership Development, Membership, Personnel, Religious Education, Shared Ministry, Social Action, Technology Services and Worship
UUCC Mission


UUCC Governance and Structure Ad Hoc Committee

Resources Used

Congregational Governance 1997,

Governance for Unitarian Universalist Congregations,

  • Important note for searching All UUA resources mentioned are available in the Leaders section of the web site, in the Leaders’ Library. Please use quotes around the title when you search to bring up the resource or item you seek.

Governance for UU Congregations, pdf 2005,

Hotchkiss article, Who Owns Your Congregation?

InterConnections. The UUA’s monthly email newsletter for lay leaders of congregations and the religious professionals who work with them. (

Resources for Unitarian Universalists. A guide to resources for UU lay leaders and other Unitarian Universalists, on the redesigned UUA website. (

The Size and Shape of Governance, by Rev. Stefan Jonasson.

UU Church of Tallahassee documents: (Manual of Policies and Procedures, 65 pages; Bylaws, 23 pages; link to other documents) mailing list — This is a continent- (and world-) wide list of about 375-400 ordinary, lay Us and UUs (and a few ministers too) who are involved in running their UU churches. It’s managed by two long-time and very ordinary UUs.  The list software is supported by the UUA in Boston. Valuable resource for Board members and any congregational leader, including committee chairs. — the e-mail newsletter from “ liberal religion and life.” Each week, you’ll receive a message with the latest Unitarian Universalist news headlines, featured stories from UU World magazine, and articles you’ll only find at Effective way for all congregation members to stay connected to the wider world of UUA.

UUCC Governance and Structure: Key Aspects and Issues

Standing Committees in red.



Final authority rests with the congregation

Board of Trustees  

Staff & Clergy



Activities that enrich the lives of UUCC constituents


Management/Operations Aspects relating to assets, facilities & administration

      Bylaws describe all aspects of standing committees currently Bylaws describe all aspects of standing committees currently
Establishes mission Establishes policy Letter of agreement mutually established by Minister & Board   Finance
Approves Bylaws Establishes goals Minister collaborates w/Board to set vision, policy, & strategic goals Worship



Buildings & Grounds


Elects Board of Trustees Evaluates programs & operations for all aspects Minister supervises & evaluates staff Religious Exploration Membership
Elects Leadership Development May establish ad hoc committees, task forces, sub-committees Minister consults with chairs & committees Adult Program


Elects Endowment Fund Plans for continuity; leadership training Shared Ministry is appointed by Minister Social Justice


Animal Ministry

Communications & Publicity
Adopts annual budget


Responsible for all financial concerns Staff job descriptions established by Board in consultation w/Minister Community Caring

Caring & Hospitality

Technology Services
Calls the Settled Minister


Evaluates Board structure & operation


Assures personnel manual is up-to-date Denominational Connection

Partner Church?

Maintenance of records (financial & membership)
Provides for Long-range planning Equipment & furnishings
Safe Congregation Appoints delegates to GA Community Activities & Outreach Green Sanctuary
Memorial Garden
Committee Communication & oversight Committee Communication & oversight


Board of Trustees

Review of positive and negative aspects

Establishes policy

Positive Negative
In 2013, Policy on Policies adopted; work begun on formal Policy Manual, written & online. No systematic way of capturing policies approved by past Boards except to search minutes.  Several policies identified have not been reformatted or completed.  Lag time between first reading and adoption is of concern.


Establishes goals

Positive Negative
Beginning 2015-16, goal-setting emphasized at Board retreat; new UUCC website includes current goals. Unclear whether these are congregational goals or goals for the Board.


Evaluates programs & operations for all aspects

Positive Negative
Each committee asked to submit monthly anecdotal reports to Board; these appear on website.  Written report of all activities of the Congregation given at Annual Meeting Bylaws vague on Board’s providing “general supervision of all activities of the Congregation.”
Board liaisons to committees included in 2007 revision when Committee Council was eliminated No clear description of liaison responsibilities
There is no consistent system for Board oversight in place; it does not regularly monitor and evaluate program and operation.
**Member Input __ Board has not dealt with kitchen issues or Sunday Coffee Hour responsibility
**Member Input – Suggest adding a kitchen committee under B&G
**Member Input – May have too many committees; but too soon to consider policy governance


Establishes ad hoc committees, task forces, etc.

Positive Negative
Facilities Assessment Task force 2014-15 had a clear charter and resulted in a successful capital campaign and subsequent Board creation of a Building Renovation Task Force Some ad hoc committees never completed their charge and disbanded (ex. Memorial Garden).


Plans for continuity; leadership training

Positive Negative
An annual day-long Board retreat is held Some view a two-year term insufficient for a Board member (ex. suggestion by the Drews)
 Difficult to recruit members for board positions since there are no written descriptions of duties and expectations of the officers and five trustees
There is no system in place for mentoring new Board members


Responsible for all financial concerns

Positive Negative
Treasurer’s reports are given to Board in a timely fashion. How fundraising is determined and managed remains unclear.
Staff Bookkeeper provides comprehensive reports


Determines organizational flowchart

Positive Negative
Has been aware that UUCC is outdated Leadership has taken no action
Created as hoc committee on UUCC governance & structure Minister has taken very little part in organizational issues
**Member Input – Congregation is oblivious to organizational structure.  Why not a chart!


Provides for long-range planning

Positive Negative
A year-long process conducted by the Ad Hoc Committee on Long Range Planning produced its 55-page comprehensive report for adoption by the congregation in 2006.  This five-year plan was followed by the UUCC Strategic Plan in October 2011. A system for follow-up has been lacking; frequent change in leadership and inadequate record-keeping is a chronic problem.


Evaluates Board structure & operation

Positive Negative
Internal communication aided by use of Google email There is no Board Procedures Manual.
Agendas for monthly Board meetings are sent in timely manner The relationship between executive committee and Minister has been unclear and inconsistent (ex. Establishing Board agenda)
Need to reconsider making the position of Past-President a voting member of the Board
**Member Input – President should be made a 2-yr term; past-president should be a voting member
**Member Input – Too many trustees at large; reduce from 5 to 3
**Member Input – Takes too long to make decisions
**Member Input – Delay in communicating decisions to congregation; Unigram lag time; need to feel more connected to issues & decisions


Appoints delegates to UUA

Positive Negative
Board has identified and supported attendees Follow-up with Board and congregation has been weak or non-existent


Clergy & Staff

Review of positive and negative aspects

Letter of ministerial letter of agreement

Positive Negative
Mutually established by Minister & Board. Historically, a small group of finance/president? draft an agreement; Board does not participate or know any particulars; document has not been easily accessible


Minister/Board set vision, policy, and strategic goals

Positive Negative
No substantive precedent to date; some general discussion at annual retreat


Minister supervises & evaluates staff

Positive Negative
Records and procedures generally unavailable


Minister consults with Chairs and Committees

Positive Negative
Routinely meets with Worship & Adult RE Unknown



Shared Ministry Committee

Positive Negative
Established by Minister with appointment by Board; change from Committee on Ministry to Shared Ministry Concept was not widely understood; bylaws description needs clarifying.



Staff job descriptions

Positive Negative
Inadequate drafting and updating of


Personnel manual

Positive Negative
Status & adequacy unknown to committee
Staff generally unaware of Church Policy or how to find out



Review of positive and negative aspects

Establishes mission

Positive Negative
December 2003 UUCC adopted: To nurture and respect each other in our spiritual growth. . .etc. Consider making it less wordy; difficult to quote


Approves Bylaws

Positive Negative
Last major revision followed recommendations of the Long-Range plan (2007). Subsequent revisions include: renaming Nominating Committee to Leadership Development Committee; Ministerial Relations Committee to Committee on Ministry. More complete description of the Endowment Fund Committee added.  Minimum contribution for Membership established. Lack a consistent manner of noting needed corrections and changes.  Attention to the bylaws has been piecemeal


Although many agree that it is time for another comprehensive re-writing, it is wise to wait until after any governance restructuring is decided.



Elects Board of Trustees

Positive Negative
In recent years the number of Trustees at large was reduced from seven to five and the position of Past President (non-voting) was created. Beyond the brief descriptions in the bylaws, there is nothing written about the duties and expectations of our officers and trustees.  This has been a factor in recruiting members for board positions.


President serves three consecutive years; all others have two-year terms


Elects Leadership Development Committee

Positive Negative
Generally, has taken its job seriously.


Process of establishing Ministerial Search committee worked well.

The Leadership Development Committee is responsible for identifying potential officers, Trustees, committee members, Committee Chairs, and program committee leaders, and providing ongoing leadership development of both existing and prospective leaders. That may sound like a worthy expectation but has never been enacted.  This is a critical area of need.


In those years in which two members are elected, the Board designee changes, and the past president joins the committee, continuity becomes a problem. There would be only one continuing member who knew the expectations and procedures of committee leadership. Essentially, the committee would have to reinvent itself; this is compounded as there are few records passed on.



Elects Endowment Fund Committee

Positive Negative
Has clarified & established separate funds Until recently congregation is the dark about the committee
Brochure on planned giving created


Adopts Annual Budget

Positive Negative
Balanced budgets have been presented and adopted in at least the past five years through the diligent work of the Finance Committee. No input from the Administrator or Bookkeeper is sought.
Some Committee Chairs have been unresponsive and have submitted no budget requests.

Calls the Settled Minister

Positive Negative


Safe Congregation

Positive Negative
Policies written and adopted


Inconsistent annual policy orientation for Board & congregation
Few people know where the forms for reporting suspected abuse are kept.


Input from Members


Dear Members of the Governance and Structure Ad Hoc Committee:

We would like to offer the following plan to re-structure our Board to:

  • have the president serve a two-year term,
  • enable the past president to become a voting member,
  • decrease the number of at large members from five to three
Year 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 2020-21 2021-22
President Drewses Turner Culler AAAAA AAAAA HHHHH HHHHH
President-Elect Turner Culler AAAAA* HHHHH* PPPPP*
Secretary Chubon Chubon Chubon EEEEE EEEEEE LLLLL LLLLL
Treasurer Brennison Whitaker BBBBB BBBBB JJJJJ JJJJJ QQQQQ
Board Member 1 VanDenBurg VanDenBurg CCCCC CCCCC KKKKK KKKKK RRRRR
Board Member 2 Saucier Soehl Soehl FFFFF FFFFF MMMMM MMMMM
Board Member 3 Culler Waterson DDDDD(1) GGGGG GGGGG NNNNN NNNNN
Board Member 4 Swigler
Board Member 5 Griggs Griggs
Past President Moody Drewses Turner Culler* AAAAA*


XXXXX (the five consecutive letters) represents a Board member, with the bold representing the first year on the Board.
Yellow highlight represents vacant position
*represents the member serving on the Leadership Development Committee

In June 2017, Board Member 3 will be elected to a one-year term, otherwise all Board members are elected to two-year terms. Beginning the following year, up to three new members will join the Board every year.

Before serving the two-year term as president, the member will serve as the president-elect for one year. During the first year as president, the member will have the support of the past president and the support of a president-elect during the second year.


We would welcome a chance to discuss more if you have any questions.


My first concern relates to the size of the Board of Trustees…or perhaps to its relationship to committees.  It seems to take a long time for decisions to be made.  If size is NOT the issue, then I would suggest that acting through email might sometimes add to efficiency.

This relates to my second concern.  The major source of communication to the congregation seems to be the Unigram.  Today’s publication includes minutes from the August meeting.  I understand the need to have minutes reviewed and approved before release.  And I assume that September minutes will be public in the Unigram that comes out before November.  This certainly limits the ability of members to weigh in on an issue of concern in a timely fashion.

Might it be possible to get tentative approval of minutes by email and have them available to members before nearly two months have passed?  I do believe that would help many persons to feel more connected.

Finally, since I seem to spend a lot of time in our kitchen, I strongly urge some sort of formal control over the activities that take place in there.  A voice of authority could help on many levels.

And thank you and all your committee for taking this on.



I think we should create a Kitchen Committee under B & G that would take care of coffee hour, and otherwise organize the kitchen. There aren’t very many people on the Caring Committee and they should be free to do what they were supposed to do: visit sick people, take people food after surgery, talk to people who are depressed etc.



Keitha, as I was reading the column about your committee on governance and structure of the UUCC in the Unigram, I thought of a fairly easy way to inform people about our current organization: a chart. I know a box-and-arrow chart is an ole-timey way to describe our structure, but I can’t count the number of times I’ve had questions about ours. The typical member does NOT understand our chain of command, much less who/where to go with their concerns. An organization chart with a side graphic listing typical concerns and where to get the answers would be very helpful. I’d like to see it posted in the social hall while your committee is doing its work; it might help spur engagement too.

Having a visible picture of our organization might help spur engagement too. While you have to ask (it’s the democratic thing to do), it’s unlikely you’ll get much constructive help from the congregation at large for improvements—because they have so little knowledge of our current organization AND because they have nothing to which they can compare it.

There are other models for organization of course. When I first read the Unigram blurb, I thought about policy governance, which I don’t think we need to consider for the UUCC right now. Otherwise, the only changes that came to mind would pertain to the number & type of committees. We go through re-consideration of those every few years, but I haven’t been on the Board for several years now, so no needs for change pop out at me right now.

I do hope your committee will keep the congregation informed about any changes you are considering—maybe through articles in the Unigram about what and why of any changes that have been suggested. I know I’d be interested in these. This is not a sexy, exciting committee, so I am even more grateful to those of you willing to serve and do the work. THANK YOU!

UUCC Governance and Structure Ad Hoc Committee

Definitions of Basic Terms & Essential Concepts

For Final Report June 2017


Mutual Accountability:  Ministry is the task of the whole church – the governing board, minister(s), staff, and membership.

…the concept of sharing the ministry of the church is a part of the congregation’s polity.

Accountable to whom (or what)

Accountability — an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions

“Accountable to” – required to explain actions or decisions to someone; required to be responsible for something.


Bylaws are the framework or formal structure for an organization and define how it will be managed.  They contain the core governance values and assumptions of the congregation. (Hotchkiss)

In addition, many UU congregations create a Policies and Procedures Manual to augment their official bylaws.


A charter is a committee’s charge or mission statement. These statements should define the committee’s purpose, primary goals, and objectives.


A Committee is a group of people who are chosen to do a particular job or to make decisions about something.  It is important, within an organization, for a committee to understand both its charter and its expected length of service.

  • Standing committee – a permanent committee so designated in the bylaws
  • Subcommittee – a part of a committee that is organized for a certain purpose;a subdivision of a committee usually organized for a specific purpose
  • Ad hoc – concerned with an end or purpose (an ad hoc investigating committee); formed or used for specific or immediate problems or needs
  • Task force – a group of people who deal with a specific problem; a temporary grouping under one leader to accomplish a definite objective
  • Team – a group of people who work together – may be long-term or short-term grouping
  • Work group – a groupof people who work together on a particular assignment


A Council is an identified group of leaders who serve as an interface between the Board, Minister, Staff, and Committees.

Examples of councils may be designated as:

  • Leadership & Ministry Council (Athens)
  • Program Council
  • Committee Council (Earlier UUCC term)
  • Church Council (Columbus, OH)
  • Coordinating Council (Ashville)
  • Church Council (Tallahassee)

Also uses:

Vice President for Finance

Vice President for Management

Vice President for RE

Vice President for Worship

Vice President for Social Justice

Vice President for Church Community

  • Councils (All Souls Kansas City MO

Membership & Development Council

Congregational Services Council

Outreach Council

Assets & Administrative Council

Relational Groups Council

Council on the institution


Governance is the system by which a congregation exercises its authority to make decisions—through its Board, Committees, Councils, Clergy, other Professionals, etc.

Examples of descriptive statements from other websites:

  • The government of this church, including the conduct and control of its corporate powers, business and property, shall be vested in a Board of Trustees…   
  • The key 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 …  The Board establishes goals, adopts policies, and delegates authority to the Senior Minister for the operations and programs of the Church …  (Albuquerque)
  • Governance: articulating the mission, providing strategic planning, and ensuring that relevant policies exist to guide committees and staff, including the Senior Minister ….  (All Souls, Kansas City Mo)

*Governance and “organizational structure” are not synonymous but the terms are often used interchangeably. Johansson quote.

Governance Models

In UU congregations across the country, a variety of names or phrases are used to identify and describe their system of governance.

Examples of governance models include:               

  • Policy Board (Board of Trustees & Standing Committees; sometimes with a Committee Council, more recently, since 2007 at UUCC, without a Committee Council)
  • Policy Governance (i.e. the Carver Model)
  • Policy-Based Governance or Mission-Based Governance (Hotchkiss Model)
  • Modified Policy Governance model (All Souls Kansas City, MO) very clear on Board/Minister & staff responsibilities)
  • Shared Governance model (Albuquerque. NM. Board of Directors)
  • Governance and Ministry Structural model (Athens, GA)
  • Functional Ministries (August model used in the early 2000’s)
  • Governance (Board) and Ministry (Minister, staff, committees, volunteers who do the practical work of the church) Columbus, OH

From its establishment to date, UUCC has functioned as a policy board with a separate letter of agreement defining the role of its professional leadership. (

Long Range Plan & Strategic Plan

A long-range plan may describe what a congregation plans or hopes to accomplish in 5 years (last developed at UUCC in 2006). A strategic plan describes how a congregation plans to accomplish specific tasks within a definitive time frame.


Although “Ministry” is defined differently in various governance models, it is generally understood to be broader than simply ministry by the professional clergy.

Example: Ministry is the practical work of the church, i.e. all operational decisions (including programming, communication, and allocation of resources) Columbus OH

A congregation must understand and articulate the distinction between professional (ordained ministry) and lay ministry.


The mission of a congregation is its reason for existing.


Operations refer to the policies and procedures for getting the work of a congregation done. 


Policies are “living documents that drive all operational plans.” (Carver quote)

Polity (congregational polity)

The system or process by which each UU congregation governs itself: chooses its own leadership, handles its own finances, and chooses its own delegates to its General Assembly.  Ultimate authority rests with the local congregation, rather than in a denominational entity.

Example of: (Charlotte statement) Therefore, whenever appropriate, the board meets with the congregation or with committee and council leaders on business and policy issues.

Polity Issues include:

Decision Making Within the Congregation

Relationship between the Board and the Congregation

Relations between the Board and the Minister

Freedom of the Pulpit

Membership, determination of

Mutual Accountability (Ministry is the task of the whole church – the governing board, minister(s), staff, and membership . . . the concept of sharing the ministry of the church is a part of the congregation’s polity.)

Personnel administration (hiring, supervision, etc.)

Money and Giving


Structure is the system of authority by which the work of a congregation is done. (as may be depicted in a flowchart)

“Organizational Structure” and “Governance” should not be confused with some sort of top-down “government”.

Proposal: Temporary Team Structure for UUCC Standing Committees – Board members provide oversight for each team; responsibilities to be determined; standing committees in red)

Board of Trustees 2017 – 2018

President-Elect President Secretary Treasurer Past President
Tim VanDenBerg Richard Culler Sandy Chubon Bob Whitaker Phil Turner
Management & Outreach Team Planning Team Membership Team


Finance Team


Administrative Team
Technology Services Cte


Exec. Committee Membership Cte Finance Cte Leadership Development Cte
Communications/Publicity ad hoc committees, task forces, Greeters Capital campaign Shared Ministry
Community Outreach policy manual development Database Endowment Fund Cte Personnel
Long-range planning Church Documents Annual Canvass Denominational Connections
Trustee Trustee Trustee Trustee Trustee
Rod Brown Emilio Perez-Jorge Mary MacLachlan Cheryl Soel Linda Brennison
Worship & Arts Team Lifespan Religious Exploration Team Congregational Life Team Social Justice Team Assets & Facilities Team
Worship Cte CYRE Cte Caring & Hospitality Cte Social Action Cte Building & Grounds Cte
Music Cte Adult Education Cte Welcoming Congregation Green Sanctuary Cte Renovations Oversight
Interfaith Connection Young Adult Sunday Hospitality Partner Church Cte Memorial Garden
Covenant Groups Sunday Forum Kitchen Policy Animal Ministry
Circle Suppers
Volunteer Recognition

The Case for Re-thinking Board Oversight of Committees; proposal for a year-long trial team structure.

A key governance issue is committee communication with the Board and with each other: coordinating, calendaring, and publicizing become increasingly challenging as a congregation grows.  For most of its history, UUCC included in its organizational plan a “Committee Council,” made up of committee chairs, headed by the president-elect.  When the number of standing committees defined in the bylaws continued to expand and no differentiation in their function (personnel, endowment, worship, CYRE, etc.) was made, leadership’s support of the council model waned.  The 2006 Long Range Plan and subsequent 2007 Bylaws revision removed this intermediary council structure.

For several years after that, the rallying cry became “strengthen the committees; less micro-managing by the Board!” That may have sounded forward-thinking but there was less accountability, more competition for committee volunteers and funding, and more issues “fell between the cracks.” As of May 2017, UUCC has fifteen standing committees and numerous “program groups;” their responsibilities are poorly defined; policies are scattered, yet the bylaws state that the Board is responsible for evaluation and oversight of all programs and operations.

The 2007 bylaws do include “Board Liaisons” to committees.  However, only in the November 2014 minutes does it show an effort to define this role. For nine Trustees to represent 15 committees has proven uneven in staying on top of things or keeping the big picture.

None of the UU congregations reviewed by the Ad Hoc Committee on UUCC Governance & Structure utilized an organization plan such as ours in which Board and Committee are in a direct line and the relationship of minister, board and staff is not clearly indicated.

Rational for the plan:

  • As many as four Board positions will be new in 2017-2018; keeping current momentum is critical.
  • A substantial number of committee chairs will also change (including Worship, Adult Education, & Social Justice!).
  • The settlement of a new minister is in flux; there may be additional demands on the Board during the transition.
  • Building renovation will require additional Board oversight.
  • Temporarily adopting a Team structure will spread out responsibility among all members of the Board and committee chairs.
  • The plan will make leadership transition (succession planning) training a priority.
  • The plan will stimulate Board interest in topics of governance and ministry, and demonstrate their relevancy.

How the plan might work:

  • A distinction will be made between Program (ministry) and Operation functions of UUCC activities and concerns.
  • The ten teams will include committees grouped by their related functions and similar needs.
  • Coordination of the teams will involve all trustees, making the Board a more pro-active body.
  • Committee chairs (or their representatives) and the Team Coordinators (trustees) will work cooperatively to determine the frequency, time, and agendas of their meetings.  A minimum of one face-to-face meetings is expected.
  • The team coordinator will encourage and support a committee’s work, but not necessarily participate directly as a volunteer.
  • The role and authority of a committee chair remains as it is currently; the team coordinator’s role is advisory and is hoped to facilitate communication with the board and other committees.
  • Committees are expected to keep records (create procedure manuals, etc.) to facilitate succession planning.
  • All Board members will gather prior to the July meeting for an orientation to the plan.
  • This trial run is a Board in-house effort; no congregational-roll-out is expected; on-going evaluation by all involved is crucial.

Is Our UU Congregation an Organized Religion?

December 2016

Thoughts by Regina Moody that can be offered as a Pulpit Editorial or Unigram Article.

You know the punch line: No, it’s anything but organized!

You might have skipped over the recent printed Sunday announcements titled “UUCC Governance and Structure Ad Hoc Committee,” in which you were invited to send in comments. You might not be surprised that many others skipped over it as well.

The topic of governance might sound like “ya-da, ya-da, ya-da” and the term governance may be confused with government!  UUCC’s government!?  I’m right sick of the government thing right now, you say, with all it implies about party platforms and who has the power and who works the system for personal agendas.  Don’t bother me with some fine discrimination between the terms government and governance!  Isn’t someone else in charge of that around here?

I will try to make this distinction clearer. I’d like to make a case for the importance and timeliness of the topic of organization.

Think of the typical newcomer to UUCC.  They are awed and energized by the promise of a spiritual community with shared principles and the possibility of individual growth. Such persons enter this church expecting it to be a church; they do not expect to have to create the church first, and then participate in it!

Such an expectation is reasonable.  One enters a school expecting it to be a school; one enters a place of employment expecting that business goals and worker responsibilities have already been established; one joins a professional sports team ready to do the job that comes with the position.

Another example.  Consider for a moment our expectations, say, for a welcome center at a national park. When one stops there, it is obvious that someone on location is responsible for stocking informational brochures, someone is responsible for setting the visitor orientation and ranger schedule, someone is keeping the signage up-to-date, someone has assured the vending machines dispense snacks and hot coffee, and someone oversees closing the building and turning off the lights at closing time! Consider for a moment our church.  Signage, special events, coffee hour, closing?  Sound familiar?

No one would ever expect the term “governance” to be used to describe how all these various operations actually get done at a welcome center! But, that is what we are talking about.  Systems have been established.  Routines have become routines.  When something goes amiss, there is a process for evaluation, accountability, and adjustment. Attention has been paid to creating a system that facilitates the successful fulfillment of “the welcome center’s mission!”  The underlying organization assures that how things operate is carefully considered and so becomes intentional.

In our congregation, the term governance is defined as the system by which we exercise our authority to make decisions—through our Board, our committees, our staff and our professional minister. And all authority to make decisions and to govern ourselves is ours alone—the UUCC’s—Boston does not tell us how to do it!  (This is the meaning of congregational polity; another eye-glazing-over phrase!))

Well, you say, I thought the Board and the committees were the government around here.  NO! No one said government, they said governance! The Board and committees do not govern!  They are part of the structure through which the mission of the congregation becomes operational. The voting members of the congregation decide on what UUCC is all about: it is that MISSION that drives this place! One could say the mission governs!

So, yes, we do have to create the wheel! (We write our bylaws, we constitute our board and assign its powers, we establish our committees, and make our policies and procedures.) And, you bet, that is a big order for busy people; we are volunteers, for goodness sakes!  And on top of that we define expectations of our paid staff, and we negotiate a ministerial agreement that contains mutually agreed upon management responsibilities.

In the past couple of years, an increasing number of our UUCC church leaders have become more interested in examining our basic structure as an organization and how we think about decision-making and accountability around here. We see an opportunity during our interim period to step back and consider those areas in which we operate well and where we could improve mightily.  The study, reading, and conversations over these next months cannot but help open our minds to other ways of doing things and prepare us to work collaboratively with our new settled minister.

The committee you’ve heard mentioned has some specific tasks.  It is looking at what other thriving UU congregations do.  It is looking at how to keep everything going while considering what would make things go better.  It is educating the leadership and those standing in the wings poised for leadership. And, yes, it is thinking about what UUCC does well and what things keep falling through the cracks.

As UUCC continues to articulate to the wider community its vision of a comfortable and comforting gathering place, a place welcoming and accessible to all, a place for education, sanctuary, and spiritual renewal, we are determined not to neglect the practical considerations that translate our ideals into tangible form. We will pay attention to governance and structure!