The mission of the Professional Association of United Methodist Church Secretaries (PAUMCS) is to provide church secretaries and other administrative professionals a supportive base for unity and fellowship so as to promote individual growth, professional development, continuing education, and spiritual enrichment.
United Methodist Church secretaries provide critical support to congregations across the denomination. Many secretaries are the link that keeps churches functioning well. They provide critical administrative support, ongoing communication between individuals, committees, and constituencies, and continuity in their congregations. The PAUMCS organization and this website were created to serve those extremely “Vital Links.”
PROPOSED BY-LAW CHANGES
Questions and Answers are listed below the letter from Moses Kumar, General Secretary and Treasurer, GCFA
OPEN LETTER TO THE MEMBERSHIP OF
The Professional Association of United Methodist Church Secretaries (PAUMCS)
Re: Changes in the PAUMCS Bylaws
First, I want to thank you.
Your work and witness in The United Methodist Church is part of why our connection of United Methodists works so well. Being in ministry with you is a blessing. Your work – whether in the local church, for an annual conference, or with a general agency – is crucial to the mission and ministry of the Church.
The staff of GCFA who attended the PAUMCS annual conference in Atlanta recently commented on the relevant content, great learning opportunities, and spiritual fellowship. I want to personally thank the Georgia Conference for their very hard work in putting on a great conference.
During the sessions, you heard a great deal about changes in the bylaws that were brought to you by the Executive Committee of PAUMCS and Leticia Mayberry Wright, Assistant Legal Counsel at GCFA. The changes in the bylaws, as Leticia and your Executive Team have explained, clean up some of the legal language that needed to be clarified. Those of us who do not deal in legal terminologies on a daily basis can find it confusing to interpret, but the overall objective is to allow the organization to remain a legitimate 501(c) 3 organization covered under The United Methodist Church Group Ruling from the IRS. Similar changes are being suggested in all the professional organizations that have a relationship with GCFA similar to the one we have with PAUMCS. The review and revision of the by-laws provides the proper legal support for the organization that is warranted by current IRS guidelines that we must follow.
Our role at GCFA is to be a resource to the PAUMCS organization. The advice offered through the PAUMCS Liaison, the consultation with the legal counsels, and the support of the certification classes are all designed to support and undergird the ministry of administration offered through the PAUMCS organization. We view our role with PAUMCS as a customer service to you, the constituents and members of the Professional Association of United Methodist Church Secretaries who work with the Church in your various roles. The objective in this revision of the bylaws – and in other ways – is to support those persons who are actively working in the Church. One of the ways that GCFA is committed to the future of PAUMCS is by providing you with opportunities for professional development as we work together to enhance the certification process and provide additional opportunities.
The PAUMCS organization has grown and developed over the years since it was first begun. I am reminded of a passage of scripture that helps me, personally, in my ministry through administration. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” In my work through several levels of the church and through several professional organizations, I am always reminded that things change. And when you have God directing your path, things will always change for the better. It is our goal to be the support for PAUMCS that helps direct it toward growth and positive change.
You will hear more from your Executive Committee about the process and procedure for reviewing and voting on the changes to the current by-laws. Please contact Leticia Mayberry Wright if you have any questions related to the legal terminology contained in the bylaws.
General Secretary and Treasurer
The General Council on Finance and Administration
Questions and Answers:
- I have begun reading the proposed changes to the bylaws.
I don’t understand why volunteer local church secretaries will not be allowed to be members of PAUMCS. Many of our smaller churches have volunteer secretaries who have enjoyed and benefited from the gatherings we have held for the local church support staff. I would not like to say to folks because you volunteer you are unable to be a member of the national organization. And if they cannot be a member of the national organization, can they be members of a local chapter?
I am also wondering why retired members are no longer able to be members of PAUMCS.
Thank you for getting back to me with the reasoning behind these proposed changes to eligibility for membership.
- Thank you for asking about the changes. You are right. There are several local church secretaries that are volunteers and they matter! I do know that they are associated with local chapters of PAUMCS and are involved and enjoy the gatherings. I do not want to lose these secretaries. I know how much they bring to PAUMCS.Change is happening all over our world. It is never easy to accept. Things are changing within organizations and PAUMCS is one of them. I feel this change has been coming for several years with PAUMCS and GCFA. Now with all the IRS regulations and our bylaws needing to be updated to reflect that and have the appropriate wording, the time is here.I know it is sad to not have our volunteers and retirees as members, but this does not mean they cannot still be a part of this great organization. They are more than welcome to be with the local chapters and be members of that chapter and they are more than welcome to come to the conferences and attend the workshops. We will not turn them away. I will be retiring in just a few years, but I intend to keep up with all the friendships I have made around the world because of my involvement in this organization.Please know that I am sorry about these changes, but I feel they need to be brought forward and we need to continue our association with GCFA. PAUMCS was organized in 1982 in Dallas, TX and had a small group of people in attendance and had yearly workshops just like now from 1982 – 1984 and had a small attendance (around 36) until 1985 when GCFA recognized us as a Professional group of the United Methodist Church and the certification class was in the works. There were 136 in attendance at that workshop in Georgia.Thank you again and I hope I have helped you in some way.
- I am only reading that the Executive Committee and the nominating committee must be Certified Secretaries, not that all standing committee members must be certified. But that was already there. The GCFA attorneys did not change that.
- They changed from 3 must be certified to all. If you are on nominations, you must agree that it would be helpful to know what certification is all about.
- I am not in favor of many of these changes either. Further, yes we can be on our own, but that takes time. IT CAN’T BE DONE OVERNIGHT. We only have one more week to vote on these changes as presented and if we vote “NO” we will lose our tax exempt status immediately and we don’t have anything in place.
- I have talked with a lawyer and he has seen our present bylaws and our proposed bylaws and he says that he cautions us to consider going out on our own because of having all the paperwork and getting liability insurance. We would need to have someone directing us in the proper way. It would take a period of time and we may be required to incorporate. We could go through a lot of money in trying to go on our own. It is easier to amend the bylaws.
- My personal opinion is that we vote ”YES” and that would give us the time we need to be able to have further discussions on this matter and it will give us time to apply for our own 501(c)3 if we decide to do that. I’m also very surprised at some of the changes that our Executive Committee approved (the ones not in yellow), such as retired members.
- We did agree to present these bylaws to the body and let you vote. These changes in red, I am sure will be talked about and revisited in the future. As far as retirees and volunteers – This does not mean they cannot be a part of the organization and attend the conferences and be in a local chapter. We will not send them away. I am sad about the retirees and volunteers too, and I will become one of them in the next few years, but I do know that our mission statement is to provide church secretaries and other administrative professionals a supportive base for unity and fellowship as so promote individual growth, professional development, continuing education and spiritual enrichment.
- The only changes “set in stone” are the ones in yellow. I think we should have been able to discuss those changes not in yellow at our business meeting. I also feel that something is not quite right, but let’s not be hasty and vote no.
- You know how hard the Georgia Chapter worked on this conference to be presented and when we were asked to present this change in bylaws, I knew we did not have the time to include it in the schedule. If we had discussed this it would have been a long session and there was not the time. I really wanted the membership to be upbeat and enjoy this conference. You saw how long the business meeting went – can you imagine how long it would have been with bylaws discussion? That is why we have given all the 30 day notice and time to ask questions at the email address. firstname.lastname@example.org
- How much in dollar amount does the GCFA support PAUMCS. I know they help with certification school and with the winter trip. Can you tell me how much that amount is? and is there other things they help with financially?
- GCFA contributed approximately $27k in financial support to PAUMCS last year. This does not include the GCFA staffs’ salary for maintaining PAUMCS membership, database, legal support, and meeting/certification planning. Our main contributions, as of now, include the January meeting and PAUMCS certification class.
- Why does GCFA have to have a 60% voice in our decisions? and why do they want to approve or disapprove who is elected. I looked under IRS rules and that doesn’t have anything to do with keeping our non profit status.
- Group Rulings have different requirements than applications directly to the IRS. For inclusion in the United Methodist Group Ruling, an organization must have at least 60% of its board elected by an organic structure of the church (a local church, district, annual conference, or agency).
- Will we get an official email that says to vote and by what date?
- Yes – Tish sent out a notice last week that included instructions. An email ballot will be email to you and you will simply reply “yes” or “no”.
- I am very concerned specifically with the change to not allow retirees to maintain membership in National PAUMCS. Please tell me what is the reason for this? I have been a member of both Georgia and National PAUMCS since 2008. I will be retiring in August 2015 but would like to continue my membership with National. I am praying you will reconsider this change.
- This change seems to be of the most concern and I know change is hard. I am sure this will be talked about and visited in the near future. It is not the intention to hurt or disrespect anyone.Please remember our mission statement: to provide church secretaries and other administrative professionals a supportive base for unity and fellowship as to promote individual growth, professional development, continuing education and spiritual enrichment. Also, I feel that GCFA wants to support those persons who are actively working in the Church. I feel that GCFA is committed to the future of PAUMCS with making certification even better and offering PAUMCS other opportunities. I have been a member of PAUMCS since 1995 and I will be retiring in just a few years as well. I know how you feel about keeping your membership, but as far as I am concerned if this change is one that does not get changed back, I will continue my relationship with all the wonderful women I have been friends with for years. They have changed my life and made my ministry within the United Methodist Church so meaningful. I would not have worked in my church for 28 years if not for PAUMCS. I will attend the conferences when I can and I will remain a member of my local chapter for as long as I can. I will stay on the Prayer Net so I will know all about my sisters in the gospel. I know change can be hurtful, but I also know that change can be what we make it. This change will assure our association with GCFA and they will work alongside us as our support.
- My concern is, IF PAUMCS chose to separate from GCFA, what would the purpose of certification be at that point? I understand that I will gain knowledge from attending this summer, but what follow up would there be? What would the benefit be without GCFA? Would we be able to continue certification classes?
- I am so glad you are attending the certification class this summer. I think you are in for a treat this year in certification class. They have planned some new things to enhance the learning experience. You will gain knowledge and bring home so many great ideas for your job! You will still be able to get some good follow up from your certification class and best of all you will graduate in Wichita with flying colors and maybe while going down the “Yellow Brick Road”!These are some very good and tough questions and not being able to see into the future I will just have to guess. If we go out on our own, we as an organization would have to check into a certification class. Not sure if it would be like the class we have now where it is all about the operations of the United Methodist Church or maybe we would go in a whole new direction for our members. Not having GCFA to support us, we would be on our own using the money we have now to help with certification. (GCFA provides the cost for this class and also offers scholarships to help the students with the their cost. There is a teacher that GCFA provides.) I really can’t think of a benefit without GCFA, but there are other organizations that we could connect with to help, but it would not be the same. We are already in place here with GCFA with certification. I know these changes are hard for everyone and no matter how the vote goes, PAUMCS will not operate the same as it has done in the past. But if we stay with GCFA, we will have the support of the United Methodist Church and our certification classes will be in place.
- I am only reading that the Executive Committee and the nominating committee must be Certified Secretaries, not that all standing committee members must be certified. But that was already there. The GCFA attorneys did not change that.
They changed from 3 must be certified to all. If you are on nominations, you must agree that it would be helpful to know what certification is all about.”
- The only change was for nominations that all must be certified – not members of all standing committees.
- Are all committee members required to be certified? No If so, must they be current certification and why? Even at this last conference, I noticed members who were not able to maintain their certification status for whatever reason. They have gone through the process and know what certification is about, why would that prevent them from being a committee member?
- This would not prevent them from being on a standing committee, just not on the Executive Committee or nominations committee. I had concerns at the conference as well as members were coming up to me saying I lost my certification and how can I get it back? The Executive Committee and our GCFA Liaison, Natalie Schuette, discussed this at our meeting after the conference. We are working on a way to help those who have lost their certification with ways to bring their certification up to date or if necessary be re-certified. The way this would happen, we should be able to keep the cost down. This would be monitored by GCFA. I am hoping we will be able to help our members with this concern.
- It is stated on the PAUMCS website that GCFA contributed approximately $27k in financial support to PAUMCS last year; main contributions, as of now, include the January meeting and PAUMCS certification class. How much does the January meeting cost? What is included in that cost? How much does the certification class cost? What is included in that cost? Please provide a detailed budget for both the January meeting and the certification class.
- GCFA would be happy to answer this questions at a later date. Right now, the staff at GCFA are involved in several meetings concerning the GCFA board. Thank you for your patience.
- It is also stated on the PAUMCS website that ‘Group Rulings have different requirements than applications directly to the IRS. For inclusion in the United Methodist Group Ruling, an organization must have at least 60% of its board elected by an organic structure of the church (a local church, district, annual conference, or agency).’ Please provide a copy of United Methodist Group Ruling.
- I have attached a copy of the Group Ruling for you to review at your own convenience. Group Ruling Application (Category II Organizations) Updated Feb 2015
- It is further stated on the PAUMCS website: “I have talked with a lawyer and he has seen our present bylaws and our proposed bylaws and he says that he cautions us to consider going out on our own because of having all the paperwork and getting liability insurance. We would need to have someone directing us in the proper way. It would take a period of time and we may be required to incorporate. We could go through a lot of money in trying to go on our own.” What is the name and contact information of the lawyer that the person spoke to?
- The lawyer’s contact information is and will remain confidential out of respect to his/her privacy. The Executive Committee will not be sharing the contact information of said attorney since they are not on retainer for PAUMCS, nor GCFA. The lawyer was contacted by an Executive Committee member and expressed their opinion as a courtesy. Please feel free to contact your own attorney to help you with your decision.
- What paperwork is involved to file for our own tax exempt status? What period of time would it take? What is the cost?
- Please review the following link at your convenience: http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Application-Process
- What is the cost of liability insurance (which we do not currently have and which PAUMCS will need to obtain regardless of tax exempt status)?
- The executive committee is not aware of this exact cost. We believe it would be an advantage staying under GCFA for this cost. Please feel free to contact your tax assessor for this question.
- What is cost of incorporation? Is there an issue with incorporating?
- Please review the IRS link above concerning tax exempt status to find your answer.
- “If you are on nominations, you must agree that it would be helpful to know what certification is all about.” How does know what certification is all about affect the work of the nominations committee?
- In the present bylaws, we are requiring that 3 members must be GCFA certified. There must have been some significant reason that 3 were to be certified. As a professional organization it would be advantageous for us to consider only having certified members on the nominations committee. Certification plays a big part of the training that these members will have when the nominations committee is looking at their qualifications. Not to mention that the nominations committee will know what it is like going through the certification classes and keeping your certification. Therefore they can recommend these candidates for nomination knowing that they have been through certification and know that they have kept their certification.
- Since the changes indicated in red do not deal with the tax exempt issue, why are they included in the proposed changes?
- We can look at these proposed changes in the near future.
- Who is eligible to vote on the proposed bylaw changes?
- All members in good standing having their 2015 dues paid by May 31st, 2015.
- What criteria is being used to determine eligibility?
- They must be a member of PAUMCS in good standing and have their 2015 dues paid on the day the ballot goes out, June 1, 2015.
- Who will be counting the votes?
- That has not yet been determined. The Executive Committee will have that information in the email sent out with the results of the ballot.
- When will the results be known to the members of PAUMCS?
- The results will be posted on the webpage the next day after the ballots are counted.
- This was posted as a response to the membership question re the bylaws. I’m confused. If retirees aren’t allowed to be members, how can they remain on PrayerNet and Linking Hands, both of which are members-only perks? “I will stay on the Prayer Net so I will know all about my sisters in the gospel.” Are those requirements going to be lifted? Or won’t all the discontinued membership cancel the membership of those lists as well?
- Linking Hands is the only list that is purged. You do have to be a member to be on Linking Hands. I know it has a trial run for the new attendees of conferences, but they will be taken off if they do not join. It was decided several years back that this could be a perk for membership.
- The email list for Prayer Net is not purged and this list will not be. You can be on Prayer Net even if you are not a member. This email list is very long and that is why Janette and Sherry split the duties. It was said that past members that may not be able to keep up their membership wanted to be able to keep up with all the concerns of their friends. I think that the Executive Committee at that time decided that Prayer should be free. Prayer Net is not a members only perk. Not sure if it has ever been.
- What date will this information be available?
- We may not know the detailed budget. This takes time and staff to get this done. If one is provided, it will be later in June. The bottom line according to the financial department is approximately $27K.
- Perhaps my original request for a copy of the United Methodist Group Ruling was unclear. The answer given was a link to the APPLICATION to apply for the group ruling. My request is for a copy of the United Methodist Group Ruling from the IRS. In other words, the document the IRS provided to the UMC. This should not be difficult to obtain as it should be in the UMC’s records.
- Attached is a copy of the UMC IRSGroupRuling. This may not cover all you need. The Executive Committee has been told the IRS has made some changes that GCFA now is trying to implement and organizations that would not be eligible under the new application are being asked to update their documents or apply directly to the IRS so GCFA can show it is trying to do what the IRS requires. If you feel this does not answer what you need, you could go online and look at the Secretary of State of Tennessee or visit the IRS webpage and search for Exempt Organization Branch.
- WHY does GCFA feel these changes are necessary?
- The Executive Committee will refer you back to the letter personally written to the membership by Moses Kumar. Please re-read it and if you have another question, please send it personally to Moses. He has said he is there to help.
- The President stated on Facebook “These changes are tough and a lot of us don’t know why they have to happen.” Why does the president believe ‘they have to happen’?
- There will always be change, not just in PAUMCS, but in the world and in our workplaces and change will happen, if not now, it will later. These changes are tough, but we can deal with these and discuss them further in the near future.
- “The Executive Team only brought the recommendation to the full membership. We have not endorsed or denied them in anyway, and the body will make the vote.” According to the current bylaws, the Executive Committee must recommend the changes to the membership. If the Executive Committee has not done so, why were the changes brought to the membership?
- As you know by being on the Executive Committee, we had planned to present the bylaw changes in Wichita, but we found out that time was of the essence. As the Executive Committee of a professional organization, we voted to present the changes to the membership as our bylaws say for a 30 day period to be voted on at the end of that period.
- As stated by the president on Facebook “We know that it will be different in the elections and having all certified secretaries on the slate of officers, and I have read your concerns, but some have to know that this can be a good thing too.” Please explain this further.
- If you will look at the history of PAUMCS, we grew when certification classes began in 1986. GCFA came on board with PAUMCS in 1984 and was the sponsor of the certification classes. Certification classes bring learning, closeness and fellowship to all our members. We learn together and we become closer as an organization. We can help those who are not certified or are thinking about certification. Knowing that the Executive Committee are Certified United Methodist Church Secretaries/Administrative Assistants is a good thing. They can recommend certification to all and answer questions to help those candidates further their learning process.
- Also stated by the president on Facebook: ‘You are also concerned about not including retirees and volunteers as members. We are all sad about this as well and I know this will be talked about and this issue visited in the near future.’ Why is it necessary to make these changes to membership if ‘this will be talked about and this issue visited in the near future’?
- I have answered this question in the above question.
- As stated by the president: I would like for you to remember our mission statement: to provide church secretaries and other administrative professionals a supportive base for unity and fellowship as so promote individual growth, professional development, continuing education and spiritual enrichment.’ Does this mean that the Executive committee believes that volunteers and retirees do not need a supportive base for unity and fellowship, individual growth, professional development, continuing education or spiritual enrichment?
- The Executive Committee values these members and know what they bring to PAUMCS and we also know what the secretaries that are presently employed need and what they bring to this organization and that is why we will be looking at this proposed change in the bylaws in the near future.
- It is further stated on the PAUMCS website: “I have talked with a lawyer and he has seen our present bylaws and our proposed bylaws and he says that he cautions us to consider going out on our own because of having all the paperwork and getting liability insurance. We would need to have someone directing us in the proper way. It would take a period of time and we may be required to incorporate. We could go through a lot of money in trying to go on our own.” Please define ‘a lot of money’.
- I think this is self explanatory. A lot of money means – things are not cheap and money is required to accomplish want we need to do.
- Does the entire Executive Committee know the name of the lawyer and has each member seen the opinion?
- Has this lawyer provided a WRITTEN opinion?
- Please make that available so that we can all see the lawyer’s reasoning.
- If you require a WRITTEN opinion, then you need to get a lawyer that will provide you an opinion so you can make an informed decision for yourself.
- Will GCFA pay for the liability insurance for PAUMCS?
- Maybe, this is something that will be looked into and if not, cost could be cheaper being in a group policy.
- Is the Executive Committee considering incorporation?
- Not at this time.
- If not, why not?
- The Executive Committee will need more time to check into this.