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 August 2020, 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:
WITHIN each of us
Authentic spirituality rooted in courage and personal growth
- I am continually inspired to deepen my spiritual understanding with the love and support of the OUUC community.
- As I grow and learn, I practice my faith, act courageously, and create and appreciate beauty.
AMONG our congregants
Joyful connections built on inclusion, equity, and support
- We welcome all persons searching for a spiritual home. No matter your personal identity or your circumstances, you are accepted and cherished here.
- Our covenant is the foundation of strong relationships. We deepen our connections as we learn, love, work, play, sing, and find meaning together.
BEYOND our doors
Thriving communities grounded in justice and interconnection
- We are a reliable, collaborative presence working with our allies to protect the rights of all people and the well-being of our planet.
- As we recognize the intrinsic value of all persons, we reach out with care and compassion to preserve health, dignity, and freedom for our neighbors and beyond.
THROUGHOUT our organization
Resilient systems steeped in spirituality and transparency
- We act to dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves, our congregation, and the larger
- We operate with transparency, sustainability, integrity, and inclusion in all aspects of our organization.
- We encourage all congregants to share their talents and to participate in leadership opportunities.
Underlying these Ends are the vision and mission statements:
A loving, just, and healthy world
Our spiritual principles affirm the worth and dignity of every person, and that we are part of the infinite, interdependent WEB of life.
Welcome and Wonder
Embrace and Empower
Bridge and Become
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, Community and Faith Development Ministry, and Resource Ministry. Most church committees fall within the purview of one of the five ministries.