The Church and By-Laws
The greater Lafayette area has but one Unitarian Universalist Church. Thus we must meet the varied needs of many people, providing opportunities for each member’s search for truth and meaning, working for social justice, and fostering relationships among like-minded people.
In order to meet all these needs, we must function as an organization. You’ll find that our bylaws and our current organizational structure address the many policies necessary in running an organization of this size. As we have grown, we have added staff as necessary, and we have had to undertake much greater responsibility with the much larger facility we acquired in 2007.
Among our highest ideals is the use of the democratic process in all decision-making. By working with everyone’s needs in mind, electing and appointing lay leadership that will best work for our common goals, we have a team of paid staff and volunteers who work diligently with this end in mind.
We also strive to treat our members and our staff with dignity. It goes without saying that the people are what make this church what it is; thus we work together to achieve these goals.
Thus we work together to create a church where both individual and group desires are recognized, guiding each of us in our spiritual life.
BYLAWS OF THE UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST CHURCH, INC.
West Lafayette, Indiana
[The following amendments to the bylaws were approved by the Unitarian Universalist Church congregation at the 1/30/2022 Congregational Meeting.]
ARTICLE I. Name and Organization
- The name of this religious organization shall be the Unitarian Universalist Church, Inc. (this “congregation”).
- This congregation is governed by the Indiana Nonprofit Corporation Act of 1991.
- This congregation’s principal office is located in the City of West Lafayette in Tippecanoe County, Indiana.
- This religious organization is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Association(UUA).
- This congregation is organized exclusively for religious, educational, and philanthropic purposes, including, for such purposes, the making of distributions to organizations that qualify as exempt organizations described under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or the corresponding section of any future federal tax code.
The purpose of this congregation is set forth in our covenant: “Love is the spirit of this church, and service is its law. This is our covenant: to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love, and to help one another.” This congregation is a nurturing spiritual community that celebrates diverse beliefs and encourages spiritual growth through lifelong learning. Guided by our Unitarian Universalist Principles, we support each other in our life journeys and work toward social justice in the local and global communities.
ARTICLE III. Inclusion
This congregation commits to welcoming all persons and structuring congregational life in ways that empower and enhance everyone’s participation. We value and embrace the diversity of racial and cultural identity and background, nationality, sexual and affectional orientation, gender identity and its expression, spiritual background and belief, marital status, family structure, age, mental and physical health and ability, political perspective, and educational and class status. Our commitment to inclusion applies to all congregational activities and decisions, including employment decisions and the calling, installation, and retention of Minister(s).
ARTICLE IV. Membership
- A member of this church is any person, 16 years or older, who is in agreement with and supports the principles and purposes of Unitarian Universalism, who signs the Membership Book in the presence of a Minister or Trustee, and who each year pledges to make an annual financial contribution and to help with one or more church tasks or activities.
- Members are eligible to vote at any Congregational Meeting, to hold elective or appointed church offices, and to represent this congregation at Unitarian Universalist district and national meetings 30 days after they have signed the Membership Book, unless otherwise stipulated in these bylaws. Members are eligible to be elected to the Board of Trustees if they are at least 18 years old.
- Membership will terminate upon the occurrence of any of the following as determined by the Board of Trustees:
- A member’s death
- Receipt by the Board of Trustees of the member’s written resignation, signed by the member
- Failure to make or fulfill (to the best of their ability) an annual pledge to contribute financially during any twelve-month period
- Failure to help with one or more church tasks or activities during any twelve-month period (to the best of their ability)
- Conduct that threatens or may threaten the health or well-being of others in this congregation, or of this congregation as a whole, as determined by the Trustees.
- Before a membership is terminated for disciplinary reasons, the Board of Trustees shall provide the accused member the following:
- written notice at least 15 days before the meeting at which the Board of Trustees considers the discipline.
- the opportunity to be heard orally or in writing to the meeting at which the Board of Trustees considers the discipline
- a fair and reasonable procedure throughout consideration of discipline
- written notice of the discipline by first-class or certified mail sent to the member’s most recent address shown on the Membership Book.
- Termination does not relieve a person from any obligation the person may have to this congregation as a result of obligations incurred or commitments made before termination.
Article V. Congregational Meetings
- Meetings of voting members for the transaction of business of the congregation shall be known as Congregational Meetings and shall include two types: regular and special.
- Regular Congregational Meetings shall be held at such a time, place, and method, as determined by the Board of Trustees, with written notice of the time, date, and purpose of the meeting sent to members at least 10 days before the meeting. There are two regular Congregational Meetings each year: a Spring Meeting and a Fall Meeting.
- The Spring Meeting shall be held between January 1 and May 31. The Spring Meeting shall include the election of Officers, Trustees, and members of the Endowment Committee, Committee on Shared Ministries, and Nominating Committee.
- The Fall Meeting shall be held between June 1 and December 31. The Fall Meeting shall include the adoption of a budget for the new fiscal year.
- A Special Congregational Meeting may be called as follows:
- On call of the Board of Trustees, or
- If 20 percent of all the members entitled to cast a vote on the issue proposed to be considered at the proposed special meeting sign, date, and deliver to the Secretary at least one written demand for the meeting describing the purpose for which the meeting is to be held. Only those matters that are within the purposes described in the meeting notice may be conducted at a special meeting of members.
- In either case, written notice of the time, date, and purpose of the meeting shall be sent to members at least 10 days before the meeting.
- A quorum for the conduct of business at a Congregational Meeting shall be 25 percent of all members.
- The rules contained in the current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised govern in all cases to which they are applicable and in which they are not inconsistent with these bylaws and any special rules of order that may be adopted. The President shall appoint a parliamentarian before each Congregational Meeting.
- Congregational decisions shall be made with a majority of those present and voting, unless otherwise specified in these bylaws or in the governing parliamentary authority. The Board of Trustees may increase the vote required for adoption of any question by publishing the vote requirement in the notice of the meeting.
- The Board of Trustees may permit members to participate by or through the use of any means of communication that (1) includes reasonable measures to verify the identity of each member considered present and permitted to vote at the meeting and (2) ensures members have an opportunity to participate and vote on matters discussed at the meeting, including an opportunity to read or hear the proceedings. A Member participating in a meeting by such means shall be considered present at the meeting. When the Board of Trustees deems participating by electronic means appropriate, the notice shall include information for participating by electronic means. Electronic Congregational Meetings shall be subject to all rules adopted by the Board of Trustees or by the Congregational Meeting to govern them, which shall supersede any conflicting rules in the parliamentary authority but shall not otherwise conflict with or alter any rule or decision of the Congregational Meeting. An anonymous vote conducted through the designated electronic meeting service shall be deemed a ballot vote, fulfilling any requirement that a vote be conducted by ballot.
ARTICLE VI. Trustees and Officers
- Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees shall be the Board of Directors of this congregation and, as such, shall be responsible for maintaining and protecting its property and managing its business and fiscal affairs. It shall have the powers and be subject to the obligations that pertain to such boards under the laws of Indiana, except as otherwise provided in these bylaws. There shall be nine Trustees of this congregation elected by the members at the Spring Meeting. Any member who is at least 18 years old is eligible for election as a Trustee. The Trustees shall consist of the following:
- A President-Elect, President, and Immediate Past President, each terms of three years or until their successors are elected, elected one each year in rotation and serving successively as President-Elect, President, and Immediate Past President;
- Five Trustees with terms of two years or until their successors are elected, elected in alternating years, three in the first year, two in the next year; and
- A Treasurer elected for a term of two years or until a successor is elected.
The Trustees are the directors of this congregation.
- There are four officers of this congregation: The President, Treasurer, Secretary, and Assistant Treasurer. The Secretary and Assistant Treasurer are elected annually by the Board of Trustees from among the members of the Board except that President, President-Elect, and Treasurer may not serve in more than one office.
- At the Spring Meeting, the Nominating Committee shall present one nominee for each position with an expiring term, having ascertained that the person nominated is willing to serve in that position. The President shall solicit further nominations from the members present at the meeting.
For any position for which there is no nomination from the members present, the slate shall be declared elected by acclamation. For all positions for which more than one person is nominated, the person who receives a majority of the votes cast shall be elected. If no candidate receives a majority, the candidates with the first- and second-greatest number of votes shall be listed on the next ballot until a candidate receives a majority of the votes.
Trustees in the three-year Presidential succession may not be re-elected to the Board for at least one year after serving as Immediate Past President. All other Trustees, including the Treasurer, may be re-elected for a second consecutive term.
Elected Trustees will take office on June 1.
- When a vacancy occurs, the Board of Trustees shall elect a member until the next Congregational Meeting, which shall elect a member to serve the unexpired portion of the term.
- The Board of Trustees shall meet on the call of the President or on the demand of any three Trustees. Meetings are open to all. The Board of Trustees may permit members to participate by or through the use of any means of communication by which all members participating may simultaneously hear each other during the meeting. When the Board of Trustees deems participating by electronic means appropriate, the notice shall include information for participating by electronic means. Electronic Board Meetings shall be subject to all rules adopted by the Board of Trustees, which shall supersede any conflicting rules in the parliamentary authority but shall not otherwise conflict with or alter any rule or decision of the Board Meeting. An anonymous vote conducted through the designated electronic-meeting service shall be deemed a ballot vote, fulfilling any requirement that a vote be conducted by ballot.
- Duties of the Board. The Trustees shall be responsible for the business, legal, and corporate activities of the congregation. They shall specifically:
Manage an annual budget, authorize procedures for approval of expenditures, direct the deposit and investment of funds, and prescribe the method of accounting.
Convene an audit committee which conducts financial reviews on a biannual/annual basis.
Employ persons to positions of service in the church.
Supervise the Minister(s) in employment-related matters, including salary determination, employment review, and termination recommendations.
Adopt policies consistent with these bylaws.
Consider any recommendation made to them by any member of the congregation.
Establish standing committees, special committees, task forces, and other committees as they deem necessary or desirable.
- Duties of Officers shall be defined in writing and approved by the Board of Trustees.
- Removal of Trustees and Officers. Board members and officers may be removed without cause by majority vote at a Congregational Meeting. Board members, the President, the President-Elect, and the Immediate Past President may be removed for cause based on behavior sufficient to remove the person from membership of this congregation or for neglect of duty in office and shall require a two-thirds vote during a meeting of the Trustees. The Secretary and Assistant Treasurer may also be removed as Officers by two-thirds vote of the Board of Trustees with or without cause.
ARTICLE VII. The Minister(s)
- The Minister(s) shall be in Fellowship with the Unitarian Universalist Association, and a member in good standing of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association.
- In general, the Minister(s) shall provide overall religious leadership and guidance in accordance with the established purposes of the congregation and shall be guaranteed freedom of the pulpit. The minister(s) shall serve as Chief of Staff and conduct such administration and coordination duties as agreed upon by the minister and the Board. The minister(s) represents the congregation in the larger community.
- When there is a vacancy in the office of the Minister, the Board of Trustees shall establish a Ministerial Search Committee consistent with the current recommendations of the Transitions Office (or equivalent) of the UUA. The Ministerial Search Committee shall follow the most current search process prescribed by the UUA.
- The Minister(s) shall be chosen by two-thirds of those present and voting at a Congregational Meeting, provided that the recommendation of the search committee appointed by the Board of Trustees for the purpose of selecting and recommending a candidate shall be included in the notice of the meeting.
- The tenure of the Minister(s) and conditions of employment shall be specified in a written agreement between the Minister and this congregation as approved by the Board of Trustees.
- A Minister may resign by submitting a notice of resignation in writing to the Board of Trustees.
- A Minister may be dismissed by a two-thirds vote in an anonymous ballot at a Special Congregational Meeting, provided that the notice of the proposed action has been included in the notice of the meeting.
- Should the congregation decide to employ an interim minister, current UUA guidelines for hiring an interim minister shall be followed. Appointment of an Interim Minister does not require the approval of the congregation. The Board of Trustees may appoint or reappoint an Interim Minister for a total period of up to three years. Interim Ministers may not be reappointed beyond three years without approval of a Congregational Meeting. The Board of Trustees is also permitted to hire a temporary minister on contract for a specified length of time.
ARTICLE VIII. Committees of the Congregation
- The Nominating Committee, in consultation with the Board of Trustees and the Minister, recruits members of the congregation to serve on the Board of Trustees, the Nominating Committee, and the Endowment Committee, and presents them for election at the Spring Meeting. The slate of nominees shall be presented to the members prior to the Congregational Meeting. The President shall solicit further nominations from the members present at the meeting.
The Nominating Committee shall be comprised of four members of the congregation serving staggered three-year terms.
- The Endowment Committee receives and oversees long-term funds while ensuring that the requirements of the Endowment Policy are followed. The Endowment Committee shall report to the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees shall adopt the Endowment Policy. The Endowment Committee is comprised of three elected members of the congregation who serve staggered three-year terms, the Immediate Past President or their designee chosen by the Board of Trustees, and the Treasurer or their designee. Endowment funds may be managed by an independent investment entity outside of the church if recommended by the Endowment Committee and approved by the Board of Trustees.
- The Committee on Shared Ministries (note this boldface text is not in the approved bylaws, needs amendment) strives to achieve the highest possible fulfillment of the congregation's mission through its overall ministry. Its responsibilities may include, but are not limited to, providing Ministerial advisement, professional development support, congregational assessment, and assistance with conflict engagement in the congregation. The Board of Trustees and the Minister recruit members of the congregation to serve on this committee. Committee on Shared Ministries shall be composed of five members of the congregation serving staggered three-year terms.
- Newly elected members of the Nominating Committee, Endowment Committee, and the Committee on Shared Ministries will take office on June 1 of the year they were elected. If a vacancy occurs on any of these three committees, Trustees will appoint a member of the congregation to serve the unexpired portion of the term.
Article IX. Finances
- The fiscal year shall begin January 1 and end December 31 of the same year.
- A financial statement for all funds shall be compiled at the end of each fiscal year.
- The operating fund consists of pledge income and other revenues to be used for the budget expenses of the congregation.
- The Trustees may place money in the Endowment Funds. The receipt, management, and disbursement of Endowment Funds shall be entrusted to the Endowment Committee as directed by the Board of Trustees.
- Special Funds may be established by the Trustees for specified purposes. The receipt, management, and disbursement of these funds shall be entrusted to the Trustees.
Article X. Merger, Acquisition, or Dissolution
- This congregation shall be dissolved under the following procedures:
- The Board of Trustees must recommend dissolution to the members unless the Board of Trustees determines a conflict of interest or other special circumstance would make such a recommendation inappropriate. The Board of Trustees shall communicate to all members either the recommendation or an explanation for why the Board of Trustees made no recommendation. The Board of Trustees may condition its submission of the proposal for dissolution on any basis.
- The members approve the proposal to dissolve by a three-fourths vote.
- Should this congregation dissolve, any assets of this congregation shall be transferred upon its dissolution to the Unitarian Universalist Association or its successors, to be used for general Unitarian Universalist purposes.
- If a designated recipient does not exist or is not qualified as 501(c)(3) exempt at the time of dissolution of the corporation, assets shall be distributed for one or more exempt purposes within the meaning of section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or the corresponding section of any future federal tax code, or shall be distributed to the federal government, or to a state or local government, for a public purpose. Any such assets not so disposed of shall be disposed of by a court of competent jurisdiction of the county in which the principal office of this congregation is then located, exclusively for such purposes or to such organization or organizations, as determined by the court, which are organized and operated exclusively for such purposes.
- Acquisition or Merger. Any acquisition by or merger with another corporation shall require a majority vote of the Board of Trustees and approval by a three-fourths vote at a Congregational Meeting.
Article XI. AMENDMENTS
These Bylaws may be amended at any Congregational Meeting by a two-thirds vote, provided that the proposed changes have been distributed to members at least 10 days before the meeting. These bylaws may not be amended in any manner that would exclude the congregation from qualifying as an exempt corporation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or any corresponding provision of any future United States Revenue Code.