United Thank Offering

UTO 2024 Bylaws Changes

May 31, 2024
United Thank Offering

By Sherri Dietrich, UTO Board President

Every three years UTO reviews and revises all its governing documents to best reflect current operations and realities. The most recent revisions to our bylaws were approved by Executive Council at its April meeting and have gone into immediate effect. Most of the changes are simply “housekeeping” changes, such as removing redundancies and moving around responsibilities, but I will explain two of the more significant changes and the reasoning behind them here to keep UTO’s functioning as open and transparent as possible and prevent misunderstandings.

The UTO Board has always included committees, but the work of those committees has changed significantly over the years and especially since online meetings and activity became the norm for our work. Our current committees are Formation and Outreach, Grants, and Finance and Archives. We have been working in these committees for the past few months, and this division and structure of the Board’s labor is working well to increase broad-based ownership of our work and encourage more active engagement and opportunities for contributions from every Board member. UTO Board members have so many skills and interests, and we want every member to be able to contribute their gifts to UTO’s work.

The other notable change is in the selection and appointment of UTO Board members. The new bylaws state, “The membership shall be selected as follows: election or appointment from provincial synod meetings, election or appointment by provincial Episcopal Church Women (ECW) where ECW operates at a diocesan level in two-thirds of the dioceses within the province, or through direct application to and selection by the Board.” 

This is simply a change in the precedence of the selecting bodies from our previous bylaws, making election/appointment by provincial synod meetings rather than provincial ECW boards the primary method for UTO Board member selection. The order of Board membership selection has been rearranged to ensure representation of the complete membership of the church. UTO has been designated as a ministry to the whole church (rather than strictly a women’s ministry) since 1967, and this bylaws change acknowledges that status. During the pandemic, when Triennial was not held, many new Board members were appointed through the provincial synods, which allowed for broader representation. Additionally, ECW does not represent nonbinary or male individuals, which means that allowing ECW to be the sole pathway for election excludes many UTO members. By holding elections through the provincial synod, it is our hope that UTO members, ECW members, and those interested in the spiritual discipline of gratitude will have a transparent way of being elected to represent their province on the UTO Board, similar to the way Executive Council provincial representatives are selected. Although UTO leaders are largely still women, UTO welcomes all Episcopalians’ participation in UTO leadership and UTO membership/participation. The current bylaws make that clear and provide a broader path into the future of UTO Board leadership. While these bylaw changes take effect immediately, the 2024-2027 Board has already been elected and will begin their positions after General Convention. Please be on the lookout in 2026 for an application and a process for applying to the UTO Board for the 2027-2030 triennium. If you would like to read the current bylaws or any of the governing documents for UTO, you can find them all here.

The Rev. Cn.
Heather Melton

Staff Officer for the United Thank Offering

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