As amended through June 2, 2019


The name of this religious society shall be the “First Parish in Cohasset,” hereinafter referred to as “the Parish” or “First Parish.” First Parish in Cohasset is a Unitarian Universalist congregation. We welcome all to our inclusive spiritual community. We affirm our Unitarian Universalist Principles and put them into action by worshipping together, caring for one another, and working for a safe, just, and sustainable world.


The Parish shall be a member of the Unitarian Universalist Association and the New England Region.


Section 3.1. Membership Requirements. Membership in this church is open to any person 17 years or older who meets with the Minister and professes and demonstrates sympathy with the Unitarian Universalist purpose, program, and principles. To join, a person shall sign the membership book in the presence of the minister of the Parish and a member of the Parish Committee. The member shall be eligible to vote 30 days thereafter.

In addition to signing the membership book, both new and current members must fulfill the following two requirements:

a.) A member must make and fulfill an annual financial commitment to the Parish.
b.) To the extent possible, a member must make a commitment of time and talent to the life of the Parish.
c.) If any of the above two requirements present undue hardship on any individual wishing to maintain membership in First Parish, then the individual may confidentially meet with the Minister, who has authority to exempt the individual from any or all of the above two requirements. The Minister can offer the member who is undergoing hardship the services of the church.

Members of First Parish have all the benefits accorded to members by the policies of First Parish, as well as the right to hold elective office, chair committees, and vote at all Annual and Special Meetings (hereinafter referred to as “business meetings”).

Section 3.2. Membership List. The Parish Administrator shall keep a list of members of the Parish. The total number of members, as determined by the Parish Administrator, with input from the Membership Committee, the Treasurer, and the Minister, shall constitute the official membership of the Parish at business meetings and denominational reports. The Membership List will be published annually at the Annual Meeting.

Section 3.3. Removal from membership. A member’s name shall be removed from the Membership List in case of (1) the member’s death; (2) written request by the member to the clerk; (3) a period of inactivity of over one year, subject to review by the Parish Committee; (4) removal by 2/3 vote of the Parish Committee for actions that threaten the well being of the Congregation.


Officers of the Parish shall be:

Section 4.1. A Moderator, elected by the Parish for a term of three years, who shall not be a member of the Parish Committee. The Moderator shall preside at all annual and special meetings of the Parish.

Section 4.2. A Parish Committee of up to seven members, elected by the Parish for staggered terms of three years, shall be the executive body of the Parish. The terms shall be staggered so that two members are elected each year, including the Treasurer. The Parish Committee shall annually elect a Chairperson, a Vice Chairperson, and a Clerk who shall serve at its pleasure. No member shall serve more than two consecutive terms on the Parish Committee. The Minister of the Church shall be a member of the Parish Committee ex officio, without a vote.

Section 4.3. A Treasurer elected by the Parish, as one of the seven members of the Parish Committee, to serve for a term of three years unless a shorter term is designated.

Section 4.4. Each officer shall hold office until his or her successor is elected and qualified. In the event that a vacancy should occur in any office, it shall be filled through appointment by the Parish Committee or the remaining members thereof, and the officer so appointed shall serve until the next annual meeting duly called has elected an officer to fill the vacancy.

Section 4.5. Elected officers may be elected for no more than two (2) consecutive terms. Serving more than one-half (1/2) of a term shall be considered a full term.

Section 4.6. All officers shall be voting members of the Parish as defined in Article III, Section 3.2 for at least one year before taking office.


Section 5.1. The Parish Committee shall be responsible for general
supervision and control of the affairs of the Parish between meetings of the Parish, subject to the following limitations:

1. It shall not mortgage any property of the Parish, except by vote of the Parish.
2. It shall not take any action affecting the purposes of the Reserve Funds without the express consent of the Parish.
3. It shall not incur any indebtedness or expend unappropriated funds for any single item in excess of $5,000, or a total of $10,000 in any one fiscal year except by vote of the Parish.
4. It shall not have the power to choose or dismiss the Minister of the Church or fix his or her salary. These actions shall be taken only by vote of the Parish.

Section 5.2. Any four voting members of the Parish Committee shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.

Section 5.3. The Chairperson of the Parish Committee shall preside at all meetings of the Committee and, subject to the approval of the Committee, shall carry out its directives including signing such papers and documents as may be necessary. The Vice Chairperson shall serve as chair in the absence or at the request of the Chairperson and shall perform such other duties as specified by the Parish Committee.

Section 5.4. The Clerk shall keep a record of all meetings of the Parish and of the Parish Committee. The Clerk shall keep a correct roll of the members and shall hold in custody all records, papers and documents of the Parish not in the custody of the Treasurer.

Section 5.5. The Parish Committee shall, at appropriate times, appoint members of the Parish to the Leadership Development Committee, the Finance Committee, the Outreach Committee and other standing committees or temporary committees for such terms as it may specify, and may appoint such committees as it deems necessary to carry on the work of the Parish. Each committee shall elect its chairperson and shall prepare guidelines for its assignment, which shall be subject to review and approval by the Parish Committee. The Parish Committee will cause an annual stewardship appeal to be conducted by the Parish.


Section 6.1. First Parish may operate a nursery school on the premises of the Parish House.

Section 6.2. The Nursery School shall be run by a professional director who is qualified by education and experience. The Director shall, with the approval of the Advisory Board, be responsible to recommend to the Parish Committee hiring, retention, or discharge of Nursery School employees.

Section 6.3. The operation of the Nursery School shall be overseen by an Advisory Board, consisting of members appointed by the Parish Committee in such number, and for such terms, as the Parish Committee shall determine.

Section 6.4. The Advisory Board shall advise the professional director in matters regarding operational policy, shall prepare annual budgets for the approval of the Parish Committee, and shall recommend to the Parish Committee the terms of contracts with employees of the Nursery School, and the terms of such other contracts as may be necessary for the operation of the Nursery School.

Section 6.5. The Advisory Board shall, at the direction of the Parish Committee and the Treasurer, oversee the financial operations of the Nursery School.


Section 7.1. The Treasurer shall receive the income of the Parish and shall expend it as directed by the Parish Committee, in accordance with the budget adopted at the Annual Meeting. The Treasurer shall keep an account of all receipts and expenditures and shall render at the Annual Meeting and at such other times as the Parish Committee may require, a financial report of the Parish. Prior to the Annual Meeting of the Parish, the Treasurer shall prepare and submit to the Parish Committee a proposed budget of anticipated revenues and expenditures for the ensuing fiscal year, which shall run from July first to June thirtieth. After review and possible revision by the Parish Committee and adoption by the Parish at its annual meeting, the Treasurer shall be authorized to make expenditures within the budget

In the event of the prolonged absence, illness or disability of the Treasurer, the Parish Committee may appoint and at pleasure remove an assistant Treasurer who shall perform such powers of the Treasurer as may be requested by the Parish Committee.

The current general funds of the Parish shall be held in the custody of the Treasurer in the name of the First Parish in Cohasset unless otherwise prevented by law or terms or conditions of trusts, and the Treasurer shall maintain on behalf of the Parish such bank accounts as the Parish Committee may authorize and direct. The Treasurer shall arrange for independent professional management of the investments of First Parish, consistent with the Investment Policy approved by the Parish Committee.

Section 7.2. The Treasurer shall have the care and custody of all personal property of the Parish held either in trust or otherwise by way of investment in the name of the First Parish in Cohasset (or substantially that name). The income of all such property shall be paid to the Treasurer. The Treasurer shall maintain such bank accounts and may rent deposit boxes as the Parish Committee may authorize or direct.

Section 7.3. The Treasurer, with the advice and counsel of the Finance Committee, shall consider and supervise all investments of the Parish. The Treasurer shall make periodic reviews of such investments and no change in investments shall be made except as consistent with the Investment Policy approved by the Parish Committee.

Section 7.4. The books of the Treasurer shall be examined every three years by an Auditor appointed by the Parish Committee, who shall certify to the correctness of the accounts. The Auditor shall likewise check all securities and the amount of all funds of the Parish and report thereon to the Parish Committee.

Section 7.5. The Finance Committee shall assist the Treasurer in the preparation of the annual budget and periodic review of the financial condition of the Parish and make recommendations to the Parish Committee with respect to major financial policies of the Parish other than those pertaining to investments. It shall also advise and make recommendations to the Parish Committee from time to time on matters of policy regarding the long term financial needs of the Parish.

Section 7.6. The First Parish Reserve Fund. The Treasurer shall maintain a reserve fund. Its purpose shall be to provide for the continuous upkeep, repair, and maintenance, insurance and capital improvements to the Meeting House and Parish House. This fund may also be used for salaries or other operating expenses.

Upon a vote of the Parish this fund may be used as collateral for short term (not over five years) borrowing for the purposes for which the fund was established. The principal of the fund, hereby established at $200,000, shall not be invaded except by a four-fifths vote of the Parish, with at least 25 votes in favor.

An amount equal to 5% of the three year moving average of the fund, based on the calendar year market valuation, shall be designated as available monies for the purposes described above. If not used in one year, the balance is to be retained in the fund and accumulated for use in a subsequent year. The 5% designated above may be adjusted for a single year by a four-fifths vote of the Parish, with at least 25 votes in favor.

Section 7.7. The Gleason Music Fund. There shall be a segregated fund in memory of Hollis Gleason, called the Gleason Music Fund. Income from the fund shall be used to provide special music and paid musicians for special occasions and major organ and piano maintenance. The Parish Committee shall be responsible for directing the use of income from the fund and shall provide an accounting of said use to the Annual Meeting of the Parish. The restricted principal of the fund shall be established at $10,000 and may be used only upon a four-fifths vote of the Parish

Section 7.8. The Community Outreach Fund. There shall be a segregated fund called the Outreach Fund. The purpose of the Outreach Fund is to provide funds for ongoing outreach activities and other outreach programs of interest to the general membership. The Finance Committee shall make the decision as to where the Outreach Fund is invested.

In 1987 the Outreach Fund was created with $25,000, which represents the gift of Warner Bros. to First Parish. At that time the original amount of $25,000 was defined as the principal of the Outreach Fund (Defined Principal). The Defined Principal can be used only upon a four-fifths vote of the Parish. An Outreach Committee appointed by the Parish Committee shall be responsible for directing and conducting outreach activities. The Outreach Committee has the authority to spend any monies in the Outreach Fund above the Defined Principal amount and shall report to the Annual Meeting on the use of the funds. In addition, every five years beginning in 2017 the Outreach Committee shall consider whether to change the Defined Principal amount by the rate of inflation or deflation since it was last defined. The Outreach Committee will recommend any such change to the Annual Meeting where a majority vote is needed to authorize the change of the Defined Principal.

Any gifts to the Outreach Fund may be designated by the donor as either part of the Defined Principal or as a general gift to the Outreach Fund to be used for outreach according to the wish of the Parish. If the gift is not designated, it will be assumed to be a general gift.


Section 8.1. The Annual Meeting of the Parish shall be held after services on a Sunday in May or such other date as the Parish Committee may decide in each year. Special meetings may be called by the Parish Committee or at the request of ten or more members of the Parish.

Section 8.2. Any 25 members of the Parish shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business at any annual or special meeting of the Parish.

Section 8.3. Every meeting of the Parish shall be called by a written warrant of the Parish Committee directed to the Clerk who shall give written notice of the meeting and the matters to be acted on by posting a copy of such warrant in the vestibule of the Meeting House and in the Parish House at least eight days (including two Sundays) before the time fixed for the meeting.


Section 9.1. The Leadership Development Committee consisting of four members shall be elected by the Parish at Annual Meeting to serve two year staggered terms. No member shall serve more than two consecutive terms.

Section 9.2. For each annual election to be held at each Annual Meeting of the Parish, the Leadership Development Committee shall submit names for available positions specified in Article IV, Moderator, Parish Committee, and Treasurer. It shall also submit names for available positions on the Leadership Development Committee.


Section 10.1. In the event of a vacancy in the position of minister, the decision to establish a Ministerial Search Committee or to appoint an Interim, Contract or Developmental Minister shall be made by a vote of the Parish at a meeting called for such purpose.

Section 10.2. Ministerial Search Committee. A Ministerial Search Committee may be elected by the Parish to search for and recommend to the parish membership a candidate for the position of minister. The Search Committee shall consist of a minimum of 5, but not more than 7, voting members elected from a slate recommended by the Parish Committee and Leadership Development Committee. The Parish Committee and Leadership Development Committee shall be responsible for designing the selection criteria for their recommendation with due regard to processes used by the Parish in selecting past Search Committees.

A candidate must hold Ministerial Fellowship with the Unitarian Universalist Association and be recommended by the Department of Ministry.

Section 10.3. Interim, Contract or Developmental Minister. The Parish Committee may appoint an Interim, Contract or Developmental Minister and specify his/her compensation conditions of employment and duties after consultation with the Department of Ministry of the Unitarian Universalist Association. The Parish Committee and Leadership Development Committee shall be responsible for designing the selection criteria for their recommendations with due regard to processes used by the Parish in past ministerial searches.

Section 10.4. Calling the Minister. The Ministerial Search Committee or the Parish Committee may present a ministerial candidate to the membership at a Parish Meeting called for such purpose. The minister shall be called by a vote of 90% of those voting members present.

Section 10.5. Ministerial Duties. The Minister shall provide overall religious leadership and guidance in accordance with the established purposes of this Parish, and shall be guaranteed freedom of the pulpit. The Minister is an ex-officio and non-voting member of the Parish Committee. The Minister will be employed under written agreement that clearly stipulates the duties, compensation and other conditions of employment. The Minister and the members of the Church share the responsibility for the Church and its spiritual interests and activities. The Church looks to its Minister for spiritual leadership, for assistance in setting and articulating its vision, and for accomplishing its goals by providing professional, inspired administration of the Church. The Minister has the decisive responsibility for all services of worship conducted on Church premises. This principle includes religious rituals such as weddings, dedications, and memorials. It is a basic premise of this Church that any Minister has the right to express personal views and values when in the pulpit or through any other means of communication. The Minister shall provide pastoral care as needed.

The Minister shall be encouraged to participate in those activities that enhance the Church’s presence in the community as a liberally religious, socially responsible organization and shall be encouraged to increase the Church’s awareness of these outside activities. The Minister is responsible for the day-to-day management of all Church staff and programs, and shall recommend hiring and termination of all Parish employees, except independent contractors and the Director and teachers of the Carriage House
Nursery School, to the Parish Committee. Contractors who have Parish financial responsibilities (e.g., bookkeeping, accounting) will report to the Treasurer. Audit reports shall be submitted to the Parish Committee.

The Minister is an ex officio member of all committees. The Minister shall bring to the attention of the Parish Committee any matters that seem pertinent to the general welfare of the Church, and shall advise the Parish Committee with reference to Church policy, but the final decisions remain with the Parish Committee as set forth in these bylaws and as directed by meetings of the Church.

Section 10.6. Termination. The relationship between the Minister and the Parish may be dissolved by either party for any reason upon one hundred, fifty (150) days written notice. Such provision shall be incorporated in any contractual agreements.

The Minister may be dismissed by a majority of voting members of the Parish present at a Parish Meeting legally called for such purpose. A quorum for a meeting for this purpose shall be at least 50 members.

In the case of resignation or retirement, the Minister shall give at least one hundred, fifty (150) days notice in writing to the Parish Committee of his/her resignation or retirement. The Parish Committee may allow an interval of less time.


In case of the dissolution of this Parish all of its property real and personal, after paying all just claims upon it, shall be conveyed to and vested in the Unitarian Universalist Association or its legal successor and the Parish Committee shall perform all actions necessary to effectuate such conveyance.


Section 12.1. With the exception of Section 7.6. (The First Parish Reserve Fund) of Article VII, these Bylaws may be amended or altered by the vote of two-thirds of the members present and voting at any Annual or Special Meeting, provided that notice of the proposed amendment or alteration be given in the warrant as provided in Article VIII. No amendment or alteration shall be adopted unless there shall be at least twenty-five affirmative votes in favor of such amendment or alteration.

Section 12.2. The adoption of these Bylaws shall operate to rescind and annul all previous Bylaws of this Parish and all votes or action in conflict herewith, but shall not affect the legality of any action already taken under any previous Bylaws or votes.


The Parish shall indemnify any person who is or was an employee, agent, representative member of the Parish Committee or volunteer of the Parish against any liability asserted against such person and incurred in the course and scope of his or her duties or functions within the Parish to the maximum extent by law, provided the person acted in good faith and did not engage in an act or omission that is intentional, willfully or wantonly negligent, or done with conscious indifference or reckless disregard for the safety of others. The provisions of this article shall not be deemed exclusive of any other rights to which such person may be entitled under any by-law, agreement, insurance policy, vote of members or otherwise.


In its membership requirements, hiring practices and other activities, First Parish in Cohasset will not discriminate based on race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, affectional or sexual orientation, age, language, citizenship, economic or national origin and without requiring adherence to any particular interpretation of religion or to any particular religious belief or creed.