Q&A: Editing Bylaws

Can we correct grammatical errors without calling a meeting to amend our bylaws?

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.

Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations." Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

ajax-loader-largecaret-downcloseHamburger Menuicon_amazonApple PodcastsBio Iconicon_cards_grid_caretChild Abuse Reporting Laws by State IconChurchSalary Iconicon_facebookGoogle Podcastsicon_instagramLegal Library IconLegal Library Iconicon_linkedinLock IconMegaphone IconOnline Learning IconPodcast IconRecent Legal Developments IconRecommended Reading IconRSS IconSubmiticon_select-arrowSpotify IconAlaska State MapAlabama State MapArkansas State MapArizona State MapCalifornia State MapColorado State MapConnecticut State MapWashington DC State MapDelaware State MapFederal MapFlorida State MapGeorgia State MapHawaii State MapIowa State MapIdaho State MapIllinois State MapIndiana State MapKansas State MapKentucky State MapLouisiana State MapMassachusetts State MapMaryland State MapMaine State MapMichigan State MapMinnesota State MapMissouri State MapMississippi State MapMontana State MapMulti State MapNorth Carolina State MapNorth Dakota State MapNebraska State MapNew Hampshire State MapNew Jersey State MapNew Mexico IconNevada State MapNew York State MapOhio State MapOklahoma State MapOregon State MapPennsylvania State MapRhode Island State MapSouth Carolina State MapSouth Dakota State MapTennessee State MapTexas State MapUtah State MapVirginia State MapVermont State MapWashington State MapWisconsin State MapWest Virginia State MapWyoming State IconShopping Cart IconTax Calendar Iconicon_twitteryoutubepauseplay