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Secretary of Church Board Automatically Becomes President--is this correct?


Guest Sarai

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We have a small church and a small board for this church.

The bylaws specify the officers are President, Secretary, and Treasurer.

The bylaws state the President is President for 3 years.

It also states the nominating committee will recommend a "slate" of officers every November, for elections every December, for offices to begin/take effect in January.

It also states that the Secretary automatically becomes President.

It also states that nominations will be heard from the floor (in December).

I see a lot of problems and ambiguity with this set up.

I intend to move for a modification of the bylaws at the November meeting prior to nominations and elections.

I would move to have annual elections for all officers and that a nominating committee is unnecessary given how small we are. It seems to me that the nominating committee implies to the few remaining board members that they must go with the nominating committee's recomendation and that to make a nomination from the floor would be a social faux pas in our small group--thus not encouraging a healthy debate.

Additionally, I cannot understand why a Secretary should automatically become President, which also seems to violate debate and make pointless a nominating committee--with respect to office of President--and makes pointless nominations from the floor, and precludes debate.

My questions:

1) What argument, per RONR, would there be against the Secretary (or any office for that matter) automatically assuming another office once the term has expired (versus prior to the expiration of the term of office)?

2) What argument, per RONR, would there be against having one officer assuming another office AND having nominations from the floor (and committee)?

3) Aw heck--what other arguments are there agains such a mess?

N.B. I do not need confirmation that this is a mess and that the bylaws need to be amended, I need arguments, citations, supporting cleaning up this mess to present to the board.

Thanks in advance.

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Your methods of doing things, per (presumably) your bylaws, are so far removed from RONR's "standard" or baseline that it would take a veritable book to argue against what you do and for a better way.

And guess what: there is such a book, in both a long version (RONR itself) and a "condensed", version (RONRIB). I'd start with RONRIB...

RONRIB:

"Roberts Rules of Order Newly Revised In Brief", Updated Second Edition (Da Capo Press, Perseus Books Group, 2011). It is a splendid summary of all the rules you will really need in all but the most exceptional situations. And only $7.50! You can read it in an evening. Get both RONRIB and RONR (scroll down) at this link.

RONR has more extensive samples of good bylaws, so look there too.

Any questions about RONR, please come back and ask away -- we aren't in a position to interpret your bylaws, however. (RONR is quite enough, thank you very much...)

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Yes, it is clear this is out of line. (I tried to make it clear in my OP that I understood how far out this is.)

If I am to have any success with the board to clean up this mess, I need to be able to show them a better way. For that, I am asking your assistance. I have the book, all several hundred pages, please help me use it effectively and point me in the right direction.

1) How might you suggest I persuade the board, using RONR, that one office assuming another office at election time is not a wise course of action?

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There is RONR, page 457, which goes into some detail about the President Elect position. That seems to be what they're going for with the Secretary will succeed President concept (which I join you at boggling at).

Do you suppose they were originally trying to create a President Elect position, or a Vice President position - was the succession meant to be in the absence of the President only?

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There is RONR, page 457, which goes into some detail about the President Elect position. That seems to be what they're going for with the Secretary will succeed President concept (which I join you at boggling at).

Do you suppose they were originally trying to create a President Elect position, or a Vice President position - was the succession meant to be in the absence of the President only?

I actually suppose that certain employees were trying to influence who is president by influencing the construction of the bylaws in such a way that the employees pick were President.

In other words, I believe the intention was to tie up the Presidency.

The automatic successorship wording was inserted, which besides being undemocratic, creates conflict and ambiguity.

Question:

Are you able to offer helpful arguments/citations I might be able to use to persuade the board that this should be changed?

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Make a motion to form a bylaw committee to review your bylaws, which should be done on a regular basis.

I would suggest that you then present your committee with the difference between the default method in RONR and your association's method, and ask how these changes are working out for your association.

RONR in no way prohibits your Secretary from becoming President, if that is what is in your bylaws, and your bylaws were adopted properly. Likewise, RONR does not prohibit you from bringing forward a change in your bylaws. Do you want term limits? Is the term of office appropriate? Should there be more people on the board? Have those discussions about "what ifs" now, before they actually occur, and before you have to figure out how to deal with them.

Do remove the word "slate", though - RONR does not use that word.

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