Note: The Nominating Committee is now seeking Candidates for 2024-2025
FUUSN Operates with Democratic Principles and Congregational Polity
This congregation is wholly owned by its members and governed using a representative process with regular elections of officers, a set of bylaws, an annual meeting of the full society, and the power to call the minister or ministers of its choice.
FUUSN is organized according to the principles of congregational polity–ultimate authority resides with the members and the most important decisions are made by vote at a duly constituted Annual Meeting of the members each spring. Daily operational authority resides with a democratically elected Board of Trustees and Operations Council and all funds are held and invested by a democratically elected Board of Investment.
Policies and Information Issuances
Board of Trustees (BOT)
A six-person Board of Trustees has overall authority over church finances, staffing, and high-level policy-making. The Board is responsible for seeing that all evaluations of ministers, programs, and operations are performed. Six trustees are elected by the members of the society and each serves a three-year term, with two new members elected at each Annual Meeting of the Society. The Board members elect a chair and vice chair from among their members. In addition, one youth member is elected to the Board for a one-year term (currently two youth share that responsibility). Two members currently serve as clerks for the Board.
The Board meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month. Minutes of the Board of Trustees are online.
A seven-person Operations Council works in partnership with FUUSN staff to oversee day-to-day operations and supports FUUSN committees in their work. They conduct monthly reviews of the Budget Tracking Report prepared by the Finance Committee and oversee an annual budget review process which culminates with a recommended budget that is presented to the BOT each Spring.
The Operations Council reports to the Board of Trustees, who are responsible for assuring performance against Congregational Priorities, the Limitations Policies, and the Operations Council Policies.
The Ops Council meets on the third Tuesday of each month. Minutes from Operations Council meetings are online.
With amendments passed at Annual Meeting on June 6, 2021.
Article I Name
The name of the religious corporation shall be First Unitarian Universalist Society in Newton, hereinafter referred to as the Society.
The Society shall be a member congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Association.
Article II Purpose
We come together in an open community that honors freedom of belief, to encourage spiritual growth in ourselves and our children, to share the wisdom of the many religious traditions, with reverence for the earth and in service to humanity.
Article III Membership
SECTION 1. Any person, who has attained age fifteen or who is a graduate of the Coming of Age Program or an equivalent program approved by the Religious Education Council, who is in sympathy with the Society’s purpose and program and whose written application has been accepted by the Board of Trustees may become a member of the Society. A person who has been a member of the Society for at least 30 days shall have the right to hold office and to vote at all meetings. Membership is open to all qualified persons regardless of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, age (other than those who have not attained age 15) or national origin.
SECTION 2. Any member of the Society, who for a period of two years has neither attended nor contributed to its financial support, may be dropped from membership by vote of the Board of Trustees.
Article IV Meetings
SECTION 1. The Annual Meeting of the Society shall be held after May 1, and not later than June 15. Special Meetings may be called whenever the Board of Trustees sees fit, or by the Society by a petition signed by not less than thirty-five legal members. At any legal meeting of the Society, fifteen percent of the voting members of the Society, determined as of the date of said meeting, shall constitute a quorum.
SECTION 2. All warrants for meetings shall be issued by the Chair of the Board of Trustees by causing an attested copy thereof to be posted in a conspicuous place on or near the principal outer door of the meeting house and by causing notice of the meeting to be sent to each member of the Society, seven days at least before such meeting. Nothing acted upon shall have any legal effect, unless the subject matter thereof was inserted in the warrant.
SECTION 3. The right to vote at all meetings is granted only to persons who have been members for at least 30 days. No person may vote by proxy. The Clerk shall prepare, prior to the Annual Meeting or Special Meeting, as the case may be, a full and true list of qualified voters of the Society and shall have such list at each such meeting.
SECTION 4. At the Annual Meeting of the Society there shall be elected by ballot from the membership of the Society: a Moderator, a Clerk, one or two Assistant Clerks, a Treasurer, one or two Assistant Treasurers, and one high school age member of the Board of Trustees, to serve for one year, and two members of the Board of Trustees, one or two members of the Operations Council, and one member of the Board of Investment to serve for three years. Candidates for these offices shall be selected from the recommendations of the Nominating Committee or by nomination from the floor. Unless otherwise provided, all officers shall hold office until the next Annual Meeting and until their successors are duly elected and qualified. Any vacancy occurring by death, resignation or otherwise may be filled at any legal meeting of the Society, or by the Board of Trustees for the interim until the next meeting of the Society.
SECTION 5. At any legal meeting of the Society a General Resolution may be adopted by two-thirds of members present and voting. For purposes of this section, a “General Resolution” is a statement regarding any matter other than that pertaining to the governance, maintenance and finances of this Society.
SECTION 6. The rules contained in the current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised shall be the applicable authority on matters of parliamentary procedure at all legal meetings of the Society to the extent that they are not inconsistent with these Bylaws and any special rules of order the Society may adopt. At all such meetings the Moderator shall appoint a parliamentarian to provide, at the request of the Moderator, appropriate information and/or rulings on parliamentary matters.
Article V Trustees
SECTION 1. There shall be a Board of Trustees of seven members. Six members shall be elected from the membership to serve for three years, two to be elected at each Annual Meeting as provided above. One member shall be of high school age and shall be elected from the membership to serve for one year, to be elected at each Annual Meeting as provided above. Any member shall be eligible for election to the Board of Trustees for up to two consecutive three-year terms and, having served as Trustee and having retired from the Board of Trustees for at least three years, may be re-elected to the Board of Trustees, subject to the foregoing consecutive term limit. The Board of Trustees by written ballot shall elect from their membership a Chair and Vice Chair to serve for one year. Any Trustee wishing to resign from the Board of Trustees during his or her term shall do so by prior written notice to the Chair.
A Trustee may be removed by vote of at least five members of the entire Board of Trustees at a meeting at which at least five members of the entire Board is present if in the opinion of the Board such trustee is incapacitated or unable to carry out the duties of the office or otherwise for good cause.
SECTION 2. The Board of Trustees as so constituted shall be the standing committee required by law, and shall have general charge of the property of the Society and conduct of all business of the Society and control of its administration, subject to direction by vote of the Society. The Board of Trustees shall also be in charge of the raising of necessary funds. The Board of Trustees shall delegate to the Operations Council such responsibilities as it deems necessary through the policy documents of the Society.
SECTION 3. The Board of Trustees shall hold its first meeting, choose a Chair, Vice Chair, and organize within one week after the Annual Meeting of the Society. Thereafter it shall hold stated meetings at such times and places as it may fix. Special Meetings may be called by the Chair or any two Trustees. Notice of Special Meetings stating the business to be transacted shall be delivered to the Board of Trustees in person or by mail, e-mail or telephone so as to be received in the regular course twenty-four hours before such meeting shall be sufficient. Notice of such meetings may be waived in writing and the presence of any Trustee at any such meeting shall for said Trustee be deemed to be a waiver of notice. The Minister shall attend all meetings of the Board of Trustees when requested to do so.
SECTION 4. The Board of Trustees shall, each year before the first of the month following the Annual Meeting of the Society, appoint from among the Society the chairs for a Finance Committee, a Religious Education Council, Buildings and Grounds Committee, and such other Annual Committees and Special Committees as it from time to time deems will best promote the interests and usefulness of the Society. The Board of Trustees shall determine the size and define the powers and duties of the Annual Committees. The Annual Committees shall serve from June 1st to the following May 31st, subject to the right of the Board of Trustees to change the membership thereof at any time.
SECTION 5. At each Annual Meeting the Board of Trustees or its designee shall report to the Society an estimate of the amount required for current expenses for the fiscal year. The Society shall make such appropriation as it deems advisable and thereafter no expenditure shall be made nor liability incurred on behalf of the Society unless and until an adequate appropriation therefor has been voted by the Board of Trustees or the Operations Council under authority as may be granted by the Board of Trustees.
SECTION 6. The Board of Trustees shall be in charge of the raising of funds for the Society, and, after conference with such members of the Society as express a desire to confer, shall make division of and appropriate such funds in a manner as may seem to the Board of Trustees wise, but subject always to the payment of amounts which may have been contributed for special purposes.
SECTION 7. The Board of Trustees through its officers or agents may permit the use of the Society’s property by such persons or organizations and upon such terms and subject to such regulations, as it deems advisable.
SECTION 8. The Board of Trustees shall see that the financial accounts of the Society are kept in proper form. The Board of Trustees shall form a Financial Oversight Committee comprised of at least one member of the Board of Trustees and at least two other members of the congregation to monitor the establishment and implementation of financial policies and internal controls for the Society. The Financial Oversight Committee shall at each Annual Meeting make a written report of its findings, including a report on the implementation of the Endowment Spending Policy and the Endowment Loan Policy. The Board of Trustees shall at each Annual Meeting, make a written report of its doings which shall account for the activities of all Annual Committees appointed by it and shall include the statistics of attendance at Society meetings.
SECTION 9. All votes passed by the Board of Trustees must receive the assent of a majority of eligible members.
SECTION 10. The Society shall indemnify any person serving as a member of the Board of Trustees or as an officer of the Society against all liabilities and expenses, including amounts paid in satisfaction of judgments, in compromise or as fines and penalties, and counsel fees, reasonably incurred by him/her in connection with the defense or disposition of any action, suit or other proceeding in which s/he may be involved or with which s/he may be threatened, while in office or thereafter, by reason of his/her being or having been such a Board member or officer, to the extent provided in the General Liability and Directors and Officers Liability insurance policies maintained by the Society.
SECTION 11. The Board of Trustees shall appoint, from the membership of the Society, Delegates to all General Assemblies and Special General Assemblies of the Unitarian Universalist Association. The Board shall advise the members of the Society, not less than twenty-one days prior to the date the Board appoints persons as Delegates, of the opportunity to serve as a Delegate.
SECTION 12. The Board of Trustees shall adopt an Endowment Spending Policy that establishes the amount that may be expended in any fiscal year from each of the Society’s unrestricted and restricted endowment funds. The Endowment Spending Policy shall be consistent with the requirements of the Massachusetts Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act or its successor. The Board of Trustees shall adopt an Endowment Loan Policy that establishes the terms by which funds may be borrowed from the endowment for later repayment.
Article VI Operations Council
SECTION 1. There shall be an Operations Council of six members. Five of the Operations Council members shall be elected from the membership to serve for a term of three years, one or two to be elected at each Annual meeting as provided above. Members of the Operations Council may be re-elected. The sixth member shall serve by virtue of his or her office as Treasurer of the Society. The Operations Council by written ballot shall elect from its membership a Chair and Vice Chair to serve for one year. Any Council Member wishing to resign from the Operations Council during his or her term shall do so by prior written notice to the Operations Council Chair. A Council Member may be removed by a three-fourths vote of the entire Board of Trustees at a meeting at which not less than three-fourths of the entire Board is present if in the opinion of the Board such Council Member is incapacitated or unable to carry out the duties of the office or otherwise for good cause.
SECTION 2. Under the authority of the Board of Trustees and through the various policy documents of the Society, the Operations Council shall work in partnership with the staff, and generally oversee committees and operations.
SECTION 3. The Operations Council shall hold stated meetings at such times and places as it may fix. The Minister shall attend all meetings of the Operations Council when requested to do so.
SECTION 4. All votes passed by the Operations Council must receive the assent of at least four members.
SECTION 5. The Society shall indemnify any person serving as a member of the Operations Council against all liabilities and expenses, including amounts paid in satisfaction of judgments, in compromise or as fines and penalties, and counsel fees, reasonably incurred by him/her in connection with the defense or disposition of any action, suit or other proceeding in which s/he may be involved or with which s/he may be threatened, while in office or thereafter, by reason of his/her being or having been such an Operations Council member, to the extent provided in the General Liability and Directors and Officers Liability insurance policies maintained by the Society.
Article VII (A.) The Minister
SECTION 1. When it shall become necessary for the Society to choose a new minister, the Chair of the Board of Trustees, with the assistance and consent of the Board of Trustees, will appoint a Pulpit Committee of no less than seven members representative of the Society. The Pulpit Committee, after having first obtained the approval of the Board of Trustees as to the form and content of the contract of employment, including as part thereof salary and duration, and not without such approval, will at a legally called meeting of the Society nominate its choice for Minister. The Minister shall be chosen and the contract terms fixed by an affirmative vote of not less than two-thirds of members present and voting by written ballot.
SECTION 2. No less than sixty days prior to the expiration of the Minister’s term, or of any renewal or extension thereof, the Minister’s employment shall be renewed or extended and the terms of such employment fixed by an affirmative vote by not less than two-thirds of the members present at a legally called meeting of the Society.
SECTION 3. At any time during the term of the Minister’s employment, a written ballot of two-thirds of the members present and voting at a legally called meeting of the Society shall be necessary for the dismissal of the Minister. Notice of dismissal shall be given in writing to the Minister by the Board of Trustees no less than sixty days prior to the effective date of dismissal. At any time during the term of employment, the Minister may resign by giving notice in writing of the same to the Board of Trustees no less than sixty days prior to the effective date of resignation. The Board of Trustees and the Minister may mutually agree to waive or modify the sixty-day period as it pertains to dismissal or resignation.
SECTION 4. It shall be the duty of the Minister to bring to the attention of the Board of Trustees any matters which the Minister finds pertinent to the general interests of the Society, and to make recommendations as seem proper: but the final decision in matters of policy and procedure shall remain with the Board of Trustees or a legal meeting of the Society.
Article VII (B.) Community Ministers
SECTION 1. A Community Minister affiliated with the Society must be (a) a person in Ministerial Fellowship with the Unitarian Universalist Association; and (b) a party to a covenant describing the mutual responsibilities of the Community Minister and the Society.
SECTION 2. A person who seeks to become an affiliated Community Minister must first be nominated by the Senior Minister for consideration by the Board. If the Board approves, it shall submit the nomination to the congregation for approval at a meeting called pursuant to Article IV.
SECTION 3. The covenant describing the mutual responsibilities of the Community Minister and the Society shall initially be drafted by the Senior Minister and the person seeking to become an affiliated Community Minister and shall be submitted to the Board for its consideration, modification (if desired) and approval. The covenant approved by the Board and the proposed Community Minister shall be available to the congregation when it votes to approve the Community Minister.
SECTION 4. The covenant shall describe the duties, remuneration, if any, and relationship of the Community Minister and the Society, such duties and relationship to be adjusted to the particular circumstances of each Community Minister, except that the term of the appointment shall in all cases be for one year. Once the congregation has first approved the appointment, the Board may renew the covenant, or a modified covenant, only by a two-thirds majority vote, yearly, for additional one-year terms. Either the Community Minister or the Board, by a two-thirds majority vote, may terminate the appointment at any time.
SECTION 5. At any time during the term of affiliation with a Community Minister, a written ballot of two-thirds of the members present and voting at a legally called meeting of the Society may dismiss the Community Minister. Any such dismissal shall terminate the covenant.
Article VIII Board of Investment
SECTION 1. There shall be a Board of Investment of three members to be elected by the Society. The duties and powers of the Board of Investment are subject to the authority and direction of the Board of Trustees. Members shall serve for three year terms, staggered such that one member shall be elected at each Annual Meeting. Members of the Board of Investment may be re-elected to serve a consecutive term, and thereafter may be re-elected only after one year has elapsed.
SECTION 2. Two members of the Board of Investment shall have all the powers of the Board of Investment.
SECTION 3. The Board of Investment shall invest all funds transferred to it by the Board of Trustees. All transfers of funds from the Board of Investment to the Treasurer shall be in accord with either the Endowment Spending Policy or the Endowment Loan Policy adopted by the Board of Trustees, or with a resolution of the Board concerning Board-Designated Endowment as authorized by Section 6 of this Article. The Board of Investment shall clearly indicate whether the use of any distribution is restricted by the terms of any gift.
SECTION 4. The Board of Investment shall keep accurate accounts of all money and property it holds and all disbursements it makes, and shall at each Annual Meeting of the Society present a statement showing the receipt, disbursement, and investment of all funds.
SECTION 5. The Board of Trustees shall transfer to the Board of Investment all funds or other property which have been given to the Society, the principal of which is by the terms of the gift required to be held and invested, provided that without a vote of the Society, the Board of Trustees shall not accept any gift which by its acceptance might bind the Society to expend other money or incur liability or compel the observance of any particular form of worship or in any other way prevent the Board of Trustees from exercising complete control over the affairs of the Society. The Board of Investment shall follow any restrictions to which any such gift is subject.
SECTION 6. The Board of Trustees may transfer from the operating fund to the Board of Investment surplus money that the Board determines should be invested with the Society’s endowment. Such transfers may include money given to the Society by testamentary gift or otherwise, the use of which is not restricted in any way. The Board of Investment shall place such money in a fund to be called the “Board-Designated Endowment Fund”. Upon a resolution of the Board of Trustees, the Board of Investment shall transfer to the Treasurer all or part of the Board-Designated Endowment Fund, for expenditure as authorized in the Society’s budget.
SECTION 7. The members of the Board of Investment in performing their duties, including without limitation their duties in investing funds transferred to them, shall only be liable for their own bad faith, and no member of the Board of Investment shall be responsible for or liable on account of any act or failure to act of any other member of the Board of Investment.
SECTION 8. The Board of Investment shall choose one of its number as Chair. It shall choose one of its number as Secretary. The Secretary shall keep accurate records of the Board’s proceedings.
Article IX Duties of Officers
SECTION 1. MODERATOR. The Moderator shall preside at all Annual and Special Meetings of the Society. The Moderator shall appoint a Nominating Committee of not less than three and not more than five members within six months following the Annual Meeting and advise the Society of its membership. At least two thirds of the membership of the Nominating Committee shall be new to the Committee in any given year.
SECTION 2. BOARD OF TRUSTEES CHAIR. The Chair of the Board of Trustees shall be the chief administrative officer of the Board and shall preside at all meetings of the Board of Trustees.
SECTION 3. OPERATIONS COUNCIL CHAIR. The Chair of the Operations Council shall preside at all meetings of the Operations Council.
SECTION 4. BOARD OF TRUSTEES VICE CHAIR. The Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees shall perform the duties of the Chair and shall have the responsibilities of that office in the absence or incapacity of the Chair.
SECTION 5. OPERATIONS COUNCIL VICE CHAIR. The Vice Chair of the Operations Council shall perform the duties of the Operations Chair and shall have the responsibilities of that office in the absence or incapacity of the Operations Council Chair.
SECTION 6. CLERK. The Clerk shall attend all meetings of the Society and of the Board of Trustees and keep a true record of the business there transacted. The records shall be open to inspection by any member of the Society. The Clerk or the Chair of the Board of Trustees shall give due notice of all meetings of the Society as herein before provided. The Clerk shall give written notice to every person elected to office at any meeting of the Society.
SECTION 7. ASSISTANT CLERK(S). The Assistant Clerk(s) shall have the same authority given to the Clerk and shall act for the Clerk in the Clerk’s absence or on such other matters as may be delegated to the assistant Clerk(s) by the Clerk. An Assistant Clerk shall attend all meetings of the Operations Council and keep a true record of the business there transacted. The records shall be open to inspection by any member of the Society.
SECTION 8. TREASURER. The Treasurer shall keep an accurate account, in such form as the Board of Trustees may approve, of all property, receipts, accounts (including capital campaign and related accounts) and expenditures of the Society, and of all indebtedness to and from the Society, and shall report to the Society, the Board of Trustees and the Operations Council, whenever requested. The Treasurer shall, at the expense of the Society, be covered by a fidelity bond, in such amount as the Board of Trustees may direct. The Treasurer shall present, at the Annual Meeting of the Society, a full statement of the finances of the Society, such statement may be duly audited or reviewed as the Board of Trustees may in its sole discretion, direct. Under the authority of the Board of Trustees the Treasurer may draw checks in any bank account of the Society approved by the Board of Trustees. As directed in writing by the Trustees, the Treasurer may also arrange for the receipt and sale, in the name of the Society, of any donation for purposes other than endowment, made to it in the form of stocks and bonds.
SECTION 9. ASSISTANT TREASURERS. The Assistant Treasurers shall have the same authority given to the Treasurer and shall act for the Treasurer in the Treasurer’s absence or on such matters as may be delegated to the Assistant Treasurers by the Treasurer. The Assistant Treasurers shall also be covered by a fidelity bond at the expense of the Society under the same terms and amount as the Treasurer.
Article X Pews
Pews and seats in the meetinghouse shall be free.
Article XI Fiscal Year
The fiscal year of the Society shall begin June 1st and end May 31st.
Article XII Amendments
These By-Laws as far as is allowed by law may be amended or repealed at any legal meeting of the Society by a two-thirds vote of those members present and voting. Notice of any proposed change shall be contained in the warrant of the meeting.
The By-Laws Committee is tasked with considering changes to the Society’s By-Laws, engaging the congregation in discussions of possible amendments, and working with the Board to present specific amendments for approval by members at the Annual Meeting of the Society. Gordon Moriarty is the chair of this committee.
The Steering Committee consists of the Board Chair, the Minister, Director of Family and Community Ministries, and Operations Council chair. It helps route decisions and problems to the appropriate entity, but makes no decisions. It can also inform people of precedent when known.
The current Steering Committee consists of: Parisa Parsa (Interim Minister), Devin Shmueli (DFCM), Susan Bartlett (OC Chair), and RoseAnn Murray (BoT Chair).
The Treasurer keeps the books, reports on financial matters, and writes checks. An Assistant Treasurer is empowered to act in the Treasurer’s absence.
Treasurer: Karen Bottar
Assistant Treasurer: Faith Kreider
The Finance Committee prepares and monitors FUUSN’s operating budget, which is developed to reflect BOT initiatives, and develops multi-year budget forecasts which reflect BOT priorities. The OC receives monthly analysis of income/expenses relative to the budget. In addition to a monthly spending analysis and the long range forecast, the FC prepares a year-end report for presentation to the congregation at the annual meeting, and posts periodic reports on the FUUSN website. The FC meets monthly September-April.
Contact: Karen Bottar and Brian Gill, Co-Chairs
The Board of Investment holds and invests Society funds transferred to it by the Board of Trustees, and consists of 3 members, elected 1 per year each for a 3-year term.
Contact: Urban Larson, Devon Wells, David Griswold.
The Financial Oversight Committee provides regular and reasonable review of FUUSN’s management of financial processes and policies.
The Personnel/Policy Committee is an appointed body that advises the Board of Trustees and Minister (as staff supervisor) on current personnel policies, remuneration, and benefits with comparative organizations, and keeps the Society aware of what it needs to do to keep up with standards set by denomination for fair compensation employers. They maintain current job descriptions for each staff position and an up-to-date personnel manual for the Society. Finally, the committee will provide advice and support whenever the Board and Minister need to make any shifts in staffing for the Society. The Board appoints members with requisite expertise including experience with compensation, benefits, employment law, legal/litigation, and Human Resource Management.
Contact: John Adkins, Lila McCain, Brian Gill (Board liason)
The Communications Policy Committee reviews existing communications policies and creates new policies as needed under the guidance and supervision of the Operations Council. Led by staff communications coordinator Jenise Aminoff, the committee’s members are: Susan Bartlett (Ops Council advisor), Andy Dale (Ops Council representative), Stephanie Kendall (Board representative), RoseAnn Murray (Board advisor), Nathan Persampieri, Bob Persons (Member Services), Kate Thibeault (Member Services).
The Ministry Review Committee is appointed by the Board of Trustees. The MRC is instructed to invite congregational feedback around all aspects of the professional ministry at FUUSN, and then to prepare a report with their findings.
Safe Congregations is a working group comprised of representatives from the Board, Ops Council, Lay Ministers, Minister and DLRE who will direct the development of a Safe Congregations policy manual.
Appointed by the Moderator and assembled in the Fall, the Nominating Committee implements a process whereby congregants offer names to be considered for elected leadership positions. Taking into account both a person’s interest and qualifications to serve as member of the Board, Ops. Council, BOI or in other elected leadership positions, the NC presents a slate of candidates to be elected at the Annual Meeting in June.
The NC is now seeking candidates for 2024-2025.
For 2024, Barbara Schmitt is the moderator, and the nominating committee is Lisa Gresser, Bruce Kimball, Bobbie Sproat, and Carol Walker.