Governance Task Force Update by Bruce Wagner


Bruce Wagner

In his 1986-87 Minister’s Report, Rev. Roy Jones, our Senior and only minister then, asked the following question: “Shall administration of the church program-evaluation of committee and other functions, soliciting volunteers, bring resources to trouble spots etc. be the responsibility of the Board, of the administrator, of a special overseeing committee, of the President of the church, of the Minister, or all the above” and then, in parentheses he asks: “how divided?”  That led me to ask: “how assembled,” a question more relevant, perhaps, to today’s needs. How should this large organization that is Foothills Unitarian church be assembled to best serve our congregational mission?  This is a governance question.  In his book Governance and Ministry, Dan Hotchkiss has this to say about governance: “Governance is holding the whole institution and its work in trust, voicing its intentions, and taking responsibility for its performance.”  The governance model laid out in Hotchkiss’s book is not John Carver’s Policy Governance, but rather is a policy-based model that has been adapted through experience to best serve the needs of congregations like ours.  It begins with a “vision of governance” that the Governance Task Force has drafted and the Board has affirmed.  Next steps include drafting Board policy to build a “policy book” to be used by the Board to provide direction, set limitations, ensure accountability, fairness and transparency.  Board policy is like a “how assembled” document that is reviewed by the Board constantly, more fluid than the bylaws, and is designed to aid the Board in its responsibility to represent the congregation in serving its mission.  Will there be changes made to our bylaws?  As we discussed in the series of forums staged by the Governance Task Force this spring, our current bylaws do not reflect our church structure as it now stands.  The Governance Task Force will work closely with the Bylaws Committee and the Board in drafting suggested changes to our bylaws to be presented to the congregation for vote. I feel that our current bylaws allow enough latitude for us to try out a new governance model and they will remain firmly in place. The Governance Task Force is working iteratively with the Board of Trustees, and diligently to envision and help implement a model of governance that will best serve the needs of this congregation today, as well as to set a path for the various components of our organization to meet the goals of the future.  These are exciting times ahead and we will keep you all very much in the loop through regular communication.


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