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Church Governance and Bylaws

First Parish Church is a self-governed Unitarian Universalist congregation operating under congregational polity.* It operates under a set of bylaws drafted and approved by the church membership. Occasionally, the bylaws are revised as the need arises.

Below you will find the bylaws, as passed on 2013-05-19 by the Annual Meeting of the church membership.

Bylaws, May 19, 2013 (PDF)

Proposed Bylaws Changes, Revised April 2017

Several significant changes to the bylaws are being considered for acceptance at the annual meeting on May 21, 2017. To help facilitate discussion, members are encouraged to review a revised draft of the proposed bylaws changes. Below are two versions of the same changes, a draft version and a draft version with “track changes” displayed. There is also a summary of the proposed changes.

Proposed bylaws, April 2017 (PDF)
Proposed bylaws, April 2017, with track changes (PDF)
Proposed bylaws, April 2017, summary of changes (PDF)

* Here is a definition of congregational polity by Earl Holt, writing in Redeeming Time: Endowing Your Church With the Power of Covenant, edited by Walter P. Herz: Skinner House Books, UUA, Boston. 1999.

“Congregational polity is the form of church government in which each congregation is an autonomous, self-governing, covenanted body.

“In this tradition there are no bishops by any name, no synod, no presbytery, no episcopate; no organized body or individual outside the congregation can dictate or direct the decisions and activities that go on within it. The individual church owns its own properties, elects its own ministers and other church officers, and conducts all its own affairs.”

The following elaboration is reprinted, with permission, from a published sermon on the Web site of the Follen Church Society, Lexington, MA.

“In other words, congregational polity is democratic in operation, nonhierarchical in structure, and accountable at the local congregational level for the following things: setting its own goals, writing its own covenant and by-laws, and anticipating and assuming responsibility for all its major needs, expenditures, and decisions.”

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1 Powder House Road … P.O. Box 457 … Groton, MA 01450-0457 … 978-448-6307 …   …  

Most recently updated 2017-04-05