Bylaws are not always the most fascinating aspect of a group, but Meher Baba was very concerned with democratic process, and gave precise instructions to the groups he formed so as to facilitate democratic governance. As this group was formed after the passing of Meher Baba, Filis Frederick, a long-time follower of Meher Baba and co-founder of the Meher Baba group in Los Angeles, worked closely with group members to produce a set of bylaws that would capture the spirit that Meher Baba intended for groups formed in His name. The original Bylaws were adopted in September 1998. During 2013-2014, a bylaws review committee met to update and revise the Bylaws, and these changes were adopted in June 2014.
Here are some highlights of the Bylaws:
Membership is defined in Article 2, Section 1 as follows: “any person who has a sincere personal interest in Avatar Meher Baba is invited to join [..]” Voting membership and voting rights are defined in Sections 2 and 3: To vote at the Annual General Meeting, one must be at least 14 years old, and, at least 30 days before voting, must have met the requirements of voting membership. Active support is defined as attendance at scheduled meetings or personal participation in Center activities. The Board will have discretionary authority to grant voting membership to particular individuals on the basis of less personal criteria such as financial contributions or donation of materials or services.
The Board of Directors may have up to 9 members, who are elected each year at the Annual General Meeting in June. All meetings of the group are conducted according to rules of order designated by the President. Article 5 discusses officers, consisting of a President and a Vice-President, who must be Board members, and a Secretary and Treasurer, who are not required to be Board members.
So far, pretty much like you would expect from any organization, right? Well, Articles 6 and 7 are the ones that distinguish this organization. Section 6 stipulates there be no leader, pastor, nor minister, but rather that all members be considered “Lovers” of Avatar Meher Baba. Then, in Article 7, the committee structure is laid out. The committees are the foundation of this group, and are intended to bring about maximum participation of the community. The standing committees are Finance, Membership, Program, Publicity, and Service, all of which are chaired by a Board member appointed by the Board, but are made up of members of the community at-large. Ad hoc committees may be created by the Board as needed, but do not need to be chaired by a Board member. Finally, the Nominating Committee, which nominates those who run for the Board, is made up of 5 people elected at the Annual General Meeting each year, who are not required to be Board members.
Current Bylaws, adopted June 2014
Articles of Incorporation – link coming soon!
Historical Bylaws, adopted September 1998
Voting Membership – link coming soon!