Table of Contents:
- The Preamble
- Article l Name
- Article ll Purpose
- A. Mission Statement
- B. In order to fulfill its mission …
- Article lll Affiliation
- Article lV Doctrinal Statement
- Article V Church Membership
- Article Vl Church Government
- Article Vll Church Meetings
- Article Vlll Church Property
- Article lX Finances
- Article X Ordination
- Article Xl Amendment Procedures
Having placed our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation, and having believed in the teaching of the Holy Bible and in the plenary and verbal inspiration of the same, we the members of Grace Bible Church adopt for government the following articles this day of Sunday, May 22, 1995.
ARTICLE I NAME
The name of this organization shall be Grace Bible Church of Port Charlotte, Florida, Inc., a perpetual, non-profit corporation under the laws of the state of Florida.
ARTICLE II PURPOSE
A. Mission Statement
Grace Bible Church, as a local organization of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, has as its chief end the promotion and cultivation of the personal and corporate knowledge of God. This involves three faces. We have the upward face toward the Lord by being attentive to His words and His example that we might please Him in worship and in prayer. We have an inward face to each other in helping one another grow in the knowledge of God by praying, teaching, welcoming, sharing, serving, listening, admonishing, encouraging and helping. We have an outward face toward non-Christians in reaching out to them in hospitality, evangelism and tangible help.
B. In order to fulfill its mission it is anticipated that Grace Bible Church will:
1. Own and hold real and personal property necessary and proper to achieve the stated purposes; will cooperate and work with organizations or individuals having the same or similar purposes as this corporation; and will accept and receive any gifts, devises, bequests, or grants of whatever nature for the uses and purposes of this corporation in carrying out any of its objects and purposes.
2. Make and perform contracts of every kind and description and do any lawful act or business in connection with the objectives of this corporation which may be necessary and desirable to fulfilling its purposes.
3. Establish and operate an independent, non-denominational Christian school system, which shall engage in educational, religious and charitable activities. These may include grade schools, junior high schools, high schools, kindergartens, pre-schools and other institutions in which the students will be offered instruction and other educational advantages in an atmosphere which will lead to living Christian lives and to building of Christian character and American patriotism.
ARTICLE III AFFILIATION
Grace Bible Church shall be an organizationally independent entity. It shall not unite with or come under the control of any denominational group, but may unite with a fellowship of other independent churches of like faith for the purpose of mutual encouragement and the sponsoring of various activities. Grace Bible Church shall not unite with or cooperate with organizations or individuals not of like faith, for fellowship or participation in spiritual matters as determined by the Board of Elders.
ARTICLE IV DOCTRINAL STATEMENT
A. The Scriptures
We believe the sixty-six books of the Bible to be the infallible, written Word of God, verbally inspired by the Holy Spirit, inerrant in the original manuscripts, and the only and final authority in all matters of faith and conduct.
B. The Godhead
We believe in One God, creator and sustainer of the universe, who is eternally existent in three persons–Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
C. The Person and Work of Christ
We believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, that He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and became incarnate through the virgin birth, and that He unites forever in His person perfect deity and true humanity.
We believe that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life, that He was crucified as the substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of all men, that He rose bodily from the dead, that He ascended into heaven where He is now exalted at the right hand of the Father, and where He intercedes for the believer.
D. The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit
We believe that the Holy Spirit is Himself God; that He glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ; that He was sent to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment; that He regenerates and indwells the believer; that He seals the believer unto the day of redemption; and that He imparts gifts to each believer as He wills for the edification of the church.
E. Total Depravity of Man
We believe that man was created in the image and likeness of God, but that as a result of Adam’s sin the race fell, inheriting a sinful nature and becoming alienated from God; and that man is totally depraved and of himself totally unable to remedy his lost condition.
We believe that all who by grace through faith receive Jesus Christ are born again of the Holy Spirit, and are therefore children of God and eternally saved, and that the Holy Spirit indwells every believer to enlighten, guide and enable him in life and service.
G. The Return of Christ
We believe in the “Blessed Hope,” the pre-tribulation rapture of the church, the personal and pre-millennium second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth with all His saints.
H. The Eternal State
We believe in the bodily resurrection of believers and unbelievers, the saved being raised unto eternal life and the unbelievers unto everlasting punishment.
I. The Church
We believe that the church, which is the body of Christ, is a spiritual organism made up of all born again persons of this age and that the establishment and continuance of local churches is clearly taught in the New Testament.
J. Baptism and The Lord’s Supper
We believe in water baptism by immersion for believers. We also believe that God has given two ordinances to the church, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
K. Gifts of the Spirit
We believe that God gives spiritual gifts to all believers for the building up of the body of Christ; however, we believe that some gifts of the Holy Spirit such as tongues and healings evidently were limited to the early church. We believe that God answers the prayers of His people and meets their needs according to his purpose.
We believe that Satan is an angelic personality who fell and became the archenemy of God and man; that Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection defeated Satan; and that he finally will be cast into the lake of fire.
M. Unscriptural Associations
We believe that Scripture prohibits the joining together in spiritual matters of believers with unbelievers or without those not adhering to scriptural doctrine or practice.
ARTICLE V CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
Though the New Testament does not speak of church membership as such, there is indication that some means were used to define the constituency of the church for purposes of care, ministry and discipline. These same purposes dictate the need for a recognized membership at Grace Bible Church. In essence, the local church is composed of the membership.
A. Types of Church Membership
1. Full Membership: Those who are accepted as full members enjoy the full privileges and responsibilities of membership. Members in this category may not hold full membership in another church. Members under the age of 18 years old shall not possess voting privileges until their 18th birthday.
2. Associate Membership: Associate members are believers who for sundry reasons are temporarily living in our area, have full membership in another church, and desire to unite with our fellowship for the time of their stay. Those who are accepted in this category enjoy the full privileges and responsibilities of membership except that of voting and holding office. Members in this category must hold full membership in another church of like faith. Associate membership will automatically be terminated when the person permanently moves away from the area.
3. Missionaries and Full Time Christian Workers: Members who have been sent forth into full time Christian service in another place may retain their full membership in Grace Bible Church. These members may also hold membership in churches that they attend in their local area.
B. Qualifications for Church Membership
The applicant must . . .
1. be born again.
2. have a life style commensurate with biblical standards as delineated in
3. be in agreement with the doctrinal statement of the church.
4. have been baptized
subsequent to the time of his salvation.
C. Admission Procedures for Church Membership
Anyone desiring membership in Grace Bible Church shall . . .
1. Submit to the Board of Members an official membership application.
2. Satisfactorily complete a new members orientation.
3. Appear before the Board of Elders for examination and approval. Upon approval by the Board, membership candidates become official members of Grace Bible Church.
The new member will be presented to the congregation during the Sunday morning service following his acceptance by the Board of Elders.
D. Privileges and Responsibilities of Members
As a member of Grace Bible Church a member has the privilege of being a recipient of all the ministries of the church. Only members are permitted to serve in official positions such as Sunday school teachers, youth workers, officers in auxiliary organizations, etc.
a) Holy living – Some of the implications are as follows:
- a wholesome standard in literature and film.
- Following biblical guidelines regarding conversation concerning others.
- Observing biblical teachings regarding obligations in various relationships such as husband and wife, parent and child, employer and employee, and government and citizen.
b) Demonstrating the fruits of the Spirit. Some of the implications are as follows:
1. Seeking to be a blessing regardless of attitudes or actions towards me.
2. Being considerate of weaker brothers in practice.
3. Practicing moderation in all things.
4. Abstaining from those things that are detrimental to my physical or spiritual well being.
New believers should be actively involved in their own spiritual development by spending time in reading Scripture and related material, prayer, involvement in Bible studies and discipleship activities which will assist in their growth. As the believer matures he has the responsibility to be actively and systematically involved in the ministry to the church by means of the exercise of his spiritual gifts. Every mature member should be involved in some regular ministry that is edifying to the church.
E. Termination of Church Membership
- By Letter of Reference: A member desiring to transfer to another fellowship shall request a letter of transfer. Termination of membership is effective immediately upon the receipt of such letter.
- By Letter of Resignation: A member may present a formal letter of resignation to the Board of Elders. Upon the receipt of such a letter by the Board of Elders membership is terminated.
- By Death: A members name shall be removed from the membership rolls upon his decease.
- By Disciplinary Action: Members are subject to church disciplinary action when they cease to conform, by profession or practice, to the elements of the church constitution.
- By Absenteeism: At the discretion of the Board of Elders a member may be dropped from the rolls if he fails to attend the regular services of the church for a period of three months
ARTICLE VI CHURCH GOVERNMENT
A. The Board of Elders
1. Responsibilities of the Board of Elders
The church shall be governed by an elected body of elders. The Board of Elders shall be vested with the oversight and care of the spiritual welfare of the members of this assembly. It shall also have the responsibility of maintaining the facilities and conducting business on behalf of the church corporation.
2. Qualifications of the Board of Elders
A nominee for elder must have had two years of full membership in this local assembly prior to his nomination and must be qualified according to the conditions set down in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Employees of the church are not eligible for a position on the Board of Elders with the exception of the Pastor(s).
3. Election Procedures of the Board of Elders
- Nominations shall be made by the Board of Elders.
- One or two nominees shall be selected by the Board of Elders for each office to be filled if a sufficient number of qualified men are available. Each nominee must receive a second in order to be considered.
- The elders will then discuss the qualifications of the nominees based on Titus 1, 1 Timothy 3 and the requirements set forth by the church constitution. At the conclusion of this discussion a unanimous vote of approval by the elders will be required for continuance in the selection process.
- The elders shall then vote on the nominee(s). The elders’ choice to fill a vacant position will be determined by a majority vote.
- The name of the person(s) selected by the elders will be presented to the congregation one week in advance of a congregational vote for approval. “NO” votes cast by the congregation when accompanied by a signature, shall entitle the one who cast said vote the opportunity to offer to the Board, through the Chairman of the Board, either in writing or in person, detailed descriptions of his concerns and/or objections.
- Newly selected nominee(s) shall be installed the second Sunday after the congregational vote of approval.
4. The Term of Office of Elders
An elder will serve for three years and may succeed himself if selected by the Board of Elders and approved by the congregation.
5. The Configuration of the Board of Elders
The number of elders presiding on the elder board shall be in proportion to the current number of voting members on the membership roll. For a membership numbering up to 100, four elders shall be elected and shall serve with the Pastor(s) on the board. Additional increments of 50 shall necessitate the addition of one elder to the board. The Board of Elders shall have a maximum of eight (8) elected elders.
The Board of Elders may conduct its business through the use of committees assigned to special projects for research and presentation of information to the board. The chairman of the board shall appoint members of the elder board when such a committee is necessary and it shall be dissolved by the chairman when the need for the committee ceases to exist.
A quorum of the Board of Elders shall be declared for the purpose of voting on issues on the floor for a vote when three/fourth’s of the elder board is present at an officially called meeting.
The Board of Elders shall meet on a regularly scheduled basis but not less than once per month. Special meetings for any reason deemed necessary may be called for other than the regularly scheduled monthly meeting.
Agenda items for each meeting shall be submitted to the chairman by the other elders twenty four (24) hours prior to the meeting. Opportunity for added new business not on the original agenda shall be entertained at the completion of the discussion of the original agenda items with the consent of two-thirds of the members of the board.
9. Parliamentary Procedures
The board shall conduct its meetings according to accepted parliamentary procedures as enumerated in Robert’s Rules of Order.
B. The Officers of the Board of Elders
- Method of Selection-The officers of the Board of Elders shall be selected from the member of the board in accordance with paragraph B.3.c in this article.
- Term of Office-Each officer shall serve a term commensurate to the balance of his current term as a board member.
- The Chairman:
a. Responsibilities – The Chairman of the Board of Elders shall call for order and preside over all officially called meetings of the church board. He shall be designated as president of the church corporation and be empowered to carry out the functions of that office. He shall be empowered to appoint and dissolve committees, call for special meetings of the board, and compile the final agenda for each official board meeting.
b. Qualifications – The nominees for chairman must have served at least one full term as a member of the Board of Elders prior to his election to the office of chairman. The Pastor shall not be Chairman of the Board.
c. Election Procedures for the Chairman of the Board – The Board of Elders shall nominate and elect its chairman from its membership by private ballot. Selection of the chairman from the votes cast will be on the basis of the greatest number of votes for one (1) board member. The Secretary of the Board will tally the votes and notify the individual of his election. The Pastor shall preside in the election of a new chairman.
d. Term of Office – The Chairman of the Board shall serve as chairman a term which is commensurate to the balance to his current term as a board member.
e. Voting Responsibilities – The chairman shall not be empowered to cast a vote on any issue except in the case of a tie vote. In this case his vote shall be the deciding vote on an issue. In addition, he shall not be empowered to make a motion from the floor in an elder board meeting.
a. Responsibilities – The Secretary of the Board shall be responsible for taking the minutes of all board meetings, reading the minutes of past meetings, placing an official copy of the typed minutes into the official record of board minutes maintained in the church office, providing a copy of the minutes of the most recent meeting to each board member at least three (3) days prior to the convening of the current meeting.
b. Election Procedures for Secretary – The election procedures for Secretary shall be the same as those for Chairman of the Board.
a. Responsibilities – The Treasurer shall oversee the collection and dispersal of the funds of the corporation and shall in addition direct the generation of a yearly budget and all reports associated therewith.
b. Election Procedures for Treasurer – The election procedures for Treasurer shall be the same as those for the Chairman of the Board.
C. Procedures for the Termination of a Member of the Board of Elders
All members of the Board of Elders may terminate their office through a written letter of resignation to the chairman. The term of a board member may be terminated by the board if there is certain knowledge of doctrinal error or non-biblical practice. When such charges are brought against any member of the board the following procedure shall be followed.
- Biblical procedures shall be observed through the Chairman of the Board. If the charges are against the Chairman of the Board this responsibility shall fall to the Pastor. Charges against an elder of the church shall be placed with the Pastor or with the Chairman of the Board.
- If any member has charges officially placed against his name, he shall temporarily excuse himself from the board while the charges are being discussed.
- If, after a proper examination of all the facts it is determined that the board member is innocent, he shall be reseated to continue his position. If the charges are proven to be correct the elder shall be removed from office. A new elder, if available, will be selected to serve the remainder of the term of the dismissed elder.
- Members removed from the elder board are subject to the guidelines for termination of church membership as found in Article 5.
D. The Pastor
The church shall call to the office of Pastor a man who meets the qualifications as set forth in 1 Timothy and Titus 1 and who is deemed qualified to meet the requirements and needs of this local assembly as determined by the members of this fellowship.
The Pastor will be responsible for the administration of the church, for leadership in the evangelistic outreach of the church and for the edification of the membership through the ministry of the Word. He will have general oversight of all church activities and be responsible to see that all functioning entities minister in accord with sound biblical principles and the intent of the constitution.
A candidate for the office of Pastor must be a man who meets the guidelines as set forth in 1 Timothy, Titus 1, 1 Peter 5:1-4, etc.
3. Election Procedure
The Board of Elders shall serve as a committee-as-a-whole in screening candidates for the office of Pastor. Upon the recommendation of the board, a candidate shall be presented to the congregation for acceptance as Pastor. A vote for the call of a Pastor shall be by secret ballot and shall require a 75% vote.
4. Term of Office
The Pastor shall serve for an indefinite period of time as the church and Pastor feel led by the Holy Spirit.
The Pastor, by virtue of his office, shall maintain the status of ex officio member of all boards, committees, departments and group of this church.
Charges against the Pastor shall be brought to the Chairman of the Board. The board shall investigate each charge and recommend further action. A congregational vote on the dismissal of the Pastor shall be by secret ballot and for passage shall require a 75% vote.
E. Congregational Participation in Church Government
- Full members 18 years of age and over shall have the right to participate in the government of this church. Full members may participate in discussions of business and related subjects that appear on the annual meeting agenda as set by the Board of Elders.
- Issues for Congregational Vote
Issues requiring the vote of the congregation are: the call and dismissal of the Pastor, approval of capital transactions of the church corporation and amendments to the church constitution.
F. The Annual Congregational Meeting
- This church shall in the month of April call for an annual church meeting. The Pastor shall preside at the annual meeting. In his absence the Chairman of the Board of Elders shall preside.
- Special congregational meetings may be called by the Board of Elders. A notice shall appear in the weekly church bulletin two Sundays in advance of the meeting. The purpose of the meeting shall be stated in the published announcement. All congregational meetings are limited to the members of this church.
- A quorum shall consist of all of the voting members in attendance at any congregational meeting.
- All votes shall be passed by a majority.
- The agenda of the congregational meeting shall be restricted to the official agenda as established by the Board of Elders.
Deacons shall be appointed by the Pastor. Their purpose will be to minister in official capacities within the church and to assist the Pastor in his various duties in the church. There shall be no official board of deacons but each shall serve in his specified position.
ARTICLE VII CHURCH MEETINGS
A. The church shall conduct regularly scheduled meetings for worship, edification and evangelism on Sunday mornings and Sunday evenings at a time set by the Board of Elders. There shall also be mid week service and other meetings as deemed necessary.
B. The church shall periodically observe the Lord’s Supper (Communion) and provide new believers with the opportunity to follow the Lord in Christian baptism by immersion.
ARTICLE VIII CHURCH PROPERTY
This church may acquire, own, dispose of, encumber, and convey property, real and personal, for church purposes in conformity with this constitution and the laws of the state in which the property is located.
ARTICLE IX FINANCES
A. The regular support of Grace Bible Church shall be on a free-will offering basis from those led by God to contribute to its support.
B. The Christian School financial basis shall be from tuition payments collected from each student in the school. Children enrolled in the school shall be required to have a financial sponsor to meet their financial requirements for school attendance. The tuition rates shall be subject to the decision of the school board under the auspices of the church Board of Elders.
C. The Board of Elders shall be empowered to declare the necessity of and set a date for the collection of special offerings. These offerings shall be taken to provide for special projects that relate to the ministries of the church.
ARTICLE X ORDINATION
It shall be within the power of the board of Elders of this church to ordain into the gospel ministry men whom it is believed God has equipped and called. It shall have the power to call ordination councils and issue proper credentials.
ARTICLE XI – AMENDMENT PROCEDURES
This constitution may be amended by the following procedure: The Board of Elders may request to amend the constitution of this church. Upon 100% approval of the Board of Elders, the proposed amendment shall be put to the membership for a vote. This vote shall be taken not less than 30 days from the date of the proposal of the amendment and shall be in force when 75% of the membership votes for the proposal