Annotated Church Bylaws

Living Interfaith Church Bylaws

(Article One is fairly standard – Note that 1.1 mentions we are a nonprofit religious organization: this states clearly our intent is to be a church, NOT a “for profit” group that happens to deal with religious themes; 1.3 is a requirement; a nonprofit has to have a defined way of transferring any remaining assets to another nonprofit.)

 1. ARTICLE ONE: NAME

1.1. The name of our non-profit religious organization is LIVING INTERFAITH CHURCH.

1.2. The location ofLivingInterfaithChurch isLynnwood,Washington.

1.3. In the event of a dissolution of this corporation, any assets of the congregation will be transferred to the Interfaith Association of Northwest Washington, (a recognized 501(c)(3) corporation), located in Everett, WA or its successor organization, for its general purposes; this transfer to be made in full compliance with applicable law.

 

2. ARTICLE TWO: STATEMENT OF PURPOSE

2.1. Notwithstanding any other provisions of these Bylaws, Living Interfaith Church shall not carry on any activities not permitted to be carried on by a corporation exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code.  

(This is required by the IRS if an organization wants to become a recognized 501 (c) (3).)

2.2. LivingInterfaithChurch is a non-profit religious organization whose purpose is to hold regular services, encourage and support members in their individual religious and spiritual growth and expression, and to further the growth of Interfaith as a faith in the world.LivingInterfaithChurch is an inclusive interfaith ministry.

2.3. This congregation affirms and promotes the full participation of persons in our activities and endeavors, including membership, programming, hiring practices, and the calling of religious professionals without regard to gender, affectional or sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, physical or mental challenge, or economic circumstance.

2.4. Any limitation to full participation is subject to review and approval by the Church Council.

2.5. In putting our purpose into practice, we shall design all our activities, programs, celebrations, and community work such that we constantly evaluate and consider how what we do affects everyone else, both within our church community and in the broader community.

2.6. A “Statement of Rationale,” which will document the reasoning underlying our Bylaws and the motivating force behind our Policies and Procedures, shall serve as a fixed preamble to the current and any future Policies and Procedures so that the initial intent remains clear, even as the Bylaws and Policies and Procedures are amended.

(We decided we wanted a “Statement of Rationale” as a “fixed preamble” to our Policies and Procedures so that, despite any changes to those policies and procedures that might come in the future, all in the future will know what we intended.)

 

3. ARTICLE THREE: MEMBERSHIP

3.1. Membership privileges as defined in these Bylaws will be extended only to Active Members. An Active Member is any person who:

          3.1.1. Is 16 years of age or older; and

         3.1.2. Has completed the Journey to Membership process as outlined in the    Membership Handbook of Living Interfaith Church; and

        3.1.3. Makes an annual financial pledge of record toward the expenses of the organization; and

        3.1.4. Has been accepted by a majority vote of the Church Council; and

        3.1.5. Has signed the Membership book signifying his/her sympathy with the Covenant, current Bylaws and Mission Statement of Living Interfaith Church.

3.2. One may be an Active Member of Living Interfaith Church and also be an active member of another spiritual community. Membership in our church is neither intended nor expected to be exclusive. No member is asked to give up his or her path in another spiritual community to joinLivingInterfaithChurch. Rather, one is invited to broaden that path.

(This was and is considered a crucial part of our bylaws.  We wanted to be clear that a person is not required to leave another spiritual path to join ours.  We are a “both/and” and NOT an “either/or” church.)

 

4. ARTICLE FOUR: THE CHURCH COUNCIL

4.1. The Church Council is the board of trustees ofLivingInterfaithChurch. It is responsible for the well-being and care of the life, work and people of the church community and, more specifically, for all programs, celebrations and events. It is additionally responsible for all personnel, buildings, property and finances of the church community.

4.2. All actions ofLivingInterfaithChurch are to be transparent. Council meetings are open to the community and everyone is encouraged to attend. There may be instances where, for confidentiality reasons, a meeting or a portion of a meeting may be considered closed. This shall be constituted as an Executive Session and will be open to only to voting Council Members and any individuals specifically requested to attend. The attending Council Members shall make the determination that an Executive Session should be invoked. Only actions and decisions of an Executive Session will be recorded in the minutes.

4.3. The Church Council is composed of an even number of elected members ofLivingInterfaithChurch plus the Minister. Any Active Member of the congregation is eligible to be elected to the Council.

4.4. The Council will normally hold its regular meetings once a month, on the 3rd Saturday of the month, but shall not hold these meetings less frequently than once per quarter. Any Council Member may call special meetings when necessary.

4.5. Members of the Church Council shall conduct themselves according to the Covenant of Right Relations detailed in the Church Administrative Policy and Procedures.

4.6. Members of the Church Council shall serve without compensation.

4.7. All members of the Church Council, and any persons acting on behalf ofLivingInterfaithChurch, shall abide by the church policy regarding Conflict of Interest as detailed in the church Policies and Procedures, which shall conform to current law and standards.

 

5. ARTICLE FIVE: NOMINATION AND ELECTION TO THE CHURCH COUNCIL

5.1. Church Council and interested volunteers from the church community will constitute the Nominating Committee for new members of the Council.

5.2. Only persons who are Active Members of Living Interfaith Church as defined in Article Three of these Bylaws and in the Policies and Procedures and who meet the Membership requirements of the Church may be nominated and elected to the Church Council.

5.3. Only Active Members of Living Interfaith Church as defined in the Article Three of these Bylaws shall have voting privileges in Church elections and/or Congregational meetings.

5.4. Persons are elected to the Church Council for a one-year term.

5.5. If at any time during a Church Council member’s term, he or she becomes unable to fulfill her or his commitment to the Church Council, he or she may request a leave of absence or submit a letter of resignation. Church Council members will notify the President of the Church Council if they are unable to attend a meeting. If, in the absence of extenuating circumstances, Church Council members fail to attend three consecutive Church Council meetings, it will be considered that they have resigned and their position will be filled by the Council for the remainder of the unexpired terms.

 

6. ARTICLE SIX: OFFICERS OF THE CHURCH

6.1. The officers ofLivingInterfaithChurch are the President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer. All officers may be considered for re-election up to but not exceeding four (4) years.

6.2. Officers are elected at the Annual Meeting of the Church Council.

6.3. The President of the Church Council is directly responsible for the ongoing work of the Church Council. The President of the Church Council works in direct relationship with the Minister, members of the Council, and the church community. The agenda for Council meetings is set by the President in conjunction with the Minister. The President is authorized to transact business in the name of the corporation, so long as such business is approved by the Council.

6.4. The Vice-President of the Church Council assists the President as directed by the President and serves as a liaison to the church community. The Vice-President presides at Council meetings in the President’s absence.

6.5. The Treasurer functions as a full member of the Council and works in direct relationship with the Minister, the President of the Council and the Bookkeeper. The Treasurer is responsible for maintaining accurate financial records, all financial disbursements, and for continuous awareness of the income and expenses of the church.

6.6. The Secretary functions as a full member of the Council and works in direct relationship with the Minister and the President of the Council. The Secretary shall keep accurate minutes of all Council meetings and any Congregational meeting, and if the Secretary cannot be present the Secretary shall secure a substitute

6.7. Any Officer may be removed either with or without cause by supermajority two-thirds (2/3, 66%) vote of the Church Council at any time.

6.8. All meetings will be conducted according to the Administrative Policies and Procedures and Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, provided such procedures are applicable and not inconsistent with these Bylaws.

 

7. ARTICLE SEVEN: MINISTER

7.1. The Minister is responsible to the Church Council and works in direct relationship with the President of the Church Council. The Minister is responsible for coordinating the various aspects of ministry within the perspective of the total life and ministry of Living Interfaith Church.

7.2. The Minister is a member of theLivingInterfaithChurch. The Minister’s performance, salary, and benefits are reviewed no less than once a year by the Council and/or the designated Ministry Review Committee during the development of the new fiscal year’s budget. Any recommended changes are submitted to the Church Council with the budget for approval.

7.3. If the Review or exigent circumstance indicates that a situation may require a change in the occupant of the position of Minister, the Council and Ministry Review Committee shall discuss the matter with the Minister present, and shall work out a course of action satisfactory to all parties. Should this not be possible, and should a supermajority of two-thirds (2/3, 66%) of the Council vote that the Minister be dismissed, the Council shall call a special meeting of the Congregation to vote on dismissal or retention of the Minister. A two-thirds (2/3) vote of the Congregation shall be required to dismiss the Minister.

7.4. In the event of the Minister’s termination or resignation from the position, the Council will create an Interim Ministry of volunteers from among the Membership to maintain regular services while a Search Committee is convened by the Council. The Council shall make every effort to retain a new permanent Minister within one year of the departure of the previous Minister. If a new minister is not identified within that time, the Council will hold a meeting to consult with the congregation on next steps.

 

8. ARTICLE EIGHT: COMMITTEES

8.1. The Church Council may create and define various regular committees and ad hoc committees as needed. These committees will report regularly to the Church Council and the Church Council may disband the committees when their function is no longer needed.

 

9. ARTICLE NINE: DECISIONS AND PROCEDURES

9.1. BecauseLivingInterfaithChurch is a Community, decisions at meetings of the Church Council and the Congregation will be made by consensus.

(We decided early that we wanted, if at all possible, to use a consensus model rather than simply “vote.”  Consensus takes longer.  But our feeling was that we wanted to really talk things through, understand why consensus couldn’t be reached – when that’s the case – and work on it until consensus can be reached.  Thus far we have always reached consensus.  However, below are provisions for what to do when/if consensus cannot be reached.)

9.2. Where consensus cannot be reached at Council meetings in a reasonable period of time, an open or private vote may be called by agreement of the majority of Council members where a quorum is present. In that event, decisions will be made by an affirmative vote of a majority of Council members present to be conducted according to Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised.

9.3. Where consensus cannot be reached at Congregational meetings in a reasonable period of time, an open or private vote may be called by agreement of the majority of Active Members where a quorum is present. In that event, decisions will be made by an affirmative vote of a simple majority of Active Members present per Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised.

9.4. Once a decision is made that consensus cannot be reached, all Council and Congregational meetings shall be conducted according to Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, provided such procedures are applicable and not inconsistent with these Bylaws.

9.5. The Council will develop, and annually review prior to the Annual Congregational Meeting, a document of Administrative Policies and Procedures to govern all functions of the Church not covered by these Bylaws, the Financial Policies and Procedures, and the Membership Handbook. In situations where a course of action is unclear, the actions of the Council will be determined by these Policies and Procedures. These documents and any changes to them will be presented at the Congregational Meeting (described in Section 10 of these Bylaws) for approval by a simple majority of Active Members present, and approved by Council vote as stated in Sections 9.1 and 9.2 above.

9.6. In keeping with church policy of transparency, accurate records shall be kept:

9.6.1. Minutes of all meetings of the Church Council and any Council-sanctioned committees and Congregational meetings shall be kept, indicating the time and place of such meetings, the names of those present, and actions and decisions made by the Council during the meeting.

9.6.2. Accurate financial records of the Church shall be kept, including receipts and disbursements.

9.6.3. A record of Active Members shall be kept and updated at least once a year, before each Annual Congregational Meeting.

9.6.4. The Church Council shall cause any annual or periodic report required by law to be prepared and delivered to an office of the State ofWashington or the IRS in a timely manner.

 

10. ARTICLE TEN: CONGREGATIONAL MEETINGS

10.1. An Annual Congregational Meeting will be held at or near the end of the Church fiscal year. Twenty-five percent (25%) of the Active Membership, except as otherwise noted, shall constitute a quorum. Meetings shall be governed by the provisions set out in the Bylaws.

10.2. A notice of the time, date and location of the Annual Congregational meeting shall be announced in the Sunday program for two consecutive services preceding the meeting.

10.3. Any Active Member may request an item be added to the Agenda of the Annual Meeting by presenting such request in writing to the Council President at any time prior to the meeting.

10.4. In addition to the Annual Congregational Meeting, the Church Council may, when needed, call a Congregational Meeting comprised of all the members of the church community. Normally, these meetings will take place on Sunday, following the service. Whenever possible, the congregation will be given two weeks advance notice of such meetings. The President or Vice-President of the Church Council or the Minister (or designee) will moderate such meetings.

10.5. Congregational Meetings may also be called by petition presented to the Church Secretary, containing the signatures of at least twenty-five percent (25%) of the Active Members to discuss items stated in the petition.

 

11. ARTICLE ELEVEN: AMENDMENTS, ADDITIONS, AND DELETIONS TO BYLAWS

11.1. These Bylaws may be modified with amendments, additions, or deletions, by an affirmative vote made by two-thirds (2/3) of the Active Members in attendance at the annual meeting of the Congregation.

11.2. At least fourteen days prior to the Annual Congregational meeting, the Members shall be notified by mail with a summary of the proposed changes to the Bylaws and of their opportunity to receive a copy of the complete text of the proposed changes. The complete text of the proposed changes shall be available to any member requesting it.

11.3. Only Active Members may propose an amendment, addition or deletion. A member must first present the proposal, in writing, to the Church Council. The Church Council must approve changes to the Bylaws before they are presented to the members, except as provided for below.

11.4. A proposed change to the Bylaws may be presented at the Annual Congregational meeting, contrary to the prior expressed desire of Church Council, if such proposal is presented attached to a petition signed by fifty-one percent (51%) of the active church Membership. Such petition must be presented to any Council member 30 days prior to the Annual Congregational meeting.

 

12. ARTICLE TWELVE: INDEMNIFICATION AND NON-LIABILITY

12.1. LivingInterfaithChurch shall indemnify its Council Members and Officers to the fullest extent permissible under the laws of this state from any claim of damage or liability against them while acting in good faith on behalf of the Church.

12.2. The Council Members shall not be personally liable for the debts, liabilities, or other obligations ofLivingInterfaithChurch.

 

Approved and adopted 1.22.2012

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