Members Vote on Membership Coming!

Apr 28, 2023 | Beacon, Members News

A more inclusive Membership bylaw has been approved by the Board! The proposal will be voted on in June by our members, at our congregational meeting.

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

Two of the most significant changes, if approved, would be:

1. Separating donations from membership. That means no longer requiring a donation in order to become a member or maintain your membership. Requests and asks for donations would still happen. Separating donations from membership is recommended in order to be more welcoming. We avoid elitism based on affordability and eliminate a perceived barrier to engaging with East Shore.

Do any privileges of membership require a member to have money?

No. Privileges of membership are: to vote at congregational meetings, to serve as a trustee, to have access to records of the church, and attend church meetings except when any group is in executive session or their charter prohibits it.

Will the church lose money by making this change?

Most donors are on automatic donation plans, rather than one time only donors, which provides a steady income to East Shore. There will still be a need to donate funds for the budget of the church. Events such as the Auction and the Mission Fund Drive will still need to happen. The call to donate will still need to be put out and people will still need to be motivated to donate to keep their community going. Those don’t end by not requiring a donation in order to join. We want to be a place where people want to donate, not have to donate.

Donating even a small amount of money shows commitment to East Shore

What kind of relationship with East Shore do we want to encourage in members? A financial one is predominant if we require a donation. It is preferable to ask for engagement with East Shore in ways that demonstrate our Mission, as the Pathway to Membership does. Prospective members are being asked to participate and engage with East Shore, thereby encouraging them to make connections to our community. Let’s be a church who people want to donate to, not have to donate to.

Will current members feel it is unfair that new folks won’t have to donate, when they had to in order to become a member?. Members who have been a member for a long time probably didn’t have to participate in congregational life as much as new members are being asked to before they become a member. Previous membership orientations were one class and/or signing the book depending on if you were new to UUism, or they had lesser requirements. We still want and need donations, of course, and members will still be appreciated for their donation. Big donors can still be appropriately asked and thanked.

2. To remove the Non-discrimination section because it is not needed in bylaws per WA law. However, the Unitarian Universalist Association still recommends including a non-discrimination clause in the Membership section so fundamental understand of member responsibility is set. Today’s UUA and wider world are striving to end many -ism’s and oppressions. The proposed new Membership bylaw is a broader statement of member responsibilities than non-discrimination.

See the original wording of the Membership bylaws and the changes proposed here. Two zoom discussion forums are scheduled:

  • June 4, 1:00 pm via Zoom: 835 4738 9519, Passcode: Bylaw
  • June 6, 7:00 pm via Zoom: 868 4124 1445, Passcode: Bylaw

If you have immediate questions or concerns, contact [email protected].

June’s Beacon will tell you about the remaining changes that make membership more inclusive of others and of new proposed policies to go with the new Membership bylaws. For a sneak peak of both, go to

by Grace Colton, Policy and Governance