Congregational Workings


Standing Committee Job Descriptions

Finance Committee

Committee’s purpose/mission: The Finance Committee shall, with the approval of the Parish Committee, be responsible for financial planning, monitoring the financial affairs of First Parish, and preparing the annual operating budget.

How often we meet, and for how long: Meet four or five times each year (mostly in fall/winter) for 1½–2 hours; use e-mail between meetings.
Typical meeting: Review current financials; review status of draft budget; identify next steps.

Work/activities that occur outside meetings: Liaison with other committees for budget preparation; prepare budget spreadsheet; research specific budget expenditures; produce visuals for Stewardship Drive and for Annual Meeting

Tasks, responsibilities, and expectations of all members:

  • Provide careful attention to financial reports and budget drafts
  • Thoughtfully consider budget options
  • Look at the “big picture” of First Parish’s financial operations

Finance Committee Calendar: September–April, develop the annual budget

Finance Committee Chair

Tasks, responsibilities, and expectations beyond those of regular members:

  • Prepare and maintain the draft budget spreadsheet (traditionally, but not necessarily, done by the chair)
  • Call meetings and set agendas
  • Attend two to three Parish Committee meetings each year
  • Attend Leadership Development Committee round-tables
  • Convene and attend two finance round-table meetings (with reps. from ParCom, Trustees, and Stewardship, and the Treasurer)
  • Attend other meetings as needed (e.g., brief briefings)
  • Prepare Annual Report
  • Present budget at the Annual Meeting

How much time per week does chairing this committee take? On average, about 1 hour/week, varying from 0 hours to 10–12 hours/week (including the spreadsheet work)

First Parish Budget Cycle

May Annual Meeting, budget approved for next FY
As a communication vehicle during FY transition, FinCom members attend a meeting of the Music, RE, and Property Committees before the summer hiatus to explain who we are and the budget process.
July FY begins
July/August  Summer hiatus
September Annual audit Semi-annual summit meeting of Trustees, FinCom, and ParCom rep, (includes Treasurer)
October FinCom discussions with RE, Music, Property, and other committees; FinCom members attend various committee meetings to help articulate needs and priorities FinCom asks staff for budget input
FinCom requests status of current-year pledges from Asst. Treasurer Trustees report distribution to FinCom FinCom creates budget draft and submits to ParCom
November ParCom, or subcommittee, reviews budget draft FinCom produces semi-final draft
December ParCom approves budget Stewardship sets pledge goal (“% increase” based on current pledge level)
January FinCom supports stewardship campaign (e.g., revise stewardship brochure)
March FinCom and Trustees' reports prepared for Annual Report
April Semi-annual summit meeting of Trustees, FinCom, ParCom rep, and CCET rep (includes Treasurer) FinCom creates high-level budget for Annual Meeting ParCom approves final budget
May Annual Meeting, congregation approves budget for next FY



Human Resources Committee

Committee’s purpose/mission: The Human Resources (HR) Committee supports the infrastructure of the church through creating, reviewing, and updating HR policies and procedures; maintaining HR documentation for key events such as hiring, termination, etc.; assisting staff in hiring and performance planning; and training staff and other committee members where appropriate. HR works with the Parish Committee to ensure that First Parish meets Fair Compensation Guidelines, including both pay structure and benefits offerings.

How often we meet, and for how long: Once per month, for 1–1½ hours

Typical meeting: Meetings are action-oriented, with reporting out of current projects or action items

Work/activities that occur outside meetings: Providing support for staff, and administrative tasks, such as comp reviews and review of procedures

Tasks, responsibilities, and expectations of all members:

  • The willingness and ability to take on small HR-related projects or tasks and move them through to completion
  • Experience in HR, either as an HR professional or through experience in leadership and management, so that essential background in labor law, policies and administration, and employee relations is reflected on the committee

In addition, the Secretary takes minutes at our meetings and handles written communications. The Chair develops the meeting agenda and reaches out to church staff as needed. Chairing the committee takes one hour or less per week on average, though occasionally more.

HR Calendar: Our monthly meetings are our only regularly scheduled events.

Leadership Development Committee

Committee’s purpose/mission: To encourage and facilitate participation in the First Parish Committees; to support lay leaders by promoting leadership development throughout our congregation; and to nominate people to fill vacancies on standing committees and as parish officers prior to Annual Meeting.

How often we meet, and for how long: Once/month, August–June; meetings are around 2½ hours

Typical meeting:

  • Check in on progress reaching out to congregants
  • Review and prepare for any upcoming events
  • Update on any specific work with committees
  • Discuss leadership/committee member vacancies and any support needed for specific committees

Work/activities that occur outside meetings: Calls or meetings with congregants; Leadership Forums or other activities (two or three per year)

Tasks, responsibilities, and expectations of all members:

  • Ongoing outreach to congregants (each LDC member reaches out to three people/month)
  • Regular meeting attendance
  • Take turns hosting meetings
  • Help plan and take part in LDC events, such as roundtables

In addition, a recorder takes minutes at our meetings and distributes them to the LDC members before the next meeting. The co-chairs plan the agenda, periodically check-in with ParCom leadership, and write the annual report.

LDC Calendar:

  • Two or three times per year: Conduct leadership events
  • April/May: Staff a table at coffee hour in the weeks leading up to Annual Meeting
  • May: Prepare slate of candidates and present it at Annual Meeting

Membership Committee

Committee’s purpose/mission: To greet and welcome newcomers to First Parish, to help them learn about our community, and to increase the awareness of the entire congregation about welcoming newcomers and including them in the life of First Parish. To inspire those who wish to become active and involved members of the congregation, and to guide them on the path to membership.

How often we meet, and for how long: One Sunday per month, September–June. Committee meetings last about one hour.

Typical meeting:

  • Discuss ways to welcome visitors and to help them connect with those aspects of our community that interest them and to provide a path to membership
  • Plan for the many activities of the Membership Committee that occur throughout the year.

Work/activities that occur outside meetings: Planning, publicizing, and conducting, New UU classes, staffing the welcome table, maintaining the welcome bulletin board, occasional “Coffee with the Minister” events for visitors, staffing a First Parish table at Town Day, and other activities.

Tasks, responsibilities, and expectations of all members:

  • Staffing the welcome table
  • Attending meetings
  • Helping with other activities of the committee according to time and interest.

Membership Calendar:

  • Every Sunday: Staff welcome table
  • Twice a year: Hold New UU class, and New Member ceremony and celebration
  • September/Town Day: Membership Committee staffs a table
  • Two or three times/year: Coffee with the minister

Membership Committee Chair

Tasks beyond those of regular members: For the last several years, the Membership Committee has had two co-chairs, who meet once each month to plan for the committee meetings. Each set of co-chairs has determined its own division of labor. For example, one co-chair might run meetings, while the other handles communications with members.

How much time per week does chairing this committee take? One hour or less per week for each co-chair.


Music Committee

Committee’s purpose/mission: Our music program strives to express the mission of the First Parish UU by providing:

  • An opportunity for broad congregational participation in the musical groups
  • A music program that is highly valued by the congregation and participants.  
  • Music supporting inspiration, joy and meaning within our worship

How often we meet, and for how long: Generally meet the second Thursday of each month, 7:00 pm.

Typical meeting:

  • Take-Aways from last meeting
  • Treasurers Report
  • Current Business
  • Ongoing Business
  • Date Confirmation and Take-Aways for next meeting

Work/activities that occur outside meetings:

  • Annual Evaluation of Music Director (required)
  • Bi-Annual Coffeehouse (optional)
  • Choir Practice (optional)
  • Assist at the Fair Café (optional)

Tasks, responsibilities, and expectations of all members:

  • Support the Music Director in overseeing a Music Program that reflects our UU values.
  • Conduct periodic evaluation of Music Program and Music Director
  • Meet on a monthly basis (or more often, as needed) to communicate, plan, and offer support regarding the Music program.
  • Prepare and submit an annual budget request to the Parish Committee with input from the Music Director, and oversee expenditures.
  • Prepare the annual music calendar in conjunction with the Music Director.
  • Assist the Music Director in the administrative needs of the Music program (e.g., database maintenance, communications and other ongoing and ad hoc tasks as needed)
  • Become familiar with infrastructure of the music program (e.g., basics of the sanctuary and vestry sound systems, instrument maintenance policies, music filing system, choir robes)

Optionally, the committee might also:

  • Design and run the bi-annual Coffeehouse; facilitate music at the Fair Cafe.
  • Organize other music-related events
  • Work with other First Parish committees to coordinate efforts and further involve them in the music of the coongregation
  • Maintain mailing list[s] to better circulate information on the Music programs among the participants
  • Provide content for communication vehicles such as the website’s music section, The Spire, a Music Program brochure.
  • Collect and disseminate Music Program-related data

Music Committee Chair
Tasks beyond those of regular members:

  • Schedule and run the meetings (usually held monthly)
  • Meet periodically with the Minister concerning the music program
  • Run the periodic evaluation of the Music Director
  • Write the annual report to the congregation

Is there a co-chair or a vice chair? How is the work of leadership divided?
Currently we have co-chairs and have tagged “in” for various parts of the season as we knew our schedules would be heavy at different times. This was a mutually agreed upon way of coping. Your mileage may vary. 

How much time per week does chairing this committee take?
Two hours or so on the part of the leading chair who spends time organizing the choir events, sending out e-mails and so on.


  • Manages the Instrument Repair Fund
  • Reports to the committee monthly on spending from operating and instrument repair funds.
  • In collaboration with the Music Director, prepares the annual budget proposal to the Music Committee


  • Records the minutes and posts them to the currently active web document.
  • This function may be performed or delegated by the Chair if Secretary is unavailable.

Parish Committee (ParCom)

Committee’s purpose/mission: ParCom is the principal policy-forming and administrative body of First Parish.

How often we meet, and for how long: Meets the second Tuesday of each month, January–December, from 7-9 p.m., with additional meetings through the year for specific purposes or as needed. For example there is a second meeting in March for the ministerial evaluation (with Committee on Ministry) and a second meeting in April focused on the budget.

Typical meeting: We begin by reading our covenant. We then address agenda items including other committee’s proposals, draft policies, Warrants for congregational meetings, the budget, and other First Parish issues. We look for these items to be well-formulated before they are presented to ParCom.

Work/activities that occur outside meetings: Reading and responding promptly to committee-related e-mails

Tasks, responsibilities, and expectations of all members:

  • Dedicate some hours each month to projects, communications, and meetings
  • Attend monthly meetings
  • Serve on a working group of ParCom, meeting approximately once a month or as needed
  • Regularly attend Sunday Service


We have three day-long retreats during the year to orient new members (spring), plan goals for the year (fall) and do leadership training or explore more deeply church issues (winter).

We also call and coordinate congregational meetings. This year there were three.

Refer to our charter posted on the website for our schedule this year.

ParCom Chair

Tasks beyond those of regular members:

  • Create the agenda for meetings
  • Meet with the vice chair and minister biweekly to attend to time-sensitive issues, to prepare the agenda and plan for meetings and retreats, to advise committees and individuals who want to present to ParCom
  • Attend other committees’ meetings or meet with their leaders as needed
  • May also be involved in drafting proposals, forming task forces, or other activities needed.

Is there a co-chair or a vice chair? How is the work of leadership divided?
The vice chair is available to step in if the chair is unavailable and is also delegated tasks such as drafting a proposed policies, attending meetings with other First Parish leaders, forming task forces as needed.

How much time per week does chairing this committee take? 10–20 hours

Tasks, responsibilities, and expectations of specific members:

  • Ensure that proper records are maintained and that proceedings of the Parish Committee are regularly reported to the congregation.
  • Be responsible for notifying the membership by mail of all congregational meetings and of all matters to be acted upon at said meetings, preside at congregational meetings in the absence of the Moderator until a Moderator pro tem is chosen, and keep a record of the proceedings of such meetings.
  • Perform the duties of the Chair in the event of the simultaneous absence or incapacity of both the Chair and Vice Chair.


  • Receive and safely keep all money and other property of First Parish entrusted to his or her care, which excludes monies, securities, and properties under the control of the Trustees of Trust Funds
  • Make disbursements as directed or approved by the Parish Committee
  • Keep a complete account of the finances of First Parish in records belonging to First Parish, including direction and coordination of any public accounting firm employed by First Parish
  • Render a current statement at each regular meeting of the Parish Committee and of the membership
  • Ensure that all federal, state or local returns, reports or other items required by law are properly prepared and filed with the appropriate authorities in a timely manner.
  • Assistant Treasurer
  • Perform such duties as the Parish Committee shall prescribe, and from time to time may be designated by the Parish Committee to assume all the duties and obligations of the Treasurer.
  • Moderator

Tasks: Chair all congregational meetings (three to four, held throughout the year; the dates are published in September). Follow the agenda and keep the group on track. There is a basic working script to follow in terms of what to say when at a congregational meeting.


  • Comfort speaking in front of a large group.
  • Some familiarity with Robert's Rules of Order (though the Moderator does not have to be an expert—the Moderator may appoint a parliamentarian for the meeting, who will ensure that correct parliamentary procedure is followed and consistency with our bylaws is maintained).
  • Familiarity with our bylaws, our basic structure, and how First Parish operates.

Time commitment: Some preparation time required in advance of each meeting (the time needed varies depending on the nature of the meeting, but in general it’s not oppressive). Commitment to a three-year term (the Moderator may serve two consecutive terms).


Property Committee

Committee’s purpose/mission: The Property Committee shall supervise the maintenance, repair and improvement of First Parish property and grounds.
How often we meet, and for how long: Meet at 7:30 pm the third Thursday of each month, year-round

Typical meeting: Under the brilliant leadership of its chair, the committee reviews an agenda of both previous and new items to be repaired, studied or ignored for the next month. Meetings are usually 1½–2 hours depending upon how long people talk. Speakers taking longer than 2 minutes are subject to electric shocks.

Work/activities that occur outside meetings: Chores from each meeting are undertaken by members to complete either by themselves, with other members or through supervision of vendors.

Tasks, responsibilities, and expectations of all members: Responsibilities are divided by interest, skills and available time. Certain ongoing headaches (for example, our heating system) are assigned to two or more members on an ongoing basis.

Tasks, responsibilities, and expectations of specific members (e.g., treasurer, recorder): The chair (because of his saint-like existence) undertakes the recording and treasurer responsibilities.

Calendar: A Fix-It Day is scheduled each spring.

Property Committee Chair
(according to current chair Al Tosti—take this with a grain of salt)

Tasks beyond those of regular members: Maintain an aura of invincibility and genius in order to cow those who would disobey. Prepare the monthly agendas and post minutes.
Is there a co-chair or a vice chair? How is the work of leadership divided? There are two co-chairs. One handles the agendas and minutes and runs the meetings; the other manages the Property Committee website (which he created) and keeps track of monthly duties.
How much time per week does chairing this committee take? 2 hours and 36 minutes.


Religious Education Committee

Committee’s purpose/mission: Support the Director of Religious Education (DRE) in conducting a church school and providing youth programs, attending to program needs, activities, curriculum, and budget. Committee members also participate in the yearly evaluation of the DRE.
How often we meet, and for how long: Meetings are the first Thursday of each month, September–June. Committee meetings start around 7 p.m. and typically last around two hours.
Typical meeting:

  • DRE shares an overview of the RE program, including challenges and successes
  • Treasurer gives an update on the budget
  • Members discuss and plan for upcoming RE-related activities
  • Members discuss and problem-solve around issues that have arisen (e.g., no teachers for grade 2, curriculum that isn’t engaging kids in grade 6, support needed for child with disabilities)
  • Members review potential new curricula

Work/activities that occur outside meetings: Planning, publicizing, and conducting RE-related events (e.g., classes for parents); planning and conducting One-Room Sunday School
Tasks, responsibilities, and expectations of all members:

  • Attend meetings
  • Help with other activities of the committee, as needed
  • Lead or help with at least one One-Room Sunday School
  • Participate in at least one subcommittee (Administration, Children with Special Needs, Community Building, Curriculum, Finance, Teacher Recruiting and Training, and Time for All Ages)

RE Committee Chair
Tasks beyond those of regular members:

  • Meet regularly with the DRE for the purposes of communication, planning, and support
  • Work with the DRE to set the agenda for the monthly RE meetings, and chair (or arrange a chair for) those meetings
  • Work with the DRE to establish the RE calendar for the year
  • Write the yearly report for annual meeting
  • Oversee the committee’s evaluation of the DRE
  • (Optional) With the DRE, plan and conduct a retreat for committee members before the church year begins, for the purpose of long-term planning and group bonding.

How much time per week does chairing this committee take? On average, two hours per week.

RE Committee Treasurer
Tasks beyond those of regular members:

  • With the DRE and the RE Chair, set the RE budget for the year
  • Manage Frist Parish RE funds as allocated in the annual budget
  • Track RE spending
  • Provide updates on spending against budget at monthly RE Committee meetings
  • Worth with Youth Group adult and student leaders to manage funds in connection with service trips and events, and write checks as needed
  • Reimburse authorized spenders of RE funds by writing checks from bank of America account
  • Provide church treasure with balance in RE checking account on a quarterly basis
  • Write financial report for Annual Meeting report

How much time per week does being Treasurer of this committee take? One hour per week, on average.


Social Justice Committee

Committee’s purpose/mission: To study, inform, and enlist support from members of the congregation on contemporary issues that involve our belief in human dignity.

How often we meet, and for how long: Meet the first Wednesday of each month, September–June, for 60–90 minutes

Typical meeting: Plan upcoming events, review monetary requests, and conduct general information-sharing.

Work/activities that occur outside meetings: Writing communications for e-bulletin, planning and attending events, attending other meetings (e.g., ecumenical team meetings, new UU class, other working groups), attending working group functions

Tasks, responsibilities, and expectations of all members:

  • Attend a minimum of 80% of the meetings
  • Attend all Social Justice events (see below)
  • Coordinate one Social Justice event over the course of the year (see below)
  • Cover a three to five-hour chunk of time on Town Day
  • Coordinate semi-annual Working Groups coordinator meetings with the minister to share objectives, discuss events, etc.
  • Continue to develop the relationship with other Arlington churches to potentially work on another joint project in 2014.
  • Update our draft committee charter to be approved by Parish Committee by the end of the program year

Other tasks:

  • We often have two Youth Group reps as part of the committee, and therefore we do some mentoring with them as well. 
  • Members often support SJ work going on in other places at First Parish (e.g., cooking for Urban Ministry) 
  • The Living our Faith Service requires collecting information on First Parish members and getting updates to website.

Social Justice Calendar:

  • September: Pie Palace Fund Raiser at Town Day—coordinate all logistics and make it happen
  • October/November: Coordinate Shinn Service  
  • December: (1) Continue to administer Giving First Nomination, Selection and Administration Process (2) Coordinate with Youth Group to participate in cooking for Urban Ministry Christmas Party (Marcia Butman)
  • January: Encourage congregants and Working Group members to participate in Annual Social Justice Potluck
  • Spring: Coordinate Living Our Faith Service

Social Justice Committee Chair

Tasks beyond those of regular members: The Chair has the additional responsibilities of being a delegate to the Urban Ministry, convening two to three meetings with the Working Group coordinators, and requesting checks from office. The Chair creates the agenda for the meetings, attends to follow-up needed from meetings, and responds to general e-mails from congregants.

How much time per week does chairing this committee take? 4–6 hours per month


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