Committees (of the Congregation) in Bylaws

The word committee spelled out in Scrabble tiles

The only committees that need to be articulated in the bylaws are committees that are accountable to the congregation as a whole. These are usually limited to nominating committees, sometimes endowment committees, and the Settled Minister Search Committee, which is actually an ad hoc task force since it is only convened when needed.

Committees of the board, who do come of the board's work (e.g. finance, personnel, safety, etc.) can be convened and defined using board policy. Ministry teams can be formed and dissolved as needs arise.

Emerging models of governance also include a Committee on Ministry, but defining it in the bylaws reduces the ability to adjust the model as needed.

Nominating Committee

Your core values should be reflected in the process that your congregation uses to choose its leaders. Congregational Bylaws and Policies should ensure that leadership roles are filled with people who are committed to the overall health of the congregation and are in alignment with its mission and vision. Your process should be transparent and open.

If you have a “policy” board, you should ensure that candidates are strategic thinkers who can adapt in ambiguous situations. Your leaders should also be equipped with training, mentoring and other support to help them succeed in their roles.

If you have a "working" board, you should make sure the leaders have the skills needed to complement each other as a team.

Congregations may want to provide for checks and balances by democratically electing a separate body to recruit and vet candidates for elected positions. One traditional way, endorsed by Robert's Rules of Order, is to establish an independent nominating committee. Other methods, such as more holistic Leadership Development Teams, are emerging.


  • Provides a safety valve for congregations that are resistant to entrusting their board with too much power.
  • It’s been the practice for many congregations for generations.
  • It could provide a democratic way to make changes when there are entrenched leaders in the congregation or if there are members who disagree with the board’s direction


  • Often elected nominating committees are treated as an afterthought.
  • Elected nominating committee members may not be a good fit with the task at hand or may not be up to speed on current initiatives.
  • There tends to be greater resistance to moving toward the more adaptive-learning-focused leadership development team model when the technical nominating process is in place.
  • It is harder for the congregation to ask for accountability:
    • in filling the slate
    • in being accountable to the mission and vision
    • around recruiting leaders with diverse identities or from historically marginalized groups
  • Often entrenched leadership in a congregation extends to the members of the nominating committee or the nominating committee is not independent enough to address entrenchment on the board

Endowment Committee

Congregations with large endowments sometimes choose to have the endowment committee to be a committee of the congregation, so that any disbursements require congregational--rather than board--approval. (We discourage congregations from considering creating a separate entity, bylaws and board due to poor lines of accountability.)

Sample Provisions

  • The Nominating Committee shall consist of the immediate past president, _____ (#) ongoing members of the Board to be appointed by the Board, and _______ (#) non-Council members to be elected at the annual meeting. To assure continuity on the committee, the elected members shall each serve two (2) year terms, with one (1) member elected in odd numbered years and two elected in even years. The minister shall be an ex officio member
    The Nominating Committee shall publicize, solicit, and submit the names of all qualified candidates for vacant positions on the Board and Congregational Committees named in these Bylaws. Members who desire to serve in positions on the Board or Congregational Committees shall apply to the Nominations Committee, pursuant to standing rules adopted by the Board.

  • The Nominating Committee shall consist of five (5) voting members who shall be elected at the annual congregational meeting for a term of one (1) year.
    The Nominating Committee shall (1) solicit and accept all nominations for officers from all trustees whose terms will be continuing; (2) confirm that nominees will serve if elected; and (3) prepare a slate of candidates to nominate for the Board of Trustees' offices. They will also nominate _____ (#) nominees for the Endowment Committee and _______ (#) nominees for the Nominating Committee. The committee shall present its nominations in the notice for the annual congregational meeting.

  • The Endowment Committee shall:
    • Assist Members and Friends who wish to contribute to a common endowment fund or establish a named endowment fund

    • Keep a record of the terms and restrictions of all common and named funds

    • Review proposed gifts and make recommendations to the Board

    • Track the value of all Fund assets on a quarterly basis

    • Administrate dispersals approved by the congregation

    • Perform other duties as described in Board policies