chalice with rainbow flame
First Unitarian Universalist Church of Essex County

Original Constitution and By-Laws of the First Unitarian Church of Essex County

[June 1, 1890]

Believing that the cause of pure and rational Christianity may be best served by a Church that is committed to no doctrinal test of membership, we, whose names are subscribed, unite to maintain a Church which shall welcome to its fellowship all sincere seekers after truth who desire to help in promoting intellectual, moral and spiritual growth and culture among men and provide for public religious worship and instruction and such charitable and philanthropic activities as belong to a religious society.

AND WHEREAS a Society has been organized under and in accordance with the Laws of the State of New Jersey under the corporate name of

it is

RESOLVED that the following Constitution and By-Laws be adopted for its government:


ARTICLE 1. This Church shall be open and free to all worshippers.

ARTICLE 2. We associate ourselves together as a Christian Church for the purpose of moral and religious improvement and of promoting truth and righteousness in the world, through the study, practice and diffusion of pure religion, as taught by Jesus of Nazareth; recognizing the right of private judgment and the sacredness of individual conviction, and welcoming all who desire to co-operate with us in our efforts to advance the spiritual welfare and happiness of our fellow men.

ARTICLE 3. Our Church is in connection and sympathy with the body of Unitarian Christians, and in its work co-operates in the general objects of the American Unitarian Association.

ARTICLE 4. All persons who have hitherto been considered members of this Church shall be continued members upon subscribing to the Constitution and By-Laws; but thereafter, persons of any age may be admitted as members upon application to the Pastor or Trustees and signing the Constitution and By-Laws; provided that all additions to the roll of membership shall be entered on the records of the Trustees meetings and that, without such entry of record, the membership shall not be valid; provided, furtherm that no member less than 17 years of age shall be entitled to vote at any meeting of the Church.

ARTICLE 5. A condition of membership shall be that he or she shall co-operate in our worship and work and shall contribute to the funds necessary to the support thereof not less than five ($5.00) dollars per annum; provided, however, that any member of the Society may have any portion of his or her annual contributioin, in excess of five dollars, allowed in payment of the annual contribution of any other member or members of his or her family, upon filing with the Treasurer a written notice of such intention, duly signed and dated; and provided, further, that no person shall lose his ore her right of membership because of absolute inability so to contribute.

ARTICLE 6. Any member may withdraw and cease to be a member of this Church by notifying the Trustees, in writing, of his or her wish to do so; and the Trustees shall, from time to time, erase from the roll the names of persons thus withdrawing, as well as the names of all who have permanently removed from among us or who have ceased to worship with us. They shall also erase the names of those whom the Church, by a majority vote, shall decide to have become disqualified for membership;- and the persons, whose names are thus erased, shall cease to be members of this Church.

ARTICLE 7. The annual meeting of this Church shall be held on the third Monday of March in each year; and at this meeting the Board of Trustees and other officers of the Church shall be elected for the ensuing year.

To constitute a legal meeting not less than fifteen (15) members of the Church must be present and take part in the proceedings; and upon all questions the action of the majority present and voting shall be binding upon the Church, At this meeting the officers of the Church, for the year then past, shall present their reports.

The vote for officers shall be by ballot the majority to elect.

ARTICLE 8. The executive powers of this Church shall be vested in a Board of seven (7) Trustees, members of the Church, who shall hold office for one year, or until their successors have been elected; and these seven Trustees shall elect, from their number, a President and shall appoint a Secretary and a Treasurer, which latter officers shall not necessarily be Trustees.

ARTICLE 9. The pastor shall be, ex officio, a member of the Board of Trustees, and shall be entitled to receive notice of all Board Meetings and to vote on all questions excepting those which shall effect him peronally.

ARTICLE 10. The Trustees may, from time to time and in their discretion, appoint such committees from their own number, or from the Society, as they may deem necessary in the interests of the Church.

ARTICLE 11. In the Board of Trustees shall be vested the real and personal property of the Church, under the Laws of the State of New Jersey; and they shall have power to make contracts for and manage the prudential, temporal and pecuniary affairs of the Church in conformity with the Constitution and By-Laws at the time in force.

But they shall not expend any moneys exceeding five hundred dollars ($500) without the authority of the Church.

ARTICLE 12. The regular meetings of the Board of Trustees shall be held quarterly on the third Monday of the months of March, June, September and December in each year; and special meetings may be held at the call of two or more of the Trustees, At all meetings of the Board five members shall constitute a quorum.

ARTICLE 13. Notice of the annual meeting shall be given from the Pastor's desk fifteen days before the third Monday in March.

Special meetings of the Society may be called by the Trustees, or at the request, in writing, of ten members of the Society, upon notice given from the desk not less than ten days previous to the meeting so called,--the object and business of the meeting being distinctly stated in the call.

ARTICLE 14. The Secretary shall keep, in the books of the Church, correct records of names of members, of business transacted at meetings of the Church and of the Trustees, and copies or abstracts of reports of the Trustees, Treasurer and of the Church Committees.

ARTICLE 15. The Treasurer shall receive and receipt for, and keep in safe deposit, all funds and contributions of and for the support of the Church. He shall keep accurate account of receipts and expenditures and shall report at the regular quarterly neetings of the Trustees, and at least once a year, at the annual meeting of the Society, the actual financial condition of the Church.

ARTICLE 16. The financial year shall begin on the 1st day of March and end the last day of February following.

ARTICLE 17. Three-fourth of the votes of qualified members of the Society, present at a meeting called for the purpose, shall be necessary to the choice or selection of a Pastor.

ARTICLE 18. Alterations or amendments to this Constitution and By-Laws may be made, with the consent of two-thirds of the members present, at an annual meeting of the Church, or at a special meeting thereof, called for the purpose, at which not less than twenty (20) members shall be present;--notice of proposed changes having been duly announced with the call for the meeting at which they shall be considered.