Is it possible to correct spelling and grammatical errors in our church’s bylaws without going to the trouble of amending the bylaws at an annual business meeting?
This is a common question. Spelling and grammatical errors often result from the adoption of bylaws without a thorough review and editing by a bylaws committee. Once bylaws have been formally adopted, they cannot be “edited” without going through the formal process of amendment, unless the bylaws themselves provide that they may be edited to correct obvious errors. This is not a bad idea. However, you need to be very careful to define precisely what can be edited. If the scope of editing is not clearly delineated, then whoever is tasked with the responsibility of doing the editing (i.e., a bylaws committee, or the church board) may go too far and amend substantive provisions.
Here is an example of a bylaw provision authorizing a bylaws committee (any other board or committee can be substituted) to make non-substantive bylaw changes without a formal amendment:
A bylaws committee shall be appointed by the board from the membership of the church. Members should be selected on the basis of their familiarity with the bylaws and their editorial skills. The bylaws committee shall have the power to adopt such revisions to these bylaws as are, in its judgment, non-substantive modifications or clarifications, reorganization or renumbering, or revisions made necessary because of punctuation, spelling, or other errors of grammar or expression. The action to revise may be taken by motion acted upon in the same manner as any other motion before the committee. Such revisions shall be effective immediately and shall be permanent subject to revocation by the membership at any duly called meeting.