A More Inclusive Membership Bylaw vote June 11th

May 30, 2023 | Beacon, Exclusively For Members, Governance

A more inclusive Membership bylaw has been approved by the Board! The proposal will be voted on at our June 11 congregational meeting of members immediately after Sunday service, about noon. You should have gotten a Notice of Meeting by email or postal mail. Contact Nicole if you haven’t at [email protected].

The membership section of the Bylaws describes qualifications to be a member, responsibilities of membership, privileges of membership, and resignation and removal of membership.

May’s Beacon had an article about the most significant changes:

  • Separating donations from membership but still making asks for donations.
  • Removing the non-discrimination section of the bylaws and adding to the membership section a broader statement of member responsibilities than non-discrimination.

The remaining changes being proposed also make membership more inclusive of others by:

  • Reducing the minimum age for membership to 14 from 16 years old. People aged 14 – 24 are capable of having more responsibilities in our modern society and in the UU world. Many religious and societal benchmarks are at 14 years old. For example, Jewish transition to adulthood, coming of age as a UU rite of passage, HIPPAA requirements (13yo for medical care), and other UU churches have age 14. People as young as 14 years old can be capable of being active members with voting rights.
  • Reducing the minimum age of a Trustee of the Board to 16 year old from 18. An officer of the Board would need to be 18. 18 or older for Officers is due to legal ability to sign contracts. Adding a Board member younger than 18 will require developing policies about Youth on ESUC Board.
  • A section about access to records of the church is proposed to move to policy. See proposed policy 2.23.
  • Appealing the loss of membership is proposed to move to policy. See proposed policy 2.22.
  • Some details on Disruptive Members already in policy are proposed to be deleted, making the process proposed to end with the Board’s final decision.
  • The member category of ‘Life Members’ is proposed to change to ‘Legacy Members’ to reflect the revised purpose of the section and words changed to address ableism in the original language. There are two voting categories in Bylaws: members and legacy. Bylaws only need to be clear on who has voting rights. Options for non-voting categories of membership can be described in policy. See proposed policy 2.22.

There are brand new policies drafted for Board approval and congregational comment after the revised Membership bylaws are approved. You can see the drafted policies at this link here below the Bylaw table. On June 11, members will be voting on the Membership bylaws as a package. The policies will be considered after the new bylaws are approved. There will be opportunity for congregational input into the policies.

The best time to discuss, ask questions, and get answers is at the Bylaw (and policy) forums being offered on June 4 at 1pm and June 6 at 7pm. Zoom ID: 835 4738 9519, Passcode: Bylaw. Come to the forums or contact [email protected] before the June 11 congregational vote. The congregational meeting follows a more formal format for expressing your opinion; it is less conducive to discussion than the forums.