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Everyone in Harmony: Chapter and District Membership Updates

January 16, 2019

Next Steps for Everyone in Harmony

Changes for chapter, district, and Society membership

As the next step towards the strategic vision of Everyone in Harmony, the Barbershop Harmony Society announces changes in the governing bylaws and operational processes for chapter, district, and Society membership.

This announcement includes:

  • New chapter, district, and Society bylaws approved by the Society Board of Directors.
  • An updated Chapter Considerations Guide as a reference for chapter leaders on the options available with Everyone in Harmony.
  • New processes in Member Center that will enable the flexibility and options for chapter membership, including supporting those existing chapters who choose to welcome women as members, adding multiple choruses (of any gender) under the chapter umbrella, and supporting the chartering of new chapters with any combination of members.

Revised Bylaws

The Society Board of Directors has approved revised Society, district, and chapter bylaws, effective January 2019. The most significant change is the identification of “participation membership” (i.e., membership in a chapter, which is classified as a “participating organization”) as distinct from “Society membership.”

According to the new bylaws, Article VIII, Society membership is open to “any person of good character and reputation, subject to the applicant’s agreement to abide by the Society’s governing documents.”

Section 8.03 goes on to state: “Any Society Member who meets the requirements of membership in a participation organization as set forth by the governing documents of that organization (e.g., chapters and other subsidiaries) in accordance with the Society’s defined method for approval of governing documents may be a participation member.”

The revised bylaws are available in the Document Center here (Member ID login required) and the Governance & Bylaws Committee has produced a series of videos (available here) that walk through the new bylaws and discuss the changes.

All chapter and district leaders are encouraged to read the respective bylaws and watch the videos to aid in understanding of the changes. (Closed captioning of the videos is available.) Any questions about the bylaws should be directed to SocietyBoard@barbershop.org.

Updated Chapter Considerations Guide

With the new options for chapters created by the new bylaws, BHS has also released an updated Chapter Considerations Guide. The Chapter Considerations Guide is a resource for chapter leaders who currently are or planning to begin formally discussing Everyone in Harmony and the impact it will have on their particular chapter experience.

The updated Guide does not dictate specific actions for your chapter, nor does it require changes. It simply provides information and context on topics worth considering as each chapter explores their options for the future.

One new topic discussed in the updated Guide is the idea of “chapter” membership as separate and distinct from “chorus” membership. In practice, this means that while all members of a chorus are members of the chapter, not all members of the chapter would necessarily need to be members of a chorus. This change allows for options such as:

  • A chapter with more than one type of chorus under the chapter charter, such as a men’s chorus and a mixed harmony chorus.
  • A chapter with multiple choruses of a single category but with different aims, such as a men’s community outreach chorus and a men’s competition chorus.
  • A chapter with “non-singing” members who are not members of any chorus.

Separating chapter membership from chorus membership will allow those chapters who choose to open chapter membership to everyone, regardless of gender, to maintain a men’s-only chorus if so desired.

The updated Chapter Considerations Guide is available in the Document Center here (Member ID login required).

New processes in Member Center

With the new bylaws and options for chapters to expand membership options, new processes are now available in Member Center to chapter leadership. These new processes will give more flexibility and options for chapter membership, including supporting those existing chapters who choose to welcome women to chapter membership, while at the same time preserving the experience of chapters who choose not to make a change in membership options.

Chapter leadership and those who have appropriate permissions (President, Secretary, and Treasurer) to make changes to the chapter profile in Member Center can now:

  • Add women as members if the chapter has determined that chapter membership will be expanded to welcome everyone, regardless of gender.
  • Distinguish between chapter members and chorus members. (As a default, all current chapter members have also been added to the chorus roster.)
  • Add a new chorus under the chapter umbrella.
  • Identify the category of chorus -- men’s, women’s, or mixed harmony. (As a default, all existing choruses have been categorized as men’s choruses.)
  • Designate a specific dues amount for members of a chorus in addition to chapter dues. (As a default, all chorus dues have been set as $0.)

In addition, current and prospective Society members now have the opportunity to begin the chartering process for new chapters with any category of chorus (or choruses). More information about starting a new chapter is available here.

FAQs on the new Member Center processes are available here (Member ID login required) and training materials for chapter leaders are available here.