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Constitution and By-Laws
for the Full Gospel Seventh Day Baptist Church
of Cumberland MD
Article I. Name
The corporate name of church is the Full Gospel Seventh Day Baptist Church of Cumberland, MD.
Article II. Our Statement of Faith
We believe in one God, the creator and sustainer of all, who manifests himself in three persons. God the Father, perfect in justice and love; Jesus Christ His Son, our Lord and Savior, who is one with the Father, manifested in the flesh, and who gave himself on the cross as propitiation for our sins and rose again on the third day and is now seated at the right hand of the Father; and in the Holy Spirit, the comforter and helper, who gives spiritual birth to believers’ lives within them and empowers them for witnessing and service. We believe the Holy Spirit inspired the scriptures, convicts of sin, and instructs in righteousness.
We believe the Bible is the inspired word of God and is to be used as our guide in matters of faith and conduct.
We believe in the Church: that Christ Jesus is the head of the church, the church is the body of believers dedicated to the worship and service of God and dedicated to the building of God’s kingdom. And we believe in the statement of belief set forth by the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference and further we desire to be affiliated with the SDB Conference.
We believe that all men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and are in need of salvation but unable to save themselves. In order to be saved, we believe one must be born again, repenting of one’s sins and receiving by faith Christ’s sacrificial atonement for one’s sins.
We believe in the baptism of believers by immersion, symbolizing burial with Christ and resurrection to newness of life, and the washing away of sins.
We believe that children may be dedicated until they reach an age when they can make their own decision to follow Christ.
We believe the seventh day is the true Sabbath and is to be observed as a sign of loving obedience to God.
We believe in Christ’s great commission to go and make disciples, and that the church is to disciple those who have made the decision to follow Christ.
Article III. Our Covenant
- To keep the commandments of God with the help of the Holy Spirit and His word as our guide.
- To observe the Sabbath and to provide a place of worship for the body to meet.
- To serve together for the building of His kingdom.
- To care for one another and help each other grow in the faith and understanding of the Holy Scriptures.
- To actively support the work of the Church with our prayers, our time, our energy, and our financial resources, as God gives us the ability.
Article IV. Church Membership
A candidate may request membership and follow these steps: 1) Give a testimony of faith agreeing with that which is laid out in Article II above; 2) Be baptized by immersion, either previously or through our church; and 3) Complete a course of study of the Word and our church’s foundational beliefs. Once all these criteria are met, the candidate’s name shall be presented to the Board of Deacons for approval. The Deacons shall then present the candidate along with their recommendation to the congregation to be approved by the members.
People who wish to transfer their membership from another church may submit a letter of transfer and testify to their previous baptism by immersion, but must still complete a study to ensure like beliefs and be presented by the Deacons for approval as above.
A Member, upon his or her request may have their name removed from the church membership roll by a majority vote of the church or by a majority vote of the Deacons. They may in the same manner be granted a transfer of membership to another church with like beliefs.
Members who have not attended church for two years may have their names removed from membership after an attempt has been made to contact them about returning to church.
Members may be removed from the membership due to conduct by a vote of 2/3 of the rest of the members.
There may be Associate Members, who enjoy all the religious and social responsibilities of the church and its meetings but who are not permitted to vote. These are: those who have made a confession of faith, but they may not hold to the statement of faith and covenant of our church; or those who have made a confession of faith as outlined in Article II above but are unable or unwilling to fulfill the qualifications of a voting member.
Article V. Polity
The government of the church is vested in its Members, who shall have the right to vote upon all questions offered for consideration and action at any business meeting. All Members are eligible to serve in any office of the church.
Article VI. Administration
Officers: the officers of the church shall consist of a president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer, all of whom must be Members of the church. Officers shall be elected by majority vote at the annual business meeting and shall serve a term of one year.
The church may appoint Trustees in addition to the Officers to serve specific needs of the church. Appointed Trustees will serve a term of three years and must be Members.
The officers may create and dismiss created committees as needed.
Business meetings: the annual meeting of the Church for the transaction of its business shall be held during the third weekend in January. Quarterly business meetings shall be held during the third week in April, July, and October. Times shall be decided by the Board of Officers. Business meeting may also be called by the president or the chairman of trustees. Notice of meeting must be given at least one week prior to meeting.
Article VII. Professional Ministry: Pastor
- Selection of pastor: The selection of pastor shall begin with the appointment of a special Pastoral search committee, which shall present one or more names of qualified, called, and equipped pastors to the church for its consideration. The church shall proceed to vote on the names given. All voting shall be done by written ballot. A two-thirds vote of those members present and voting is required to effect a call. In the event that no candidate receives a two-thirds majority, the matter will be referred back to the Pastoral search committee. The pastor shall be called for an initial term of three years.
- Renewal of a call – At the annual business meeting next preceding the end of the pastor’s term of office, a written ballot shall be taken. A two-thirds vote of approval of those members present and voting shall be necessary for the renewal of a call for three years.
- Termination of call – The call of the pastor during his term may be terminated by the pastor or a three-quarters vote of members present and voting at a duly called business meeting. If the pastor terminates his call, he shall give ninety days’ notice prior to the time of termination.
- Duties of pastor – The pastor shall supervise the spiritual interests of the church in his role as preacher, teacher, leader, counselor, minister, and shepherd of his congregation. As spiritual leader, he shall be available to the community, and he shall seek opportunities to share in the spiritual life of the community and its churches. He shall be a member ex-officio of all church committees and boards and shall have voting privileges.
- License to preach: The church may issue a “license to preach” on recommendation of the Board of Deacons to any person whose commitment of faith gives promise of future acceptance of professional responsibilities in the church or to others who are temporarily serving the church in some pastoral capacity. Any and all duties of the pastor may be granted under this license. Such a license is granted for a duration of one year, after which the situation and the suitability of the licentiate will be reviewed. Renewal of license shall be by the same procedure as that of its first issuance.
- Ordination – Full Gospel intends to follow the process outlined in the current Seventh Day Baptist manual of procedures when ordaining a pastor.
Article VIII. Amendment
This constitution may be amended at any regular business meeting by a two-thirds majority of the members present, provided that said amendment has been read in open session at a preceding regular business meeting and a copy of the same has been circulated to the membership at least thirty days in advance of the meeting at which it is to be considered.
Section 1. Mission Statement
We believe that God has called us:
- To hold to the teachings of the Bible
- To be faithful to practice our common beliefs.
- To be faithful in our worship and service to God the Father, His Son, and the Holy Spirit
- To share the good news that God has made a way that sinful man can be reconciled to the Father through the Son.
- To be a vital part of the community around us, in that we help those who need comfort and encouragement.
- To help others grow in their understanding and knowledge of the Holy Scriptures.
Section 2. Officers, Trustees, Deacons, and their duties:
President- the president shall serve as moderator and preside at all board and business meetings. He may also call special meetings as the need arises.
Vice-president – shall assume the duties of the president in his absence.
Secretary – the secretary shall keep a complete record of the transactions of all business at the meetings of the church and the board. He/She shall keep a record of the names and addresses of members, with dates and manner of their admission and dismissal, as well as a record of baptisms. In the event that the secretary cannot be present, a secretary pro tem will be appointed from among the members. Secretary is responsible for the church calendar and announcing scheduled meetings.
Treasurer – the treasurer:
- Shall have custody of and administer the funds of the church.
- Shall make all deposits and withdrawals made in the name of the church, and all the checks drawn by him shall be made in the name of the church.
- Shall keep separate accounts of all funds raised or contributed for particular purposes, and no funds shall be disbursed by him except for the purpose for which they were raised or contributed, except by decision of the board.
- Shall have custody of the securities, investments, title papers and other financial documents of the church.
- Shall be a member of the board of trustees.
- Shall preside at church budget meetings.
- Shall present to the church at each quarterly business meeting an itemized report of receipts and disbursements showing the actual financial condition of the church.
- Shall call the annual budget meeting at his discretion in October or November to prepare the budget for the coming year.
Officers may be removed if a vote of no confidence is taken either by a 2/3 vote of the rest of the board of officers or the members of the church.
Trustees – the board of trustees, under the direction of the church, shall have the care and management of the physical assets of the church. They shall hold, buy, sell and administer all the real and personal property of the church, and all permanent trust funds and other financial instruments belonging to the church, as they are directed by the church in an official church business meeting.
They shall prepare a budget to be presented to the church by the end of November that it may be voted on before the end of the year.
All officers shall be trustees while in office, and other trustees can be appointed from the membership. Trustees must select a chairman to oversee this board who is responsible for the building maintenance budget.
Diaconate: the deacons (which may be referred to as servant leaders) shall be those members who have been recognized as possessing the scriptural qualifications set forth in Acts 6:3, Titus 2:6-8, and 1 Timothy 3:8-13 and have been called to serve as servant leaders in promoting the spiritual well-being of the Church.
The pastor will confer with those who feel such a call, and they will then be brought before the church for approval. An appropriate service of ordination to set apart those thus elected to serve as deacons shall be arranged.
- Work with the pastor to nurture the spiritual life and well-being of the church.
- Assist in the preparation and observance of baptism and communion.
- Make arrangements for and take communion to shut-ins.
- Communicate with inactive members.
Deacons shall serve a one-year term which may be renewed annually, if their call to serve has been renewed.
Section 3: Education Committee
Purpose: the Education Committee shall be responsible for the planning and administration of the religious education programs of the Church, including the Sabbath school, youth organizations and other educational programs. Chair of this committee shall be either appointed or elected by the Board of Officers; other members will be volunteers.
- Supervise the Sabbath school
- Select and secure Sabbath school teachers and appropriate Sabbath school material.
- Encourage and approve the establishment of small group Bible studies.
- Report to the church quarterly.
- Create and maintain the church membership course of study
Section 4: Outreach Committee
Purpose: to lead the church in the Christian mission to make Disciples, and to lead in evangelistic programs. Chair of this committee shall be either appointed or elected by the Board of Officers; other members will be volunteers.
- Formulate and carry out plans for evangelism and outreach.
- Oversee training in evangelism and outreach.
- Keep church informed of missions and outreach opportunities.
- Encourage involvement in missions and outreach.
- Report to the church quarterly.
Section 5: Order of Business
At regular board and business meetings of the church the following order of business is recommended:
- Call to order by the president, or in his absence, by the next ranking officer.
- Reading of the minutes of the last business meeting and summary of actions taken.
- Pastor’s report.
- Treasurer’s report.
- Reports of trustees, diaconate, committees, organizations, and individuals.
- Unfinished business of the preceding meeting or meetings.
- Introduction of new business.
- Reading and approval of the minutes of the meeting.
In order for a church business meeting to be official, the president or vice-president, secretary or secretary pro tem, and treasurer must be present. A quorum shall be considered a majority of voting members present. The same officers must also be present for a meeting of the Board; a quorum shall be the majority of the officers present.
Section 6: Amendment
These by-laws may be amended at any regular church business meeting by a two-thirds majority of the members present, provided that said amendment has been read in open session at a preceding regular business meeting and a copy of the same has been circulated to the membership at least thirty days in advance of the meeting at which it is to be considered.
Section 7: Dissolution
In the event that it becomes necessary to dissolve the church, the following actions should be taken by the trustees and remaining members:
- Allocate the remaining assets, including real property, to nonprofit organizations such as the Seventh Day Baptist Memorial Board, the Seventh Day Baptist Missionary Society, or other nonprofit organizations.
- Notify the state where incorporation took place of action taken by the church to dissolve the corporation.
- Forward all records and items of historical interest to the Seventh Day Baptist Historical Society.