Role of the Minister in Bylaws

A minister preaches from the GA podium

Defining the role of the minister is one of the most unique aspects of congregational bylaws. Ministry is a covenantal relationship between called minister and congregation; the details are organic and evolving and are best left to letters of agreement and board policy. (Ministers who are hired by the board are contract ministers, including interim ministers and most part-time ministers.) Large congregations with multiple staff may also find that defining those roles is best left to policy.

Still, there are some basic aspects of the relationship between congregation and the called minister that can be included in the bylaws.

For more details on ministry, visit Unitarian Universalist Ministers.


Although under congregational polity our congregations have the right and ability to call whomever they desire as their minister, some congregations choose to limit that choice by requiring that the minister be in fellowship with the Unitarian Universalist Association and subject to the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association's Guidelines and Code of Professional Conduct. Many see this requirement as a way to ensure that the minister meets the specific and general qualifications that the Association (through the Ministerial Fellowship Committee) has deemed necessary for recognition as a minister in good standing within our movement. Also, a minister with good collegial relationships with other ministers reinforces healthy and vibrant ministry.

Sample Provisions

  • The Minister shall be in Fellowship with the Unitarian Universalist Association, and a member in good standing of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association.

  • The minister shall have responsibility for the conduct of worship services and shall serve as spiritual leader and advisor to church members. The minister shall have freedom of the pulpit. The minister shall also have the freedom to express her or his opinions outside the pulpit, but not to represent the church without authorization from the Board or the membership. The minister shall be an ex officio, non-voting member of the Church Board. Other specific duties shall be negotiated between the minister and the board in a Letter of Agreement.
  • The duties of the Minister shall be as prescribed by the Letter of Agreement, agreed to by the Minister and Board of Trustees. In general the Minister shall provide overall religious leadership and guidance in accordance with the established purposes of the Church, and shall be guaranteed freedom of the pulpit. The Minister is an ex officio and non-voting member of the governing board, nominating committee, and of all ministry teams.

About the Author

UUA Congregational Life

The regional Congregational Life staff are congregations' local connection to the UUA. All of the program Congregational Life staff have expertise in most aspects of congregational life and each also has a few program areas of expertise. See the...

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