GHUUC Bylaws

Ginger Hill Unitarian Universalist Congregation
Article I. NAME.
The name of this spiritual community is Ginger Hill Unitarian Universalist Congregation, incorporated as a non-profit corporation in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (hereinafter known as GHUUC).
This congregation is affiliated with the Central East Region, Unitarian Universalist Association.
This congregation unites as a sanctuary for all, to explore and share our spirituality, and to celebrate our diversity. We consider the infinite possibilities of becoming more whole and enlightened so we may nurture, heal, liberate, and support one another as we would the world around us. We actively promote the Unitarian Universalist Association principles within our community.
This congregation is unequivocally an equal opportunity, non-discriminating organization. Any person may be a Member of GHUUC who is in sympathy with its purpose and accepts these bylaws. Membership does not require a person to renounce membership of any other religious organization. It is generally understood that Members fully support UUA principles.
This congregation shall offer three categories of membership: Member, Friend, and Youth Member.
Member. An individual, at least 16 years of age, may be a Member by attending a membership orientation, signing the Membership Book during Sunday Service and committing to the following:
a. Attend Sunday morning services
b. Participate in the life of the congregation as a volunteer or leader
c. Demonstrate stewardship of the congregation by generously offering both time and
money. At a minimum, members will annually contribute a dollar amount known as “dues” to the congregation, to be paid between July 1 and January 15 of each fiscal year. The dues amount shall be determined by the Trustees prior to the beginning of each fiscal year and must be no less than the amount necessary to pay individual affiliation costs to the UUA and Regional District. Members are encouraged to make additional contributions as they are able, throughout the fiscal year.
d. Participate in the democratic process within the congregation, including voting and
holding leadership positions.
e. Translate his or her ethical beliefs into appropriate activities in the area of
social and environmental action, and to seek to exert the ethical influence of the
congregation outside its immediate membership
Friend. An individual who supports the purpose of this congregation but is unable
to commit to membership is welcome as a Friend of the congregation. Friends are
welcome to participate on committees and in congregation-sponsored events, but
cannot vote or hold leadership positions. For the purposes of congregational surveys,
the answer of a Friend counts as one half the answer of a Member.
Youth Member. Persons between the ages of 13 and 15 may become youth members
if they attend a membership orientation course and indicate their support of the
Congregation and their affirmation of its purposes as stated in ARTICLE III. New youth
membership shall be confirmed by signing the Membership Book during the Sunday
Service. Youth membership includes the appropriate privileges and responsibilities of
membership except that of voting and of serving in leadership positions.
MEMBERSHIP STATUS. Before every congregational meeting, membership will be reviewed in order to determine eligibility to vote. Anyone who has not fulfilled requirements for membership will not be eligible to vote.
By January 15 of each year, membership status will be verified by the Membership Committee. Members are removed from the membership roster under the following conditions:
The member requests in writing to be removed from the membership roster.
The member dies.
If a member does not participate in congregational services or activities for a period of
one year or does not make a contribution of money equal to dues, then under these
circumstances, the Membership Committee will make three attempts, including one by
U.S. mail, to contact the member prior to the Winter Congregational meeting. If no response is received by the Winter Congregational meeting, the “friend” status will be affirmed and the member will not be eligible to vote.
If any two members shall certify in writing to the Board of Trustees that, to the best
of their information and belief, the continued membership or presence of any person,
regardless of membership status, constitutes a danger to: the peaceful proceedings of
congregational services and activities; the well-being of members of the congregation,
the attendees of the services or religious education activities, the tenants, invitees,
or lessees of the congregation; the integrity of property of the congregation; or to the
purposes of the congregation as set forth in ARTICLE III, then the Board, at its next
scheduled meeting (or at such emergency meeting as shall be convened under this
clause by any Trustee), shall consider censure, including the revocation or suspension
of membership. Revocation or suspension shall only be made upon a finding of
one or more of the dangers enumerated above. The decision of the Board shall be
communicated to the member and followed by certified mail.
The basic authority of GHUUC shall be vested in the membership thereof, except as delegated to the Board of Trustees. During the intervals between meetings of the membership, the governance of GHUUC shall be vested in a board of seven Trustees, all with equal powers.
NOMINATING COMMITTEE. At every Winter Congregational meeting there shall be elected a Nominating Committee consisting of three Members who do not intend to run for a Board position. Trustees who are not seeking an elected position may serve on the Nominating Committee. Nominations for members of the Nominating Committee shall be made from the floor. The term of a member of the Nominating Committee shall run until the next Winter Congregational meeting.
If sufficient candidates are not available, the Nominating Committee can operate with fewer than three members. In the event of no candidates available for the Nominating Committee, the Board shall oversee the making of announcements regarding the upcoming election and the opportunity for members to self-nominate.
Once the Nominating Committee is elected, they will select one member to act as the Chairperson of the Committee. The Chairperson will keep the Board informed, at the monthly Board meetings, of the committee’s progress.
a. No later than two weeks after the Winter Congregational meeting the Nominating Committee will begin contacting eligible members of the congregation for self-nominations for each position on the Board of Trustees. A minimum of three calls for nominations will be made through the email newsletter and three calls for nominations will be made during congregational announcements at Sunday Services.
b. The Nominating Committee shall communicate to those interested in self-nominating for Board positions the expectations of elected leaders and the duties of the Board position for which they are interested in self-nominating.
c. Nominations will close on April 1 of the year unless additional nominees are needed to fill the slate. In that case, the Board may direct the Nominating Committee to keep nominations open until each Trustee position has a minimum of one person nominated. The Board may after April 15th direct the Nominating Committee to close nominations with positions vacant as long as nominees for those positions required by Pennsylvania law, President, Secretary, and Treasurer, have been confirmed. Once all of the Nominees are confirmed, they will be asked by the Nominating Committee to write a statement about why they want to run and what they can bring to the position. The Nominating Committee will compile the statements nominees and give them to the Communication Trustee no later than April 15, or no more than 15 days after they have agreed to run, to be published in the email newsletter for the congregation to read prior to the election.
If the Nominating Committee is unable to secure nominations for every Board Position, the May election may proceed as long as sufficient nominees are available to fill those positions required by Pennsylvania law.
In order to meet requirements of Pennsylvania law, one person may be nominated and temporarily serve in no more than two trustee positions. The President and Treasurer may NOT be the same person. The Nominating Committee will continue to seek nominees for these second positions after the May election until they are filled.
VOTING. See Article VI. Congregational Business Meetings. 6. Voting.
ELECTIONS. This congregation encourages leadership and personal development in its Members. Members, who meet the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania legal requirements to be officers of a non-profit corporation, may volunteer or accept nomination for congregational leadership positions. The congregation will vote for one candidate for each position. The candidate receiving the most Members’ votes will fill the position. The terms of office shall begin on the day following the May meeting. Congregational leaders will serve terms of one year and must be affirmed or re-affirmed at the annual congregational business meeting in May of each year. The congregation encourages leaders to rotate out of their positions after being re-elected for three consecutive terms in order to encourage other members to grow and develop their leadership skills.
After the May election, any trustee positions remaining vacant for which no nominee was confirmed or elected will be handled as ordinary vacant trustee positions; the Board may fill vacant positions with appointees who will then be subject to confirmation of the congregation.
EXPECTATIONS OF ELECTED LEADERS. The congregation places a special trust in the individuals filling leadership positions, expecting absolute integrity and performance while supporting its purpose and goals. Elected leaders are expected to pursue activities that support the congregation’s purpose and vision, develop operational procedures, coordinate volunteers’ efforts and fulfill the requirements of membership.
OFFICERS. The Board of Trustees shall consist of those four corporate officers required by
Pennsylvania Law—President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer—plus three At-Large Trustees and the immediate Past President. Each At-Large Trustee is responsible for a broad area of congregational activity and for the committees who perform the work of those areas. A tentative calendar of activities with proposed expenditures for these areas will be provided to the Board of Trustees prior to September 1 of each year. Each Trustee is also responsible for submitting a written report to the President two weeks prior to the Annual congregational meeting. This report will cover the activities and expenditures of the previous year and will make appropriate suggestions regarding processes and procedures for this area. Only such persons as the Board of Trustees may designate from year to year shall have the power or the right to bind the Corporation in contract.
President. Shall perform administrative duties and manage congregational
operations. Shall call Board meetings and Congregational meetings. Shall be responsible
for collecting and collating material for Annual Report to be submitted in writing to
the congregation at the May Congregational Meeting. Shall coordinate activities of
various committees. Will collect each Trustee’s tentative calendars and prepare a
master calendar of congregational activities by September 15th of each year. Will
assure efficient administrative operations; coordinate and develop guidelines for
standardized operational procedures; prepare and respond to routine correspondence;
ensure invoices are paid timely; and assure official congregational records are properly
maintained. Shall preside at the Annual Meeting and at all meetings of the Members of
the Board of Trustees. The President shall represent the congregation on all appropriate
occasions, and shall perform such other duties as the Board of Trustees may prescribe.
Vice President. Assist President in administrative duties and act in the absence of
the President. Responsible for the person(s) or committee who serves in maintaining
buildings and grounds. Responsible for building keys their relevant records. Responsible for acquiring and forwarding to the President the annual report of activities and expenditures in this area two weeks prior to the Congregational meeting. Shall perform such other duties as the Board of Trustees may
Secretary. Will attend all congregational business meetings, act as the organization’s
Parliamentarian, accurately record the minutes, then publish and distribute them to
the Members and Friends who wish to receive them. Printed copies of minutes will
be available for review at the congregation’s meeting place. If the Secretary cannot
attend a meeting, s/he is responsible to designate an alternate to record the meeting
minutes Responsible for person(s) or committee who disseminates information
to Members, Friends, prospective members, the media, and the general public.
Responsible for development of publicity and marketing strategies, maintaining the
Web site (, and maintaining mailing lists (e-mail and post).
Responsible for soliciting items of interest and preparing meeting agendas, making them
available seven calendar days in advance of the meeting. Responsible for acquiring and
forwarding to the President the annual report of activities and expenditures in this area.
Treasurer. Responsible for the person(s) or committee who prepares the annual
budget, monthly financial reports, and necessary filings with the state and federal
governments. Responsible for developing procedures to insure the security and proper
accounting of contributions, designing and maintaining pledge forms, and preparing
annual receipts for donors. Shall arrange fundraising activities and form a committee to
write grant proposals. In support of Green Sanctuary goals, the committee will consider
the environmental impact of all goods, services and investments before purchase.
Responsible for acquiring and forwarding to the President the annual report regarding
this area.
Three At-Large Trustees – Each trustee is expected to coordinate one of the following
three areas. Trustees are expected to form appropriate committees, elect or appoint
committee leaders, and to hold regularly scheduled meetings of those committees.
Spiritual Services, Religious Education and Nursery. This Trustee is responsible
for the person(s) or committee who prepares the spiritual services schedule and
who prepares religious education activities. Shall see that people are invited to
make presentations, and that service guidelines are provided. Responsible for
the person(s) or committee who recruits instructors and assistants, and develops
schedules for the Religious Education program and its volunteers. Will show due
diligence for the safety and security of program participants.
Social and Environmental Action. This Trustee is responsible for the person(s)
or committee who plans and arranges meaningful events in support of the
congregation’s social and environmental justice goals, including the implementation
of a Green Sanctuary action plan. Social and Environmental Justice themes or areas
of concentration for the year will be selected following the election of this Trustee.
At minimum, social and environmental action activities are expected to be carried
out on a monthly basis.
Membership and Events. This Trustee is responsible for the person(s) or committee
who maintains the Membership Book and Member Directory, arranges fellowship
activities, and conducts the annual congregational demographic census, as well
as the person(s) or committee who coordinate events (other than spiritual
services) to echo the needs, and reinforce the community spirit of the congregation.
Recommends participation in local festivals and activities that would contribute
to, and promote the congregation’s purposes. Will direct outreach to current and
prospective members. As part of the annual report, will advise the congregation
of changes in membership (Members and Friends added, Members and Friends
removed). The Membership Trustee will be responsible for the person or committee who conducts the Caring activities of GHUUC. These activities include but are not limited to contacting congregants who have been absent for a while or who have concerns related to medical, family, or personal circumstances.
The immediate past President shall remain on the board in an advisory capacity, having
no vote. If the immediate past President cannot serve, the Board may name another past
President. If no previous president is available to serve, the position shall remain vacant.
Other Leadership Positions.
a. The congregation may appoint Members to act as representatives to the Regional District and other Unitarian Universalist or associated organizations and events.
b. The congregation may appoint a Member to be the Officiator for Ceremonial
Events. This Officiator is empowered to conduct marriage ceremonies, naming and
dedication ceremonies, funerals, and other ceremonial events.
Youth trustee. A Youth Member may, if invited by the Board of Trustees, be affirmed
by the congregation to serve in an advisory, non-voting capacity on the Board of
LIABILITY OF TRUSTEES. To the fullest extent that the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, as now in effect—or as hereinafter amended—these bylaws permit elimination or limitation of the liability of Trustees, so that no Trustee, nor persons acting for the Board of Trustees of this Congregation shall be personally liable for monetary damages as such for any action taken or failure to take action as a Trustee.
Individual Board Members may be removed from office by a two-thirds vote of the
Board after the individual has been apprised, in writing, of performance shortcomings
and given a reasonable period of time to improve performance. Any action taken under
this section may be appealed to the Congregation at a meeting called by the Board.
Any allegation of impropriety offensive to the congregation’s principles on the part of a
Trustee shall be reported to the Board of Trustees. The Board will form an emergency
ad hoc committee to investigate the allegation. If deemed credible, the offending
individual will be immediately suspended until the issue can be resolved at a special
congregational meeting.
VACANCIES. In the event of an unexpected leadership vacancy, the Board will appoint an interim leader, first considering other members of the affected committee. A special congregational meeting will be held within 45 days to affirm or elect a person to fill the vacancy.
SPIRITUAL SERVICES. The congregation shall have spiritual services weekly, except during the summer months when the congregation may choose to meet less frequently.
CONGREGATIONAL BUSINESS MEETINGS. The will of this congregation shall be communicated to its elected leaders primarily by way of regularly scheduled Congregational meetings – a minimum of three per fiscal year. The most important of these meetings shall be the Annual Meeting in May, where the leadership for the next year is elected. Consensus is a goal. Quorum requires the presence of one-third of the Members. Motions require a minimum of 75% concurrence for passage. When calculating the number of Members required for quorum or the number required for a motion to pass, the conventional standard of rounding to the next whole number will be used: a fraction of 0.5
and above will be rounded up, a fraction of 0.4 or below will be rounded down.
The Secretary shall publicize meetings by publishing and distributing agendas at least
seven calendar days in advance of each meeting. Meetings will also be announced at
spiritual services. A paper copy of agendas and meeting minutes will be available for
review at the congregation’s meeting place.
Standard agenda items will include:
a. Approval of meeting minutes.
b. Financial report.
c. Committee reports.
d. Congregational inquiries and new business.
The May meeting will also be the annual congregational business meeting and will
include additional agenda items:
Nominate and confirm leaders.
Review the bylaws and purpose statement.
Business meetings shall be open, conducted in the presence of the membership, and in
accordance with the current version of Roberts Rules of Order.
A special or unscheduled congregational meeting may be called when required by a
provision of these by-laws; at the formal, written request of 20% of Members; or at the
request of the Board of Trustees. A meeting date and its agenda shall be provided to the
Secretary to be published and made available to Members and Friends at least seven
days in advance of the meeting date.
Voting. All Members have one vote. Voting may be done in person by a show of hands,
by secret ballot, absentee ballot or through e-mail so long as Members without e-mail have an equal
opportunity to cast a ballot.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES MEETINGS. Board of Trustees shall meet quarterly at minimum at such time and in such place as the Board shall determine and announce to the membership. Board meetings shall be open to members. Communication of the time and place of the Board Meetings shall be by announcement from the pulpit on the Sunday immediately preceding the said Board Meeting and by announcement electronically immediately preceding the Board Meeting.
No vote other than on a motion to adjourn shall be taken without a quorum. A quorum shall consist of a simple majority of the Trustees.
COMMITTEE MEETINGS. Committees shall have coordination meetings as often as necessary, at least quarterly.
Article VII. The Minister. Congregation Members will determine when to call a Minister, establishing the position’s criteria at that time.
A minister shall have freedom of the pulpit; assist in the educational program of the
congregation; bring to the attention of the Board any matters which seem pertinent to
the general welfare of the congregation; make recommendations; and cooperate with
the Board in promoting the aims and purposes of the congregation.
Final decision in matters of policy and procedure shall remain with the Board of
Trustees or a legal meeting of the congregation.
Article VIII. Fiscal Year. The fiscal year shall mirror that of the Unitarian Universalist Association, commencing July 1 of each year and ending June 30 of the following year. Within 30 days of the new president and treasurer taking office, the authorized signatures must be updated at all financial institutions used by the congregation.
ARTICLE IX. BUDGET. The Board of Trustees shall, in advance of the first Congregational Meeting of the fiscal year, prepare a proposed budget for the current fiscal year. Upon acceptance and approval of such budget by the membership at the first Congregational Meeting, expenditures within such budget may be made by the Treasurer with the approval of the Chairperson of the committee in charge of the matter involving the expenditure, or where there is no such committee Chairperson, by the President of the Board.
No expenditure above the amount budgeted shall be made unless first authorized by the Board of Trustees. For emergency purposes, the Board may authorize, in addition to budgeted expenses, the expenditure of funds totaling no more than five percent (5%) of the expected annual income. Contracts or expenditure beyond this amount shall require approval by a majority vote of the membership.
Budgeted expenditures shall not exceed a reasonable estimate of income as certified by
the Board preparing the budget. Any application for consideration of additions to budgeted
expenditures shall be accompanied by explicit consideration of funding.
Article X. Dissolution. In the event this congregation disbands, all property, real and personal, after paying all just claims upon it, shall be conveyed to and vested in the Unitarian Universalist Association or its legal successor. The congregation’s leadership shall perform all actions necessary to effectuate such conveyance. (May 1, 2005)
Article XI. Amendments. These bylaws so far as allowed by law, may be amended or replaced at any congregational meeting. Proposed bylaws changes will be communicated to congregational members not less than seven days in advance of the Congregational Meeting at which the changes will be discussed.
Accepted and enacted at Slippery Rock, PA on August 29, 2010
Updated February 5, 2017