The Role of Councils in Fulfilling the Fellowship’s Mission
How Councils Help Us to Explore, Love, and Act
The ministry of the Fellowship is expressed in our mission statement: “Explore. Love. Act. We gather as an inclusive religious community to search for meaning, build deep connections, and inspire action toward a better world for all.”
Ministry is not just what the minister does; we practice shared ministry at the Fellowship. To promote our shared ministry and fulfill our mission, we have adopted a council structure, which consists of teams that are parts of councils.
Teams and Councils
Teams are groups that do specific work to help fulfill our mission. They are made up of people who are passionate about a specific part of our overall mission. Examples of our teams are the Welcome Team, the Membership Team, the Building Maintenance Team, the Library Team, the Immigration and Refugee Support Team. A full list of teams is available in the Participant’s Guide to the UUFC (updated version forthcoming).
To support the teams and coordinate their work, we created councils and assigned teams to each. A staff member works with each Council. Currently, we have seven councils:
- The Religious Exploration Council works to provide quality religious exploration curriculum and continually improve RE for youth and adults. Liaison: Religious Exploration Director.
- The Justice Council supports programs sponsored by the Fellowship related to social service, charity, environmental activism, and other justice issues. Liaison: Senior Minister.
- The Congregational Connections Council works to build deep connections among members of the Fellowship. Liaison: Church Operations Manager.
- The Financial Oversight Council provides informed, long-term financial guidance and oversight to the Board of Directors and the Fellowship. Liaison: Business Manager.
- The Facilities Council oversees the work of administering and managing the physical and communication infrastructure that facilitates and supports Fellowship life. Liaison: Church Operations Manager.
- The Worship Council assists the Minister in structuring all aspects of worship on Sundays and at other times and venues and in developing ideas for variations in content. It is convened by the Minister.
- The Coordinating Council includes a representative from each of the other Councils plus primary Fellowship staff, the Board President, Treasurer, and others who represent major operational areas of Fellowship life. It is convened by the Minister with the goals of improving Council and overall Fellowship collaboration and communication.
The structure of governance at the UUFC is summarized in the figure below.
As the Councils coordinate with the teams within them, they provide a way for the senior minister and our staff to more easily stay in touch with all the work being done in our overall ministry. Depending on council size and mission, they can be organized in different ways, and teams may directly participate in council coordination and leadership.
Responsibilities of Councils and Teams
The councils provide a home for the teams, which are actively pursuing their specific goals as part of the Fellowship’s overall mission. The councils offer a place for communication among teams to promote coordination, creative collaboration, and efficient use of funds. This reduces the chance of overlap or cross-purposes and increases the opportunities to improve achievement of goals. To promote communication, councils are encouraged to meet with all teams twice or more during the year, to discuss activities and budgets.
The councils stay in touch with the teams to be able to report to the minister and the staff about the many activities going on in the Fellowship. Councils are also expected to communicate with the Board of Directors, which has a responsibility not only for policies and finances, but also for the mission of the Fellowship.
In collaboration with its teams, a council may create guidelines and procedures for the functioning of the teams and the council.
Councils help improve team performance. Examples have been the provision of leadership training and the creation of opportunities for the teams to meet with the larger congregation.
Periodically, the Coordinating Council will hold a Leadership Meeting, to which council chairs or their representatives and other UUFC leaders participate. These meetings inform the councils about the activities of all the councils, enabling collaborative action and reducing overlap of activities. Any member of the congregation interested in the actions being taken by the councils is welcome to attend the leadership meetings.
Teams renew themselves every year, in coordination with other teams in their councils. As part of the budgeting process, existing teams recommit to their missions and may request funding to help them accomplish their goals. As described in UUFC policy 1.2, unless teams renew each year, they lose their recognition as an official UUFC team. Groups of people who see a new way to serve the mission can develop goals and a budget and apply to a council to form a recognized team.
Previously, we used the label of “committees” for this work. But some committees lingered after they were effective, and there were a large number of nonfunctioning committees, which often caused confusion. Communication between committees was also often poor or sporadic. Thus continuing and active committees are being converted to teams, and new active groups are referred to as teams, not as committees. Inactive committees are being retired.
If a team’s membership shrinks or the team’s goals are not being accomplished, it refreshes itself or dissolves itself. For short-term projects, we also create task forces under the councils. Teams are expected to stay in touch with council leadership, and for some councils selected team leads will also serve as council leaders and coordinators for periods of time.
The budget development process is bottom up. Teams prepare budget proposals on the approved form in UUFC Procedures, and the councils then evaluate and combine team requests in consultation with their staff liaisons. Council leadership then meets with the “budget team,” which consists of the minister, the church operations manager, the business manager, and the board treasurer, to discuss and potentially seek revisions to the council requests. The revised council budgets are then sent the Board, which after possible further revision puts the proposed budget before the congregation for affirmation. The full process for budget development is described in Policy 5.12.