Team Answers Questions About Bylaws Changes

The Bylaws Revision Team is answering questions from the congregation about the proposed revisions to First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh’s bylaws.

This article will be updated as more questions are submitted. Congregational meetings are scheduled for Nov. 8 to answer questions and Nov. 15 to vote on the revisions.

Members of the Bylaws Revision Team are Ebe Emmons, Eleanor Mayfield, and Claus Makowka.

The following questions refer to the “Draft of 2020 Revised Bylaws.”

Question: In Article 11, First paragraph. Is there some overlap between “sex” and “gender identity”? Wouldn’t the term “gender identity” be sufficient?

Answer: No, “sex” and “gender identity” are not the same. In a world of changing terminology around sex, sexual preference, and gender identity, we feel it is appropriate to be over-inclusive of these identity descriptors.

Q: I believe there is a conflict or at least tension between Article II and Section 4 of Article III (Article III discusses Termination of Membership). There are beliefs which are by their nature harmful to others and so are not tolerated here. Perhaps there is no way around this difficulty however.

A: We don’t think there is a conflict, since Article II is an effort to establish broad inclusivity and nondiscrimination of belief and theology, whereas Article III Section 4 is addressing what might be expressions or behaviors which create harm, which would not be tolerated if they occur.

Q: I am curious about why the requirement for an Annual Meeting in May is changed to a required Annual Meeting in “the spring.”

A: If the budget year (now calendar) were changed to a fiscal year beginning July 1, to better align with Board terms and having budget meetings in May, this phrase leaves us the option to hold the Annual Congregational Meeting in late April without further revision of the Bylaws.

Q: Article IV, Section I. Why is only one proxy allowed per person.? What is the harm in someone holding several proxies?

A: One proxy per church member would prevent anyone from “collecting proxies.”

Q: Re: Article XII, which require a congregational vote of a 40% quorum of the congregation, the question is “What happens if 40% of the membership cannot be obtained for a meeting”?

A: Certainly anticipating this situation of a diminishing congregation raises a lot of potential difficulties and “what-ifs,” but we do not see an effective way to anticipate them in this document. What Article XII does do is provide guidance to the courts regarding the congregation’s intent (i.e. that the church’s property and assets would be conveyed to the UUA with the assent of the remaining membership.)