Why amend the Constitution and Bylaws?
Hi. I am Sims Wright and I am a member of the Church Council, in the last year of my term, and the driving force behind this proposed amendment to the Constitution and Bylaws of Effort Baptist Church. Since most members are barely aware that there is a Constitution and Bylaws, I thought I would explain why I believe it is important to amend them.
After 30 years as a federal employee, yes, I think the paperwork is important. We should know what it says and either comply with it or change it.
Some of you may remember that there was a proposed draft new Constitution a few years ago. I was a member of the group of volunteers who created that one. And I think it was a good effort. So why not propose adoption of that one?
Well, mainly because it would require creating a new set of Bylaws to match up with its requirements. Which would require reconsidering of what it says and then creating rationale for implementing the Bylaws. OK. I was too lazy to do all of that. Taking the existing documents, striking out some language and adding other language was easier. Also, it made it easier to comply with the Constitutional requirement of Article 10 “Such amendment shall clearly show the existing wording and the recommended changes upon which the members shall vote.”
Why bother to amend the Church’s Constitution and Bylaws? After all, who pays any attention to what they say? Well, there are a few reasons.
1. While most of the congregation members are unaware of the details of the Constitution and Bylaws of Effort Baptist Church, the officers and staff of the Church have a fiduciary duty (a legal requirement) to comply with them. If the Church is doing things differently, either the documents should be modified or the Church operations should be brought into compliance.
2. The Constitution was originally approved in 1994 (22 years ago) and last amended in 2002 (14 years ago). How many of us are still doing things the same way we did 14 years ago? In many things, the Church is not.
3. There is a lot of redundancy in the Constitution and Bylaws. Several sections read exactly the same in both documents. If you want to change something in one of those sections, you need to change both. And make sure they match. I believe that rules should be in one or the other. In the Constitution if you want them to be hard to change. In the Bylaws if you want them to be easier to change.
4. There are some inconsistencies in the documents. For instance, in some sections the head position of the Church Council is referred to as the Chair while in others it is called the President. This is confusing.
5. Some sections are unclear. There are references calling for submission of materials to the Secretary. Secretary of what is unspecified.
6. Some sections contain language that was needed for initial implementation of the C&B but no longer serves a purpose.
7. And then there is the need for some new guidance. Probably these are the most controversial because these are based on what I think should be done. Which is why both Council and the Congregation need to consider and comment on the proposal.
To amend the Constitution, the Constitution requires that Council provide a recommendation to the Congregation at the Annual Meeting in September. As a practical matter, that means that in its August meeting, Council must vote approval for whatever is to be proposed for Congregational approval at the Annual Meeting.
It is my intention to submit the amendments to the Council at the July meeting. I expect debate, potentially amendment to my submission, and then tabling of the motion until the August meeting to allow time for Congregational input. I then hope that the resulting motion will be voted on at the August meeting, allowing for submission to the Congregation at the September Annual Meeting.
The draft of proposed amendments is available for viewing at
This is a moving target, as I may make changes if I receive comments prior to the July meeting and I will update if there are amendments at the July meeting. At present the watermark proclaims it draft as of 16 June 2016. I will update the watermark if I make changes. It’s not really expected to be printed but is formatted for landscape 11×17 paper. If someone really wants to peruse it but cannot deal with it onscreen, contact me and I will arrange for you to get a printed copy.
I hope that interested members will read and provide comment concerning the proposed amendment. Comments can be submitted to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or to the Council at email@example.com.