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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 2017 Annual Report.

ELECTED COMMITTEES: (Committees of the Congregation)

Parish Committee
The Parish Committee is the governing body of the church. It is composed of 7 members, elected on a rotating basis for four-year terms, and the Treasurer as a non-voting, advisory member. It attends to overall policy decisions and financial matters. Drawing on congregational polity, it convenes the congregation to make major policy decisions.

As the governing board, the Parish Committee:
- develops administrative policy
- is accountable for the business affairs of the congregation
- is trustee of the property of the congregation

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 typically 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.

Finance 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.

Invested Funds Committee

The Invested Funds 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. It is focused on the very long term health and hopes to sustain the church for another 375 years.

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.

Denominational Affairs
The Denominational Affairs Committee serves to link First Parish of Norwell with denominational organizations and to educate the Parish about the larger denomination. The committee encourages and promotes greater participation of members and friends of First Parish of Norwell in the activities and concerns of the broader Unitarian Universalist movement. Committee members provide information about services, resources and processes that enhance or are necessary to the healthy functioning of our church operations.

The committee is comprised of delegates elected at the annual meeting of First Parish of Norwell to represent the Parish at the Ballou Channing District and New England Region annual meetings, and the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) General Assembly. The number of delegates elected relates to the number of certified members of the First Parish of Norwell congregation and is regulated by the bylaws of the UUA.

Nominating Committee
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.

STANDING COMMITTEES: (Committees of the Board)

Religious Education Committee
The Religious Education Committee establishes the purposes and goals of the Religious Education program. This committee supports, advises and assists the Director of Religious Education (DRE) in evaluating and selecting church school curriculum to implement those goals. With the DRE, the committee recruits and trains church school teachers, plans extra curricular activities to enrich the church school program, and facilitates church school presentations in worship services. They also plan the budget and direct expenditure of money for materials and supplies.

Membership Committee
The Membership Committee is responsible for attracting, orienting and assimilating members into the church. Members of the committee welcome and greet visitors and guests, provide visitor information materials about the church and its operations, and follow up with visitors to provide information on special events and sermons. The committee guides and supports interested parties to "Path to Membership" classes that the minister conducts and assists in the New Member Ceremony. It assembles data on church membership and follows-up with absent members. The role of the committee is to educate members about the church, integrate new members into the church community, and provide ongoing support for members through the years.

Music Committee

The Music Committee secures, works with, and supports our Organist/Music Director. It provides a liaison among director, minister, choirs, Worship Committee, Parish Committee and church members.

With the Music Director, this committee works to provide the best music program possible for the parish including music during regular church services, special holiday music for other services and the occasional inclusion of church member and/or professional musicians.

The Committee is also responsible for keeping our musical instruments (organ, pianos, harpsichord, and hand chimes) tuned and in good working condition. We carefully consider the budget to support the fees of tuning the instruments, paying musicians, and purchasing music and new hymnals as needed.

Worship Committee - Read the full Worship Committee Description (48Kb pdf)
The Worship Committee works with the Minister to ensure that worship services are meaningful, reflect our Unitarian Universalist values, and run smoothly. We do this by:
  • * meeting once a month
  • * supporting and assisting the minister in making worship a positive experience.
  • * building community by encouraging lay participation in the worship service
  • * coordinating with the Music Director, Director of Religious Education, Head Usher and others as needed
  • * attending to the aesthetics and needed elements of the service with flowers, candles, bread, etc.
  • * arranging and facilitating services in the absence of the Minister

Building & Grounds Committee
The Building & Grounds Committee maintains all the church grounds, mowing grassy areas, weeding the large plots of myrtle bordering both sides of the church building, and keeping the parking areas clean. The committee is also responsible for building repairs that cost less than $1,000, provide maintenance plans and often conduct the repair work themselves. They communicate with the Board of Selectmen for permits when renovations to walkways and parking areas are necessary. The committee is responsible for the large woodland area known as the Triangle Property across the street from the Meetinghouse and behind the Kent House-clearing the area, planting bulbs, removing dead trees and pruning live ones when necessary. In addition, the committee maintains a very old, small, church-owned cemetery on lower Main Street. It also serves as a liaison between the church Sexton and Parish.

Capital Improvement Committee
The Capital Improvement Committee assesses, plans and implements work on church owned buildings, specifically, the Meeting House, Parish Hall, Parsonage, and the Kent House on any projects that exceed $1,000. Because of the frequent and sometimes costly repairs involved, the committee works closely with the Parish Committee, Finance Committee and Treasurer with recommended expenditures. It contracts for, and oversees the work.

Legacy Gifts Committee - Guidelines for Giving to First Parish of Norwell (41k pdf)

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 congregation will contribute to already existing social justice and outreach efforts. Four areas of focus help to organize our work: Neighbor to Neighbor, Sustainable Development, Education, and Human Rights . In the spirit of the words of our covenant - "to minister to each other's needs and to those of humanity" – the Helen Fogg Service Committee empowers the ministry of social justice and outreach at First Parish by serving as a conduit for outreach to the wider community locally, nationally and internationally.The Helen Fogg Service Committee is composed of interested volunteers in the congregation and elects its own chair. It is supported by funding from the annual church budget and additional monthly Sunday collections to benefit worthy charities and causes.

Partner Church Council
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, First Parish sends an annual stipend which is divided among the students of Kadacs, whatever school they may be attending, high school or college. The Partner Church Council 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 Shared Ministry
The purpose of the Committee on Shared Ministry (COSM) is to support and advance the ministry of the Parish. As such, one of the committee’s tasks is to evaluate how things are going at church on an ongoing basis, and every three years to conduct a formal evaluation of the minister. The Committee on Shared Ministry will also serve to manage conflicts, complaints or other issues which may arise within the congregation by encouraging direct communication. We invite and encourage anyone with concerns, suggestions or praise regarding any aspect of Parish ministry to contact us. Finally, the committee crafts and proposes policy as requested by the Parish Committee (such as the Right Relations Covenant and the Sexual Offenders Policy).

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.

Personnel Committee
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.

Activities Committee
The primary purpose of the Activities Committee is to identify, schedule, and coordinate various events to promote fellowship and community (some of them fundraising). Examples are: Potluck Suppers, the Holiday Fair, Talent Shows, Easter Breakfast and Golf Tournament, but not 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, and getting to know other families.


The Alliance
Founded in 1846 as a Ladies Aid Sewing Circle, The Alliance today works together to foster the life and growth of the church and to express in action our common ideals. All persons in sympathy with those ideals are cordially invited to attend meetings and become members. From September through May, our meetings feature guest speakers or book reviews held on Wednesday mornings at 10:00 in the Parish Hall, Fogg Parlor or members’ homes. There is a luncheon in December and at the Annual Meeting in May. Whether sponsoring the First Parish Pre-School which we founded over fifty years ago as the First Parish Kindergarten, staffing the bake table at the Holiday Fair, hosting coffee hours and supplying pulpit flowers, we continue to be deeply involved in the life of First Parish of Norwell.

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 free lending library for adults and children offers a current collection of popular fiction and non-fiction, classics, and collections focused on local history, art, music, and gardening. As a community arts center, the James offers concerts, music lessons, art exhibits, meeting spaces, and a range of cultural events to the entire South Shore community.

The nine James' Board members are chosen annually by the Parish. They receive and expend fund income from the church, but have a separate budget, and raise funds independently. The James' Board provides an annual financial report and a report of their activities to the Parish.The James' Board of Directors usually meet the fourth Tuesday of each month at the library and members of the Parish are welcome to attend.

First Parish Preschool
The Preschool was founded in 1949 as a kindergarten by the forward thinking women of the First Parish Alliance, who recognized the importance of quality early childhood education. When the town of Norwell added kindergarten to its public school program, the Preschool became a nursery school for 4 year olds. As classes were added for younger children, the name was changed to First Parish Preschool. Today, the Preschool is still operated under the sponsorship of the Alliance. The Executive Committee of the Preschool consists of four members, two of whom are also members of the Alliance.

The Preschool now offers four unique programs that meet weekdays during the school year. The school has a director with a staff of fifteen, and an enrollment of at least 110. On Sundays, the church school religious education program utilizes the shared space in the Parish Hall.

First Parish Women's Group
This social group was organized in the late 1980's when one woman of the parish needed emotional support in dealing with her elderly mother's illness. Started by Elizabeth Tarbox and Carol Marsh, the Women's Group met monthly during the church years for many years for discussion, support and friendship. We currently do not meet regularly but instead hold a Christmas party for all women of the church each December.

First Parish Men's Group
The First Parish Men's Group gathers usually 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 dialogue. 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, please contact the committee chair or point person. Your involvement is always welcome.


Reliance upon the democratic process is a hallmark of Unitarian Universalism. At First Parish Norwell, membership includes the right to vote at called meetings of the church. There are two types of meetings of the Parish, the Annual Meeting and one or more Special Meetings.

All meetings of the church must be properly noticed by the Clerk of the Church through a warrant. Notice must be given 14 days before a meeting by posting in the Meeting House and by mailing at least five days before the meeting to each member. Each member is entitled to one vote. Vote by proxy is not permitted. Friends of the Parish are welcome and may speak except when withdrawn by majority vote of the members. The meeting quorum is twenty voting members. Roberts Rules of Order apply.

Annual Meeting: The Annual Meeting is held in June of each year prior to the fiscal year end of June 30th. The primary purposes of the annual meeting are to vote the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, hear and accept the written reports of all committees and related church organizations, elect new committee members to "elected committees" of the church, such as the Parish Committee, Finance Committee, Fogg Committee and South Scituate Fund Corporation, and to vote in new members. Of course, the Annual meeting will address all issues presented in the warrant. One tradition in the church is the right to ask for "instructions" to be submitted to the Parish Committee to address issues of concern to members.

Special Meetings: Special Meetings may be called from time to time by the Parish Committee or by written request of ten members submitted to the Clerk. A Special Meeting is held each fall to review the finances of the church, usually in October.

Elections: Election to Parish offices and "Elected" Committees is accomplished through the nomination of members by the Nominating Committee. Additional nominations can be made from the floor. Parish officers each serve for one year terms and include the Auditor, Clerk, Collector, Moderator and Deputy Moderator, and Treasurer. Elected committees are the Parish Committee, Finance Committee, South Scituate Fund Corporation, Fogg Committee, James Library Trustees, Nominating Committee and the Called Minister Search Committee. The terms for these committees vary as indicated in the By-Laws. All Parish officers and elected committee members must be members of the church. The Interim Minister Search Committee is elected, but by the Parish Committee. All other committees of the Church are Standing Committees which are permanently constituted non-elected committees of the Parish. Friends of the parish can serve on standing committees.