Church Handbook


The Church Council

The Church Council is the primary governing body of Blacksburg United Methodist Church. The Church Council at Blacksburg United Methodist Church has traditionally met every other month with meetings in January, March, May, July, September and November. The Church Council generally meets on the fourth Sunday of the month (adjusting a weekend before in the instance of holiday weekends). The Church Council typically meets on the second Sunday of the month in November in order to prepare for Charge Conference and often calls a special meeting in December in order to approve the operating budget for the church in the coming year. The following statements from The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church as well as the Position Description for the Church Council Chairperson at Blacksburg United Methodist Church gives an overview of the work of the Church Council.

The 2004 edition of The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church in Paragraph 252 states:

252.1 Purpose–The church council shall provide for planning and implementing a program of nurture, outreach, witness, and resources in the local church. It shall also provide for the administration of its organization and temporal life. It shall envision, plan, implement, and annually evaluate the mission and ministry of the church. The church council shall be amenable to and function as the administrative agency of the charge conference (P. 244).
2. Mission and Ministry–Nurture, outreach, and witness ministries and their accompanying responsibilities include:
a) The nurturing ministries of the congregation shall give attention to but not be limited to education, worship, Christian formation, membership care, small groups, and stewardship. Attention must be given to the needs of individuals and families of all ages.
b) The outreach ministries of the church shall give attention to local and larger community ministries of compassion, justice, and advocacy. These ministries include church and society, global ministries, higher educaiton and campus ministry, health and welfare, Christian unity and interreligious concerns, religion and race, and the status and role of women.
c) The witness ministries of the church shall give attention to developing and strengthening evangelistic efforts of sharing of personal and congregational stories of Christian experience, faith, and service; communications; Lay Speaking Ministries; and other means that give expressions of witness for Jesus Christ.
d) The leadership development and resourcing ministries shall give attention to the ongoing preparation and development of lay and clergy leaders for the ministry of the church (P.259.1).
e) The nurture, outreach, and witness ministries and their accompanying responsibilities shall include consideration of (i) the election of a prayer coordinator to promote prayer and mobilize the local church to pray, (ii) establishing a prayer room or designated place for prayer and prayer resources, and (iii) encouraging intentional prayer for the pastoral leadership of the local church.
3. Meetings–a)The council shall meet at least quarterly. The chairperson or the pastor may call special meetings. b) In order for the council to give adequate consideration to the missional purpose of the local church, it is recommended that the first agenda item at each meeting be related to its ministries of nurture, outreach, and witness. The administrative and supportive responsibilities of the church will then be given attention. It is recommended that the council use a consensus/discernment model of decision-making.
4. Other Responsibilities–It will also be the responsibility of the church council to:
a) review the membership of the local church;
b) fill interim vacancies occuring among the lay officers of the church between sessions of the annual charge conference;
c) establish the budget on recommendation of the committee on finance and ensure adequate provision for the financial needs of the church;
d) recommend to the charge conference the salary and other remuneration of the pastor(s) and staff members after receiving recommendations from the committee on pastor-parish relations (staff-parish relations);
e) review the recommendations of the committee on pastor-parish relations regarding provision of adequate housing for the pastor(s), and report the same to the charge conference for approval. Housing provisions shall comply with the annual conference housing policy and parsonage standards. Housing shall not be considered as part of compensation or remuneration.
5.

Membership–The charge conference will determine the size of the church council. Members of the church council shall be involved in the mission and ministry of the congregation as defined in P. 252.2. The membership of the council may consist of as few as eleven persons or as many as the charge conference deems appropriate. The council shall include persons who represent program ministries of the church as outlined in P.243. The membership shall include but not be limited to the following:
a) the chairperson of the church council;
b) the lay leader;
c) the chairperson and/or a representative of the pastor-parish relations committee;
d) the chairperson and/or a representative of the committee on finance;
e) the chairperson and/or a representative of the board of trustees;
f) the church treasurer;
g) a lay member to annual conference;
h) the president and/or a representative of the United Methodist Men;
i) the president and/or a representative of the United Methodist Woemn;
j) a representative of the United Methodist Youth;
k) the pastor(s).
6. Quorum–The members present and voting at any duly announced meeting shall constitute a quorum.

Church Council Chairperson
Blacksburg United Methodist Church
Position Description

The 2004 edition of The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church states:

The church council chairperson shall be elected by the charge conference annually and shall have the following responsibilities:
a) leading the council in fulfilling its responsibilities (see P 249);
b) preparing and communicating the agenda of the council meetings in consultation with the pastor(s), lay leader, and other appropriate persons;
c) reviewing and assigning responsibility for the implementation of actions taken by the council;
d) communicating with members of the council and others as appropriate to permit informed action at council meetings;
e) coordinating the various activities of the council;
f) providing the initiative and leadership for the council as it does the planning, establishing of objectives and goals, and evaluating;
g) participating in leadership training programs as offered by the annual conference and/or district.
The church council chairperson shall be entitled to attend meetings of all boards and committees of the church unless specifically limited by the Book of Discipline. The chairperson is encouraged to attend annual conference.

Paragraph 252 (attached) of the 2004 edition of The Book of Disciple outlines the purpose and structure of the Church Council.

The Church Council at Blacksburg United Methodist Church has traditionally met every other month with meetings in January, March, May, July, September and November. The Church Council generally meets on the fourth Sunday of the month. The Church Council typically meets on the second Sunday of the month in November in order to prepare for Charge Conference and often calls a special meeting in December in order to approve the operating budget for the church in the coming year. The Church Council Chairperson organizes these meetings in consultation with the Senior Pastor and the Executive Committee of the Church Council. The Executive Committee of the Church Council consists of the Church Council Chair, the Lay Leader, the Senior Pastor, and the four Church Council Ministry Coordinators. The Executive Committee generally meets one to two weeks prior to the Church Council meeting in order to finalize the agenda for the meeting as well as to consult about work that needs to be accomplished prior to the meeting in order for the Church Council to do its work. The Church Council Chair coordinates the meeting of the Executive Committee of the Church Council.

The Church Council Chairperson presides at the Church Council meetings and maintains orderly discussion as established by Roberts’ Rules of Order.

The Church Council Chairperson solicits reports from the Ministry Coordinators prior to the Executive Committee meetings. Such reports are provided by the various chairs of the committees of the church and relate the work of the committees. If there are requests from committees of the church, they are made a part of the reports and then noted by the Executive Committee of the Church Council as items for the agenda. The object of such reports is to convey information about the work of the committees of the congregation without using meeting time for discussion of items that require no action by the Church Council. The Church Council Chairperson generally sends a reminder to the Ministry Coordinators for such reports about a month before the meeting and establish a deadline two weeks prior to the Church Council meeting in order to have them available for the Executive Committee preparatory meetings.

The Church Council primarily focuses on the administrative tasks of the governance of the faith community. The Nurture Coordinator, in conjunction with the Discipleship Ministries Committee, focuses on the programmatic ministries of the congregation and fosters cooperation among the various committees and work areas of the congregation. There will be times when decisions by other Ministry Area coordinators impact the work of the Discipleship Ministries Committee and some of those decisions may need to be discussed and resolved by the Church Council. The Church Council will regularly review a Master Calendar provided by the church secretary.

The Church Council assumes responsibility for all ministry decisions made by church committees and work areas. The final authority for the decisions regarding the work of church committees and work areas must receive Church Council approval. The Church Council will trust the work of the committees and work areas and not seek to duplicate their work. In the event of conflict regarding the work of the committees and the work areas of the church, the decisions of the Church Council will be binding (except in instances excluded by virtue of the Book of Discipline).

The 2004 Charge Conference of BUMC adopted a Vision Statement for the congregation. The 2005 Charge Conference of BUMC reaffirmed its adoption of that Vision Statement. Implementation of the Vision Statement began in September of 2005 with a series of worship services focused on the Vision Statement. The Vision Statement shall constitute the primary focus of the work of the Church Council for seven years (2012). The Church Council will foster strategies to keep the Vision Statement before the congregation as it seeks to live out the vision.

The Charge Conference

The Charge Conference is the governing body for the local church in its relationship with the larger connectional system of The United Methodist Church. It meets annually for a number of purposes outlined in Paragraph 246 of The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church. The annual Charge Conference for Blacksburg United Methodist Church has traditionally been the second Tuesday in November at 6:00 p.m. The District Superintendent presides at the Charge Conference to review the ministries of the congregation as well as to insure proper protocol for congregational decisions before the Charge Conference. From time to time, when appropriate, a special Charge Conference may be convened for a congregational decision. Notice of time and place of a Charge Conference must be given at least ten days in advance by two or more of the following: from the pulpit of the church, in its weekly bulletin, in a local church publication, or by mail.

Paragraph 246.2 outlines the voting members of the Charge Conference. It states: The membership of the charge conference shall be all members of the church council or other appropriate body, together with retired ordained ministers and retired diaconal ministers who elect to hold their membership in said charge and any others as may be designated in the Discipline.

The Church Conference

The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church describes The Church Conference in Paragraph 248. It states: To encourage boarder participation by members of the church, the charge conference may be convened as the church conference, extending the vote to all professing members of the local church present at such meetings. The church conference shall be authorized by the district superintendent. It may be called at the discretion of the district superintendent or following a written request to the district superintendent by one of the following: the pastor, the church council, or 10 percent of the professing membership of the local church.

Administrative Committees/Ministry Coordinators
Structure of the Church Council

The organization of the Church Council may be divided into Administrative Committees and Ministry Coordinators. The Administrative Committees consist of the Finance Committee, the Board of Trustees, the Staff-Parish Relations Committee, and the Committee on Lay Leadership. The Administrative Committes focus on the administrative ministries necessary for the ordering of church life. The Ministry Coordinators oversee the work the Nurture Ministries, the Outreach Ministries, the Witness Ministries, and the Worship Ministries. The Ministry Coordinators focus on the worship and programmatic ministries necessary for facilitating vital congregational ministries.

Nurture Coordinator
Blacksburg United Methodist Church

The Nurture Coordinator is a position that has been created by the Church Council of Blacksburg United Methodist Church to facilitate and coordinate the work of several committees. Many of these committees are supervised by the Discipleship Ministries Committee. The Nurture Coordinator serves as the liaison for all these committees to the Church Council. The Nurture Coordinator reports on and represents the work of the various committees subsumed under the designation of Nurture Ministries.

The Chair of the Discipleship Ministries Committee and the Chair of the Stewardship Committee will submit reports to the Nurture Coordinator for the purpose of Church Council meetings. If there are motions contained within the reports, the Nurture Coordinator will represent these motions. The Nurture Coordinator may wish to ask a Committee Chair to be present at the Church Council meeting in order to help represent the motion or recommendation.

The Nurture Coordinator will also make the committee chairs aware of decisions of the Church Council that impact their work. The Nurture Coordinator will provide feedback and encouragement to the committees. It will be impossible for the Nurture Coordinator to be present at the meetings of the committees. It will be preferable for the Nurture Coordinator to meet with committees that need support and allow the stronger committees to work with minimal supervision/contact.

In 2006, the primary focus of the Nurture Coordinator should be Adult Ministries. The church has not had an active Adult Ministries Committee in the past few years. Expectations for the Adult Ministries Committee should be limited. The object is not to create activity for the sake of activity, but to attempt to identify potential ministries and provide resources for the necessary infrastructure.

The Youth Ministries Committee has not met consistently and the model of having youth primarily constitute the Youth Ministries Committee does not seem to be a viable model. There will need to be some discussion and corrections in this regard.

Discipleship Ministries Committee
Chairperson Description

The Discipleship Ministries Committee was formed out of a perceived need to coordinate the various Age Level Ministries of our congregation. It was initially formed from the membership of the Education Committee when it was perceived that the Age Level Ministries Committees and the work area committees such as Education created duplication of efforts as well as confusion about roles. Most work area committees (such as Education) have been either eliminated or shifted to the various Age Level Ministries committees. Each of the Age Level Ministries Committee assumes responsibility for all ministries that relate to a designated age population of the congregation. All new initiatives in the congregation should be coordinated with the work of the Discipleship Ministries Committee (ideally such new initiatives will be first considered by the appropriate Age Level Ministries Committee). In recognition that there are forms of ministry that may impact more than one Age Level Committee as well as a need to coordinate the work of the various Age Level Ministries Committees, there is a need for the Discipleship Ministries Committee.

The Discipleship Ministries Committee will meet six times during the year to consider, organize and coordinate the work of the various Age Level Ministries: the Children’s Ministries Committee, the Youth Ministries Committee, the High Education Committee, the Adult Ministries Committee, and the Family Ministries Committee. Each of the Age Level Ministries Committees will meet on the universal committee meeting nights and the Discipleship Ministries Committee will meet at a later date, but before the next Church Council meeting. The Discipleship Ministries Committee will review the work of the various Age Level Ministries and will coordinate their work. Each chair of the Age Level Ministries Committees should bring a brief written report to share with The Discipleship Ministries Committee. The report should summarize recent work of the concerned committee as well as upcoming work. The Discipleship Ministries Committee will address concerns that may arise regarding the work and the projected plans of the Age Level Ministries committees. The Discipleship Ministries Committee will summarize the work of the Age Level Ministries committees and report to the Church Council via the Nurture Coordinator.

The Discipleship Ministries Committee will be made up of the chairs of the Children’s Ministries Committee, the Youth Ministries Committee, the Higher Education Committee, the Adult Ministries Committee, the Family Ministries Committee and three at large members elected by the Charge Conference.

Staff Parish Relations Committee Chairperson
Blacksburg United Methodist Church
Position Description

The 2004 edition of The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church states:

The committee (Staff Parish Relations Committee in this instance) shall assist the pastor(s) and staff in assessing their gifts and setting priorities for leadership and service. It is the responsibility of the committee to communicate with the committee on lay leadership and/or the church council when there is a need for other leaders or for employed staff to perform in areas where utilization of the gifts of the pastor(s) and staff proves an inappropriate stewardship of time. (Paragraph 259.2)

Paragraph 259.2 outlines the organization of the Staff Parish Relations Committee and provides greater specificity regarding its work. Paragraph 259.2 is attached. Blacksburg United Methodist Church has developed a number of protocols to enable the work of the Staff Parish Relations Committee as it has been defined by The Book of Discipline. One of these protocols is the “Personnel Policies and Procedures” which were first developed by the congregational leadership in 1989 and revised in November of 2002. The Personnel Policies and Procedures state that “these policies shall be reviewed annually by the SPRC as early in each calendar year as practicable.” (page 14) Such a review will be helpful to all members of the SPRC in terms of understanding their duties.

One part of the Personnel Policies and Procedures is a process for staff evaluations. (page 11) Item 3 of Section VII (Evaluations) states that, “All employees shall be evaluated annually as late in the calendar year as practicable, but prior to budget and salary adjustment deliberations for the following year, normally mid to late August.” The church has a standard evaluation form used for all staff. The Senior Pastor will write the evaluations, discuss the evaluations with staff members and bring a summary of evaluations to the SPRC in September. Members of the SPRC may request to review the full evaluation of a staff member. Staff appeals regarding the evaluations will be directed first to the SPRC in written form. If the staff member is not satisfied with the response of the SPRC, an appeal may be made to the Church Council. In such an instance, the process will follow the protocol outlined in the Personnel Policies and Procedures as outlined in Section X (page 13).

The SPRC schedules meetings on a monthly basis for eleven months (excluding July). Given the dynamics of a particular year in terms of matters related to the work of the SPRC, the Committee may elect to meet less times, but it must meet a minimum of four times in order to satisfy disciplinary requirements.

The SPRC is also responsible for maintaining a Church Profile for the Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. The profile is posted on the web site of the Annual Conference, but its availability is limited to members of the Bishop’s Cabinet as it is utilized in the appointment making process. The Church Profile can be accessed by logging onto http://www.vaumc.org/ and then selecting Resources. Under Resources, one selects COLTS. On the left side, there is an option to log onto the COLTS system. The Church User Name is 482125 and the Password is the same (482125). It will be ideal for the Church Profile to be reviewed annually, but it is critically important when the church anticipates a pastoral transition.

There are a variety of recurring functions of the SPRC Committee which are summarized in the following outline:

January Discuss Meeting Norms at initial SPRC meeting of the new calendar year.
Complete Appointment Forms and Forward to District Superintendent.

February Review Staff Performance.
Review Church Profile

March Discuss Selection Process if pastoral change is anticipated.

April Participate in Pastor Selection Process as appropriate.

May Manage Transitional Issues.

June Manage Transitional Issues.

August Review Salary Administration Process.

September Discuss Overall Salary Budget.
Review Evaluation Overview.
Solicit committee and staff feedback for Senior and Associate Pastors.

October Discuss Senior Pastor Objectives for ach staff member.
Discuss feedback for Senior and Associate Pastors.
Make pastors salary recommendations in preparation for Charge Conference
Discuss upcoming Chair in preparation for Charge Conference

November Complete salary adjustments for all staff; forward to the Finance Committee

December Review Appointment Process Forms to be completed in January
Transition new SPRC Chair

In addition to chairing the meetings of the SPRC, the Chair will also attend all Church Council meetings (generally the fourth Sunday of every other month beginning in January). The SPRC Chair will offer a written report to the Church Council two weeks prior to the meeting that outlines the work of the Committee as well as any decisions which the Church Council needs to be aware.

Important Protocols: Any change to the Staffing Model must be approved by the Church Council. The decisions of the SPRC are not approved by the Church Council. The Church Council functions as a first venue for an appeal of a decision made by the SPRC.

Adopted by the Church Council