Our Covenants and Bylaws
Unitarian Universalism is a convenantal faith tradition. When we become a member and leaders of the UUCJ congregation, we agree to affirm and abide by the following covenants. All congregants agree to uphold the UUCJ Behavioral Covenant.
Using the principles adopted by our association of congregations we covenant together to model to the best of our abilities these principles with each other:
The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
We will listen actively, for understanding, and remember to speak, not for the group, but for ourselves alone.
Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
We will offer direct and open communication talking with rather than about each other. We will address private conflicts away from public times and places. If mediation is desired, we will seek out the CALM committee members, instead of other uninvolved parties.
Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
We will seek and value the opinions and knowledge of each other concerning the effective ministry of this church community. We will uphold the importance of both acceptance and boundaries within healthy congregational relationships. We will engage with those from whom we differ, not to discount or antagonize, but to deepen the relationships and to enrich ourselves.
A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
Practicing patience with the process nature of group dialogue, we will avoid interrupting, monopolizing, antagonizing, digressing from the focus, and abandoning the dialogue.
The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
We will be respectful toward group leaders and will honor democratic protocols of orderly conduct, such as “starting” and “closing” times, ensuring that everyone has opportunity to speak and be heard, and not distracting others while someone is addressing the entire group.
We will accept the conscience of the group, and the results of group process made both when we were either present or absent.
The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
We will begin by seeking peace, liberty and justice for all within our own congregation and community in which we live.
Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
We will show respect of all existence by honoring each other’s presence and contributions as cultivating that independent web of our community and by honoring the gifts of the earth through conservation, stewardship and care in the fulfilling of our tasks.
Adopted at the congregation’s Annual Meeting March 30, 2008
Board Members agree to uphold the Board Covenant.
We the members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Jackson Board of Trustees, adhering to our congregation’s Bylaws and Behavior Covenant, do –
Covenant myself to the Board to:
- Be respectful of the Board and its responsibilities—being fully present, on time, and prepared for all meetings to the best of my ability;
- Be responsible for my assigned role—following through on my commitments and educating myself so I may make wise decisions;
- Be respectful and responsible for myself—taking care of and expressing my needs, practicing confession and forgiveness, and committing myself to my own personal and spiritual development.
Covenant among one another as Board Members to:
- Affirm the inherent worth and dignity of each Board Member—welcoming the diverse perspectives and styles each of us brings to the Board and appreciating each individual’s contribution to the Board;
- Build personal relationships with Board Members based on justice, equity, and compassion to enrich ourselves and the Board process— maintaining perspective and a sense of humor, listening actively and deeply to each other to seek understanding and agreement and to discern content and underlying values expressed, speaking directly and authentically to each other, and openly acknowledging our feelings, even in the midst of difficult conversations;
- Work collaboratively to promote the mission and vision of the congregation—sharing knowledge and skills, setting aside personal agendas for the best interests of the congregation, assuming shared responsibility for all outcomes of Board work, and speaking with one voice about all Board decisions;
- Inspire each other to be our best selves while respecting each Board Member’s expressed needs and limits—encouraging spiritual and personal growth, focusing on solutions rather than admiring problems, presuming good faith, and keeping confidences when requested.
Covenant as a Board to the Congregation to:
- Uphold the congregation’s vision and mission ensuring that all actions undertaken reflect that purpose and promise;
- Stay connected to, and actively involved in, the life of the church community;
- Fulfill the Board’s fiduciary, strategic, and generative responsibilities— being efficient with our resources of time, talents, and treasure and exercising our individual and collective power to further the good of the congregation
- Support leadership at all levels respecting the work undertaken by each committee, taskforce, staff person and/or minister;
- Handle people and issues brought before the Board with respect, presuming good faith by all concerned; and
- Make Board processes transparent—ensuring transactions and decisions of the Board are communicated to members openly and intentionally and welcoming any and all visitors who wish to attend Board meetings and agree to abide by the UUCJ Behavior Covenant.
Adopted at the Board Retreat – July 14, 2013; Reaffirmed at the Board Retreat – June 7, 2014
The current Bylaws were adopted March 29, 2015:
ARTICLE I: NAME and AFFILIATION
Section 1. Name: The name of this religious community shall be the Unitarian Universalist Church of Jackson (UUCJ), which was originally founded as a fellowship on September 7, 1951.
Section 2. Affiliation: The UUCJ shall be a member in good standing of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA) and the associated Region and District.
ARTICLE II: PURPOSES, MISSION, and VISION
Section 1. Purposes: The UUCJ shall devote its resources to and exercise its corporate powers for religious, educational, and humanitarian purposes. The purpose of the UUCJ is to serve the needs of its members and community, to promote the health of our and other affiliated congregations, and to extend and strengthen Unitarian Universalism and its principles.
Section 2. Mission: The UUCJ is a welcoming liberal religious community dedicated to exploring our beliefs, living our values, and changing our world.
Section 3. Vision: The UUCJ has a vision of free, just, and compassionate communities that respect diversity among people and our environment, cultivate reason and meaning through progressive fellowship, and nurture families and neighborhoods in our city, state, and world.
ARTICLE III: PRINCIPLES, INCLUSION, and FREEDOM OF BELIEF
Section 1. Principles: The UUCJ covenants to affirm and promote the principles of the UUA and the living tradition we share drawing from many sources.
Section 2. Inclusion: The UUCJ welcomes, affirms, and promotes the inclusion and full participation of persons in all of its activities and endeavors without regard to race, color, ability, age, sex, affectional or sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or socioeconomic status.
Section 3. Freedom of Belief: The UUCJ supports individual religious, ethical, intellectual, and emotional expression and growth in an atmosphere of tolerance and respect. Nothing herein shall be deemed to infringe upon the individual freedom of belief inherent in the Unitarian Universalist tradition or to be used as a creedal test.
ARTICLE IV: MEMBERSHIP
Section 1. Eligibility for Membership: Any person who expresses sympathy with the purposes, mission, and vision of the UUCJ may become a member in good standing by (a) completing a membership process, including a Stepping Stones, Coming of Age, or Transfer process, (b) demonstrating an understanding of these Bylaws, (c) abiding by the UUCJ Behavioral Covenant, (d) supporting the UUCJ with an annual contribution of Time-Talent-Treasure, and (e) signing the Membership Book. Members in good standing will have all the duties and privileges of membership including the privilege of voting in congregational meetings and serving in member-only leadership positions.
Section 2. Categories of Membership: The description of membership categories shall be as follows:
- Active Membership: An Active Member is a member in good standing who has fulfilled all of the eligibility requirements and who is eligible to vote in congregational meetings.
- Stepping Stones Membership: A Stepping Stones Member is any person who has expressed sympathy with the purposes, mission, and vision of the UUCJ and is in the process of fulfilling the eligibility requirements for Active Membership through the Stepping Stones process.
- YUUth Membership: A YUUth Member is any person less than the age of majority who has expressed sympathy with the purposes, mission, and vision of the UUCJ and is in the process of fulfilling the eligibility requirements for Active Membership through the Coming of Age process.
- Honorary Membership: An Honorary Member is any person who has previously been an Active Member and who by reason of age, infirmity, or distance is unable to maintain Active Membership but wishes to retain formal affiliation with the UUCJ. Honorary Members are not considered in the calculation for establishing quorum for any Biannual or Special Meeting nor are they eligible to vote in any Biannual or Special Meeting. Honorary Members do retain other privileges of membership, including access to shared resources and ceremonial rites.
The requirements for each membership category shall be specified in the Policies and Procedures Manual of the UUCJ.
Section 3: Discontinuation of Membership: A member may be removed from membership according to procedures specified in the Policies and Procedures Manual of the UUCJ in cases of (a) death; (b) inactivity; (c) request by the member; or (d) a vote for removal by the Board of Trustees for violation of the UUCJ Behavioral Covenant.
ARTICLE V: MEETINGS
Section 1: Congregational Meetings: The UUCJ shall have regular congregational meetings to conduct business properly presented before it and to discuss matters of interest
- Biannual Meetings: The UUCJ shall hold two biannual meetings of the membership at a time and place as the Board of Trustees shall designate. At the Spring Biannual meeting, the congregation shall (a) elect officers for the Board of Trustees and members of teams or taskforces requiring election and (b) other business including any proposed Bylaws revisions. At the Fall Biannual meeting, the congregation shall (a) adopt a proposed budget for the ensuing fiscal year and (b) other business including congregational votes on matters to be presented at the UUA General Assembly.
- Special Meetings: Special Congregational Meetings may be called by the Board of Trustees at its discretion or upon written petition of ten percent (10%) of the members in good standing. The business to be transacted at such special meeting shall be specified in the written petition, if applicable, and the notice of the meeting provided to members in good standing at least fourteen (14) days prior to the meeting. Any business not included in the notice may be discussed but not voted on during a special meeting.
- Town Hall Meetings: Town Hall Meetings may be called by the Board of Trustees at its discretion to discuss matters of interest to the congregation and to report on congregational activities. No business shall be transacted during a Town Hall Meeting.
Section 2: Quorum for Congregational Meetings: A quorum of 30% of the Active Members in good standing must be established for a Biannual or Special Meeting.
Section 3: Voting for Congregational Meetings: All votes shall be approved or disapproved by a simple majority of votes cast, except for votes taken relating to the calling of a Minister as described in these Bylaws. No member may vote by absentee ballot, by proxy, or by attorney.
ARTICLE VI: BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Section 1: Responsibilities and Powers: The Board of Trustees (Board) shall conduct the business affairs of the UUCJ and, subject to these Bylaws, carry out actions necessary for the effective operation of the UUCJ by maintaining a Policies and Procedures Manual for the UUCJ. All records of the Officers and Trustees of the Board created in the commission of their duties shall be the property of UUCJ.
Section 2: Composition of the Board: The Board shall consist of five officers-a President, President-Elect, Past President, Secretary, and Treasurer-and two Trustees who must all be members in good standing. All Ministers shall serve as ex-officio members of the Board.
- President: The President shall preside at all congregational and Board meetings and shall represent the UUCJ on appropriate occasions. The President shall be an ex-officio member of all ministry teams except those limited to non-Board members.
- President-Elect: The President-Elect shall assume the duties of the President in the absence of or at the request of the President and shall serve as the Co-Chair of the Ministry Council.
- Past President: The Past President shall serve to maintain continuity across the years and is responsible for Leadership Development.
- Treasurer: The Treasurer shall maintain the permanent financial records of UUCJ, including a record of all assets, including money and property, and expenditures, and prepare financial reports for the UUCJ.
- Secretary: The Secretary shall maintain all non-financial records of UUCJ, including the records for all business and meetings, the church calendar, and the official list of members in good standing. The Secretary also informs the congregation of all meetings and decision made by the Board.
- Trustees: Two Trustees shall serve as liaisons to the Board for members and friends of the congregation as well as assigned Ministry Teams and affiliated groups.
Section 3: Term Length and Limits of the Board: The President-Elect, President, and Past President shall serve for a one-year term per position (in a rotation for a total of three years). The Treasurer, Secretary, and Trustees each serve for a two-year term. In odd numbered years, a President-Elect, Treasurer, and first Trustee shall be elected. In even numbered years, a President-Elect, Secretary, and second Trustee shall be elected.
A person may serve for a maximum of two consecutive terms as Treasurer, Secretary, or Trustee. A person who has served as President-Elect/President/Past President must have at least one year lapse before being eligible to serve again as the President-Elect. A person may serve in any positions on the Board for a maximum total of six consecutive years.
Section 4: Vacancies: If a vacancy on the Board, a Ministry Team, a Council, or a Taskforce occurs due to resignation, death, or inability to serve, the President, with affirmation of the Board, shall appoint a person to serve until the next Biannual Meeting, if scheduled within ninety days, or a Special Meeting called to fill the vacancy. If the President resigns, dies, or is unable to serve, the President-Elect shall assume the duties of the President and, with affirmation of the Board, appoint a person to serve as President-Elect until the next Biannual Meeting, if scheduled within ninety days, or a Special Meeting called to fill the vacancy.
Section 5: Removal from Office: A Officer or Trustee may be removed from the Board by a 2/3rds vote of all other Board members for the following reasons:
- Missing three consecutive meetings without just cause;
- Gross misconduct or abuse of office;
- Failing to maintain status as a member in good standing; or
- Inability or failing to fulfill responsibilities of the Board and/or the elected position.
Section 6: Meetings: The Board shall meet at a regularly scheduled time and place at least six times per year. In addition, a special Board meeting may be called by the President or two other Officers/Trustees. A quorum, consisting of a simple majority of the Officers/Trustees of the Board, must be present for the Board to transact business. All Board meetings are open to members and friends, except when called into Executive Session to discuss topics requiring confidentiality, such as discussions of salaries, contributions, or violations of the Behavioral Covenant. Ministers serving as ex-officio members on the Board shall participate in Executive Sessions except during discussions of the salary, tenure, or conduct of ministers.
ARTICLE VII: MINISTRY COUNCIL, MINISTRY TEAMS, ADVISORY COUNCILS, TASKFORCES, and AFFILIATED GROUPS
Section 1: Ministry Council: The Ministry Council shall plan and organize the ministries of the UUCJ and, subject to these Bylaws, carry out actions necessary for the effective operation of the UUCJ as specified in the Policies and Procedures Manual of the UUCJ. The Ministry Council shall be co-chaired by the President-Elect and the Minister of UUCJ. The Ministry Council shall be comprised of all of the (co-)leaders of the Ministry Teams. The Ministry Council will meet at least four times annually to plan and schedule the ministries of UUCJ.
Section 2: Ministry Teams: Ministry Teams are the active groups in which members and friends join to support and fulfill the mission of the UUCJ. Ministry Teams are established by the Board and set in the UUCJ Policy and Procedures Manual describing the authority and responsibilities of each Team. Ministry Team (co-)leaders shall be appointed by the Board and assigned responsibility for leading Team meetings, ensuring collective decision-making, and approving expenditures according to the approved budget. Ministry Team membership shall be open to all members and friends of the UUCJ. Members and friends may select a Ministry Team on which to serve a one-year term as part of their annual Time-Talent-Treasure pledge. A person may serve on a Ministry Team for an unlimited number of terms unless removed or temporarily suspended by a majority vote of the Board for gross misconduct or abuse of office, failing to abide by the UUCJ Behavioral Covenant, or an inability or failing to fulfill the responsibilities of the Ministry Team.
Ministry Teams include the following:
- Welcoming Community Team: This Team is responsible for greeting guests, hospitality, welcoming new members and friends, social activities, and remembrance of members;
- Exploring Beliefs Team: This Team is responsible for lifespan religious education, affinity groups, and Sunday programs.
- Living Our Values Team: This Team is responsible for caring for members and friends in need, promoting responsible and open communication in our congregation, ethical practices in our congregation, and ecological stewardship of our facilities and grounds.
- Changing Our World Team: This Team is responsible for promoting social justice in our world, organizing social action events for members and friends, and collaborating in interfaith and allied action.
Each Ministry Team must report its activities, expenditures, and needs to the Board at least once per quarter and in preparation of the Biannual Meetings.
Section 3: Advisory Councils: Advisory Councils may be formed by the Board with elected or appointed members to promote the healthy functioning of the UUCJ, including the following:
- CALM Council: The CALM Council shall consist of at least three members in good standing who are not Officers/Trustees of the Board. The CALM Council members shall be elected annually by the congregation at the Spring Biannual Meeting. The purpose of the CALM Council is to support a healthy and safe church community by providing guidance in situations involving interpersonal conflict between members, friends, and/or groups and allegations of violations of the UUCJ Behavioral Covenant. The responsibilities and procedures of the CALM Council shall be set in the UUCJ Policy and Procedures Manual.
- Leadership Development Council: The Leadership Development Council shall consist of the Past President and three members in good standing who are not Officers/Trustees of the Board. The Leadership Development Council members shall be elected for staggered three-year terms, with a new member elected each year, by the congregation at the Spring Biannual Meeting. The Past President shall be the chair of the Leadership Development Council. The purpose of the Leadership Development Council is to support the development of quality leadership within the UUCJ and to provide a slate of candidates to fill all elected positions in accordance with these Bylaws and the UUCJ Policies and Procedures Manual. The responsibilities and procedures of the Leadership Development Council shall be set in the UUCJ Policy and Procedures Manual.
- Ministerial Relations Council: The Ministerial Relations Council shall consist of three members in good standing who are not Officers/Trustees of the Board. Two Ministerial Relations Council members shall be appointed by the President, with the affirmation of the Board, for rotating two-year terms, and one Ministerial Relations Council member shall be appointed by the Minister annually. The purpose of the Ministerial Relations Council is to recognize and nurture the needs of the minister and to maintain a channel of communication between the minister and the congregation. The Ministerial Relations Council shall conduct an annual evaluation of the minister-congregation relationship for promoting the mission and ministry of the UUCJ. In addition the Ministerial Relations Council shall conduct an annual review of the minister’s job description, contract terms, and covenant with the minister and recommend revisions as needed, including appropriate compensation, to the Board. The responsibilities and procedures of the Ministerial Relations Council shall be set in the UUCJ Policy and Procedures Manual.
- Personnel Council: The Personnel Council shall be comprised of the Officers of the Board. The purpose of the Personnel Council is to hire, terminate, and provide direct supervision and accountability for any professional and support staff. The Personnel Council shall be responsible for developing and revising (a) a description of the duties and responsibilities and (b) the contract terms, including appropriate compensation, for each staff position. In addition, the Personnel Council shall regularly evaluate the performance of each staff person. The responsibilities and procedures of the Personnel Council shall be set in the UUCJ Policy and Procedures Manual.
Each Council must report its activities, expenditures, and needs to the Board at least once per quarter and in preparation of the Biannual Meetings.
Section 4: Taskforce: The Board may form an ad hoc Taskforce, as needed, to undertake specific tasks for a limited time period. The Taskforce will be dissolved as soon as the assigned tasks have been completed successfully or until dissolved by the Board. Each Taskforce must report its activities, expenditures, and needs to the Board at least once per quarter and in preparation of the Biannual Meetings. A final report of the Taskforce should be presented to the Board within thirty days of dissolution of the Taskforce.
Section 5: Affiliated Groups: The UUCJ welcomes affiliated groups who abide by the Principles and Policies of the UUA and the UUCJ. The procedures for becoming an affiliated group shall be set in the UUCJ Policy and Procedures Manual. The Board may dissolve the relationship between the UUCJ and an affiliated group for good cause.
ARTICLE VIII: MINISTERS
Section 1: Ministers: The UUCJ holds the right to ordain, install, commission, or contract with a Minister(s), in accordance with UUA guidelines. The duties, other conditions of employment, and compensation of the Minister(s) shall be as prescribed by the Board, agreed to by the Minister(s) in writing, and approved by the congregation. The contract shall specify responsibilities and privileges of the Minister, compensation, and accountability of the Minister to the Congregation.
The Minister(s) shall serve as the religious and spiritual leader(s) of the UUCJ in keeping with the purpose, principles, mission, and vision of the UUCJ. The Minister(s) shall be guaranteed freedom of the pulpit. The Minister(s) shall serve as an ex officio and non-voting member of the Board and as the Co-Chair, with the President-Elect, of the Ministries Council.
Section 2: Types of Ministry: The UUCJ may select professional or lay ministry using one or more of the following methods:
- Settled Minister: A Settled Minister may be installed upon a recommendation of a Ministerial Search Committee appointed by the Board and an affirmative vote by a secret ballot of two-thirds of the members in good standing present during a Biannual or Special Meeting called for this purpose. A Settled Minister may hold an indefinite tenure unless terminated
- Consulting Minister: A Consulting Minister may be contracted with on an annual basis according to UUA guidelines upon a recommendation of a Ministerial Search Committee appointed by the Board and an affirmative vote by a majority of the members in good standing present during a Biannual or Special Meeting called for this purpose. The Consulting Minister shall serve the congregation for specified consulting purposes, with terms and conditions specified in a written contract and approved by a majority vote of the Board. Renewal of a contract with a Consulting Minister shall require (a) review and, as needed, revision of the contract in negotiation with the Board and Ministerial Relations Council, (b) approval by the Board, and (c) affirmation by the congregation at the next Biannual Meeting.
- Lay Minister: A Lay Minister may be contracted with on an annual basis upon a recommendation of a Ministerial Search Committee appointed by the Board and an affirmative vote by a majority of the members in good standing present during a Biannual or Special Meeting called for this purpose. The Lay Minister shall serve the congregation according to terms and conditions specified in a written contract approved by a majority vote of the Board. Renewal of a contract with a Lay Minister shall require (a) review and, as needed, revision of the contract in negotiation with the Board and Ministerial Relations Council, (b) approval by the Board, and (c) affirmation by the congregation at the next Biannual Meeting.
Section 3: Termination of a Minister’s Service: The services of a Minister may be terminated under the following conditions: (a) the Minister gives three months written notice to the Secretary of the congregation or (b) the Minister is dismissed by a congregation vote of written ballot of two-thirds of the members in good standing present during a Biannual or Special Meeting called for that purpose.
In the event the congregation votes to terminate the services of a minister, the congregation shall provide termination compensation as specified in the contract, and the Board shall have the discretion to discontinue all or any portion of the duties required of the Minister.
ARTICLE IX: FINANCIAL ADMINISTRATION
Section 1: Fiscal Year: The fiscal year of the UUCJ shall be from January 1st to December 31st of each year.
Section 2: Board Review: The Board has a fiduciary responsibility to oversee the finances of the UUCJ. The financial records of the UUCJ must be kept on paper or electronic records that are accessible for inspection at any time by the Board. The Board shall ensure (a) timely processing of donations and pledges, (b) regular reviews of statements of assets and expenses provided by the Treasurer at scheduled meetings, and (c) annual reviews the financial records by an Officer/Trustee of the Board other than the Treasurer. The President, with affirmation from the Board, may call for an audit of the financial records at any time.
Section 3: Official Signatures: If required, only Officers of the Board may sign and attest deeds, mortgages, contracts, and other documents to which the UUCJ is a party.
Section 4: Special Donations: Special monetary donations will be allocated to a special fund set aside for the purpose for which the monies were collected or donated. Special nonmonetary donations given for any specific purpose, shall be put to use at the discretion of the Board with strong consideration to the wishes of the donor or person being honored and/or any surviving family member.
Section 5: Professional and Support Staff: The Board at its discretion may hire professional and support staff to meet the needs of the UUCJ provided the congregation approves funds for the position. All non-ministerial staff shall be under the responsibility of the Personnel Council.
ARTICLE X: DISPOSITION OF CHURCH PROPERTY
In the case of the dissolution of this church or its failure to maintain affiliation with the UUA, or its successors, all its property, real or personal, subject to all legal claims upon it, shall vest in the UUA or its successor, for the benefit of a future Unitarian Universalist Church or fellowship in this vicinity or for the furthering of Unitarian Universalism in some other way. Except as otherwise provided for in these Bylaws, real or personal property may only be sold or otherwise disposed of by a two-thirds vote of a congregational meeting called for that purpose. Property may not be disposed of in anticipation of dissolution or disaffiliation.
ARTICLE XI: PARLIAMENTARY AUTHORITY
The UUCJ shall conduct meetings in accordance with the Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised except in instances where these rules are in conflict with these Bylaws.
ARTICLE XII: BY LAW REVIEW AND AMENDMENT
These Bylaws shall be reviewed biannually by the Board. The Board recommend or may appoint a Taskforce to recommend amendments to the congregation. These Bylaws may be amended at any Biannual or Special Congregational Meeting by a two-thirds vote provided the proposed changes shall have been issued to all members in good standing at least thirty days in advance of the meeting.
Adopted by the Congregation: March 29, 1964; Amended by the Congregation: April 2, 1978 ● July 16, 1978 ● March 24, 1986 ● March 24, 1991 ● July 14, 1991 ● March 21, 1999 ● June 27, 1999 ● January 16, 2000 ● June 24, 2001 ● March 7, 2004 ● March 30, 2008 ● March 29, 2015