Congregational polity, the way in which our church is organized and governed, is a vital part of our Unitarian Universalist tradition. As a Unitarian Universalist congregation, we are a self governing entity with the right to control our own finances and property, to call our own minister, and to select our own leadership and form of governance. Ministry is a shared endeavor that engages all members in the work of our congregation. Committees are the backbone of the organizational structure of the church and are the primary method for how our ministry is accomplished. Committees are also a vehicle for channeling the individual talents and qualities of our members for the benefit of First Parish and the community we serve.
Click here to Download a pdf of our 2016 Annual Report.
The Parish Committee appoints Standing Committees and other committees as necessary, and fills vacancies by appointment until the next annual meeting. They report their year's actions to the Parish at the annual meeting. Minutes of monthly meetings are posted in the Parish Hall. Meetings are held on the third Tuesday of each month. Any member of the church is welcome to attend, and "Members Time" is made available for members to raise issues directly with the committee.
The Finance Committee is responsible for the management of the church's financial resources. It is composed of 5 members, elected on a rotating basis for three-year terms.
To finance the operating budget, the Finance Committee runs the Canvass to raise funds from the members each year. It sets the Canvass goal, evaluates the results, and provides a full analysis in the Every Member Canvass Report.
The Finance Committee works with committees of the congregation to develop the annual budget, which is referred to the Parish Committee and voted on by the membership.
In organizing and conducting a formal Endowment Program at First Parish, the Finance Committee designs and distributes material on Charitable Gifting Techniques.
Invested Funds Committee
The Invested Funds Committee consist of seven voting members: five serving a four year term, one member elected annually by the Finance Committee from its members, and one member elected annually by the Parish Committee from its members. No individual shall be nominated for or appointed to the Invested Funds Committee unless he or she meets the requirements for voting membership of First Parish of Norwell, has been a member for three years, and has previously served on an elected or standing committee.
The Committee oversees the invested funds of the church to provide growth of capital, protect against inflation, and provide a consistent payment stream to support the needs of the church. The work of this committee is based on a Management of Invested Funds Guidelines established by and approved by the Parish.
Denominational Affairs Delegates & Alternates
The Denominational Affairs Committee serves to link First Parish with the larger Unitarian Universalist movement. Elected delegates represent First Parish at the Ballou Channing District (BCD) Annual Meeting in April or May, and the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), held the third week in June in various cities around the United States.
In addition, members attend up to five dinner meetings per year of the South Shore Cluster. The Fall Conference of the BCD is held on the 3rd Saturday in October and provides workshops on congregational leadership. Education and communication within and about the larger UU Movement are the primary concern of Denominational Affairs.
The Nominating Committee is elected by the membership of the congregation. The designated Chairperson is a former member of the Parish Committee or a former Chairperson of a Standing Committee. The Nominating Committee draws enthusiastic people and their talents into the life of First Parish. They identify prospects and interview and answer questions of potential nominees for offices to be filled. At each Annual Meeting of the church in June, the Nominating Committee presents a slate of nominees to the membership, for vote.
In addition to Committees, the following Officers are also elected by the Parish: Moderator, Deputy Moderator, Clerk, Treasurer, Collector, and Auditor.
The First Parish Legacy Gift Committee (LGC) is, per the by-laws of First Parish of Norwell, a standing committee defined as a permanently constituted non-elected committee. The LGC will be responsible for leading the congregation in good stewardship toward its donors:
• Educate all potential donors on the benefits of legacy giving for them and the parish
• Ask potential donors to consider making First Parish of Norwell part of their legacy
• Recognize, acknowledge and thank givers in an organized and thoughtful manner that matches the generosity of the donors
The LGC will establish and follow good stewardship guidelines:
• Gifts to First Parish and accompanying correspondence will be considered confidential information, with the exception of the publication of donor recognition lists. All donor requests for confidentiality will be honored except as may be required by law.
• Lists or data files including the names of donors or other personal information will not be sold or given by First Parish to other organizations.
• Those individuals who normally engage in the solicitation of gifts on behalf of First Parish shall not personally benefit by way of commission, contract fees, salary, or other benefits from any donor in the performance of their duties on behalf of First Parish, nor should any benefit be received by a family member or business of the solicitor. The active participation of the minister and First Parish staff in stewardship activities is not considered a conflict of interest.
Helen Fogg Service Committee
The Service Committee helps focus the attention of the church on some of the social problems facing us in today's complex world. The committee not only educates, but also encourages action. Through the efforts of the committee, the church traditionally provides Christmas gifts for a local family, collects good used clothing for halfway houses and homeless shelters, and prepares meals for Father Bill's homeless shelter. First Parish also supports a prison outreach program to make it possible for women at Framingham State Prison to earn a college degree before they leave prison. Through Partakers, the church sponsors two women, providing tuition and monthly visits during their incarceration. Prison reform is an area that offers opportunity for the parish to become more knowledgeable and more proactive. The Service Committee supports Friendship Club, a program that provides social activities for adults with developmental disabilities, and Friendship Home, which is working on the development of a respite facility. The Committee also distributes funds from its budget to various agencies, including the UU Urban Ministry, the South Shore Women's Center, the De Vanna Center, the UUSC, Amnesty International, and Friendship Home.
Partner Church Committee
In the early 90's the Unitarian Universalist Association developed a program to aid our Transylvanian sister churches, which were undergoing a difficult time under Romanian rule. Transylvania was formerly part of Hungary and these are Hungarian Unitarian churches in essentially Hungarian villages. First Parish chose to join the program and was partnered with a church in the small village of Kadacs. Each year we raise money for the use of the church and the village members. Money from First Parish has put a bathroom and washing machine in the parsonage and made possible, repairs to the church and its property. In addition, individual members of First Parish sponsor some 25 Unitarian students who are attending high school and college, with stipends of $250/yr. The Partner Church Committee is a loose organization of members who have had the wonderful experience of visiting Kadacs, but it is open to anyone who has an interest in the program.
Committee on Ministry
The purpose of the Committee on Ministry is to strengthen the quality of ministry in the congregation. This committee serves as a support group for the minister and as a communication channel between the minister and the congregation. The committee attends to the relationship of the church and minister, and promotes a sense of shared ministry within the congregation as a whole. The committee submits an annual compensation recommendation to the Personnel Committee, as well as a plan for the minister's continuing education and professional development.
The Pastoral Care Team
The Pastoral Care Team works with and supports the minister's pastoral ministry in reaching out to all members and friends of First Parish of Norwell. We support those who are adjusting to change, loss, illness or death. We share in moments of celebration and happiness. We reach out to those who are unable to get out and who would like a visit. We share in situations that require a special touch of human kindness and an open ear. Pastoral Care Team members are a caring, listening presence, but do not counsel, perform therapy or offer advice.
In all our contacts we remember the importance of confidentiality. The Pastoral Care Team members will be in contact with the Minister regarding important information and, unless requested otherwise, will share information with each other in order to benefit from mutual insight and support. Beyond this, all information imparted to the Pastoral Care Team members will be treated with the same confidentiality that applies to the Minister or as mandated by law.
Please contact us if we might be of help or comfort. We count on the congregation to keep us in touch with pastoral needs of our community.
The Personnel Committee proposes personnel policies and guidelines, makes recommendations on compensation and benefits, and is available to mediate in situations where appropriate. The committees priorities include, producing written job descriptions for each paid staff position, establishing a process for how employees are evaluated, and serving as a resource to church committees on matters related to their staff's hiring, retention and compensation. The Committee is also responsible for ensuring that the church is in compliance with federal and state laws regarding non-discrimination, payment of Social Security and other taxes, worker's compensation insurance, and safe working conditions.
The primary purpose of the Activities Committee is to identify, schedule, and coordinate various fund-raising events (except the annual Canvass). The Activities Committee provides a liaison between the Parish Committee, the Parish, and the committees set up to run the various events and activities.
In addition to contributing funds to the church's operating revenues, these events and activities help to develop community-sharing, caring, giving, serving, fun, affection, family.
For over fifty years, the Alliance has sponsored the First Parish Kindergarten (now Nursery School). Members of the Alliance also staff the food table, the Silent Auction table, and Grandma's Attic at the annual Harvest Fair.
James Library and Center for the Arts
The James, owned by First Parish and only two doors away from the church, is housed in an historic Italianate building in Norwell Center. Open to the public for use by anyone in the wider community, the library has a collection of current books, good older books, historic and genealogical records, and special collections on gardening, art and music. The library has events for children, and literary happenings for all ages. The Center for the Arts is a recent direction of the James, one which has proved very successful. Its aim is to present the very best in art and music to the South Shore.
A majority of the nine Library Trustees are chosen annually by the Parish. They receive and expend fund income from the church, have a separate budget, and also raise funds independently. They provide a financial report and a report of their activities annually. The Trustees usually meet the second Tuesday of each month at the library. Members of the Parish are welcome to attend.
First Parish Preschool
The nursery school was founded in 1949 by the forward thinking women of the First Parish Women's Alliance, who recognized the importance of quality early childhood education. Today, the nursery school is still under the sponsorship of the Alliance. The Executive Committee of the nursery school consists of four members, two of whom are also members of the Women's Alliance.
The nursery school offers four unique programs meeting weekdays during the school year, as well as a two-week summer camp. The school has a director with a staff of fifteen, and an enrollment of 150 children. On Sunday, the church school religious education program utilizes the shared space.
First Parish Women's Group
Organized in the late 1980's when one woman of the parish needed emotional support in dealing with her elderly mother's illness, the Women's Group has met monthly during the church years since, for discussion, support and friendship.
This small group meets at the church on the first Monday of each month. In addition, the group holds social activities, including a Holiday Pot Luck and Tacky Yankee Swap, and a summer weekend at a member's cottage in Plymouth. All women are welcome!
1st Parish Men's Group
The 1st Parish Men's Group gathers about once per month to provide a relaxing environment for men to share our common experiences and sort out our roles in a world with ever increasing demands and rapidly changing expectations. We find that activities are an excellent catalyst for this dialog. Activities range from recreation to service. All men are welcome.
If you have an interest in serving on an Elected Committee, please express your interest to one of the members of the Nominating Committee for future consideration.
If you have an interest in any of the other church committees or organizations, consult the back of the church directory and contact the committee chair. Your involvement is always welcome.