Over the last few years, we have heard repeated emphasis on the importance of relationship building, stewarding resources wisely, raising up skilled and diverse leaders, and creating structures which liberate us to be in meaningful ministry together. In response, the Executive Committee tasked several of us with the work of revising the Association Bylaws to reflect ministry in the present reality and anticipating agility in future ministry. This work has been in concert with our Conference Staff and has been reviewed by the UCC’s General Council resulting in what you have before you.
The first thing you might notice is that the formatting of section numbers has been revised and made consistent. Formatting and typography nerds rejoice!
The Committee on Ministry
The tasks of the Committee on Ministry are among the most important in our Association. The Committee is responsible for overseeing discernment, standing, authorization, care, and support of Ministers and Local Churches. In recent years, filling all of the vaccancies on this committee has been a challenge. If the Pandemic has taught us anything, it’s how to use technology for our advantage. Geography is far less of a challenge than it was when our bylaws were last revised six years ago.
In light of this, and in order to live into our shared theological hope to work together for a just world for all—indeed that all may be one—the Committee on Ministry has been reimagined as a fresh start. At the core of this revisioning, is a committment to keeping the entirety of our Association connected with one another.
The proposed updates to the bylaws provide a minimum number for the Committee, but as the desire for skilled and gifted people to serve increases, the Nominations Committee is welcomed to offer additional names for consideration. It is our hope that the current members of the Committee will continue to serve out the remainder of their already elected terms as the inaugral members of the new Committee on Ministry.
Aligning with United Church of Christ Polity, the revised Manual on Ministry (2018) and the highly anticipated Manual on Church
Our Bylaws have not seen a revision since work on the Manual on Ministry was completed in 2018. The Manual on Church is expected to be released in new draft form later this year. Various grammatical inconsistencies referencing the Local Church and Authorized Ministers have been corrected.
Section 6 of the Bylaws has also been brought into alignment with current UCC polity. Sections of the Bylaws referencing termination of a Local Church’s Standing have been brought into agreement with the UCC Constitution and Bylaws and do not contradict anything in the expected Manual on Church.
Also included is the implementation of the Conference Ethics Team which works with the Committee on Ministry during Fitness Reviews. This practice has been used for several years and is now reflected in the Bylaws.
Under the advisment of the General Council of the UCC, Sections 7.3 and 9.1.5 have been added regarding laws specific to the State of California concerning online meetings. The sections sound very technical but are what is need.
Important Note: We were advised by General Council not to draw attention to Virtual Churches that do not meet in person, since the IRS does not see these as churches, and that flagging them as a separate category poses unneeded vulnerability. Because the UCC does allow virtual churches that are incorporated within the bounds of an Association to have standing within that Association, the proposed bylaws signal that circumstance in the parenthetical reference in 4.1.1.