Spiritual Communities exist to give expression to Source, to create the space for spiritual self-discovery and evolution, and to touch the greater world in compassionate and healing ways. The idea of governance in spiritual community can be uncomfortable and is sometimes seen as unspiritual. I would say that governance can be a spiritual practice when engaged intentionally and aligned with best practices.
For me this begins with a continual acknowledgement that there is only One Presence and One Power. There is only God/Source/Spirit. Nothing stands outside of that Presence – including how we govern. I believe that most spiritual communities use prayer in their meetings, AND governance as spiritual practice is more than this. To embrace governance as spiritual practice we need to listen deeply to Spirit and to one another. It entails creating containers where we can be fully present and learn and grow together. In means infusing our work with deep respect and love for one another – especially when there is tension or conflict in the air. And, it entails honoring our governing documents in the way we conduct.
The primary governing document for a spiritual community is the bylaws. The bylaws are a legally binding document between the members and the leadership. They define the rights and privileges of the members, the board, and the spiritual leader/minister, providing a clear articulation of the parameters of authority and a system of checks and balances. The bylaws also include the process for calling and conducting meetings, and the process for expressing concerns.
To support our ministries in governing well, Unity Canada has created two sets of guidelines for our communities to refer to:
Membership Meeting Guidelines
Rights and Responsibilities of Ministry Members, Boards, and Minister/Spiritual Leaders
We encourage you to familiarize yourselves with these documents and utilize them as part of your spiritual practice. We also encourage you to know your bylaws and to review/revise every 3-5 years. If you have questions or need coaching about governance as a spiritual practice, please reach out to me. I would be delighted to assist you.