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Standard Chapter Bylaws updated by Society Board

September 16, 2019

Chapter feedback helps develop better governing documents

Following a thorough review process that included chapter leaders, district leaders, and the Governance and Bylaws Committee, revisions to the Standard Chapter Bylaws were approved by the Society Board of Directors on September 8, 2019.

A Chapter’s bylaws are its formal DNA -- the practical definitions that describe

  • Why the organization exists, and its purposes
  • Its legal existence as a corporation
  • How it is governed, and who can be members
  • ... and by extension, a basis for supporting its nonprofit status

As part of their subordinate relationship with the Barbershop Harmony Society, all BHS Chapters operate under a standardized set of bylaws, directed by the Society Board of Directors. It’s important to note that while these legal definitions are identical, each Chapter’s desires, situations, and aims are unique. A Chapter mission statement should reflect that, as provided for in Article 2.02.

Recognizing this, the latest revisions allow a Chapter to be specific in the ways it defines its barbershop experience, with the flexibility to support multiple barbershop ensembles as it wishes.

Specific details

Each Chapter can directly define its qualifications for membership by selecting one of the following provisions:

  • Any male who meets the qualifications of Society Membership as set forth in Article VIII of the Society bylaws (see Section 8.03 (a)) may be considered for participation membership in the Chapter.
  • Any female who meets the qualifications of Society Membership as set forth in Article VIII of the Society bylaws (see Section 8.03 (a)) may be considered for participation membership in the Chapter.
  • Any person who meets the qualifications of Society Membership as set forth in Article VIII of the Society bylaws (see Section 8.03 (a)) may be considered for participation membership in the Chapter.

The Chapter may offer participation in any number of performing groups, including, but not limited to, choruses, quartets or ensembles, consistent with the membership qualifications selected.

Additionally, if the Chapter elects to offer participation membership to any person (option 3 above), it may offer participation in any number of performing groups as described above which may also consist of all male, all female, or mixed members at the option of the Chapter.

Consistent with a Chapter Mission Statement (described in Article 2.02), a Chapter should make an intentional selection among these options, rather than leaving those checkboxes blank. This selection should also be consistently maintained in your records in BHS Member Center.

Section 12.02 provides that a Chapter may in the future amend its qualifications for membership election without prior approval by the Society Governance and Bylaws Committee if the change is from a single-gender membership to an open membership.

Minor edits clean up language

In addition to this definition provision, many copy edits brought all language into tighter internal consistency of usage, capitalization, and so forth.

Changes are effective immediately

The revised Standard Chapter Bylaws are effective immediately for all Chapters, as provided for in previous versions.

Each Chapter should adopt a resolution accepting the Bylaws, and noting which of the three options it has selected in 8.01. This can take place as part of a Board meeting or at the annual Chapter business meeting, which usually occurs before October 15.