Regional and National Governance
First Parish in Framingham and the UUA
First Parish is a member congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), based in Farnsworth Street in Boston, which represents the interests of more than 1,000 UU congregations on a continental scale. The UUA grew out of the consolidation in 1961 of the Universalists (organized in 1793), and the Unitarians (organized in 1825 in the U.S.). An elected board of Trustees governs the UUA with guidance from the General Assembly (GA). GA meets once a year and is made up of delegates elected from every congregation.
The UUA provides resources and offers consultation to local congregations, creates religious education curricula, spurs social action efforts, expedites the settlement of professional religious leaders, supports the Beacon Press, Skinner House Books and produces pamphlets, devotional materials and the journal UU World. The UUA works in concert with many organizations to provide a wide range of services.
UU congregations are organized into five regions in North America, and some regions are subdivided into districts. First Parish in Framingham is in the New England Region and the Massachusetts Bay District. Each region is served by a Regional Lead and a regional staff team. They provide a wide variety of congregational services such as long range planning and organizational development, ministerial transitions, leadership training and conflict management.
Districts are governed by the Regional Leaders Group. This body serves as the primary advocate for districts and regions.
Board of Assessors
The Board of Assessors is an elected governing body of First parish; works with the minister and staff and controls the administration of the parish. The Board has fiduciary and personnel responsibilities, and is responsible for the spiritual health of the congregation.
The Board consists of ten assessors serving in three year rolling terms, plus a treasurer and clerk. The Board meets at least once a month. In support of our UU principles, they define and implement First Parish policies and future directions in accordance with the bylaws and wishes of the congregation. Board members engage with various committee and councils as well.
Board of Trustees
The three-member, elected Board of Trustees manages the endowment of First Parish in Framingham. The endowment consists of a general fund and several restricted funds. The goal of these funds is to provide long-term growth and income. Bequests and memorial gifts are also important to the fund’s growth. Traditionally, the endowment provides the single largest contribution to the congregation’s annual operating budget.
The Bylaws Committee publishes the Bylaws in proper, updated form and recommends bylaw amendments to the Parish. The Bylaws chair is an elected position.
The Finance Council oversees and recommends budgets for the parish. Its basic function is to request revenue and expense estimates for the coming fiscal year from each staff member and committee/council chair to understand their content and priority, to research their accuracy based upon past and known future realities and to present a recommended budget to the Board of Assessors.
This committee organizes our yearly pledge drive. Pledges from members fund 80 percent of our operating budget. The team welcomes volunteers to assist in their efforts. The type of Canvass Campaign varies from year to year, but the goal is always the same: to obtain a commitment of financial support from all our members.
An elected five-member Nominating Committee meets during the year to identify and recruit nominees to present candidates for leadership at the annual meeting. The positions includes: Assessors, Clerk, Treasurer, Assistant Treasurer, Trustee, Collector, Registrar, Historian, Moderator, and the next members of the Nominating Committee. The committee also fills any vacancies that occur during the year.