Delegates will be asked to approve revised Southwest Conference bylaws at the 2017 annual meeting to be held in Albuquerque, May 5-6.
*Proposed Bylaws WITHOUT mark-up
*Proposed Bylaws with mark-up
In the spring of 2016 the Mission Planning Board (MPB) representatives began reimagining their role in the conference in light of the needs of their churches. Through a process of Appreciative Inquiry, the MPB recreated themselves as the Mission and Church Vitality Committee (MCVC). Some of their previous responsibilities were delegated to the Executive Board; some new responsibilities and purposes were added. This kind of re-visioning work within the conference is exactly what the MPB/MCVC was created to accomplish. The responsibility for monitoring the mission and needs of the conference remains with them in the proposed bylaws.
When one part of a body changes, the impact is felt by the other parts of that body. Standing committees and the Executive Board reviewed the work of the MPB/MCVC and imagined how their own committees could accomplish their responsibilities more effectively. Each committee proposed bylaws revisions they felt were appropriate for the future of the Southwest Conference. Each standing committees’ work was vetted by the other committees. The bylaws changes coming to the annual meeting have also been vetted and endorsed by the Executive Board. This process was a deliberate and collaborative effort involving the entire leadership of the Southwest Conference. More than a year of discernment by our standing committees has resulted in the proposed bylaws being presented at this year’s annual meeting.
The proposed bylaws extend membership in the Southwest Conference to include communities: any “network of people organized around the presence of Christ, which embraces a United Church of Christ identity and the values of the Southwest Conference, that exist within the geographical boundaries of the Conference and that have active standing held through the Committee on Church and Ministry.” This move toward inclusion opens Southwest Conference membership to Council for Health and Human Service Ministries organizations, missions, and others. Membership would not be limited to groups of “persons who, believing in the triune God, accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and depending on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, are organized for Christian worship, for the furtherance of Christian fellowship, and for the ongoing work of Christian witness.” (UCC Constitution and Bylaws) The rights and responsibilities of member communities are the same as for member local churches. Communities will be taken into covenant through a process that mirrors the process for local churches who join the Southwest Conference/UCC.
A new standing committee is included in the proposed bylaws. In order to be faithful stewards of new resources being received by the Southwest Conference, an Endowment Fund Management Committee was proposed by the Executive Board and created (per the current bylaws) by the Mission Planning Board. This new committee would be approved by the adoption of the proposed bylaws.
There are minor corrections to grammar and spelling. Outdated references to the UCC Constitution and Bylaws have been rendered timeless. Term limits for the Executive Board and for the Nominating Committee have been changed to reflect deeper continuity in these bodies.
You have two formats of the bylaws revisions available for your review. One format is the markup version. You can see what words were retained, what words were changed, and what words were added. The notations on the side indicate who did the typing, not who proposed the changes. Again, the revisions originated with the standing committees and the Executive Board.
You also have a format of the proposed bylaws without any markups. This document looks and reads like the bylaws will look after being adopted, no cross-outs, or formatting details.
Breakout sessions will be held at the annual meeting for you to make comments and ask questions about the proposed bylaws, the process, and the thoughts behind the decisions made by the standing committees/Executive Board. You may also submit questions in advance of the annual meeting to the conference office to be answered by members of the standing committees or the Executive Board during the breakout sessions.
Your representative to the Mission Planning Board/Mission and Church Vitality Committee, our Executive Board members, and members of our other standing committees worked carefully and prayerfully on this project. They deserve a thank you from each one of us. Thank you, conference leaders, for your faithfulness to our conference and our beloved United Church of Christ, and for your vision for the future into which we are called together.