How is First Church Run?

Annual Meeting & Annual Report

Each year, usually early in February, First Church holds its Annual Meeting. The community gathers for one worship service at 10 am and then has lunch afterwards. Officers and committee members are elected, we celebrate the transition of leadership and changes in the congregation (births, deaths and new members) and hear from the past Moderator and the newly elected Moderator. Members of Winthrop, the senior high youth group serve a delicious meal and donations are collected to help fund their summer Work Camp.

First Church also publishes an Annual Report. This document is a good orientation to the church and gives a wide view of the activities of the church.

“Congregational Polity”

In the United Church of Christ (UCC), congregations have a high degree of authority to make basic decisions about that way they run themselves. This is referred to as "congregational polity." Congregations manage their own financial affairs and hire clergy and other staff. Congregations are in “covenantal” relationships with the other settings of church organization. The church is part of an "association" (in First Church’s case, the Annual MeetingBay Association), which when combined together are “conferences”(Northern California Nevada Conference). The national setting of the UCC is located primarily in Cleveland, Ohio.

The relationships between First Church and the other settings of the denomination are cooperative and mutually beneficial. While our church gets to choose our ministerial staff, it is the association that has the power to ordain clergy, and the conference partners with local churches in the process of supporting and developing church leadership.

The national setting of the church provides leadership and services and organizes a national meeting called General Synod every two years, where church members from throughout the denomination gather for worship, education, debate and action.

The church supports the conference and the national setting financially as well.


The church, like many organizations is governed under a set of bylaws. Download a copy of the current bylaws (amended April 19, 2015)...

Church Council

First Church has an elected Church Council of 16 members. The chairs or co-chairs of the 5 Ministries (see below) serve on the council along with the church officers (Moderator, Vice Moderator, Treasurer and Clerk) and four At-Large members. Several members of staff, including the Senior Minister, meet with the Council with voice without vote. Members of the Council are nominated by the Committee of Involvement and elected by the congregation at the Annual Meeting which usually occurs in early February.

Members of the Church Council for 2014 are Janet Eadie, Phil Atkins-Pattenson, Scott Sporte, Rod Mackenzie, Robin Kempster, Wendy Atkins-Pattenson, Rick Ayer, Laura Leaverton, Janet McDonald, Betsy York, Moderator, Tim Specht, Annis Kukulan, Bob Stumpf, Nick Kukulan, Moderator-Elect, Moe Wright, Treasurer, Diana Graham, Secretary, and Bob Hester.


Some of the programs and activities of First Church are carried out by six "Ministries," each with its own focus and responsibility as laid out in the bylaws of the church:

Adult Education—Adult Education overseas educational opportunities for adults in the congregation, including the programming of many of the Learning Hours (at 10 am from September through May and at 11:15 in the summer.) The group also organizes a variety of other programs that take place at other times during the week. Check out a list of current Adult Education opportunities...

Families, Children & Youth (FamChY)—FamChY creates a wide variety of educational and community events for children, youth and families for Sunday mornings and at other times of the week. They are responsible for the Sunday School and youth programs as well as programs for the wider community. More about programs for families, children and youth. Check out a list of current events for families, children and youth.

Stewardship, Finance & Administration (SFA)—SFA overseas the financial affairs of the church including monitoring the finances throughout the year, creating budgets and overseeing stewardship and pledging. This Ministry is also responsible for the long-term care and upkeep of the building and its rental to outside organizations.

Care, Fellowship & Invitation (CFI)—CFI organizes activities and events that promote community and connection within the congregation and invitation and welcome to visitors and potential members.

Outreach, Mission and Service (OMS)—OMS organizes opportunities for service in the community, administers a grant-making process to outside agencies and organizations (funded by the Cellar Thrift Shop), supports the formation of Ministry Teams and organizes special offerings throughout the year.

Worship & Spiritual Life—This Ministry (sometimes referred to as the “Deacons”) oversees activities related to the worship life of the church, including the serving of communion.

Members may volunteer to serve on these committees or be invited to do so by the Ministry of Involvement. The chairs and members of those committees are also voted on by the congregation.

Congregation members who have a particular interest or concern related to the work of the Ministries may contact the chair or co-chair of that Ministry. See the Church Council list above for the names of the chairs or co-chairs of the Ministries.

Other Committees, Groups and Organizations

Other "standing" (ongoing) and "ad hoc" (shorter term) committees have been and will be formed by the Church Council. Long Range Planning and the Committee of Involvement are two of the standing committees. Sometimes other committees are formed within or between Ministries, such as Stewardship & Sustainability or Budget. The Church Council also appoints Search Committees and Task Forces that may take on particular projects or studies.

Some activities within the church have formed over time, often by one or more congregation members, and have become institutions. One example of this is the Cellar Thrift Shop which is run by a committed core of volunteers. Also various fellowship groups, often loosely organized by age or interest, have formed over time.

Ministry Teams

Any member of the congregation can form a Ministry Team to address a particular interest or issue. Many of the teams address important social or political issues. The Teams are aided by the Ministry of Outreach, Mission and Service as they form. You can read more about these teams on the Ministry Teams page of the Justice & Service section of the website.


First Church is served by a large lay and ordained staff, both paid and volunteer. Staff members often serve as liaisons to the various groups and committees in the church. Read more on the First Church Staff page.