Church Governance and Organizational Structure
Plymouth leverages a traditional Congregational model in its church governance. We have a 12-member elected Board of Directors called the Church Council, of which the President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer serve as the Executive Committee. Membership terms are three years, with approximately one-third of Council terms expiring annually. Our Senior Minister is a voting participant on both the Council and the Executive Committee. Both the Council and the Executive Committee meet monthly. Both groups are currently well-led, well-organized and operate with a spirit of teamwork and a sense of common mission. Meetings are focused and generally do not stray far from the designated agenda. The tenor is open, welcoming, warm, and respectful. It is a group of people who genuinely enjoy one another’s company and take seriously the governing task at hand. During 2011 Plymouth realized that its growth in membership and ministries, while a blessing, was overwhelming its administrative and pastoral organization. A task force was formed to study the situation and recommend a structure that would better serve Plymouth. A management consultant, MiddleEdge, was engaged to help us assess our needs and develop a strategy for moving forward. Ultimately, the church adopted and implemented a framework that addresses Plymouth’s needs, resources, and facilities management. The membership and the Council are now able to focus more on God’s work and less on the running of Plymouth.
As a result of the work of the Management Task Force of 2011–2012:
- The church reorganized its administrative team with a higher-skilled role for an Executive Director, whom it hired.
- The church created and hired a full-time paid Financial Controller to perform what had formerly been a volunteer role.
- The church hired a new Superintendant of Buildings and Grounds (a live-in sexton who manages our team of custodians)
- Other roles were redefined for clarity and optimization.
- The church adopted a ministry and task force structure to carry out its missions internally and externally. (Ministries are created where there is consistent, deep, ongoing interest and participation on the part of the church membership. Task forces are created for essential initiatives that are temporary in nature. When a task force completes its work and submits its findings and recommendation to Council, it is then disbanded.)
- Our bylaws were updated to reflect these changes. The membership adopted the revised bylaws at our 2014 annual meeting.
- The Council is now able to focus on policy and decision matters.
Our four-member pastoral staff at Plymouth consists of the Senior Minister, the Assistant Minister, the Minister of Family and Children’s Services, and the Minister of Music. It is also the norm for Plymouth to have a Seminary Intern at any given time. During the current interim period, the former Assistant Minister leads Plymouth as Interim Senior Minister. (In keeping with conventional practice and our commitment to a defined interim process, the current interim minister is not candidating for a position on the ministerial staff.) We have also hired a part-time Interim Assistant Minister to fill the role vacated when our seminary intern left in June. The Council has committed to the continued funding of a full-time Assistant Minister position as an act of faith and to support our new Senior Minister once he or she is settled.
The Church is administered by an overall staff of 18. The administration staff reports to the Senior Minister and is headed by the Executive Director and includes a Chief Financial Officer, a Director of Communications and our Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds, who lives on the premises and manages our team of custodians. In addition, Plymouth Church School is managed by 3 administrators working with 17 teachers.
Ministries and other programming, as described in detail earlier, are managed and led either by volunteering members of the congregation within a framework of ministry teams or by full-time Plymouth staff. All ministry teams have a liaison from the pastoral or administrative staff, meet regularly, apply to the Council annually for their funding, and are essentially self-governed. They report to and are responsible to the Council. Ministries can be formed and discontinued based on the interest and commitment of congregants.
With a solid organizational structure in place, with administrative staff leadership positions filled by strong and talented individuals, and with an in-depth facilities assessment completed, the Council is now focusing its effort on the vision for Plymouth over the next five to 50 years. It is an exciting time for a new Senior Minister to join this group and help guide this work.