A Guide to Creating a Board Policy Book

A binder marked board policies with a UUA chalice

To help your congregation be nimble and effective, consider putting only the essentials in your congregation's bylaws, and put the rest into board policies. No matter the size of your congregation, policies can help to build institutional memory and structure, but can have the flexibility to be changed when needed.

Although board policies are superseded by the congregation's bylaws, policies are still governing documents that should be used by all leaders, staff and members of the congregation to be in alignment with the mission and vision of the congregation.

Policies define the scope and range of authority so as to guide day-to-day operational decisions by committees, teams and individuals to the benefit of the whole congregation.

  • Policies save time. A policy can keep a group from revisiting or rehashing previous decisions.
  • Policies provide clarity: Many aspects of congregational life overlap. Policies can help reduce unnecessary friction over who gets to decide what.
  • Policies encourage desired outcomes. Setting clear expectations around safety, record-keeping, financial management or even social hour or greeting can help improve the congregation's effectiveness.

There is no one exhaustive list of policies. However, there are some general categories of policies. Links to details of some of these policies can guide you as you determine and write your own.

Policy Development and Maintenance

Policies should be developed collaboratively between the governing board and the people who will implement and/or be guided by the policies before being approved by a vote of the board.

Copies of current policies should be readily available to all church members along with the bylaws. Consider keeping a notebook in the church offices and/or where the board meets, as well as in a members-only area of the church website.

It is good practice to notify the congregational membership about new and revised policies for transparency and a reminder to be familiar with them.

Governance Policies

Governance policies augment the bylaws by giving more detail and guidance. Policies defining roles and responsibilities the Executive Committee and board members (as a group and as individual roles) can be modified as needed.

  • Leadership Covenant Policy
  • Congregational / Right Relations Covenant Policy
  • Typical Board Role Responsibilities Policy
  • Board Officer Policy
  • President Policy
  • Vice President Policy
  • Secretary Policy
  • Treasurer Policy
  • Congregational Meeting Conduct Policy
  • Board Meeting Conduct Policy
  • Finance Committee Charter Policy
  • Leadership Development Committee Charter Policy
  • Membership Committee Charter Policy
  • Personnel Committee Charter Policy

Staff Policies

  • Personnel Policy
  • Non-Discrimination Policy

Ministry Guidance and Limitation Policies

  • Membership Policy
  • Ministry Team Policy
  • Minister Emeritus Policy

Safety Policies

  • Animals Policy
  • Safety Policy
  • Personal Information Policy
  • Destructive Behavior Policy

Fiduciary Policies

  • Real Estate Policy
  • Indemnification Policy
  • Finance Policy
  • Confidential Documents Policy
  • Gifts Policy
  • Endowment Policy

Governance Policies

Board members during a chalice lighting

Governance policies augment the bylaws by offering a higher level of detail about the congregation's governance but with the flexibility of being modified as needed. (Bylaws may refer to the existence of these policies but without the detail.)

Policies in this section may include:

  • Roles and responsibilities the officers and trustees board members (as a group and as individual roles)
  • Covenants for the congregation and for the leadership/board
  • Conduct at congregational meetings and board meetings
  • Charters for Committees of the board

Board Officer Policy

Wood gavel

The responsibilities are held in common by all officers and directors can be included in a general policy for board officers.

Sample Policies

Board members will attend all meetings. An absence may be excused by a vote of the board at the meeting where the absence occurs.

Board members will receive written reports a minimum of 48 hours before the meeting and will read the reports before the meeting.

Discussions will include all board members sharing and listening deeply. Decisions will be made only after everyone feels that they have been heard. Decisions made by the board will be supported by individual board members.

All officers shall represent the Church on appropriate occasions and perform all duties incident to the office and such other duties as may be requested by the Membership Committee, Stewardship Team, or Minister.

Ex officio members of the Board, including Church staff, make reports to the Board of Trustees. No ex officio member may propose motions or vote on proposed motions.

The board will create a covenant at its first meeting after any new member(s) join the board.

Executive Committee Policy

Huskies pulling a dog sled in the snow

Congregations often have unexpected issues that arise between board meetings that need immediate attention.

If your congregation has built a system of trust and transparency, you might consider empowering an "executive committee" to respond to situations that may arise between scheduled meetings of the full board of trustees.

Typical Executive Committees include the President/Moderator, Vice President/Vice Moderator, Secretary, the elected offer(s) with ultimate financial fiduciary responsibility (e.g Treasurer and/or Finance Committee chairs) and the senior minister as an ex-officio member (voting or non-voting according to your bylaws).

An Executive Committee typically conducts the current and ordinary business of the congregation between meetings of the Board of Trustees.

Sample Policy

  • If between meetings of the Board of Trustees, matters arise which, in the opinion of the Executive Committee,
    are not current and ordinary business but in the best interests of the congregation must nevertheless be acted upon,
    or the Executive Committee has been authorized by the Board to be acted upon, then the Executive Committee may act thereon for the Board of Trustees, but only if four or more members vote the action.

Personnel Committee Charter Policy

Human resources Sign

Personnel Committees operate like Human Resources departments in that they don't hire, manage or supervise staff. Instead they advise the board and the senior minister on best practices.

Potential Personnel Committee Responsibilities

  • Assist the board in developing and updating personnel policies, including policies and procedures for staff grievances
  • Ensures that the congregation is in compliance with applicable laws as an employer
  • Ensures that the congregation is in compliance with applicable rules for insurance and retirement plans
  • Researches and makes recommendations for fair staff compensation (salary & benefits)
  • Researches and makes recommendations for fair hiring practices
  • The minister, staff and/or board would reserve the authority for hiring and firing.
  • The board would reserve the authority to form an ad-hoc task force to investigate any staff grievances. The personnel committee should not hold that authority

Sample Personnel Committee Charter Policy

The Board of Trustees of _____ charters the formation of a Personnel Committee. The Personnel Committee will hold the responsibility and authority to monitor and advise the Board of Trustees on personnel matters, including staff compensation within UUA fair compensation guidelines; compliance with all federal, state and local labor laws; and any rules for participating in Insurance and/or Retirement programs. The Personnel Committee will make decisions that are resonant with Unitarian Universalist values and the church's stated vision and mission. The Personnel Committee will be accountable to the Board of Trustees.

The Personnel Committee will consist of _____ voting members, including the _______ and (give details of members). All voting members must be members in good standing of _____.

Fiduciary Policies

hand taking a $20 bill out of a wooden box

The board, as "trustees," have specific responsibilities to the congregation that should be articulated in fiduciary policies. Along with the governance policies that guide the board's work and the congregation when "in meeting," the board also needs to set policies around safety, finance, capital assets (such as the building), and personnel.

Copyright Policy

Copyright Symbol

Congregations need to follow copyright laws and ensure their leaders and staff are aware of these laws. 
The issues surrounding copyright and worship are complex and often confusing. You will also want to review the resource Copyright Primer for Congregations.

Sample Policy

Any use of copyrighted works in connection with congregational activities must be conducted in accordance with applicable law. Works that may be subject to copyright include, for example, music, recorded performances, written works, videos and movies.

If copyrighted material is to be used during any congregation-sponsored event or activity or in any publication or communication, it is the responsibility of the event organizer(s) to secure any necessary rights to use the material and to provide appropriate documentation of these rights to the Congregational Administrator.

Copyrighted readings and live or recorded music may be used in our Sanctuary for religious services without such permission. Copyrighted video may not be used without permission.

Copyrighted material may not be included in any video or audio recording of the service, nor may we distribute copies of copyrighted sheet music, readings, etc. without permission from the copyright holder.

Permission to show movies or other video must be obtained by the committee or group sponsoring the showing, and documentation must be provided to _________. No movie titles will be listed on the official church calendar, website, Facebook page, or other communications until the necessary rights have been obtained.

Senior Minister as Head of Staff

woman creating organization charts on a white board

While there is seemingly no shortage of models for organizing congregations and the staff who serve them, experience tells us that some models function more smoothly than others. In a multi-staff setting, the most common organizing model is to designate the senior minister as the chief of staff (or general manager, if you will).

The rationale for understanding the senior minister as chief of staff is grounded in that minister’s breadth of oversight and privilege of call. Gary McIntosh, a leading authority on church staffing, notes that “the one thing that sets the senior pastoral role apart from the rest of the staff is the breadth of oversight.” As just one illustration, McIntosh points out that a youth director has a relatively limited breadth of oversight, in relation to the overall program of the church, while a religious education director has much broader programmatic oversight. Yet both positions have a narrower breadth of oversight than that of the senior minister, who is “responsible for the entire church, not just a single area of specialization.”

This has clear implications for supervisory authority and relationships, since the senior minister carries the broadest responsibility among staff members for the overall operation of the church, its ministries and programs. “No matter what size staff a church has,” McIntosh correctly observes, “the people tend to see the senior pastor as the person where the buck stops.”1

In my work with Unitarian Universalist congregations of every size, I have not yet encountered a single one where, when push came to shove, the senior minister (or solo minister, as the case may be) was not held responsible for the overall performance of the church staff. If the minister is going to be held responsible for staff performance anyway, then it is only fitting that the congregation authorize the minister to supervise the other members of the staff.

In any organization, sacred or secular, it is essential that lines of authority and accountability be both clear and congruent. In seeking to characterize the managerial role of ministers in secular terms, McIntosh sees a shift in roles as churches grow in size. He describes the minister in a church with fewer than 250 members as a “supervisor,” while the minister in a church of 250-350 functions more as a “middle manager.” Once a church crosses the 350- member threshold, the minister’s managerial role increasingly resembles that of the “senior manager” in secular organizations.2

Based on my own observations of congregations across denominations, if a minister is incapable of (or prevented from) exercising the managerial role appropriate for a congregation’s particular size and organizational complexity, then the staff team will generally lack focus and direction, decision-making often becomes politicized, the accountability of staff to the membership deteriorates, and lay leaders become distracted by staff issues, instead of addressing the broader concerns of vision and policy. One of the most insightful assumptions of policy-based governance is that boards are not structured to effectively oversee multiple staff members without being drawn into micromanagement and distracted by minutia.

Although the Unitarian Universalist ministry is, in practice, one of least hierarchical expressions of institutional ministry of any denomination, ministerial fellowship and ordination nevertheless carry with them certain privileges and authority, which are commensurate with the high levels of trust and responsibility inherent to the vocation of ministry. As much as it values the role, importance and enormous contributions of its laity, our liberal religious tradition still sets apart its ministers to play a special and esteemed role in the life of its congregations. If Unitarians and Universalists, from the earliest days to the present time, had not intended ordination to convey particular authority and responsibility in the institutional life of our congregations, we would have done away with the practice long ago. The granting of ministerial fellowship, ordination, and the call to serve a congregation are not empty practices—they mean something! The privileges and authority granted to ordained ministers are grounded in the superior training, rigorous screening and demanding vocational standards to which ministers are expected to submit, coupled with the historical expectations and roles associated with the vocation of ministry.

When a Unitarian Universalist congregation extends a call to an ordained minister, it is establishing a unique office in the congregation, unlike any other position for which it might retain staff. Ministers are charged with broad responsibility to oversee the spiritual and temporal welfare of the congregation—a breadth of responsibility shared by no other staff member. Needless to say, when a program professional, religious educator or administrator is also an ordained minister in fellowship, who has been called to their position rather than hired, then the privilege of call naturally comes into play. Under these circumstances, it might be reasonably argued that such a partner minister report directly to the board on a par with the senior minister or parish minister. Even then, however, the overwhelming majority of larger congregations with more than one minister still have such partner ministers (MREs, associates and assistants) supervised by the senior minister!

The unique authority our tradition extends to ordained ministers should not be seen as somehow diminishing the value or importance of specialized programmatic or administrative positions. The various staff positions in a church—religious education directors, administrators, music directors, volunteer coordinators, pastoral care workers, facility caretakers and so forth—are, each and every one, important to the effective and faithful functioning of the church. But none of them entails the breadth of oversight demanded of a senior minister and none of them can be viewed as having parity with the ordained clergy as long as we continue to profess the particular polity we do.

It goes without saying that the ideal staff is one that is generally able to function as a team, where goals are shared, communications are clear, and working relationships are collaborative. But teamwork and collaboration do not preclude leadership; indeed, they require it. All good teams have leaders and in churches the staff team’s leader is the minister.

References

1 Gary McIntosh, Staff Your Church for Growth (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2000), 71-73.

2 McIntosh, 79.

Indemnification Policy

White man with hands in front of face to form a triangle, one eye looking through

Some congregations may wish to create a policy that indemnifies (i.e. defends or holds harmless) members, leaders and staff of the congregation when they are acting in good faith in their roles.

Sample Policies

  • The Church shall indemnify any person who is or was an employee, agent, representative, member of the Board of Trustees, or Steering Committee volunteer of the Church against any liability asserted against such person and incurred in the course and scope of his or her duties or functions within the Church to the maximum extent allowable by law, provided the person acted in good faith and did not engage in an act or omission that is intentional, willfully or wantonly negligent, or done with conscious indifference or reckless disregard for the safety of others. The provisions of this article shall not be deemed exclusive of any other rights to which such person may be entitled under any bylaw, agreement, insurance policy, vote of members or otherwise.
  • Example 2: A duly elected or appointed officer, trustee, employee, or agent of the Church shall not be personally liable to the Church or to its Members for monetary damages for breach of fiduciary duty, except for liability resulting from: (1) any breach of duty or loyalty to the Church or its members, or (2) acts or omissions not in good faith or which involve intentional misconduct or a knowing violation of the law. The Church shall indemnify any person and his/her estate and personal representative against all liability and expense incurred by reason of the person being or having been duly elected or appointed as an officer, trustee, employee or agent of the Church.

Real Estate Policy

Toy house on a calculator

Because of the high value of real estate, the board will want to articulate a process where there is a high bar for selling, buying or mortgaging real estate.

Sample Policies

  • At any meeting of the Board or any congregational meeting where the sale, encumbrance, or acquisition by the Church of real property or improvements thereon is to be discussed, notice of the same shall be published in the official Church newsletter at least thirty (30) days prior to said meeting, and read from the pulpit at least two (2) consecutive Sundays immediately preceding the meeting. Any action requiring the sale, encumbrance, or acquisition by the Church of real property shall require a two-thirds (2/3) vote of those voting members present and voting at a congregational meeting with such action in its call.
  • The main meeting place of the church shall not be purchased, sold, conveyed, encumbered, or made subjected to any lien; and no church building shall be erected by this corporation unless such purchase, sale, conveyance, encumbrance, or building shall be first authorized by a vote of two-thirds (2/3) of the Board of Trustees, and three-fourths (3/4) of the voting members in attendance at a meeting of the corporation; each body acting separately, at an annual meeting of either, or at a special meeting of either duly called for that purpose, which purpose shall be plainly stated in the call. Any other real estate purchased, sold, conveyed, encumbered, or made subjected to any lien must be authorized by a majority vote of the Board of Trustees.

Website Policies

In most cases, a communications vehicle that represents a congregation should be owned and operated by the congregation as a whole, and be used to further the mission and values of the congregation. Along those lines, here are some specific areas that might be helpful for congregations to consider regarding their websites:

  • Financial ownership. The best way to ensure that the congregation is the owner of the website is to have the congregation as an entity directly paying for the hosting plan, domain registration, and any other one-time or ongoing costs associated with the website. This is far preferable to having the costs come out of an individual’s personal funds.
  • Administrative access. It’s a good idea to make sure that at least one staff person has full administrative access to the congregational website, and at least three people in the congregation (including the staff person) have full administrative access. Full administrative access includes having the username and password that gives the greatest possible control over the hosting plan, the domain registration, the content management system, and any other utilities that are critical to the existence and maintenance of the website.
  • Content management access. At least one staff person, and at least three people total, should not only have access to the site, but also be willing and able update the content on the website in a timely manner. To facilitate this process, it may be necessary to provide some training and documentation to help people learn to update the website.
  • Accountability and support for people updating the congregation’s website. A communications committee, the governing board, or other bodies within the congregation can regularly evaluate whether the website is furthering the mission of the congregation, and whether or not the people updating the website are adequately supported.
  • Respect for copyright. Congregations should consider using copyright notices, Creative Commons licenses, or other notices that explain how content found on the website may be used. And congregations should respect copyright by only posting text, photos, videos, etc. that they have permission to reproduce.
  • Internal and external clarity about which communications vehicles represent the congregation as a whole (in which case they should be held to the above standards) and which communications vehicles are the property of an individual. Internal and external clarity about how the congregation’s name may be used. A good rule of thumb is that if the congregation’s name is used in the title of a website, then the congregation as an entity should have control over that website, and the congregation should be represented positively and accurately by that website.

Photo and Video Permissions Policy

Camera on Tripod filming a person

Even with the wide sharing of photos and video on social social media, congregations still need policies that enable them to follow copyright law, protect the vulnerable and follow the core value of consent.

Consent

It's important to make a good faith effort to notify members, friends and visitors when photos and videos will be taken and shared by the congregation:

  • Mention it in invitations or promotional materials for the event at which the photography or videotaping will take place.
  • Post signs at the entrances
  • Make a brief announcement before the ceremony begins (at the same time that you would say “please turn off your cell phones”).
  • Demarcate a seating area that will not be visible on camera, for those who want to attend the event but do not want to be seen in the video.
  • Find other creative ways for people to opt out.
  • For events at which people may normally have an expectation of privacy, or events with which at-risk people may be publicly identified, take the extra step of obtaining written permission from each person in advance of that person being videotaped or photographed.
  • If your congregation receives a request from someone featured in a photograph or video segment to have that photograph or video segment removed from a congregational website, Facebook page, bulletin board, etc., honor that request.

Permission

When asking permission, ask for blanket permission to publish and distribute photographs and video. Communication technologies are constantly evolving. Even if right now, your congregation only has a website, in a few months, you might have a blog too, and want to share photographs there!

Once a photograph is published, especially online, you can’t completely control where it will be shared. People can very easily take a photograph that they see on a congregation’s website and post it to their Facebook profile, even if doing so violates the copyright. You cannot ensure that a photograph posted on your congregation’s website will remain only there.

The suggested form for congregations requests broad permissions.

Children

If children are going to be photographed or videotaped, written permission must be obtained from a parent or legal guardian of each child. When the photographs or videotapes are published, consider leaving out the names of the children. Some congregations only film children from the back, so that their faces are not visible.

Sample Policy

  • The congregation has an “opt-out” photo and video policy. Therefore, photos and videos may be taken and published of any individual unless a written statement requests otherwise. Publishing of photos and videos includes, but is not limited to, posting on our website and social media, inclusion in emails, and inclusion in print media: Published photos and videos will adhere to the following guidelines:
    • The congregation will not knowingly publish any image of an identifiable person that is defamatory, an invasion of privacy, falsely depicts a person in a negative light, or violates any other congregational policy in effect at the time of publication.
    • The congregation will obtain written permission from any identifiable individuals (or their legal representatives) depicted in images used in fundraising materials
    • The congregation will not identify minors by name, parent’s names, or other personal information without express written permission from a parent or legal guardian.
    • Adults may be identified in photos and videos. Past photos and videos showing children that have since aged into legal adults may also be identified.
    • The congregation will honor reasonable requests to remove or obsure identifiable individuals depicted in photos or videos posted on the premises, website, or social media accounts controlled by the congregation.

Sample Photo and Video Permission Form

An unrolled roll of exposed film

CONGREGATION’S NAME Media Release Form

We often take photographs and videos of adults, youth, and children as they participate in congregational events such as worship, religious education programming, social events, and justice events. We use these images to promote our congregation and our faith in print, on the Web, and on social media.

By signing this form, you authorize the use of your image in these photographs and video recordings, as described below. (Note that providing us an image or recording constitutes your agreement to the Congregation General Usage section without your needing to also sign this form.)

No names nor other identifying personal information about individual children or minor youth will be published without your explicitly stated permission to do so in each individual case.

Names of minors (children or youth under 18) covered by this agreement: _____________________

Please check all that apply:

Unitarian Universalist Usage

___ I hereby authorize Congregation Name to grant permission to other UU groups, such as the Unitarian Universalist Association, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, and UUA member congregations, to make use of the congregation’s media that includes me and any minors listed here.

Congregational General Usage

___ In consideration of the benefits I receive from my association with Congregation Name, I hereby authorize Congregation Name to make use of my likeness and voice (and that of any minors listed here) in photographs, videos, or audio recordings on their website, in their social media, in their online photo albums and video channels, and in print. This grant is final and on-going, without any additional restrictions or limitations.

Congregational General Usage with Restrictions

___ I grant Congregation Name permission to do the above, with these additional terms and conditions:

Congregational Internal Usage Only

___ I do not authorize Congregation Name to make use of my likeness (and that of any minors listed here) in photographs, videos, or audio recordings that are shared beyond the walls of the congregation.

Name (printed): ______________________________________________

Signature___________________________________ Date____________

(must be signed by a parent/guardian of a participant under 18 years)

Social Media Policy

keyboard with social media logos on the keys

Consider the Big Picture

Before creating a social media presence on one or more sites, discuss questions like:

  • What is the mission of our congregation and how will that mission be furthered by use of new media tools?
  • What kinds of conversations do we want to have online and what kinds of information do we want to share?
  • What are the larger goals of our social media use?

Welcome Visitors

  • Any public site will be seen by people who are new to your congregation, as well as by congregants.
  • Put the congregation’s best foot forward; avoid unnecessary airing of “dirty laundry.”
  • Your Facebook page, Twitter feed, or other new media site might be the first point-of-contact that a newcomer has with your congregation; help them take the next step to get more engaged.
  • Link to your main congregation’s website and if there’s a place to do so, post basic information like your congregation’s location, contact information, and service times.

Update at Least Weekly

  • Keep your social media presence up-to-date by posting content on a regular basis (whether that’s once a day, once a week, or somewhere in between). Hopefully, people will look forward to reading your blog, listening to your podcast, or otherwise engaging with your congregation online! But if your content dries up without explanation, newcomers may be confused and regular listeners or readers may be disappointed.

Engage the Congregation

  • Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, blogs, etc. that represent the congregation should be authorized by an appropriate congregational committee or process.
  • Share administrative access to the congregation’s social media tools among relevant leaders and staff within the congregation. More than one person should have full administrative access to the congregation’s Facebook page, Twitter feed, blog, or other new media sites.
  • Announce the establishment of a new Facebook page, Twitter feed, or other congregational social media endeavor. Good venues for such an announcement may include an e-mail to the congregation, a story in the congregation’s newsletter, a poster on the congregational bulletin board, or a post on the congregation’s existing social media sites.
  • Encourage congregants to participate in the congregation’s social media presence. For example, welcome congregants to post comments on the congregational blog or write on the wall of the congregation’s Facebook page.

Consider Safety and Confidentiality

  • Use a tone in your text, audio, and video content that reflects the values of your congregation. Establish clear expectations for behavior by both content creators (i.e. the people writing blog posts, wall posts, Tweets, etc.) and commenters (i.e. the people who are commenting on a blog, responding to a wall post, responding to Tweets, etc.)
  • Content moderation policies are a good way to clarify what kinds of comments and feedback are allowed on your site. The UUA’s Facebook page policy is:
    “The UUA has the right to delete any inappropriate content from this page, including but not limited to: irrelevant content, hateful content, attacks against an individual, financial solicitations, endorsements of a political candidate or party, and content that violates Facebook’s terms of use, code of conduct, or other policies. Content that violates Facebook’s policies may also be reported.”
  • More safety information can be found in the Safer Congregations Handbook.

Covenant

You may also find it helpful to have a covenant among people who manage and produce content for the congregation’s social media tools.

  • Consistently hold people accountable to the stated policies.
  • Err on the side of honoring reasonable expectations of confidentiality.
  • Do not post photos of children unless you have the consent of their guardian.
  • If an event is being recorded or photographed for the congregation’s blog, Facebook page or other online site, notify participants in advance and at the event, and provide an opt-out option if possible.

Sample Social Media Policy

(adapted from the UU Congregation of Fairfax's policy (PDF, 5 pages))

All material posted to social media represents the congregation to the public and may be accessed by any user who is interested in the congregation.

Staff and appointed volunteers will monitor the use of all social media and edit/delete as necessary according to the guidelines to maintain a positive public image.

Written permission must be obtained from a parent or legal guardian to post photographs or videotapes of children under age 18 on the congregation's social media accounts. Adults may ask to opt out of having their photos shared.

Confidentiality of private information must be maintained. When sharing information from another person’s Facebook page, do not share personal or sensitive information.

Copyrights must be respected. Copying other people’s writing is considered plagiarism. Such posts will be removed.

Postings will be removed by the administrator that contain any of the following: insensitive, inflammatory or offensive language, jokes or slanderous comments, whether in text form or image form, based on a person’s gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, politics, age or religion.

Personal attacks and attacks on the congregation are inappropriate and will be removed by the administrator.

Solicitations to support personal or organizational fundraisers are not permitted and will be removed.

Personal affiliations and conflicts of interests should be noted by those posting comments. If the administrator notes postings where this information is not revealed, such postings are subject to removal. \

Facebook

The congregation has one primary Facebook page: <URL>

  • Administrative privileges are granted to program staff and volunteers designated by staff.
  • The Facebook page serves as vehicle for announcements, events and other items that further the mission and vision of the congregation

The congregation also has one primary Facebook Group

  • Administrative privileges are granted to program staff and volunteers designated by staff.
  • Posting privileges are granted to member and friends and are subject to the congregation's covenant and other policies

Other Facebook Pages/Groups

Affiliated groups using the congregation's name and/ branding may wish to establish Facebook pages to communicate specific programs and/or establish identities to a broader audience than that served by a Facebook Group.

  • Establishing a Facebook page must be affirmed by __________
  • Each page must be set up by a staff member using a congregational email address. The primary administrator will be designated by the sponsoring committee. There must be more than one administrator for each page, including at least one staff member.
  • The most current congregational branding must be used on all affiliated pages
  • Primary administrators are responsible for conduct on their pages and will be responsible for deleting inaccurate or offensive posts or posts in violation of the policies outlined in this document.

Twitter

  • The congregation has one primary Twitter account: @handle

    • Administrative privileges are granted to program staff and volunteers designated by staff.
    • The Twitter account will be linked so that the Facebook page posts automatically post to the congregation's Twitter feed.

YouTube

The congregation's official YouTube channel is ________________

  • The channel is public and houses sermon videos as well as member testimonials and other videos that highlight the congregation's mission, vision and values.
  • Administrative privileges are granted to program staff and volunteers designated by staff.

Emeriti Policies

Rev. Ralph Mero lights the chalice at the 2008 General Assembly Service of the Living Tradition

The title Minister (or Religious Educator) Emeritus (masc.) / Emerita (fem.) / Emerit (neutral) is granted to honor a religious professional's long and meritorious service to a particular congregation. Due to our congregational polity, and more directly because the service has been to that particular congregation, only that congregation can bestow this honor. The honor may be given years after their service has concluded.

The procedure requires a vote of the congregation to confer Emerita/Emeritus/Emerit status upon a minister or according to your congregation's bylaws and policies (see below for policy examples).

This honor may also grant the person eligibility to vote at General Assembly if they are in fellowship with the UUA or are properly credentialed, in the case of religious educators. (See Sidebar)

Well-Boundaried Discernment Practices

Because conferring Emerit/a/us status is a lifetime honor and can grant governance priviledges in the national Association, taking the time for a good process will give the decision the importance that it deserves.

Many congregations are anxious to honor a retiring minister immediately with Emerit/a/us status. But not all congregants may be ready to bestow this honor during the stages of fresh grief that can be elicited by the departure. Waiting a year or two gives the congregation a chance to honor the person twice, one with retirement celebration, then again with the emerit/a/us status.

Normally this process begins with a suggestion by the congregation's Board of Trustees or by recommendation of a group within the congregation. Sometimes a former minister who served other congregations and then retired may inquire about the possibility.

Once the idea is under consideration, offer listening circles, cottage meetings, or some other low-pressure way for members to talk about the idea. This allows the congregation to resolve any concerns and move to a congregational vote with full hearts.

We recommend that the action be taken by vote of the congregation as a whole during a formal meeting of the church membership. A formal resolution prepared for a congregational vote is one way to express the congregation's appreciation, and to create a permanent record of the decision. Consult your congregation's bylaws and policies for specific requirements for a congregational vote.

Sample Policy Language

Note: Determining the qualifications and procedures for conferring Emerit/a/us status before having an actual candidate will provide guidance and clarity when the opportunity arises -- and could help to avoid potentially awkward situations where an unqualified candidate is proposed. 

Policy: The title Minister Emeritus or Minister Emerita may be granted to honor ministers who have served for a minimum of ## years, with devotion, skill, grace, and/or distinction. (Note: Develop your own list of qualities.) Qualified candidates must be in good standing with the UUA and UUMA, are fully retired from active service, and have not served our congregation in the previous ## months. Candidates may be nominated by the current board, or by a petition of 10% of the congregation's voting members.

Procedure: There will be at least # opportunities for comment by voting members (e.g. listening session, cottage meetings, world cafe), at least # weeks before a congregational vote.

Celebrate the New Relationship

After an affirmative congregational vote, the ceremony to confer this tribute is usually a simple one in which a citation is given with a statement expressing the wish of the congregation to confer the title of Minister Emeritus or Minister Emerita. Since this is an honorary title, the occasion is usually an informal one unlike the formal ceremonies of ordination or installation. The style of ceremony varies, from one woven into the Sunday morning service, to a planned Sunday afternoon gathering with a reception for the minister's family, congregation and guests. You may wish to invite a UUA representative to the ceremony. Contact invited guests as far in advance as possible.

A gift is traditionally given by the congregation as a token of appreciation. In the past before congregations provided pension contributions, they might provide a sizeable cash contribution. Today, it can be anything that shows the congregation’s affection and gratitude for the minister. Possibilities include a book of remembrances, a chalice, a picture of the congregation, cash, or something else that is important to the relationship.

Other decisions you will want to make concern listing of minister emerita/us on church letterhead, directory, and in the congregation's listing in the UUA Directory. You might want to have a discussion of what relationship the minister emeritus/a will have with the congregation and with new ministers in the future.

The Unitarian Universalist Ministers' Association (UUMA) publishes Collegial Guidelines which define appropriate reciprocal relationships between settled and emeritae/i ministers. UUMA Guidelines explicitly state that the expectations of former ministers and retired ministers with former congregations apply whether the minister is emerita/us or not. The UU Retired Ministers and Partners Association (UURMAPA) also offers guidelines and best practices.

The honorary title implies no financial relationship between a former minister and the congregation.

Update Your Records and Follow Up with the UUA

Not only is it important for proper notation to be made in your church records, but it is equally important that you send the UUA a formal notice so the information can be entered into the minister's file record here at headquarters. This notification is vital both to the Ministries and Faith Development Staff Group and to the Minister Emeritus/Emerita. It ensures that he/she receives the UUA General Assembly delegate status credentialing through your congregation.

Please send one of the following:

1) A letter on official letterhead indicating the name of the honored minister and the date the honor was officially bestowed

OR

2) A copy of the meeting minutes indicating the official vote to confer the status of Minister Emeritus/Emerita.

You may send the document electronically (highly preferred) to MFD Executive Administrator at mfdassistant@uua.org OR via regular mail to:


Ministries and Faith Development
ATTN: Executive Administrator
24 Farnsworth Street
Boston, MA 02210