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The time has finally arrived!  Are you ready?

Maybe you are asking "For What?" 

To adopt the new Constitution and Bylaws!  Aren't you excited?  

OK, I know it doesn't seem like something to get excited about but let me tell you why I am excited for you!

Ina 2019 article at the UUA website, Dan Hotchkiss, author of Governance and Ministry: Rethinking Board Leadership, talks about the hoped-for outcomes of a good restructuring process in a congregation. He says,

what a governance change process tries to do is to define clear spaces for discernment, for strategic planning and goal setting, for energetic, innovative programming and service, and for celebrating what is going well and shoring up what needs improvement.

What the hoped-for outcomes include are:

  • A Board/Council that articulates mission and vision, evaluates results, and ensures responsible stewardship of resources.

  • Ministry leaders, paid and unpaid, who create effective programs with the support of a structure that delegates authority and requires accountability.

  • Members and others who enjoy many opportunities to learn and grow and serve in an atmosphere of trust and creativity where structure, goals, and purposes are clear.

For nearly two years the Governance Team and I have been working on a model that supports these goals as well as the particular concerns raised by situations and circumstances that have impacted you as a unique community here in Salem.

It has been a long, slow process, with space made for grief, curiosity, reflection and innovation. And all along the way, we have worked toward a structure that values relationships and flexibility, allowing for collaborative decision-making processes whether FCCUCC remains the same size, grows, or shrinks.

What drives my excited for you?

I have been a student of Hotchkiss, and other thinkers on leadership, for over 20 years. From Ron Heifetz and Marty Linsky to Peter Senge and Edwin Friedman, I have been learning about the changes we face as a society and as congregations, listening to the wisdom of Adaptive Leadership and Learning Organization practices. After all of this time, I am even more convinced that these ideas are critical for congregations if we are going to survive and thrive in the 21st century.

When we began our restructuring process two years ago, I heard loud and clear that you, as a community, wanted a structure that honored both freedom and accountability, collaboration and clarity. At each turn, the Governance Team brought ideas to you and asked for your input, making sure that these desires were still valued. I am thrilled with the final version of the Bylaws because, to me, they create the mechanisms within which these values can be lived out.

I bet you are wonder HOW will this is going to happen. Let me offer a few thoughts.

  1. Freedom - The Four Ministry Circles are where the action is! In these circles, projects, priorities, possibilities reside, and the only limitations are human capacity. Teams can form, reform, disappear, but the basics of the Ministry Circles stay intact. Smaller projects can happen with less advanced planning. Lots of room to say YES!

  2. Accountability - Teams are responsible to plan and coordinate ministries and programs within their Circles. If the ideas involve the priorities of another Circle, those ideas will come to the Council for discernment. These larger ideas will require more advanced planning. Enough structure for the YES to be blessed!

  3. Collaboration - Ministry Circles are a collection of Teams and Committees that have significant overlap in impact and priorities. Ministry Circle meetings will be spaces where Freedom and Accountability meet over Collaboration. Built-in spaces to think and dream together!

  4. Clarity - Each Ministry Circle will create a Communications Covenant as well as a Mission Statement. Policies will be created by the Teams to support their work, and each Circle will be responsible to the overall Mission and Vision of FCCUCC. Lots of support to build trust and respect between people!

There are still four elected Officers as well as the eight elected Ministry Circle Leaders who enact the work of the church between Congregational Meetings. The Council will meet quarterly to do the big picture work. Ministry Circles will be six times a year to plan and coordinate activities and events that are the heart of our mission. Teams and Committees will meet as needed based on the work required of them.

In addition. a new body has been created to replace the Pastoral Relations Committee. The Covenant Relations Ministry (3 elected members) will be the resource and support team for everyone, not just the pastor. Being charged with helping foster healthy communication and relationships, the CRM will have various trauma informed restorative practices available when needed to resolve conflicts and concerns. Anyone, at any leadership level (or no leadership level), can use the CRM to help build a healthy system for all!

I know for some people this feels daunting, complicated, perhaps even unnecessary. However, as your interim, I can say that the more clarity you create about who you are, how you want to be with one another, and the collective sense of mission you share, the stronger your next relationship with a Pastor will be. And as a Pastor, I can say that for most Pastor's, it is much better to join a community that really knows who they are and where they are going. We lead better when you are clear.

Your new Bylaws are the structure upon which a strong, vibrant future can be built. That's why I am excited for you! I love you and I can't wait to see how the Spirit leads you through this adaptive, learning, relational governance structure!

To the Future - Pastor Robin

12-4-23 Bylaws Final
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