Above Board: What Your Board Does

By Ellen Beattie, UUCA Board President-Elect

In a congregation as large and as lively as UUCA, there is no one who knows everything there is to know about all the wonderful things that go on around here every day. As a Sunday morning greeter, I know there is nothing like a question from a visitor to make me suddenly aware of some aspect of our congregational life that I don’t know enough about.

Even the basics of how we are governed can often be fuzzy to many of us. If, for example, someone approached you in the Social Hall one day and asked, “So, what does the Board do around here?” would you know how to answer? If not, you are surely not alone.

The overarching duty of the UUCA Board is to ensure that our congregation is run in a way that furthers our mission and goals, while honoring and respecting our values and principles. To this end, we monitor the work of the Executive (our Senior Minister) and hold him accountable for operating in accordance with the wishes of the congregation.

To fulfill its duties, the Board must:

  • Listen to the congregation: Be in dialogue with congregants in as many ways as possible in order to discern and update the ends we collectively seek.
  • Establish norms and expectations: Provide the Executive with clear guidance on the goals of the Congregation and our expectations on how the church should be run.
  • Monitor the results: Through both the review of reports and on-going discussions with the Executive, ensure that we are advancing towards our goals in a manner that is safe, ethical and in accordance with the Congregation’s wishes and needs.
  • Learn and lead: Be attentive to the developments and best practices of the wider denomination and beyond, and challenge the congregation to innovate and bring about positive change.

In practical terms, what does this mean the Board does? Here are a few examples the recent activities of the Board that illustrate how we work:

  • Launch of the Long Range Plan process: The Board has set in motion a process of discernment with the congregation to establish our vision and priorities for the next 5 years. Learn more about our new long range planning process here.
  • Analysis of absentee voting options: The Board’s Bylaws & Policy Committee has been looking into ways to modify our Bylaws in order to facilitate participation in congregational decision-making by those who cannot be physically present for votes.
  • Wisdom conversations: The Board has been engaging in deeper study of big-picture trends and challenges that are affecting the congregation or may in the future, and looking at ways to take advantage of opportunities.
  • Monitoring of the budget and financial status of the congregation: The Board has worked with the Executive to develop improved monthly financial reports that facilitate better oversight over the budget and stewardship of the congregation’s resources.
  • Listening sessions: The Board’s Congregational Life Committee has been holding in-depth listening sessions with small, diverse focus groups of members to learn what is on their minds about how we are doing.

The Board welcomes your ideas and comments. Please write us at board@uuca.org.