Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about church finances:
1. Do I have to pay anything to attend services and programs at the Church?
No. You do not.
If at some point you decide to become a member of First Church, you will be expected to make an annual financial contribution to the Church that is meaningful for you. We are always happy when people who have been part of our community decide they would like to become members, but you need not be a member to attend services or programs.
2. Where does the money come from at First Church, and where does it go?
A typical church year budget is based on about $200,000 in income and expenses. Church members vote on that budget every year. The church’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30. We ordinarily try to budget for a small surplus.
About two-thirds of the Church’s income comes from member contributions and offerings at Sunday services. Rentals of the Church, fundraisers, and a significant contribution from the First Church Trust make up the difference.
Most of the Church’s income goes to pay our hardworking staff and to maintain and operate our historic building. We also pay dues to the Unitarian Universalist Association (“UUA”), the Massachusetts Bay District of Unitarian Universalist Congregations (“MBD”), and the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (“GBIO”). The church pays UUA and MBD dues on a per-member basis, currently about $75 per church member in total.
3. How and when do Church members make and pay pledges?
Each spring, the Church conducts an annual budget drive to ask members and friends of the Church to pledge their financial support to the church in the coming church year. Individual pledge amounts are held in confidence. In a recent year, we received about 80 household pledges averaging about $1,700 each (about $140/month).
Members can make contributions toward their pledges at any time during the church year. Some members choose to make their entire contribution at once. Others make quarterly, monthly, or weekly contributions. It is helpful if members can make some significant contribution toward their pledges during the first part of the church year so that the Church can pay its expenses over the course of the year.
Members make contributions toward their pledges in several different ways: by putting cash or a check in the offering plate on Sunday, by sending checks to the Church office, or by having an electronic bill payment service automatically send payments to the Church.
4. What is the Trust?
The Church building and certain Church endowment funds are held in a Trust designed to ensure the long-term survival of this Church community in Jamaica Plain. The Trustees of the Trust are all long-term members of the Church. The Trust makes a yearly contribution to the Church’s operating budget which is consistent with recommended practices for charitable endowments. Learn more about the Trust on this page.
Want to know more? Contact the Church Treasurer or any member of the Standing Committee.