UUAA Governance - Shared Leadership

Unitarian Universalist congregations are self-governing. UUAA belongs to a national organization, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), but the UUA does not govern its member congregations. The UUAA Congregation is large enough—over 600 adults and almost 300 children—to need a formal governance structure to make things happen. At UUAA we share the responsibility for achieving our aspirations between the Congregation, a nine member Board of Trustees and our Staff.

The Congregation elects a Board of Trustees (Board) to serve as its governing body and calls (votes to hire) a Senior Minister to serve as its spiritual, programmatic and administrative leader. UUAA has a shared leadership governance structure that tasks the Board with articulating the vision for the future of the Congregation and gives the Senior Minister responsibility for implementing that vision. The Board, using input from both the staff and the Congregation, prioritizes strategic goals to be achieved over the next year, or over several years. The Senior Minister, delegating responsibility to staff members and lay leaders, implements strategic goals.

The Board has written Governing Policies that assure that the congregation’s money, property and people are kept safe, and that the Congregation lives in harmony with its values.

Our values are expressed in our UUAA Core Values and in the Unitarian Universalist Principles.

Learn more about the people who share the leadership of UUAA:

Our elected Board of Trustees

Our Ministers and Staff

The volunteer teams that assist with

UUAA governance

Operations- ministry support

The key documents that define how our governance works are

UUAA Bylaws
and the Board of Trustees' Governing Policies

We also have a set of Operations Policies that give detailed guidance in specific areas, for example communications policies and personnel policies.

The Role of UUAA Members

“The Congregation is the ultimate authority of the First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor.” (UUAA Bylaws) Because we are self-governing, it is very important for members of the congregation to understand their role. Members are expected to take part in Congregational Meetings (usually twice per year) and to vote for elected leaders and on issues presented regarding unusual expenditures, statements of conscience and other congregational matters.

Only the Congregation has authority to
•    Call or dismiss a Senior Minister
•    Elect the officers and members of the Board of Trustees.

Members participate in the life of our congregation in many, many ways. It is the members who envision and carry out the missions of UUAA. Please consider contributing your time and talents and get involved in whatever ways are a good fit for you. You can volunteer for social justice outreach and advocacy projects, teach a class, sing in the choir, serve on teams such as Pastoral Care, Stewardship and Finance – and more. Explore this web site for information on the many programs and ministries of UUAA.

Serving on the Board or a lay committee supporting UUAA governance can be challenging, but quality governance is essential to our health as a congregation, and it is uniquely rewarding. If this process interests you, please consider contacting the Leadership Development Team to discuss getting involved.


The Board uses a variety of organizational tools and resources to assist with governance, such as:

  • Hotchkiss, D., Governance and Ministry, 2nd Edition, 2016, The Alban Institute, Herndon, Virginia.
  • Beaumont, S., Inside the Large Congregation, 2nd Edition, 2016, The Alban Institute, Herndon, Virginia.
  • McMahill, D., Completing the Circle: Reviewing Ministries in the Congregation, 2003, The Alban Institute, Herndon, Virginia.


Trial Link to 2018-19 Minutes

Trial Link to All Board Meeting Minutes...

Trial Link to all Official Board Documents

Example of direct link to document (Bylaws)