ARTICLE I Name
The corporate name of this organization is The FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF CLARKSTON, Clarkston, Washington.
ARTICLE II Church Covenant & Articles of Faith
The official Covenant and Articles of Faith of this church shall be as herewith set forth and attached to this Constitution.
ARTICLE III Fellowship
This church shall be an independent church, completely sovereign, under God, within itself By its own voluntary choice, it shall fellowship nationally and regionally, with "The General Association of Regular Baptist Churches."
ARTICLE IV Membership
Section 1. Admission to Membership
1. This church shall consist of born again believers who have been baptized by immersion after conversion, and who subscribe to the Covenant, Articles of Faith and Constitution of this church.
2. Persons may be received into membership as follows:
A. By confession of faith in Christ as Savior and baptism.
B. By letter from another Baptist church of like views.
C. By relation of Christian experience, having been previously baptized by immersion after conversion.
D. By restoration.
Section 2. Responsibilities of Membership
It is expected of all members that they shall conscientiously strive to keep their Covenant obligations, doing so as unto the Lord. Specifically, it is expected that members shall:
1. Attend faithfully and regularly the services of the church.
2. Participate faithfully in the spiritual and financial interests of the church.
3. Endeavor to preserve the unity of the church, avoiding malicious and slanderous gossip.
4. Cultivate and manifest brotherly love toward the other members of the church, endeavoring to quickly settle differences in the manner laid down in Matt 18:15-17.
5. Maintain Christian standards of conduct in the world.
6. Cooperate with the Pastor and the duly elected officers of the church.
It shall be considered a serious offense against the church for any member to obstruct the work or disturb the peace of the church by slander, falsehood, conspiracy or unfair and unchristian methods.
Section 3. Dismission from Membership
1. To another church:
A. Upon vote of the church, a member in good standing may be dismissed to the fellowship of another Baptist church of like views by letter of recommendation.
B. Upon vote of the church, a member in good standing, desiring to unite with some other body of evangelical Christians, may be granted a certificate of Christian character and dropped from the roll of this church.
2. As a disciplinary measure:
When a member becomes a hindrance to the church and to its testimony by reason of continual disregard of Covenant obligations or by reason of immoral or unchristian conduct, he may be removed from the membership roll as provided in Article V.
ARTICLE V Church Discipline
Section 1. Delinquency of Members
It shall be the duty of the Board of Deacons to periodically examine the church roll, and to determine if any members may have become inactive, openly inconsistent in their personal living, or opposed to the doctrinal position of this church. In any case where this is found to be true, the Board shall by formal action on its part place the name of such member on a "Delinquent List," and shall institute prayerful and diligent efforts to bring about restoration. If, after at least three months of such prayerful efforts, there shall be no apparent improvement in the situation, the Board may at its discretion recommend to the church that the delinquent member be placed on an "Inactive List." The recommendation shall be carried out if sustained by a 2/3 vote of members present and voting (by written ballot if requested by any voting member) at a properly called meeting of the church, and the delinquent member shall be notified of the action taken. A member shall carried on the "Inactive List" for a period of not more than one year, during which time he shall not be considered in "good standing" and he shall not be eligible to vote or to hold a church office. If, during this one-year probationary period, the delinquent member gives no evidence of desire or willingness to restore himself to active status, his name shall be automatically dropped from the roll. If, however, there shall be manifested on the part of the delinquent member a desire and willingness to come back into full fellowship of the church, he may at any time prior to the expiration of the one year period be restored to active membership by a majority vote of the members present and voting by written ballot at a properly called business meeting.
Section 2. Fair Hearing
Any accusation against a member shall be first brought before the Board of Deacons before being taken to the church. An accused member shall in all cases be given an opportunity to appear in his own behalf before the Board, and shall be given a full and fair hearing before any disciplinary action shall be recommended to the church. When propriety so requires, the deaconesses shall be asked to meet with the Board of Deacons at such a hearing.
Section 3. Final Authority
In all matters of church discipline, the church shall be the final authority. Action to remove a delinquent or accused member shall require a 2/3 vote of members present and voting by written ballot at a properly called meeting of the church.
ARTICLE VI Organization
Section 1. Principle of Organization
1. This church is congregational in its form of government; that is, the will of the congregation is final authority in all matters affecting its own organization.
2. This final authority of the congregation is expressed in properly called meetings of the membership, either regular or special.
3. All officers or other parts of the church organization are ultimately responsible to the congregation.
4. While thus functioning externally as a democracy, it is expected that the church shall function spiritually as a Theocracy, the will of our Lord being made known by the Holy Spirit through a regenerate membership.
Section 2. Officers and Boards
1. Number of Officers: The elected officers of this church shall be (a) Pastor, (b) Clerk, (c) Treasurer, (d) Financial Secretary, (e) Sunday School Superintendent, (f) A Board of seven* Deacons, (g) A Board of five Deaconesses. The Board of Deacons shall be also the Board of Trustees of the church, and the Vice-Moderator of the board of Deacons shall be the Vice-Moderator of the church.
(Note: When the Sunday School Superintendent is not an elected deacon, he, being a deacon ex-officio, would increase the number on the Board to eight. See Article VII, Section 5.)
2. Qualifications of Officers.
A. All officers of the church must be members in good and regular standing.
B. The lives of Pastor and deacons must be in conformity with God's standards of life as revealed in 1 Timothy 3:1-13.
C. The lives of all other officers shall be in conformity with the general rules of Christian conduct and character as revealed in the scriptures.
D. Specifically, it shall be expected of all officers that they be exemplary as members of the church in observance of their Covenant obligations and duties as outlined in Article IV, Section 2 of this Constitution.
3. Terms of Officers.
A. The Pastor shall be elected for an indefinite term, the relationship to be terminated according to Article XIII, Section 2 of this Constitution.
B. The clerk, treasurer, financial secretary and Sunday School Superintendent shall each be elected for one year, and shall be eligible for reelection.
C. The deacons and deaconesses shall be elected for three years, and shall not be eligible for reelection until, in each case, one year out of office shall have intervened. (Election of deacons shall be arranged so that two shall retire on each of two successive years, and three on the third. In the case of deaconesses, two shall retire on each of two successive years and one on the third.)
4. Resignations and Removal of Officers.
Resignations of officers shall be made in writing to the church and may be acted upon at any business meeting of the church. The church shall have power for good and sufficient cause to remove from office any officer or committee member.
ARTICLE VII Duties of Officers
Section 1. Pastor
The Pastor shall perform all the scriptural duties of his office and, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, shall have freedom of the pulpit, It is specifically expected of him that he shall faithfully preach the gospel, administer the ordinances, exercise general oversight of the local church in all of its work, and tenderly watch over the membership and spiritual interests of the church. He shall be ex-officio a member of all boards and committees. It shall be deemed advisable and beneficial to himself and to the church for the Pastor to attend and participate in a reasonable number of fellowship and associational meetings and activities with other Pastors and churches of common interests and objectives.
Section 2. Clerk
The clerk shall keep a correct record of the proceedings of the church at all meetings, keep a complete registry of membership, issue letters of dismission and certificates of Christian character as directed by the church, conduct all its official correspondence, and preserve all documents, papers and letters coming into their hands during their term of office, delivering same and all records kept by them to their successor.
Section 3. Treasurer
The treasurer shall be the custodian of all funds contributed to the church and deposited to the church accounts in the bank by the financial secretary. They shall disburse the same as directed by the church or the Finance Committee. They shall keep accurate records of all receipts and disbursements, making such monthly and annual reports of the church financial condition as may be requested by the church or the Finance Committee. On request of the church, they shall present the financial records for auditing at least once each year, and shall deliver without delay to their successor all books and records pertaining to their office.
Section 4. Financial Secretary
The financial secretary shall, together with an assistant appointed by the Finance Committee, count all offerings received by the church. He shall keep an accurate record of such offerings and any other moneys received for the church treasury. He shall deposit the same to the church accounts in the bank and report to the treasurer the source and amount of all moneys so deposited. If requested to do so by the church, he shall keep for the members a record of individual giving and render statements of the same. On request of the church, he shall present the financial records of his office for auditing at least once each year, and shall deliver without delay to his successor all books and records pertaining to his office.
Section 5. Sunday School Superintendent
The superintendent of the Sunday School shall have general supervision of the Sunday School. He shall cooperate with the Pastor in seeking to promote the growth and spiritual effectiveness of the Sunday School, as outlined in a Church Policy on the Sunday School. He shall be chairman of the Sunday School Cabinet, and shall be ex-officio a member of the Board of Deacons. (See Article IX and X)
Section 6. Board of Deacons (Trustees)
1. In its scriptural function, the Board of Deacons shall meet regularly at least once each month, at which times the Pastor shall act as moderator. It shall be the duty of this Board to cooperate with the Pastor and to assist him in the oversight and administration of local church responsibilities.
A. The Board of Deacons shall be responsible to examine candidates for church membership, to assist the Pastor in administering the ordinances, to counsel with the Pastor and approve temporary pulpit supplies and special speakers, and to dispense, as needed, the Fellowship Fund.
B. The Board of Deacons shall be responsible, with the Pastor, to oversee the spiritual life and discipline of the church.
C. The Board of Deacons shall be generally responsible to the church to recommend policies, fix responsibilities and coordinate the various phases of church activity. It shall endeavor to protect the Pastor from undue demands upon his time by administrative details. (See Acts 6:1-7)
D. After the annual church election in April and before the Annual Business Meeting of the church in May, the incoming Board of Deacons shall meet at the call of the Pastor, and shall organize itself, electing a vice-moderator and a secretary. The Board shall then be responsible to set up such standing or temporary committees as the constitution may require or as the church may direct. These committees shall be presented to the church for approval at the May Annual Meeting.
2. In its legal function as a Board of Trustees, the Board of Deacons shall meet as occasion demands to formally execute the properly expressed will of the church corporation in legal transactions. On such occasions, the vice-moderator shall be chairman of the Board. In its capacity as the Trustee Board of the church, the Board of Deacons shall:
A. Acquaint itself with the civil laws and ordinances that pertain to churches and shall see that such laws are faithfully obeyed.
B. Hold in trust all property belonging to the church and be responsible for its protection, management, upkeep and improvement.
C. Not sell, mortgage or otherwise encumber the real estate of the church unless authorized to do so by a 3/4 vote of the members present at a meeting of the church called for the purpose of considering such a transaction, notice of the meeting having been given from the pulpit on at least two consecutive Sundays immediately preceding such meeting.
3. The vice-moderator of the Board of Deacons shall also be the vice-moderator of the church, and shall preside at all business meetings of the church in the absence of the Pastor or on such other occasions as the Pastor may request.
4. Special note: While it is expected that the Board of Deacons, in the interest of efficiency and good order, shall scripturally and logically exercise general oversight and direction of the various phases of church activity, it should be remembered that the Board does not have final authority in itself. It shall be expressly understood that the Board of Deacons is ultimately responsible to the church. If necessary or desirable, any individual or committee may take matters of business directly to the church without prior recommendation, approval or consultation with the Board of Deacons.
Section 7. Board of Deaconesses
The Board of Deaconesses shall be called together by the Pastor within 30 days after the church Annual Meeting in May to organize itself and to elect a chairman and secretary. It shall be the responsibility of this board to assist the Pastor in developing the spiritual life of the women and girls in the church for the best possible Christian service. The deaconesses may be called upon to meet with the Discipline Committee. They shall prepare the table and the elements for the Lord's Supper, and shall assist as needed at baptismal services. They shall be responsible for the sending out of flowers and cards of condolence and sympathy, and shall assist in making calls on the sick and needy. The deaconesses shall have the responsibility of seeing that proper arrangements are made for the entertainment of visiting speakers and for efficient planning of church fellowship meals and other activities of similar nature where the services of women in the church are proper and necessary.
ARTICLE VIII Committees
Section 1. Standing Committees
The following shall be standing committees of the church. They shall be under the general direction and supervision of the Board of Deacons, but ultimately responsible to the church itself:
1. Finance Committee. The Finance Committee shall be comprised of five members as follows: the vice-moderator of the Board of Deacons (who shall be the Chairman), the secretary of the Board of Deacons, the church treasurer and two other members of the church to be selected by the Board of Deacons and approved by the church. This committee shall have the responsibility and authority to make or approve decisions in any and all matters of church finance which are not clarified by the Constitution or the church Financial Policy, and which are not of such a nature as to require a vote of the church.
2. Buildings and Grounds Committee. The chairman of this committee shall be elected by and from the Board of Deacons. In addition to the chairman, the Deacon Board shall appoint four others from the membership of the church to serve on the committee. When so chosen, this committee shall be presented to the church for approval. This committee shall have authority and responsibility to supervise the care of all buildings and property belonging to the church, and to spend such funds as may be necessary to keep the church property in minor repair. It shall make recommendations to the Board or to the church with regard to major repairs or improvements of church property, and also with regard to the need of any caretakers.
3. Ushering Committee. The chairman of this committee shall be elected by and from the Deacon Board and shall be the Head Usher of the church. In consultation with this head Usher, the Board shall appoint as many other ushers as may be deemed necessary from the membership of the church. When so chosen, this committee shall be presented for the approval of the church. The Ushering Committee shall have general charge of all church ushering responsibilities.
4. Music Committee. The chairman of this committee shall be elected by and from the Board of Deacons. In addition to the chairman, the Deacon Board shall appoint four others from the membership of the church to serve on the committee. When so chosen, this committee shall be presented to the church for approval. The Music committee shall, in consultation with the Pastor, select each year as needed the church pianists, organists, song leaders, choir directors, etc. The committee shall have general oversight and authority in the realm of the music ministry of the church. Matters involving major changes of large expenditures of money, however, shall be taken to the Board of Deacons or to the church.
5. Missionary Committee. The chairman of this committee shall be elected by and from the Board of Deacons. In addition to the chairman, the Deacon Board shall appoint four others from the membership of the church to serve on the committee. When so chosen, this committee shall be presented to the church for approval. It shall be the responsibility of this committee to recommend and promote the Mission Policy of the church.
Section 2. Other Committees.
As need arises, other committees, either temporary or permanent, may be formed by the Board of Deacons or by the church. When any new permanent committee shall be formed, its method of organization and its responsibilities shall be set forth in an official Church Policy. (See Article X)
ARTICLE IX Sunday School & Auxiliary Organizations
The Sunday School and any other auxiliary organizations of the church (whether of men, women or young people) shall be recognized as part of the local church.
In the case of the Sunday School, the department superintendents shall be appointed by the General Superintendent, in consultation with the Pastor and subject to the approval of the Board of Deacons. The department superintendents, with the General Superintendent as chairman, shall act as a Sunday School Cabinet to appoint all teachers and other S.S. officers, as set forth in a Church Policy on the Sunday School. No person may be approved as a regular superintendent or teacher who is not a member of the church in good standing. All regularly used literature of the S.S. must be approved by the Board of Deacons or by the church.
In the case of other auxiliary organizations, the president or chairman in each case must be a member of the church in good standing, and any literature regularly used by an organization shall be subject to approval by the Board of Deacons or the church. Meetings of auxiliary organizations may be held at such times as will not conflict with meetings of the church.
ARTICLE X Church Policies
Official Policies shall be adopted by the church as may be needed in regard to missions, finances, auxiliary organizations, committees, etc. These shall in each case be consistent with but supplementary to this Constitution, serving, as guides in matters of church policy and practice not covered by the Constitution.
ARTICLE XI Meetings
Section 1. Devotional Meetings
1. The church shall meet regularly each Lord's Day morning and evening for worship and the preaching of the gospel.
2. The church shall meet for the observance of the Lord's Supper upon the first Lord's Day of each month, or at such other times as the church may decide.
3. The church shall meet each Lord's Day for Christian instruction (the study and teaching of the Bible), and at such other times as the church may decide.
4. The church shall come together for at least one mid-week prayer and Bible study service each week.
Section 2. Business Meetings
1. Monthly - The church shall hold a regular monthly business meeting, preferably during the first full week of each month.
2. Annual - The church fiscal year shall begin May 1st, and the church shall hold its Annual Business Meeting during the first full week in May of each year for the purpose of receiving reports, approving committee appointments, installing new officers, and the transactions of other necessary business.
3. Special - A special business meeting may be called at the request of the Pastor, at the request of five deacons, or at the request in writing of a quorum of the members of the church. Notice of such meeting, and the object for which it is called, shall be given from the pulpit on Sunday at least three days in advance of the date of meeting. (See also Article XIII, Section 3)
ARTICLE XII Elections and Voting
Section 1. Time of Election
The annual election of church officers shall be held at the regular April business meeting, and officers shall officially take office at the beginning of the church fiscal year, May 1st. (However, note the special responsibility of the Deacons - Article VII, Section 6, paragraph 1-D)
Section 2. Nominating Committee
The nominating Committee shall consist of 7 members, who shall be elected by the church at its February business meeting. Election of this committee shall be by written ballot, with each member present and qualified to vote writing 7 names on their ballot. These shall be tallied, and the 7 members receiving the highest number of votes shall become the Nominating Committee for one year. The person receiving the highest number of votes shall act as the temporary chairman to call the committee together. At the first meeting of the committee, it shall elect a permanent chairman and secretary for the year. The Pastor shall meet with the nominating committee.
Section 3. Nominating and Election Procedure
The Nominating Committee shall present to the church at the March business meeting the names of one or more qualified persons for each office to be filled. Upon presentation of said report it shall be the privilege of any member present and qualified to vote to place in nomination the name of any eligible person for any office, not so nominated, and upon majority vote of those present and qualified to vote, such nomination shall be placed on the ballot along with those named by the Nominating Committee. No nomination from the floor shall be made at the time of the election, but each voter may vote for anyone whom he pleases by writing in the name on the ballot. All elections shall be by written ballot. A majority of the ballots cast shall be necessary for the election of any officer, unless otherwise provided in this Constitution. No voting by proxy shall be allowed.
Section 4. Vacancies
When at any time during the year a church office becomes vacant, the Nominating Committee shall be asked to present to the church a nomination or nominations for the vacancy to be filled. Vacancies occurring during the year may be filled for the unexpired term at any business meeting.
Section 5. Qualifications of Voters
All matters pertaining to the purchase, sale or mortgaging of property shall be voted on only by members in good standing who are of legal age. On all other matters, members in good standing and fifteen years of age or older are entitled to vote.
Section 6. Quorum
A quorum shall consist of 15% of the resident active membership for all business meetings. (Exception - 20% for calling or dismissal of a Pastor.)
ARTICLE XIII Pastoral Relations
Section 1. Establishment of Relationship
1. When the Pastoral office shall become vacant, the Board of Deacons shall without delay appoint three of its members to serve as a Pulpit Committee under the counsel of the entire Board, to contact possible candidates for the office. As far as is practical, only one candidate shall be considered at a time, and in no case shall the names of more than one candidate at a time be submitted for a vote of the church.
2. No candidate for the Pastoral office shall be presented for a vote of the church until he has been thoroughly investigated and examined as to doctrinal beliefs, personal character and ministerial record, and his fitness for the Pastorate on these grounds has been determined by the Board of Deacons.
3. In no case shall a candidate be considered who does not subscribe both in letter and in spirit to the Constitution, Articles of Faith and Covenant of this church. Nor shall a candidate be considered who cannot promote the missionary program and associational fellowship of this church.
4. Election of a Pastor shall be by ballot at a special or regular business meeting of the church, notice of which shall be given from the pulpit on two successive Sundays next preceding, and the object of which shall have been stated in such notices. Two-thirds of the ballots cast shall be required for his election.
Section 2. Salary, Allowances and Vacation
The church Financial Policy shall set forth clearly and definitely in writing the financial agreements between the church and the Pastor, including the matter of salary, allowances, vacation, etc. This policy shall be reviewed at least once each year by the Finance Committee, in consultation with the Pastor, and shall be presented to the church for readoption or revisions at each Annual Meeting in May.
Section 3. Termination of Relationship
The Pastor shall continue in office until he resigns or until his ministry is terminated by the church in the following manner:
1. If a grievance exists against the Pastor, the adult representatives of any five families in the church shall sign a statement of such grievance and present it to the Board of Deacons. The Board of Deacons shall consider the grievance prayerfully, with the Pastor absent from the meeting. A vote of the deacons shall then be taken, and if 5 or more of the deacon's vote in favor of taking the matter to the church for a vote of confidence in the Pastor, this shall be done. Notice of a call for a vote of confidence shall be sent by mail to the entire resident membership of the church at least one full week before the meeting for such purpose is to be held. The notice shall give the date, time and place of the meeting, and the purpose for which it is called. Also a public announcement of the meeting and its purpose shall be made at least one Sunday morning next preceding the meeting. At said meeting, the vice-moderator of the church shall preside. He shall announce that a vote of confidence has been called for, and shall read a prepared statement of the grievance, The Pastor shall be allowed to be present, if he desires to answer the statement of grievance. A limited amount of orderly discussion shall then be in order, with the Pastor absent from the room, following which the vote shall be taken by secret ballot. A majority affirmative vote of members present and voting shall be necessary to give a vote of confidence, which shall mean that the ministry of the Pastor shall continue. Should the vote of confidence not be given, it shall thereby be due notice to the Pastor that his term of office shall cease at a time not more than 30 days from the date of the vote. However, the Board of Deacons shall have authority to terminate the Pastor's ministry at the time within the 30 day period, should the Board deem it to be for the best interest of the church to do so. In such case the full 30-day salary shall be allowed.
2. In the case of voluntary resignation, the Pastor shall give a 30-day notice to the church, which time, however, may be reduced or extended by mutual agreement between the Pastor and church.
ARTICLE XIV Amendments
This constitution may be amended, except for any change in the Articles of Faith, at any regular or called business meeting of the church, by a two-third majority vote of those present and voting, provided a quorum is present and that notice of such proposed amendment shall have been posted and announced from the pulpit at services on the two successive Sundays immediately preceding the meeting at which the vote is taken. A 3/4-majority vote shall be required to change the Articles of Faith.