UUCT’s Adaptations in Governance and Management

Gears fitted together, one gear is labeled "Past" with an arrow pointing left, another gear is labeled "Future" with an arrow pointing right.

One of the bright spots in our process of experimenting with our governance model this year has been an opportunity to hear from long-time members about our history as a congregation. From our beginnings as a family size, lay-led, startup fellowship in 1953, UUCT has had a rich history of adapting leadership, management, and governance models to fit our needs.

In our early days as a fellowship with fewer people, nearly everyone chipped in their part to actively imagine and create the type of religious community they hoped for. As our congregation grew and became more established, we called a minister to serve the congregation and developed a new shared ministry model between the minister and board in the 1990s. In the 2000s, UUCT added more paid staff positions and continued to keep in mind how to provide enough structure for oversight and care for our community without making it onerous on any one group of people. Adapting our governance model at UUCT allows us to once again re-imagine what this looks like after the many changes we’ve all experienced in the past 20+ years, including the recent global pandemic. 

Our congregation voted in May to suspend parts of our bylaws which required specific board positions for Management, Social Justice, Religious Exploration, Worship, and Past President. The nominating committee sponsored this motion to allow UUCT time to assess what type of governance model would work well for us at this point in our congregation’s history. Our working hypothesis is that UUCT would be better served by adapting our current portfolio board, developed in the 1990s, to a more strategic board (here’s a 2-minute video describing various different types of boards). According to the research we’ve conducted (built on the work of previous UUCT boards and taskforces), moving to a Governance and Ministry model would allow the board to focus on big-picture issues and develop a partnership with staff and volunteers to grow and manage UUCT’s ministries. (If you’d like to learn more, here’s a 9-minute video on the Dan Hotchkiss “Governance and Ministry” model.)

Not only does this shift allow us to address the immediate issue of a shortage of people wanting and able to serve on the board, it also allows us to implement our 8th principle and move toward creating a more organic community of communities. This makes space for new people and new ideas to channel the energy and shape the ministry of our congregation rather than a predefined structure. We’re all still accountable to the mission, vision, and principles of our congregation, and the board still retains its oversight function. This is a shift in our congregational culture, so we want to take it slow to assess how these changes affect us before proposing specific models to enshrine into our bylaws.

As sponsors of the May motion, the nominating committee is also exercising our due diligence by reviewing the five “suspended” board positions in consultation with the board and various other groups in the congregation. Our aim is to ensure that any critical tasks and responsibilities are clearly assigned to someone so they’re not missed. That may be staff, other board members, committees or groups, or individuals willing to volunteer their time and talents.

Many of the non-critical remaining responsibilities listed for each of the suspended board positions in the Manual of Policies and Procedures are either outdated or need fresh energy for them to be sustained. We’ll be sharing these opportunities with you throughout the next few months so that anyone who’s interested in investing their time and talents toward these possibilities can let us know. We’ll likely even have resources or mentors to help you get started!

We plan to do a separate report for each of the board positions so you know what’s been reviewed, considered, and changed (for now). As we continue to have conversations with you throughout this year, we can continue to adapt together to meet our shared needs.

If you have any concerns or questions about these changes throughout the year, please feel free to reach out to any of the Nominating Committee members listed below.

Jennifer Carver

Debby Tipton

Anna Bethea

Carolyn DuBard