In October, I wrote that I would be attending the “Strategic Board” workshop led by Rev. David Pyle at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring, Maryland. I wrote “stay tuned” for the outcome of that experience for me. So here you go, albeit belatedly.
A large portion of the day was focused on the various types of governing boards that can be found in Unitarian Universalist churches. In many respects, the orientation of the board is very closely related to the size of the congregation. The continuum is as follows: The “Operational” board is usually found in the smallest congregations. Out of necessity, the board is heavily involved in the daily operations of the congregation. They make all of the decisions large and small. Following is the “Managing Board”. This board delegates some of the decision-making, but makes many operational decisions. The next governance form is the ‘Portfolio Board’. Beyond the fiduciary responsibilities, each board member has a portfolio of responsibility to be a liaison from the board to a committee, committees or program teams. The liaisons advocate for “their” committee/s and make reports or invite the committee chair to report to the board. Next in succession is what is called the “Strategic Board”. A strategic board focuses on its fiduciary responsibilities. Another body makes programmatic decisions and reports to the board. This group is sometimes called the “Program Council”. The continuum continues into structures that are much more elaborate and are appropriate for congregations of much larger sizes than UUFE.
This year, your board is experimenting with using the Portfolio Board approach. This is a small step in the direction of becoming a strategic board. In this way, the board can support the committees while focusing on fiduciary matters. I am liaison to Member Services, Caring Circles, and Adult Enrichment.
According to Rev. Pyle, the fiduciary responsibilities of a strategic board are legal and moral. They include setting the mission and vision of the congregation, designing a strategic plan that fulfills the mission and vision, managing the resources of the congregation, and protecting the reputation of the congregation. In 2015, at the request of the UUFE board, he visited our congregation’s leadership and studied our governance documents. He has made some recommendations for adjusting our governance structure and way of meeting our fiduciary responsibilities. On December 11th, he is meeting with the board to help us understand the best way to implement his recommendations and set first steps. Your Board will keep you informed about any changes coming to your UUFE.