First Parish in Cambridge Governing Board Policy Book

Last updated 2018-11-20


Board Policy Book Overview

Using the authority First Parish in Cambridge has given it through the bylaws, the board has adopted the following policies. The board records all of its actions in its minutes; for ease of reference, it also records in this policy book any action intended to authorize others to make decisions or to control multiple decisions over time. The board is solely responsible for maintaining these policies and any changes, including additions, edits, and deletions, require a majority vote.


  1. Board Governance

1.1. Role of the Board

The board will govern primarily by discerning mission; planning for the future; partnering with the Lead Minister and staff; and holding leaders of First Parish, including its own members, accountable for their performance.

1.1.1. Annual Board Work Products

In concert with the Lead Minister, staff, and congregation, the board will produce and adopt:

  • An annual short list of Open Questions about First Parish’s future, as the basis for ongoing planning conversations in the board, with the Lead Minister and staff, and with the congregation at large.
  • An annual Vision of Ministry, consisting of a short list of top-priority areas where First Parish will advance its work in the coming year, as a starting point for budgeting and staff planning.
  • An annual Ministry Evaluation of the First Parish’s success or difficulties in achieving the prior year’s Vision of Ministry.
  • An annual mutual Performance Evaluation of the Lead Minister’s and the board’s effectiveness in their respective roles.

1.1.2. Less Frequent Board Work Products

In concert with the Minister, staff, and congregation, Standing Committee will produce and adopt:

  • Periodic Evaluation of the Lead Minister’s performance in their wider pastoral role. This review may be triennial, or at a periodicity agreed to by the Lead Minister and the board.
  • Strategic Plans, each to be updated every five to ten years, in various areas of First Parish’s ministry, those plans consisting of a short list of the most important results the board intends to achieve and the strategic choices (regarding program, membership, capital and operating budgets, and staffing) it has made about how to achieve those results.
  • A Mission Statement, to be updated as needed, that articulates First Parish’s purpose and related statements (vision, values, and a tagline) to communicate the reasons for its work.

1.2. Board Officers

In addition to the duties defined by the bylaws, the officers have the following responsibilities:

1.2.1. The Chair prepares the board’s agenda, facilitates or arranges for facilitation of board meetings, and works in partnership with the Lead Minister to ensure productive partnership between the board and staff.

1.2.2. The Vice Chair assists and substitutes for the Chair upon request.

1.2.3. The Clerk ensures the safety and accuracy of the board’s records, including the minutes and these policies. In cooperation with the staff, the Clerk sees that minutes and board policies are promptly distributed to the congregation via the current electronic means of dissemination.

1.2.4. The Treasurer supports fulfillment of the board’s financial oversight responsibilities by working with the staff to ensure that all appropriate financial information is made available to board members on a timely basis. The Treasurer serves on the Finance Committee and acts as a liaison between all of the groups involved in First Parish finances. The Treasurer is also responsible for directing an annual financial audit or review and therefore plays no direct role in financial management.

1.3. Board Advisory Committees

The board appoints its committees and expert advisors in order to enhance its own capacity to govern, and not for administration or program management, or to make decisions on its behalf. The advisory committees function as think tanks in their respective areas, providing the board with feedback, advice, and ideas on trends, impacts, innovations and best practice, thus aiding in envisioning how First Parish might better live its mission. In addition to the responsibilities outlined below, all committees may undertake other tasks as delegated by the board.

The board’s advisory committees and advisors are:

1.3.1. Finance Committee

Assists the board on its oversight of the congregation’s finances. The primary duties of the Finance Committee are to monitor income and expenditures with reference to the annual budget, track capital projects to assure adequate funds are available, facilitate the budgeting process, and alert the board to financial issues that need to be considered and recommend solutions. The committee has no management authority and does not participate in day-to-day financial decision-making.

1.3.2. Governance Committee

Helps the board to focus on its chosen role, trains board members, and leads the annual board self-evaluation process. Annually, ascertains future leadership needs in light of members who are rotating off the board and nominates a slate of candidates. Governance Committee will strive to use the most transparent and accountable nominating process possible.

1.3.3. Investment Committee

The Investment Committee responsibilities are described in 1.6.

1.3.4. Shared Ministry Committee

Advises the board on enhancing all aspects of the congregation’s ministry, including professional leadership, music, social justice, religious education, pastoral care, and so on. Helps the board ensure that the congregation’s ministries are serving its mission and vision.

1.3.5 Welcoming Congregation and Inclusion Committees Abilities and Access

Advises the board on First Parish’s inclusion ministry, focusing on welcoming, embracing, integrating, and supporting people with disabilities and their families in our congregation. Transformation

Advises the board on First Parish’s anti-racism, anti-oppression, and multiculturalism ministry.

1.3.6 Expert Advisors Communications

Advisor(s) is a communications professional who assists the board in using strategies, learning theory, and technologies to communicate effectively, both internally and externally. Facilities Improvement

Advisor(s) is a facilities engineer, or experienced in a related field, including architecture, building regulations and management, landscape architecture, and others, who advises the board on the capital improvement plan and projects to improve the facilities. Recommends work plans and proposals for board approval, taking into account sustainability, access and abilities, and transformation goals. Management and implementation of projects are the responsibility of staff with task group support. Legal

Advisor(s) is an attorney at law and member of Massachusetts Bar Association who assists the board in understanding legal requirements and ensuring compliance with applicable laws. Personnel

Advisor(s) is a human resources or management professional who assists the board in developing personnel policies, ensuring compliance with applicable laws, and carrying out the staff grievance process as defined by these policies. The Advisor(s) has no staff management authority and does not participate in supervision or personnel decision-making. When it is necessary to hold a hearing on a staff grievance, the board will appoint an ad hoc committee in each case.

1.4. Expectations of Board Members

1.4.1. Board Covenant

The governing board of First Parish in Cambridge believes that leadership is spiritual work. We are committed to focusing our work on living into the vision and mission of First Parish. We also covenant to:

  • Be fully engaged in the life of the congregation,
  • Exercise responsibility in using First Parish assets and resources,
  • Embrace shared ministry and work collaboratively with staff and other leaders,
  • Maintain a democratic process, and make decisions inclusively and transparently,
  • Encourage change and innovation in our work and in the life of the congregation,
  • Speak frankly in love following the Covenant of Right Relations,
  • Prepare, attend and participate in meetings,
  • And adhere to board decisions.

We will bring our best and true selves and be willing to devote our time and talents to our work.

(Adopted by the Standing Committee, under its then current name, at its meeting October 18 2016)

1.4.2. Conflicts of Interest

The board expects all of its members, as well as members of the Finance and Investment Committees, to carry out their duties with undivided loyalty to First Parish and its mission. A conflict of interest exists whenever a board member, or a member of the designated committees, has interests or duties that may hinder or appear to hinder that individual from fulfilling this duty. Definition. Conflicts of interest arise when these individuals:

  • Stand to gain or lose financially because of an action of First Parish in which they have a decision-making role.
  • Cannot set aside their personal preferences as consumers of First Parish’s services to act in behalf of the whole congregation and its mission.
  • Face any other situation that impairs or reasonably appears to impair their independence of judgment.
  • Have a close relationship with someone who has a conflict of interest, as defined here. A close relation includes any person, corporation, or other business entity with which the board member has a close personal, family, or business relationship. Conflict-of-Interest Disclosure. The board will annually require all individuals covered under this provision to disclose in writing all existing or foreseeable conflicts of interest. Disclosure forms must be kept by the Clerk and made available to any member of the board who asks to see them. Conflict-of-Interest Process. When any individual covered under this provision reports a potential conflict of interest related to a matter before it, the board or designated committee (minus the affected member) will determine how to handle the situation. Possible responses include:

  • Disclosure in board minutes of the nature of the conflict.
  • Leaving the room during all board discussions and votes related to the conflict of interest.
  • Resignation from the board.

1.4.3. Discipline and Removal of Board Members. In exercising its power under the bylaws to remove an officer or board member, the board will follow the following procedures: Removal for Misconduct. The Clerk will notify the member in writing and offer a hearing before the board. Pending such a hearing, the board may suspend the member’s voting privileges. Removal for Absence from Board Meetings. All board members must notify either the Chair or Clerk of any planned absences from meetings at least two weeks prior to the missed meeting, or as early as is practical in the case of last minute conflicts. If a meeting is missed with no attempt to communicate the reason for the missed meeting, or if three or more meetings are missed in a twelve-month period (regardless of communication), the Chair will discuss the attendance issue with the member. After this discussion, at the Chair’s discretion, the Chair may ask for a vote of the full board on the removal of the member. If a member misses four or more meetings for any reason, any member of the board can request a vote on the removal of the offending member.

1.5. Auxiliary Organizations

This section to be completed at a future date; further research and legal counsel is required.

1.6. First Parish in Cambridge Endowment Fund (“endowment”)

The endowment includes all funds intended to be maintained on a long-term basis to provide a stream of income to First Parish into the future. The board places funds in the endowment either by accepting gifts restricted by the donor to endowment use or by voluntarily placing funds into the endowment. All bequests, memorial gifts, or otherwise unspecified donations to First Parish are automatically placed in the endowment.

1.6.1. Delegation and Guidance to the Investment Committee.

An Investment Committee appointed by the board and acting by majority vote, is empowered to direct the investment of the endowment, subject to the following policies. Investment Objectives. The endowment must be invested to produce a maximum rate of total return consistent with the following: prudent management of investments, preservation of principal in real terms, potential for long-term asset growth, and socially responsible investment practices. Permissible Investments. Endowment fund assets may be invested in publicly traded common and preferred stocks, convertible bonds and preferred stocks, bank common funds, mutual funds, and fixed income securities (including government bonds, corporate bonds, certificates of deposit and money market instruments). International investing is permissible. Other investments are permissible only if approved by a vote of the board. Shareholder Initiatives. In keeping with our ethical values, First Parish is an activist shareholder, lending its support to shareholder initiatives and coalitions of shareholders in support of

  • Disclosure of lobbying and political spending.
  • Action to address climate change.
  • Nondiscrimination based on skin color, age, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability, national origin or ancestry, economic status, union membership, or political affiliation.
  • Action to address other critical issues of sustainability and equity.
  • Disclosure that supports shareholder assessment of any of the above. Ethical Investment Screen. Except for a de minimis number of shares owned for voting rights for shareholder initiatives, endowment funds may not be invested in:

  • Any company that derives more than 10 percent of its revenue, in the aggregate, from the following: (a) the production or sale of weapons or ammunition, (b) the production or distribution of pornography, (c) tobacco, (d) gambling.
  • Any company active in fossil fuels as determined by the Carbon Tracker list of the top 200 companies.

1.6.2. Annual Distribution from the Endowment. Annually, during the budgeting process, the Investment Committee, in consultation with the board, shall determine a distribution amount, derived using the  following guidelines, for board approval. The annual distribution from the endowment is calculated on a 13-quarter rolling average (TQRA) of the endowment’s total value. The following guidelines are employed to determine the distribution percentage:

The usual distribution shall be 4.5% to 5% of TQRA.

  • A distribution up to 6% of TQRA may be made in limited circumstances, only after careful joint consideration by the Investment Committee and the board.
  • A distribution below 4.5% of TQRA may be made if the board and Investment Committee jointly deem future income more important than current needs.
  • If the Investment Committee believes the annual distribution guidelines are inconsistent with preservation of principal in real terms over the long-term investment horizon, then the committee will ask the board to reconsider annual distribution guidelines.


1.6.3. Authorization for Endowment Withdraws

If a withdrawal from the Endowment is authorized by the appropriate measures, the actual disbursement must be approved in writing by two of the following three individuals: The Chair of the Governing Board, the Chair of the Finance Committee, the Chair of the Investment Committee. This requirement includes the regular disbursements for the annual budget. Any financial institution holding Endowment funds should be instructed to only allow disbursements authorized in this manner. Any other instructions issued to such a financial institution are also subject to this requirement (e.g. updating bank account info, statement addresses, updating the authorized persons list, etc.). The financial institution should provide confirmation of all received instructions to the following individuals: The Chair of the Governing Board, the Chair of the Finance Committee, the Chair of the Investment Committee, the Treasurer, the Congregational Administrator, and the Lead Minister.


  1. Delegation to the Staff

2.1. Global Delegation to the Head of Staff

The board hereby delegates all of its authority to manage the work and resources of First Parish, except as expressly limited by these policies, to the Lead Minister as head of staff.

2.2. Senior Staff Team

The Lead Minister manages the work of First Parish in collaboration with a Senior Staff Team. The Senior Staff Team includes the Lead Minister, the Director of Administration, the Director of Religious Education, and the Director of Music, all of whom report directly to the Lead Minister. The board expects the Senior Staff Team, individually and jointly:

  • To lead and unify the paid and volunteer staff in directing their efforts toward the fulfillment of First Parish’s mission and goals.
  • To ensure compliance with the bylaws, board policies, written procedures, and applicable laws and regulations.
  • To uphold a high standard of ethical and professional conduct.
  • To accomplish the goals contained in the Annual Vision of Ministry by developing annual goals for its work as a team.

2.3. Director of Administration

The board entrusts the Director of Administration with management of the financial and operational aspects of First Parish and with special responsibility for staff compliance with its policies on Care for Paid Staff (3.2), Care for Members and Guests (3.3), and Care for Material Resources (3.4). The board expects the Director of Administration to exercise independent professional judgment in reporting to the board and the Lead Minister regarding matters in their purview.

2.4. Staff Accountability

All staff members are accountable to the Lead Minister, who is accountable to the governing board for their performance.

  1. Guidance and Limitations

3.1. Personnel Decisions

The board expects the Lead Minister to take the lead in the selection, hiring, supervision, and discharge of all paid staff.

3.1.1. Hiring Senior Staff

Before filling Senior Staff positions, the Lead Minister must nominate a Search Committee for appointment by the board. After receiving the Search Committee’s recommendation, the Lead Minister selects and presents a final candidate to the board for approval. Senior staff are defined as the Director of Administration, Director of Religious Education, and Director of Music.

3.1.2. The Director of Administration

However, because of its special reliance on the Director of Administration, the board will play an active role in the selection of candidates for this position by appointing the majority of members for the Search Committee. If the board formally expresses a loss of confidence in the Director of Administration, the Lead Minister must initiate discipline or termination.

3.1.3. Other Senior Staff Search Committees

The Lead Minister must consult with the board and the relevant ministry teams in appointing the Search Committees for the Director of Religious Education and the Director of Music.

3.1.4. Hiring Ministerial Staff

When hiring a consulting or assistant Minister, the Lead Minister will present a hiring plan to the board for approval. Depending on the responsibilities and circumstances, interviews may be done directly by the Lead Minister or by a Search Committee. The Lead Minister selects and presents a final candidate to the board for approval.

3.2. Care for Paid Staff

First Parish intends to be a fair, ethical, and attractive employer; to achieve high staff morale and productivity; and to protect members of the staff from all forms of injustice and abuse related to their employment.

3.2.1. Supervision and Evaluation

Each employee will be assigned an immediate supervisor, who will annually provide an up-to-date job description and complete a process of goal-setting and performance review. Individual staff goals and performance reviews are confidential, to be shared only as necessary to support First Parish decision-making, or as required by law.

3.2.2. Compensation and Benefits

As part of the annual budget process, the Personnel Advisor, will periodically (no less frequently than every three years) review compensation and benefits for all paid staff and recommend adjustments. In their report to the board the Personnel Advisor must demonstrate that they have:

  • Surveyed compensation and benefits practices from comparable employers, including similar-sized congregations in our city and denomination, local nonprofit organizations, and the public school system.
  • Sought and considered recommendations from the Lead Minister regarding adjustments to staff compensation. These recommendations must be presented to the board along with the report.
  • Taken into account the “Care for Paid Staff” goals (3.2 here) in relation to First Parish’s financial capacity and strategic goals.

3.2.3. Personnel Manual

The Director of Administration will maintain an up-to-date Personnel Manual that complies with all applicable legal requirements. The board will review and approve changes to the manual. The Personnel Manual must provide adequate policies to give practical effect to the following principles: Nondiscrimination

First Parish does not discriminate because of race, color, age, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability, national origin or ancestry, economic status, union membership, or political affiliation. Religious opinion and affiliation may be considered only to the extent that they may be bona fide occupational requirements or may prevent an employee from being fully supportive of the First Parish’s mission and values. Harassment

First Parish is committed to maintaining a work environment that is free of harassment. Harassment of any kind, including sexual harassment, is absolutely prohibited, and allegations of harassment must be reported and acted upon promptly. Grievances

First Parish intends to protect the right of staff to raise concerns about working conditions without fear of retaliation. A staff member who alleges that the law or governing board policies have been violated to their detriment may present their grievance to the Personnel Advisor, who must immediately acknowledge the complaint in writing and report it to the board, which will appoint an ad hoc committee to investigate and respond. Whistleblower Protection

First Parish prohibits retaliation against employees or other persons who in good faith report:

  • A suspected violation of law, such as harassment, fraud, or misappropriation of First Parish assets.
  • A suspected danger to public health or safety.
  • Suspected violations of these policies.

An employee who retaliates against anyone who has made such a report is subject to discipline up to and including termination of employment.

3.3. Care for Members and Guests

The staff must take all reasonable care to prevent harm to members, guests, program participants, and other people affected by First Parish.


See Safe Congregation Policy:

See Covenant of Right Relations:


3.3.1. Health and Safety

The staff must ensure that all First Parish programs are safe for participants and staff; that facilities are maintained in a safe, sanitary, and secure condition; that required licenses and inspections are kept up to date; and that hazards are corrected promptly. Smoking. First Parish prohibits smoking of any kind on its premises or during off-site programs. Alcohol. Consumption of alcohol on First Parish premises is prohibited without prior approval by the Director of Administration. Alcohol consumption may be allowed only when an event organizer has applied at least 60 days in advance and has met all requirements, including paying a fee. Fragrances. In deference to those who are sensitive to chemicals, cologne, after-shave lotion, perfume, perfumed hand lotion, fragranced hair products, or similar products should not be worn in First Parish facilities and events.

3.3.2. Emergency Planning

The staff must create and maintain a written plan for responding to reasonably foreseeable emergencies, including accident, illness, fire, toxic conditions, weather problems, active shooter, threatening communications, power outages, and natural disasters.

3.3.3. Child Protection

Because of First Parish’s special responsibility for children and youth in its care, the staff must write and maintain clear procedures for the selection, training, and supervision of anyone who works with persons age eighteen and younger.

3.3.4. Disruptive Behavior

In order to sustain an atmosphere that is truly open to a wide variety of individuals, First Parish must firmly and promptly address behavior that threatens the physical or emotional safety of any adult or child or chills the free exchange of opinions and beliefs. When such behavior occurs, the Lead Minister or designee must take immediate action, if required, and report promptly to the board, recommending any further disciplinary action, which may include termination of First Parish employment or membership.

3.3.5. Harassment

Employees, volunteers, and agents of First Parish are specifically prohibited from acts of harassment, including sexual harassment, against any member or participant in its activities or any employee or applicant for employment.

3.3.6. Firearms

First Parish prohibits anyone other than on-duty law enforcement officials or off-duty law enforcement officials hired by First Parish from carrying a firearm on its property.

3.3.7. Building Security

The staff must ensure that access to First Parish buildings is limited to those who have legitimate business there.

3.3.8. Universal Access First Parish intends to make its premises and activities safely and conveniently accessible to persons with disabilities. The staff must ensure that its facilities, programs, and policies meet or exceed all applicable legal requirements and that First Parish engages in continual learning and improvement in this area.

3.4. Care for Material Resources

The staff must take all reasonable care to prevent harm to the First Parish’s financial assets, property, credit, and tax exemptions and develop administrative practices and procedures designed to prevent such harm and must report promptly to the board on any significant shortcomings in their implementation.

3.4.1. Operating and Capital Budgets

Annually, at the appropriate time in the budget cycle, staff must propose operating and capital budgets for approval by the board. Proposed budgets must be based on the Annual Vision of Ministry and any strategic plan(s) currently in effect. The Lead Minister must express an opinion whether the proposed budgets are adequate to fulfill the Annual Vision of Ministry.

3.4.2. Spending Authority

The staff controls and is responsible for all spending out of First Parish accounts, subject to the following limitations: Donor-restricted funds may not be used in violation of donor restrictions or board-restricted funds in violation of board-imposed restrictions. Cash operating reserves may not fall below 25 percent of the annual budgeted expenditures without board approval. The board’s approval is required to change compensation for any full-time staff position or to change the basis on which benefits are calculated. Normally the Lead Minister will convey the staff compensation change proposal only in the course of the normal budgeting process. The staff must anticipate and prevent spending in excess of the overall budget, as well as under spending in priority areas. If it foresees any material deviation from budgeted spending, the staff must promptly inform the board and recommend options for adjusting the budget. The budget will be prepared in outline form, with major budget categories summarizing minor ones. The Lead Minister may approve overspending by up to 15 percent over the budgeted amount in any major budget category, provided overall spending remains within budget and the adjustment is promptly reported to the board.

3.4.3. Gift Acceptance

The staff controls and is responsible for receiving and acknowledging all gifts to First Parish, with the following limitations: All non-cash gifts, including securities, real estate, and personal property must be promptly converted into cash upon receipt. The staff may not accept gifts restricted in any way by the donor unless the board has in advance created a Special Fund to receive gifts with stated restrictions. Lending or borrowing of funds beyond a ninety-day period requires board approval.

3.4.4. Special Funds

This section to be completed at a future date; further research is required.

3.4.5. Accounting and Financial Standards

First Parish accounting and financial controls must conform to accepted best practices for religious societies of comparable size, including: Cash Management. The staff must maintain written procedures to govern the handling of receipts, access to cash and bank balances, approval of expenditures, payment of invoices and other obligations, and management of invested funds. Separation of Functions. The functions of record keeping, bank reconciliation, and cash disbursements must be under the control of separate, unrelated persons. Approval Authority. Governing board Officers, the Lead Minister, and the Director of Administration are authorized to approve cash disbursements. At least one authorized individual must approve all cash disbursements. Two unrelated authorized individuals must approve any disbursement of $5,000 or more that is not part of an existing contract or related to normal payroll expenses. Fund Accounting. The staff must take care to distinguish donor-restricted, temporarily restricted, voluntarily restricted, and unrestricted funds. Reconciliation. First Parish accounting reports must be reconciled with financial institution statements as often as those statements are issued, and copies of such reconciliations must be provided to the board’s Finance Committee for review.

3.4.6. Asset Protection

The Lead Minister must take all reasonable care to ensure that First Parish assets are protected from loss or theft, including: Adequate insurance to protect against property losses, liability for injuries to others, corporate liability, personal liability of board members and staff, and honesty bonds for all personnel with access to material amounts of funds. Maintenance of First Parish property and equipment to keep it in working order, subject to reasonable wear and tear. Reasonable steps to protect First Parish’s intangible property, including intellectual property, electronic data, and paper files from significant damage or loss.

3.4.7. Document Retention

The staff must maintain written procedures to govern the backup, retention, and destruction of the First Parish’s documents, giving definite retention periods for classes of financial, business, pastoral, personnel, and corporate records in both paper and electronic forms.

  1. Oversight

4.1. Mission Focus

The board’s duty of care requires it to ensure that First Parish’s human and material resources are used for the benefit of its mission. The board fulfills this duty in two ways: by monitoring regular reports provided by the staff and by scheduled evaluation of progress toward achieving the goals established in the Annual Vision of Ministry.

4.2. Monitoring

The Lead Minister will provide regular written reports from the staff to the board. Monitoring reports must be made available to board members in advance of each monthly meeting but will not normally be a subject of discussion except when they require board action or raise issues of compliance with board policy. Reports must include, at minimum:

4.2.1. Monthly financial statements that show overall financial performance compared to budget and highlight significant financial or operational issues. These reports will be filed and made available to any First Parish member who wishes to examine them.

4.2.2. Quarterly financial statements that show the overall financial position of First Parish. These must include a complete balance sheet and funds statement, detailed statement of operations, and a statement of cash flows.

4.2.3. Programmatic Monitoring

On a schedule to be agreed upon annually by the Lead Minister and the board, the Lead Minister must provide reports to the board regarding:

  • Progress on board priorities.
  • Progress on achieving the Annual Vision of Ministry.
  • Compliance with applicable board policies.
  • Each report will focus on selected areas of progress and compliance, so that in the course of the year the entire Vision of Ministry and all points of policy compliance are covered.

4.3. Evaluation

Everyone responsible for work in behalf of First Parish will engage in a continual process of evaluation. The purposes to be accomplished through evaluation are to foster excellence in ministry work by ensuring that all First Parish leaders:

  • Practice open communication and regular feedback.
  • Meet performance standards appropriate to their roles.
  • Maintain effective working relationships with their teams and one another.
  • Focus on achieving goals as approved by the board and staff.

4.3.1. Board and Lead Minister Evaluation

Annually, as part of the creation of the Annual Vision of Ministry, the Lead Minister and the board will together review their respective contributions to the fulfillment of the prior year’s Annual Vision of Ministry.

4.3.2. Staff Evaluations

The Lead Minister must ensure that all First Parish employees develop, with their supervisors, timely annual performance goals supportive of the Annual Vision of Ministry and that their performance is evaluated annually in writing.

4.3.3. Evaluation of Ministry Teams

The Lead Minister must ensure that ministry teams develop timely annual performance goals supportive of the First Parish Mission and the Annual Vision of Ministry and that their performance is evaluated annually in writing.

4.3.4. Lead Minister’s Triennial Performance Review

Every three years, or on a schedule agreed to by the Lead Minister and the board, the board and Lead Minister will together appoint an ad hoc Review Task Force of three persons held in high esteem by the membership and mutually acceptable to the board and the Lead Minister. Working with the Lead Minister, the Task Force will design and facilitate a review of the Lead Minister’s performance. The goals of the evaluation are to call the membership’s attention to the mutual, relational nature of ministry and the respective responsibilities of all who contribute to its success and to help the Lead Minister to remain motivated, creative, and flexible. The Task Force’s report to the board, together with a written response from the Lead Minister, will be shared with the membership along with the board’s plan for addressing any recommendations it may contain.

4.3.5. Annual Financial Audit or Review

At least once every 4 years, the Treasurer, acting for the board, will engage with a professional experienced in conducting audits for non-profit organizations in order to review First Parish’s financial records, accounting practices, policies, and procedures. The results of this review will be reported in writing to the board, along with any concerns and recommendations.



  • The initial version of the policy book was approved by the governing board March 21 2017.
  • Section 1.6 was added and the amended version was approved by the board May 16 2017.
  • Language in Section, describing the Personnel Advisor, was changed from “human relations professional” to “human resources or management professional,” correcting an error that was meant to be caught before the book was approved. The change was approved by the board’s executive committee July 19 2017.
  • A link was added in section 3.3 to the Safe Congregation Policy in the First Parish website July 20 2017, as directed by the board.
  • August 18 2017: Carol Lewis’s title was changed from Congregational Administrator to Director of Administration throughout, reflecting a change approved by Rev Clyde Grubbs and communicated by him to Carol in late spring that he did not officially announce to the Standing Committee/board.
  • August 18 2017: Added the word “However” to section 3.1.2 to clarify that even though 3.1 says the Lead Minister “takes the lead in all staff selection, hiring, supervision, and discharge decision,” the board will play a role in employment decisions regarding the Director of Administration.
  • September 20 2017: As approved by the board, revised section 3.2.2 to clarify that the Director of Administration, rather than “staff,” will keep the Personnel Manual up to date and that the board will review and approve changes.
  • September 20 2017: As approved by the board, added a link in section 3.3 to the Covenant of Right Relations in the First Parish website.
  • September 18 2018: As recommended by its Finance Committee and approved by the board, provisional, placeholder text in section 4.3.5, Regular Financial Review, was replaced.
  • October 16 2018: As approved by the board, section 1.4.2, Conflicts of Interest, was revised to include the Finance and Investment Committees.  [The Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form was modified to reflect this change and a note in the form states the board’s request that those in key staff positions also sign the Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form.]
  • November 20 2018: As recommended by the Investment Committee and approved by the board, section 1.6.3, Authorization for Endowment Withdraws, was added to clarify the requirements for withdrawal of funds from the endowment.