Who are the elected leaders of UCM? (updated for 2023-2024 church year)

President: Claudia Clark
Vice President: Ansel Ploog
Secretary: Brenda Bean
Financial Officer: Fran Dodd

Board Members at Large: Steve Gold, Hugo Liepmann, Jen Matthews

How does UCM operate?
Ultimately, the answer to the above question is that the members of the congregation run this church.

Our congregation:

  • contributes approximately 82% of the funds which are needed to run this church
  • contributes 100% of the volunteers that run this church

Our members:

  • approve the rules ( i.e. the by-laws ) by which we operate
  • approve the annual budget of incomes and expenses of the church
  • approve the calling of the minister
  • elect the four officers of this church and all voting members of the Board

The congregation does all of this under the guiding Principles and Purposes of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) with which our congregation freely associates.

What do the UCM By-laws contain?
The bylaws define The Unitarian Church of Montpelier as a non-profit religious institution, outline the congregational structure, determine responsibilities and confer authority for carrying out the church business. Our congregation’s by-laws specifically define the congregation’s voting requirements to call a new minister, approve the annual budget, elect the church officers (President, Vice President, Secretary, and Financial Officer), and the Board membership. Additionally they define the levels of authorization required for spending of church funds.

How does spending on behalf of the congregation occur?
The Board proposes an annual budget of expenses and incomes to the annual meeting that approves a final version. The expenses in this budget are primarily paid staff compensation related with other expenses for building maintenance, office, committee, and UUA-related spending. All non-budgeted single expenditures in excess of $5,000 must be approved by vote at a legally constituted congregational meeting. So, the answer is that the members of the congregation approve all spending. All church spending must be either be pre-approved as part of a budget or if non-budgeted and in excess of $5,000 it must be approved at a special congregational meeting.

Who can sign contracts on behalf of the church?
Only the duly elected President of the church is authorized by the by-laws to sign contracts on behalf of the church. Should the President be “incapacitated” then the Vice Presidents is authorized by the bylaws to sign contracts in the President’s stead.

What is the role of individual congregation volunteers?
Volunteers are crucial to the life of the church. Without volunteers the church is unable to fully operate. Volunteers typically develop the ideas for church programs and activities, they then staff those programs and activities and related committees. All volunteers who are members of the congregation have the same weight of voting rights at congregational meetings and are able to initiate action on behalf of the church.

What are the requirements for membership in the congregation?
There are two paths to membership in our congregation. People who are already members of another UU congregation may simply transfer their membership to our church. Prospective members who do not have prior membership in a UU congregation are required to attend a NewUU program that is offered twice each year. NewUU provides an opportunity to ask questions and engage in discussion with others who are exploring membership as well as with our minister and several church members. Active members are entitled to vote at congregational meetings and are expected to be active in church activities as well as supporting the church financially. To find out more about membership at the Unitarian Church of Montpelier please see Path to Membership.

To what extent does the UUA govern our operations?
UU congregations operate independently and autonomously, but we also benefit from our association with other UU congregations, i.e., the UUA. Examples of these benefits include the help of the UUA’s District staff, religious education curriculum development, recruitment processes for ministers and religious educators, and the accreditation of UUA ministers. Though the UUA facilitates ministerial searches, the choice on Ministers and staff rests entirely with the church.

What funding does UCM receive from the UUA?
None. We receive no money from the UUA nor do we receive any subsidization of our paid staff from the UUA. However, as noted above we do receive valuable services, as needed, from the District and UUA organizations and we are asked to annually pledge dues to both of those organizations based on the total of our annual expenditures.

What are the congregation’s operational policies?

A whole host of policies can be found on our Operational Policies Page.