As members of the Parish Committee, we commit ourselves to realizing the mission of First Parish, and to keep it prominent before us as we make decisions, create policies, and choose priorities for our community.

  • We promise to be good stewards of our resources and care for the long-term well-being of our community.
  • As leaders of the congregation, we will model enthusiasm, diligence, courage, and positive relationships.
  • We commit ourselves to building trust between and among members of the congregation, leaders, and staff through clear communication, transparent processes, and responsible and compassionate action.
  • We will seek to involve all members of the congregation, hear their diverse voices, and encourage leadership among them.
  • Among ourselves, we will speak and listen with care for one another, and hear each voice with equal respect. We will start and end meetings on time.
  • As leaders, we understand that we will be called on to speak difficult truths with love. We will encourage conflicting opinions with open hearts and minds. Once made, we will stand united behind our decisions.We offer our service on the Parish Committee in the spirit of love. —Adopted by the Parish Committee 2011


General Purpose

The Parish Committee creates policy and manages the affairs of the First Parish in service to its mission. It serves and answers to the congregation. Its role and duties are defined in the bylaws as follows: “The Parish Committee shall manage the affairs of the Parish, expending, however, in each fiscal year, only such sums as have been appropriated by adoption of the annual budget or by special vote taken at the Annual Meeting or at a Special Meeting of the Parish. The Parish Committee shall prepare and submit a budget to each Annual Meeting.”

Alignment to First Parish Mission

Parish Committee members covenant to uphold the mission of First Parish as the basis for all actions and decisions.

Leadership and Membership

The Parish Committee consists of the Clerk, the Treasurer, and seven other members, all of whom must be members of the Parish.

The officers and members of the Parish Committee are nominated by the Leadership Development Committee and elected at the Annual Meeting. Members may serve two consecutive three-year terms, after which they must take one year off before running for reelection. All officers and members terms begin immediately following the Annual Meeting at which they are elected. In case of vacancies, ParCom may appoint a replacement to serve until the next Annual Meeting.

Parish Committee elects its own leadership, and mutually decides the titles and terms of leadership positions. Currently, the leadership consists of Chair and Vice Chair. The Vice Chair is assumed but not required to become chair.

Chair, Vice Chair, and the minister(as ex-officio) serve as the Executive Committee, and are empowered to triage requests and concerns from within the community, serve as a sounding board for various topics, and make minor administrative decisions. Executive Committee submits a monthly written report to Parish Committee, and brings matters of importance before the committee for discussion.


Parish Committee meets on the second Tuesday of each month. All meetings are open to attend by First Parish members and friends. In the year 2012–2013, small subgroups, called working groups, also meet once a month in addition to the regular meeting.

Typical Calendar of the Year
July/August Summer meeting
September Fall Retreat
October Budget Process Begins—input from staff and committees
November First Draft of Budget Presented to ParCom
December Pledge Goal Set by Stewardship; ParCom Discusses Budget Priorities
January Mid Year Retreat; Budget Adopted for Stewardship Drive Purposes
February Minister Evaluation forms completed by ParCom
March Stewardship Drive; Minister Evaluation Meeting (in addition to regular meeting)
April Budget Finalized; Budget Approval Meeting (in addition to regular meeting)
 May  Annual Meeting preparation; New Members and Officers elected
June Spring Retreat for 2012–2013 planning
Specific Duties

Annual duties of Parish Committee include the following:

  • preparation of an annual budget, to be submitted to each Annual Meeting
  • evaluation of the minister and overall ministry of the church
  • oversight and empowerment of committees and their work
  • foster new initiatives and discerns priorities among them
  • oversight of annual operating budget stewardship drive
  • oversight of condition of physical property
  • approval of employment of non-called program staff
  • create and hold long term vision
  • speak for congregation on matters of public concern
  • hold legal responsibility for actions of First Parish
Annual Objectives 2012–2013
  • Launch Capital Campaign
  • Explore the area of church wide communication and make recommendationsfor improvement
  • Explore the area of fellowship and make recommendations for improvement
  • Refine fiscal oversight procedures
  • Create and publish Policy and Procedure Handbook
Outcome Measurements
  • Successful vote on capital campaign
  • Create annual budget and bring to annual meeting
  • Maintain physical plant in good condition
  • Staff is effective
  • Written reports from working groups with recommended actions
Reporting Requirements

Parish Committee reports to the congregation at Annual Meeting. Its regular meeting dates and times are made available to the congregation.

Relationship to Professional Staff

Parish Committee conducts an annual evaluation of the called minister. The minister is ex-officio to the Parish Committee. Parish Committee approves the hiring of non- called program staff, who at this writing, include the Music Director and the Religious Education Director.

Annual Budget and Spending Authority

Parish Committee has a discretionary budget to be spent as needed in an amount allotted in the annual budget. It also has authority to spend an amount of up to 10 % of the annual budget at its discretion without approval of the congregation.

—Approved by the Parish Committee April 2013



It is the intention of the Parish Committee to make the decisions and discussions of the Parish Committee an accessible and transparent process. We encourage an open flow of communication with the congregation. The Parish Committee is committed to developing policy that will build communication

Parish Committee Communication with the Congregation

Parish Committee meetings are public and can be attended by anyone within the church community, as well as invited guests. The Parish Committee meeting schedule is established at the beginning of the year and is available through the church office. Regular meetings are also published in the church calendar, which is distributed through regular church communications. In the event of a meeting change or an extra meeting taking place outside of the normal schedule, notification of the meeting date will take place at least one week prior to the meeting and will be posted. In the event of an emergency meeting the schedule will be posted as soon as possible.

Parish Committee meeting agendas should be posted on the First Parish website 48 hours prior to the Parish Committee meeting whenever circumstances allow. Each meeting agenda is set by the Parish Committee Executive Committee, which consists of the Parish Committee Chairs and other designated members. Anyone wanting to have an item on the agenda should contact the Parish Committee Chair. An e-mail address that can be used to reach the Parish Committee will be maintained and publicized widely.

Approved Parish Committee Minutes will be posted in the church and on the First Parish website. Minutes will include staff reports that are submitted to Parish Committee, such as the Minister, Director of Religious Education, and Office Manager’s report. Other reports may also be attached at the request of the Parish Committee. Minutes will be available on the church website for 12 months, and then archived for at least 10 years. There will be a hard copy notebook of Parish Committee meeting minutes and staff reports held in the church office dating back 2 years.

Under special and unusual circumstance the Parish Committee may meet in Executive Session during which only members of the Parish Committee may be present. Past Executive Sessions have generally been related to staff evaluations and salary discussions. Executive Sessions are for discussion only, and no minutes are taken.

Highlights of Parish Committee Meetings, as well as any relevant updates will be published in our monthly newsletter, The Spire. Parish Committee meeting dates will be in the weekly announcements e-mail and the Sunday Bulletin found in the Order of Service. As of April 2011, the Parish Committee e-mail address is

—Adopted by the Parish Committee April 26, 2011


Desired Qualifications

All Parish Committee (ParCom) members are required by the First Parish by-laws to be members of First Parish. In addition, ParCom members should be those who have:

  • Made a financial contribution of record, of any amount, to First Parish
  • A belief in the mission of First Parish
  • Demonstrated leadership within First Parish, such as serving on a committee or large project; experience with a variety of jobs with various different groups especially helpful
  • An interest in policy-making and big picture thinking
  • The willingness to take positions on controversial issues
  • Good working relationships with other church members
  • Good communication skills

Parish Committee seeks to have a variety of skills within its body, including but not limited to legal, financial, business, group dynamics, spiritual leadership, social justice, music, and religious education.

Expectations of ParCom Members
  • Dedication to First Parish as a major volunteer commitment; ability and energy to dedicate some hours each month to projects, communications, and meetings
  • Willingness to understand the legal responsibility of the Parish Committee, andof the various duties of the committee, including budget and employee oversight
  • Attendance at monthly meetings, held on second Tuesdays at 7 pm
  • Service on a working group of ParCom, meeting approximately once a month, or as needed
  • Regular attendance at Sunday Service
  • Prompt communication with other ParCom members, by e-mail, phone, or inperson
  • Willingness to step in to serve in case of emergency needs (such as filling avolunteer position)
  • Follow through on commitments
  • Maintain conduct becoming a leader in the community, and in compliance withthe ParCom covenant:
    —Drafted by the Parish Committee February 12, 2013