Governance

Three churches in one

The United Parish came into existence more than 40 years ago when three local churches came together in the spirit of sharing our common Christian beliefs.  They sought to maximize their combined impact and ability to minister to the community-at-large and to optimize the sharing and distribution of their joint resources:

  • The Baptist Church in Brookline
  • The Harvard Church – United Church of Christ
  • Saint Mark’s United Methodist Church

Minimal bureaucracy and streamlined operations

Our bylaws were rewritten in 2011 to simplify our structure to better focus energy on our key objectives and to allow maximum latitude to the individual ministry teams to carry. Our new bylaws limit the number of supervisory committees and flatten our structure.

Ministry teams are the primary means of promoting the work of the church. Our teams are organized around the four foundational directions of our Vision:

  • Gathering—embodying the spirit of welcome and acceptance which is central to our beliefs
  • Exalting—using our myriad of talents to enthusiastically worship and praise God
  • Deepening—learning more about our faith and about how we can best serve God
  • Stretching—applying our time, talent and resources to doing God’s work.

There is no prescribed number of ministry teams at the United Parish. We encourage members to form new teams as the Spirit moves them, and to find new ways of ministering to each other and to the local and global communities-at-large.

Our Discernment and Engagement Ministry Team supports the members of our congregation in matching their passions with their participation at United Parish--finding ways to both explore their faith and express their unique gifts in our various United Parish ministries.  Our aim and intention is to listen for God's direction in aligning the needs and opportunities in our congregation with the interests, talents and passions of our diverse community of faith.  discernment@upbrookline.org

Two annual all-parish meetings

We meet as an entire congregation formally only twice a year to chart our common course: In late spring, the Annual Mission and Ministry Meeting is the culmination of our annual budgeting and planning process. Through a process of information-sharing and public debate, we set our ministry priorities for the coming year and vote on our annual budget. This is also when we elect our Church Officers.

The Fall Convocation Meeting focuses on calling and equipping our members to become involved in the ministries of the United Parish. We encourage all of our members to feel that they are called to be the ministers of the church. This meeting attempts to summarize and publicize the various initiatives and ministries open to the entire congregation.

Our governance structure

The Church Council consists of 8-10 members, including the three Church Officers who serve three-year terms. Church Council members are nominated and elected by the members of the congregation at the spring All-Parish Meeting.  They are charged with promoting the spiritual and physical welfare of all members of the congregation.  They are also responsible for the oversight of all United Parish programs and ministries.  The Council meets on the first Wednesday of every month in the Parlor.

The three Church Officers are also nominated and elected by the members of the congregation at the spring All-Parish Meeting for three-year terms:

  • The Moderator serves as Chairperson of the Church Council - moderator@upbrookline.org
  • The Treasurer works in cooperation with the Council, Ministry Teams and Endowment Committees to manage the financial affairs of the United Parish
  • The Clerk keeps records of all-parish meetings and provides the minutes of all Council meetings to the congregation. clerk@upbrookline.org

An Endowment Committee, consisting of five members elected at the Annual Spring Meeting to three-year terms, oversees the prudent investment and management of the United Parish endowment funds. Financial transparency and democratic process are vital to our functioning as a church body. All budgets and all key decisions are subject to review, questioning and votes at the All-Parish Meetings.  endowment@upbrookline.org

Church Council members

Our Church Council members are Ben McGraw (Moderator), Doug Johnson (Treasurer), Kate Hendrix (Clerk), Kent French (Senior Pastor), Koinonia Givens, Anne Auerbach, Alexandra (Sasha) Csatari Steinbaugh, Paul Rodine, and Emily Reed.