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Term Length and Term Limits: Writing Congregational Bylaws
Governance for Congregations, Bylaws & Policies

Another question to be addressed is how long the term of office will be. Some congregations have found that short terms are easier to fill. Other congregations find that longer terms allow a leader first to grow into a position, next to provide effective leadership, and then to serve as a mentor in the leadership development of others. Shorter terms that may be renewed can also ensure openness and continuity. Making term limits too burdensome can lead to leadership stagnation.

Any limitations on the number of consecutive terms a director may serve should be spelled out in the bylaws, either as a separate section or as part of the section on the composition of the board.

Sample Provisions

Example 1: Elected trustees may serve in the same position for no more than four (4) years. In any six (6) year period, no member of the Board of Trustees may serve for more than four (4) consecutive years.

Example 2: Board members shall be eligible to succeed themselves only once. A person who has been appointed to office, or elected to a partial term to fill a vacancy, shall not be considered to have served such term for purposes of determining whether such person is eligible to succeed himself or herself.

Example 3: No member may serve more than two (2) consecutive terms without being off the board for at least one (1) year.

Example 4: No trustee will serve more than two (2) consecutive three (3) year terms.

Example 5: No person, except the Treasurer, and the two (2) assistant treasurers, shall hold the same office longer than two (2) consecutive full terms.

Example 6: No person shall be eligible to part or full terms aggregating more than six (6) consecutive years. After a lapse of one (1) year following service within the six-year limitation, eligibility is reestablished.

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