Understanding The Bible
Return to Syllabus
Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
Sample Church Constitution for:
Di 425 Denominational Distinctions
ORDER 0F CONTENTS
|ARTICLE ONE: NAME OF CHURCH|
|ARTICLE TWO: DOCTRINAL BASIS AND COVENANT OF THIS CHURCH|
|ARTICLE THREE: MEMBERSHIP IN THIS CHURCH|
|ARTICLE FOUR: BUSINESS MEETINGS OF THE CHURCH|
|ARTICLE FIVE: ELECTION AND DUTIES OF OFFICERS|
|ARTICLE SIX: THE ADVISORY BOARD|
|ARTICLE SEVEN: NOMINATING COMMITTEE|
|ARTICLE EIGHT: ANNUAL FELLOWSHIP DINNER|
|ARTICLE NINE: THE LORD'S SUPPER|
|ARTICLE TEN: AMENDMENTS|
|APPENDIX: A PROTESTANT ANSWER TO THE FAMED CATHOLIC PRE-NUPTIAL CONTRACT|
|THE HISTORIC BAPTIST COVENANT|
|SUMMARY OF CONTENTS|
CONSTITUTION 0F _________ BAPTIST CHURCH
(Churches and their needs differ, but this sample is provided to meet the need of the majority of PCB students in Baptist and independent churches;. Much of it would be applicable to any kind of Protestant church.) [The comments in [ ] are not, of course, in the suggested constitution, but explanations to give helpful pointers in the practical implementation of the provisions.]
ARTICLE ONE: NAME OF CHURCH
This organization, composed of horn-again, Bible-believing Christians, shall
be known as THE __________ BAPTIST CHURCH of ___(city) (state)
duly incorporated under (state) law.
ARTICLE TWO: DOCTRINAL BASIS AND COVENANT OF THIS
Section 1. DOCTRINAL BASIS
The doctrinal basis upon which this Church meets shall be the general position of the historic New Hampshire Confession (as adapted to the needs and emphasis of this local body of believers), a summarized form of which, appearing below, .shall be presented to each applicant for membership in this Church for his or her acceptance and signed yearly by all officers. [We made this a significant formal occasion, usually on the Sunday immediately following--or preceding--their taking office. I usually preached on one of the doctrines].
Section 2. CHURCH COVENANT
The covenant of this Church is that historic Baptist Covenant which, for the constant reminder of our members, is pasted in at least one set of our hymn books. See Appendix. I had these printed in the same color ink as the hymn book cover on gummed paper and placed with care and neatness on a blank Part at the front or rear of the hymn book.
Section 3. RELATION TO OTHER CHURCHES
In harmony with this Church's adherence to historic Baptist doctrine and practice, and in recognition of the unjudged and condoned departure from that faith and practice on the part of an increasing number of individuals, officials, schools, and churches of the __________ Baptist Convention, this Church has withdrawn all fellowship with that national body through its association and state affiliates, and has declared itself in fellowship with the __________ __________ __________ which group stands for the historic faith and practice of Baptists, and with that regional group known as the __________ __________ __________ .
No pastor shall be considered as called to this Church unless and until, having been informed of these basic decisions, he shall declare himself in writing as standing loyally with the __________ Baptist Church in these matters.
THE DOCTRINAL BASIS UPON WHICH THIS CHURCH MEETS
1. WE BELIEVE IN THE DIVINE INSPIRATION AND AUTHORITY OF THE SCRIPTURES.
By this is meant a miraculous guidance of the Holy Spirit in their original writing, extending to all parts of the Scriptures equally, applying even to the choice of words, so that the result is the very Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice. Moreover, it is our conviction that God has exercised such singular care and providence through the ages in preserving the written Word, that the Scriptures as we now have them are, in every essential particular, as originally given and contain all things necessary to salvation.
2. WE BELIEVE IN ONE GOD, eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
3. WE BELIEVE THAT JESUS CHRIST WAS BEGOTTEN BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, and born of the virgin Mary, and is true God and true man.
4. WE BELIEVE THAT MAN WAS CREATED in the image of God, that he sinned and thereby incurred not only physical death but also that spiritual death which is separation from God; that all human beings are born with a sinful nature and, in the case of those who reach moral responsibility, become sinners in thought, word, and deed.
5. WE BELIEVE THAT THE LORD JESUS CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS according to the Scriptures as a representative and substitutionary sacrifice. We believe that salvation is only in Christ and His shed blood, and that this salvation is a gift of God, receivable through faith alone, apart from any works on the part of the recipient (whose only works up till the time of his salvation have been "dead" and "wicked" works).
6. WE BELIEVE THAT ALL WHO BY FAITH RECEIVE THE LORD JESUS CHRIST ARE BORN AGAIN of the Holy Spirit, and thereby become children of God.
7. WE BELIEVE THAT IT IS INCUMBENT ON BELIEVERS TO MAINTAIN GOOD WORKS and provide things honest in the sight of all men; however, not in order to be saved, but because we are saved.
8. WE BELIEVE IN THE RESURRECTION of the crucified body of our Lord, in His ASCENSION to heaven, and in His PRESENT LIFE THERE for us as High Priest and Advocate.
9. WE BELIEVE IN THE GREAT COMMISSION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST to give the gospel to every creature, in both its worldwide and local emphases.
10. WE BELIEVE IN THAT BLESSED HOPE, the personal and visible (bodily) return of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to this earth, where He will rule and reign.
11. WE BELIEVE IN THE BODILY RESURRECTION OF THE JUST AND UNJUST, --the everlasting felicity of the saved and the everlasting conscious punishment of the lost.
12. WE BELIEVE THAT CHRIST LEFT TWO ORDINANCES FOR HIS CHURCH TO PRACTICE, namely. Baptism and the Lord's Supper. We believe that Baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of GOD--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—symbolizing said believer's union by faith with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. And we believe that the Lord's Supper is a symbolic memorial feast by which we look back in faith to the cleansing blood of the Cross; look up in love to our heavenly Father as we feast upon the virtues of His Son, showing the Father what we have found in the Son; and we look forward in hope to our Lord's promised return.
ARTICLE THREE: MEMBERSHIP IN THIS CHURCH
Section 1. APPLICATION FOR MEMBERSHIP
Clause 1. WHO MAY APPLY FOR MEMBERSHIP?
Any person who has confessed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour and given satisfactory evidence of a change of heart, and who affirms the Doctrinal Basis and Covenant of this Church may, if baptized or upon baptism, be received as a member of this Church, [in practice I found it wise to reserve the threshold of membership to those children who had reached Junior Department age in Sunday School. Many younger children can be and are soundly saved, but few could really understand the responsibilities involved in membership in the Church. Thus confession of faith is encouraged, but baptism reserved until it would be the immediate prelude to membership]
Clause 2. CLASSIFICATION OF APPLICANTS
1. Those who come on CONFESSION OF FAITH.
2. Those who, though previously having confessed Christ in some non-immersionist communion, come as a matter of CONSCIENCE, seeking immersion as scriptural baptism.
3. Those who come by LETTER from immersionist churches.
4. Those previously immersed, who come on RE-STATEMENT OF FAITH without letter. [EXPERIENCE is the usual Baptist word for this classification].
5. Those whose names have been erased from the roll because of neglect of church attendance, etc., who--repenting--desire REINSTATEMENT to membership.
6. Those who have been excluded from membership because of some act or practice which dishonored Christ and the Church, who—repenting---desire RESTORATION.
Clause 3. METHOD OF DEALING WITH APPLICANTS
1. No person shall be admitted to the membership of this Church without first having been examined by the Pastor and/or a quorum of the Board of Deacons.
2. All applicants, before being examined by the Board of Deacons, shall fill in an application questionnaire prepared by the Pastor, which will reveal pertinent facts concerning the applicant, especially as related to his spiritual background. (This questionnaire shall, of course, be adapted to the age of the candidate.) It shall include the Doctrinal Basis and Covenant of this Church, appearing in this constitution.
The applicant must affirm his acceptance of both of these without reservation. [This questionnaire was most helpful in discreetly obtaining information, some of which might cause needless embarrassment to ask, e.g., previous marital status, time of and eligibility for baptism, etc;]
The original questionnaire shall be filed by the Church Clerk permanently.
3. Should the answers to the questionnaire fail to show sufficient grasp of what is involved in being a Christian and/or a church member, the Pastor shall personally and/or through suitable literature, give the applicant instruction before (s)he appears before the Deacons. (it was my practice always to hold a Baptismal Class for children, running for a number of weeks. Many pastors also require adults to attend such a class, held usually for a number of weeks at the Sunday School hour].
4. All applicants who have answered the questionnaire satisfactorily shall then be examined by the Pastor and/or at least a quorum of the Board of Deacons. Only such applicants as have, in the judgment of the Board, been truly regenerated, and are of approved Christian character, shall be recommended to the Church for acceptance as members.
5. All applicants shall have given a testimony to their faith in Christ before the Church on some occasion prior to the vote being taken by the Church. [Commonly this was done in a prayer meeting during a testimony period so that the applicant would not feel conspicuous and, at the same time, be encouraged by others testifying].
6. Those accepted applicants who have not been immersed shall be baptized at the earliest convenience of themselves and the Pastor. [This should not be allowed to drag on. Except in illness, only a week or two should elapse].
7. Persons shall actually become members when the Right Hand of Fellowship is extended. This shall usually be done at the next Communion service, but exceptions may be made when advisable in the judgment of the Pastor or Deacons. (We had cases like service men or business men being transferred, or students going away to school where we did not wait for a Communion service].
8. New members shall be immediately presented with a Scofield Reference Bible, if they do not possess one, and a box of Church offering envelopes. (The small cost is negligible compared with the doctrinal help to new members and the doctrinal unity fostered by all possessing a SRB. The envelopes emphasize immediate personal responsibility to do one's share at home and abroad].
Section 2, DUTIES OF MEMBERS
Clause 1. It shall be the duty of members to fulfill faithfully the promises made in our Church Covenant, and to help other members to do so.
Clause 2. It is the duty of members to honor and esteem their Pastor; to pray for him fervently and daily; to submit to him in the scriptural exercise of his official authority; to attend constantly upon his administrations; to manifest a tender regard for his reputation, and to give to his support in proportion to their ability. (This is an important scriptural regulation. It is doubtful if churches are wise in failing to discipline flagrant offenders).
Clause 3. It shall be the duty of all members to contribute to the support of the Church and its missionary budget, unless excused by the Board of Deacons on account of illness or some justifiable cause, which excuse will be cheerfully granted if the Pastor or any Deacon be notified and concur in the validity of the request.
Clause 4. It shall be the duty of members to make welcome and serve the strangers who may enter our doors, providing an available church home to all professed Christians sojourning in our city.
Clause 5. It shall be the duty and privilege of all members to contact unsaved and unchurched people for Christ and our Church, furnishing names and addresses of such to our Sunday School Superintendent and Pastor, in addition to personal invitation.
Clause 6. It shall be the duty of all members to KEEP THE PASTOR (OR CHURCH CLERK) INFORMED OF EVERY CHANGE OF ADDRESS.
Clause 7. It shall be the duty of all members removing from the vicinity to seek a suitable church home and to send for their letter at the earliest opportunity. At any event, they shall furnish the Pastor or Church Clerk with their new address within two months after leaving the city.
Section 3. FAILURE TO PERFOPA1 DUTIES OF MEMBERSHIP
Clause 1. NON-ATTENDANCE AND INACTIVITY
Those members who have, in the judgment of the Board of Deacons, for a period of one year neglected their privileges and duties as members of this Church (particularly attendance), without good reason and to every practical intent, shall by vote of the Board be placed upon the Inactive portion of the Church roll, providing that said members shall have been visited by one or more members of the Board to warn them of the spiritual danger of such neglect (Heb. 2:1-3; 10:25), and to inform them that continued neglect will require the Church to recognize that they have placed themselves on the Inactive Roll by non-attendance.
Every thing possible shall be done by the Pastor and Deacons to cause them to reconsider, repent, and return to their Lord and Church.
Exceptions may be made in occasional cases where, in the judgment of the Board, there are contributing circumstances beyond the control of a non-attending member, [it was my practice to have a review of the Roll-Active and Inactive--at least once a year. After long experience I would recommend twice a year, perhaps November and May, when the annual meeting occurs in December, as this church's did. This would give the up-to-date situation of those eligible to vote in the annual meeting particularly].
Clause 2. RESULTS OF BECOMING AN INACTIVE MEMBER
The names of those placed upon the Inactive Roll shall not be included in the count of the members, nor shall they have the privilege of a church vote, nor hold office in this Church nor any of its organizations. [This is a wise provision. Again and again trouble has been caused, and unwise decisions voted, by those on the fringe of things who are not really on the wave length of the Church. At any event, such people could provide the balance of power to a determined, disgruntled minority. Dead wood can be set on fire and shouldn't be left around].
Clause 3. ERASURE FROM ROLL
The names of members may be erased at their own request, or by decision of the Board of Deacons at any time, or in the annual check of the Roll in the case of inactive members, where in their judgment it is deemed advisable. (Removal is not limited to those on the Inactive Roll, but at least an annual check is wisely required to determine which on the Inactive Roll should be erased from even that Roll].
Clause 4. NOTIFICATION OF CHANGE OF STATUS
A periodically corrected Roll of the Church (without addresses) shall be posted on the bulletin board of the downstairs auditorium. This shall constitute sufficient notice of the Deacons' action on members' status under Clauses 1 and 3. ("This could be placed in any convenient place in a local church, not too conspicuous but easily accessible to any who want to know the status of members at any point of time].
In view of the fact that some mistakes are possible, in spite of care to avoid same, it shall be the duty of each member to check the list to see if his name is on the Roll and properly classified. Failure to do so makes the said member personally responsible for any mistakes. Any alleged mistake should be reported to the Pastor, Church Clerk, or Secretary of the Deacons. (Obviously a person ignoring his attendance responsibility will implicate himself by any statement revealing his ignorance of status]
Clause 5. SUSPENSION AND CENSURE OF MEMBERS
Any member, found guilty by the Board of Deacons of such conduct (contrary to the Scriptures and Church Covenant) as brings the Church and the Lord's name into disrepute, shall be suspended from the membership and excluded from fellowship at the Lord's Table, until confession and satisfactory evidence of repentance has been given.
Should repentance not be forthcoming, the Deacons shall censure said person by dropping him or her from membership.
In neither case shall a member be convicted, except at the mouth of two or more witnesses, nor without opportunity to answer for himself or herself and introduce witness(es) of his (her) own, if (s)he desires, before any vote is taken. [Some churches require a return receipted registered letter notifying said member that his status is to be considered at a certain time. I rather feel an ordinary letter, a phone call, or a visit would be sufficient and allow needed flexibility to handle a ticklish situation]
Clause 6. REVERSAL OF DEACONS' DECISION
None of the cases covered by this section shall be brought before the whole Church, except a petition signed by twenty members [*The number would wisely be adjusted to the size of the church. It doesn't take many objectors to cause trouble, so a large number would not be a wise provision. The rule of thumb would be about 10%. Here a membership of 200 plus is envisioned If 300, the suggested number would be 30. However, anything over 500 should, in my judgment, not require more than 50 members. Fifty concerned or objecting members warrant a Board's concern and attention.] in good standing and over 16 years of. age be presented to the Pastor and/or Deacons, who shall call a special meeting of the Church to consider the matter.
A three-fourths vote of the members (over 16 and in good standing) present at said meeting shall be necessary to reverse the Deacons' decision.
Section 4. REMOVAL OF MEMBERS FROM THIS AREA
Clause 1. CHURCH LETTERS
Members in good standing in this Church may be dismissed by vote of the Church upon application, and granted a Letter of Dismissal to unite with some other immersionist church designated in the application.
Members in good standing desiring to unite with other than immersionist churches shall be entitled to a letter of recommendation from the Pastor or Deacons, but not to a Letter of Dismissal.
All Church letters shall be mailed by the Clerk of this Church direct to the Pastor or Clerk of the church designated, rather than the member requesting membership transfer.
These details shall also apply to members desiring to unite with another church in this area.
Clause 2. NON-RESIDENT MEMBERS
A non-resident member shall not be retained on the Roll after two years, --
1. Unless there is no suitable church near enough for said member to join, or circumstances beyond his control prohibit attendance upon church, or some other reason satisfactory to the Deacons.
2. And unless said member makes application, in view of the exceptions above, to be retained upon the non-resident portion of the Active Roll.
3. And unless said member shall contribute to this Church at least once yearly, or is excused from doing so by the Deacons.
Section 5. RESTORATION OF MEMBERSHIP
Clause 1. IN CASE OF INACTIVE MEMBERS
Inactive members may be restored to the Active Membership Roll by renewed attendance and giving over a period of three months, the Deacons taking note of same and by vote recording their approval of the fact.
Said member shall be notified of this change in status and encouraged to continue.
Clause 2. IN THE CASE OF MEMBERS DROPPED FOR NON-ATTENDANCE
Members dropped from the Inactive Roll for non-attendance may be restored to active membership by renewed regular attendance and giving over a period of six months, except that the Deacons shall first request said member to meet with them personally, so that they may express their pleasure and further encourage him.
Clause 3. IN THE CASE OF MEMBERS SUSPENDED OR DROPPED UNDER CENSURE (Section
3, Clause 5)
Any person suspended or dropped from membership under censure may be restored to membership on confession of his or her guilt, and giving satisfactory evidence of repentance in the Deacons' judgment.
It shall be within the discretion of the Board of Deacons whether or not the cause of suspension or censure is of such nature as to make a public confession necessary. [Cases vary. Where "everyone" knows, nothing is gained by supposed secrecy, and genuineness of a repentance may well be established by a willingness to humble oneself publicly. Of course, details are unnecessary and unwise in such a confession, but the root of the matter should be frankly stated.
However, in many cases where knowledge of the sin is heavily restricted, it would be in the interests of all to let the matter be limited to the knowledge of the trusted officers constituting the Board].
ARTICLE FOUR: BUSINESS MEETINGS OF THE CHURCH
Section 1. REGULAR MEETINGS
The regular Business Meetings of the Church shall be held on the Wednesday after the first Sunday of December, March, June, and October. The Annual Business Meeting shall be the December meeting. The fiscal year shall close November 30. (Article Five, Section 11, Clause 7)
All business sessions shall be opened and closed with prayer.
Section 2. SPECIAL BUSINESS MEETINGS
Special Business Meetings may be called at any time by the Pastor, Board of Deacons, or Board of Trustees, provided that announcement of the meeting is made on the Sunday preceding said meeting.
Sections. QUORUM (20)
A quorum of twenty (20) members eligible to vote shall be necessary for the transaction of business at a regular or special Business Meeting. However, should a quorum be lacking at such a convened meeting, matters may be discussed and recommendations adopted to be presented to the Church for acceptance or rejection at a Business Meeting when a quorum is present.
Section 4. WHO MAY VOTE?
Members in good standing, 17 years of age or older, may vote in Church Business Meetings. Members under 17, or on the Inactive Roll, or under suspension, will not be allowed the privilege of the floor nor the privilege of voting. [many churches use 18 as the figure, but I believe more high school kids should be included. They often have more spiritual concern than oldsters;]
Section 5. VOTE ON MEMBERSHIP
Members may be accepted on recommendation of the Deacons, or Letters of Dismissal may be granted, or members may be selected to represent the Church, at any stated meeting of the Church, as well as at Business Meetings, provided a quorum is present.
Section 6. MATTERS TO BE CONSIDERED
No matter may be presented to the Church for vote, unless it has first been discussed and favorably recommended by the Advisory Board.
ARTICLE FIVE: ELECTION AND DUTIES OF OFFICERS
Section 1. THE PASTOR
Clause 1. DUTIES OF THE PASTOR
It shall be the duty of the Pastor to preach statedly at the Church; to administer the ordinances of the Gospel; to act as Moderator, when present, in the meetings for the transaction of business, and to perform the various other duties pertaining to the office as indicated in the Scriptures.
Clause 2. WHEN A VACANCY OCCURS
When a vacancy occurs in the pastorate by the death, resignation, or removal of the Pastor by the Church, the Church shall without delay, and upon recommendation of the Advisory Board (as Pulpit Committee), invite some minister of good repute to this pastorate, provided three-fourths of the members present and voting (in good standing and 17 years of age or over) at any regular or special Business Meeting, of which one week's public notice shall have been given, join in the invitation.
No minister shall be deemed invited to be Pastor of this Church unless he can, gladly and without mental reservation, sign (1) the Doctrinal Basis of this Church and (2) concur in position of this Church as to ecclesiastical affiliation, described in ARTICLE TWO, Sections 1, 2, and 3 respectively. Formal request for affirmation shall be made by the Pulpit Committee and the signature of the candidate affixed before he shall be considered to have accepted said invitation of the Church to become Pastor.
Section 2. DEACONS AND DEACONESSES*
*Many churches have only deacons. Others restrict the use of deaconesses to visitation, etc., but without their meeting with the Board of Deacons with privilege of vote. The particular church for which this constitution was prepared had deaconesses with full rights of vote, etc. I must confess I questioned the practice in my own mind, but must in all candor record that it worked exceptionally well in that church. I was blessed with a number of very wise and very godly women who greatly assisted me in my spiritual goals and administration.
Clause 1. ELECTION AND ORGANIZATION
The Church shall elect a Board of Deacons, which shall consist of seven (7) men and five (5) women, by a majority of voting members present at the Annual Business Meeting. They shall serve for a term of three years, and their election shall be so arranged that five deaconesses will be elected one year, and four and three deacons respectively in the two succeeding years. Vacancies shall be filled at any regular Business Meeting for the unexpired portion of a term remaining.
Care shall be exercised that nominees fulfill the Scriptural qualifications (1 Tim. 3).
The Board of Deacons shall meet and organize within two weeks after the Annual Meeting, electing a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, and Secretary-Treasurer from their number, each to serve for one year. They shall hold stated meetings, at least quarterly, and on call of the Pastor or Chairman as need arises. FIVE shall constitute a quorum. [Of course, all numbers would correspond to the size of the church].
Clause 2. DUTIES OF DEACONS AND DEACONESSES
It shall be the duty of the Deacons and Deaconesses to cooperate with and assist the Pastor in the performance of his duties; to visit the sick and those needing spiritual help; to prepare and distribute the Lord's Supper; to take general supervision of and promote the spiritual interests of the Church; and to seek out such members as need financial assistance, and to use the alms of the Church for their relief.
It shall be the duty of the Secretary-Treasurer of the Deacons to keep a faithful record of all meetings of the Board; to receive the offering taken at the Communion Service (and all other money which may be raised for the assistance of those in need) and expend said money as the Pastor and Board may direct. He shall report the balance on hand in this Fellowship Fund at each regular Business Meeting of the Church, and make an annual report to the Annual Church Meeting. Said reports shall only state the sums received and disbursed, and the balance on hand, and shall not disclose the names of the persons said money was used to help.
In the absence of the Pastor, or during a vacancy in the pastorate, the Chairman (or in his absence the Vice-Chairman) of the Board of Deacons shall call to order all Church Business Meetings (or Advisory Board Meetings), presiding until a Moderator for the meeting is chosen by a majority of those present.
Clause 3. ADVANCED AGE AND LIFE MEMBERSHIP
In order to retain in perpetuity the spiritual counsel and leadership of all members of the Board, while at the same .time to make provision for the usual accompaniments of advancing age, the following plan has been devised:
Members of this Board, upon attaining age 75, shall automatically become Life Deacons(or Deaconesses) unless they should later change churches. Said Life Deacon (or Deaconess) would continue his(her) duties to the limit their health will permit, but the congregation shall, at the next regular Business Meeting following said person's 75th birthday, elect a member to fill out that portion of the 3-year term that remains, if any.
Further, at the first time any Board member comes up for re-election after his (her) 65th birthday (or any subsequent election until 75), should the congregation feel the state of said member's health or ability to serve is such as to make desirable the assistance of a younger man (or woman), this conclusion may be expressed in the congregation's refraining to vote in sufficient number to assure election from the multiple list of nominees. If such a vote should occur, at any time after age 65, said Board member's name would be presented at the next regular Business Meeting to determine whether the congregation desires to confirm him (her) as a Life Member, PROVIDED that (s)he shall have served on the Board for at least three terms (9 years). If confirmed as a Life Member, (s)he would continue to function as health and ability would permit.
The provisions above are in no sense intended as retirement, but as wise precautions to retain the spiritual leadership and counsel of honored veterans, while rendering them assistance in some duties, such as visitation, which they may not be as able to perform as in previous years. [This is one earnest effort to solve the problem of advancing age].
Section3. THE SUNDAY SCHOOL LEADERS
The Church Sunday School's General Superintendent and Assistant General Superintendent shall be elected by the Church annually, and report to same (see Section 11, Clause 7). [Should a full-time Christian Education Director be on the staff, he would be on a committee of which the chairman would probably be an elected officer of the Church, with the committee members composed of the Pastor, C. E. Director, S. S. Superintendent, and chairman of the Christian Education Committee"]
Section 4. THE TRUSTEES Clause 1. ELECTION
The Board of Trustees shall consist of nine (9) members, three of whom shall be elected yearly. They shall be elected at the Annual Church Meeting and shall serve for three years, except in the event of a vacancy, in which case a new member may be elected at any regular Church Business Meeting, but only for the unexpired portion of the term left vacant.
Clause 2. ORGANIZATION
It shall be the Trustees' duty to meet and organize within two weeks after the Annual Church Meeting. They shall then select from their number a President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer, each to serve for one year. FOUR trustees shall constitute a quorum.
Clause 3. DUTIES OF THE TRUSTEES
It shall be the duty of the Trustees: to care for the Church's property(ies), keeping on file an inventory of same; to provide a suggested annual current expense budget for the advice of the Advisory Board at its Annual Meeting; to direct the expending of such money as comes to the Church (except Fellowship Fund and Missions Fund), and in general guide the financial processes of the Church in harmony with its voted Scriptural policy of depending upon the free-will offering method alone, avoiding all selling for the Church's profit, directly or indirectly.
The Trustees shall have authority to incur indebtedness not to exceed $1000, without sanction of the Church, should occasion so require. They shall hold stated meetings, preferably monthly, and as need may arise.
Clause 4. DUTIES OF OFFICERS OF BOARD OF TRUSTEES
The President shall preside at all meetings of the Board, or in his absence the Vice-President.
The Secretary shall keep a faithful and complete record of all meetings held.
The Treasurer shall be the Treasurer of the Church, and shall have custody of all Church funds, except the Fellowship Fund (and any other the Church may specifically exclude), depositing same in such bank(s) as designated by the Trustees, and disbursing at the Trustees' direction. He shall disburse the Missions Fund as directed by the Church. He shall keep a correct record of all monies received and disbursed by him, make reports at the regular Church Business Meetings, and such other reports as may be required by the Church or the Trustees.
It shall be his duty to attend all Business Meetings of the Church, and to deliver his books with all vouchers to the Auditing Committee at the end of the Church year, or at any time upon receiving one week's notice to prepare same. He shall deliver to his successor all monies on hand at the end of his term of office with a statement of the amounts received and disbursed since his last report.
Section 5. THE FINANCE COMMITTEE
Clause 1. ELECTION AND ORGANIZATION
There shall be a Finance Committee consisting of ten (10) members, with the Church Treasurer as a member ex-officio. They shall be elected to serve for one year at the Annual Church Meeting. These ten members shall select one of their own number as Financial Secretary before January 1 yearly.
Vacancies during the year may be filled at any regular Church Business Meeting.
Clause 2. DUTIES OF COMMITTEE
It shall be the duty of this Committee to count the offerings at regular and special meetings of the Church, turning over said money ready for banking to the Church Treasurer with correct record thereof, and turning over regular and special envelopes and a record of amounts to the Financial Secretary.
At least two Committee members shall be present when any Church offerings are being counted, for the protection of any and all Committee members (2 Cor. 8:21). The Committee shall assist the Pastor and/or Trustees, as requested, in planning and promoting the success of the regular and special offerings of our Church. This shall include sending information by mail to the members and friends of the Church.
Clause 3. DUTIES OF THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY
It shall be the duty of the Financial Secretary to keep a correct record of all contributions of members (and such friends of the Church as may request) made through their regular and special church envelopes and to send statements (for income tax purposes and personal information) to all members on the Active Roll ( and to such members on the Inactive Roll as may contribute) at such intervals as the Trustees may direct.
He shall submit a written report to the Church at the regular Church Business Meetings, or any time called for by the Church or Trustees, provided he shall have one week's notice to prepare said report.
He shall furnish the Pastor and the Trustees a list annually of those members on the Active Roll who have failed to contribute during the year past, or who have given irregularly.
Section 6. CHURCH CLERK AND ASSISTANT
Clause 1. THEIR ELECTION
A Church Clerk and an Assistant shall be elected by the Church at the Annual Church Meeting to serve for one year (see Section 11, Clause 7).
Clause 2. THEIR DUTIES
It shall be the duty of the Church Clerk to attend all regular and special Business Meetings of the Church and Advisory Board, and to keep correct record of all proceedings, and to present the same at the next Business Meeting of that organization. (S)he shall issue Church letters when authorized by the Church, and keep a correct record of the Church Roll, both Active and Inactive, including Non-resident. A permanent file of all who have at any time been members of this Church, with notation of their present status (if still members) or by what process their name was removed (if no longer members), shall also be kept up to date by the Clerk.
The Assistant Church Clerk shall assist the Clerk in any matters requested so to do by the Clerk or the Pastor, as well as in serving in the absence of the Clerk.
Section7. MISSIONS COMMITTEE
Clause 1. THEIR ELECTION
There shall be a Missions Committee composed of the Pastor (as member ex-officio and chairman) and three members elected to serve for three years. Should the Committee so desire, the Church Treasurer or anyone may be invited to sit in with them (without vote) to furnish facts and figures concerning our Church Missions Fund receipts, or concerning any work about which the Committee wishes information. The Church may fill the unexpired term, caused by a vacancy, at any regular Business Meeting of the Church.
Clause 2. THEIR DUTIES
It shall be the duty of the Missions Committee to meet as need may arise; to prepare an Annual Missions Budget for adoption by the Advisory Board and Church; to discuss and recommend any changes deemed wise in the personnel of the Missionary Program of the Church (or the proportion of money to same); to present said proposed change(s) to the Church for action at any regular Business Meeting (excepting that when a budget has been adopted, the Committee shall have right to adjust proportions to fit the actual income), and in general to promote missionary interest and giving in keeping with the voted policy of the Church.
In line with this, an Annual Missionary Conference shall generally be held, at which time the needs of a lost world shall be presented and urged upon members, with appeal for increased interest, prayer, giving to and volunteering for missionary service at home and abroad.
A Secretary shall be chosen annually by the Committee to keep minutes of all meetings of the Committee, to forward the Church's missions check, to correspond with missions agencies and/or missionaries to whom the Church is giving, to turn over such replies from the above (and other missionary information) as will provide the Pastor with news for contributing members, and place such of this information on permanent file as will contribute to the Committee's intelligent and efficient handling of the missionary affairs of the Church.
Section 8. MUSIC COMMITTEE
Clause 1. COMPOSED OF WHOM
The Music Committee shall be composed of the Pastor and four members to be appointed annually, two by vote of the Board of Deacons and two by the Trustees. [Should a full-time musician be on the staff, (s)he would be a member of this committee].
Clause 2. DUTIES AND POWERS
The Music Committee shall have full charge over the music of the Church; they shall select the Organist and/or Choir Director as need may arise, and decide if there; is need for any paid chorister(s) and select same. They shall secure the confirmation of the Trustees to any salary agreement before said agreement shall be binding on the Church.
In the case of a resignation, or should it be in the best interests of the Church, in the judgment of the Committee, that there should be a change in the personnel connected with the music of the Church, the Committee may--by majority vote--recommend to the Trustees to declare said agreement void with one month's notice. Likewise, should any of the musical personnel desire to resign, one month's notice must be given.
The Committee shall also confirm any permanent selection(s) by the Pastor of
volunteer (unpaid) pianists or musicians for any regular services of the Church.
Should there ever be a case of a volunteer musician or choir member failing to cooperate or pursuing habits of life or conduct which the Committee considers unbecoming on the part of a person taking active part in services before the public, the Music Committee shall--after consultation with the Pastor--have authority to request of the Deacons action to secure discontinuance of said person's public participation.
Section 9. THE HEAD USHER
A Head Usher shall be elected by the Pastor and Advisory Board at their November meeting annually or whenever a vacancy occurs. He shall select his helpers, and seek to have definite men assigned for definite times. All men are expected to cooperate if asked.
Section 10. AUDITORS OF TREASURER'S BOOKS
Two Auditors shall be elected by the Trustees at their December meeting to serve for one year. It shall be their duty to audit all accounts of the Church as soon as possible after the close of the Church year (and such other times as may be required), and make a report to the Trustees and to the Church at the next regular Business Meeting of the Church.
Section 11. MISCELLANY
Clause 1. PASTOR IS A MEMBER EX-OFFICIO OF ALL BOARDS AND COMMITTEES
The Pastor shall be a non-voting member ex-officio of all Boards and Committees.
Clause 2. RECORDS
All officers, whose duty it is to keep records, shall turn over ALL records in their care to their successor, and carefully explain their significance.
Clause 3. TERM OF OFFICE
Each officer shall serve for the term indicated in the preceding sections, or in any event until their successors are elected and take office.
Clause 4. FILLING VACANCIES
Vacancies caused by resignation, removal, or death shall be filled at a Special Business Meeting to be called by the Pastor as soon as the Nominating Committee is able to meet and report nominees (see Article Four), or at the next regular Business Meeting of the Church, if it is scheduled to meet in a short time.
Clause 5. PLURAL NOMINATIONS (see close of constitution for alternate
All officers and members of committees named above as elected by the Church (except the Pastor) shall be elected by a system of plural nominations, with at least one more nomination than the person(s) to be elected being presented by the Nominating Committee. The candidate(s) receiving the highest number of votes cast shall be elected. In cases like that of Church Sunday School Superintendent and Church Clerk, where an assistant is also to be selected, the two nominees receiving the highest number of votes shall be Superintendent (Clerk) and Assistant respectively.
Clause 6. METHOD OF BALLOTING
Nominees for offices in this Church shall be voted upon by secret ballot.
Clause 7. TIME OF TAKING OFFICE
Officers elected at the Annual Meeting of the Church shall take office January 1.
Clause 8. DOCTRINAL PURITY
All elected officers shall sign the Doctrinal Statement of this Church annually, or be disqualified from office should they refuse or fail to sign.
Clause 9. FAILURE TO PERFORM DUTIES
Should any elected officer decline to serve or fail to perform the duties set forth above relating to said office for a period of three months, the Advisory Board shall have authority to declare the office vacant and order the Nominating Committee to present nominees to the Church to fill said office for the unexpired term.
ARTICLE SIX: THE ADVISORY BOARD
Section 1. CONSTITUENCY
The Advisory Board shall be composed of the following officers:
Deacons 4 (the Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Sec.-Treas., and 1 Deaconess)
Trustees 3 (the President or Vice-president, Treasurer, and Secretary)
Sunday School 3 (Superintendent or Assistant, Treasurer, Supt. of our branch Sunday School.)
Finance Committee 2 (Financial Secretary and one elected by Committee)
The Church Clerk or Assistant
The Secretary of the Missions Committee
The Head of each recognized organization
The Pastor as Moderator
In case of duplication by officers holding more than one office, the next
elective officer in each group, or one appointed by the presiding officer of
that group, will serve, so that no representation shall be lost.
Section 2. MEETINGS
The Advisory Board shall meet at least semi-annually, and on call of the Pastor ^^ or Board of Deacons or Board of Trustees. The semi-annual meetings shall ^P be held on the second Tuesday of March and the second Tuesday of November, or within one week of same as the Pastor may announce. A special meeting may be called by notice being given from the pulpit at least one Sunday service prior to the meeting.
Section 3. QUORUM (8)
A quorum of the Advisory shall consist of eight (8) members.
Section 4. GENERAL DUTIES
It shall be the duty of the Advisory Board to counsel together on such items as the Church may direct, or such matters as the Board may wish to suggest to the Church, and in general seek the best interests of the Church. All officers, and heads of organizations. Boards, and Committees shall present a written report to the Board at each regular meeting.
Section 5. SPECIAL DUTIES
Clause 1. ANNUAL BUDGET
The Advisory Board shall counsel concerning the Current Expense Budget submitted by the Trustees, the Missions Budget presented by the Missions Committee, and pass these on approved or amended to the Church for action in Annual Meeting.
Clause 2. PULPIT COMMITTEE
In the case of a vacancy in the pastorate, this Board shall constitute the Pulpit Committee. For the sake of convenience in hearing possible candidates the Board may appoint a sub-committee to hear men and report back to them, and/or to correspond with possible candidates or those who might suggest them. This sub-committee may include non-Board members IF the Board desires.
Clause 3. THE PASTORAL RELATION UNSATISFACTORY
If at any time the Advisory Board shall deem it wise and for the best interest of the Church that the pastoral relation shall cease, the Pastor and all members of the Advisory Board having been notified in writing of a meeting called for the purpose of considering the advisability of cessation of the pastoral relation (at which meeting three-fourths of the Advisory Board must be present); if on due consideration it is the opinion of the majority of the members at such a notified and stated meeting that the said relation be severed, they shall make such recommendation to the Church. Should the Church sustain the recommendation by majority vote, then the pulpit shall be declared vacant three months from the date of the Church's vote.
The Pastor shall not preside as Moderator of any Board or Church meeting WHILE his own pastoral relationship is being considered.
ARTICLE SEVEN: NOMINATING COMMITTEE
The Nominating Committee shall consist of one Deacon, one Trustee, and three from the membership of the Church at large. They shall be proposed by the Pastor and ratified by the Church at least one month prior to the Annual Meeting.
It shall be their duty to select and place in nomination at least one more name than the number needed to fill each office, notifying the congregation of this list of nominees in the Church Calendar of the Sunday preceding the Annual Meeting. This shall not prohibit nominations from the floor, but no nominee shall be presented for vote until (s)he has consented to the use of his (her) name.
Should vacancies occur during the year, this Committee shall--as soon as possible-meet and present suggested nominees to the Church for election.
ARTICLE EIGHT: ANNUAL FELLOWSHIP DINNER
An Annual Fellowship Dinner shall be held each year at such time as shall be deemed by the Advisory Board for the best interests of the Church and its work.
ARTICLE NINE: THE LORD'S SUPPER
The Lord's Supper shall be observed normally on the first Sunday of the month. The Pastor and/or Deacons may occasionally vary for reasons good to them.
ARTICLE TEN: AMENDMENTS
Section 1. HOW MAKE AMENDMENTS
The foregoing rules may be amended at any regular or special Business Meeting of the Church provided that the proposed amendment(s) shall have been submitted in writing to the Advisory Board for consideration, and upon approval by them shall have been posted in the Church, both upstairs and downstairs, notice of this fact being given from the pulpit and/or the Church calendar on two Sundays prior to the Business Meeting. [Of course the place of the posting in the Church would be a conspicuous place in the particular church involved where all could easily see it^]
Section 2. SUPERSEDING PREVIOUS CONSTITUTIONS
The rules and regulations contained in this constitution shall set aside and declare null and void all former acts, rules, and regulations. (Some previous issues of the constitution which this one supersedes were adopted January 19, 1927 and May 10, 1939. Numerous amendments since adopted are included in this present constitution.)
(cp. VIII. The Pastor and Weddings, p. 9) (furnished at request of class)
A PROTESTANT ANSWER TO THE FAMED CATHOLIC PRE-NUPTIAL CONTRACT
I, the undersigned, not a member of a Protestant Church, wishing to contract a marriage with a Protestant person whose signature is also affixed to this mutual agreement, being of sound mind and perfectly free, and only after understanding the import of my action, do hereby enter into tills mutual agreement, and the promises therein contained are made in contemplation of and in consideration for the consent, marriage, and consequent change of status of the hereafter mentioned Protestant partner, and I hereby agree:
(1) That I will not interfere in the least with the free exercise of my Protestant partner's religious conviction and practice;
(2) That I will adhere to the doctrine of the sacred indissolubility of the marriage bond, so that I cannot contract a second marriage while my consort is alive, even though a civil divorce may be obtained, except I have that right to divorce and subsequent remarriage permitted by the Lord Christ on the basis of moral infidelity (adultery) on the part of my consort (Matthew 19:3-9; 1 Corinthians 7:39);
(3) That any and all children that may be born of this union between myself and the partner undersigned shall not be baptized in the faith of the Roman Catholic Church in infancy or at any time during the period of life before they reach maturity and make their own choices, even in event of the death of my Protestant partner. In case of any dispute which might, nevertheless, arise between us or between me and my wife's duly appointed guardians, I shall not hinder her or them in the faithful execution of her will and desire that the children be brought up in the Protestant faith;
(4) That I will lead a married life in conformity to the Bible's teaching of holiness and purity;
(5) That no other marriage ceremony shall take place before or after this ceremony in which a Catholic priest participates or has any part;
(6) That my wife will not only be free in the exercise of her desire to follow Christ in a Protestant Church, but that I will do her the courtesy and exercise the intellectual honesty of examining the grounds for the Protestant faith, from time to time attending a Protestant service with her;
(7) That the religious training of all children shall be of a Protestant nature and never of a Roman Catholic nature.
In testimony of which agreement, I do hereby solemnly swear that I will observe the above agreement and faithfully execute the promises contained therein, and do now affix my signature. _________________ Attested_________________ Catholic partner Protestant partner
HISTORIC BAPTIST COVENANT (cp. p.l. Article Two, Section 2)
By what common and gracious experiences do we enter into spiritual fellowship and covenant relations with God and with one another?
Having been led, as we believe, by the Spirit of God, to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, and on the profession of our faith, having been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, we do now in the presence of God, angels, and this assembly, most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another, as one body in Christ.
What is the great bond of our union with God and each other?
We engage, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit to walk together in Christian love.
What are our great privileges and duties in this our own church?
To strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness and comfort; to promote its prosperity and spirituality; to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline and doctrines.
What vows do we gladly make as stewards of that which God has entrusted to us?
To contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the Gospel throughout all nations.
For the sake of our homes and our loved ones, what gracious tasks do we humbly assume?
We also engage to maintain family and secret devotion; to educate religiously our children; to seek the salvation of our kindred and acquaintances.
For the sake of the unsaved for whom our Savior died, to what manner of life and conversation are we solemnly and sincerely pledged?
To walk circumspectly in the world; to be just in our dealings, faithful in our engagements, and exemplary in our deportment; to avoid all tattling, backbiting and excessive anger, and to be zealous in our efforts to advance the kingdom of our Savior.
Since one is our Master, even Christ, and all we are Brethren, by what: fraternal ministries are we to strengthen each other and adorn the teachings of our Lord and Savior?
We further engage to watch over one another in brotherly love; to remember each other in prayer; to aid each other in sickness and distress; to cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and courtesy in speech; to be slow to take offence, but always ready for reconciliation, and mindful of the rules of our Savior to seek it without delay.
Humbly confessing our past sins, we pray for grace and strength to keep .these, our holy vows, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen!
SUMMARY OF CONTENTS For your easy reference--at a
glance (pages indicated)
I. CHURCH Business Meetings
When? Wednesday after the first Sunday of December, March, June, October (p. 9). December meeting is Annual Meeting (p. 9).
II. ADVISORY BOARD Business Meetings
When? Semi-annually: second Tuesday of March and second Tuesday of November, or within one week of same as Pastor may announce (p. 18). Constituency: Listed on Part 17.
III. SPECIAL MEETINGS
CHURCH: Notice to be given at least one Sunday prior to meeting (p. 9). ADVISORY BOARD: Notice to be given at least one Sunday service prior to meeting (p. 18).
Church, 20 (p. 9); Advisory Board, 8 (p. 18); Deacons, 5 (p. 10); Trustees, 4 (p. 12).
V. WHO MAY VOTE
Members in good standing, 17 years of age or older (p. 9). Inactive and suspended members are not allowed to vote or hold office in church or organizations.
VI. ALL ELECTIONS BY BALLOT (p. 17)
VII. PLURAL NOMINATIONS (p. 17)
Take office January 1 (p. 17).
IX. AMENDMENTS (p. 19)
X. HISTORIC BAPTIST COVENANT (p. 21)
Return to Syllabus
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