This web page provides a summary of how the Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation is organized with respect to governance. It will provide an overview of the roles and responsibilities of the congregation, the board, the minister, and the accountable persons in the congregation’s structure.
Bylaws, the Governance Manual, and board meeting agendas and minutes are available for easy access.
The Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation operates under the principles of congregational polity. This means we are independent, self-supporting and governed by our own members.
OUUC is incorporated under the articles of incorporation establishing it as a religious non-profit corporation under the laws of Washington State. We are a member of and pledge support to the Unitarian Universalist Association. The bylaws ground our governance in a basic framework of purpose, membership, annual meetings, elections and finances. Changes in bylaws must be approved by the congregation.
The other responsibilities of the congregation include: calling the settled minister, electing members to the board, approving the annual budget and, as mentioned above, approving bylaw changes. Congregational members are expected to work toward the well-being of the OUUC community through contributions of time, energy, and financial resources.
According to our bylaws, the Board of Trustees functions on behalf of, and is at all times subject to the will of the membership. It governs using a Policy Governance model, meaning the Board is visionary, with its primary roles being 1) the articulation of the differences the congregation wants to make in the world and for whom and 2) assuring that those differences are accomplished. These differences are expressed in the Ends statements which comprise the first section of the Board Policies. They include the following:
- We expand our knowledge, deepen our understanding, and strengthen and live our Unitarian Universalist identities.
- Our hearts are filled with experiences of wonder, awe, and connection to the spirit of life and love.
- People of all ages, identities, and circumstances are welcomed and connected in our loving community.
- The Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation responds to the needs of a changing congregation and world.
- Our lives, and those of the larger community, are meaningfully changed through our collaborative work for justice.
- We advocate for environmental justice and practice care for the Earth.
Underlying these Ends are the mission statement and values cherished by OUUC as an institution comprised of members and friends:
We are a liberal religious community that opens minds, fills hearts and transforms lives.
We value . . .
. . . a sense of Connection among our members and with the larger community,
. . . Inspiration through worship and spiritual practices,
. . . the Dignity of every person, and
. . . meaningful Transformation within ourselves and others through reciprocal involvement.
Besides the articulation of the Ends, the Board’s other functions include linking with the congregation, writing and revising board policies necessary to help the organization achieve its Ends, delegating the management and operations of the organization to an individual or team, and monitoring the work toward accomplishing the Ends. At OUUC, the Minister is designated by the Board to be the Executive or operational leader of the church. The board policies specify the Ends to be accomplished by the Minister, grant him or her the authority to interpret and achieve those Ends in any reasonable way, specify the few limitations on his or her authority to accomplish those Ends, and outline the board’s self-governance process and relationship to the Executive.
Through the adoption of recommendations of the Ministries Restructuring Team, which was commissioned in 2015 by the Interim Minister the Reverend Emily Melcher, OUUC’s programs are organized into five ministries. Each of these is led by an Accountable Person, who reports to the Executive, and is both responsible for and has the authority to ensure that the resources and programs within their purview are directed to assuring the congregation’s health and meeting its Ends. The five ministries include: OUUC’s Spiritual Life Ministry, Faith Development Ministry, Community Life Ministry, Faith in Action Ministry, and Resource Ministry. Most church committees fall within the purview of one of the five ministries.