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Other Staff: Writing Congregational Bylaws
Governance for Congregations, Bylaws & Policies

In many instances, the minister is not the only staff person of a congregation, or even the only professional staff person. In determining what other staffing a congregation requires, many questions arise; how many staff members are needed, what kind of staff people are needed, who is responsible for the preparation of job descriptions, and who supervises whom are just a few of the larger questions. Discussing these questions in depth is important. And in bylaws development, another question is, To what degree should staff be recognized in both the bylaws and in other governing documents of the congregation?

Once again, no clear answer exists. When provisions concerning key staff members are included in the bylaws, crucial details are less likely to fall through the cracks in institutional memory, and procedures are less likely to be reinvented time and time again. However, enshrining staff positions in the bylaws also makes it more time-consuming to deal with changes brought about through the changing nature of congregational life. The certainties of today might well become the anachronisms of tomorrow as the role of staff ebbs and flows in our religious communities. Therefore, it might be a good idea to incorporate only the most basic and fundamental aspects of other staff in the bylaws, with details to be worked out through other policy documents such as letters of agreement, employer policies, and employee handbooks.

Sample Provisions

Example 1: Terms of Employment. The Board will determine all terms of employment after consultation with the relevant Councils or committees. One of the committees operating within the Administration and Personnel Council will be a Personnel Committee which will review, in consultation with the committees or Councils with which an employee works, the performance of all employees other than minister(s).

Example 2: Senior Minister's Authority. The Senior Minister shall be the chief executive officer of the Church, shall be responsible to the Board of Trustees for implementing the policies determined by the Board of Trustees, and shall operate under the general supervision of the Board of Trustees. The Senior Minister shall also supervise the ministerial staff of the Church as it may be constituted from time to time by the Congregation.

Example 3: Responsibilities of the Executive Team The Co-Ministers shall work as a member of the Executive Team, which shall comprise the Co-Ministers, the Director of Administration, and the Chair of the Development Ministry Team. Executive Team members shall report to the Board of Trustees individually concerning their areas of responsibility and as a team for collaboration toward overall achievement of Unity's mission, ends, and strategic plan.

The Co-Ministers have primary responsibility for programs. The Director of Administration has primary responsibility for general administration. The Chair of the Development Ministry Team has primary responsibility for the work of the Development Ministry Team, which shall develop and implement plans for maximizing financial resources.

The Board of Trustees has responsibility for ensuring that Executive Team positions are filled in a timely manner.

Example 4: Other Professional and Support Staff. All other staff shall be responsible to the Executive Team, which shall determine direct lines of reporting as appropriate to a staff member's job duties and an Executive Team member's responsibilities.

Example 5: Director of Music. The Director of Music shall provide musical services as required by the members of the Association, as well as serve as choir director. The Religious Programs Committee shall be responsible for recommending the appointment and/or dismissal of a Director of Music. These recommendations shall be subject to ratification by the Board of Governors. The Religious Programs Committee shall develop a job description, terms of employment and initial salary recommendation for approval of the Board of Governors. The Religious Programs Committee shall conduct an annual evaluation and make salary recommendations for the Director of Music.

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