Special Congregational Meeting Passes Refreshed Bylaws

Counting votes

It was a turning point. On February 26, 2023, after two years of meetings and discussions, the congregation voted to change the bylaws and add to our name.

After a chalice lighting by Rev. Jeremiah Kalendae and a reading from Starhawk, the much anticipated meeting was called to order, chaired by President Eileen McCormack, who led the meeting in the recitation of the covenant.

At the beginning of the process, there was an objection from David Olson, who held that the meeting was not procedurally correct. His objections were answered by President McCormack and Past President Beth Brownlie, and the process continued.

Rev. Jeremiah's presentation

Rev. Jeremiah gave a thorough presentation (see a PDF of the PowerPoint below) on the changes that would be created, opening with the goal set by the Board, to “move beyond a hierarchical culture with a low degree of trust, to a culture of transparency, simplicity and clarity.” He noted that updating our bylaws is one of our Developmental Ministry Goals. The review process was supported by consulting the bylaws of other similar UU Congregations and by understanding the UUA’s best practices ideas, through consultation with Dr. Melissa James. The work of the Bylaws Refresh Task Force resulted in separating bylaws from policies, eliminating redundancies, updating context (such as changing the language citing the Pacific Southwest District to the Pacific Western Region), and clarifying the definition of membership.

At the mic 1Resolution 2, which creates an additional name is a matter that has been under discussion for many years. Joyce Holmen noted, in her comments from the floor, that it had taken two congregational meetings to add “Universalist” to the name of the church — after the UUA had been created in the 1960’s.

The name of this organization shall be the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Santa Monica (UUSM), also known as the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Santa Monica, herein referred to as the Congregation. This organization is incorporated in the State of California.

Resolution 2 was approved by a vote of 57 yes, 4 no and 2 abstentions. By adding the formal recognition of “Congregation” we can now identify legally as a congregation and a church. Both are now correct.

Resolution 3, which was about adopting the amended bylaws, got a surprise benefit from some heroic proofreading. Norb Gallery noted that in the section concerning Board meetings, the words “present” and “quorum” contradicted each other. A motion was made and passed to strike “present” from the text.

DiscussionWhile there was some lively discussion on additional motions from David Olson, Jerry Gates, and Ron Crane, none of these motions passed. The move to amend the bylaws was approved by a vote of 58 yes and 5 no.

Here is the draft text of the updated bylaws. Note that the word change mentioned above is still included in this draft. 

Draft minutes of this meeting will be published in the members’ section of this website, and can be requested by emailing our Church Administrator, Nurit Gordon.

UUSM Bylaws Refresh Task Force Presentation