The Governance Committee was formerly known as the Policy Evaluation Committee
The Board of Trustees requested the Policy Evaluation Committee (PEC) address the following goal for the 2015-2016 church year:
“The Policy Evaluation Committee and the Board will perform a comprehensive review of policies and by-laws, and make recommendations for policy revision.”
Our efforts this year have been directed towards accomplishing this task. Our current bylaws and governing policies were first adopted approximately 10 years ago, and are largely unchanged, being loosely based on John Carver’s “Policy Governance” model. From the outset, there were features of Carver’s model that did not fit well with a Unitarian Universalist setting, and the term “Policy-Based Governance” was adopted to distinguish our efforts and choices from his system. Across the country, different Unitarian Universalist congregations have created many variations of “Policy-Based Governance,” and there is no specific definition of which aspects of Carver’s system are included when the term is used without further description. The two features that appear to be common to all variations are:
- Delegation of authority to manage the church to the senior minister.
- Describing how the board exercises its governance responsibilities to the church in written policy statements.
Having reviewed our policies carefully as a group, the PEC has reaffirmed our belief in these two provisions. In other areas we have suggested making changes, hoping these alterations will allow us to make progress toward our mission and associated mission elements more effectively. Our suggestions are formulated as a compilation of principles we feel should be incorporated in our policies, and a description of the processes we think should be used in putting these principles into action. While the full set of suggestions is too detailed for description in this summary, several are particularly noteworthy:
- Covenantal governance: Our relationship with each other, the board of trustees, the ministers, and the Nominating Committee are covenantal and collaborative and should be clearly indicated in our policies.
- Democratic Process, Transparency, and Decision Making: Our belief in democratic process and transparency is expressed currently in the elements (ends statements) associated with the church’s mission, but our policies do not adequately delineate the processes that should be used to accomplish these goals. Our current policies delegate final authority for decision making to an Executive Team established by the senior minister, but do not adequately describe the processes for giving input prior to decision making on significant issues. Working in collaboration with the senior minister, the PEC suggests these processes be clarified and incorporated in our governing policies.
- Management competency. Our current policies contain no mechanism for ensuring that the Executive Team is competent to manage the church. The PEC recommends that such a mechanism be adopted.
- Accountability. Our current policies set up a governance system that is difficult for most board members to understand and the board over the years has spent considerable time trying to understand and apply the policies. The PEC proposes a more understandable system that will allow the board to focus more of its attention on accountability for how the church is progressing toward its mission and on input about significant issues and future opportunities and challenges, while continuing its oversight of church management.