UNITY OF GAINESVILLE BYLAWS
ARTICLE I, Name
The name of this association shall be Unity of Gainesville.
ARTICLE II, Purpose
Section 1. Statement of Purpose
The purpose of Unity of Gainesville, a Georgia corporation, is to teach the Universal Principles of Truth, as taught and demonstrated by Jesus and Interpreted by Unity (formerly known as Unity School of Christianity) and the Unity Worldwide Ministries (aka Association of Unity Churches International), a nonprofit corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of Georgia with headquarters at Lee’s Summit, Missouri, hereinafter referred to as the Association.
Section 2. Accomplishment of Purpose
Unity of Gainesville shall endeavor to conduct services of worship and classes of instruction and to demonstrate the Principles of Truth by using them in the operation of the ministry and to adopt other means that in the judgment of the minister will further the Principles of Practical Christianity among all people.
Section 3. Association of Unity Churches International
Unity of Gainesville shall be a vital part of the Worldwide Unity Movement and a member of the Association of Unity Churches International. Any member of this ministry may call upon the resources and support of the Association through its senior minister or co-ministers, Board of Trustees, staff or through direct communication with the Association. The operation and conduct of this ministry shall comply with the regulations and policies of the Association as outlined in the Association Bylaws, insofar as they do not conflict with the laws of the State of Georgia.
- Participation. This ministry may have its voice heard and its wishes expressed in the membership meetings of the Association, and its members may participate in workshops, seminars and classes designed to encourage and foster their spiritual development and that of the ministry.
- Resources. This ministry can benefit from its membership in the Association and its corresponding region and sub-region through direct support, materials and coaching regarding organization, finances, music, adult and youth education, church growth programs, ethics compliance and other topics related to a Unity church function.
- Leadership. This ministry shall have as its leader an ordained or licensed Unity minister(s) or a licensed Unity teacher approved by the Association of Unity Churches International.
- Teaching. The Principles of Practical Christianity shall be taught through this ministry using methods, textbooks, literature and other materials approved by the Association.
- Mailings. Copies of all printed matter mailed by this ministry to its membership shall be sent to the offices of the Association.
- Reports. The ministry shall make annual reports to the Association as required by the Association.
ARTICLE III, Office and Official Records
Section 1. Principal Office
The principal office of the Corporation shall be fixed by the Board of Trustees. Said office is currently located at 3415 Stancil Road, Gainesville, GA 30506. The office shall be in the County of Hall, State of Georgia, or at such other place within the State of Georgia as the Board of Trustees hereafter shall designate. The Corporation may also have offices at such other place or places, as the Board of Trustees may from time to time designate. (Note: Governments commonly require designation of the principal office of a corporation, at which legal service can be made.)
Section 2. Official Records
Records of membership, finances, donations, corporate minutes and other records required by law or as designated by the Board of Trustees shall be maintained at the principal office of the Corporation. Confidential documents are available only for use by the minister(s), board members, or designated professional staff. Other documents are available to active members upon request.
ARTICLE IV, Members
Section 1. Qualifications
A member of Unity of Gainesville shall endeavor to live in accord with the Christ Principles of Love and Truth as taught by Unity and to further the work of this ministry through active interest, love and support.
Section 2. Becoming a Member
Anyone desiring membership in Unity of Gainesville shall file an application for membership with the ministry office. The Board shall be notified of all applicants.
After attending a Board approved orientation program and receiving approval from the minister and board, the applicant shall become a recognized member before the congregation.
All staff, ministers, licensed Unity teachers and anyone transferring from another Unity church are automatically considered members of this ministry but are required to complete the orientation program.
Section 3. Active and Inactive Members
There shall be two types of members in this ministry: active and inactive.
- Active Members.
Active members have full membership rights and may participate and vote in any membership meeting. A member shall retain status as an active member through participation in prayer, services, classes, giving, and/or voting during a fiscal year.
- To retain active membership rights each member must indicate a desire to remain a member by completing and returning to the church a yearly membership renewal document as approved by the Board of Trustees. If no current membership renewal document is on file prior to the annual membership meeting that person becomes inactive and cannot serve on the Board of Trustees or vote at any membership meeting.
- Conditional Active Status--a member who has selected at the time of membership renewal to remain active but with limited participation due to illness, distance or other life hardship. Members with conditional active status retain the same rights as active members.
- Inactive Members. In a one-year period any active member who does not fulfill the requirements outlined above (Article IV, Section 3A) becomes an inactive member.
- Reinstatement of Inactive Members. If a member who has become inactive wishes to return to active status within the first two years after becoming an inactive member, such a member who meets membership qualifications and completes a yearly membership renewal document approved by the Board of Trustees shall be reinstated as an active member. In order to vote at a membership meeting such members must fulfill these requirements at least six weeks before a membership meeting. If a member has been inactive for two or more years and desires to become an active member again such member must reapply for active membership in the same manner required of new members.
- Removal of Membership for Cause. A member may be removed for cause by the Board of Trustees. Prior to any vote concerning removal, the member in question must be notified of the charges that may lead to removal of membership by certified mail at least ten (10) days prior to the Board of Trustees meeting and thereafter be given an opportunity for a hearing before the Board. A two-thirds (2/3) vote shall be required for removal of membership provided that the senior minister or co-ministers are in agreement with this action.
Section 4. Powers of Active Members
Each active member of Unity of Gainesville shall be able to:
- Vote at a membership meeting at which the member is present in order to:
- Elect members to the Board of Trustees.
- Ratify the Bylaws of this ministry or any amendments thereto.
- Vote on any expenditure which exceeds twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) in value. A seventy-five percent (75%) affirmative vote of those present and voting is required for approval of such expenditures.
- Elect a member and an alternate to serve on the Nominating Committee.
- Vote to override any action of the Board of Trustees, providing it is communicated to the membership in writing ten (10) days prior to the subsequent meeting of the membership and seventy-five percent (75%) of those present and voting have the authority for such determination
- Vote for the removal of any trustee from an office.
- Vote on any matters officially brought to the attention of the membership
- Speak in debate at any membership meeting according to the rules provided for debate.
- Call a special membership meeting when the affairs of this ministry warrant such action.
- Offer suggestions to the minister(s) or Board of Trustees as may seem advisable for the good of this ministry.
- Contact the Association regional representative or the Association directly for guidance, support or information on available resources such as peacekeeping.
- Participate in all activities and programs of the ministry.
ARTICLE V, Meetings
Section 1. Annual Meeting
- Date and Location of Annual Meeting. The annual membership meeting of Unity of Gainesville shall be held at its official headquarters on a Sunday in February at the time and day designated by the minister(s) and Board of Trustees.
- Notice. Written notice (electronic communication fulfills this requirement) stating the date, time and place shall be sent to all active members at least 14 days prior to any membership meeting.
- Quorum. Those active members present will constitute a quorum for the transaction of business at any membership meeting.
- Presiding Officer. The president of the Board of Trustees shall serve as the presiding officer of the annual membership meeting.
- Participation. The right to speak in debate, make motions and vote during annual meetings shall be restricted to those active members present. The right of other persons to speak during membership meetings may be extended by a two-thirds (2/3) vote. Association representatives have a right to speak when they have been invited by the senior minister, co-minister(s), the Board of Trustees or any member.
- Voting. Unless otherwise provided herein, the vote of a majority of the active members present and voting or by absentee ballot shall be necessary for approval or disapproval of the action being voted upon. Active members unable to be present in a membership meeting may vote by absentee ballot upon application to the ministry office in advance of the meeting date.
- Power and Authority. Annual membership meetings shall have the power and authority to do all of the following:
- Elect members to the Board of Trustees.
- Approve proposed amendments to these Bylaws.
- Approve by a two-thirds (2/3) vote any expenditure regarding the sale, pledge or proposed financing of real property belonging to this ministry that exceeds twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) or 25% of the previous year’s income, whichever is greater.
- Elect a member and an alternate to serve on the Nominating Committee for the next year.
- Override any action of the Board of Trustees provided that notice of the action to be voted upon is submitted to all active members in writing ten days prior to the meeting and is approved by a three-fourths (3/4) vote.
- Remove by a two-thirds (2/3) vote any or all trustee(s) from the Board of Trustees.
- Vote on any matters officially brought to the attention of the membership.
- Prayer. In any membership meeting the Board president, minister(s), Association of Unity Churches International representative, or any member may request that action on an item of business be suspended while the membership enters into a time of prayer on the issue. Upon such request the president will provide a period of prayer and silence.
Section 2. Special Membership Meetings
- Requesting Special Meetings. Anytime the affairs of this ministry warrant, a special meeting may be called by the following individuals: the senior minister or co-ministers; a majority vote of the entire Board of Trustees currently serving; or a petition signed by one-tenth (1/10) of the active membership and submitted to the Board of Trustees.
- Calling Special Meetings. Upon receiving a proper request for a special membership meeting, the president of the Board of Trustees shall call the meeting on behalf of the requesting party within thirty days of the receipt of the request.
- Special Meeting Business. Business conducted at a special meeting shall be limited to the pre-stated purpose(s) given in the meeting notice.
- Special Meeting Procedures. The location, notice, quorum, presiding officer, participation, voting and prayer provisions for special membership meetings shall be the same as those for annual meetings.
ARTICLE VI, Board of Trustees
Section 1. Membership
The Board of Trustees shall consist of the senior minister or co-minister(s) and four trustees, plus one alternate trustee elected from the active membership of Unity of Gainesville at the annual membership meeting.
Section 2. Term of Office
The terms of one or two elected trustees shall expire annually and the vacated positions shall be filled at the annual membership meeting. No elected trustee shall serve more than two consecutive terms of three (3) years each without an interval of one year between terms. Trustees elected at any annual membership meeting shall take office immediately following the meeting at which they were elected. Any person who serves on the Board more than half of a term shall be credited with having served a full term.
- Elected Trustees. Each elected trustee shall hold office for three (3) years or until a successor is dully elected or replaced by the appointment of an alternate.
- Elected Alternate Trustees. The alternate trustee(s) shall serve for one year unless in the course of this term the alternate is appointed to complete the term of a trustee who has left office, in which case the term expires on the date when the original trustee’s term would have expired. The alternate does not have a vote during meetings unless a member is absent.
Section 3. Prohibition of Service
The following persons are prohibited from serving on the Board of Trustees:
- any ACTIVE licensed Unity teacher;
- relatives, significant others or household members of any current board member or licensed Unity teacher;
- individuals receiving compensation from the ministry (with the exception of the senior minister or co-minister(s)); and
- relatives, significant others or household members of any individual receiving compensation from the ministry (including staff).
Section 4. Regular Board Meetings
Regular Board meetings of the Board of Trustees will be held at the headquarters of this ministry each month as designated or otherwise stated by the Board.
Section 5. Special Board Meetings
Special meetings of the Board will be called by the president of the Board if requested by the senior minister or co-minister(s) if requested by two or more trustees, or if the president of the Board deems it necessary. Any request for a special Board meeting shall be made in writing or sent electronically to the Board secretary. All current Board members, including the senior minister or co-minister(s), shall be given notice electronically of any special Board meeting at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting. The attendance of any member of the Board at the meeting shall serve as a waiver of this notice requirement. Any members who have not responded within 24 hours will be called by phone by the Board secretary.
Section 6. Quorum
A majority of the total number of trustees currently serving shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.
Section 7. Minister’s Attendance
The senior minister or co-minister(s) have the right to attend all Board meetings, with the exception of those meetings or portions thereof that pertain to determinations of the minister’s salary and/or review of the minister’s work record.
Section 8. Prayer
It is important that, in addition to adhering to the normal procedures for legal functioning set forth in these bylaws, the spiritual principles taught by Unity be utilized in the handling of decisions before the Board of Trustees. During the discussion of an item of business any trustee may request time for prayer about an issue. Upon such request the president shall provide a period of prayer and silence.
Section 9. Duties and Responsibilities of the Board of Trustees
As representatives of the membership the Board of Trustees shall:
- Uphold the spiritual purpose of this ministry.
- Uphold the highest interest of the membership in conducting the business of this ministry.
- Be conversant with the Bylaws.
- Be faithful in attendance at service, Board and membership meetings of this ministry.
- Make determination of the business needs of this ministry and authorize payment of monies for those purposes.
- Administer the property of this ministry, both real and personal.
- Make determinations on the sale, pledge or proposed financing of real or personal property belonging to this ministry, provided that all decisions concerning the sale, pledge or proposed financing of real property exceeding twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) shall be presented to the membership at a properly constituted membership meeting for final approval.
- Employ/terminate the employment of a licensed or ordained Unity minister(s) through cooperation with the employment management procedures of the Association of Unity Churches Internal. After a ministry and its senior minister or co-minister(s) have sought to reconcile differences and cooperated with the procedures and guidance of the Association of Unity Churches International, a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the Board of Trustees is required to terminate the employment of a senior minister or co-minister(s).
- Determine staff positions and authorize funds for their financial support, as recommended by the senior minister or co-minister(s).
- Establish the dates for the beginning and ending of the fiscal year.
- Cause to be prepared each year a complete financial statement with disclosures which will set forth the fiscal conditions and operations of the ministry.
- Secure appropriate insurance to cover church funds handled by volunteers, clergy and board members, including “errors and omissions” insurance to cover decision-making by clergy and board members.
- Approve membership orientation program.
- Provide for the yearly renewal of membership to all active and inactive members every January.
- Fill the unexpired term of a trustee.
- Elect officers of the Board and their successors to fill any unexpired term when necessary.
- Create such task forces for projects and/or events that are time-limited as needed to support the functions and responsibilities of the Board.
- Seek Association assistance in the event of a dispute adversely affecting the ministry.
- Attend and actively participate in ongoing board education programs as reflected in current policies in the board resource manual.
Section 10. Nomination and Election
Any person elected to the Board of Trustees must:
- Be an active member of Unity of Gainesville.
- Endeavor to live in accord with the Christ Principles of Love and Truth as taught by Unity.
- Attend Sunday services on a regular basis.
- Work to further the purposes of this ministry through active interest, love and support.
- Be a sincere and continuing student of Unity classes, always remaining conversant with its teachings.
- Be a regular contributor of time, talent and treasure.
- Demonstrate willingness to be a part of the process of the church.
- Have demonstrated leadership capabilities
- Fulfill any other prerequisites decided by the Board of Trustees.
- Nominating Committee
- Selection. A nominating committee shall be formed at least two (2) months prior to the annual membership meeting. The committee shall consist of the senior minister or co-minster(s) and three (3) active church members selected in the following manner:
- At the Fall spiritual community meeting, the membership shall elect one of its active members and an alternate to serve on the Nominating Committee for the upcoming election of board members.
- The Board shall elect one of its trustees.
- Together with the minister(s), the above two (2) committee members shall select a third committee member from the active membership and one person shall be named chairperson of the Nominating Committee.
- In the event any person so elected is unavailable to serve, the Board shall select a person from the active membership (other than a current Board member) to fill the vacancy.
- In the event of an interim board, the Nominating Committee shall complete its selection process within thirty (30) days from the establishment of the interim board.
- Duties and Responsibilities. The Nominating Committee will initiate a search for at least two qualified candidates for nomination as members of the Board of Trustees. The report of the Nominating Committee will be made available and/or sent (electronically) along with the annual call-to-meeting notice to all active members at least ten (10) days prior to the annual membership meeting.
- Nominating Procedure
Self-nominations can be made to the Nominating Committee during the two (2) months prior to the congregational meeting. Nominees should never be chosen on the basis of a person’s business success or financial resources alone. All nominees, no matter how nominated, must qualify in accordance with Section 10. A.
As the presiding officer of the annual membership meeting, the Board president shall:
- Read Section 10. A. just prior to the call for nominations. Candidates will have an agreed upon length of term prior to presentation on the slate of nominees.
- Call upon the chairperson of the Nominating Committee to present the Committee’s nominations.
Votes shall be cast by ballot only if there are more nominees than positions to be filled.
Section 11. Removal from Office by the Board of Trustees
The office of a trustee may be vacated by any of the following means:
- The resignation of the trustee.
- The Board voting for the removal of any trustee due to absences from three successive regular board meetings. Absences may be excused by the Board upon notification to the Board president.
- The Board voting for the removal of a trustee because of a failure to fulfill the duties of the office.
- The active membership voting for the removal of a trustee because of failure to fulfill the duties of the office.
Section 12. Vacancies
Should a vacancy occur among the elected members of the Board of Trustees, the Board may select a qualified replacement to fill the position. A majority vote shall be necessary for ratification of the appointment. The term of service of the newly elected member shall expire when the vacated position’s term would have expired.
Section 13. Board of Trustees Officers
Officers of the Board of Trustees shall consist of a President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer. All officers shall be selected in a manner decided by the Board at the first Board meeting after the annual meeting or at a special meeting called for the purpose of selecting officers. Officers shall hold their respective offices for one year or until their successors are duly elected or appointed by the Board of Trustees.
Section 14. Duties of Officers
In addition to the duties outlined below, the officers shall be responsible for the duties defined by the Code of Ethics for Ministers/Spiritual Leaders of our Unity Worldwide Ministries.
The president of the Board of Trustees shall:
- Preside at all Board of Trustees Meetings.
- Preside at all Membership Meetings.
- Appoint committees in accordance with these Bylaws.
- Be a member of all committees by virtue of the office, except the Nominating Committee.
- Sign such papers and documents, upon proper authorization, as may be necessary.
- Be responsible for the planning of Board orientation, retreats, workshops and agendas.
The vice-president of the Board of Trustees shall:
- Assist the president in the performance of the president’s duties.
- Perform all the duties of the president in the absence of the president.
- Become president in case the office of the presidency becomes vacant. In such a case, a new vice-president shall be elected from among the remaining trustees to fill the remainder of the term.
The secretary of the Board of Trustees shall:
- Keep, or cause to be kept, an accurate record of the minutes of all Board and membership meetings.
- Hold in custody and be responsible for all reports, contracts, legal papers, meeting minute books and the corporate seal. These items shall be kept in the ministry office at all times or in such other depository as prescribed by the Board.
- Attend to all official business required by the Board.
- Keep or cause to be kept accurate active membership lists.
The treasurer of the Board of Trustees shall:
- Be custodian of the funds of this ministry, paying out, or cause to be paid out, funds authorized by the Board.
- Keep, or cause to be kept, a record of all financial transactions and submit a monthly financial report at each regular Board meeting.
- Submit a financial report covering the last complete fiscal period at the Annual Membership Meeting.
- Account for, or cause to be accounted for by the appointment of qualified money counters (ministry event leaders, board, office manager), all funds received.
- Place, or cause to be placed, the funds of this ministry in the bank or other depository approved by the board in a timely manner.
- Assure that the signatures on church accounts are updated to reflect the current Board of Trustees and that two (2) signatures are on every check for amounts exceeding $250.
ARTICLE VII, Administration/Ministers
Section 1. Administration
The administration of Unity of Gainesville Spiritual Living Center shall be vested in the minister(s) as the administrative director(s), and the Board of Trustees elected from the membership.
Section 2. Minister(s)
- Senior Minister(s) or Co-Ministers.
The senior minister(s) or co-minister(s) will be duly licensed or ordained Unity minister(s).
- Duties. As the spiritual leader(s), the minister(s) shall be responsible for the scheduling, conduct and content of the services, classes and all other activities that further the purpose of this ministry. As administrative director(s), the minister(s) shall perform the following duties:
- Be responsible for the complete functioning of this ministry.
- Serve as a voting member of the Board of Trustees on all matters except their own employment or that of successor(s).
- Co-create ministry teams related to these duties.
- Serve as a member of all committees.
- Be responsible for seeking Association assistance in the event of a dispute adversely affecting the ministry.
- Selection. The Board of Trustees shall select the senior minister(s) or co-minister(s) by following the employment selection procedures for ministerial personnel of the Association.
- Compensation. The compensation of the senior minister(s) or co-minister(s) employed by this ministry shall be set by the Board of Trustees.
- Vacancy. The position of a minister may be vacated by any of the following actions:
- Resignation, or
- Removal due to failure to fulfill the duties of the position.
- Associate and/or Assistant Ministers.
Associate and/or assistant minister(s) shall be duly licensed or ordained Unity minister(s) who function with less responsibility than the senior minister or co-minister(s).
- Duties. The associate and/or assistant minister(s) will perform the duties and fulfill the responsibilities assigned them by the senior or co-minister(s).
- Compensation. To the extent funded by the Board, the compensation of the associate and/or assistant minister(s) shall be fixed by the senior minister or co-minister(s).
Section 3. Definitions
- Unity Ministry.
A Unity ministry is a member ministry associated with and duly recognized by the Association of Unity Churches International that will have a duly ordained or licensed Unity minister or a person serving under special dispensation as its spiritual leader.
- Senior Minister.
A Unity senior minister is duly ordained, licensed (or serving under special dispensation) by the Association of Unity Churches International (or Unity School of Christianity prior to July 1, 1966) who assumes the spiritual and administrative leadership role in a member ministry. This leader works in conjunction with the Board of Trustees of the member ministry and is to oversee the teaching, preaching (Sunday Lessons), worship services, healing, counseling, prayer, and administrative and fellowship activities of the ministry.
In shared partnership ministries, a Unity co-minister is duly ordained or licensed by the Association of Unity Churches International (or Unity School of Christianity prior to July 1, 1966) who equally assumes the spiritual and administrative leadership role with another co-minister in a member ministry. These leaders work in conjunction with the Board of Trustees of the member ministry and oversee the teaching, preaching (Sunday Lessons), worship services, healing, counseling, prayer, and administrative and fellowship activities of the ministry.
- Associate Minister.
In ministries with more than one minister, a Unity associate minister is duly ordained or licensed by the Association of Unity Churches International (or Unity School of Christianity prior to July 1, 1966), serving in a member ministry. The associate minister may be equal in ability, but functions with less responsibility than the senior minister. The associate minister reports to the senior minister, who determines the scope of the associate’s responsibilities.
- Assistant Minister.
In ministries with more than one minister, a Unity assistant minister is duly ordained or licensed by the Association of Unity Churches International (or Unity School of Christianity prior to July 1, 1966), serving in a member ministry. The skills and/or experience of the assistant minister may be less than those of the senior minister. The assistant minister may be placed in a specialized service area of the ministry, i.e., pastoral visitation or administrative support. The skills of the assistant minister are therefore allowed to develop for a more comprehensive range of ministerial service of the assistant minister and the ministry.
ARTICLE VIII, Ministry Teams
Ministry teams for any specific purpose, with the exception of the Nominating Committee, shall be appointed by the Board president or the senior minister or co-minister(s) for their respective areas of responsibility.
ARTICLE IX, Corporation and Dissolution
Section 1. Corporation
The Corporation Seal of this ministry shall include the name of the ministry in a circle which encloses the name of the city, state and date of incorporation.
Section 2. Dissolution
Should the corporation dissolve:
- All property and funds remaining after the payment of the debts of the Corporation shall be delivered to the Association of Unity Churches, a non-profit corporation organized under the laws of the state of Georgia for religious and educational purposes.
- Such funds or property shall be for the use and benefit of the Association as may be determined by the Board of Trustees of the Association, in alignment with current policies and procedures.
- The Association shall make available, according to its current policies and procedures, funds to the reestablishment of a Unity ministry in Gainesville, Georgia.
- Should the Association no longer exist, any assets remaining of this Corporation after dissolution shall be disposed of by a court of competent jurisdiction of the county in which the principal office of the Corporation is then located, for such purposes or to such organization or organizations, as said court shall determine, which are organized and operated exclusively for purposes set out in Section 5.01 3 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954.
ARTICLE X, Parliamentary Authority
The rules contained in the current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised shall govern the meetings of this Corporation in all cases to which they are applicable and in which they are not inconsistent with these bylaws and any special rules of order that the Corporation may adopt.
ARTICLE XI, Amendment of Bylaws
Any amendment(s) to or general revision of these Bylaws may be adopted at any annual or special membership meeting provided that written notice setting forth the exact wording of such proposed amendment(s) or general revision has been sent to all active members at least ten days prior to the meeting at which they will be considered. Electronic notification fulfills this requirement. An affirmative vote of three-fourths (3/4) of the active members present and voting will be necessary to adopt any amendment(s) to or general revision of these Bylaws.
UNITY OF GAINESVILLE, GA
Adopted June 27, 1996
Amended November, 1997
Amended November, 2003
Amended November, 2011
Amended November, 2012
Amended February, 2015
Amended February, 2019
Amended February, 2020