Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality
I. Name: Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality
II. Purpose: To foster study and scholarly exchange in the field of Christian spirituality.
III. Membership: The Society welcomes to membership all persons who express their interest in the Society’s work and support the Society by subscribing to the Society’s journal, Spiritus.
IV. Board of Directors
A. Composition: The Board of Directors Board normally consists of three officers, six at-large Directors, and up to six [number not to exceed the number of at-large directors] ex officio members.
1. The officers are the Vice President/President-Elect, elected by the membership to a two-year term (2023/24 was a transition year during which the nominated Vice President/President-elect served one year only) followed by a two-year term as President; the President; and the Secretary-Treasurer, elected by the membership to a three-year term renewable indefinitely.
2. The six At-Large Directors are elected by the membership to serve staggered three-year terms.
3. The ex officio members are the Editor of the journal Spiritus, appointed by the Board to a five-year term renewable indefinitely; the Liaison Member, elected by the membership to a nonrenewable five-year term on the Board of Directors. The Liaison Member serves a concurrent term on the Editorial Board of Spiritus; the Chairperson of the International Relations Committee; Coordinator of the Emerging Scholars Group; and the Communications Director on a one-year term renewable indefinitely.
B. Duties: To plan for meetings of the Society, propose to the membership ways to foster the study of spirituality, carry out directives of the membership, participate in activities of the Society as requested by the officers of the Society, oversee the financial affairs of the Society, and assume the responsibilities of the Board of Directors for the SSCS. corporation. Only current members of the Society may serve on the Board of Directors.
C. Executive Committee of the Board of Directors: The Executive Committee shall consist of the President, Vice President/President-Elect, and Secretary/Treasurer, with the President acting as chair. The Executive Committee shall have the responsibilities listed in the By-Laws of the Society, consisting primarily of overseeing the day-to-day business and affairs of the Society.
V. Elections: Elections follow the guidelines delineated in the Policies and Procedures Manual. For all elections, the Nominations Committee moves the election of the candidates at the Annual Members Meeting, and the members present constitute a quorum to ratify (or reject) the election.
A. Election of the Vice President/President-Elect: The Vice President/President-Elect shall be nominated by the Board of Directors from among its present or past elected or ex officio members. The Board will make every effort to honor demographic diversity in nominating candidates. The Chair of the Nominations Committee ascertains the willingness of the person to serve as Vice-President/President-Elect for two years and President for two years.
B. Election of the Secretary/Treasurer and At-Large Members of the Board of Directors: The Nominations Committee, using nominations from the membership and the input of the Board of Directors, formulates a slate of candidates for these positions and ascertains before the Annual Meeting that the nominees are willing to serve for a three-year term.
C. Selection of Ex Officio Directors
1. Editor of Spiritus: The Editor shall be selected when necessary by the Board of Directors, in consultation with the Nominations Committee and the Editorial Board of Spiritus.
2. Liaison Member: The Nominations Committee, using nominations from the membership, formulates a slate of candidates for this position. The Liaison Member is then selected with input from the Board of Directors and the Editor.
3. International Relations Committee Chairperson: Prior to the completion of a Chair’s term, the Chair will ask current members of the IRC and those who have served on the Committee within the past three years to propose two or three names from among current and former members as their recommendations for the new Chair. The two or three persons with the most recommendations will form the ballot to be voted on by all current members in a confidential election in which the Chair can also vote. The Chair, having consulted with the proposed candidates to be sure they wish to stand for the position, puts forward a slate of candidates, or the only candidate willing to stand, if that turns out to be the case, at least a month prior to the election date. The Chair will serve a five-year term. If a newly elected Chair is already a Committee member, the Chair term length takes precedence.
4. Emerging Scholars Group Coordinator: New leadership of the ESG emerges as current Coordinators move beyond “emerging scholar” status. Typically, recruitment is from members of the ESG group and two coordinators have shared leadership at one time to facilitate collaboration and ensure continuity. No specific term has been designated for this position.
5. Communications Director: Appointed by Board to a one-year term, renewable indefinitely.
VI. Resignation, Removal and Replacement of Directors: Directors, including officers, may resign at any time by written notice delivered to the Board of Directors. Directors, including officers, may be removed with cause by the affirmative vote of a majority of directors at a meeting of the Board.
A. Officers: If a President resigns or is removed, the Vice President will replace the President, serving the remainder of that term. If six months or less remain in the term, the Vice President will serve a full term subsequent to completing the term of the predecessor. If more than six months remain in the term, a new President will be nominated and elected at the next Annual Members Meeting. If the Vice President resigns or is removed, the Board will appoint an at-large director in the third year of service to serve the remainder of the Vice President’s term. The appointed replacement shall not serve as President unless elected in accordance with section 5.9(a) of the By-Laws. If the Secretary/Treasurer resigns or is removed, the Board will appoint a replacement to serve until the next Annual Members Meeting, at which time a new Secretary/Treasurer will be elected in accordance with section 5.6(b) of the By-Laws. The interim Secretary/Treasurer may stand for election for a full term.
B. At-Large Directors: If an at-large director is elected an officer, resigns, or is removed, a replacement at-large director will be elected to serve the remainder of the director’s term, following the normal process, at the next Annual Members Meeting. Depending on the length of time remaining in the term, the Board will decide whether the director may then stand for election to a full term.
C. Ex officio Directors: If the Editor resigns or is removed, the Board, in consultation with the Editorial Board, will appoint an interim Editor. As soon as possible, a new Editor will be elected by the membership. The Board will decide whether the interim Editor may stand for election for a full term. If the Liaison Member resigns or is removed, the Board, in consultation with the Editor or Interim Editor as the case may be, will decide whether an interim Liaison Member should be appointed or whether a new Liaison Member should be elected at the next Members Meeting. If an interim Liaison Member is to be appointed, the Nominations Committee will propose names to the Board of Directors, who will consult with the Editor or Interim Editor in choosing an appointee. The Board and Editor or Interim Editor will also decide whether the interim Liaison Member may stand for election for a full term.
VII. Nomination of Previous Directors: After serving a term on the Board of Directors, whether as an elected or ex officio member, a member may be nominated to the Board again after a hiatus of three years. By exception, this statement does not apply to the positions of Vice President/President-Elect, who may be elected to that position while serving, or within three years of serving, as an at-large or ex officio Director; and the Liaison Member, who may be elected to that position while serving, or within three years of serving, on the Board in any capacity except as Editor or Liaison Member.
VIII. Nominations Committee: The Nominations Committee shall be composed of three members: two members elected at large, and one ex officio member from the Board, namely the current Vice President/President-Elect. The elected members serve staggered three-year terms. The role of the elected members of the Nominations Committee is to assure that the preferences of the membership, expressed through their nominations, is honored. The role of the ex officio member is to represent the needs of the Board, in particular by working with the new members to choose candidates in a way that honors demographic diversity and attends to specific qualifications needed on the current Board.
IX. Dues: The dues will be proposed by the Secretary/Treasurer and submitted by the President for approval by majority vote of the membership attending the Annual Members Meeting. The fiscal year of the Society shall commence on June 1 and end on May 31.
X. Constitutional Amendments: The Constitution of the Society may be amended by a 2/3 vote of the members voting at an Annual Members Meeting, or by 2/3 of the votes cast by the membership voting by mail.
This Constitution was originally voted on and adopted at the October 2001 Business Meeting. It was amended at the annual meetings of November 23, 2002; November 22, 2003; and November 18, 2006. It was amended specifically in light of the new by-laws of the corporation on November 20, 2011 and November 2012. At the request of the Executive Committee, Secretary/Treasurer Anita Houck thoroughly revised the Constitution and Policies and Procedures Manual in 2013, in order to rectify inconsistencies among documents, fully reflect the By-Laws, and incorporate the change in the Board of Directors to include the new position of Liaison Member. Changes recommended by the Executive Committee were then presented to the membership during the 2013 Members’ Meeting, during which seven changes were approved:
#1. Adding the Liaison Member position to the Board
#2. Allowing non-members to be nominated to (not elected to) the SSCS Board
#3. Broadening language on diversity, specifically in discerning candidates for election
#4. Establishing processes for replacing ex officio Directors (the Editor, Liaison Member, and Co-Chairs of the AAR Christian Spirituality Group) who resign or are removed from office
#5. Removing the requirement that nominees to the Nominations Committee be regular attendees at the annual members’ meeting at the AAR
#6. Adding a paragraph explaining the history of the document
#7. Overall editing to improve organization and wording
In 2019, the document was revised to recognize that the Co-Chairs of the AAR’s Christian Spirituality Unit (which is no longer formally affiliated with the Society) are no longer members of the Board.
Changes approved at the SSCS Business meeting on 18 November 2023:
In 2023 at the request of the then President, Bo Karen Lee, VP Michael O’Sullivan and Secretary-Treasurer Rachel Wheeler updated the Constitution, By-Laws, and Policies and Procedures Manual to reflect changes voted on by the Board of Directors throughout the year and brought the following recommendations to the Members to vote on at the Business Meeting that year:
i. Add the position of Director of Communications as an ex officio position to the Board of Directors;
ii. Have the term be a one-year term renewable indefinitely;
iii. Have the number of ex officio members on the Board of Directors increased from the current number of 4 to a maximum of 6 to enable the Director of Communications to be added and to allow for the possibility of another position to be created in the future. The existing four ex officio positions are: Editor of Spiritus, Liaison Member between the Board of Directors and the Editorial Board, Emerging Scholars Coordinator, and Chair of the International Relations Committee. The maximum number is set at 6 in order not to exceed the 6 at-large directors;
iv. Ratify the Interim Editor of Spiritus appointed by the Board of Directors in consultation with the Nominations Committee.
v. Add new material about the IRC covering how the chair is chosen, the number of members, the terms of the chair and members, and an additional piece about the emergence of the committee – see the document on this material passed by the Board of Directors. Michael and Rachel prepared it on the basis of what Diana Villegas, then Chair of the IRC, proposed as a result of her conversations with the IRC and her interaction with the SSCS Executive Committee of 2021-22;
vi. Overall editing for the sake of greater coherence and consistency.
The Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality (SSCS) exists to promote research and dialogue within the community of persons interested in the field of spirituality. The SSCS is ecumenical and strives to be inclusive of the widest possible range of expressions of Christian spirituality. Its work is interdisciplinary, encouraging the application of diverse critical approaches to the study of spirituality.
Document reviewed and confirmed 15 June 2016 (Anita Houck)
SSCS Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
The Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality heartily endorses, promotes, and strives to embody the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion among its members. We commit ourselves – Directors, committee members, members at large – to embracing and celebrating the range of religious, racial, ethnic, national, gendered, and sexual identities that comprise the human family, believing that broadening and sharing our knowledge and experience can lead to a more authentic perspective of, and engagement with, the whole.
The Covid-19 pandemic and increasing attention to manifestations of white supremacy, anti-black and brown racism, and anti-Asian racism in recent years have illuminated anew the inequalities and violence that have long existed. Therefore, we commit ourselves to scrutinizing and counteracting the ways in which white supremacy and racism, colonization, and other forms of oppression are embedded within and continue to shape our field, scholarship, pedagogies, administrative work, and ministries, often marginalizing, diminishing, and excluding persons or groups based on the differences we wish to embrace and celebrate. We believe that adhering to this commitment lies at the heart of Christian spirituality, the foundation and horizon of the Society.
Posted 22 January 2024