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  • The Unity Consulting Approach to Congregational Governance

    Unity offers deep questions and commitments for governance within a progressive religious, covenantal context: Whose Are We? What Do We Value? What Are Our Commitments?
    By Laura Park | 5/2/2019
  • Governance in Small Congregations

    Small congregations need a governance system that is "right sized" for the unique needs and challenges generated by their size. ...
    By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 4/22/2019
  • Ends and Means in Carter Policy Governance

    Nurturing the relationship between a congregation and its governing body.
    By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 4/22/2019
  • Carver Policy Governance in a Nutshell

    Leadership is an important, yet elusive concept. It takes on different forms in different settings. The intent of Policy Governance® is to give operational definition to "leadership" as it applies in the specific context of a governing Board. It addresses the questions: "How can...
    By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 4/22/2019
  • Carver Model of Policy Governance

    Policy Governance is a fundamental redesign of the role of a Board, emphasizing values, vision and the empowerment of both Board and staff through policies, limitations and monitoring reports.
    By Margaret A Keip | 4/22/2019
  • Dan Hotchkiss's Governance and Ministry Model

    A congregation has to organize to make its big decisions in its best and deepest frame of mind: that’s governance. It needs to organize to focus limited resources on its most important goals: that’s ministry.
    By Dan Hotchkiss | 4/22/2019
  • Thinking About Congregational Procedures

    Procedures should have the flexibility to change as the organization changes size, staff, technologies and other situational factors.
    By Kathy McGowan, UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 4/19/2019
  • Writing Effective Bylaws: Emerging Practices

    The Bylaws provide the formal structure of your congregation and allow for maintaining and changing that structure. Bylaws hold the highest level of authority of congregational guiding documents and are the hardest to change.
    By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 4/10/2019
  • Who should be the Congregation's Executive in Policy Governance?

    Congregational Life Staff are often asked who performs executive functions in UU Congregations under policy governance. Here are some considerations.
    By David Pyle | 9/27/2018
  • How to Read Congregational Financial Documents

    This video walks you through the basics of reading Congregational financial documents.
    By David Pyle, Beth Casebolt | 9/14/2018
  • Congregation Participation in Ends Development Process

    For congregations using Carver Policy Governance, it's important to have congregational involvement and engagement with "Ends Statements." Using a "World ​Café" process like this one is a recommended method.
    By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 8/19/2018
  • GA Presentation on Skills to Grow other Leaders

    Workshops and presentations at General Assembly (GA), the annual meeting of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), have been provided by a variety of Unitarian Universalist (UU) organizations and UUA staff groups over the course of several decades. Not all presentations...
    5/2/2018
  • Whole Congregation Decisions

    Which decisions should be made by the "congregation in meeting" via a congregational vote according to congregational polity, and which decisions can be made by the governing board?
    By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 4/4/2018
  • When Members Become Employees

    When a congregation is in search for a new professional staff member to fill a key and important role in the congregation, whether it is that of a custodian or that of a membership director, an important consideration is how well potential applicants understand and have personal...
    By David Pyle | 2/25/2018
  • Five Strategic Tasks of a Governing Board

    After a congregational governing board has begun to transition the operations and management of a congregation out of the governing board and towards the congregational staff or a lay and staff leadership team, I will regularly receive the same question from congregational...
    By David Pyle | 2/25/2018
  • How to “Right Size” a Governing Board

    Congregational Governing Boards have different structures, cultures, assumptions, and responsibilities in different congregations. The size and structure of a governing board is dependent upon the roles and responsibilities of the board itself. Here are a series of factors that...
    By David Pyle | 2/9/2018
  • Governance and Ministry: A Partnership

    A brief overview of how Governance and Ministry partner to serve the mission of the congregation. (Based on Dan Hotchkiss's Governance and Ministry, 2nd Edition.)
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 2/7/2018
  • A Quick Look at Written Congregational Surveys

    Surveys that work best come out of an understanding that the job of leadership is not to “make people happy” but to help the congregation live out its mission. Surveys that are useless at best and divisive at worst typically seek to honor personal preferences about various areas...
    By Jan Christian, Pacific Western Region of the UUA | 2/2/2018
  • 6 Styles of Congregational Governing Boards

    Every Unitarian Universalist Congregation is designed differently. How each congregation functions is a blend of congregational experience, culture, and history. Congregational structures are also affected by whether and which other congregations members have attended or been a...
    By David Pyle | 1/17/2018
  • The Roles of Mission, Vision and Covenant in Congregations

    This image is one mental model in understanding mission in a congregation. The heart in the center is the core purpose of your congregation. Who are you called to be in the world, and in your context? What is it about your community that resonates in the hearts of its members...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 1/17/2018
  • Characteristics of Decentralized Governance

    How to create a congregation where people are equipped and empowered to live out the mission through ministry.
    By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 10/31/2017
  • Congregational Policies and Procedures - An Overview

    Congregational bylaws, which lay the foundation for the congregation as a legal entity, are augmented by other documents that guide the day-to-day operations and decisions of the leaders and members of the congregation. Policies Policies are voted on by the board of trustees...
    9/12/2017
  • Congregational Bylaws - An Overview

    Bylaws are important in laying the groundwork for any organization. Although written in legal language to satisfy governmental requirements, bylaws also tell the story of a congregation. They encapsulate the vision, hopes, and dreams of the congregation and are also a last...
    By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 9/12/2017
  • How to Be a Great Congregational President

    An opportunity for new presidents to learn the basics, share some resources, and network with those moving into the role. Featuring Amy L. Nelson, former president of the UU Congregation of Rochester, MN. (May, 2015)
    By Ian Evison, MidAmerica Region of the UUA | 4/14/2017
  • 3 Parts of Effective Governance

    When you understand the purpose of governance and what it needs to be effective, your work as a board becomes much clearer.
    By Dan Hotchkiss, UU Leadership Institute | 3/16/2017
  • Need More Volunteers? Maybe Your Bylaws Are The Problem...

    Consider making your governance committees leaner, so that more members are available to serve the ministries of the congregation.
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 2/16/2017
  • Church Governance Should Serve, Not Rule

    Congregations often look to the corporate and not-for-profit worlds for models of leadership, organizational development, fundraising and volunteer management. Unfortunately, they also look there for models of governance to the detriment of their core purpose. Congregations are...
    By David Pyle | 4/15/2016
  • Are Your Church's Retirement Benefits "Legal?"

    Congregations are legal entities required to comply with all sorts of legal requirements. While religious institutions might be exempt from a FEW legal requirements, churches are NOT exempt from most. This includes many requirements stemming from being an employer. This post...
    By Richard Nugent, UUA Ministries and Faith Development: Office of Church Staff Finances | 1/21/2016
  • Worst Case Scenarios...and How to Be Prepared

    The phone rings. There is an anxious board president on the phone with a crisis on their hands. Perhaps their minister has fallen seriously ill, or there is a member who is regularly disrupting the Sunday worship service, or a registered sex offender has expressed interest in...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 7/25/2015
  • Committee, Team or Task Force?

    As we re-imagine how to do the work of a congregation, we need to take into account that younger folks (and by "younger" I mean people under 50) are wary of making commitments without fully understanding the implications. These people want to feel like they are making a...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 6/6/2015
  • Want to Develop Church Leaders? Stop Training Them!

    Let me share a fable of two congregations. ...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 5/12/2015
  • There's a Hole in the Bucket...

    It happens more often than you think it should. The church seems to be vital, even growing, but the money in the collection plate doesn't keep up with the growth, or there seems to be a shortfall every month. There might be grumbling about how the new folks aren't pulling their...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 10/14/2014
  • Speaking with One Voice

    One of the most important keys to congregational health and vitality--along with a clear purpose--is a cohesive leadership team. Many of our UU congregations struggle with power and authority to a point where they don't empower leaders to lead, i.e. to make decisions in the best...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 9/19/2013
  • Details, Details!

    Imagine that your congregational leaders are talking to the bank loan officer in anticipation of a major capital campaign project. The loan officer asks who has the authority in your congregation to sign for the loan. "Why, our president!" ...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 6/7/2013
  • The Data Trap

    Attempting to reconcile liberal religion to the scientific method has a long history among Unitarian Universalists. From the Biblical Criticism of the 19th century, to the Process Theologians of the 20th, to Thandeka's Affect Theology today, we yearn to quantify...
    By Renee Ruchotzke | 3/26/2013
  • Ten Good Ideas About Effective Governance

    Many of our most committed leaders have sat in congregational board meetings and said to themselves “there must be a better way to do this work”! Many new people have volunteered to do simple task and found themselves frustrated amidst lack of clarity. In this workshop we will...
    By Ian Evison, Lisa Presley, MidAmerica Region of the UUA | 4/14/2010
  • Before and After: What Board Meetings Look Like with Carver style Policy-Based Governance

    Sample Scripts from the 2009 UU University Governance Track.
    By Robert L. Eller-Isaacs, Laura Park | 6/20/2009
  • Lighting the Leadership Chalice: Carver-Style Policy-Based Governance

    UU University 2009: Lighting the Leadership Chalice: Governance. An introduction to the fundamentals of Carver-style policy-based governance
    By Robert L. Eller-Isaacs, Laura Park | 6/20/2009
  • The Size and Shape of Governance

    Five key components needed in the governance system of congregations, including visioning, coordinating, planning, training and implementing.
    By Stefan Jonasson | 5/15/2006
  • Governance Concerns for Family Size Congregations

    All congregations must understand that the instruments of congregational polity will vary with the size of the congregation. The practices of governance must be suited to the characteristics of the individual congregation. ...
    By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 6/15/2005
  • Governance and Congregational Size

    All congregations must understand that the instruments of congregational polity will vary with the size of the congregation. The practices of governance must be suited to the characteristics of the individual congregation.
    By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 6/1/2005
  • Governance: A Historical Perspective

    An overview of how UU governance developed over time.
    6/1/2005
  • Why Governance? An Overview

    Governance is the system by which a congregation exercises its authority. A congregation may use any system to govern itself; it may change systems frequently or entirely ignore the systems it claims as its own, but as long as the congregation lives, it will continue to exercise...
    By UUA Congregational Life Staff Group | 6/1/2005
  • Consensus Model of Decision-Making: An Overview

    A consensus decision-making model empowers participants to cooperate with one another in order to reach an outcome that is in the best interest of the group as a whole and that furthers the group’s stated purpose.
    By First Parish in Lexington, Lexington, MA | 3/15/2005
  • Board-Staff Relations in Healthy Congregations

    Establishing good communication practices and healthy boundaries are essential to attracting and keeping good staff. This article gives an overview of good practices, with special tips for congregations of various sizes.
    By Stefan Jonasson | 6/1/2003

For more information contact conglife@uua.org.

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