The Bylaws of the South Congregational Church in Amherst
As Amended February 15, 2004
ARTICLE 1. THE CHURCH
Section 1. Name.
The name of this church is The South Congregational Church in Amherst. It was organized on 14 October 1824. It was incorporated on 9 April 1915 and is now governed under Chapter 180 of the General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This church is also governed by bylaws which it adopted in 1915 and revised in 1954, 1967, 1974, 1980, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1999, and 2001. It has been affiliated with the United Church of Christ since 16 April 1961.
Section 2. Purpose.
The purpose of this church is to establish and maintain the public worship of God in accordance with the principles and doctrines of the United Church of Christ as generally understood.
Section 3. Polity and Principles.
Acknowledging Jesus Christ as its head and accepting the Bible as its guide in matters of faith and discipline but amenable to no ecclesiastical judicatory, this church accepts the obligations of mutual council, comity and cooperation involved in the free fellowship of churches affiliated with the United Church of Christ and pledges itself to share their common aims and work.
In accordance with these common aims and in the spirit of cooperation with the principles of the United Church of Christ, South Congregational Church affirms that it shall not discriminate against any person, group or organization in hiring, promotion, membership, appointment, use of facility, provision of services or funding on the basis of race, age, nationality, ethnic background, gender, religious background, marital status, sexual orientation, physical disability or lack of economic resources.
While affirming the liberty of our churches and the validity of our ministry, we hold to the unity and universality of the Church of Christ. We will cooperate with all of its branches and will seek to fulfill the prayer of the Lord for His disciples, that all may be one in spirit.
The above affirmation shall in no way affect or disturb the right of each member of the church to interpret and follow the Word of God according to the dictates of his or her conscience. The following covenant is therefore not a test of individual faith. Rather, it is an expression of the spirit in which the members of this church as a group interpret the Word of God together.
Section 4. Covenant.
We are united in striving to know the will of God as taught in the Holy Scriptures, and se do covenant to walk together in the ways of the Lord, made known or to be made known to us. We hold it to be the mission of the Church of Christ to proclaim the Gospel to all peoples, exalting the worship of God and laboring for the progress of knowledge, the promotion of justice, the reign of peace, and the realization of good will among nations. Depending as did our forebears upon the grace of God, the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the continued guidance of the Hold Sprit to lead us into all truth, we work and pray for the transformation of the world into the Kingdom of God; and we look with faith for the triumph of righteousness and the life everlasting.
ARTICLE II. THE CONGREGATION.
Section 1. Authority.
The governing body of this church is the membership assembled in church meeting. In the delegation of authority and assignment of responsibility to The Church Council, boards and committees, the church membership retains its inherent right to determine church policy and direct its implementation.
Section 2. Qualifications for Membership.
Active Members shall be those persons who unite with the church by confession of faith, by reaffirmation of faith, or by letter of transfer
from another church.
Associate Members shall be persons who wish to be members of this church and to maintain their membership in another church. They
shall be received in membership by the same process as active members. Associate members shall have all rights and duties of active members.
Inactive Members shall be those members who for a period of two years have not maintained their active relationship with the church,
as determined by the Board of Deacons, and who have indicated no desire for a letter of Dismissal or Recommendation and Transfer
to another church. Inactive members shall not be counted in the official tally of the membership, but they shall otherwise retain full membership.
Section 3. Reception of Members.
Admission to active or associate membership in this church will take place following proposal by the Pastor, recommendation by the Board of Deacons, and participation in a public worship service of this church during which the person shall accept baptism unless already baptized, profess or reaffirm his or her faith or present a letter of transfer from another church, and assent to the covenant of South Congregational Church. When a person cannot attend a church service, profession or reaffirmation of faith and reception into membership may take place elsewhere at the discretion of the Pastor and the Board of Deacons.
Section 4. Duties of Members.
Members are expected to attend the services of the church, to contribute to its support and its benevolences, to share in its organized work, and to further its welfare in every way.
Section 5. Qualified Voters.
All members of this church are members of this corporation and may vote on any matter coming before a congregational meeting.
Section 6. Continuance and Termination.
A person’s membership may be transferred to a church specified in a written request, by vote of the Board of Deacons.
A person’s membership may be terminated at his or her written request delivered to the Board of Deacons.
The inactive membership list shall be reviewed annually by the Board of Deacons between September 1 and December 1. Deceased persons
and those persons determined by the Board of Deacons to be unlikely to resume active or associate membership shall be removed from the list.
Those inactive members who have resumed their active association with the church shall be returned to the list of active and associate members.
The Clerk shall be informed of all actions concerning individual membership.
ARTICLE III. WORSHIP AND SACRAMENTS.
Section 1. Worship.
The regular worship services of the church shall normally be held each Sunday morning and at other times as may be determined by the Church Council, upon the recommendation of the Board of Deacons. The order of service shall be determined by the Pastor in consultation with the Board of Deacons.
Section 2. Sacraments.
The sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper and services for the reception of members shall be held at such times as may be determined by the Pastor in consultation with the Board of Deacons.
ARTICLE IV. CONGREGATIONAL MEETINGS
Section 1. Annual Meeting.
The annual meeting of this church shall be held no later than the fifteenth of February, the precise date to be determined by the Church Council. The purpose of this meeting shall be to elect officers, boards, and standing committees, to receive reports from same, to adopt a budget for the fiscal year, and to conduct any other business that may come before it. All reports to be reviewed at the annual meeting shall be made available a minimum of seven days prior to the meeting.
Section 2. Special Meetings.
Other meetings of this church may be called by the Clerk or, in the absence of the Clerk, by another officer. A meeting must be called by warrant if it is to consider an action to be taken under a power reserved to the congregation. Powers reserved to the congregation are (1) the election of one or more officers of the church; (2) the adoption of an annual budget; (3) the calling, dismissal, or change in status of the Pastor(s); the acquisition, encumbrance, or disposition of real property; (5) the authorization of an expenditure which will cause the fiscal year’s total expenditure to exceed the annual budget by more than five percent; (6) amendment of the bylaws. Meetings not called by warrant must be announced at least one week in advance.
Items of business requiring immediate attention may be introduced at any church meeting unless objection is made and sustained by one-third of the members present.
Section 3. Warrants.
The warrant for a meeting shall list all major items to be considered. It shall be directed by the Church Council or the Trustees and signed by the Moderator or, in the absence of the Moderator, by the Clerk. It shall be posted conspicuously by the Clerk at least seven days prior to the time of the meeting. Twenty or more members of the church may, in writing, request a warrant meeting and, if refused by the Church Council, may have said warrant issued by the Clerk, or if necessary, by a Justice of the Peace. Twenty members may, in writing, secure the inclusion of a specific article in a warrant.
Section 4. Quorum.
The presence of forty members shall constitute a quorum for any warrant called meeting. The Church Council may raise this number if it deems the importance of an issue to justify such action. Members must be physically present at meetings in order to vote; proxies shall not be permitted.
Section 5. Rules of Order.
When procedural questions arise, the meeting shall be guided by Robert’s Rules of Order.
ARTICLE V. THE PASTOR.
Section 1. Duties
The Pastor shall promote the spiritual development of the church; conduct its public services of worship; preach the Gospel; administer the sacraments; give Pastoral care and spiritual counsel to members of the parish and community; and guide the activities of the church through its officers, boards, committees and associated groups.
The Pastor shall serve, without vote, as a member of the church’s boards and committees.
The Pastor shall be executive head of all staff.
Section 2. Vacancy in the Pastorate.
When a vacancy occurs in the Pastorate, the Church Council shall nominate at least six members of the church to an ad hoc Pastoral Search Committee. In addition, one representative shall be nominated by each of the following boards or committees: Deacons, Trustees, Music, Christian Education, and Outreach.
Selection shall be made with a concern for full representation of the various points of view in the church represented by age, gender and role
in church life.
The Pastoral Search Committee shall be elected by the membership in a warrant meeting. The committee shall elect its own chair and shall use procedures of the United Church of Christ as a guideline in securing candidates for the position. The committee shall present its
recommendation to the congregation.
The Pastor shall be chosen at a warrant meeting by a two-thirds vote of those present and voting.
Section 3. Resignation.
The Pastor may resign in writing to the Moderator with not less than sixty days’ notice, and may be requested by the church to resign with not less than sixty days’ notice. Such action by the church must take place at a warrant meeting called for that purpose alone, by a two-thirds vote of those present and voting.
Section 4. Pastor Emeritus.
Pastor Emeritus is an honorific title bestowed by the congregation on the retired minister in appreciation of years of dedication and service. The position carries no obligation to perform pastoral functions. By invitation of the c
current Pastor, the Pastor Emeritus may perform pastoral duties.
ARTICLE VI. EMPLOYED STAFF.
Section 1. Definition.
Employed staff are those persons compensated to provide services on a regular basis to South Congregational Church.
Section 2. Supervision.
Each staff member, in addition to working on a day-to-day basis under the supervision of the Pastor, as executive head of staff, shall work in cooperation with the board or committee so designated in these bylaws.
Section 3. Filling of Positions.
The Church Council shall delegate to the appropriate group or individual the authority to convene a search committee representative of the church membership to fill paid positions. That committee shall include the Pastor. When a finalist has been identified, the committee shall meet with the Trustees, and salary and contract shall be negotiated, with final actions reported back to the Church Council.
Section 4. Contracts.
All employment contracts shall be signed by both the Moderator and the chair of the Board of Trustees.
Section 5. Resignation and Termination.
Staff members may resign with not less than thirty days’ notice addressed to the Church Council and may be terminated by the Church Council with not less than thirty days’ notice.
ARTICLE VII. ADMINISTRATION.
Section 1. Officers.
The officers of this church are the Moderator, the Clerk, the Treasurer, and the chair of the Board of Trustees.
The Moderator shall preside at all meetings of the church and the Church Council. In the absence of the Moderator, the Vice Moderator shall conduct the meeting. In the absence of both the Moderator and the Vice Moderator, the Clerk shall conduct the meeting until a Moderator pro tem has been elected by those present. The Moderator shall serve for one year and shall be eligible for re-election for each of two additional years, for a maximum uninterrupted term of office of three years. The Moderator shall swear in the Clerk whenever a new Clerk takes office. The Moderator shall, with the chair of the Board of Trustees, co-sign all employment contracts.
The Clerk shall serve as secretary of the Church Council and of all warrant called church meetings, shall keep records of church membership, marriage, baptism and members’ deaths, shall post all warrants, and shall swear in, upon their taking office, the Moderator, the Treasurer, members of the Board of Trustees and any other persons responsible for financial and legal matters of the church. The Clerk shall serve for three years and shall be eligible for re-election for an additional three years, for a maximum uninterrupted term of office of six years.
The Treasurer shall be the chief financial officer of the church, responsible with the assistance of the Collector and Assistant Treasurer for the receiving, collecting, holding and paying of monies of the church designated for general expenses, benevolences, and special purposes other than endowment, and for keeping records of them. In these duties, the Treasurer shall be directed by the Board of Trustees in matters concerning local church expenses, and by the Church Council in matters concerning benevolences. The Treasurer shall hold all financial papers (other than endowment funds), property deeds and contracts of the church, under the direction of the Board of Trustees. The Treasurer shall serve as a non-voting member of the Board of Trustees and, through the Board of Trustees, shall make monthly reports to the Church Council. The Treasurer shall serve for three years and shall be eligible for re-election for an additional three years, for a maximum uninterrupted term of office of six years.
The Chair of the Board of Trustees shall be elected from among the members of that board and shall, with the Moderator, co-sign all employment contracts.
Section 2. Support Positions.
The following positions shall be included in the slate of candidates proposed by the Nominating Committee:
The Vice Moderator shall perform the duties of Moderator in the Moderator’s absence, and shall perform such other duties as may be delegated by the Moderator or the Church Council. The Vice Moderator shall serve for one year, and shall be eligible for re-election for an additional two years, for a maximum uninterrupted term of office of three years. Acceptance of a nomination for election to the office of Vice Moderator shall be with the understanding that the nominee intends, if requested, to accept a nomination for election to the office of Moderator.
The Assistant Clerk shall assist in the discharge of the Clerk’s duties and, in the absence of the Clerk, shall act as Clerk. The Assistant Clerk shall serve for a one year term, and shall be eligible for re-election annually for five years, for a maximum uninterrupted term of office of six years.
The Collector shall collect and record pledges, shall deposit all monies collected and shall, for tax purposes, notify donors of the status of their pledges. The Collector shall serve for a one year term, and shall be eligible for re-election annually for five years, for a maximum uninterrupted term of office of six years.
The Auditor shall audit the financial records of the church annually and report to the annual meeting. The Auditor shall serve for a one year term, and shall be eligible for re-election annually for an additional five years, for a maximum uninterrupted term of office of six years.
The Delegates (minimum 2) shall represent the church to the Hampshire Association of Ministers and Churches, to the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ, and to other groups to which the church may choose to be represented. The delegates shall serve for a one year term, and shall be eligible for re-election annually for two years, for a maximum uninterrupted term of office of three years.
Section 3. Fiscal Year.
The fiscal year of the church shall begin on January 1 and end on the following December 31.
Section 4. Qualifications for Office.
Officers, delegates, members of the Church Council, the Board of Trustees, Stewardship Committee, and the Endowment Management Committee shall have attained the age of 18 years and be members of the church. Members of the Board of Deacons and Nominating Committee shall be members of the church. The majority of members of the Board of Christian Education and of standing committees shall be members of the church.
Officers, delegates, and board and committee members shall take office upon dissolution of the annual meeting.
Section 5. Boards and Committees.
Members of all boards and committees shall be ineligible for re-election for one year after serving two full consecutive terms.
Each standing board and committee shall elect a chair within one month of its first meeting following the annual church meeting and shall report the result in writing to the Clerk and the Pastor.
A majority of the voting members of a board or committee shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business of that group.
ARTCILE VIII. CHURCH COUNCIL,
Section 1. Membership.
The Church Council shall consist of the Moderator as chair, the Vice Moderator, the Clerk as secretary, the chair of the Board of Trustees, the chair of the Board of Deacons, the chair of the Board of Christian Outreach, the chair of the Board of Christian Education, the members at large, and the Pastor ex officio, with a voice but no vote. One member at large will be elected for every 100 members or fraction thereof annually. All meetings of the Church Council shall be open for attendance by interested members within the congregation. The Nominating Committee shall report to the Church Council through the Moderator.
Section 2. Duties of Church Council
The Church Council shall be the administrative board of the church, acting for and on behalf of the congregation between congregational meetings of the church, but shall have no authority in matters specifically reserved for action by the church in a congregational meeting as stated in Article IV, Section 2.
The Church Council shall have oversight of all church activities. It shall coordinate the activities of the officers, boards, committees, organizations, and delegates of the church, receive their recommendations, and have authority to formulate policies and suggest action. The Church Council shall ensure that the Trustees train in emergency procedures, representatives of all boards or committees which may hold functions on the second floor of the church building. The Church Council shall, in general, meet monthly and may be convened by the Pastor, the Moderator or the Clerk, as the need warrants. Should the Moderator and Vice Moderator not be present, the Church Council shall appoint a chair pro tem from its membership.
A majority of the Church Council members shall constitute a quorum. Action by the Church Council shall require a majority vote of the voting members.
The Church Council shall delegate to the appropriate groups or individuals the authority to initiate an annual review of all employed staff, ensuring that any review committee is representative of the church membership and includes the Pastor. The general results of the review will be reported back to the Church Council. As with all personnel issues, confidentiality will be maintained.
The Church Council may establish additional committees, not of a standing status, if it deems them necessary for its ministry.
Section 3. Nominating Committee and Board of Christian Outreach.
The Nominating Committee shall consist of six church members, two to be elected every year. Terms shall be for three years. The committee shall prepare annually a slate of nominations, in consultation with the Pastor. The slate shall be posted in the church building and made available to the congregation not less than seven days before the annual meeting. When necessary, this committee shall prepare nominations by which the church may at other meetings fill vacancies among its officers, boards and committees. The committee shall ascertain that each nominee knows the duties of the position for which he or she is being nominated and is willing to serve if elected. The Nominating Committee shall notify persons of election to office or membership on boards or committees.
The Board of Christian Outreach shall consist of six members, three to be elected each year, and each serving a three-year term. The Board of Christian Outreach shall provide leadership in exploring and calling attention to opportunities and methods whereby members of the South Church community may become personally involved in serving others. It shall study and appraise current needs, in terms of priorities, for funds and for personal involvement in missions and social action in the community, state, nation and world, which deserve our individual and corporate support. It shall initiate projects of Christian action and concern whenever there is injustice, ignorance and human need for Christian witness. The Board of Christian Outreach annually shall develop a recommendation for dispersal of mission and benevolence funds, which it shall present to the Church Council for a formal vote of approval.
ARTICLE IX. THE BOARD OF DEACONS.
Section 1. Membership of the Board of Deacons.
The Board of Deacons shall consist of twelve church members (preferably six men and six women). Each year, four Deacons shall be elected by the congregation to serve a three-year term.
Section 2. Duties of the Board of Deacons.
The Board of Deacons shall meet monthly or as necessary to provide for the worship life within South Church. Motions made at the Board of Deacons meetings shall be approved by a simple majority, provided a quorum of seven Deacons is present.
The Board of Deacons shall advise and assist the Pastor in maintaining the spiritual life of the church. Working with the Pastor it shall provide meaningful worship services and programs. It shall prepare and serve communion under the guidance of the Pastor, and assist when the sacrament of baptism is performed. A Deacon shall stand with the Pastor when members are received.
The Board of Deacons shall be responsible for all actions pertaining to church membership except the keeping of permanent membership records.
The Board of Deacons shall be responsible for ensuring the pastoral care of the congregation by assisting the Pastor and members in a ministry of care and assistance in times of illness, loss or needs.
The Board of Deacons shall arrange for pulpit supply in the absence of the Pastor. In the case of a long-term absence or resignation, the Board of Deacons shall call an Interim Pastor, subject to the approval of a majority of those members present and voting at a warrant called meeting of the congregation.
The Board of Deacons may establish any groups necessary for its ministry.
Section 3. Standing Committees Working with the Board of Deacons.
The Music Committee shall consist of at least six and at most nine members, elected for three year terms, an equal number to be elected each year. It shall provide leadership, in consultation with the Pastor, the Board of Deacons and music staff, in developing the musical worship life of the church. Specific responsibilities shall include supporting the leadership of the music staff, encouraging membership in the choirs of the church, and purchasing and maintaining musical instruments, choir robes, and music.
The Arts Committee shall consist of at least six and at most nine members, elected for three year terms, an equal number to be elected each year. It shall sponsor and promote an arts program, open to church members and the public, of events such as concerts, art shows, hymn sings, plays and poetry reading, produced by church members or outside groups. The Pastor shall be consulted by the committee should there be questions on the appropriateness of the content offered.
The Flower Committee shall be composed of three members, one elected each year, for a three year term, and eligible for re-election to an additional three year term for a maximum uninterrupted term of office of six years. It shall be responsible for providing floral arrangements and candles for the church sanctuary in preparation for Sunday morning worship and special services. Members of this committee shall supervise the distribution of flowers to those unable to attend worship.
The Ushers Committee shall be composed of six members, two elected each year, for a three year term of office. It shall be responsible for provision of ushers at all worship services, with each member of the committee responsible for two months of the calendar year. All members of the committee shall participate in emergency procedures training and shall work with the Pastor should there be a need for such services.
ARTICLE X. BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Section 1. Membership of the Board of Trustees.
The Board of Trustees shall consist of nine representatives. The Treasurer of the church shall serve on the Board of Trustees ex officio. One third of the members of the Board of Trustees shall be elected at each annual meeting of the church for three-year terms. The Board of Trustees shall annually elect its chair, who shall be an officer of the church.
Section 2. Duties of the Board of Trustees.
The Board of Trustees shall work with the Treasurer and maintain regular communication with the custodial staff and any other groups deemed necessary for its ministry. It shall prepare a budget and submit that budget to the Church Council for approval prior to the annual meeting. As directed by votes of the church or the Church Council, it shall administer the fiscal affairs of the church, supervise the maintenance of church property, execute contracts, and accept and spend money in accordance with the budget for local church expenses adopted by the annual meeting and in accordance with special votes of the church.
Section 3. Standing Committees Working with the Board of Trustees.
The Stewardship Committee shall consist of three members of the church, elected for three-year terms, one elected each year. It shall work throughout the year to marshal the time, talent and financial contributions of the members and friends of the church. The committee shall keep the members and friends of the church informed and educated about the financial and non-monetary needs of the church and the costs of operating it and shall encourage the members and friends of the church to participate in the activities of the church so as to encourage financial support of the church. In consultation with the Board of Trustees, the Pastor, the Treasurer, and other officers of the church, the committee shall organize and administer the annual canvass of members and friends of the church to establish pledges of financial support that will ensure the contemporaneous and ongoing fiscal health of the church.
The Endowment Management Committee shall consist of three members of the church, elected for terms of six years, with one member elected every two years. The committee shall receive from the Board of Trustees all assets designated by the donors or by the Board of Trustees as permanent endowment, quasi-endowment, or otherwise, for investment and management by the committee. It shall adopt specific programs or take such actions as are designed to maximize current investment income as well as future capital growth. The committee shall report quarterly to the Board of Trustees and shall make available to that board funds as requested. A financial secretary, elected by the committee from among its members, shall maintain complete and accurate books of account. Rights of withdrawal and check signing powers over such assets shall be exercised by either the financial secretary or the chair of the committee, acting alone, under the direction of the committee. Assets managed by the committee shall be traced, sold or transferred by instruments signed by any two of the three members of the committee. The committee may, at the expense of the income of the fund, provide for such professional counseling on investments or legal matters as it deems to be in the best interest of the church. Members of the committee shall not be liable for any losses that may be incurred upon the investment of the assets of the fund except to the extent such losses shall have been caused by the bad faith or gross negligence of such member. Each member shall be liable only for his or her own acts of bad faith or gross negligence and shall not be liable for acts or omissions of any other member. A member shall not engage in any self dealing or transactions with the fund in which the member has direct or indirect financial interest and shall at all times refrain from any conduct in which his or her personal interest would conflict with the interest of the church.
ARTICLE XI. BOARD OF CHRISTIAN EDUCATION.
Section 1. Membership of the Board of Christian Education.
The Board of Christian Education shall consist of the director of Christian Education, non-voting, and at least six, but not more than nine members, the same number of whom shall be elected for a term of three years at the annual meeting each year.
Section 2. Duties of the Board of Christian Education.
The Board of Christian Education shall provide opportunities in Christian education for the children, youth, and adults of the church. In consultation with the Pastor and the Director of Christian Education, the board shall oversee the church school and the youth groups, shall provide advice regarding curricular materials, shall ensure that teachers and staff are prepared in instruction and supervision of children and youth, shall work with the Pastor to provide short-term study groups, seminars, retreats and similar educational activities for furthering enlightenment and active Christian witness of the church, and shall maintain a library of books, videos, and other educational materials.
The Board of Christian Education shall maintain regular communication with the Director of Christian Education and other employed staff deemed appropriate. The Board of Christian Education may establish any groups necessary for its ministry.
ARTICLE XII. AMENDMENT PROCEDURES.
Proposed amendments or revisions of these bylaws shall be made available to the congregation a minimum of seven days prior to the scheduled discussion in a church meeting. Amendments or revisions of these bylaws shall become effective when accepted by a two-thirds vote of those present and voting at each of two warrant meetings called not less than one week apart. At the first of these meetings the proposed amendments or revisions shall be read in their entirety. When entered in the church record book, they shall be attested by the Clerk and signed by the Moderator, the chair of the Board of Deacons, the chair of the Trustees, and the Pastor.