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Calling a Minister in Bylaws
Calling a Minister in Bylaws

Very few things that a congregation does affect it as greatly, or are as important, as the choice of a minister. Wonderful ministerial-congregational matches provide new life and purpose to an institution and help lead both parties well into the future. Therefore, congregations must ensure that they have a good process for selecting the committee that will present a candidate for ministry to them.

Ministerial Search Committee

The ministerial search committee is an ad hoc committee of the congregation. There are several different possible open and transparent methods for nominating members to this committee (available from the UUA Transitions Office), which are than affirmed by congregational vote.

It's important that the search committee be chosen with mindfulness to the congregation's future, including a diversity of identities. 

For flexibility around emerging best practices, it may be best to keep the bylaws provision simple and leave the details to policy.

Quorum and Plurality of Call

Because of the importance of the role of the minister and the need for a high level of trust in the person filling the role, congregations usually have higher bars for quorum, and an extremely high bar for percentage of affirmative votes (90%) to call a minister. 

Sample Provisions

  • A ad hoc Ministerial Search Committee shall be elected by the Congregation when necessary. Rules and procedures concerning the committee's composition shall be published nominating committee before selection. The members will be approved by the Congregation at a Meeting called for that purpose.

    Election of a new Minister shall be at a Congregational Meeting called for that purpose with a quorum of at least _________. Election shall be by a 90% vote of those voting members present and voting.
  • A Ministerial Search Committee shall search out and recommend to the membership a minister for the church. The committee shall have (range) members, elected by a majority of the voting members at a meeting called for that purpose. The Nominating Committee shall present a slate of names for the committee per board policy or recommended UUA practice. 

    The President shall call a special meeting for the selection of a minister when so requested by the Chair of the Search Committee. Notice of such meeting shall be given as specified in these bylaws. A quorum for such meeting is forty percent (40%) of voting members. An affirmative vote by eighty (90%) of those present and voting by secret ballot shall be required to call a Minister.

About the Author

  • 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 UUA Congregational Life Staff...

For more information contact conglife@uua.org.

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