Article I: Purpose and Definitions
Article II: Denominational Basis
Article III: Doctrinal Basis
Article IV: Conference Meetings
Article V: Officers
Article VI: Board of Directors
Article VII: Terms of Office and Eligibility
Article VIII: Finance
Article IX: Board of Ministerial Aid
Article X: Women's Home Missionary Union
Article XI: Parliamentary Authority
Article XII: Amendments
- The purpose of the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ as stated in its charter (1799) is "diffusing the knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ ... and in concert with other ecclesiastical bodies for the general increase of Christian union and spiritual efficiency and the advancement of Christ's Kingdom on earth."
- The local church is the basic unit of the life and organization of the United Church of Christ. It is autonomous and has the power of self-determination in all matters.
- An Association is composed of all local churches in a geographical section of the Conference, of all ordained ministers holding standing therein, of all commissioned ministers of that Association, and of those licensed ministers who have been granted voting membership in that Association. An Association may include Congregational Christian churches which are not part of the United Church of Christ, yet are in voluntary fellowship with and are recognized by the Association.
- The name of this corporation is the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ, herein referred to as the "Conference." The Conference is that body of the United Church of Christ which is composed of all local churches in a geographical area, all ordained ministers holding standing in its Associations, all commissioned ministers in its Associations, and those licensed ministers who have been granted voting membership in its Associations. It joins with other Conferences and agencies of the United Church of Christ for the advancement of God's work in this world.
- An Area is established by the Board of Directors and is composed of an Association or Associations informally grouped together for the convenience of the Conference.
Following Congregational principles, this Conference shall under no circumstances exercise authority over churches or individuals or interfere with the government or discipline of the churches. It shall advise and counsel the churches when requested but it is recognized that each church has the power of self-determination in all matters.
This Conference declares its steadfast allegiance to the faith which our forebears confessed, which, from age to age, has found its expression in the historic creeds of the Church Universal and of this Communion.
- Conference Meeting Membership
A. When this Conference meets, its voting membership shall consist of the following:
- delegates from each local church, for a term of one year. The number of delegates from each church is determined by the number of its members as of the preceding December 31. Churches with a membership of 300 or less shall have two delegates; 301- to 600-member churches shall have three delegates; 601- to 900-member churches shall have four delegates; 901- to 1200-member churches shall have five delegates; 1201- to 1500-member churches shall have six delegates; 1501- to 1800-member churches shall have seven delegates;
- officers of the Conference;
- members of the Board of Directors;
- members of Conference Committees and Commissions mentioned in the bylaws;
- persons who are ordained and hold standing in an Association of this Conference;
- persons who are commissioned and licensed ministers who have been granted voting membership in an Association of this Conference.
B. Associate members with the privilege of speaking but without vote shall consist of the following:
- the Moderator of each Association;
- Associate Conference Ministers;
- presidents of mission and aid societies related to the Conference.
C. Honorary members with the privilege of speaking but without vote shall consist of the following:
- delegates from corresponding bodies;
- persons appointed to speak before the Conference;
- persons made honorary members by vote of the Conference.
- Annual Meeting
The Annual Meeting of the Conference shall be held at such time during each year as the Board of Directors shall decide. To the extent that the business of the Annual Meeting is not accomplished within the order of time and events as set forth in the Agenda of the Annual Meeting or the Agenda of any Extended Annual Meeting, the Board of Directors may decide to adjourn the Annual Meeting or any Extended Annual Meeting to reconvene at a later time, place and date within such year as an Extended Annual Meeting to consider the remaining business of the adjourned Annual Meeting or the remaining business of any adjourned Extended Annual Meeting and any other business of the Conference properly before the meeting. Any such Extended Annual Meeting shall be conducted under the same Standing Rules as the Annual Meeting, and any such Extended Annual Meeting shall comply with such notice provisions as apply to the Annual Meeting. The business to be conducted at the Annual Meeting shall include the election of officers, other members of the Board of Directors and Committees, Commission members and Delegates and Alternates to the General Synod; the presentation of reports; the determination of the annual rate of Fellowship Dues and the proportion to be retained from Our Church's Wider Mission giving of the churches; the adoption of a budget for the next fiscal year; and the transaction of any other business that may properly come before the meeting. Notice of the time, place, and general business of the meeting, including the budget and Treasurer's report, shall be mailed not later than one month prior to the meeting to each church, in sufficient quantity for its voting members, and also mailed to all other members of the Conference.
3. Special Meetings
Special meetings of the Conference may be called by the Board of Directors. Special meetings of the Conference shall be called by the Board upon written request, specifying the purpose of the meeting, from no fewer than one-hundred (100) persons who are voting members of the Conference, as defined, and who shall represent at least fifty (50) churches from the five Areas of the Conference. The meeting so requested shall be held within two months of the receipt of the completed petition unless an already scheduled meeting will be held within four months. No action shall be taken at any special meeting on business not specified in the notice for such meeting. Written notice of the time, place, and purpose of the meeting shall be mailed at least three weeks before the meeting to each church, in sufficient quantity for its voting members, and also mailed to all other voting members.
The quorum shall consist of two-hundred (200) members, providing that each Association is represented by at least two churches.
5. Voting Procedures
Each Conference member present in person shall be entitled to one vote. Uncontested elections may be by voice vote or other means; contested elections shall be by ballot; a plurality of votes shall elect.
6. Annual Meeting Committees
A. The Volunteer Development Committee
- Composition -- There shall be a volunteer development committee of the Conference consisting of ten (10) members. The membership of the committee shall be representative of the Conference with at least one member from each Area.
- Method of Election; Term; Vacancies -- The Board of Directors shall present to the Conference at its Annual Meeting nominations for membership to the Volunteer Development Committee. Members of the Volunteer Development Committee shall serve three-year terms, with three or four members elected by the Conference at each Annual Meeting. Past members of the Volunteer Development Committee shall not be eligible for re-election to the Volunteer Development Committee for a period of one year following their completion of a term. Vacancies in the Volunteer Development Committee shall be filled by the Board of Directors until the next Annual Meeting of the Conference.
- Selection and Term of Chair -- The chair shall be appointed by the President from among the committee members for a term of one year.
- Quorum -- A majority of the members of the committee must be present either in person or via real-time voice teleconferencing, so that all persons participating in the meeting can hear each other at the same time to constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.
- Responsibilities -- The committee shall present to the Conference at its Annual Meeting a single slate of nominees for Moderator and Vice-Moderator, members-at-large of the Board of Directors, members of the Annual Meeting Planning Committee and Commissions and General Synod Delegates and Alternates, and shall include nominees to fill vacancies occurring in any of these positions.
Nominees for positions on the Board of Directors, the Commissions, the Annual Meeting Planning Committee, and Delegates and Alternates to General Synod shall be from all Areas of the Conference. In developing the slate of nominees, the Volunteer Development Committee shall strive for a mix of lay and clergy nominees and for a diversity of nominees with regard to age, gender, race and ethnicity.
Nominations may be made from the floor at the Annual Meeting, provided the eligibility of the individuals so nominated has been established and is in accordance with these bylaws, and the written consent of such individuals has been secured and submitted to the Volunteer Development at the meeting.
Associations are encouraged to make suggestions of nominees for all positions but most specifically for delegates and alternates for General Synod, who must meet the criteria in the Bylaws of the United Church of Christ.
B. The Annual Meeting Committee
- Responsibilities--The Annual Meeting Committee shall plan and direct the worship, business and program of the Annual Meeting and any special meetings of the Conference.
- Composition--The Annual Meeting Committee shall consist of:
a) the Moderator of the Conference, who shall serve as Chair of the Committee,
b) the Vice Moderator and the Secretary of the Conference,
c) additional Board members appointed by the Chair of the Board,
d) nine elected members, three of whom shall be elected each year for a term of three years.
- Annual Meeting Subcommittees--The Annual Meeting Committee shall be organized with such sub-committees as it deems appropriate to accomplish the following:
a) Focused responsibility for worship and hospitality for the Annual Meeting and any special Conference meetings.
b) Focused responsibility for preparing the agenda for business sessions, recommending changes during meetings, and in general expediting the business of Conference meetings and special Conference meetings.
Annual Meeting Committee members shall be assigned to subcommittees by the Moderator in consultation the Vice-moderator.
C. The Credentials Committee
At least one week before the opening of a Conference meeting, the Secretary shall appoint members of the Credentials Committee. The Secretary shall serve as chair. The committee shall be responsible for the resolution of issues relating to the eligibility of members of the Conference meetings. Decisions of this committee shall be final and binding for the meeting for which it was formed.
- Number and Title
The officers of the Conference shall be the Minister and President, Secretary, Treasurer, Moderator, Vice-Moderator, and such other officers as the Conference may elect.
- Election, Terms, Vacancies
The officers shall be elected by members of the Conference for a term of one year or until their successors are elected. A vacancy among the officers, other than that of Minister and President, shall be filled by the Board of Directors until the next Annual Meeting or until a successor is elected. No officer, with the exception of the Minister and President, shall serve more than six terms.
In the case of a vacancy in the office of Minister and President, the Board of Directors shall appoint a search committee to nominate a candidate for election at the Annual Meeting. The Board shall appoint an interim Minister and President to serve until a candidate is elected by the Conference. While the interim Minister and President is being selected, the Board will make arrangements for carrying out the duties of this office.
An elected officer may be removed by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the total membership of the Board of Directors.
The duties of the officers shall be as follows:
- The Minister and President shall be the chief corporate and executive officer of the Conference and shall, subject to the direction of the Conference and the Board of Directors, have general charge of its mission and activities. The Minister and President shall be an ex-officio member of the Annual Meeting Planning, Business, and Credentials Committees of the Conference. The Minister and President shall be the representative of the Conference among all the churches and in denominational and ecumenical bodies. The Minister and President shall direct the staff and employ and release all non-appointed employees in accordance with procedures adopted by the Board of Directors.
- The Secretary shall be chair of the Credentials Committee and shall carry other duties as are usual to this office and shall exercise such other powers and perform such other duties as may be assigned by the Minister and President or the Board of Directors.
- The Treasurer shall be responsible for seeing that all monies of the Conference are received, held in custody and disbursed as authorized; that accurate accounts of monies received and paid out are kept; and that financial statements and reports are prepared and issued. The Treasurer shall exercise the powers and perform such other duties usually incident to the office of treasurer and shall exercise such other powers and perform such other duties as may be assigned by the Minister and President or Board of Directors. Any Assistant shall perform such duties as may be assigned by the Treasurer or the Minister and President in the absence or incapacity of the Treasurer.
- The Moderator or, in the absence of the Moderator, the Vice-Moderator, shall preside at all meetings of the Conference. In the absence of both a Moderator and a Vice-Moderator, a member of the Board of Directors shall call the meeting to order and conduct the election of a Moderator Pro Tempore.
A majority of the members of the Board shall be present either in person or via real-time voice for teleconferencing, so that all persons participating in the meeting can hear each other at the same time to constitute a quorum.
6. Board Committees
All terms shall begin at the close of the Annual Meeting. A full term on the Board of Directors shall be three or more years of service; and a full term on all other committees and commissions shall be two or more years of service for the purpose of determining eligibility to serve additional terms.
All officers and members of the Board of Directors, Conference Committees, and Commissions may serve only while a member of a church that has standing in an Association of the Conference.
Any person elected to the Board of Directors or to any Committee or Commissions of the Conference who shall fail to attend three consecutive regular meetings without an explanation of absence shall be considered to have resigned. Whoever is nominated to the Board of Directors or to any Committee or Commission of the Conference on the basis of church membership in one of the five Areas of the state shall be considered to have resigned if, during the term of office, the person transfers his or her church membership out of that Area.
At each Annual Meeting, the Conference shall adopt a budget of estimated income and expenditures for the next fiscal year.
Changes to the proposed budget will be considered at an Annual Meeting only if a written proposal outlining the desired changes to the proposed budget and signed by at least five members of the Annual Meeting has been filed with the Treasurer at least two weeks prior to the date of the Annual Meeting. However, changes to the proposed budget may be considered at the Annual Meeting if two-thirds of the delegates present vote to consider such proposal.
- Retention Rate and Fellowship Dues
The rate of Fellowship Dues and the portion to be retained from Our Church's Wider Mission for the next fiscal year shall be established by vote of the Annual Meeting approving the Conference's budget. The amount of the Fellowship Dues and the retention rate so established shall be for an entire year and shall not be changed until the next Annual Meeting of the Conference.
- Fiscal Year
The calendar year shall be the fiscal year of the Conference.
- Financial Report
A summary report of the financial operations of the Conference shall be printed in the Conference Annual Report.
- Corporate Assets
The Board of Directors shall manage all of the business affairs of the Conference. However, corporate assets, whether restricted monies or title to real property and whether one transaction or a series of related transactions, involving more than an aggregate of $250,000 shall be disbursed or conveyed only by a vote of the Conference. This limitation shall not conflict with or limit the provisions of gifts, bequests, or other donations to the Conference. However, the Board of Directors may create and manage special funds to receive gifts for special purposes of the Conference.
A certified public accountant shall be retained by the Board of Directors to make an annual examination of the financial accounts of the corporation. A report of all examinations shall be submitted to the Board of Directors.
No officer, director, or staff member of the Conference shall be personally liable to the Conference or its members for monetary damages for breach of fiduciary duty as an officer, director, or staff member, provided, however, that this provision shall in no way be construed to eliminate or limit the liability of an officer, director, or staff member (A) for any breach of his or her duty of loyalty to the Conference or its members, (B) for acts or omissions not in good faith or involving intentional misconduct or a knowing violation of law, or (C) for any transaction from which the officer, director, or staff person derived an improper personal benefit.
In the event of the dissolution or final liquidation of the Conference, after all liabilities and obligations of the Conference have been paid, satisfied or discharged, or adequate provisions have been made therefore, all remaining property and assets of the Conference shall be distributed to such organization or organizations affiliated with the United Church of Christ as may be designated by the Executive Council of the United Church of Christ.
The Board of Ministerial Aid shall be the agent of the Conference in the work of aiding needy ministers and their families and shall make an annual report to the Conference. On notice of a vacancy in the membership of the Board of Ministerial Aid, the Board of Directors shall nominate a person to fill the vacancy.
The Massachusetts Women’s Home Missionary Union shall be an auxilliary organization of the Conference in the work of promoting the spiritual and temporal welfare of those in need, especially women and children, and shall make an annual report to the Conference. The Union shall organize itself and set its own rules, provided they are not in conflict with these Bylaws.
Robert's Rules of Order, in its most recent revision, shall be the parliamentary authority governing the meetings of the Conference, the Board of Directors and committees, subject to the laws of the Commonwealth, the articles of incorporation and these Bylaws.
These Bylaws may be amended by a vote of two-thirds of the members of the Conference present and voting at any meeting of the Conference provided that the proposed amendment shall have been included in the notice of the meeting, and provided the proposed amendment shall have been recommended by the Board of Directors or proposed at a previous Conference meeting.