all things should be done decently and in order
ARTICLE II: PURPOSE
This congregation is organized as a church exclusively for religious, charitable, and educational purposes within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (or the corresponding provision of any future United States Revenue Law) for such purposes including, but not limited to, the proclaiming of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ; the establishing and maintaining of religious worship; the teaching of believers in a manner consistent with the requirements of Holy Scripture; and the maintaining of missionary activities in the United States and any foreign country.
ARTICLE III: GOVERNMENT
The government of this church shall be of the congregational type, with authority vested in its Members, whose vote shall be final in all matters submitted to them. Christ gives leaders (Elders) to His people and calls His people to submit to these men as they submit to Christ (Heb 13:17). Therefore, Elders, who are recognized by the Members, shall oversee, lead, and shepherd this church as under-shepherds of Jesus Christ, who is the Church’s only head.
ARTICLE IV: MEMBERSHIP
A. Qualifications for Membership
Membership in this church shall be composed of those who profess faith in Jesus Christ, who evidence regeneration, who have been baptized in obedience to Christ following conversion, who wholeheartedly believe in the Christian faith as revealed in the Holy Scriptures, who affirm this church’s Confession of Faith, who are willing to submit to the Elders of the congregation, and who agree to live by the commitments expressed in the Membership Covenant.
Because of our nondenominational position, we will receive into membership those who have been baptized as believers regardless of the mode of their baptism. However, this church shall baptize believers by immersion, except in cases where the candidate’s medical condition makes immersion impossible. Any such exceptions must be approved by the Elders.
B. Responsibilities and Privileges of Membership
1. Members are expected to gather regularly with this local church and contribute to the church’s life with their God-granted, Spirit-led abilities, time, and material resources.
2. Members will receive the care and oversight of the Elders.
3. Members are expected to attend Members’ Meetings. They have the privilege and responsibility of voting on the election of Elders and Deacons and on other matters that are submitted to the Members.
4. Only Members at least 16 years of age are eligible to vote in Members’ Meetings.
C. Process for Membership
1. An applicant for membership shall participate in orientation, read the governing documents of the church, and submit a membership application to the Elders.
2. Upon receiving the application, the Elders will give notice in at least one corporate worship service that a candidate is to be considered for membership. A Member who has a concern or objection should voice it privately to an Elder.
3. The Elders shall coordinate a team of approved Members to interview the candidate. Upon their report and after agreement by the Elders, the candidate shall be received into membership by a majority vote of the Elders.
4. Applicants shall be welcomed into membership by the current Members.
5. Applicants who are temporary residents of the area and who wish to join this local church while retaining full membership in their home church may be received as dual Members. Dual Members shall have all the rights and privileges of membership. If dual Members become permanent residents of this area and wish to remain Members of this body, they shall terminate their membership at any other church.
D. Termination of Membership
1. Termination of membership shall be recognized by
the Elders following death, voluntary resignation through a written notice to the Elders, or dismissal by church discipline. Membership may be terminated as an act of church discipline according to Article V.
2. If a Member dies or submits a written notice of resignation, the Elders shall notify the Members.
3. If a Member is absent from worship and church life for six months and fails to respond to the Elders’ repeated efforts of communication or refuses to provide a written notice of resignation, the Elders shall terminate the absentee’s membership by a majority vote of the Elders.
4. The Members shall be informed of the termination.
ARTICLE V: CHURCH DISCIPLINE
A. Purpose of Church Discipline
Because we desire to glorify God by maintaining the unity and purity of the local body, we seek to build up believers by deterring sin and to restore offending believers by calling them to repentance (1 Cor 5:6-13; Matt 18:17; 1 Tim 5:20; Gal 6:1).
B. Process of Church Discipline
1. It is the responsibility of the erring Member to confess his or her sin to the one(s) sinned against and be reconciled to the offended person(s) (Matt 5:24).
2. It is the responsibility of any Member of this church having knowledge of an erring Member’s sin to warn and correct him or her in private, seeking repentance and restoration (Matt 18:15; Gal 6:1).
3. If the erring Member does not heed these warnings, then the warning Member shall request the presence of one or two others and go again to the erring Member, repeatedly if necessary, seeking repentance and restoration (Matt 18:16).
4. If the erring Member does not heed these warnings, then the matter shall be brought to the attention of the Elders. The Elders shall take the case into prayerful consideration and bring the matter before the church so that the body may publicly and corporately call the erring Member to repentance. No action calling for dismissal shall be taken against any Member until the church has first attempted to communicate with him or her in writing, citing the offense and providing an opportunity for the Member to meet with the Elders (Matt 18:17).
5. If the erring Member does not repent in response to the church, then he or she shall be publicly dismissed from the membership and fellowship of the church (Matt 18:17).
6. If after dismissal the erring party heeds the warning, demonstrates repentance, and personally asks the Elders to be reinstated by the church, then he or she shall be publicly restored to all the rights, duties, privileges, and responsibilities of membership (2 Cor 2:6-8).
ARTICLE VI: MEETINGS
A. Corporate Worship
1. The body will regularly meet for corporate worship on the Lord’s Day and for other gatherings for worship, prayer, and fellowship throughout the week as the Elders determine.
2. Baptisms may take place during the corporate worship on the Lord’s Day or at other times at the discretion of the Elders.
3. The Lord’s Supper shall be observed regularly during corporate worship to remember the Lord’s death till He comes and to celebrate the blessings of the New Covenant in His blood. This body welcomes all who follow Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord and who are walking in fellowship with Him and His people to join in this remembrance.
B. Members’ Meetings
1. Members’ Meetings shall be held as the Elders determine.
2. A Staff Elder will be moderator unless an alternate is chosen by the Elders.
3. In all voting matters, twenty-five percent of eligible voting Members shall be considered a minimum for voting.
a. If a Member cannot attend a meeting in which a vote is taken, the Member may vote absentee by casting one vote.
b. When fifty percent or more of eligible voting Members cast their votes, a simple majority shall be required to pass any measure, except when otherwise stated in this document.
c. When fewer than fifty percent of eligible voting Members cast their votes, a two-thirds vote shall be required to pass any measure, except when otherwise stated in this document.
4. Any proposition to be voted upon by the Members shall be posted in writing and announced orally for two services prior to the vote.
5. The moderator shall conduct meetings in accordance with the procedures outlined by the Elders, but shall have freedom to modify the procedures at his discretion based upon his own sense of fairness and what he deems to be in the best interests of the church. The moderator shall give all Members a reasonable opportunity to be heard on a matter.
ARTICLE VII: FINANCES
A. The church is supported by voluntary contributions from
its Members who shall give according to their abilities and according to the dictates of their own consciences. 1
B. Other than tithes and offerings, any activity that could produce additional funds for the ministry must be approved by both Elders and Deacons.
C. All contributions, tithes, and offerings will be disbursed on the following basis.
1. Specific recommendations will be formed according to the ministry priorities set by the Elders, with consideration to the spiritual and material needs of the body, the community, and the world.
2. These recommendations will be approved by the Elders, Deacons, and Members through the annual budget process.
D. Records of all financial transactions shall be maintained and kept by an appointed designee, who shall submit a monthly financial report to the Deacons and to the Finance Committee. The report will also be made available to the Members upon request.
E. An annual budget shall be prepared and presented by the Elders and Deacons, and shall be voted on by the Members. The proposed budget shall be available two weeks prior to the vote.
F. The annual budget for the new year shall not exceed the previous year’s unrestricted tithes and offerings.
G. With the exception of benevolence disbursements, each month the Deacons may not disburse more than two percent of the monthly budget2 for a single non-budgeted item, and each month the Deacons may not disburse more than four percent of the monthly budget for all non- budgeted items. Any amounts in excess of these percentages must be presented to the Members for approval.
H. The Deacons shall authorize a Benevolence Committee to evaluate benevolence circumstances and administer funds on an as-needed basis. The Benevolence Committee shall report to the Board all amounts of funds disbursed. If the Benevolence Committee recommends funds in excess or outside of established spending guidelines, the Benevolence Committee shall obtain approval from the Deacons prior to allocating such funds.
I. The Elders shall authorize a committee to review and administer the missions allocation of the budget.
J. No Staff Elder may expend more than $500 per month on non-budgeted items.
K. Total actual expenditures must never exceed total budgeted expenditures unless authorized by the Deacons and approved by the Members. If there is an overage in a line item, the overage must be offset by a corresponding decrease in other line items of the budget or through funds exceeding budgeted giving.
L. Outstanding indebtedness shall not exceed two and one- half times the previous fiscal year’s unrestricted tithes and offerings. The church shall have no unsecured debt or revolving line of credit but shall be permitted to utilize a credit card and to engage in normal business activities, provided that no unsecured interest expense is incurred.
1 2 Corinthians 8:1-9 reveals the heart attitude of joy and generosity that guides a believer’s giving.
2 For this calculation use 1/12 of the annual budget.
ARTICLE VIII: OFFICERS
1. Definition: Elders are men above reproach who shepherd the flock of God as Christ shepherds His people. They hold firm to God’s Word, exercise oversight, and exemplify godliness (Acts 6:2-4; 14:23; 15:2, 22; 20:17-35; Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 3:1-7; 4:14; 5:17, 19; Jas 5:14; 1 Pet 5:1-5).
2. Qualifications: The Elders shall be male, meeting the qualifications listed in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6- 9.
3. Duties: The God-given responsibility of the Elders is to bring the Word of God to bear on the life of the congregation, and to that end, they are entrusted with interpreting and applying the Word in submission to the Holy Spirit for the good of the body (Titus 1:9; 1 Pet 5:1-11; Acts 15:2; 20:17-35; 1 Tim 4:14).3
a. Oversee: Elders create ministry vision, set ministry philosophy, and manage the flock. Managing the flock includes encouraging Members to exercise their gifts and guarding Members from false doctrine, within and without the church (1 Cor 12:4-6; Acts 20:27- 31).
b. Care: Elders are to care for the flock (Acts 14:23; Jas 5:14).
c. Feed and shepherd: Elders are to shepherd or disciple the flock, since the Chief Shepherd has entrusted Elders with His flock (1 Pet 5:2-4).
d. Reconcile: Elders shall be responsible for pursuing Member reconciliation (Matt 18:15- 17; Eph 4:1-3, 32; 1 Cor 6:1-11).
e. Discipline: Elders shall be responsible for carrying out discipline in accordance with Matthew 18:15-20 (see also 1 Cor 5:1-7).
f. Recognize and ordain: Elders shall be responsible for the examination and ordination of men for pastoral ministry. They shall also be responsible for the licensure of men who are not yet ordained.
a. Staff and Lay Elders: The church may employ an Elder to serve in a full- or part-time pastoral capacity (Staff Elder). Or, an Elder may have other employment yet volunteer time to oversee and care for the congregation (Lay Elder).
b. Teaching and Ruling Elders: Per the qualifications and duties listed above, all Elders must be able to give instruction from God’s Word and care for souls. However, according to 1 Timothy 5:17, some may have a more public ministry of preaching and teaching.
c. Each Elder shall have one vote when motions are made in Elders’ meetings.
1. Definition: Deacons are men free from habitual sinful conduct and character flaws causing repeated offenses. They lovingly serve the congregation, as Christ became a servant even to the point of death on a cross (Phil 2:6-8; John 13:12-16; Acts 6:1-6; Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 3:8, 10, 12-13).
2. Qualifications: The Deacons shall be male, meeting the qualifications listed in 1 Timothy 3:8-13.
3. Duties: The God-given responsibility of the Deacons is to serve the congregation, so as to allow the Elders freedom to keep ministry of the Word and prayer a priority (Acts 6:1; John 13:12-16; Gal 2:10; 6:1-2; Jas 1:27; Matt 25:31-46).
a. The Deacons shall model and encourage wise stewardship.
b. The Deacons shall generously minister to the needy and supervise the benevolence funds of the church, aided by the Elders as necessary.
c. The Deacons shall be responsible for the preparation of baptisms and the Lord’s Supper.
d. The Deacons shall be responsible for the maintenance of all church property.
e. The Deacons shall be responsible for the
orderly collection and proper disbursement of funds.
C. Shared Duties of Elders and Deacons 4
1. Elders and Deacons shall be responsible for serving the Lord’s Supper.
2. In accordance with 1 Corinthians 6:1-8, Elders and Deacons shall be responsible to help in resolving disputes among Members.
3. Elders and Deacons shall be responsible for preparation of the annual budget.
4. Elders and Deacons shall be responsible for the dissolution of the corporation, should the occasion arise, as required under Article IX.
D. Nomination, Election, and Dismissal of Elders and Deacons
1. Lay Elders and Deacons
a. Any Member may recommend men to be considered.
b. Elders and Deacons shall prayerfully develop a ballot of nominees.
i. Elders shall prayerfully develop a ballot of Elder nominees (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5; 2 Tim 2:2).
ii. Elders and Deacons shall prayerfully develop a ballot of Deacon nominees.
c. Election: Candidates nominated for Elder and Deacon shall be elected for the respective positions by votes cast by eligible Members. Positions shall be filled by candidates receiving the largest number of votes in descending order until all positions are filled.
d. Term: The term for Elders and Deacons shall be two years, with the option of being re- elected to additional two-year terms.
e. Resignation: An Elder or Deacon who resigns voluntarily may be replaced using the normal process for electing an Elder or Deacon in this section. A replacement candidate may be elected by special election as approved by a vote of eligible Members. If an Elder or Deacon is elected by special election and serves a partial term, then that Elder or Deacon is eligible to serve for additional two-year terms.
f. Dismissal: Any accusation against an Elder or Deacon shall be established before the Elders by at least two witnesses. Upon investigation of the charge, the Elders shall determine an appropriate course of action. If the Elders believe dismissal is necessary, they shall call a Members’ Meeting. The Elder or Deacon shall be dismissed from all responsibilities according to the voting procedure listed in VI. B. 3.
2. Staff Elder 5
a. Nomination: The Elders shall prayerfully nominate a candidate for Staff Elder.
b. Candidating: The candidate for Staff Elder shall meet with the Elders and Deacons and shall be heard at a minimum of three congregational gatherings.
c. Election: The candidate for Staff Elder shall be accepted by at least eighty percent of the
votes cast by eligible Members.
d. Resignation: A Staff Elder who resigns may be replaced using the normal process for electing a Staff Elder as outlined in this section.
e. Dismissal: Any accusation against a Staff Elder shall be established before the Elders by at least two witnesses. Upon investigation of the charge, the Elders shall determine an appropriate course of action. If the Elders believe dismissal is necessary, they shall call a Members’ Meeting. The Staff Elder shall be dismissed from all responsibilities according to the voting procedure listed in VI. B. 3.
E. Indemnification of Employees, Officers, and Agents
The church may indemnify any person who was or is a party to any threatened, pending, or completed action, suit, or proceeding to the full extent allowed under South Carolina state law. This indemnification—whether civil, criminal, administrative, or investigative, including all appeals (other than an action by or in the right of the church)—applies if three conditions are met:
1. The action is by reason of the fact that the person is or was an Elder (Staff or Lay), Deacon, officer, employee, or agent of the church;
2. The person acted in good faith and in a manner he reasonably believed to be in the best interests of the church and, with respect to any criminal matters, had no reasonable cause to believe his conduct was unlawful; and
3. The lead Staff Elder recommends indemnification and the Elders vote to provide it on behalf of any person. Any determination of good-faith intent shall occur by a majority vote of the Elders and Deacons of the church.
F. Submission to Arbitration
Members of this church agree to submit to binding arbitration any matters within the church that cannot otherwise be resolved and expressly waive any and all rights in law and equity to bring any civil disagreement before a court of law, except that judgment upon the award rendered by the arbitrator may be entered in any court having jurisdiction thereof (1 Cor 6:1-8).
3 The HBC Confession of Faith does not exhaust the extent of our faith. The Bible itself, as the inspired and infallible Word of God that speaks with final authority concerning truth, morality, and the proper conduct of mankind, is the sole and final source of all that we believe. For purposes of church doctrine, practice, policy, and discipline, the Elders of this church shall be the church’s final interpretive authority on the Bible’s meaning and application.
4 For legal purposes the currently-elected Elders and Deacons shall be this church’s Board.
5 For legal purposes the currently-elected Elders and Deacons shall be this church’s Board.
ARTICLE IX: DISSOLUTION OF THE CORPORATION
In the event of the dissolution of Heritage Bible Church as a non-profit corporation, the assets of the corporation shall be given and paid over to a non-profit corporation of like faith and practice. Said corporations shall be determined according to the voting procedure listed in VI. B. 3.
A. Notice of dissolution shall be sent in writing to each Member at least fifteen days prior to the scheduled meeting and public notice shall be given at least forty-five days prior to the meeting.
B. All recommendations for recipients of the corporation assets shall be made in writing by a Member of the corporation to the Elders and Deacons no less than thirty days prior to the dissolution meeting. No other recommendations shall be considered.
C. It shall be the duty of the Elders and Deacons to examine all recommendations submitted to them and make their own recommendations to the Members concerning the distribution of the church assets.
D. Said recommendation from the Elders and Deacons shall be made available in writing to the Members fifteen days prior to the dissolution meeting.
E. The decision as to the recipients of the assets of the corporation shall be the mutual consent by secret ballot of the majority of the Members present at the dissolution meeting.
F. The Elders and Deacons, in the stead of the Members of the corporation, shall assume the responsibility of all dissolution proceedings, and shall seek and obtain legal assistance to complete said proceedings.
ARTICLE X: AMENDMENTS
A. As a working, flexible document, this constitution may be
amended, altered, or revised by a two-thirds vote of the eligible Members voting.
B. Amendments to the constitution shall be presented in writing to the Elders and Deacons and, if accepted, shall be presented to the Members for a vote.
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