Membership: Writing Congregational Bylaws

Defining membership, along with the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of membership, is complex. Among the many considerations that congregations should take into account are who can become members, how they become members, what they can do as members, how they maintain their membership status, if and how their membership can be removed (with or without their consent), what rights and restrictions they have as members, what responsibilities and obligations they have as members, and whether or not more than one type of membership is provided. There are valid reasons for articulated specificity, and also for leaving the bylaws as general as desired. The 2001 report of the Unitarian Universalist Association's (UUA's) Commission on Appraisal entitled Belonging: The Meaning of Membership (PDF, 31 pages) discusses many of the questions involved and is a good resource for people wishing further insight into the pros and cons for these discussions. The following sections explore topics related to membership that should be addressed in drafting bylaws.

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