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The minimum essential officers in any deliberative assembly are the presiding officer or chair, and the secretary.  In addition, the board of a local church needs to have a treasurer, due to its role as the “Board of Directors” of a charitable organization.

It is important that all of the officers of the board be spiritually mature individuals with the ability to see their roles as those of servant-leaders.  See ¶630.3.3

¶372.2.1  Chair

As indicated in ¶325.2.1, the official board shall elect a chair and vice-chair from among its lay members.  The relationship between the senior pastor and board, and the rationale for having a layperson chair the board, are outlined in more detail below. It must be remembered that in Free Methodism, the senior pastor, appointed by the conference, is to function as the over-all team leader for the leaders of the church.

The primary duties of the chair are to serve the board by preparing the draft agenda for meetings, to preside over the meetings, and to ensure due process, by following and enforcing the appropriate parliamentary procedure.  The vice-chair assumes the chair when the chairperson is not able to be present or the chairperson vacates the chair.

When a person is elected by the board to serve as its chair, it is important that he/she has the full confidence and support of the board.  A wise chair will recognize that the board may change its chairperson if at any time this confidence is lost.  It is very important that the lay chairperson recognizes that his/her role is to be a servant of the board, assisting the whole board in carrying out its task.  To preserve the unity of the board, the position carries no authority outside of the role of presiding over board meetings.  The chair does not speak for the board, except at the request and direction of the board.  The chair is not responsible for supervising or directing the senior pastor or any other staff.  The pastor/staff does not report to the chair; they are responsible to the board as a whole.

In developing the board agenda, the lay chair will need to work closely with the senior pastor and committee chairpersons to determine the items that need to be reported or included on the agenda.

¶372.2.2           Secretary

The secretary is the officer of the board responsible for the care and keeping of the official records of the society and board.  This includes:

    • Keeping accurate, clear minutes of the proceedings of meetings of the society and official board. The minutes should provide a clear record of the date and time of the meeting, the type of meeting, and the members present.  They should provide a clear record of all reports presented, and all main motions and their disposition. Recording the names of the movers and seconders and the number of votes pro and con is optional. It is not necessary to record all secondary motions (such as motions to amend, table, postpone) except where necessary for completeness or clarity (e.g. motions to refer). The secretary should ensure that draft minutes are distributed to Board members before the next meeting and that the record, or file copy of the minutes are signed immediately after approval.  It is important that all signed record copies be kept in a complete master file.
    • Maintaining records of all of the by-laws adopted by the society and policies adopted by the board.
    • Keeping a file of official committee reports presented to the board in writing.
    • Keeping a file of all official correspondence received by or originated from the board or society.
    • Ensuring that the membership records of the society are accurate and current.
    • Ensuring that baptismal, marriage and death records are accurate and in a safe place for historical and legal reference.
    • Ensuring that all members receive proper notice of annual and special society meetings.More detailed information on the role of the secretary, and the recording of minutes can be found in Robert’s Rules of Order.

¶372.2.3           Treasurer

The treasurer is the officer of the board responsible for the overall administration of the financial assets of the church, as directed by the official board and finance committee. This position should not be confused with that of the bookkeeper or accountant.  The treasurer is an officer of the organization, and has the authority to sign legal and business documents relating to financial matters on behalf of the church.  For example, the treasurer will be recognized as representing the church in financial matters by Canada Revenue Agency (filing of Income Tax forms, Registered Charity Information Returns, approval of Charitable Tax Receipts) or by financial institutions (signing for various financial transactions).

In many churches, the treasurer will keep the financial records (act as the bookkeeper).  In some cases, a church may hire a part-time bookkeeper, or a volunteer may serve as the bookkeeper.  In these cases, the treasurer will supervise the bookkeeper, ensuring that board policies are followed, and ensure that overall financial assets are appropriately managed.  The treasurer may chair or alternately be an ex-officio member of, the finance committee.

It is important that the treasurer be spiritually mature, with a vision for the ministries of the church. He/she must have the wisdom to understand that the financial assets of the church are only important as tools to further those ministries, and not important in their own right. In addition he/she should have good financial management and organizational skills.

Because of the complexities of operating as a charitable organization, it would be wise for the board to ensure that there is only one bookkeeper within the church, and that only one set financial records are kept.  The practice of having separate books for various organizations (e.g. youth, women’s ministries) should be discouraged.  The church has a single registration as a charitable organization with Canada Revenue Agency. Operation with more than one set of books, and more than one bookkeeper, presents risks that may ultimately lead to revocation of the church’s charitable registration number.