We, the people of the Universalist Church, in order to establish fellowship, propagate the Christian faith, and help the Kingdom of God to come, do hereby organize ourselves into an ecclesiastical body, and do ordain for its guidance the following Constitution and By-Laws.

Article I – Title

This body shall be known as The Universalist General Convention.

Article II – How Constituted

  1. This Convention shall be composed, first, of its officers; second, of the President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer of each State Convention in its fellowship; third, of the several district, regional or State Superintendents; fourth, of all ordained clergymen in fellowship, whether with a State Convention or with the General Convention; fifth, of two lay delegates of whom one shall be a man and one a woman, from each parish in fellowship.

  2. To be entitled to such lay delegates each parish must maintain its legal existence and support public worship regularly and make a contribution on quota to the General Convention in such matter as the latter may prescribe.

  3. This Convention shall be the judge of the election and qualification of its members.

  4. Members from seven states, but not less in aggregate than twenty-five persons, shall be a quorum to do business, but a less number may adjourn, and demand the attendance of absentees.

Article III – Creed and Conditions of Fellowship

  1. The Profession of Faith adopted by this body at its session at Winchester, N. H., A. D. 1803, is as follows:

    Art. I. We believe that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament contain a revelation of the character of God, and of the duty, interest and final destination of mankind.

    Art. II. We believe that there is one God, whose nature is Love, revealed in one Lord Jesus Christ, by one Holy Spirit of Grace, who will finally restore the whole family of mankind to holiness and happiness.

    Art. III. We believe that holiness and true happiness are inseparably connected, and that believers ought to be careful to maintain order and practice good works; for these things are good and profitable unto men.

  2. The conditions of fellowship in this Convention shall be as follows:

    I. The acceptance of the essential principles of the Universalist faith, to wit: The Universal Fatherhood of God; the spiritual authority and leadership of His Son Jesus Christ; the trustworthiness of the Bible as containing a revelation from God; the certainty of just retribution for sin; the final harmony of all souls with God.

    The Winchester Profession is commended as containing these principles, but neither this, nor any other precise form of words, is required as a condition of fellowship, provided always the principles as stated above be professed.

    II. The acknowledgement of the authority of the General Convention and assent to its laws.

Article IV – Powers

  1. The Convention shall have jurisdiction over all organizations, wherever located, which are now within its fellowship or which shall hereafter be organized. It shall have and retain jurisdiction over all matters not specifically coming within the jurisdiction of local or subordinate bodies.
  2. It shall have power to acquire and hold title to real estate, to sell and convey the same, to raise funds and hold and administer may funds that may be entrusted to its care. All monies or other property given to the Convention for a specific purpose, and the proceeds of the same shall be used only for the purpose designated by the donors of said respective funds. Property given for endowment purposes and not specially designated shall be placed in a general fund which shall be carefully invested, and the income only therefrom shall be used for the purpose of this Convention.
  3. It shall have original jurisdiction over all cases of dispute between State Conventions and shall be a final Court of Appeal for all cases of discipline and those of government which are appealable in accordance wih the laws concerning Fellowship, Government, and Discipline.
  4. It shall have the power to require all organizations and clergymen subject to its jurisdiction to furnish such statistical and other reports as may be provided in its By-Laws or by special actions.
  5. In those States and Territories where no Conventions are organized, and in the District of Columbia, it shall exercise the same jurisdiction as is exercised by State Conventions where they exist.
  6. It shall have the power to adopt such By-Laws as it may deem necessary, to determine the rules of its procedure, and to adopt such measures as may be necessary to secure the purposes for which it is organized.

Article V – Officers

  1. The Officers of this Convention shall be a President, three Vice-Presidents, a Secretary, a Treasurer, a General Superintendent, and a Board of Trustees, all of whom, except the Secretary, Treasurer and General Superintendant, shall be elected by ballot of the Convention. The Secretary, Treasurer and General Superintendant shall be elected by the Board of Trustees.

  2. The President and Vice-Presidents shall be elected at each regular session of the Convention.

    The terms of the Secretary, Treasurer and General Superintendant shall be determined by the Board of Trustees.

  3. The Board of Trustees shall consist of eleven members, the President of the Convention being a member ex-officio. Five member shall be chosen biennially to hold office for four years.

  4. In all elections a majority of votes shall be required to elect; and all officers elected by the Convention shall continue in office until their successors shall be chosen and qualified.

  5. The Board of Trustees shall have power to fill vacancies in the offices of the Convention, however occasioned, until the next regular session. Vacancies on the Board of Trustees shall be filled by the Trustees by ballot. Sixty days prior to the regular or special meeting of the Board of Trustees the President shall notify the Trustees by mail of the vacancies to be filled and each Trustee may submit names for such vacancies. A list of the persons so nominated with the names of the proposers shall be mailed to the Trustees thirty days before the meeting and no other names shall be received at the meeting except with the unanimous consent of the Trustees present. The vacancy shall be filled from the persons thus nominated, but no person shall be declared elected unless he receives the unanimous vote of the Trustees present.

  6. No money shall be paid by the Board of Trustees, or by their agents, except under the authority of an appropriation of the Convention.

Article VI – Session

  1. This Convention shall meet biennially on the Wednesday preceding the fourth Sunday in October, at 10.00 o’clock a.m., at such place as shall have been duly appointed. If no place has thus been appointed, the Board of Trustees shall designate the place; and they may also change the time, or place, whenever in their judgement a change is necessary.

  2. Special session may be called by the Board of Trustees as provided in the By-Laws.

Article VII – Amendments

This Constittion may be amended by a vote of two-thirds of the members of the Convention present and voting at any regular session, provided that the number voting in favor of the proposed amendment shall constitute a majority of the membership of the Convention, and further provided that the amendment shall be ratified at the next regular session by a similar vote.


1 – Duties of Officers

  1. Of the President: He shall preside at all meetings of the Convention, and shall appoint all Committees unless the Convention shall otherwise order, and preform such additional service as pertains to this office.

  2. Of the Vice-Presidents: One of the Vice-Presidents shall preside at sessions of the Convention whenever the President is absent.

  3. Of the Secretary: He shall give due notice of all meetingsd of the Convention and of the Board of Trustees and shall keep full minutes of their proceedings.

    He shall keep a register of the Clergy and Parishes of the Church, shall have custody of the books, minutes, papers and reports of the Convention, and, in general, shall perform all duties incident to the office of Secretary, and such additional service as pertains to this office. He shall receive such salary as the Board of Trustees shall determine.

    He shall give the Convention a bond in sum and with sureties satisfactory to the Board of Trustees, for the faithful discharge of the duties of his office, and for the restoration of the COnvention, in case of his death, resignation or removal from office, of all its books, papers, vouchers, money or other property of whatever kind in his possession.

  4. Of the Treasurer: He shall keep full and accurate accounts of receipts and disbursements, in books belonging to the Convention, and shall deposit all money and other valuable effects in its name and to its credit, in such depositories as may be designated by the Board of Trustees. He shall receive such salary as the Board of Trustees may determine.

    He shall disburse the funds of the Convention as may be ordered by the Board of Trustees, taking proper vouchers therefor, and shall render to the Board of Trustees, at each regular meeting of the Board, or oftener, if requested, an account of all his transactions as Treasurer and of the financial condition of the Convention.

    He shall have custody of all the securities and title papers of the Convention.

    He shall give the Convention a bond in sum and with sureties satisfactory to the Board of Trustees, for the faithful discharge of the duties of his office, and for the restoration of the Convention, in case of his death, resignation or removal from office, of all its books, papers, vouchers, money or other property of whatever kind in his possession.

    The Board of Trustees shall cause his books to be audited at least once a year, by certified public accountants, and an abstract of his accounts shall be laid before the Convention at each regular session.

  5. Of the General Superintendent: He shall, under the Board of Trustees, have supervision of the work of church extension of the Convention. He shall have direct oversight of such regional superintedents as the Board of Trustees may appoint, and shall, through counsel and suitable organization, foster efficiency and co-operative action among Superintendents of the various State Conventions. He shall recommend to the Convention and the Board of Trustees such measures as will, in his judgment, deepen the spiritual life of the church and enlarge its power to advance the kingdom of God. He shall perform shuch additional service as pertains to his office. He shall receive such salary as the Board of Trustees may determine.

  6. Of the Board of Trustees: They shall have the general management of the affairs of the Convention and of Church at large when [sic] the Convention. If the decision is not unanumous, the Board of Appeal [sic] funds of the Convention for the purposes desinated by the Convention and for carrying out the purposes of this organization: shall on [sic] behalf of the Convention in all matters of Fellowship, Ordination, and Discipline according to the rules provided therefor; and shall have power to adopt and carry into effect all needful measures for promoting the interest, growth, and welfare of the Universalist Church.

    They shall have the care and investment of all funds raised by and given to the Convention and shall authorize disbursements for the purpose of the Convention and shall carry into effect all measures adopted for raising monies.

    They shall make preliminary arrangements for the session of the Convention whether regular or special, including the order of proceedings and religious meetings, subject to the Convention’s approval.

    They shall have power to appoint such officers or agents as the work of the Convention may require, and such officers may be veted with authority to execute and carry into effect the special duties entrusted to them.

    They shall appoint at the first meeting of the Board held after each session of the Convention an Auditing Committee who shall annually examine the accounts of the secretary and treasurer and make written report thereof to the Board.

    In cases of complaint or appeal they shall appoint a Board of Appeal to consist of three persons, at least one of whom shall be a clergyman, and none of whom shall be a resident of the state or states interested. Said Board of Appeal shall as soon as practicable designate a time for hearing the complaint or appeal, and shall give notice to parties concerned not less thn thirty days prior to the date fixed for such hearing. Said notice sall be by registered letter directed to the parties at their last known post office address. Upon the date fixed for such hearing said Board of Appeal shall hear the evidence in the cause together with statements of parties either in person or by counsel, and shall render such decision, as in their judgment, justice and equity demand. If their decision is unanimous, the same shall be final and it shall be immediately reported to the Secretary of the Convention, who shall at once notify the parties at issue of the results of such decision and shall make a record of the same in the proceedings of the Convention [sic] is not in session; shall have power to appropriate the [sic] shall report the case to the next session of the Convention with all of the papers and evidence relating thereto for final action.

    All petitions, memorials and complaints relating to meeters of discipline which may be referred by the Convention to the Board of Trustees or be brought directly before them shall be considered by said Board, and if deemed desirable they shall appoint a board of three persons to hear and render judgment thereon; in such cases the above rules as to notice, hearing and judgment, so far as the same are applicable, shall be observed.

    The Board of Trustees shall submit a report of their proceedings including their appropriation and expenditure of all funds at every regular session of the Convention; they shall also present a report showing the general condition and needs of the church with respect to Religious Worship, Missions, Education, Sunday Schools and all other interests of the church, together with their recommendations thereon.\ In years intervenings between sessions of the Convention the Board of Trustees shall during the month of October prepare and publish a financial statement for the year ending on the thirtieth day of September preceding, and the same shall be published as a part of their biennial report.

    A majority of the Board shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business, and the traveling expenses of members to and from the regular and called meetings of the Board of Trustees shall be paid out of the funds of the Convention.

II – Sessions

Special Sessions of the Convention shall be ordered by the Board of Trustees, at such time and place as they may appoint, whenever a written request setting forth the reasons, and signed by the Presidents of at least five State Conventions, shall be presented to the Secretary.

Public notice of any Special Session, stating the purpose, shall be given by the Secretary, at least one month before the time fixed therefor.

The delegates to the preceding regular Session shall be delegates at any Special Session, if no other have been chosen.

III – Special Privileges

  1. All members of Committees, who are not members of the Convention, whenever their reports are under consideration, shall be entitled to the privileges of the floor, without the right to vote.

  2. Representatives of Universalists not within the jurisdiction of this body, and those of other religious denominations duly accredited to this Convention, shall be reported by the Committee on Credentials, received by the President, and assigned to seats with the members of the Convention. Such representatives may address the Convention upon the invitation of the President.

IV — Office of the Convention

The Office of the Convention shall bein the State of New York, though neither the Secretary nor the Treasurer shall be required to be a resident thereof.

V — Organization of the Convention

  1. The Secretary of each State Convention shall certify to the Secretary of this Convention, previous to each regular session, the names of its President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and State Superintendent, and the Clerk of each parish shall certify to the Secretary of this Convention the names of its delegates, and no person shall be recognized as delegate without certification except by special vote of the Convention itself.

  2. At the hour appointed for the meeting of the Convention the President, or, in his absence, one of the Vice-Presidents, shall call the Convention to order, and cause the session to be opened with prayer. The President shall then direct the Secretary to ascertain if a quorum is present. This may be done by a partial roll-call. One or more Assistant Secretaries shall then be appointed by the President, on nomination of the Secretary.

  3. The President shall then appoint Sessional Committees.

  4. The Occasional Sermon shall then be preached and be followed by the observance of the Lord’s Supper (the observance of which may be deferred to some later time in the Convention). At this service a collection is to be taken, the proceeds of which shall be added to the principal of the Gunn Ministerial Relief Fund.

  5. The Business Session of the Convention shall be opened by prayer to be followed immediately by the Secretary calling the roll of all persons who are entitled to be members of the Convention according to Article 2 of the Constitution.

VI — Committees

The following Committees for the Session shall be appointed each, except the third, fourth and fifth, to consist of three members, viz:

  1. On Credentials, to who shall be referred credentials, also questions of contested seats, and all other matters pertaining to the organization of the Convention. This Committee shall report to the Convention immediately after the opening of the morning session and reading of the minutes each day, and as often otherwise as it may be required by the Convention or as it may desire; and on the adoption of its report the delegates whom they certify shall be admitted as members of the Convention.

  2. On Religious Services, who shall superintend the arrangements made by the Board of Trustees, and make such others as may be necessary, subject to the approval of the Convention.

  3. On Nominations, consisting of five members, who shall report, on the morning of the third day of the regular Session, the names of persons for President, Vice-Presidents, Trustees, and for Preacher of the next Occasional Sermon; also, the place for the next regular Session of the Convention.

  4. On Official Reports, consisting of nine members, to who shall be referred the reports of the Board of Trustees and of the Treasurer and who shall report upon the same.

  5. On Resolutions, consisting of five members to whom shall be referred all resolutions presented to the Convention, without debate, and who shall report upon the same.

VII — Funds

  1. Every Parish in the Fellowship of this Convention shall make at least one contribution on quota to the Convention every year.

  2. All contributions or gifts bestowed for specific purposes shall be invested and expended only as directed by the donors. The income of the various funds, now or hereafter held by the Convention, shall be appropriated and used for the specific purposes for which said funds were designated or created and for no other purposes.

  3. All property or monies which may come into the possession of the Convention and for which no specific designation has been made shall be invested and expended at the discretion of the Convention or by the Board of Trustees when the Convention is not in session.

VIII — Statistics

The Secretary of the General Convention shall secure and keep on file as accurate and up-to-date statistics as it is possible to obtain on blanks approved by the Convention or its Board of Trustees.

IX — Amendments

These By-Laws, and the Laws of Fellowship, Government, and Discipline, may be amended at any regular session by a vote of two-thirds of the members of the Convention present and voting, provided that the number voting may not be less than a majority of the members of the Convention and that notice of the proposed amendment be published in the Universalist Leader at least three months previous to such session. Rules of Order

  1. Of the Seating of Members

  2. Immediately after the organization of the General Convention the President shall designate the seats to be occupied by the members which seats shall be reserved expressly for that purpose. He shall appoint Monitors for the purpose of enforcing this rule.

  3. General Rules of Procedure Robert’s Revised Rules [sic] of Order is hereby adopted as the manual of parliamentary practice to regulate the mode of conducting the sessions of the Convention, the rules of debate, modes of procedure and general parliamentary practice do far as the same is practicable, or is not changed by the specific rules herein adopted.

  4. Order of Business

  5. A quorum being present, the Convention shall be called to order and opened with prayer.

  6. Reading the Minutes of the preceding day.

  7. Clains to sea Committees for the Session.

    i. On Credentials.

    ii. On Religious Service.

  8. Report of the Board of Trustees.

  9. Report of the Treasurer.

  10. Report of the General Superintendent.

  11. Unfinished Business.ts and their reference.

Check original here

  1. Appointment of other Committees for the Session.

  2. Report of the Committees for the Session.

    i. On Credentials.

    ii. On Religious Service.

  3. Report of the Board of Trustees.

  4. Report of the Treasurer.

  5. Report of the General Superintendent.

  6. Unfinished Business.