Committees and Groups
Standing Committee Charters
► Parish Committee (2017-2018)
Accepted by the Parish Committee July 6, 2017
The Parish Committee is the principal policy-forming and administrative body of First Parish, subject only to the prime authority of the congregation. The Parish Committee provides leadership and vision, creates policy, and has full authority and responsibility to act on the business and programs of First Parish, except as limited by our bylaws. The Parish Committee has general charge of the conduct of all First Parish business affairs and the control of First Parish administration, including the appointment of such committees as the members of the Parish Committee may deem necessary. The Parish Committee serves and answers to the congregation.
Alignment to First Parish Mission
The Parish Committee covenants to uphold the mission of First Parish as the basis for all actions and decisions:
We choose to be a liberal religious community, welcoming to all.
We encourage each other on our spiritual journeys,
Support one another through the changes in our lives,
And challenge the excesses and injustices of our time.
Called to love and upheld by joy, we live our faith.
Leadership and Membership
The Parish Committee consists of the Clerk, the Treasurer, and seven other members at large, all of whom must be members of First Parish.
The members of the Parish Committee are elected at the Annual Meeting. A person who has served two consecutive three-year terms as a member of the Parish Committee must wait at least one year before being eligible to serve on the Parish Committee again. All officers’ and members’ terms begin immediately following the Annual Meeting at which they are elected. In case of early resignation or removal from office, Parish Committee may appoint a replacement to serve until the next Annual Meeting.
The Parish Committee elects its own leadership from among its at-large members, currently a Chair and Vice Chair, and determines their terms.
The Chair, Vice Chair, and the minister (as a non-voting ex-officio member) serve as an Executive Committee. The Parish Committee may choose other lay people to participate in the Executive Committee at any time.
The Executive Committee is empowered to triage requests and concerns from within the community, serve as a sounding board for various topics, make minor administrative decisions, and respond to emergencies. The Executive Committee reports monthly to the Parish Committee and brings matters of importance to the Parish Committee for timely action.
The Parish Committee meets from 7 to 9 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month, every month. It also has two special meetings in the spring, one with the Committee on Ministry to evaluate the ministry and ministry of the congregation and the other with the Finance Committee to approve a proposed budget for the upcoming program year. Except when the Parish Committee goes into executive session, its meeting are open to all First Parish members.
The Parish Committee also holds three retreats, in the fall, winter, and spring. These retreats are for orientation, relationship building, and discernment. Retreats are open only to Parish Committee members and invited guests.
The Executive Committee generally meets twice a month at times convenient to its members. It may invite other individuals to attend and participate in its meetings.
Both the Parish Committee and the Executive Committee may meet as needed to provide timely response to urgent matters or to devote extended time to an important topic.
The responsibilities of the Parish Committee include:
- Create and hold a long-term vision
- Create policy
- Promote the health of the community
- Hold legal responsibility for the actions of First Parish
- Prepare an annual budget, to be submitted to each Annual Meeting
- Send a biannual status report to the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board regarding variances for the walkway to the Massachusetts Avenue entrance and the kitchen
- Evaluate the minister and the overall ministry of the church annually
- Oversee and empower committees and their work
- Foster new initiatives and discern priorities among them
- Bear ultimate responsibility for the stewardship drive for the annual operating budget
- Bear ultimate responsibility for the condition of the physical property
- Hire and dismiss non-called program staff (currently Director of Religious Education, Music Director, and Office Manager)
- Speak for the congregation on matters of public concern
|June 13 (Tuesday)||Parish Committee Meeting|
|June 17 (Retreat)||Spring Retreat: Meet with Stewardship Committee and Racial Justice Coordinating Committee, and choose the Parish Committee’s goals for the year|
|June 18 (Sunday)||Spring Retreat: Identifying goals for the year|
|July 6 (Thursday)||Parish Committee Meeting|
|July 31||Massachusetts Architectural Access Board status report due|
|August 8 (Tuesday)||Parish Committee Meeting|
|September 10 (Sunday)||In-Gathering|
|September 12 (Tuesday)||Parish Committee Meeting|
|September 30 (Saturday)||Fall Retreat|
|October 10 (Tuesday)||
Parish Committee Meeting
|November 14 (Tuesday)||Parish Committee Meeting|
|December 12 (Tuesday)||Parish Committee Meeting|
|January 9 (Tuesday)||Parish Committee Meeting|
|January 31||Massachusetts Architectural Access Board status report due|
|February 3 (Saturday)||Winter Retreat|
|February 13 (Tuesday)||Parish Committee Meeting|
|TBD||Minister Evaluation forms completed by Parish Committee members|
|March 13 (Tuesday)||Parish Committee Meeting|
|March 27 (Tuesday)||Joint meeting of Parish Committee and Committee on Ministry: minister|
|April 3 (Tuesday)||Parish Committee Meeting|
|April 17 (Tuesday)||Joint meeting of Parish Committee and Finance Committee: budget meeting|
|May 8 (Tuesday)||Parish Committee Meeting|
|May 20 (Sunday)||Annual Meeting: New officers and Parish Committee members elected|
|May 20 (Sunday)||Brief Parish Committee Meeting with new members|
|June 12 (Tuesday)||Parish Committee Meeting|
|June 23 (Saturday)||Spring Retreat|
|July 31 (Monday)||Massachusetts Architectural Access Board status report due|
The Stewardship Committee thanks individuals and the congregation for their support of First Parish's work. Stewardship Committee and Parish Committee illuminate what the congregation's generosity makes possible. Finance Committee collects input from staff and committees about expected income (other than the pledge campaign) and expenses in the following fiscal year. Marta solicits requests from staff.
The Parish Committee Chair and Vice Chair meet with Finance Committee chair and (separately) with Stewardship Committee chairs to share information.
The Finance Committee presents a first draft of the budget to the Parish Committee. The Parish Committee identifies preliminary budget priorities and suggests a pledge goal to the Stewardship Committee.
|The Stewardship Committee conducts the pledge drive. The Parish Committee
Chair and Vice Chair are in regular communication with the Stewardship and
|The Finance Committee prepares a draft budget based on the pledge drive results and identified priorities. The Parish Committee and Finance Committee chair have a shared budget meeting at which the Parish Committee approves a proposed budget. The proposed budget is published on the website, with notices in the E-Bulletin and Sunday bulletin.|
|The Parish Committee and Finance Committee host at least one meeting, preferably two where members of the congregation can ask questions about the proposed budget.|
|The congregation approves the budget for the following year at the Annual Meeting.|
Other Goals and Specific Actions for 2017-2018
Support Racial, Social, and Economic Justice and Turning Outward
Safe Congregations Policy
Manage Growth and Prepare for the Future
The Parish Committee reports to the congregation at Annual Meeting. All meeting dates and times are made available to the congregation. Minutes are published on the First Parish website at www.firstparish.info and in hard copy in a binder in the First Parish office. ParSnip articles, with monthly updates on Parish Committee decisions and discussions, are a regular feature in the Spire.
Relationship to Professional Staff
The minister serves in an advisory capacity to all committees, including the Parish Committee as a non-voting ex officio member. With the Committee on Ministry, the Parish Committee conducts an annual evaluation of the called minister. The Parish Committee also approves the hiring and termination of non-called lead program staff, who at this time are the Music Director, Religious Education Director, and Office Manager.
Annual Budget and Spending Authority
The First Parish bylaws state that the Parish Committee is the “principal policy-forming and administrative body of the church. . . . The Parish Committee shall have general charge of the property and funds of the Church, exclusive of the property and funds under the custody and control of the Trustees of Trust Funds. The Parish Committee shall also have general charge of the conduct of all its business affairs”.
The bylaws require the Parish Committee to submit an operating budget for the coming fiscal year at each Annual Meeting. Once a budget is approved, the Parish Committee may authorize and expend the funds as budgeted. It may reallocate funds between line items as long as the amount reallocated does not exceed ten percent of the total budgeted expenditures. It may borrow money for church expenses, if necessary, as long as the amount borrowed does not exceed ten percent of the current annual operating budget. Beyond these limits, any additional expenses or loans require the approval of the congregation during a congregational meeting.
The Parish Committee controls a discretionary budget that is allocated in the annual operating budget.
Bylaws Related to the Parish Committee
ARTICLE VII—Parish Committee
Section 1. The Parish Committee, subject to the prime authority of the congregation, is the principal policy-forming and administrative body of the church. The Parish Committee has full authority and responsibility, except as limited by these bylaws, to act on the business and programs of the church. The Parish Committee shall have general charge of the property and funds of the Church, exclusive of the property and funds under the custody and control of the Trustees of Trust Funds. The Parish Committee shall also have general charge of the conduct of all its business affairs, and the control of its administration, including the appointment of such committees as it may deem necessary.
Section 2. The Parish Committee shall consist of the Clerk, the Treasurer, and seven other members, all of whom shall be members of the Church.
a. The members of the Parish Committee, other than the Clerk and the Treasurer, shall each be elected for a term of three years. A person who has served two consecutive three-year terms as a member of the Parish Committee shall not be eligible for election to any seat on the Parish Committee until after the expiration of one year running from one Annual Meeting to the next Annual Meeting.
b. The terms of office of all Parish Committee members so elected shall run from the end of the Annual Meeting at which they are elected until the end of the Annual Meeting at which their terms of office expire.
Section 4. The Parish Committee shall make a written report to the membership on at least an annual basis, and otherwise shall inform the membership of major policy decisions.
Section 5. Meetings of the Parish Committee shall be open to the membership, except when matters relating to personnel or litigation are taken up in executive session.
Section 6. A majority of the voting members of the Parish Committee shall constitute a quorum. Any action by the Parish Committee may be decided by a simple majority of the votes cast by those present at the meeting, unless this majority limit is otherwise specifically increased in the Parish Committee’s policies or otherwise provided in these bylaws.
Section 7. Any officer of the Church or member of the Parish Committee may resign by giving notice in writing to the Chair or may be removed by a two-thirds majority vote of the members of the Parish Committee or by vote of a simple majority of the voting members present at a congregational meeting.
Section 1. The officers of the Church shall be the members of the Parish Committee, the Assistant Treasurer, the Moderator, and the Auditor.
Section 2. The following officers shall be elected by written ballot at an Annual Meeting: the Clerk, the Treasurer, the Assistant Treasurer, the Moderator, and the Auditor, each for a term of three years. A person who has served two consecutive three-year terms as an officer shall be ineligible for re-election until after the expiration of one year running from one Annual Meeting to the next Annual Meeting. Only members of the church are eligible to serve as officers. The Clerk shall be a resident of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Moderator and the Auditor may not serve concurrently as members of the Parish Committee.
Section 3. The terms of office of all officers so elected shall run from the end of the Annual Meeting at which they are elected until the end of the Annual Meeting at which their terms of office expire.
Section 4. The Chair and Vice Chair of the Parish Committee shall be selected by the Parish Committee from among its members, excluding the Clerk and the Treasurer.
Section 5. Except as otherwise provided herein, the authority and duties of the officers shall be as prescribed in writing by the Parish Committee.
Section 6. The Chair shall coordinate the administrative functions of the Church and shall represent the Church on all appropriate occasions.
Section 7. The Vice Chair shall act in the absence of or at the request of the Chair, at which time she or he shall have all powers and functions applicable to the Chair.
Section 9. The Clerk shall be the official secretary of the Parish Committee and shall ensure that proper records are maintained and that proceedings of the Parish Committee are regularly reported to the congregation. The Clerk shall be responsible for notifying the membership by mail of de at congregational meetings in the absence of the Moderator until a Moderator pro tem is chosen, and shall keep a record of the proceedings of such meetings. The Clerk shall perform the duties of the Chair in the event of the simultaneous absence or incapacity of both the Chair and Vice Chair.
Section 10. The Treasurer shall receive and safely keep all money and other property of the church 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 the Church in records belonging to the Church, including direction and coordination of any public accounting firm employed by the Church; render a current statement at each regular meeting of the Parish Committee and of the membership; and 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.
ARTICLE X—Committee and Duties
Section 3. The Parish Committee may appoint from time to time such ad hoc committees as it may deem necessary.
ARTICLE XII—Fiscal Matters
Section 2. In its management of the affairs of the Church, the Parish Committee shall expend only such sums as have been appropriated by adoption of the annual budget or by special vote taken at the Annual Meeting or at another congregational meeting or are designated gifts or grants that are intended by the giver to be used before the following fiscal year.
Section 3. At each Annual Meeting, the Parish Committee shall submit an operating budget for the coming fiscal year. The budgeted expenditures may not exceed the anticipated income. A budget shall be adopted by a simple majority vote of the voting members present at the meeting. Once a budget is approved, the Parish Committee may authorize and expend the funds as budgeted; however, the Parish Committee may reallocate funds among the line items of the approved budget so long as the amount reallocated does not exceed ten percent of the total budgeted expenditures.
Section 5. The Parish Committee may borrow money for church expenses, if necessary; however, no borrowing of money nor financial contract may be made without approval of the members of the Church in a congregational meeting if such borrowing or contract involves more than ten percent of the current annual operating budget.