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.
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
News from Parish Committee
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...
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...
The next step in our search for our new settled minister is to solicit nominations from the congregation for members to make up our Ministerial Search Committee. In the coming week, we will be holding a series of small group virtual meetings, facilitated by a member of the Parish Committee or Nominating Committee. There will be time to discuss the qualities needed for someone to serve on a Ministerial Search Committee and the commitment required of its members, as well as a chance to ask lingering questions about the search process. At the end of the meeting, you will be asked to confidentially submit your nomination to the facilitator.
Elected members of the congregation fill the offices of Clerk, Treasurer, Assistant Treasurer, Historian, and Moderator of meetings.
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.
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.
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.