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Governance Model for Tansley United Church

TANSLEY GOVERNANCE MODEL                                                      June 5, 2012 — Rod Saunders


When established as a congregation, Tansley adopted the long-traditional governance model comprising a Session & Elders and a separate Committee of Stewards.  Some years later, it transitioned to the then more-popular Unified Board or Church Council style.   This is still basically the style we have today.   However, over the past ~15 years, adherence to the protocols and disciplines of the Church Council model have gradually and subtly eroded to the point where it is now difficult to clearly understand and articulate how we actually do govern ourselves.   Unfortunately, there are no documented guidelines available which set-out how the Board and its groups should function.

Concurrently, during this period, societal and progressive business norms have transformed significantly – to now more clearly-focused Teams and Task Groups rather than a large number of traditional “standing committees”.  This is especially true for project-oriented tasks.  However, standing committees are still needed to oversee ongoing and maintenance-type tasks and responsibilities.

In September 2011, the Board Executive, at a “Congregational Review & Visioning” retreat day, highlighted several issues it deemed to be very significant for Tansley’s well-being and growth.  Highest among these was establishment, documentation, and approval of a streamlined, effective, and easy-to-understand governance model.  At the February 7, 2012 Board meeting, it was agreed that Rod Saunders would begin a process of preparing an updated model of governance for Tansley Congregation.  At the March 6th Board meeting, Rod presented a “draft” of a possible governance structure for Tansley.   At the April 10th Board meeting, a second potential governance model – one that more closely resembles our current modus operandi – was presented and discussed in-depth.   Following is a “Recommended Tansley Governance Model” which combines the most widely endorsed features of the previous and other models.  It was endorsed by the Board at its May 8, 2012 meeting for recommendation to the Congregation and implementation on trial basis. 

Now that the Board has indicated its endorsement of this amended organizational structure and approach to Congregational governance, plans have been established to implement the proposed governance model for a 6-month “trial-period” (to the end-October Congregational Meeting) – followed by a second 7-month trial-period (to the June-2013 Congregational Meeting) – and then a 1-year final trial-period (to the June-2014 Congregational Meeting).  During this time, refinements & adjustments can be tested and implemented.  Also, when this recommendation was endorsed by the Board, the Nominating Committee began using it as a guideline in seeking next year’s Congregational Board members and leaders.  Communications with congregational members will be achieved by Newsletter articles (hard-copy and posted on Tansley’s website) and at Congregational Meetings.  During this 2-year trial period, a “Governance & Constitution Task Group” will be established to develop a “constitution” document for Congregational approval, submission to Presbytery, and final implementation. 

 Rod Saunders                                                                                                                             


Guiding Principles

Following are recommended guiding principles in determination of an updated governance model for Tansley.

·        “Levels” of governance should be minimal – a “relatively-flat” organizational model should work the best in terms of overall effectiveness.

·        Every aspect of governance & leadership should be as open & transparent to the Congregational membership as possible – except, of course, for certain personnel matters which are mandated as confidential.

·        Emphasis should focus on a structure that encourages and enables all members to participate in one or more meaningful ways in areas where they feel comfortable contributing.

·        To the extent feasible, all members should participate in one or more of the Board Committees, working Teams or Task Groups — whichever best suit their talents & interests.

·        In all cases, committee and group ‘chairs’ and leaders can be either singular (eg: “Chair”) or plural (eg: “Co-Chairs”).

·        In every aspect of governance and leadership, we must always remain flexible.

Spring 2014 a committee was formed consisting of Rev. Stephen Huntely, Carol Boyle, Dale Martin and Marsha Ahrens.  After discussion the proposed Governance Model was revised and will be presented to the Board at the June 2014 meeting.

  Proposed Governance Model

 * Congregational Meeting – All members of Tansley meeting to conduct Congregational business.

 * Congregational BOARD – Elected chairs & members of Tansley Committees.

 * Congregational Directors – Specified individuals who are named as “Directors of the Organization” to comply with certain requirements.

 * TANSLEY COMMITTEES & TEAMS – all Board Committees, Working Teams, Task-Groups, etc…

 Congregational Meetings

Congregational Meetings are scheduled as needed, when a major consideration or decision is required.  It is chaired by the Congregational Chair(s) and proceedings are recorded by the Congregational Secretary.  All Tansley members are encouraged to attend and participate.

 Congregational Board

Congregational Board meetings are scheduled monthly – or more frequently, if needed to deal with major issues, recommendations, or cross-committee decisions.  To be effective, the Congregational Board should not deal with routine issues and decisions that properly belong with the Committees, Teams, and Task-Groups.   

 The Congregational Board includes the following persons elected by the Congregation or appointed by the Board on an interim basis until so elected:

·        Congregational Chair(s) & Congregational Secretary

·        Minister(s)  [ by virtue of Call or Presbytery Appointment ]

·        Presbytery Representatives

·        M & P Committee members

·        Nominating Committee members

·        Stewardship Committee members

·        Welcoming & Membership Committee members – (Includes TCN)

·        Worship Committee members

·        Faith Formation Committee members  (Kids’ Program, Adult Programs, Youth, Groups)

·        Outreach Committee members          

·        Communications Committee members

·        Finance Committee members (Treasurer, Envelope Steward, Fundraising)

·        Property Committee members 

 Congregational Directors

Some congregational reports, transactions, and practices require the listing of the directors of the organization.  At Tansley, Directors will generally be named by virtue of their roles and elected positions.  The following are deemed to be the Directors of Tansley United Church:

·        Congregational Chair(s)

·        Congregational Secretary(s)

·        Finance Committee Chair(s)

·        Property Committee Chair(s)

·        Congregational Treasurer

 Committees & Teams

Working within Congregationally approved budgets & guidelines, Committees and their Teams plan and carry-out the duties & responsibilities associated with their area of contribution and responsibility at Tansley.  They make all routine decisions and plans for their areas within the guidelines set.  They form task-groups and sub-groups as needed to carry-out their responsibilities effectively.  They meet as often as needed to accomplish their goals.  They keep records of their actions and activities and provide regular reports about their plans & accomplishments to the Congregational Board.   Committees, Teams, & Task Groups are the “go-to” and “get-it-done” members and leaders of the Congregation.  They are the “basic ingredient” or “backbone” of our organizational model.   It is sincerely hoped that virtually all active members of Tansley (depending, of course, on their ability) will be on one or more Committee(s), Team(s) or Task Group(s).


Congregational Board meetings are “open” to all church members and adherents, and all are encouraged to attend and participate and vote.  Quorum is 50% + 1 of the Chairs or designated representatives of currently-active Committees must be present. 

 In order to maintain transparency, the minutes of all board meeting should be available to the congregation at any time. 


This document is to be reviewed bi-annually or whenever a new chair is installed to ensure that the governance model is being followed and/or any appropriate changes are made.  All changes must be approved by the board.

 This was accepted by the Congregation on June 22nd at the Annual Meeting

For more info, please contact the church office.