The Tower Handbook

7.9: Example constitution

You may find this example useful as a source of ideas in drawing up a constitution to suit your own circumstances. The plain text you could copy if appropriate, words bracketed <like this> are purely for illustration, comments are in italics.

1 Name

The Society shall be known as the <All Saints Anytown Society of Bellringers>.

2 Objectives

The aims of the Society shall be:

a)To glorify God by the ringing of bells.

b)To ensure the bells of <All Saints Anytown> are rung for all major services.

c)To advance the quality of ringing at <All Saints church>.

You could add a clause about playing a role in other aspects of church life, but you do not need to.

3 Affiliation

The Society shall be affiliated to the <CathedralCity Diocesan Guild of Church Bellringers> and shall support the objectives of the <Guild>. You do not have to affiliate. In many towers members merely join as individuals. Conversely you may wish to affiliate to more than one association if your situation makes this appropriate. Your association rules may impose constraints for tower affiliation, eg that your members should belong to the association.

4 Officers

The officers of the society shall be: (a) <Tower captain>, (b) <Deputy captain>, (c) <Secretary/Treasurer>, (d) <Steeple Keeper>. These are only illustrations, see section 7.2f for other possible ways to combine jobs.

5 General meetings

An Annual General Meeting (AGM) shall be held each year in <January> chaired by the <Rector of All Saints Church> or his/her nominee.

All officers shall retire at each AGM. They shall be eligible for re-election but any one term of office shall not normally exceed <three years>. You do not have to include a time limit, but see section 7.2i-j.

An Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) may be called upon 14 days notice (a) by the officers or (b) by request of a simple majority of the members.

Casual vacancies among the officers shall be filled by calling an EGM.

6a Membership

We have included two example versions of clause 6. 6a is quite complicated because it involves affiliation to a ringing association. The wording of 6a links association membership with tower membership. Where there is a tradition of 100% membership of the association, this presents no problems. In other places association membership is not expected and affiliation is less appropriate. The wording in 6b is simpler, with no association links.

New members of the Society shall be elected by a simple majority vote at an AGM or EGM. Between such meetings the officers shall be empowered to grant membership to ringers who are eligible, subject to ratification at the next AGM.

The following shall be eligible for membership:

a)Ordinary members of <The Guild> who pay their subscriptions to the <Guild> through the Society.

b)Life and Honorary members of the Guild who register their membership through the Society.

c)Any regular Sunday service ringer at <All Saints Church> who is not a member of the Guild.

(a) and (b) would permit members who have to give up ringing for a time, but continue to live locally and to be members of the Guild to remain members of the society. (c) would permit ringers who have moved into the area and are not yet members of the Guild to become members by ringing regularly for services.

A member who claims eligibility under (a) above shall not be entitled to vote or attend General Meetings until his or her <Guild> subscription for the current year has been paid to the Secretary/Treasurer. This clause encourages prompt payment. If the treasurer pays the tower subscriptions on time to the Guild, the tower funds would be outstanding by the amount of any defaulter.

6b Membership

This simpler version of clause 6 assumes no affiliation:

New members of the Society shall be elected by a simple majority vote at an AGM or EGM. Between such meetings the officers shall be empowered to grant membership to ringers who are eligible, subject to ratification at the next AGM.

Any regular service ringer at <All Saints Church> shall be eligible for membership.

Members shall pay <an annual> subscription of <£x>. Only include this if you charge a membership fee.

7 Termination

Membership shall terminate:

a)Upon a member giving written notice to that effect to the Secretary/Treasurer,

b)Upon ceasing to be eligible for membership under (a), (b) or (c) above. Only use this with 6a.

c)Upon failure to pay the annual subscription. Only use this if you have one.

You may wish to add other reasons for termination, eg failure to ring for service for a specified number of months or inappropriate conduct. But do not attempt to be too draconian. The Society is a Christian organisation.

8 Finance

The Society shall hold and maintain its own funds. These shall be owned jointly by the members and shall not be part of church funds. The church must be agree this.

The officers shall be empowered to open and maintain a bank or building society account, any one Officer's signature being sufficient authority for withdrawal. For example, a single signature is more practical if you have to withdraw money from a Building Society rather than writing cheques. Two signatures provides more protection against a rogue treasurer, but then a rogue treasurer could make off with loose cash before banking it anyway. The best protection is a combination of trust and the need to present audited accounts to the AGM.

The Officers shall be empowered at their discretion to subsidise (up to 100%) the annual <Guild> subscription of particular ringers. This shall in no way affect the beneficiary's eligibility for membership of the Society. You don't have to include this, or you may wish to make some other special provision. Some bands subsidise student members' subscriptions.

The financial year shall end on <31st December> each year. A statement of account shall be presented to the ensuing AGM.

You may want to make provision for the disposal of funds if the Society were ever wound up, though a band of ringers should ideally continue in existence, even if its members become too few to continue regular ringing.

9 Rule changes

The constitution shall only be changed by vote at an AGM or EGM, and shall require a two thirds majority of the members present. You could provide for a minimum number to be present. So a minority could not hold an AGM without telling the others, but then a group of dissenters could paralyse any action by staying away.

10 Duties and conduct

Membership of the Society shall imply an obligation to make every reasonable effort to attend for Sunday [70] service ringing, at practices and, when called upon to do so, at weddings and special functions. This is the ideal. Decide whether you would enforce it or whether to state a lesser objective.

All members shall conduct themselves appropriately while in the ringing chamber. This is very vague but it indicates the spirit of what is intended.

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