Rental Space Usage Policy

1.0 Application:

  1. A Rental Application/Agreement Form must be completed and signed by the person authorized on behalf of an organization to sign contracts.

2.0 Deposits/Payments/Refunds

  1. Payment in full is due 6 weeks prior to your event unless other arrangements are made.
  2. If an event needs to be cancelled due to failure of the church’s heating or electrical systems during the event, government regulations, destruction of facilities prior to the event or other causes beyond reasonable control, paid rental fees will be fully refunded.
  3. If you are unable to hold your event due to inclement weather we will attempt to reschedule a new date.
  4. If the applicant cancels the event for reasons not associated with Section 2.2, then any rental fees paid will not be refunded.
  5. The use of the rented space is for the applicant and is not assignable nor transferable. Any fees paid will be forfeited for doing so and the event will be cancelled.
  6. The use of the assigned rented space is for the use specified in the Application/Agreement. Any payments will be forfeited for doing otherwise.
  7. If the rented space needs to be setup in a specific way prior to the applicant’s event, the applicant can perform the setup or pay a setup fee as specified in the FPW Rental Spaces, Availability, Rental Rates and Additional Fees Charts. The space must be restored to the original configuration after the event.
  8. If the attendees of the event stay beyond the allotted rental time by more than 15 minutes, then the hourly rate will be applied to any portion of subsequent hour(s) the space is not vacated as specified in the FPW Rental Spaces, Availability, Rental Rates and Additional Fees Charts.

3.0 Cancellations or Cessation of Event:

  1. As a religious organization, our first obligation is to our members. First Parish of Watertown reserves the right, in the extremely unlikely event of a critical unexpected church function, to cancel a rental agreement and reschedule or re-assign a reserved date, time or space. The church will provide as much notice as possible in advance of its right to re-schedule or re-assign a reserved date, time, or space.
  2. If an applicant cancels their event for any reason other than those specified in Section 2.2 less than one month prior to the event, then the security deposit and any payments will not be refunded.

4.0 Restrictions on the Usage of Rental Spaces

4.1 General

  1. The primary purpose of our building is to provide facilities for the program and activities of the church, its members, its committees and affiliated organizations. We welcome groups, organizations and individuals to rent our sanctuary or social hall for events whose purpose is not in conflict with our mission, our commitment as a green-sanctuary church, and as a welcoming congregation. The purpose must not conflict with or jeopardize our 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. We reserve the unequivocal right to decline rental requests without explanation for that determination.
  2. The person identified on the application must be present for the entire event rental period. This person will liaison with the FPW’s on-site representative.
  3. If the applicant uses the assigned rental space for a use or purpose other than that stated on the Application/Agreement without prior approval from FPW, the FPW on-site coordinator will stop the event and ask all persons present to leave the building.
  4. If the number of persons attending an event exceeds the number of people allowed in that space by the state fire marshal or fire code, we expect renters to cooperate with FPW’s building representative to reduce the number of people in the space and allow for proper emergency exit.
  5. Alcohol is not permitted on the premises without prior approval from FPW. Proper licenses and/or insurance will be required when necessary.
  6. Smoking is not permitted on the premises.
  7. The use of candles or other open/closed flames is not allowed without prior approval from FPW. The use of the fireplace in the Sanctuary or the Social Hall is not permitted.
  8. Rented spaces may only be accessed, occupied and used during the agreed rental period. Renters who do their own setup or takedown must allocate a sufficient amount of time to complete these tasks so that a rented space is left in its original condition or layout.
  9. Furnishings may not be moved from one space to another unless prior arrangements are made.
  10. Decorations may not be attached to walls, pillars, or fixtures using thumbtacks, scotch tape or other adhesive tapes, or any method that might cause any damage to the surfaces.
  11. Lighting or special equipment may not be installed or used in the rented space without prior approval as indicated in the rental agreement and requires an approved special request addendum.
  12. Thermostats are pre-set and may only be adjusted the FPW authorized staff.
  13. Excessive levels of noise or disturbance is not permitted.

4.2 Sanctuary

  1. Food or drinks other than water in enclosed containers, are not permitted in the Sanctuary.
  2. The piano may only be used with prior approval as indicated in the rental agreement.

4.3 Social Hall

  1. Serving or consumption of food is restricted to the Social Hall or Conference Room.
  2. If the kitchen space is used it must be left in the condition in which it was found. All glasses, dishes, utensils must be washed, dried and put away and the floor must be swept. Only the contents of cabinets labelled “First Parish of Watertown,” “First Parish” or “Church” may be used.

4.4 “First Parish of Watertown’s” (FPW) Reserved Rights

  1. FPW reserves the right to have a FPW representative on the premises or in the rented space and to enter the space at any time and for any purpose.
  2. This is not a lease and no interest in real estate is implied or conveyed by the rental agreement.
  3. The applicant shall not imply in any way that FPW is sponsoring the event. No references to FPW may be used for promotion or distribution by the applicant other than to reference FPW as the location for the event.
  4. The applicant, the applicant’s use and the event attendees shall be subject to any policies, rules and regulations that FPW may institute from time to time, including those stated in any publication produced by FPW. The FPW on-site representative at their discretion may determine whether or not the policies and rules, and regulations are being adhered to.
  5. FPW is not liable for failure or delay to perform its obligations due to causes set forth in Section 2.2 or that are beyond its reasonable control.

4.5 FPW’s Liability Exclusion

  1. FPW shall have no liability for any loss, cost, expense, or damage to the applicant, its members, officers, directors, agents, employees, guests, clients, attendees or anyone else by reasons of theft, vandalism, weather, or otherwise.
  2. The applicant agrees not to sue FPW or any FPW respective officers, agents, employees, members, members of its governing boards, successors, or assign for any such loss, cost, expense, damage or injury.
  3. In no event shall FPW be liable to the applicant for incidental or consequential damages if FPW is unable to make the space available to the applicant during all or any part of the scheduled time of use.
  4. The space rented is provided on an “AS IS” basis and FPW makes no guarantees of any kind whether expressed or implied.

4.6 Applicant/Renter’s Liability

  1. Applicant/renter is and hereby agrees to be fully responsible and liable for any and all injuries including death suffered by persons. The applicant/renter further agrees to be responsible for any and all damage to FPW’s property and any theft or loss of FPW’s furnishings and equipment, resulting from or occurring during the applicant/renter’s use of the designated rented space or the building interior or exterior premises or equipment, resulting from or occurring during the applicant/renter’s use of the space and not caused by the willful misconduct or gross negligence of FPW.
  2. The applicant/renter shall indemnify and hold harmless FPW and their officers, directors, agents, employees, member and members of their governing boards from and against any and all liability, action, claim, demand, loss, expense, or damage (including reasonable attorneys’ fees) caused by or arising out of any act, omission, publication, or representation by the applicant/renter, its members, officers, directors, agents, employees, guests, clients, attendees or anyone else in connection with the rental agreement for the designated rental space and interior and exterior premises of the church as necessary to access the rental space.

Memorial Garden Policy

Approved by Parish Committee  7/17/2019


The Memorial Garden consists of a Memorial Wall, Terrace and adjacent lawn which has been created as both a place for community and a place of remembrance.  It is a space for celebration and for quiet reflection.

The Memorial Wall is a place where we can remember and honor members of our community who have passed away.  Upon request of any member or friend of First Parish, and in accordance with these policies, the name of a deceased individual may be inscribed in the wall.

The Terrace and adjacent lawn is a space where the congregation can gather after services in nice weather.   It is a place where summer worship services, memorial services and services commemorating significant life passages can be held.  It is also a venue for celebrations and community events.  The lawn area is also available upon application to the Memorial Committee or Minister as a space for interment of the ashes of members of our community or friends of The First Parish.

Rules and Policies for the Terrace and Memorial Garden

Use and maintenance of the Memorial Garden, Terrace and adjacent lawn is under the exclusive control of The First Parish of Watertown.  No individual shall acquire any right whatsoever with respect to the Memorial Garden, Terrace and adjacent lawn, its existence, use or appearance.  The First Parish of Watertown may alter, modify or relocate the Memorial Garden, terrace and adjacent lawn.

The Parish Committee of the First Parish of Watertown shall have ultimate authority over policies and decisions regarding the use of the Memorial Garden, terrace and adjacent lawn and may alter or change these policies at any time.  The Parish Committee delegates decision making around inscriptions on the Memorial Wall and interment of ashes to the Memorial Committee.

The Memorial Wall and Adjacent Lawn

  1. Members and friends and their loved ones (immediate family or at the discretion of the Memorial Committee) who have passed away shall be eligible to have their names and life dates inscribed on the wall.
  2. Anyone wishing to have a name inscribed on the wall may fill out an application which will be approved by the Memorial Committee. A fee will be charged for the inscription and maintenance of the Wall and Garden. Fees will be established and reviewed periodically by the Parish Committee.
  3. Inscriptions and their placement will be arranged for by the Memorial Committee. The addition of names will take place approximately once a year.
  4. A family may prepay for space on the Wall in order to reserve a space near the inscribed name(s) of deceased loved ones.
  5. A commemoration will be held recognizing those names memorialized and ashes interred during the year.
  6. A written registry of all inscriptions shall be kept by The First Parish. This will include the names, life dates, date of inscription and other information about the person memorialized.
  7. No flowers or other markers are to be left on the wall or the lawn.

Interment of Ashes

  1. Cremated ashes of members and friends and their loved ones may be interred in a place in the adjacent lawn upon request and with the approval of the Memorial Committee.
  2. Anyone wishing to have ashes interred, shall fill out an application for interment and agree to the rules and policies stated herein. A fee will be charged for interment of ashes.  Fees for interment of ashes may be reduced or waived by a vote of the Parish Committee.
  3. Ashes shall be interred by burying and shall not be recoverable. Containment boxes shall not be permitted. The location of the burial will be determined by the Memorial Committee. Any part of the lawn area which is disturbed by the burial is to be restored to its previous condition.
  4. A member of the Memorial Committee or the Minister of The First Parish shall be present at all interments. Ashes will be buried at a time which is mutually agreeable to the requesters and the Memorial Committee.
  5. If the Minister of The First Parish is to officiate at a service of interment, a separate fee may be charged for an interment service.  If anyone other than the Minister of The First Parish is to officiate at an interment service, this must be approved in advance by the Minister of The First Parish.
  6. A written registry of all interments shall be kept by The First Parish. This will include the names, life dates, date of burial and other information about the person memorialized. 

Other Uses of the Terrace and Adjacent Lawn

  1. The Terrace and adjacent lawn is a gathering place for the observance of special milestones or for the congregation and community to come together.
  2. The use of the Terrace and lawn is reserved first for the Congregation of The First Parish.
  3. Community use is available through our rental program. Any group renting space inside the church, must separately request and pay for the use of the Terrace and lawn.
  4. Uses that are not allowed on the Terrace and lawn are: smoking or drug use, loud or disruptive activities, and play by unsupervised children.
  5. Chairs from inside may not be placed on the lawn areas.
  6. We ask that all using this space respect the intent of this space as described above and treat it accordingly.


Fees cover the cost of engraving or internment and maintenance of the Garden as a place of peace and beauty.  Fees may be waived or reduced at the discretion of the Parish Committee and are subject to change periodically upon review of the Parish Committee.

Engraving of names and life dates – $500
Please fill out the Request for Engraving form.

Interment of ashes – $300
Please fill out the Request for Interment form.

Gift Acceptance Policy

Approved March 4, 2016


This gift acceptance policy will provide guidelines to representatives of First Parish of Watertown who may be involved in the acceptance of gifts, to outside advisors who may assist in the gift planning process, and to prospective donors who may wish to make gifts to the First Parish of Watertown. This policy is intended only as a guide and allows for some flexibility on a case-by-case basis. The gift review and acceptance process outlined here, however, is intended to be followed closely.

Gift Review and Acceptance Process

All potential gifts and questions about the FPW Gift Acceptance Policy shall be referred to the FPW Trustees of the Perpetuity, the Ministerial Fund and HRW Funds (“Trustees”) for consideration and further action, as appropriate.

Evaluating Potential Gifts. The Trustees, in consultation with the Finance Committee as appropriate, shall carefully consider all potential gifts in the context of this policy, and shall determine whether a proposed gift shall be accepted. It shall also identify any conditions or associated actions, as
appropriate, in accepting a potential gift.
Accepting Gifts. The Trustees shall recommend to the Parish Committee the disposition of any potential gifts. The final decision to accept a gift, and to establish any conditions in its transfer to FPW, shall be the responsibility of the Parish Committee.
Declining Gifts. The Parish Committee, upon the advice of the Trustees, reserves the right to decline any gift that does not further the mission or goals of the congregation. Further, any gifts that would create an administrative burden or cause the congregation to incur excessive expenses may be declined.


  1. All gifts by check shall be accepted by First Parish of Watertown regardless of amount.
  2. Checks shall be made payable to First Parish of Watertown. In no event shall a check be made payable to an individual who represents First Parish of Watertown or the church in any capacity.

Publicly Traded Securities

  1. Readily marketable securities, such as those traded on a stock exchange, may be accepted by First Parish of Watertown.
  2. For gift crediting and accounting purposes, the value of the gift of securities is the average of the high and low prices on the date of the gift.
  3. A gift of securities to First Parish of Watertown should be liquidated immediately. However, the Trustees will have the discretion to recommend holding the securities in the church until the date of the value of the gift of securities is established.

Closely Held Securities

  1. Non-publicly traded securities may be accepted after consultation with the Trustees.
  2. Prior to acceptance, the Trustees shall explore methods and timing of liquidation of the securities through redemption or sale. The Trustees shall determine:
    1. An estimate of fair market value
    2. Any restrictions on transfer
    3. Whether and when an initial public offering might be anticipated
  3. No commitment for repurchase of closely held securities shall be made prior to completion of the gift of the securities.

Real Estate

  1. Any gift of real estate shall be reviewed by the Trustees.
  2. The donor normally is responsible for obtaining and paying for an appraisal of the property. The appraisal will be performed by an independent and professional agent.
  3. The appraisal must be based upon a personal visitation and internal inspection of the property by the appraiser. Also, whenever possible, it must show documented valuation of comparable properties located in the same area.
  4. The formal appraisal should contain photographs of the property, the tax map number, the assessed value, the current asking price, a legal description of the property, the zoning status, and complete information regarding all mortgages, liens, litigation or title disputes.
  5. First Parish of Watertown requires an environmental assessment of any potential real estate gift.
  6. The property must be transferred to First Parish of Watertown prior to any formal offer or contract for purchase being made.
  7. The donor may be asked to pay for all or a portion of the following:
    1. Maintenance costs
    2. Real estate taxes
    3. Insurance
    4. Real estate broker’s commission and other costs of sale
    5. Appraisal costs
  8. For gift crediting and accounting purposes, the value of the gift is the appraised value of the real estate; however, this value may be reduced by costs of maintenance, insurance, real estate taxes, broker’s commission, and other expenses of sale.

Life Insurance

  1. A gift of a life insurance policy must be referred to the Trustees.
  2. The Parish Committee shall accept a life insurance policy as a gift only if First Parish of Watertown is named as the owner and beneficiary of 100% of the policy.
  3. If the gift is a paid-up policy, the value for gift crediting and accounting purposes is the policy’s replacement cost.
  4. If the policy is partially paid-up, the value for gift crediting and accounting purposes is the policy’s cash surrender value. (Note: For IRS purposes, the donor’s charitable income tax deduction is equal to the interpolated terminal reserve, which is an amount slightly in excess of the cash surrender value.)

Tangible Personal Property

  1. Any gift of tangible personal property shall be referred to the Trustees prior to acceptance.
  2. A gift of jewelry, artwork, collections, equipment, and software shall be assessed for its value to First Parish of Watertown which may be realized either by being sold or by being used in connection with the congregation’s exempt purpose.
  3. Depending upon the anticipated value of the gift, a qualified outside appraiser may be asked to determine its value.
  4. First Parish of Watertown shall adhere to all IRS requirements relating to disposing of gifts of tangible personal property and will provide appropriate forms to the donor and IRS.

Deferred Gifts

  1. First Parish of Watertown encourages deferred gifts in its favor through any of a variety of vehicles:
    1. Charitable gift annuity (or deferred gift annuity)
    2. Pooled income fund
    3. Charitable remainder trust
    4. Charitable lead trust
    5. Bequest
    6. Retained life estate
  2. First Parish of Watertown (or its agent) shall not act as an executor (personal representative) for a donor’s estate. A member of the congregation staff serving as personal representative for a member of the congregation does so in a personal capacity, and not as an agent of the congregation.
  3. First Parish of Watertown (or its agent) shall not act as trustee of a charitable remainder trust.
  4. When appropriate, First Parish of Watertown may invite prospective donors to consider the gift vehicles offered by Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA).
  5. When donors are provided planned gift illustrations or form documents, these will be provided free of charge. For any planned gift related documents, materials, illustrations, letters or other correspondence, the following disclaimer should be included:
    “We strongly urge that you consult with your attorney, financial and/or tax advisor to review and approve this information provided you without charge or obligation. This information in no way constitutes advice. We will gladly work with your independent advisors to assist in any way.”
  6. First Parish of Watertown will encourage congregants who have included First Parish of Watertown or its endowment in their wills or estate plans to register their planned gifts with the Minister, who will maintain a confidential file of these gifts. All information obtained from or about donors/prospects shall be held in the strictest confidence by First Parish of Watertown, its staff and volunteers. Neither the name, the amount, nor the conditions of any gift shall be published without the express written or oral approval of the donor and/or beneficiary.

Gift Tracking and Donor Acknowledgement

All gifts shall be recorded at the time they are received. They may be tracked using existing methods but should be coded so that a report may be generated on a regular basis listing all gifts of cash, securities, real estate, etc, as delineated in this policy.

All gifts should be acknowledged by staff with a written letter as soon as possible after receipt and recording. Gifts that are large or complex, such that the question of their acceptance is referred to Parish Committee, may be additionally acknowledged by the Chair of the Parish Committee in writing upon their final disposition.

It is desirable that a report of all gifts received be reviewed on at least a semi-annual basis to ensure that no donor is overlooked or goes unthanked. The Minister should review this report. Thanking a donor more than once at different points in the gift acceptance process is acceptable.

Inclement Weather Policy

Approved by Parish Committee March 4, 2020


To establish when and how to cancel church activities due to inclement weather or other emergencies. Discretion applies, but generally speaking it is warranted to assess whether to cancel activities in the event of a National Weather Service advisory or warning for Middlesex County.  When travel is inadvisable and safe access to the church is contingent on the ability to clear the parking lot and lobby entrance stairs and ramp, procedures will be followed and communicated as stated below.
The following criteria will be considered:

  • Safety for participants attending
  • First Parish parking lot and walkway condition
  • Road conditions in the Watertown area
  • Declared snow emergencies
  • Availability of minister and others who participate in the Sunday Service

Sunday Procedure

It is the policy of FPW to cancel church activities in the event of National Weather Service warnings and travel advisories and in consideration of the above criteria as of 7:30 AM the Sunday morning of the service.

  • The Parish Chair and Minister will confer by 7:00 AM Sunday to make a final decision about church services. If the Parish Chair or Minister is not available, the chair of the Worship Committee and/or Worship Associate will engage. If the Minister is not available, the assigned Worship Associate will be contacted.
  • All Staff will be notified by phone
  • An email will be sent to the congregation email list (Breeze), no later than 7:30 AM on Sunday. If the service is cancelled then it is also posted on the FPW website and phone recording by 7:30 AM Sunday.

Weekday and Saturday Procedure

If Watertown Public Schools are closed or evening activities are cancelled, as listed on the school website, it is advisable that consideration be given to cancelling evening activities using the above criteria.

  • The Administrator and/or Parish chair will confer with the Activity’s Primary Contact to make a final decision about access to FPW.  If the Parish Chair is not available, a member of the Buildings and Grounds committee living locally will engage. If the Administrator is not available, the assigned Building Representative or event chair will be contacted by the Parish Chair.
  • If activities are canceled:
    • Primary Activity or Renter Contact and Building Rep. will be contacted by email and/or phone.
    • Church Voicemail will be updated.
    • The front page of the Web site is updated to indicate that decision.


Minister & Parish Chair
Consult to make a decision about canceling Sunday services and related church activities at First Parish of Watertown. The designated Worship Associate will substitute for the minister; the chair of the Worship Committee will substitute for the Parish Chair.
Communicate with renters or event/meeting chairs about the conditions in the church parking lot and walkways. In their absence, the Parish Chair or Event Building Rep.
Webmaster or designated staff
Ensure that the front page of the website is updated.
Designated Staff
Ensure that an announcement regarding the decision is sent to the congregational email list on Sunday by 7:30 AM. Ensure that the church voicemail be updated with relevant information.
Activity Chair or Renter
Communicate with attendees of their event.

Animal Policy

Approved by Parish Committee November 2018
First Parish Watertown welcomes people of all abilities and their work / service animals as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA defines a service animal as ‘any guide dog or signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability’. Because they are working animals and specifically trained, service animals are allowed to attend the First Parish of Watertown with their owners. We are unable to accommodate non-service animals.

Policies for a Safe Congregation

Maintaining Right Relations in the First Parish of Watertown Community
At First Parish of Watertown we aspire to be a religious community where there is maximum possible safety—physical safety, safety in our interactions, and spiritual safety. We aspire to be a place where we will not be physically or sexually threatened or abused; a place where we can respectfully give an opinion that rings true to us without being condemned or harshly criticized; a place where our thoughts and emotions are respectfully received and discussed; a place where telling the truth in love is the norm, and the increasing disclosure of ourselves and our thoughts and feelings toward larger realities is welcomed.

The well-being, strength, and reputation of our church depend on a sense of fellowship among the adult members and friends, the children in our community and our staff, which thrives in an atmosphere of trust, respect, and cooperation. Within such an atmosphere, differences of opinion and their resolution through compromise or consensus can enhance a sense of community. However, differences or misunderstandings that go unresolved and descend into prolonged conflict can threaten the social fabric of our church.

The policies and procedures in this document are intended to identify the steps to be followed in our church should serious challenges to the safety of a member of our community or our right relations with one another occur. The UUA Principles and Purposes and our own church Covenant are the guiding principles for these policies and for our behavior toward one another.
Documents which support our Right Relations within this community: