September 17, 2022
In the Spring of 2020, the world went virtual and many organizations were forced to transition to virtual platforms without notice. During this period of transition, something akin to emergency procedures were in effect everywhere, and no one anticipated the deep effects that a global pandemic would have on meetings, communication, and even daily life. Our Church was no different. Our services moved to virtual platforms, committee meetings transitioned to Zoom, and our Congregational Meetings were similarly held over Zoom. In the fall of 2020, the Church held its first Congregational Meeting online. Over the course of the pandemic, lessons have been learned about best and better practices regarding how to live and work online and/or in a hybrid way.
Our Church Bylaws use Robert’s Rules as a governing set of procedures. Robert’s Rules requires that organizations’ Bylaws explicitly authorize electronic meetings and electronic voting. To that end, the Board proposes to amend the Bylaws to authorize that Congregational Meetings, including official congregational votes, be conducted in a hybrid and/or fully electronic manner, in addition to the fully in-person meetings that are already authorized under our Bylaws.
The proposed Bylaws amendment would add a Section H. Authorization to Conduct Congregational Meetings Electronically to Article IV Meetings of Members. The proposed language is as follows:
“Except as otherwise provided in these bylaws, Congregational Meetings may be conducted either in a fully electronic or hybrid fashion. For such meetings, the electronic platform used shall support: voting, visible displays identifying those participating and those seeking recognition to speak, and a method showing the text of pending motions and the results of votes to the best of the Church’s technical ability to provide. The Board shall adopt rules to govern meetings covered in this section, and the Congregation may adopt additional rules, as needed.”
The Board is committed to working to both protect the health of our congregation, while also continuing the important work of the Church. In coordination with our technology team, the Board will work to ensure that full participation is available to all who wish to participate in Congregational Meetings, which are a cornerstone of our faith and belief in the democratic process.
Ratification of Past Votes
In prioritizing the safety of our congregants, the Church conducted Congregational Meetings electronically and in a hybrid fashion so that the work of the Church could continue despite the pandemic. For that reason, the Board is asking the congregation to now ratify the Congregational votes that took place during the Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Fall 2021, and Winter 2022 meetings. The votes are as follows:
Vote 1 (Fall Congregational 2020)
ARTICLE III. MEMBERSHIP
Section B. Definitions of Members of the Congregation
- Definition of “Member In Good Standing”
The Members who are in “good standing” constitute the official roll for reporting membership to the Unitarian Universalist Association and to the
Saint Lawrence District. relevant Unitarian-Universalist District. A Member is not “in good standing” if the member he or she is in a suspension status as a result of action taken by the Board and has not been reinstated to good standing status in the manner Section D.3.c. below. Only a “Member in good standing” may hold effective office or serve on a Board Committee.
Vote 2 (Fall Congregational 2020)
ARTICLE V. BOARD OF TRUSTEES.
Section A. Number and Election of Trustees
The Congregation’s Board shall consist of seven members. The membership of the Board shall reflect the diversity that the Congregation aspires to achieve.
At least two Trustees shall be women and at least two shall be men. At successive Winter Congregational Meetings, three, two, and two of the seven Trustees shall be elected for three-year terms. The Congregation’s vote for Trustees shall be by paper ballot. A Trustee who has served for fewer than three consecutive years may be elected for two additional three-year terms. A Trustee who has served for at least six consecutive years will not be eligible for election until two years have elapsed since that Trustee’s his or her consecutive years of service. No person shall be eligible for election to the Board until that person he or she has been a voting member of the Church for two years and is at least 18 years of age.
Vote 3 (Winter Congregational 2021)
Acceptance of nominees, Bridget Evans and Michael Hill to the Board of Trustees and the acceptance of the nominees, Teal Postula and Kathy Ryan to the Nominating committee.
Vote 4 (Winter Congregational 2022)
Acceptance of nominees Kate Bell-Schwede, Shawn Sweet and Bobby Withrow to the Board of Trustees and the acceptance of the nominees, Beth White and Doug Sherman to the Nominating committee.