East Shore Bylaws Roll Out: Town Halls Scheduled

Sep 30, 2021 | Beacon, Members News

The Bylaws Review Task Force has begun its work and has scheduled two Town Halls to answer questions and gather input regarding proposed revisions to Bylaw Article VI. This Bylaw describes the basics of how East Shore is organized. The proposed changes are expected to be helpful to a new Minister. The Town Halls will be held:

  • Sunday, October 17 immediately following the church service
  • Thursday, October 21, 7:00-8:30 p.m.

The changes were voted and approved by the Board of Trustees at their September 28 meeting and to be approved by the Congregation at the October 24 Congregational Business Meeting. The Bylaws Task Force was established by the Policy & Governance Committee of the Board of Trustees to review all of East Shore’s Bylaws. The Task Force is hopeful that this work will be completed in time for the June Congregational Annual Meeting.

Article VI #5 and #6 of the Bylaws ensure that timely and expensive emergency repairs, like if a tree falls through the roof, can be made without having to call a special meeting of the congregation. The change to Article VI Section A is meant to clarify the congregation’s authority. The proposed changes, if approved by the Congregation, can be found here

Why is a review of our Bylaws necessary?

Bylaws should be reviewed about every 5 years to ensure they are compliant with Washington State law, represent the best practices for small not-for-profit organizations, and conform to UUA guidelines.

Are East Shore’s Bylaws in compliance with Washington State Law?

No they are not! But they will be when this project is finished! Washington law changes over time and we have not kept up. For example, the state asks for Bylaws (which we don’t have yet) on document retention, if our Board is paid or not, limits to Board political activity, and Board member conflicts of interest. Our Bylaws must reflect state requirements and compliance is necessary.

Is there more?

Yes there is! We need to look at several areas yet to be reviewed. Among others on our radar is the Bylaw addressing East Shore’s qualifications for membership (Article V). Qualification details might be better placed in policies where they can be more easily changed to match the environment in which East Shore is operating over time. In other instances, the way we do business in meetings (e.g., how we vote and how meetings are announced) could be moved to policies. These two examples would require new or revised policies as well as Bylaw changes.

The UUA and Bylaw experts recommend that policies – not Bylaws – define detailed day to day organizational decisions because policies can be changed more easily than Bylaws. East Shore Bylaws require a congregational meeting to be changed. Policies are proposed, changed, and adopted outside the congregational meeting (See Policy #7 LINK). The experts recommend that Bylaws be lean, streamlined, inclusive, and stand the test of time.

How many Bylaws will be changed?

We don’t know! We do know that not all of them need changing. A comprehensive review will ensure that any individual changes don’t cause contradictions or gaps in the Bylaws or gaps in policies. The Bylaw Task Force will be proposing changes to some Bylaws and, possibly, additional policies and policy revisions.

Can I participate in this work?

Your participation is crucial! The Bylaws Task Force wants your suggestions, comments, and questions. These will help guide us in this work. There will be additional Town Halls, e-blasts, and Beacon articles through the year to let you know what’s up. The Task Force counts on your review of this work. Members are connected to East Shore through its Bylaws and are empowered to approve or reject changes and updates.

Learn more and come to one of the Town Halls in October! Watch for the zoom link and access to the Task Force’s timeline in upcoming e-blast announcements. Or, contact a Task Force member:  Grace Colton, Marcy Langrock, Ryam Hill, Mary Anderson, Rebecca Chatfield.

by Mary Anderson