By-Laws of The United Parish of Winchendon


Article  I     Name

Article II     Purpose and Affiliations

Section  1:  Purpose

Section  2:  Affiliations

Section  3:  Organizational Requirements (IRS 501 (c ) (3))

Article  III    Covenant

Article   IV   Membership

    Sections 1 - 8

Article   V     Pastor & Employees

    Section 1: Pastor

    Section 2: Employees

Article   VI    Officers and Their Duties

Section  1:  Election of Officers

Section  2:  Moderator

Section  3:  Assistant Moderator

Section  4:  Clerk

Section  5:  Assistant Clerk

Section  6:  Treasurer

Section  7:  Assistant Treasurer

Section  8:  Collector

Section  9:  Assistant Collector

Section  10:  Auditor

Article VII  The United Parish Council

Section  1:  Members

Section  2:  Meetings

Section  3:  Responsibilities

Article VIII   Committees

Section  1:  Board of Trustees

Section  2:  Finance Committee

Section  3:  Stewardship Committee

Section  4:  Diaconate

Section  5:  Pastoral Relations Committee

Section  6:  Christian EducationCommittee

Section  7:  Missions and Service Committee

Section  8:  Building and Grounds Committee

Section  9:  Ladies Fellowship

Section 10:  Nominating Committee

Section 11:  Representatives to Affiliated Denominations

Article IX   Meetings

Section  1:  Worship

Section  2:  Business

Article X  Parliamentary Procedure

Article XI  Amendments

Incorporated: March 4, 1979

Adopted: May 20, 1970

Revised: April 16, 1980

Revised: February 8, 1989

Revised: February 8, 1998

Revised: February 14, 1999

Revised: February 13, 2000

Revised: February 11, 2001

Revised: February 9, 2003

Revised: April 8, 2003

Revised: November 21, 2004

Revised: January 9, 2005

Revised: February 8, 2009

Revised: January 16, 2011

Revised: January 19, 2020                                       


The United Parish of Winchendon, Massachusetts unites the Christian service and worship of the following historic churches:

1.  The North Congregational Church (1843) is a descendant of the parent First Congregational Church in Old Centre. It became the United Church of Christ in 1961.

2.  The first Methodist Church was established in 1807.  After a long and active life as the First Methodist Episcopal Church, it became the United Methodist Church in 1968.

3.  At one time Winchendon had two Baptist churches.  The first was located in New Boston (1811).  Winchendon Village Baptist Church was organized in 1848.  The name was officially changed to the First Baptist Church of Winchendon in 1896.

The merger of the above-named churches provides the members of the above-mentioned churches an opportunity to adopt the following Constitution and By-laws:

Article I  Name

This church, located in Winchendon, Massachusetts, shall be known as the United Parish of Winchendon.

Article II  Purpose and Affiliations

Section 1:  Purpose                 

The Purpose of this church is to promote the Christian life through united worship and service to the people in Winchendon and surrounding areas, recognizing and continuing the historic contributions of the religious societies that have served her, and welcoming as full members of the church all persons who desire to join with their fellow Christians according to the terms of the Church Covenant.  (See Article III)

Section 2:  Affiliations

The Church continues its affiliation with, and support of:

  1. The United Methodist Church through the Central District of the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church
  2. The United Church of Christ through the Central Association of the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ and the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ.
  3. The Baptist Church through the American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts.

Section 3:  Organizational Requirements (IRS 501 (c) (3))

A)   Not withstanding any other provisions of these articles, the organization is organized exclusively for one or more purposes as specified in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, and shall not carry on any activity not permitted to be carried on by an organization exempt from Federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code or corresponding provisions of any subsequent tax law.

B)  No part of the net earnings of the organization shall inure to the benefit of any member, trustee, director, officer of the organization, or any private individual (except that reasonable compensation may be paid for services rendered to or for the organization), and no member, trustee or officer of the organization or any private individual shall be entitled to share in the distribution of any of the organizations assets on the dissolution of the organization.

C)  No substantial part of the activities of the organization shall be carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting to influence legislation, (except as otherwise provided by Section 501(h) of the Code), or participating in, or intervening in (including the publication or distribution of statements) any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.

D)  In the event of dissolution, all of the remaining assets and property of the organization shall after payment of necessary expenses thereof be distributed to such organizations as shall qualify under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, or corresponding provisions of any subsequent Federal tax laws, or to the Federal government, a State, or local government for a public purpose, subject to the approval of a court of competent jurisdiction within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

E)  In any taxable year in which the organization is a private foundation as described in Section 509(a) of the Internal Revenue Code, the organization shall distribute its income for said period at such time and manner as not to subject it to tax under Section 4942. Further, the organization shall not (a) engage in any act of self-dealing as defined in Section 4941(d); (b) retain any excess business holdings as defined in Section 4943; (c) make any investments in such a manner as to subject the organization to tax under Section 4944: or (d) make any taxable expenditures as defined in Section 4945 or corresponding provisions of any subsequent tax law.

Article III    Covenant

Acknowledging Almighty God as our Eternal Father and believing in the basic principles on which all Christian churches are founded, we are united in our sincere desire and effort to know the will of God and to follow Christ’s teachings.

It is our earnest desire that this, the United Parish of Winchendon, through its ministry and service, and its sharing in the world service of Christian churches everywhere, shall provide such religious instruction and opportunity for Christian worship to serve Him, and shall enable us to gain those spiritual values which alone can give meaning, dignity, inspiration and purpose to life.

To these objectives we pledge our support and service.

Article IV   Membership

Section 1:                                          

 The United Parish will welcome into its fellowship any person who accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and purposes to follow Him and subscribes to the covenant and bylaws of the United Parish of Winchendon.

Section 2:

 A person shall be received as a Member of the United Parish upon recommendation of the Pastor and the approval of the Diaconate. New Members will be issued a Certificate of Membership and may be received as members through one of the following methods.


Believer’s Baptism

Letter of Transfer

Reaffirmation of Faith


All New Members will be counted as Members of the United Parish of Winchendon and will be considered a Voting Member provided they have attained the age of 18. All members are encouraged, but not required, to select a denomination of their choice with which the United Parish of Winchendon is affiliated. (Art. II, Section 2)

Section 3:

The reception of members shall ordinarily be upon some Lord’s Day when the Lord’s Supper is administered.

Section 4:

Members of the United Parish changing residence to another community will be expected to notify the church of their new address.

Section 5:

Letters of transfer from this church shall be granted upon the request in writing of any member by vote of the Diaconate and shall state the member’s prior affiliation if he/she desires.

Section 6:

Resignation of members; If, because of change of faith or for other reasons, a member requests in writing to be released from their membership obligation, the church shall grant the request and terminate the membership. The Pastor and the Diaconate shall approve the request.

Section 7:

A Voting Member is: a Member who has attained the age of 18 and is involved in the life of the United Parish through one or more of the following means during the calendar year:

a) Attendance in worship

b) Participation in church activities

c) Giving regularly for the support of the church and it's missions

Voting Members are considered Active Members for reporting purposes.

A Voting Member will lose voting rights after 2 full calendar years of not being involved in the life of the United Parish as outlined above. At this time, the voting member’s name will be removed from the voting list. Prior to removal from the voting list, an effort will be made to contact the Voting Member to inform them of their pending removal status.

Exceptions will be made for illness and other limitations upon the recommendation of the Diaconate.

A Participant is: any Non-Member who meets one or more of the requirements for a Voting Member.

Section 8:

Membership can be revoked/terminated for just cause by a minimum of 2/3 majority vote of the Parish Council based on recommendation of the Diaconate; when a member, who by his or her own commission or omission, impedes the purpose of the United Parish as stated in Art. II Sec.1 of the Bylaws of the United Parish or acts in conflict with the terms of the Covenant of the United Parish, as stated in Art. III of the Bylaws of the United Parish.

Article V  Pastor &  Employees

Section 1: Pastor

The Pastor shall be chosen and called by the United Parish whenever a vacancy shall occur. The Pastor shall be elected by a 2/3 majority of votes cast by ballot and may be dismissed by a 2/3 majority of votes cast by ballot. Either action may be taken at a regular or special United Parish meeting upon the recommendation of the Pastoral Relations Committee. Except when a Methodist Pastor is called, then the Methodist system will be used. A Methodist Pastor will be chairperson of the Nominating Committee.

The Pastor and the United Parish shall make known its intentions at least 60 days prior to the effective date of a resignation or dismissal, unless granted special permission by a 2/3 majority vote of members present of a United Parish meeting.

The Pastor shall have charge over the spiritual welfare of the United Parish with special emphasis on visitation, missions, stewardship, and Christian education.

The Pastor shall meet requirements as defined in the United Parish Policy Manual.

The Pastor shall be an ex-officio member of all boards and committees.  Any board or committee may reserve the right to meet without the Pastor.

The Pastor will be responsible for submitting an annual evaluation of the condition and the spiritual well being of the church four weeks prior to the Annual Meeting. The Pastor will be responsible for submitting all statistics to the clerk on a monthly basis. Statistics include baptisms, deaths, memberships and marriages.

Section 2: Employees

Other employees shall met requirements as defined in the United Parish Policy Manual.

Article VI  Officers and Their Duties

Section 1:  Election of Officers

1.  All officers listed below shall be elected by the United Parish at the Annual Meeting for a term of one (1) year.  Each officer, except the Treasurer and Assistant Treasurer, may serve a maximum of three (3) consecutive terms, but shall be eligible for re-election for further service after an interval of one term. All officers shall be members of the United Parish, with the exception of Auditor, who may or may not be a member of the United Parish.

2.  The officers are as follows:

            A) Moderator                          F) Assistant Treasurer

            B) Assistant Moderator          G) Collector

            C) Clerk                                  H) Assistant Collector

            D) Assistant Clerk                  I) Auditor

            E) Treasurer

Section 2:  Moderator

The Moderator shall preside at all Council meetings of the United Parish, including the annual meeting and all special meetings for the year following his/her election.

Section 3:  Assistant Moderator

The Assistant Moderator shall have the following responsibilities:         

A)  Perform the duties and exercise the powers of the Moderator in the absence or disability of the Moderator, or if the office of moderator is vacant.

B)  Assist the Moderator when needed and perform such duties as may be delegated by the Moderator.

C)  Be an ex-officio member of the United Parish Council.

Section 4:  Clerk

The Clerk shall keep a legal and complete record of the transactions at all the business meetings of the United Parish, and copies of these shall be presented to the Moderator as chairperson of the council within thirty (30) days of the meeting.  The Clerk shall keep a register of the names of the members with dates of admission and their affiliation with a denomination, if chosen, and also a record of dismissal or death, together with a record of baptisms, marriages, and funerals.

The Clerk shall enter upon the records of the United Parish, such events as are of historical value.  The Clerk shall make all legal and social correspondence and report the statistics and data at the Annual Meeting.  All Records of the United Parish shall be kept on file in the Church.

Section 5:  Assistant Clerk

The Assistant Clerk shall assist the Clerk in the discharge of his/her duties and in his/her absence shall perform all duties incident to the office of the Clerk.

Section 6:  Treasurer

The Treasurer shall be a member of the United Parish Council and the Finance Committee.  He/she shall be custodian of all monies received on behalf of the church and give an accounting thereof.  He/she shall disburse funds in accordance with the directions of the Council or as approved by the Finance Committee.  He/she shall submit a monthly financial report, including all budget accounts to the United Parish Council.  He/she shall present a full written report of the church finances annually.

Section 7:  Assistant Treasurer

The Assistant Treasurer shall have the following responsibilities:

A) Assist in the work pertaining to the finances of the Parish.

B)  Assume the duties and responsibilities of the Treasurer in the event the Treasurer is unable to fulfill the duties due to illness or absence.

C)  Act as Chairperson of the Board of Trustees.

D)  Custodian of all Trust Funds and Endowment/Memorial Funds.

Section 8:  Collector

The Collector shall attend to the collection of money pledged for the support of the United Parish or due thereto or contributed thereto, and shall promptly deposit the same to the account of the United Parish, taking receipt thereof and will provide status reports when requested by the Finance Committee.

Section 9:  Assistant Collector

The Assistant Collector shall assist the Collector in the performance of his/her duties and shall be responsible for collecting and depositing contributions by the church school, keeping accurate records.

Section 10:  Auditor

The Auditor shall have the following responsibilities:

A)  Examine the accounts of the Treasurer, the Trust Fund Board, and all special funds of the church.

B)  Present a written report on this examination at the Annual Meeting.

Article VII    The United Parish Council

Section 1:  Members

The United Parish Council shall consist of the following officers and chairpersons of listed committees and will be chaired by the Moderator.      


                        A)        Pastor (Ex-Officio)

                        B)        Moderator (Chairperson)

                        C)        Clerk

                        D)        Treasurer

                        E)        Asst. Treasurer, (Chair, Board of Trustees)

                        F)        Chairperson, Finance

                        G)        Chairperson, Stewardship

                        H)        Chairperson, Diaconate

                        I)         Chairperson, Pastoral Relations

                        J)         Chairperson, Christian Education

                        K)        Chairperson, Missions

                        L)        Chairperson, Building and Grounds           

                        M)       President, Ladies Fellowship

In the absence of any member, that member notifies his/her assistant or selects an alternate to attend and vote.

Section 2:  Meetings

The Council shall meet monthly, unless otherwise notified by the Council Chairperson.  A majority of seven (7) members shall be necessary to constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.

If necessary, the Moderator or his/her designee may conduct a poll of at least (7) seven voting members of the Parish Council to get their approval/disapproval of a matter which requires immediate action prior to a regular or special meeting. The results of said poll and approval/disapproval must be ratified at the next regular or special meeting of the Council and so noted in the record to be considered official.

Section 3:  Responsibilities

The Council shall be responsible for:

A)  Being the delegated authority to act on behalf of, and responsible to, the whole church.  It shall function as the church when the church is not in meeting and shall oversee programs of the United Parish.

B)  Preparing of By-laws and Amendments.

C)  Presenting a proposed budget, which has been developed by the Finance Committee, to the members of the United Parish for their consideration before the end of the fiscal year.  Final action on the budget shall be taken at the United Parish annual meeting.

D)  Making recommendations on the purchase, sale or construction of property belonging to the United Parish.

E) All new organizations and task force committees.

F) Create an Annual Roster of Sponsored or Affiliated Organizations.

G)  Appoint special task forces.  Such task forces shall:

            1)  Have a specific goal.

            2)  Report regularly to The United Parish Council.

            3)  Be renewed or dissolved at the discretion of The United Parish Council.


H)  Hiring an Office Administrator whose primary responsibility will be to the Pastor.

I)  Acting as and having the powers of a standing committee within the meaning of Section 49, Chapter 67 of Massachusetts General Law Annotated.

J)  Conducting annual salary review for the position of the Office Administrator.

Article VIII   Committees

 All committee members of the United Parish shall be elected at an Annual meeting of the church for a single three-(3) year period. After a lapse of one (1) year a person may be re-elected to the same committee and that all such elections be made on recommendation from the Nominating Committee or special meeting.

Any one person may be nominated to membership in only one committee, with the exception that where no one has been found for a vacancy, the United Parish Council may, on recommendation from the Nominating Committee, allow for dual membership on a temporary basis.

Any member of a committee shall not receive compensation for any services rendered under the direction or responsibility of that committee.

A)  All committees shall elect a chairperson within thirty (30) day after the annual meeting, reporting same to the United Parish clerk.

B)  All committees and officers are required to submit a written report to the Office Administrator on or before January 2nd.  Any officer or committee using budgeted funds must submit a request to the Finance Committee for the annual budget. Throughout the year additional requested monies may be recommended by the Finance Committee from reserve funds. Approval of expenditures rests with the United Parish Council.

C)  All Committees shall meet as often as necessary, but no less than quarterly to conduct their respectful business. A written quarterly report of committee member’s attendance shall be forwarded to the Diaconate

Section 1:  Board of Trustees                    

The Board of Trustees shall consist of three (3) Trustees, one of whom shall be elected each year at the annual meeting for a term of three (3) years. The Board is responsible for the administration of the Trust Funds & Endowment/Memorial Funds under the chairpersonship of the Assistant Treasurer.

Section 2:  Finance Committee

The Finance Committee shall consist of five (5) members. The three elected members will serve a three-year term, one of whom shall be elected each year at the Annual Meeting. The additional two members are the Treasurer and a member of the Stewardship Committee. The committee shall meet monthly and will elect a chairperson and a secretary.                             

Their function will be to:

A)  Approve payment of bills and status of budget account.

B)  Provide financial information and guidance for monthly financial decisions by the United Parish Council.

C)  Develop equitable contracts and cost for the use of the United Parish facilities by members and outside organizations.

D)  Develop a budget, after consulting with all committees and groups, and present it to the United Parish Council for their December meeting.

E)  Receive and review information provided by the Treasurer relative to the collection of pledged income, and to urge, through a program of encouragement and counsel, the fulfillment of commitments as a matter of good stewardship.

Section 3:  Stewardship Committee

The Stewardship Committee shall consist of six (6) members each serving a three-year term with two (2) elected each year.  One member shall serve on the Finance Committee.

The Stewardship Committee shall have the following responsibilities:

A)  Developing ways and means to disseminate the ideas and practice of systematic and proportionate giving of our time, abilities and material possessions.

B)  Reviewing the stewardship commitment of the church and its members.

C)  Raising funds necessary to meet the annual budget of the church.

D)  Reporting to the congregation periodically to keep the membership informed of the stewardship needs of the church.

E)   Acquainting new members with their stewardship responsibility.

F)   Keeping the Parish Council informed of their activity and progress.

G)   Planning programs to promote giving to the church as part of personal financial planning, provide fellowship and oversee any fundraising activities.

H)   Other functions as specified by the United Parish Council.   

Section 4:  Diaconate

There shall be six (6) or more deacons, of mixed gender, elected at the annual parish meeting for alternating three-year terms.

 They will provide Communion and help in administering it and will help the Pastor at all times in the administration of public worship and spiritual care of the people.

 They shall be responsible for guest and supply ministers.

The deacon of the month shall be responsible for ushers, acolytes and greeters.

 The Diaconate shall have responsibility for the total appearance of the Altar, providing candles for all services in the church, and the recruiting, scheduling, and training of acolytes.

The Diaconate is also responsible for validating a list of Members and Voting Members. The list of names of Voting Members will be included in the annual report.

The Diaconate will, when necessary, make recommendations for revocation/termination of an individual membership. This recommendation will be made by a 2/3-majority vote of all the members of the Diaconate.

One (1) Deacon shall be responsible to oversee the positions of Organist and Choir Director to see that they are adequately staffed and compensated and that expenses are reasonable.

One (1) Deacon shall be responsible to oversee the Flower Funds available and assure that flowers and other decorations are properly provided for services of worship.

Section 5:  Pastoral Relations Committee

There shall be four (4) members with at least one (1)  member from the Diaconate.  Members of the committee shall be elected for three (3) year terms, with one (1) members being elected annually.

Their duties are:

A)   To strengthen Pastor-People relationships through mutual exploration of the role of pastoral leadership.

B)   To channel the congregation’s responsiveness to his/her leadership and to send recommendations to the United Parish Council.

C)   To review annually the church’s responsibility for the Pastor’s compensation, and other expenses, and to report such to the Finance Committee.

D)   To meet quarterly, and serve as a Pastoral Search Committee when needed.

Section 6:  Christian Education Committee

There shall be three (3) members with at least one (1) member being a member of the teaching staff. The Committee shall be responsible for child, youth and adult education and for Sunday School Superintendent and teaching staff.

  Members of the committee shall be elected for three (3) year terms with one (1) new member being elected annually.  The Superintendent of the Church School shall have the general oversight and direction of the church school and shall conduct its affairs upon such methods as may be approved and recommended by the Christian Education Committee.

Section 7:  Missions and Service Committee

There shall be three (3) members to promote and distribute information concerning the missionary activity of The United Parish.  Members of the committee are to be elected for three (3) year terms with one (1) new member being elected annually.  It shall be responsible for the allocation of the general missionary budget and setting up special offerings during the year.  Members will work with the Diaconate Committee, keeping the Parish informed about the broad missions of the United Parish and the ecumenical churches abroad.  The committee will take into consideration the missions obligations of all three denominations.          

Section 8:  Building and Grounds Committee

The Building and Grounds Committee shall consist of three (3) members, one (1) of whom shall be elected each year at the Annual Meeting for a term of three (3) years, to oversee the maintenance of the properties.  They shall make periodic inspections of the properties and  recommend needed maintenance and improvements.

They shall supervise a custodian in the maintenance and upkeep of the properties and make recommendations to the United Parish Council.  They shall interview applicants for Custodian and make recommendations to the United Parish Council.  The members will be responsible for conducting an annual salary review for the position of Custodian.

Section 9:  Ladies Fellowship         

Section 10:  Nominating Committee

The Nominating Committee shall consist of three (3) members.  It shall present a slate of officers to the annual meeting and will supply replacements for committees.  One member (1) will be voted in each year for a three (3) year term.

Section 11:  Representatives to Affiliated Denominations

There shall be three (3) members that serve as representatives to the Affiliated Denominations. Members of the committee shall be elected for three (3) year terms, with one (1) new member being elected annually.

Article IX   Meetings

Section 1:  Worship

 A service shall be scheduled each week throughout the year.             

Section 2:  Business

A) Annual Meeting: The annual meeting of the United Parish shall be held following worship service on the First Sunday after the 15th of January.  The agenda and Annual reports are to be made available to members 1 week before the Annual  Meeting.  The fiscal year will run from January 1 to December 31.

B) The Call for Meetings:  The Pastor or Moderator shall, when requested in writing by the United Parish Council or any five (5) members of the Parish, call from the pulpit and published in the

Sunday worship bulletin, special business meetings at least six (6) days proceeding the day for such meeting. The Call shall specify all business to come before the meeting.           

C)  Presiding Officer:  The Moderator shall preside at all meetings of the United Parish.  In his/her absence the Assistant Moderator shall become the acting Moderator, or appoint a temporary replacement.

D)  Quorum:  At the annual meeting and all special business meetings, twenty (20) active members shall be necessary to constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.                

 E)  Elections:  Upon the presentation of a slate of officers and committee members by the Nominating Committee, the election shall proceed by oral vote or by a secret written ballot.  In cases where there is one (1) or more candidates for the same office, in addition to those nominated by the Nominating Committee, the voting will be conducted by secret written ballot.

Article X   Parliamentary Procedure

All annual meetings and special meetings shall be conducted according to Roberts Rules of Order, Newly Revised, latest edition.

Article XI   Amendments

These By-laws may be amended by a two-thirds vote of the members present at any annual meeting of the United Parish or at a meeting specially called for that purpose; the proposed amendment shall be inserted in the call. Proposed amendments shall be approved before submission to a special or annual Parish meeting, by a two-thirds vote of The United Parish Council. These By-laws shall take effect as soon as approved by the members of the United Parish.