The First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City has adopted a policy governance model of leadership. Under this structure, a Board of Trustees is elected by the congregation at our annual Congregational Meeting. The Board has primary responsibility for planning, leadership, and board oversight of the church. The Senior Minister - as head of Church Staff - assumes the ongoing executive and administrative functions. The Governing Policies of First Unitarian Church detail the duties of both the Board and Senior Minister. Consistent with the division of leadership domains, the Board is obligated by policy to develop an annual work plan which establishes and prioritizes church objectives; and the Senior Minister is required to develop a Strategic Plan by which those objectives might be met.
The Strategic Plan clearly articulates our priorities for the year, the actions we will take to promote those priorities, and measures by which we can determine when we have been successful. The assignment of responsibility for action items allows for shared ownership among Board and staff. The Plan is subject to review by the Board and revision by the Senior Minister annually. Thus, the Strategic Plan serves as the working policy document for First Unitarian Church.
The Governing Policies were approved in 2012 as part of First Church’s transition to a policy governance model of leadership. The policy document consists of four sections: (1) The Ends or goals that the Board will pursue,
(2) Senior Minister Administrative Responsibilities, (3) Board Responsibilities and Limitations, (4) Board-Staff Relationship. The Governing Policies serve to formalize the policy governance structure, detail the administrative functions of the Senior Minister, define the responsibilities and job descriptions for the Board, and clarify the role distinctions between the Board and staff under the strategic leadership structure.
The Governing Policies provide a valuable reference for orienting staff to best practice and legally binding requirements and procedures, and for orienting board members to their obligations to the congregation. The Governing Policies provide the framework for the content of the Strategic Plan component of church policies and procedures.
The annual congregational meeting is an important event that brings members together to exercise the democratic process and congregational polity. The meeting is convened at the end of the regular church year, in May, to vote on the next church year’s operating budget and to elect Board of Trustee representatives. The board, ministers, staff, and lay leaders report the accomplishments of the past year. All are welcome to share in the conversation but only members of record may vote.