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Thinking about Congregational Procedures
Thinking About Congregational Procedures

Congregations should almost never change the by-laws. Boards may update Policies when it gains clarity or nuance around the mission and vision. Procedures, however, should have the flexibility to change as the organization changes size, staff, technologies and other situational factors. 

Procedures are the nuts and bolts of how systems work within the congregation. Smaller congregations tend not to write things down as there are so few people in leadership that most people just kind of “know” how things get done. Documentation creates resiliency in any size congregation. “Life happens,” so having standard procedures can help you recover when you lose a key lay leader or volunteer.

Documented procedures also are important so that new staff and lay leaders have a clear understanding of work flow, communications and accountability. Along with job descriptions, clear procedures enable volunteers and staff to understand how their current role interacts with other roles.

Points to consider when developing procedures:

  • Our procedures can reflect our relational values by outlining good processes that have deep listening and room for reflection build into them.
  • As a covenantal people, we put our relationships at the center of our faith. Therefore, how we do things in just as, or even more important, than what we do. In other words, healthy process is critical to our success.
  • As Unitarian Universalists, our polices and procedures should be in alignment with our values.

About the Authors

  • Kathy McGowan has been on the Congregational Life Staff for the Southern Region of the Unitarian Universalist Association since 2013. In that time her areas of focus have been in systems thinking, theology, conflict, intercultural sensitivity, and staff supervision. She is one of the...
  • 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...

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