Governance at Bathurst
To foster a more inclusive and less hierarchical organization Bathurst congregation decided to adopt a change in structure and a consensus approach to decision-making.
Under this structure the congregation as a whole took on the responsibilities of the former parish council (church board). All committees and other subsidiary groups report to it directly. The congregation meets four times a year as the governing body and for an annual general meeting at the end of February. Special meetings of the congregation may also be called to address an urgent issue. The congregation may give a committee or other group the authority to make decisions on specific matters.
The standing committees and groups of the congregation include:
The Coordinating Group acts as a hub for inter-committee communication and develops the agenda for congregational meetings. It also keeps an overview of church activities to facilitate the functioning the congregation. Members of the Coordinating Group include the co-chairs, the treasurer or assistant treasurer, representatives from the Communications Group, Pastoral Care Committee, Volunteer and Personnel Committee, and Worship Committee.
The Volunteer and Personnel Committee oversees personnel issues. When the congregation has a minister, V&P provides support. It also finds people to serve on committees or groups or to do specific tasks and takes care of administrative matters.
The Finance Committee is responsible for managing the finances of the congregation. It proposes the annual budget, prepares financial reports, helps fundraising efforts, and administers payments and receipt of funds.
The Worship Committee sets out the themes for our Sunday services over the year and plans individual Sunday or other services. Members of the congregation are invited to be services leaders, lead a reflection, identify hymns, contribute to prayers or readings, and/or participate in other ways.
The Pastoral Care Committee monitors the wellbeing of members and reaches out to members in need to provide support. It also facilitates social and other special gatherings of members. It administers the Community Support Fund. The committee is supported by the Faith Community Nurse and other members.
The Communications Group helps with the service bulletins, newsletter, annual report compilation, paper/electronic info storage and retrieval system, maintains the website and Bathurst’s the profile on social media.
The Representative represents the congregation at Shining Waters Regional Council and participates in activities of the Council as needed. The representative is a vehicle for communication between Bathurst, the Council and the wider United Church.
- CAMH Spiritual Care Team
- Indigenous Rights Solidarity Group
- Middle East Working Group
- Refugee Resettlement Group
The CAMH team promotes openness to conversation about mental health both within Bathurst and in the wider community. It organizes and participates in worship services for clients in two secure units at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).
Representatives participate in the work of the IRSG, a joint committee of Bathurst, Bloor Street and Trinity St Paul’s United Church. They are advocates for Indigenous rights, raise awareness of Indigenous rights issues among Bathurst members, and organise educational events.
The representative(s) contribute to the work of the MEWG, a joint committee of Bathurst, Bloor Street United and Trinity St Paul’s United, to promote peace and justice in Israel/Palestine.
The Refugee Resettlement Group facilitates new refugee sponsorships, mobilizes funds and donations, and provides support to refugees before and after their arrival to Toronto.
The Youth Group holds gatherings for youth where they are involved in discussions and other activities, including study tours.
The Parenting Group brings parents together for evenings of conversation and delicious snacks.
When needed, the congregation will create time-limited groups to assist in certain tasks or activities.
The Spirituality Group provides a place of peace, comfort, and connection and to have a forum where people can bring in their ideas and explore a range of spiritual practices.
The congregation aims to use a consensus building process to arrive at its decisions. Consensus is a process that fosters an atmosphere in which members of the group can share information, discuss differences, learn from each other, and create a solution collectively. It is important for everyone in the group to share responsibility. It invites those who have concerns to bring forward ideas or suggestions to modify the proposal in a way that it meets the objectives of the group.
After an issue, concern, or proposal is presented, the process continues with questions of clarification. Then, a go-round of the people in the room identifies if people support the proposal, have some reservations or have serious concerns. If there are concerns, the group is invited to provide ideas and suggestions.
Once these are considered, they are used to revise the proposal. A second go-round is used to see if some still have reservation or serious concerns. It this continues to be the case, additional suggestions are sought. If more time is needed, the item can be deferred to another meeting, or referred to a small group to come back with a revised proposal at a later time.
If there are no concerns, a final proposal is presented to the group and if all are supportive, consensus has been reached. If some members are not fully supportive but are able to live with the proposal, they step aside. The proposal is then adopted taking note of those that have stepped aside and the reasons why.