Bylaws of The Union Church of Los Angeles

Latest updates in our bylaws that will be voted on during our Congregational Meeting Jan 28, 2024.




PREAMBLE: Recognizing the need for a dynamic witness in the name of Jesus Christ in downtown/central Los Angeles, as well as to the Japanese speaking peoples in Los Angeles and its adjacent counties the Union Church of Los Angeles is constituted and organized according to the following provisions. 


The name of this church shall be the Union Church of Los Angeles, located in the Little Tokyo district in the city of Los Angeles, state of California. The church was organized February 7, 1918, resulting from the union of the Los Angeles Japanese Congregational Church, the Japanese Bethlehem Congregational Church, and the Los Angeles Presbyterian Church. At that time it was organized as the Japanese Union Church of Los Angeles. The church was incorporated by the State of California May 6, 1955. 


WE, THE MEMBERS OF THE UNION CHURCH OF LOS ANGELES, confess our stance on foundations of Christian faith as revealed in the Bible and handed down by the Church. Accordingly, we acknowledge the creeds and confessions of the United Church of Christ and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Further, we be- lieve that, under God and subject to biblical authority, these creeds and confessions bear witness to the following articles which we confess to be essential to our ministry. 

God has revealed himself to us as the one, living and true God, perfect in love and righteousness, one in essence, expressing himself eternally in the three persons of the Trinity: Father (Creator), Son (Redeemer), and Holy Spir- it (Sustainer). 

God discloses himself to humankind through creation. He reveals his purpose of redemption through the words and deeds of salvation history, spoken through his chosen patriarchs, prophets, and rulers. God's word is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, God's Word incarnate, as revealed to us by the Holy Spirit in the Bible.

A.   THE BIBLE. The Bible is an essential and trustworthy account of God's selfdisclosure. Under the Holy Spirit, the books of the Old and New Testament are the inspired, written word of God, our only authoritative rule of faith and life. God speaks through them with living authority and relevance when we interpret them by the guidance of the Spirit andin obedience to the living Word of God, Jesus Christ.

B.    GOD THE CREATOR. By his word and for his glory, God freely created the world out of nothing. He created humankind in his own image to have fellowship with him. Inwardly depraved, we succumb to temptation and rebel or sin against God. Separated from our Creator by our sinfulness yet responsible to him, we become subject to his wrath and, apart from grace, incapable of reconciliation with God on our own merits. 

C.    GOD THE REDEEMER. The reconciler of God and humankind is Jesus the Christ, our Savior and Lord, God's eternal, begotten and fully divine Son, who fully shared and fulfilled our humanity in a life of total obedience to God. By his death in our stead he revealed God's love and upheld God's Justice, removing from us the burden of sin's guilt and reconciling us to God. The third day he rose from the dead, victorious over death and the power of sin. He ascended into heaven where he rules in authority over all and intercedes for his people. 

D.   GOD THE SUSTAINER. The Holy Spirit renews our hearts as we proclaim the gospel of good news of Jesus Christ, persuading us to repent of our sins and confess Jesus as Lord and Savior. The Spirit leads us to trust in God's mercy which forgives our sins, justifies us by faith alone in the grace of the Redeemer, and grants us the free gift of eternal life. 

E.    LIFE IN THE SPIRIT. God graciously adopts us into his family, that we might be in relationship with him as his children. As we are led by the Spirit, we grow in the knowledge of the Lord, freely obeying his commandments and endeavoring so to live in the world that all may see God's justice and mercy at work in our lives and respond by giving glory to God. 

F.    LIFE IN THE SPIRIT: THE CHURCH. By his word and Spirit God creates one holy universal and apostolic church, calling sinners out of humanity into the fellowship of Christ's body. This word and Spirit eternally guide and renew this new, redeemed humanity. Though they are formed in every culture and grow from varied histories, the several churches are one, united with the people of God in every age. 

G.   LIFE IN THE SPIRIT: THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH. The church is called by its Lord to offer acceptable worship to God through preaching the gospel, making disciples of all nations, caring for people through the ministry of the word and sacraments, practicing stewardship of God's gifts to us; striving for justice in society, and relieving human distress and need. 

H.   THE KINGDOM OF GOD. The Kingdom is the establishment of God's justice and mercy over all of God's creation, the redemptive work whose fulfillment was begun by Jesus Christ. The church and its people continue Christ's work of establishing the Kingdom, which shall only be consummated by the return of Christ to raise the dead and judge all humankind. The righteous shall live with him forever. The eager expectation of creation thus shall be fulfilled and the whole universe shall proclaim the glory of Godwho makes all things new. 



A.   RESPONDING TO GOD Our lives as Christians are to be living thanks to God because of God’s Great Commandments (Matthew 22:36-40) in which God took the first step to love us and establish a relationship with us. This was so we might become the people of God's desire. Such love is a free gift of grace. We respond in thanks to God with our whole being. This love is measured in the quality of love for neighbors as we love our- selves.

B.    MAKING DISCIPLES Putting this love into action is the responsibility of the body of Christ, the church. The great commission (Matthew 28:16-20) tells us it is not enough to believe and attend church. The church must make people disciples in such a way that they will be baptized into active relationship and work within this family, and taught all that God commands. In this, we are assured Christ is with us to the end. 

C.    DEEPENING COMMITMENT our key test is commitment. The church is to nurture disciples who strive for: 

1.     Commitment to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the primary allegiance in life. 

2.     Commitment to the Body of Christ, to all Christians, especially to a local body. 

3.     Commitment to the World, addressing society and all of life with the Good News. 

D.   STRIVING FOR GROWTH such commitment implies growth which the church must nurture in three ways: 

1.     Qualitative Growth by maturing in relationship to Jesus Christ and in understanding of scripture, worship, prayer, witness and service in society and daily life. 

2.     Quantitative Growth in the number of committed disciples. 

3.     Functional Growth through the use of members' Godgiven gifts and abilities so the church is carrying out all of its ministries according to God's efficiency. 

E.    BUILDING A HEALTHY CHURCH The test for such committed, growing discipleship through the church is whether or not the church is healthy. The dynamics of a healthy church in Acts 2 are: 

1.     Worship which is biblically and theologically sound and which moves people to an active, living faith in work, family, leisure, and society. 

2.     Koinonia or a caring fellowship which helps others grow into disciples.

3.     Service through the church into all areas of society and daily life. 

4.     Learning that is biblical and integrates theology and practice so that people will be equipped to live out faith which transforms every area of life. 

demonstrate Christ's love in word and deed. 

5.     Witnessing so that people know practically how to share faith with others and will actively demonstrate Christ’s love in word and deed.

These are the criteria to assess the ministry and health of the Union Church of Los Angeles. So important are they that we confess that anything in this church which does not meet these criteria must be reevaluated, modified, or eliminated. We pray that God will consecrate and use them so we all may be of increasing usefulness in continuing the ministry of Jesus Christ in our unique time, location, and community. 

To God who by means of God's power working in us is able to do so much more than we can ever ask for, or even think of: to God be the glory in the church and in Jesus Christ for all time, forever and ever! Amen. 


A.   This is a union of the United Church of Christ and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It shall be subject to the constitutions of both denominations, giving particular attention to their provisions for These bylaws are subject in all material respects to the principles set forth in the constitutions of both denominations except where specified in these bylaws. of both denominations, giving particular attention to their provisions for 

B.    The principal office for the transaction of the business of this church including its corporate affairs shall be at 401 E. 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013. The books and records shall be maintained at its principal office. Any member may inspect Articles of Incorporation, the current bylaws, the accounting books and records, list of members, and minutes of congregational meetings the documents and records of Union Church, except personnel records, upon five business days prior written request and at a reasonable time during church office hours. Any Session member shall have the right at any reasonable time to inspect all books, records, and documents. 


A. This church shall call one or more ministers of the Word and Sacrament as needed. The pastor(s) shall be duly ordained and meet the standard of good standing in the United Church of Christ and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). 

B. The pastor(s) shall exercise pastoral leadership over all the affairs of this church, subject to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the authority of scripture, and the polity of this church. 

C. The pastor(s) shall lead the elders and deacons in equipping and enabling the members of the church to share the ministry of the church, making them capable of exercising their gifts and tasks within the church and their mission in the world. 

D. The pastor(s) shall preach regularly, administer the sacraments, and preside over the services of worship, encouraging laypersons to share in various functions of the services. 

E. The pastor(s) shall exercise pastoral care and concern over the members of the church, guiding the elders and deacons to share this responsibility. 

F. The pastor(s) shall be loyal in their involvement and governance within the polity and program of the United Church of Christ and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), encouraging the members to do the same. 


A. There shall be two stated meetings of the congregation each year: 

1.     Meeting at a time and place to be determined by the Session, usually during the month of November October. The purpose of the meeting shall be to elect officers, to approve the budget receive a financial report and budget projection for the ensuing year, and to transact any other business that may be deemed appropriate by the Session. 

2.     An Annual Meeting at a time and place to be determined by the Session, usually during the month of January or February. The purpose of the meeting shall be to receive reports from the various organizations including financial reportsthe annual report of the congregation, receive the budget for the year, review the adequacy of the compensation of the pastor or pastors upon prior review of the session. and to transact any business that may be deemed appropriate by the Session. Business proper to Congregational Meetings shall be in accordance with the PCUSA Book of Order G-1.0503 

3.     Ecclesiastical and corporate business may be transacted in the same congregational meeting wherever it is permitted by civil law. 

B. Minutes of all congregational meetings shall be attested by the Moderator and the Clerk of Session, approved by the Session, and shall be entered in the minute book of the Session. 

C. The moderator or moderator pro-tem, clerk of Session and 40 members or 25% of the members on the roll of active members, whichever is lower, shall constitute a quorum. 

D. Only active members shall be eligible to vote at any meeting of the congregation. 

E. Voting by proxy is not allowed. 

F. Special meetings of the congregation may be called by the Session, or when requested to do so by the governing bodies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) or the United Church of Christ. The business to be transacted at special meetings shall be limited to items specifically listed in the call for the meeting; PCUSA Book of Order G-1.0501. 

G. Announcement of all congregational meetings must be made at public worship on at least two successive Sundays prior to the date of the meeting. Specially called congregational meetings must clearly state the purpose of the meeting. In specially called meetings, no other business may come before the congregation. 

H. In the event of an emergency or public health order forbidding social gatherings, a meeting of the congregation may take place electronically, provided that members are given the opportunity to fully participate in the meeting by internet video conference or telephone. An electronic meeting shall be conducted by a technology that allows all participating members to see each other or, in the case of someone on the phone only, hear each other at the same time. Under the same conditions, meetings of the Session and Deacons and other sanctioned committees of the church, may also take place electronically, ensuring that the technology gives all participants equal access to participate in the meeting. 


A. Any person may be received as an active member of this church through Profession of Faith by Baptism, Reaffirmation of Faith having been baptized, by confirmation, or by Transfer of Membership. All applications for membership must be approved by the Session. Each new member shall be received by the congregation at any public worship and commended to the congregation for their Christian confidence and affection. 

B. The Session shall offer to those persons uniting with the church a period of instruction and preparation for full participation in the worship, mission, governing and decision making life of the congregation. A period of instruction shall be given before examination by the Session. 

C. Members shall pledge themselves to attend the regular worship of the church and the celebration of the Lord's Supper; to live the Christian life; to share in the life and work of the church; to contribute to its support and benevolences; and to seek diligently the spiritual welfare of the membership and the community. 

D. The categories of affiliating with this church are defined in the Constitutions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the United Church of Christ, namely: Active Member, Inactive Member, Affiliate Member, and those who are baptized but not yet confirmed.

E. A member who has not attended the church's worship nor contributed to its support for a period of two(2) years in spite of spiritual care may, by the vote of the Session, be removed from the membership roll. 


A. There shall be a board called the Session, consisting of the pastor(s). and Chairperson of the Board of Trustees, the Administrator, Clerk of Session and, in addition, and up to four (4) three (3) elders from each of the three worshipping groups (Japanese speaking, English TraditionalEnglish Contemporary). and up to 9 Ruling Elders. Union Church is a legacy Japanese church, founded in the year 1918, in the Little Tokyo community of Los Angeles. We seek to honor our Japanese heritage and embrace the rich cultural and ethnic diversity of our neighborhood. Therefore, we will strive to nominate to the Session a balanced representation of our church membership to include Nichigo, Nikkei and persons of other cultures and ethnicities. 

B. The Pastor shall serve as Moderator of the meetings of the Session. If the Pastor is unable to moderate a meeting, he/she shall appoint another Minister of Word and Sacrament (Teaching Elder) from the Presbytery. The Session shall elect a Clerk from within its members. Staff may be invited to attend a meeting of the session, and the session may grant him/her voice but no vote. Only installed pastors and persons elected to the session by the congregation may vote at Session meetings. 

Session members shall direct and encourage the temporal and particularly the spiritual program, polity, and discipline of this church. In matters pertaining to this particular church, the decisions of the Session shall be final, subject always to the guidance of the Lord, our polity, and the right of review and appeal. 

C.    It is the duty of elders, individually and jointly, to strengthen and nurture the faith and life of the congregation committed to their charge. Together with the pastor(s), they should encourage the people in the worship and ser- vice of God, equip and renew them for their tasks within the church and for their witness in the world, visit, comfort, and care for the people, with special attention to the poor, the sick, the lonely, and those who are op- pressed. They should inform the pastor(s) and Session of those persons and structures which may need special attention. They should cultivate their ability to teach the Bible and may be authorized to supply places which are without the regular ministry of the Word. Those duties which all Christians are bound to perform by the law of love are especially incumbent upon elders because of their calling to office and are to be fulfilled by them as official responsibilities. 

D.   The elders shall be members of the church in good standing, with outstanding spiritual maturity and leader- ship ability, called by God and elected by the congregation, and duly ordained to their office. Elders will normally be members for at least one year. Married couples should not may serve as active elders at the same time. 

E.    Quorum for the Session/Council shall consist of a Moderator and five (5) ruling elders. 

F.    An email vote may be authorized by Session and its ecclesiastical committees, when action is required in between regular Session meetings. 


A. There shall be a Board of Deacons consisting of twelve(12) up to 6 Deacons or as many as needed to perform the ministry. They shall engage in a ministry of service to the church, giving special attention to those in need of compassion, the sick and shut-in, the hungry, the homeless, and the poor. 

B. The Board of Deacons shall be accountable to the Session and available for services properly requested by the Session. 

C. Deacons shall be members of the church in good standing, with outstanding spiritual maturity and leadership ability, called by God and elected by the congregation, and duly ordained to their office. Deacons will normally be members for at least one year. Union Church is a legacy Japanese church, founded in the year 1918, in the Little Tokyo community of Los Angeles. We seek to honor our Japanese heritage and embrace the rich cultural and ethnic diversity of our neighborhood. Therefore, we will strive to nominate to the Deacons a balanced representation of our church membership to include Nichigo, Nikkei and persons of other cultures and ethnicities. 

D. The Board of Deacons and their committees may conduct an email vote if action is required in between meetings. 


A.   There shall be a Board of Trustees consisting of one (1) elder-trustee and six (6) trustees elected from the church; and available for service properly requested by the Session. 

B. The Board of Trustees shall be accountable to the Session. 

C. Trustees shall be members of the church in good standing. Trustees will normally be members for at least one year. 

D. Board of Trustees shall exercise the corporate powers of the church in accordance with the laws of the State of California, the United Church of Christ, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Bylaws of the church. 

E. The Board of Trustees and their committee may conduct an email vote if action is required in between meetings. 


A.   The trustees shal lconsist of the elders on the Session, whose duties shall be to fulfill the requirements of civil law in respect to the church corporation and who shall have power and authority to receive, hold, manage, and transfer property and to facilitate management if its civil affairs in such a manner as my be directed by the church from time to time in conformity with the constitution of the church. 

B.    Officers of the Corporation: President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer, shall be elected annually by the session from within its members. 


A. The Nominating Committee shall have the duty and responsibility of selecting nominees for each vacancy for the offices of Elders and Deacons, and Trustees. The committee shall present their report nominate candidates at the congregational meeting when such elections are to take place. The Nominating Committee will consist of 5 persons. The committee will be composed of 2 elders, one of whom will be an elder currently serving on Session and who will act as chair; 1 or 2 deacons; 1 or 2 at-large member from the congregation. A majority of the persons on the committee who are eligible to vote shall consist of persons not currently serving on the session. The pastor may serve as ex-officio without vote. (one from each of Japanese-speaking, English Traditional and English Comtemporary) who will serve as co-chairs; and three members elected at large by the congregation (one – Japanese-speaking; one – English-Traditional; one - English Contemporary). When elections are held at a congregational meeting, full opportunity shall be given by the congregation to nominate from the floor by any active member of the congregation. 

B. Nominations shall be made by a representative nominating committee of active members of the church. Union Church is a legacy Japanese church, founded in the year 1918, in the Little Tokyo community of Los Angeles. We seek to honor our Japanese heritage and embrace the rich cultural and ethnic diversity of our neighborhood. Therefore, the composition of the Nominating Committee will include a balanced representation of our church membership to include Nichigo, Nikkei and persons of other cultures and ethnicities. 


A.   Elders, and deacons deacons, and trustees shall be elected at the Fall Congregational Meeting or at a special election meeting of the congregation and shall serve as the officers of the church. 

B.    Term of office shall be three years. An elder, deacon or trustee having served two consecutive full terms or one full term and any partial terms, a combination of consecutive terms equaling 6 years , shall be ineligible to serve for a further term until at least one year has elapsed. Unless there is a waiver of the By-Laws permit-ting the person to continue his/her services. A strong effort, however, shall be made to locate suitable re- placement. The Administrator or the Clerk of Session after completing two full terms or partial terms totaling 6 consecutive years may be invited by the Session to serve with voice, but without voting privileges. During this one year, the Clerk will retain full authority and responsibility of the position. 

C.    Election may be by acclamation if there be but one candidate for office. If there be two or more candidates, election shall be by ballot. A simple majority vote elects. 

D.   Elected elders and deacons shall be ordained, if required, and installed, in a regular Sunday morning service of worship as soon as practical following election. Trustees shall also be installed. 

E.    For good cause, an elder, deacon or trustee may resign from office with the consent of the Session. Term of office terminates automatically upon termination of membership. Vacancies shall be filled in the same manner as original elections.

F.    Spouse(s) of active pastor(s) of this church and regular full time employees of this church shall not be eligible to serve on the Session. Spouses of pastors and full time employees may serve on the Board of Deacons. as an elder or deacon, or trustee.

G.   When an elder or deacon, or trustee has been absent from three successive meetings of the board without an excuse acceptable by that board, the congregation upon recommendation of that board may declare the position vacant and elect another person to fill the unexpired term. 

H.   Except for the Clerk of Session, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees, and the Administrator, every attempt should be made to have the Session, Board of Deacons, and the Board of Trustees and the Nominating Committee consist of a balanced representation of the membership of Union Church, to include Nichigo/Nikkei, and other ethnicities and cultures.


A. Meetings shall be conducted in accordance with the latest edition of the Robert's Rules of Order.

B.    All meetings of the church shall be opened and closed with prayer. 


A.   These Bylaws may be amended subject to the charter of the corporation, the laws of the State of California, and the constitutions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the United Church of Christ at any meeting of the congregation by two-thirds (2/3) vote of the voters present provided that a full reading of the proposed changes and a printed distribution of the same shall have been made in connection with the call of the meeting. 

B.    The Standing Rules shall be adopted by the Session and the Session shall have the power to amend the Standing Rules as it may deem necessary to enable it to perform its duties efficiently. Said Rules may be adopt- ed, amended or rescinded at any stated meeting of the Session by two-thirds (2/3) vote of those present, provided that a full reading of proposed changes and a printed distribution of the same shall have been made in connection with the call of the meeting.


A.   The pastor(s), elders, trustees, deacons, officers, employees and other agents are indemnified to the extent al- lowed by the nonprofit corporation law of the State of California then in effect. 


A.   Above Bylaws of the Union Church of Los Angeles were adopted by the Session on October 19, 1997 and bythe congregation on November 30, 1997 was last amended on January 24, 1988. 

Amended on _______________________Clerk of Session 

Signed ___________________________Clerk of Session