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  • Writer's pictureNancy Rexford

Forward Chats #20 - September 15, 2019

Bylaws: Question and Answer Session

There was no Forward Chats last week since it was Sunday One and worship was followed by a pancake breakfast very kindly hosted by the boy scouts who meet in our church.

Today’s meeting, attended by 20 people, focused on the PowerPoint Introduction to the new bylaws presented during worship today. Time did not allow for questions during the presentation itself, so today’s Forward Chat and also the one next week (September 22) are providing time to ask and answer questions. The vote to adopt the new bylaws will take place at a congregational business meeting after worship on September 29.

The topics raised about the bylaws at this meeting included the following:

Officers (were not discussed in the presentation)

The number of officers has been reduced to four:

1. Moderator (now serves primarily as neutral chair of congregational meetings)

2. Clerk – job description is pretty much unchanged

3. Treasurer – most job description taken from old bylaws

4. Assistant Treasurer – to learn the job and assist the treasurer

Terms are for 3 years, without term limits. David Varga had pointed out that it takes a year just to learn what is involved in the treasurer’s position, so it makes no sense to elect a new one every year. David specifically requested the addition of an Assistant Treasurer to ensure continuity in the key financial position. The Central Board can appoint substitutes if officers are unable to serve, so other assistant officers are not needed. We hope that David, Peg Round and Dale Earl will continue in their positions, but we will probably need to find a new moderator.

Subsidiary bank accounts

This came up when Ruth Moran expressed concern that what she calls (tongue in cheek) the Choir Slush Fund would have to be rolled into the main church account. This is one example of a larger issue. Certain entities in the church still have their own checking accounts, for example, the Mission Committee, the Choir, the Pastor’s discretionary fund, and possibly funds related to Christian Ed and altar flowers. Generally it is better accounting practice to have ALL church funds go through the main church financial books, but there are reasons to go slowly and thoughtfully before changing the current system. Issues include:

· Need for confidentiality in the Pastor’s discretionary fund (and yet there also has to be some oversight)

· Choir funds are collected directly from the choir members to pay for gifts, flowers when someone dies or is ill, etc. This fund was never part of the church budget.

· Missions is more complicated and was not discussed at this meeting.

· Nor was CE, about which I have no information.

If changes are made in the future, they will be made by the Central Board in consultation with the finance team, and also very likely an outside CPA or auditor, as well as with the committees currently controlling these accounts. Making changes in this area is not an immediate priority.

Selection/election process for choosing the Central Board

The process for conducting elections came up today, as it did at the last meeting on September 1st. We just had a different and larger crowd this week. There is a pretty full discussion of the election process in the notes from the September 1 session, so please read that here:

The one new question that arose today was why the “Vote of Preference” only allowed for choosing five people instead of seven, since we have to elect seven Central Board members. The answer is that the “Vote of Preference” for five names helps create a number that will let us rank everyone in the congregation. It doesn’t need to be the same as the number of people being elected. Indeed, since the three-year terms will be staggered, this is the only year in which we are likely to be electing seven people. In future years, the typical pattern will be to elect only two or three. Five was just a number pulled out of the air as a plausible figure. Everyone is likely to vote for a different group of five, so the exact number chosen doesn’t matter. But it is clear that this method of electing people is unfamiliar and difficult for people to wrap their heads around, so we will have to do a good job of explaining the process (and the rationale for it) in the voting instructions.

The recommendation not to make amendments as part of the vote on September 29

This topic was addressed both at today’s meeting and at the September 1 meeting, and is fully discussed in the notes for the latter:

Adding to that information, here is the page discussing this issue on the bylaw website:

And also a link to the amendment form we will be using to record suggested amendments.

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