On October 22 and November 12, we held “listening sessions” for parishioners to consider the several suggestions to update our by-laws. At both meetings we heard very thoughtful comments and similar concerns.
There are three major proposals. The first is to revise our covenant, to change the phrase pledging ”service to man”. All who spoke favored a change, recognizing that many people now interpret man to mean “men”, not everyone. The review committee suggests “all”, which has many proponents. Others prefer different choices including “all people”, “humanity”, “others", or “creation”. While any of these would cure the basic problem of changing to a more contemporary word than “man” the review committee believes that “all” sufficiently captures the spirit of what King’s Chapel in fact now does.
The second concerns the procedures for new members. We now require written notice three-months in advance. The Membership Committee finds that unwelcoming, and awkward to administer. The proposal is to drop the three-months time frame, noting that the by-laws still require recommendations from the membership committee and the minister. That is the church’s ultimate protection against a hostile takeover by some group; not any waiting period. We heard concern that joining the church is a serious decision that should require advance intent, and some note the possibility of new groups “hijacking” the church. But almost all of our members have been engaged with King’s Chapel for at least three months before they join, often much longer. We believe we will find a solution that addresses both concerns.
The third is the proposal to reduce the percentage of members voting to call a new Senior Minister. The current by-law requires 90%, higher than most UU congregations. The proposal is for 75%. Almost all who spoke favored the 90% requirement, uneasy with 25% dissenting and believing that a minister would be unlikely to accept a call from a lesser vote.
We plan at least one more listening session in January. Members will decide by vote on January 28—be sure to save the date and come to the meeting!