Bylaws of the United Church of the Valley

 

Murrieta, California

As Proposed for Amendment January 31, 2016

 

Article I. NAME

The name of this church is United Church of the Valley (the “church”), as incorporated under the laws of the State of California.

 

Article II. PURPOSE

The purpose of this church is to provide an environment open for all to worship God, develop Christian values, share life’s experiences, strive for truth, justice, and peace, and respond with compassion to the needs of others.

 

Article III. POLITY

This church recognizes God as the ultimate source of authority in all things. This church is guided in matters of faith and discipline by the Holy Scriptures, by the Holy Spirit, reason, and conscience.

 

This church is governed by its members, subject to the laws of the State of California relative to non-profit religious corporations.

 

This church shall recognize the Southern California-Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ (UCC) and the Pacific Southwest Region, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (DOC) as instrumentalities of the church’s life and service and shall utilize the staff and facilities of the UCC and DOC to the mutual benefit of this church and the UCC and DOC.

 

This church is autonomous, yet seeks mutual council, cooperation and fellowship of the UCC and DOC and other organizations which share its aims and work.

 

Article IV. STATEMENT OF FAITH

We believe in God: who has created and is creating, who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh, to reconcile and make new, and who works in us and others by the Spirit. We trust in God.

 

We are called to be the church: to celebrate God’s presence, to love and serve others, to seek justice and resist evil, to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen, our judge and our hope.

 

In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God.

 

Article V. COVENANT

We join together with God and with each other:

to provide an environment open for all to worship God,

to develop Christian values,

to share life’s experiences,

to strive for truth, justice, and peace,

to respond with compassion to the needs of others.

We do this in the love of Jesus and in our desire to do the will of God in all things.

 

Article VI. MEMBERSHIP

Membership of this church shall be open to all those willing to publicly accept its Covenant.

 

The United Church of the Valley seeks to be an open inclusive church, welcoming persons of all races, genders, ages, sexual orientation, marital status, and disabilities.

Persons desiring to be members or associate members will be received at a worship service by affirming their acceptance of the Covenant either in person or in absentia with written affirmation. “Associate members” are those members who hold membership in other churches. The date of said worship service and the name of each new member will be duly recorded and entered in the official Membership Roll of the church. Written documentation of membership will be delivered to each new member as soon thereafter as practical. Members and associate members of the church will have equal rights and privileges of membership.

 

All members have the right to voice their opinions at an Annual or Special Meeting of the church.

 

This church will receive Letters of Transfer and Recommendation from other churches and issue Letters of Transfer and Recommendation to other churches.

 

Members and Associate members who have obtained the age of 18 will be known hereafter as “corporate members” and shall have the rights enumerated under the laws of the State of California, including the right to vote and the right to be elected to the Church Council.

 

A member may be considered an “inactive member” if for a period of one (1) year, the member is inactive in attending church and does not render financial support. The designation as “inactive member” shall be made by vote of the Church Council, and the inactive member shall be notified of this inactive status in writing.  An inactive member:

-may be removed from the membership rolls by a vote of the Church Council, for continued inactivity for a period of one (1) year following the time of their designation as “inactive member” and the person removed shall be notified of such action in writing;

-shall lose all rights afforded to corporate members, including the right to vote;

-shall not be included in the quorum for any membership meeting;

-may be reinstated, without rejoining the church, by vote of the Church Council.

 

A member will be removed from the membership rolls at the request of that member.

 

Article VII. SERVICES AND WORSHIP

Public services of worship shall be held regularly each Sunday, and at such other times as the church acting under the guidance of the Church Council in consultation with the Minister(s) shall determine.

 

The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper shall be celebrated at the discretion of the Minister(s). The Sacrament of Christian Baptism may be held when appropriate, at the discretion of the Minister(s).

 

Ceremonies celebrating life experiences – birth, confirmation, marriage, vocational dedication, reconciliation, death – shall be held when appropriate at the discretion of the Minister(s).

 

This church shall provide appropriate educational programs to inform of Christian values, to inform of worship and fellowship experiences with God, to inform of the traditions and purpose of the UCC and DOC and to introduce persons into the community of faith.

 

Article VIII. CONGREGATIONAL MEETINGS

The Annual Congregational Meeting (Annual Meeting) of this church shall be held during the month of January to hear the yearly report of Minister(s) and officers; to fill elective offices; to transact necessary business and to adopt the budget and plans for the year. All active members of the church shall receive written notice of the meeting at least ten (10) calendar days preceding the time set for such meeting. Written notice may take the form of appropriate information in a letter and/or a church Newsletter. Written notice is deemed received when delivered in person or when mailed to the member’s last known address.

 

A Semi-Annual Meeting shall be held during the month of June for the purpose of reviewing financial reports and approving a budget for the following fiscal year.

 

Special Congregational Meetings (Special Meetings) of this church may be called by the Minister(s), the Moderator, the Church Council, or on written request of any five active corporate members addressed to the Moderator specifying the nature and purpose thereof.  All active members of the church shall receive written notice of such a meeting at least ten (10) calendar days preceding the time set for such meeting. Written notice may take the form of appropriate information in a letter and/or a church Newsletter. Written notice is deemed received when delivered in person or when mailed to the member’s last known address.

Motions and official actions at a Special Meeting shall be limited to those matters announced as agenda items in the call to the meeting.

 

Any Special Meeting called for the purpose of buying, selling, mortgaging or transferring of real property requires a 2/3 affirmative vote of the active corporate members present.

 

A quorum for any Annual or Special Meeting shall consist of at least 25% of the active corporate members of the church. Once a quorum is present for any meeting, such quorum shall be considered to be present for all purposes for that entire meeting, even though members leave and less than 25% of the corporate members remain.

 

Only active corporate members are entitled to vote at any meeting. A majority of the corporate members present at any Annual or Special Meeting shall be required to transact business and take action. Any meeting may be adjourned to any future date without requiring additional written notice to members of the church. If a quorum is not present at the originating meeting, a majority of those corporate members present may adjourn the meeting to any future date without requiring additional notice to members of the church.

 

Voting by absentee ballot may be permitted at the discretion of the Church Council, in the manner prescribed in its call to meeting notice. Voting by proxy shall not be permitted, although messages of reasonable length from absentee members may be submitted for presentation by the Moderator.

 

Article IX. CHURCH COUNCIL

The Church Council shall have the authority and responsibility for managing the church, in accordance with the laws of the State of California. The Council shall consist of four (4) officers and chairpersons of the four (4) Church Council Standing Committees and one (1) Member-At-Large. Church Council officers and Committee chairpersons shall be elected by the corporate membership at the Annual Meeting. They shall be nominated from the corporate membership by the Nominating Committee or from the floor.

 

Council members are elected for a one-year term and may be re-elected. No person may serve the same position for more than three (3) terms consecutively. Vacancies shall be filled by vote of the Church Council at any regular or Special Council Meeting.

 

Immediately upon election at the Annual Meeting, the newly elected Church Council shall take responsibility for the policy making and operation of the church.

 

The Church Council shall meet on a regular basis, not less than four (4) times a year. Special Council Meetings may be called by the Minister(s), the Moderator, or by any three (3) members of the Church Council. A majority of the members of the Church Council shall constitute a quorum at any regular or Special Council Meeting. A majority vote of the Church Council members present at any regular or Special Council Meeting shall be required to transact business and take action.

 

The Church Council shall conduct the business of the church between its Annual Meetings. The Council may act for the church within the policies and budgets approved by the church. The Council may also act in special emergencies where there is insufficient time to call a Special Meeting of the membership under the usual procedures; in such a case, any actions taken must be ratified at the next regular or Special Council meeting.

 

The Church Council is responsible for approving any changes to church staff or personnel policies. Church staff is defined as all paid employees other than the Minister(s).

 

The Church Council is responsible for development of the Minister(s) salary and benefits employment contract.

 

The Church Council shall have no power to buy, sell, mortgage, or transfer real property without having first secured authorization at a Special Meeting of the church membership called for that purpose.

 

The Church Council has a responsibility to clarify the vision of the church as stated in its purpose (Article II of these Bylaws); to work with the Minister(s) and staff to formulate appropriate worship, mission and other support programs; and shall advise and assist the Minister(s) in the implementation of those programs.

 

Article X. OFFICERS OF THE CHURCH

The officers of this church shall be the Moderator, Vice-Moderator, Clerk, and Treasurer.

The Moderator is the official representative of the church in the conduct of its business and shall:

-preside at all congregational meetings;

-prepare legal notice of such meetings for distribution to the membership;

-preside at all meetings of the Church Council;

-work in closest cooperation with the Minister(s) and staff;

-appoint a parliamentarian for all congregational and Church Council meetings;

-make a report to the membership at the Annual Meeting;

-serve as chairperson of the Administration – Properties and Personnel Committee, which shall be a Standing Committee of the Church Council. It shall be responsible for the maintenance, protection and preservation of all the property of the church, for recommending staffing requirements, for direction of church personnel, and for recommending necessary personnel policies.  In general, the functions of the Committee shall be to regulate the use of church property; to provide supervision of church staff; to recommend a personnel policy for all church staff; to recommend a salary guide and conditions of employment for all church staff; to manage the Minister(s) employment contract.

-with approval of the Church Council, appoint a member to serve as chair of the annual Stewardship drive.

-be a member ex-officio of all Standing, Special and Ad Hoc Committees except for the Nominating and Ad Hoc Ministerial Search Committees.

 

The Vice-Moderator shall assist the Moderator, and shall:

-preside over meetings of the congregation and of the Church Council in the absence of the Moderator;

-be the chairperson of the Nominating Committee;

-otherwise perform the duties of the Moderator in the absence of the Moderator.

 

The Clerk shall:

-keep a faithful record of the proceedings of all congregational meetings and of meetings of the Church Council;

-mail legal notices of all congregational meetings as required;

-conduct such correspondence as shall be necessary;

-keep records of all those persons elected or appointed to serve on the Church Council, as well as those serving on any committee;

-notify those persons of their election or appointment and inform the church membership of the same;

-keep the official Membership Roll of the church, with membership status, dates of reception and removal or transfer, the record of baptisms, weddings, deaths, and confirmations;

-make a full report of changes in the Membership Roll at the Annual Meeting and to those bodies requiring reports from the church;

-issue Letters of Transfer and Recommendation when required;

-preserve on file necessary communications, documents, and written reports;

-make recommendations to the Church Council relative to keeping the membership rolls current in accordance with Article VI;

-appoint a Historian.

 

The Treasurer shall:

-ensure that accounts of all monies received and disbursed are kept current and auditable;

-ensures the bills and obligations of the church are paid in accordance with the budget and as authorized by the Church Council;

-certify the books for an annual audit, as directed by the Church Council;

-prepare and present reports to the Church Council;

-prepare and present the annual financial report at the Annual Meeting;

-be a member ex-officio of the Finance Committee.

 

Article XI. MINISTERS

The Minister(s) of this church have charge of the spiritual welfare of the church, and shall:

-be Minister(s) in good and regular standing with the United Church of Christ and be required to maintain such standing in the Southern Association of the Southern California-Nevada Conference; or

-be Minister(s) in good and regular standing with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and be required to maintain such standing in the Pacific Southwest Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ);

-carry out pastoral, priestly, and prophetic roles to which the Minister(s) were called in Christian Ministry;

-have under their care all services of public worship;

-administer the programs of the church with the assistance of the Church Council and committees, in accordance with Article IX;

-be an ex-officio member with voice and vote of the Council and all church committees.

-supervise staff members in the fulfillment of their duties and make recommendations for appropriate personnel actions to the Church Council.

-submit a report of the year’s work at the Annual Meeting.

The ministerial relationship may be dissolved by the corporate membership at a Special Meeting called for that purpose by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the corporate members present, or by written notice of the Minister(s) to the Church Council.

 

In either case, two months’ notice shall be given, except by mutual consent of the Minister(s) and the Church Council.

 

If, for any reason, a ministerial relationship is dissolved, the Church Council shall appoint a representative Ad Hoc Ministerial Search Committee, whose duty shall be to seek a new Minister, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and in consultation with the UCC and DOC. The Candidate of the Search Committee shall be given an opportunity to preach at a Sunday morning service. The official ministerial relationship shall be in writing and be approved at a Special Meeting called for that purpose, by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the corporate members present.

 

Article XII. COMMITTEES OF THE CHURCH

Unless otherwise specified below, each Standing Committee chair shall be responsible for the recruitment of any and all Committee members deemed necessary to adequately perform their Committee’s duties. All such member choices are subject to the approval of the Church Council. Only the Standing Committee chair has Church Council voting privileges.

 

The Standing Committees of the Church Council shall be:

 

  1. EDUCATION AND YOUTH

The Education and Youth Committee shall be a Standing Committee of the Church Council.  The Committee shall be responsible for all education and youth activities for the church.

 

The Committee shall be responsible for the administration and operation of the Church School. It shall provide for whatever additional educational and fellowship programs it may deem necessary for administering to children and youth, including, but not limited to, family workshops, summer programs, Vacation Bible School, weekday activities, and outings. The Committee shall provide the necessary leadership to carry out its ministry and provide to the leaders the required training and resources to support their efforts.

 

The Committee shall administer the Confirmation education program (UCC) and/or Pastor’s Classes (DOC).

 

The Committee shall be responsible for all church and inter-church programs for youth, including camp activities, and for carrying the church’s ministry to all the youth of the community.

 

  1. ECUMENICAL AND OUTREACH COMMITTEE

The Ecumenical and Outreach Committee shall be a Standing Committee of the Church Council. Its membership shall consist of the delegates to the Southern Association of the United Church of Christ, to the Southern California-Nevada Conference, and to the Pacific Southwest Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and other members from the church.

 

It shall be the purpose of this Committee to relate the programs of ecumenical and denominational judicatories to the local church and reflect concerns of the local church to such judicatories. It shall further be the purpose of this group to develop relationships to other congregations as shall best serve the interests of the wider church community.

 

It shall be the responsibility of this Committee to:

-develop and propose to the Finance Committee outreach items for the church budget;

-coordinate special offerings with the Worship Committee and recommend the disposition of such funds;

-provide education and publicity relating to the wider outreach of the church;

-be responsible for publicity and public relations efforts including the church newsletter, the church directories, and seasonal or other brochures as may be appropriate to inform members and attract new visitors;

-appoint, with the approval of the Church Council, delegates to the Southern Association of the United Church of Christ, to the Southern California-Nevada Conference, to District 8 of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and to the Pacific Southwest Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

 

  1. PARISH LIFE

The Parish Life Committee shall be a standing Committee of the Church Council responsible for the fellowship, membership, and service functions of the church.

 

The purpose of the Committee shall be to:

-coordinate the activities of the various groups concerned with caring for the congregation, to advise them where necessary, to supply a source of communications between them, and to be a liaison between these groups and the Church Council;

-coordinate all member status with the Clerk as necessary to maintain accurate membership records;

– work with the Clerk in the matter of membership records and be responsible for records of church attendance;

-welcome new members into the life of the church by sponsoring introductory new member events for congregation participation.

 

  1. WORSHIP

The Worship Committee shall be a Standing Committee of the Church Council. It shall be responsible for the worship life of the church.

 

In general the functions of the Committee shall be to:

-establish in consultation with the Minister(s) the schedule and general format of services of divine worship; make the necessary arrangements and preparations for the observance of Communion; and provide all the necessary support functions related to services of worship;

-determine policies and practices related to the effective utilization of music in the worship life of the church; provide counsel and assistance to those involved in developing and managing choirs which are representative of all ages groups within the church; and assure that resources essential to an effective program of music are available;

-attend to the supply of the pulpit in the absence of regular Minister(s).

 

Make arrangements, subject to the approval of the Church Council, for the continuation of the ministry on a short term interim pulpit supply basis during the absence of a regular Minister for whatever reason.

 

  1. MEMBER-AT-LARGE

The Member-At-Large is a committee of one elected at the Annual meeting. The Member-At-Large is a corporate member who has demonstrated distinguished service to the church. The Member-At-Large has the responsibility to represent the general church membership during regular and special Church Council meetings by considering how issues and actions which come before the Church Council might affect the general membership and to raise concerns accordingly.  The Member-At-Large is a voting member of the Church Council.

 

The Special Committees of the Church Council shall be:

 

  1. NOMINATING COMMITTEE

The Nominating Committee solicits from the corporate membership, qualifies candidates and presents at the Annual Meeting a slate of nominations for Church Council.

 

The Nominating Committee shall consist of two (2) corporate members plus the Vice-Moderator, who shall be the chairperson. At least one (1) of the corporate members shall not be members of the Church Council. The Committee shall be appointed by the Moderator and approved by the Council. The Committee shall remain viable throughout the year to aid in filling Council vacancies as needed.

  1. MINISTERIAL RELATIONS COMMITTEE

The Ministerial Relations Committee shall be a personal support group to the Minister(s) and shall serve as a confidential communications link between the Minister(s) and the congregation. This committee shall make their membership known to the congregation and invite members who feel a need to air any grievances relative to the church leadership which they may have with members of the committee or with the committee as a whole. Communications with this committee are intended to be constructive and are to be held in confidence by members of the committee.

 

The Ministerial Relations Committee shall consist of three (3) members who are chosen jointly by the Minister(s) and the Moderator and approved by the Council within one (1) month following the Annual Meeting, Members will serve one-year terms but may be re-appointed for a maximum of three (3) consecutive terms.

 

The Ministerial Relations Committee shall meet at least quarterly with the Minister(s) and Moderator to provide a forum for conscious and constructive two-way communications and review of any concerns either of the members of the congregation or of the Minister(s).

 

  1. OTHER STANDING, SPECIAL OR AD HOC COMMITTEES OF THE CHURCH COUNCIL

Other Standing, Special or Ad Hoc Committees may be formed by action of the congregation or the Church Council as needs determine. Special and Ad Hoc committees have a limited life since they are formed to perform specific tasks and/or to provide specific deliverables, and are dissolved by the Church Council upon fulfillment of those tasks and/or upon submittal of those deliverables. Special and Ad Hoc committees do not have Church Council voting privileges.

 

Article XIII. FINANCES

The Fiscal Year of the church shall be from July 1 thru June 30.

 

The church shall seek financial support through contributions of individuals and organizations. The opportunity shall be offered to all members of the church and congregation at-large to make financial commitment in support of the church’s operations, future vision and wider mission.

 

This church shall cooperate financially with the churches of the UCC and DOC. The Church Council shall include in the church budget of expenses provisions for support of the local and foreign mission work of the UCC and DOC and the “per capita contributions” for the expenses of the UCC and DOC.

 

All notes, checks, or other negotiable instruments of the church shall be co-signed by any two of: the Treasurer, the Moderator, the Vice-Moderator, the chairperson of the Finance Committee, or any other co-signer as approved by the Church Council.

 

Article XIV. PARLIAMENTARY AUTHORITY

The most current edition of Roberts’ Rules of Order Newly Revised shall govern all matters of procedure to which they are applicable and in which they are not inconsistent with these Bylaws or any special rules of order the Church Council may adopt.

 

Article XV. AMENDMENTS

These Bylaws may be amended by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the active corporate members present at any Annual Meeting of the church, or at a Special Meeting called for that purpose. The exact wording of the proposed amendment(s) shall be made available in written form prior to such meeting.

 

Bylaws History

These Bylaws were approved by a unanimous vote at a Congregational Meeting on January 21, 1996, and as amended at Special Meetings of the Congregation on February 23, 2003, January 25, 2004, January 29, 2006, October 19, 2008, January 29, 2012, June 10, 2012, and January 31, 2016.

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