FAQ About First Pres Bylaw Changes
What are the First Pres Bylaws, why do they matter and why is the Session recommending these changes?
Every organization of any size such as ours has a governing set of documents that provide the rules of how the organization operates. Bylaws cover things like voting, issues that need congregational approval, how Session operates and what decisions it makes, what kinds of ecclesiastical officers are required (Elders and Deacons), how many years they serve (three-year terms), who makes appointments to certain committees, how Pastors are elected (by the Congregation), which positions serve as the corporate officers, and myriad other fiduciary and policy matters. In 2012, when we moved to ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians, we made substantial changes to our First Pres Bylaws to bring them into alignment with the new ECO polity and we also made updates to bring the Bylaws in line with the Colorado Revised Nonprofit Corporation Act. Having had the benefit of operating under the new Bylaws for two years, Session recommends four changes to bring the Bylaws into alignment with how we are operating and recognize Session as the strategic leader of our community.
What are the changes?
The four changes proposed by Session are:
- Article II. Section 2.4(a) Executive Ministry Committee. The current language designates the Chair of Trustees to the Executive Ministry Committee (EMC). The new language will give the Trustees option to designate any current Trustee to the EMC giving the Trustees greater flexibility to serve in their gift sets.
- Article III. Section 3.2 (b)(i)(ii)(iii) Nominations. The changes in this section are purely organizational changes to make this section easier to read, there are no textual or substantive changes to this section.
- Article IV. Section 4.2 (a) & (c) Authorities and Duties of Corporate Officers. As we continue forward, the Bylaws need to reflect the Session as the strategic leader of our First Pres community. In order to do that well, this section of the Bylaws need to allow any First Pres Session, today, or in the future, to be able to change the staff structure to work to both the gift sets of our senior staff pastors/leaders and to reflect what’s best for First Pres. The two changes proposed in this Section will allow Session to determine the corporate roles or operational roles of two important positions, the senior or lead pastor and the Executive Director positions. It is important to note here, that these changes are related only to operational responsibilities and in no way diminish the role of any of our pastors as spiritual leaders of our community. It is also important to note that it doesn’t put the Executive Director as the lead position in our community but recognizes that the Executive Director in a business as complex as ours, has unique reporting relationships to Trustees and Session and Session needs oversight over that position and the decisions that are made by the individual in the position. The changes to these two position descriptions in the Bylaws recognize how we are operating the business side of the corporate entity that is First Pres. Again, it must be stressed, it does not change or diminish the importance and necessity of the senior/lead pastor as the senior spiritual leader of our community.
Why make these changes now?
Session wishes to make these changes now because we’re looking for a new Lead Pastor. These changes provide flexibility to Session moving forward in defining the assigned roles and duties of these positions. This, in turn, provides guidance to the Pastor Nominating Committee as they search for candidates. This allows them to consider a greater variety of candidates, finding someone who best suits the needs of First Pres. In turn, Session has the ability to tailor the job duties and descriptions to the strength of the personnel in place. This also provides potential candidates with a picture of what is possible, and what is valued at First Pres. It helps ensure we draw interest from candidates whose vision of church leadership aligns with that of the Session.
Doesn’t this change signify a fundamental shift in the polity of First Pres?
No. These changes are about flexibility and the culmination of a journey for the First Pres Session. And remember the Session is made up of both ruling and teaching elders (pastors). These changes put Session — the elected leaders of the Congregation — as the lead body discerning God’s will for First Pres. It allows God to use the individuals God brings to First Pres, and maximize their talents and abilities for the good of the Kingdom. This allows Session the flexibility to consider alternate leadership models, such as collaborative leadership, or maintain a traditional structure. It doesn’t make any permanent changes to job descriptions, but rather allows the job descriptions and duties of key positions to change depending on the needs of First Pres now and in the future.
To see a full copy of the proposed First Pres Bylaws, click the link below.
If you have any questions regards any of the changes above, don’t hesitate to contact Jennifer Holz, 884-6214, email@example.com or send a note via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to seeing you at the Community chat/Congregational Meeting on April 12, 6:15 p.m. in the Weber Street Center.