Governance

First Parish of Watertown is one of the oldest parishes in America. It was gathered in 1630 as a Puritan congregation, and continues to follow the independent and democratic Congregational system, where there is no hierarchy and each congregation calls its own minister, controls its own finances and property, and establishes its own criteria for membership.  Today we are governed by a Parish Committee and the work of the church is carried out by a number of program committees.

Parish Committee

The church is governed by the Parish Committee, made up of seven members elected by the congregation at the Annual Meeting for a term of three years.  The Parish Committee sets policy, hires staff, and manages the overall direction and business of the church.

2020-2021 Parish Committee

Sue Twombly, Chair
Kristin Bray
Nick Haddad
Jean Merkl
Kelly Morton
Dia Warren

News from Parish Committee

From the Parish Committee – May 22, 2020

The Parish and Nominating Committees are really busy!  We are in the process of collecting nominations for our Ministerial Search Committee this week.  Our goal is to try and reach every member and friend to give them an opportunity to nominate someone for the Search...

First Parish Building Remains Closed

Now that businesses are beginning to re-open in Massachusetts, you may be wondering when the First Parish building will again be available for meetings, services, rental uses, and other gatherings. Here is an important update for you. The church building is currently...

Officers

Elected members of the congregation fill the offices of Clerk, Treasurer, Assistant Treasurer, Historian, and Moderator of meetings.

Trustees

The First Parish Trustees are responsible for the wellbeing and preservation of the church’s three endowment accounts. These include the Ministerial Fund, the Perpetuity Fund, and the Helen Robinson Wright Fund. Proceeds from the first two are used to support the parish’s operating budget, while the Wright Fund is used exclusively for charitable purposes in the broader community.

As part of our congregation’s commitment to social justice, our Trustees work with a Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) firm to manage our endowment funds.

The Trustees also work to increase the size of First Parish’s endowments through the encouragement of members of the congregation to provide for the church in their wills and estate plans.

Parish Council

The Parish Council is an advisory body, comprised of the chairs of the church committees and chaired by the minister.  The Parish Council works to form a shared vision and goals for the church and coordinates the work of program committees.

Congregational Meetings

In line with our fifth principle – “the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and society at large” – the members of First Parish elect officers, Trustees, and members of Parish Committee at the Annual Meeting each April.  Members of First Parish also vote to approve an annual budget and extraordinary expenses, amend the bylaws, and call a minister.