"How to Amend Bylaws"

How do you amend bylaws? See information below.

What are bylaws?

Bylaws are rules made by a company/organization/church or society to control the actions of its members. Also, a regulation made by a local authority; an ordinance.

Simply put, your Church Bylaws are considered a legal document that dictates how your organization must be governed. If your Church Board doesn't follow the stipulations of what is outlined in your Church Bylaws it can have devastating consequences to your church/organization and even the board members themselves. Since bylaws are such a huge deal, it stands to reason that what they contain and how they are used should be taken very seriously.

How to amend bylaws continued. Amendments to the bylaws are extremely important in cases such as a law changes that might effect the way your church effectively does their business. In these cases it's often necessary to amend your bylaws as soon as possible.

How do we amend bylaws?

  • Review Bylaws - Look to see what it states as the procedure. Remember just because the Robert's Rules of Order gives a procedure that doesn't mean that your bylaws should give the same procedure.
  • Discuss Amendments - After discussing how the bylaws are going to be amended, write down what bylaw you want changed and how you want it worded. Check with several people in the organization and have them read it. Does the proposed changes make sense? Does the change affect other bylaws in the organization? If so, how? Does other changes need to be proposed if bylaw change is adopted? If so, word the change carefully and completely.
  • Previous Notice - In most instances, it requires previous notice and two-thirds vote to amend the bylaws. Depending on your church or organization, they might allow for a very different procedure such as by a unanimous vote of those present. What does your bylaw state regarding correct previous notice? Can it be sent in the mail with a call to meeting? Does it have to go to a Bylaw Committee or Board of Directors first for review or can you present it directly to the membership?
  • When giving previous notice, state which bylaw you want to amend. If its going out in the call to the meeting write the bylaw as it now stands naming the Article and Section, and then state the proposed amendment and how it would read if amended.
  • In giving previous notice at a meeting, have the proposed amendment written out and give a copy to the secretary and include in the minutes. Remember once the notice has been given, members at the next meeting can't amend it beyond the scope of the notice. Simply put, if the amendment is proposed and open for discussion at the next meeting no one could propose an amendment to the amendment. This protects the rights of the absent members.
  • Give Notice in Writing - Robert's Rules of Order recommends that if a notice is required to be in writing, it would have to be signed by a seconder so the membership knows that at least two people want to discuss it and there is no wasted time by only one person who is interested in the proposal.
  • During the Meeting - Normally, the bylaw amendment is presented under New Business on the meeting agenda. A member must present the proposed amendment and will need a motion and second. It will then be placed before the assembly by restating the proposed amendment and asks for discussion. The proposed amendment is considered a main motion and both primary and secondary amendments are allowed. The vote taken should be a counted vote and should be recorded in the minutes (how many voted for it and how many voted against it). The Bylaw Amendment will be effective immediately unless the members adopt a proviso (incidental motion) for it to take effect at a later time. 
  • Meeting Minutes - It's extremely important how the secretary writes this in the minutes. The secretary should write the original bylaw in the minutes and then the proposed amendment and who proposed it. Also, record how it was worded, when it was adopted,  and numerical vote - Example: "12 voted in the affirmative and 6 in the negative." "There was a two-thirds vote in the affirmative and the bylaw amendment was adopted."
  • Final Step - When the bylaws are amended, record at the bottom of the page amended the date that it was amended.

The most convenient and organized way to keep your bylaws updated are to have them on a computer disc where you can easily print them and then put them in a 3 ring binder. This will make it easier to make changes or amend bylaws.

Click Here for a Sample Church Bylaws and Guidelines you can use as a guide or tool to create one for your church or organization.

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