Revised on October 5, 2011
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Article 1: Name
The name of this church shall be URBAN HARVEST FELLOWSHIP of Downtown North Little Rock. (This Constitution is adopted and modified from Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN.)
ARTICLE II: FOUNDATION, OBJECT AND PRIORITIES OF MINISTRY
The foundation and head of this church is the Lord Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 1:22, 4:15), and its code of guidance in all its affairs, the Word of God, and this church does here affirm its faith that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of Almighty God (Mark 13:31).
The object of this Church shall be to worship and glorify God by enjoying Him, according to the teaching of His Word, to practice the precepts and examples of the church of our Lord Jesus Christ as set forth in the New Testament, to sustain its ordinances and doctrines and to preach and propagate among all peoples the gospel of Salvation which is by personal faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (Romans 15:6, 1 Corinthians 10:31, Philippians 2:9-11, John 14:13, 16:24; Luke 22:27, 2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 3:16, Romans 15:9, Galatians 2:16).
The priorities of ministry of this church flow from the vision of God's glory revealed in Jesus Christ. We exist to savor this vision in worship (John 4:23), strengthen the vision in authentic community and steadfast edification (Acts 2:42-47, I Corinthians 14:26, Ephesians 4:11-12, II Peter 3:18), and spread the vision in evangelism, missions, and loving deeds (I Peter 2:9; 3:15; Matthew 28:18-20, 5:16).
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AFFIRMATION OF OUR FAITH
I. THE WORD OF GOD
We believe that the Bible, consisting of the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments, is the infallible Word of God, verbally inspired by God, and without error in the original manuscripts. We believe that God’s intentions, revealed in the Bible, are the supreme and final authority in testing all claims about what is true and what is right, and in all matters of saving knowledge, faith and conduct. In matters not addressed by the Bible, what is true and right is assessed by criteria consistent with the teaching of Scripture (Psalm 19:7, 2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:20, 21; Mark 13:31, John 8:31, 32; John 20:31, Acts 20:32).
II. THE TRINITY
We believe that there is one living and true God, eternally existing in three persons (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit); that these are equal in every divine perfection, and that they execute distinct but harmonious offices in the work of creation, providence and redemption. We believe eternal God has existed in three persons, from everlasting to everlasting, fully satisfied as one God (Genesis 1:1, 26; John 1:1, 3; Matthew 28:19; John 4:24; Romans 1:19, 20; Ephesians 4:5, 6; Psalm 90:2, 50:8-12).
III. GOD THE FATHER
We believe in God the Father, an infinite, personal Spirit, perfect in holiness, wisdom, power and love. We believe He is the first Member of the Trinity and that He delights in glorifying God the Son. We believe that He infallibly orders all things after the counsel of His own will and foreknows all that shall come to pass, that He concerns Himself mercifully in the affairs of men, that He hears and answers prayer, that He gives perfect gifts and that He saves all who come to Him, through Jesus Christ, from sin, death and hell unto the eternal joy of His presence (Isaiah 6:3, John 4:24, Matthew 3:17, John 17:1, 17:5, Ephesians 1:11, Luke 10:21,22; Matthew 23:9; John 3:16; 6:27; Matthew 7:11, Romans 1:7, I Timothy 1:1, 2; 2:5, 6; I Peter 1:3, Revelation 1:6, Ps 16:11).
IV. JESUS CHRIST
We believe Jesus Christ is the second Member of the Trinity, without beginning or end, and that He delights in glorifying God the Father. We believe that He is the radiance of God’s glory, and the exact representation of His nature. We believe that Jesus Christ is God's only begotten Son, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of a virgin, and that He lived a sinless life. We believe in His miracles, teachings, substitutionary atoning death, bodily resurrection, ascension into heaven, perpetual intercession for His people, and personal visible return to earth. We believe Jesus Christ exists as one Person with two natures, being fully man and fully God, uniquely capable of providing divine righteousness and bearing infinite wrath, for the reconciliation of sinners to God through His Cross-work (Revelation 21:6, 22:13; John 14:13, Hebrews 1:3, Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 1:26-38, John 1:1, 20:28; Romans 8:46, 9:5; II Corinthians 5:21, I Peter 2:21-23, John 20:30, 31; Matthew 20:28, Ephesians 1:4, Acts 1:11, Romans 5:6-8, 6:9, 10; Hebrews 7:25, Hebrews 9:28; I Timothy 2:5, 3:16; Romans 3:25).
V. THE HOLY SPIRIT
We believe the Holy Spirit, the third Member of the Trinity, eternally proceeds from the Father and the Son. Without His work no one could come to faith in Christ. He quickens sinners from spiritual death to life, for the express purpose of exalting Jesus Christ to the glory of God the Father. He awakens souls to the beauty of God’s glory and applies the work of Christ to sinners through the gift of repentance and faith. His work in regeneration is not the result of water baptism, any outward ritual, or exercise of the human will. His power and presence become resident within at the moment of new birth for immediate and necessary progress in every faculty of the entire person, to conquer sin and to conform to Christ-likeness. He also distributes spiritual gifts to every believer at conversion, according to His sovereign pleasure for the purpose of building up the body of Christ. We believe that the Holy Spirit is the Comforter, the Spirit of Adoption, the Seal of our Salvation, and the Guarantor of our inheritance in Christ (John 14:16-17, 26, 15:26, 27; John 16:9-14; Romans 8:9, 14-17; 1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19; Galatians 5:22-26, Ephesians 1:13-14, John 14:16-17, 16:14; Acts 5:3, Rom. 8:14-17, Eph. 1:13-14, John 14:16, 17, 26, 15:26, 27, 16:9-14, Romans 8:9, I Corinthians 3:16, 6:19; Galatians 5:22-26).
VI. THE FALL OF MAN
We believe that man was created in original innocence, in God’s own image. The moment man sinned he forfeited the indwelling communion of God and entered a state of spiritual death. This inner condition of spiritual death has rendered all man’s faculties lifeless, in their ability and desire, to cooperate with God in being reconciled to God. This state of spiritual death has spread, through the sin of one man, to all men. Consequently, all men are conceived with an inherent spiritual condition that is wholly corrupt and hostile towards God and His Law. As soon as man is capable of moral action, he willfully exercises resistance to God, manifesting his deservedness of divine condemnation. Apart from the intervening work of God’s special grace, man physically dies in his state of spiritual death and passes into an eternal living death (Genesis 1:26, 5:2, Genesis 3, Genesis 2:17, 3:19; Ecclesiastes. 2:11, John 3:14, 5:24, John 5:30, 7:13, 8:12, 10:26; Romans 9:22, II Thessalonians 1:9, Revelation 19:3, 20; 20:10, 14, 15, 21:18; Psalm 51:7, Jeremiah 17:9, James 1:14, Romans 3:19, 5:12, 5:19; Proverbs 28:13, I John 1:9, John 3:16, John 1:13, II Corinthians 5:17, Romans 8:1, 6:20; Ephesians 4:18, 2:3).
VII. ETERNAL PUNISHMENT
We believe the necessary and just consequence of all unrighteousness is the infinite punishment of divine wrath. All unrighteousness springs from a heart that is dissatisfied with God. The natural absence of love and adoration for God, even in the best moment of the most likeable person, infinitely offends the eternal honor of God. Therefore, God’s uncompromising justice must vindicate God’s honor with infinite divine wrath. Any unrighteous sinner, who does not trust in Jesus’ wrath-removing sacrifice and substitutionary death on the Cross, will suffer the just measure of God’s divine wrath for all eternity (Luke 16:19-31, Romans 2:5, 1:21; Matthew 12:33-37, Genesis 6:5, 8:21; Isaiah 55:7a, Romans 2:5, 3:25-26; Matthew 25:41, 46; Isaiah 33:14, Daniel 12:2, Mark 9:48, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10, Revelation 14:11a).
VIII. THE GOSPEL
We believe the gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe. In this, we not only believe it is the power of God to convert the unconverted, but that it is also the power of God to advance Christ-likeness in those who are already converted. We believe the message of the gospel is so uniquely empowered because it reveals God to be uppermost in His own affections. In the gospel, God’s holy intolerance of sin, God’s satisfied justice through propitiation, and God’s magnified love in suffering all converge together in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the cross-centered message of the gospel, God’s glory is most clearly displayed by the fullest concert of God’s attributes. Therefore, the gospel is God’s designated vehicle for transferring sinners from the dominion of darkness to the kingdom of Light and for the increase of God’s praise in the hearts of God’s people (Romans 1:16, Ephesians 2:1-7, Romans 3:19-26, 5:6-11, Colossians 1:13).
IX. REPENTANCE & FAITH
While repentance and faith are not themselves the essence of the gospel, we do affirm that they are necessary responses to the gospel. We believe repentance and faith are two seamless parts of the same expression. Anytime the Bible explicitly mentions one, in the context of God’s saving grace, the other is at least implied. This response of repentance and faith in Christ must be willingly exercised if a sinner would ever escape God’s judgment and enter the kingdom of heaven. Nevertheless, repentance and faith are gifts from God, supplied by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit; and are therefore, not contrary to, but consistent with salvation by grace. The Spirit of God discloses the beauty of God as it is revealed in the Scriptures and creates a deep awareness of personal sin in the heart of the sinner. When God’s irresistible beauty captivates the heart and draws the sinner off of self, repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ emerges (Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:15, Luke 13:3, 5, 24:47; Acts 2:37-38, 3:18-19, 5:31, 11:-17-18, 14:27, 15:9, 16:14, 16: 31; John 6:44, 6:65, Ephesians 2:8-9, 2 Timothy 2:25, Philippians 1:29, Acts 20:21).
We believe the good news of the gospel has much to do with the fact that God justifies ungodly sinners. Justification is the act by which God declares sinners not guilty and alters their status from condemned sinner to forgiven son. In order for the sinner to be justified, the very righteousness of God must be credited to the sinner’s account. Therefore, justification must occur apart from any human merit or works of the law. Instead, justification must be freely supplied by God’s grace, through the gift of faith, in Christ Jesus alone. God’s justification of the ungodly must mercifully provide God’s righteousness, without violating or compromising God’s justice. The deity and humanity of Jesus Christ alone can furnish divine righteousness and absorb infinite wrath for sinners, by His perfect obedience to the Law and His death on the Cross. We believe justification occurs, once for all time, when the soul is awakened to its deservedness of divine wrath and resigns from all self-righteousness to embrace by faith the fullness of God’s unchanging love and acceptance of sinners in His own Beloved Son (Romans 4:5, 4:6-8, 3:20-24, 3:25-26; John 1:1, 1 Timothy 2:5, Isaiah 53:10a, 1 Peter 1:24, Romans 6:10, Ephesians 2:1-10, Ephesians 1:6).
We believe that sanctification is the enabling work of the Holy Spirit, for the believer’s cooperation in progressive conformity to the image of Jesus Christ, over the course of the believer’s entire converted life. We believe that sanctification is God’s inward shaping of Christ-like desires and thoughts, in all born-again souls, which comes through the Word of God and issues forth in the obedience of faith to all God’s commands out of love and adoration for Jesus Christ and His church. We believe sanctification is the process whereby a believer progresses in the mortification of sin that he might more fully enjoy the indwelling presence of God. We believe God’s sanctifying grace is the immediate and inseparable companion of God’s justifying grace (Philippians 2:12-13, 1 Peter 1:2, Hebrews 9:14, Romans 8:1-4, 8:6; John 17:17, 14:21, 14:23, 8:13; 1 Peter 3:18, James 4:7-10, Romans 6:14, Hebrews 10:14).
XII. PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS
We believe that any professing Christian must endure to the end to be saved. We believe prayer and the written Word of God, in all of its promises and warnings, are the primary means by which one perseveres. We believe that every born again soul must employ these means, with the entire armor of God, in waging war against sin until the very end. We also believe that none endures by works of the Law but that perseverance itself is ultimately supplied by God’s grace. We believe all those whom God has regenerated will never totally nor finally fall away from their state of grace, but shall certainly persevere to the end. Though they may fall through neglect and temptation into sin, whereby they grieve the Spirit, weaken their graces and comforts, bring reproach on the church, and temporal judgments on themselves, they shall be renewed again unto repentance, and be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation (John 6:37-40, 10:28-29; Rom. 8:28-39, Rom. 11:22; 1 Cor. 1:8-9, 11:29-32; Phil. 1:6; Col. 1:21-23).
XIII. THE CHURCH
We believe in the universal Church, a living spiritual body of which Christ is the head and all regenerated persons are members. We believe in the local church, consisting of a company of believers in Jesus Christ, baptized on a credible profession of faith, and associated for worship, work, and fellowship. We believe that God has laid upon the members of the local church the primary task of giving the gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost world (Ephesians 2:19-22, Acts 1:8, Ephesians 5:19-21, Acts 2:42, Hebrews 10:23-25).
XIV. CHRISTIAN CONDUCT
We believe that a Christian should live for the glory of God and the well-being of his fellow men, that his conduct should be blameless before the world, that he should be a faithful steward of his possessions, and that he should seek to realize for himself and others the full stature of maturity in Christ (I Corinthians 10:31, Romans 12:1-3, Hebrews 12:1-2, John 14:15, 23-24; I John 2:3-6, II Corinthians 9:6-9, I Corinthians 4:2, Colossians 1:9-10).
XV. THE ORDINANCES
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has committed two ordinances to the local church, baptism and the Lord's Supper. We believe that Christian baptism is the immersion of the believer in water into the name of the triune God. We believe that the Lord's Supper was instituted by Christ for commemoration of His death. We believe that these two ordinances should be observed and administered until the return of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20, Romans 6:3-5, I Corinthians 11:23-26).
XVI. RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
We believe that every human being has direct relations with God, and is responsible to God alone in all matters of faith, that each church is independent and must be free from interference by any ecclesiastical or political authority, and therefore, Church and State must be kept separate as having different functions, each fulfilling its duties free from dictation or patronage of the other (I Timothy 2:5; Romans 14:7-9, 12).
XVII. CHURCH COOPERATION
We believe that local churches can best promote the cause of Jesus Christ by cooperating with one another in a denominational organization. Such an organization, whether a regional or district conference, exists and functions by the will of the churches. Cooperation in a conference is voluntary and may be terminated at any time (Acts 15:36, 41, 16:5; I Corinthians 16:1, Galatians 1:1-3, Revelation 1:4, 10, 11). This church is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, the Arkansas Baptist State Convention and the North Pulaski Baptist Association, and may likewise cooperate with interdenominational fellowships on a voluntary independent basis.
XVIII. THE LAST THINGS
We believe in the personal and visible return of the Lord Jesus Christ to earth and the establishment of His kingdom. We believe in the resurrection of the body, the final judgment, the eternal felicity of the righteous and the endless suffering of the wicked. (Matthew 16:27, Mark 14:62, John 14:3, Acts 1:11, Philippians 3:20, I Thessalonians 4:15, II Timothy 4:1, Titus 2:13, I Corinthians 4:5, I Corinthians 15, II Thessalonians 1:7-10, Revelation 20:4-6, 11-15).
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Our Church Covenant
OUR CHURCH COVENANT
Having been led, as we believe, by the Spirit of God, to receive Jesus Christ as the Lord, Savior, and supreme Treasure of our lives, and, on the profession of our faith, having been baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 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.
We engage, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love, to strive for the advancement of this Church in knowledge, holiness and peace; to promote its spirituality and fruitfulness; to sustain its worship, ordinances, and discipline; to welcome, and test biblically, instruction from the Scriptures by the elders of the church which accords with the Elder Affirmation of Faith, seeking to grow toward Biblical unity in the truth; 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 through all nations.
We also engage to maintain family and personal devotions; to educate our children in the Christian faith; to seek the salvation of our kindred and acquaintances; 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; to seek God's help in abstaining from all drugs, food, drink, and practices which bring unwarranted harm to the body or jeopardize our own or another's faith.
We further engage to watch over one another in brotherly love; to remember one another in prayer; to aid one another in sickness and distress; to cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and courtesy in speech; to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation and mindful of the rules of our Savior to secure it without delay.
We moreover engage that when we remove from this place, we will, if possible, unite with a likeminded church where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant.
We endeavor to pursue authentic community together, walking according to the Scriptures in areas of peacemaking and reconciliation, accountability and church discipline, marriage and divorce, counseling and confidentiality, and the protection of our children.
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Article III: Membership
The membership of this Church shall consist of persons who confess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior, who give evidence of regeneration by a life consistent with their profession and with the views of faith, doctrine and practice of this Church, who have been baptized by immersion and who have been received into its membership according to the By-Laws of this Church.
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Article IV: Leadership, Organization & Decision-Making
Elders – Elders are the vision-casting and decision-making Council of men who devote themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word for the purpose of overseeing the affairs of the church and shepherding souls into the fellowship of God.
Deacons – Deacons are the male servants of Christ who bring the vision and leadership of the elders to intersect in tangible and relational ways with the body life of the church and souls in the community.
EMPLOYEES IN THE CHURCH
Vocational Pastors – Vocational Pastors are members of the Elder Council and are uniquely gifted to advance the gospel in the hearts of our people and/or outsiders through some specialized area of service, which justifies either full-time or part-time compensation.
Full-time or Part-time Vocational Ministers – Vocational Ministers are NOT members of the Elder Council, but are uniquely gifted to advance the gospel in the hearts of our people and/or outsiders through some specialized area of service, which justifies either full-time or part-time compensation.
Administrative Personnel – Administrative Personnel may be full-time or part-time assistants to the pastoral and ministerial staff in the management of church tasks and processes.
All final decision-making power regarding the affairs of the church resides with the Council of Elders. Nevertheless, it shall be incumbent upon the Council of Elders to heed the precedent of Scripture (Acts 6:1-6; 15:4, 15:6, 15:12, 15:22) and to involve the congregation in any decision-making process of major importance. Depending on the leadership of God’s Spirit and the nature of the decision, the Council of Elders may involve the congregation by merely informing them and/or soliciting feedback from them. Such areas of major importance include but are not limited to:
Accepting members into the church, giving letters of transfer or recommendation to members, or dropping members from the church roll;
Electing officers of the church;
Disciplining members by dismissing them and disciplining officers by removing them from office;
Approving annual budgets of the church, authorizing any expenditure of the funds of the church when such expenditure is not covered by an approved budget, and approving any transactions regarding real property;
Accepting, rejecting, or otherwise disposing of any matter submitted to the Council of Elders;
Adopting, amending, or repealing the Constitution or By-Laws of this church;
Approving the call, job description and initial salary of Vocational Pastors, Vocational Ministers and Administrative Personnel.
In any decision-making process of major importance, the Council of Elders may attempt to discern God’s wisdom by exercising any or all of the following means:
A Church-Wide Prayer Meeting – Child-like dependent prayer is the expected practice within the life of UHF; therefore, some major decisions may prompt a spontaneous, church-wide season of prayer.
An Informative Church-Wide Assembly – In the event of some unforeseen occurrence or crisis, the Council of Elders may call for an urgent gathering to debrief and/or solicit input from the people.
A Congregational Vote – Not unlike the scene in Acts 6:1-6, the Elders may seek to discern God’s leading in some instances, through the voice of the people, by way of a formal congregational vote.
A Congregational Survey – In some decision-making processes, the Council of Elders may formally or informally solicit feedback from any given individual(s) or household(s).
A Written Proposal from a Member in Good Standing – A written proposal may be prepared and submitted to the Council of Elders for review, by a member in good standing, at the initiative of the member in good standing (a proposal is not guaranteed an audience with the entire Council of Elders, and an audience with the entire Council of Elders does not guarantee endorsement of the proposal). The proposal may include, but is not limited to:
Suggested Amendments to the Guiding Documents of the Church
Suggested Revisions to Existing Areas of Service in the Church
Suggested Implementation of Fresh Ministry Initiatives
A Temporary Sub-Committee – A sub-committee may consist of any combination of church officers and/or members in good standing. Any given sub-committee will not exist to render a final decision. Rather, it will exist to assist the Elder Council either in the assimilation of essential data for further deliberation or in the implementation of a decision that has already been reached.
A Question and Answer Session – In the event of major cross-road in the life of the church, clarity and communication may be best served by an open forum of dialogue between the elders and members of UHF.
A Third Party Mediator in Conflict Resolution — In the event that exhaustive efforts fail to resolve major conflict, between disputing church officers or between church officer(s) and two or more UHF households, either party may appeal to the mediation of two or more distinct representatives within the Treasuring Christ Together Network.
The offices of the Church shall be Elder and Deacon. The purpose of the officers of the Church is to lovingly govern, care for, and equip the membership to do the work of the ministry.
The leadership of the Church shall be vested in the Council of Elders who are responsible for governing the Church, teaching the Word and tending the flock of God in this Church. The Elders shall be equal in authority but may be specialized in function.
DECISION MAKING IMPLEMENTATION
Deacons shall assist the Council of Elders by performing services of advice, administration and implementation.
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Article V: The Church Property
In the event of a division of this church, from which may God in His mercy save us, the property of this church shall belong to that group of such division as represents the largest portion of the church membership, before recognizing a division therein, provided such group is loyal to this Constitution; otherwise, it shall belong to the group remaining loyal to this Constitution though it may not be the largest group in such division. Should any controversy arise as to whether such loyalty exists, the question shall be submitted to the Ruling Board of the North Pulaski Baptist Association and the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, and their decision shall be final.
Should a condition arise at any time in the future when for any reason the church work cannot continue, the church property shall be transferred to the North Pulaski Baptist Association or its successor.
Should conditions arise where a consolidation with another church of the same denomination be advisable, the Council of Elders shall be authorized to negotiate the terms of such consolidation in so far as the property of this church is concerned.
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Article VI: Revisions, Additions and Amendments
Revisions, additions or amendments of this Constitution may be made in accordance with Article IV (3&4) of this Constitution.
Article II (1) and VI (2) of this Constitution shall not be repealed, amended nor revised.
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Article 1: Membership
All actions regarding membership, either of admission or dismissal, may require the input of existing membership and shall culminate in a final decision among the Council of Elders. The normal pattern for official membership will include an undefined time of “courtship,” whereby the prospective member has time to acquaint himself with the people, ethos and ministry of the church; and whereby, the people and leadership of the church have opportunity to witness the Christian Faith and Message alive and well in the prospective member. At some point in this “courtship” phase, after mutual familiarity has occurred and sufficient like-mindedness has been confirmed (the duration of time may be shorter or longer in any given scenario), the prospective member will have opportunity to pursue membership at Urban Harvest Fellowship. Membership will be finalized after the New Member’s Class has been completed, a written and verbal testimony of Jesus’ soul-saving work on the heart has been given, and the Church Covenant has been affirmed before the congregation.
ADMISSION BY BAPTISM
Any person professing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, giving evidence of a changed heart, and having accepted the faith, aims and ideals of this church as expressed in The Affirmation of Faith and Church Covenant, may be baptized upon recommendation of the Council of Elders and received into the membership upon completion of the New Member’s Class and affirmation of the Church Covenant before the congregation.
ADMISSION BY EXPERIENCE OR RESTORATION
All prospects for membership other than by baptism, that is by Christian experience if previously baptized, or by restoration, shall be received into the church in the same way as those by baptism, except the ordinance shall not be administered.
Students and others temporarily residing in this local area, who are members of an evangelical church, may apply for associate membership. Qualifications are identical to those for full membership as set out above, except that home church membership must be retained. A letter of commendation will be sought from the applicant’s home church. Duties and privileges of associate members are the same as for other members except that:
When absent from this local area for extended periods of time they are released from the responsibility to attend our church services and uphold their regular responsibilities;
Termination of associate membership as a disciplinary measure will be as it is for other members, except that the elders shall notify the pastor or elders of the home church of that termination. Associate membership will normally terminate immediately upon the ending of the period of temporary residence in this local area.
INSTRUCTION TO NEW MEMBERS
All persons uniting with this church in any of the ways set forth in Sections 2 & 3 above shall previously, by the Council of Elders, be made acquainted with the Church Covenant and the Affirmation of Faith. New members shall pledge themselves to fulfill their stewardship obligations as to worship, service, and giving, when they make public profession of faith and join the church.
DUTIES AND PRIVILEGES OF MEMBERS
In accord with the duties enumerated in the Church Covenant, each member shall be privileged and expected to participate in and contribute to the ministry and life of the church consistent with God’s leading and with the gifts, time, and material resources each has received from God. Only those shall be entitled to serve in the ministries of the church who are members of this congregation; non-members may serve on an ad-hoc basis with the approval of the elders. Notwithstanding, non-members may serve the church for purposes of administration and professional consultation.
UHF intends to simplify body-life for its members, so that its members may enjoy the life-giving nature of having depth in a few very important things. Our expectation is for each member to attach himself to at least one equipping/discipleship venue and at least one outreach initiative, in addition to consistent attendance at our church-wide gatherings. A balance of discipleship and outreach are essential to the health and vibrancy of any born again soul. This expectation pursues congregational worship that is vertical, discipleship that is relational, and outreach that is intentional. By scheduling fewer formal ministry commitments, UHF also hopes to create opportunity for more unscheduled, informal gatherings between members and between members and outsiders. One natural outgrowth of this paradigm should be informal, yet intentional, mentoring between seasoned believers and young Christians.
Participation in the Lord’s Supper, at UHF, is open to all sincere believers who embrace Jesus Christ by grace through faith as their only Righteousness and who are participating members of a legitimate evangelical church. Our caution to those who linger too long in a lack of membership commitment is the danger of resisting accountability that occurs within authentic Christian community.
DISMISSAL OF MEMBERS
Members in good standing who have fulfilled their obligations to the church, or satisfactorily arranged the same with the Elders, shall upon request be granted a letter of transfer to unite with such Baptist Church as they may designate. Such letter of transfer shall be sent to the Pastor or the Clerk of the church the member intends to join and shall be valid only for six months, but may be renewed after that time by recommendation of the Council of Elders if satisfactory reasons be given for the non-use. These limitations of time shall be included in the letter of transfer. Members who shall unite with another church without such letter shall be dropped from the church roll. Members in good standing who have fulfilled their obligations to the church, or satisfactorily arranged the same with the Elders, and who desire to unite with a church of another denomination, shall receive a certificate of character and be dismissed. Urban Harvest Fellowship, under the guidance of its Elder Council, reserves the right to alert any church in its reception of a UHF member who is under church discipline.
Members who move from this city shall supply the church with their new address and apply for a letter of dismissal within one year provided there be a church of the same faith and order in the place to which they move. If necessary, it shall be the duty of the Council of Elders to remind such member of their duties in this respect. In case there is no such church in the place, or there are circumstances which render it inadvisable to change membership, the member shall report to the church no less than once a year, in person or by letter and by contribution. All non-resident members who do not so report shall be subject to dismissal by the church after appropriate efforts have been made to contact the member and remind them of their duties.
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Article II: Church Government
Officers. The Officers of the church shall be a Council of Elders and the Deacons. Officers shall be regularly identified and installed by the existing Council of Elders, through the involvement of the congregation, as these men manifest the gifting and calling of God within the body-life of the church. Upon identifying candidates for elder or deacon, the potential candidate shall be approached by a representative from the Elder Council for an affirmation of desire. Prior to installation, each candidate for elder or deacon will be tested, according to the qualifications of Scripture, for the purpose of confirming the candidate’s gifting and calling in accordance with those qualifications (1 Tim 3:10, 1 Tim 3:1-7, 1 Tim 3:8-13, Titus 1:5-9). The particulars of the examination process may vary from time to time. Examination will include, but is not limited to, a prior observation of the candidate’s shepherding patterns among the congregation, an invitation for the congregation to raise cautions, an interview with two or more elders, an interview with the entire council of elders, and a testimony and presentation before the congregation. All officers of the church shall be members of the church in good and regular standing. The Council of Elders and the Deacons shall be composed of men only. Except as provided in paragraphs (b) and (c) below, the Council of Elders and the Deacons are the only bodies and positions created by these By-Laws.
Clerk, Treasurer, and Financial Secretary. The Council of Elders shall identify and appoint members in good standing, whose personal integrity and/or financial responsibility make them best suited for such areas of service in the life of the church, to the positions of Church Clerk, Treasurer and Financial Secretary. The functions of Treasurer and Financial Secretary shall not be performed by a single member. The Treasurer and Financial Secretary shall be bonded by the church in a suitable amount. The Elders shall provide a written description of duties to the Clerk, Treasurer, and Financial Secretary.
Committees and Appointees. The Council of Elders has the authority to create committees and positions to which it may delegate any specified aspect of its responsibility. The Council of Elders has the authority to dissolve any committee or position which it created. The Council of Elders also has the authority to appoint Elders, Deacons or other members of the church to serve as members of such committees and to act as its agents in such positions. The Deacons may nominate candidates for any committee or position, with appointment by the Council of Elders. The Council of Elders may delegate to the Deacons the authority to appoint Deacons or other members of the church to serve as members of such committees and as agents of the Council of Elders in such positions. Every committee shall have a chairperson, responsible for the overall operation of the committee, who shall be appointed by the Council of Elders. The Council of Elders may delegate the responsibility for selecting the chairperson to the Deacons or to the committee. (Examples of such committees and positions may include a Missions Committee and a Children’s Curriculum Committee, among others.)
VOCATIONAL PASTORS AND MINISTERS
Definition. Vocational Pastors are the compensated Elders of the church, who in response to God's call, have devoted their vocational lives to the ministry of the Word and prayer in the service of the Church of Jesus Christ. Vocational Ministers are the compensated ministers of the church who, in response to God's call, serve the Church of Christ as their primary vocation without being a member of the Elder Council. Both Vocational Pastors and Vocational Ministers are supported financially by the church in return for their vocational labors.
Duties. In addition to the duties of their office as described in Sections 4 and 5 below, Vocational Pastors and Ministers shall perform the duties determined by the Council of Elders who may form those duties with the input of the congregation. The duties shall be in writing at the time of the call to service, and substantial changes shall be approved by the Council of Elders and congregational involvement. The call of a Vocational Pastor is a call to the Eldership of the church. Therefore Vocational Pastors shall be members of the Council of Elders and have all the Biblical qualifications of an Elder. Vocational Ministers are not necessarily called to the Eldership, but as assisting partners in the ministry. Vocational Ministers may, in the divine providence of God, emerge as qualified elders and thus be appointed to the Council of Elders.
A Vocational Call and Installation. Vocational Pastors and Ministers shall be officially called and installed at the discretion of the Council of Elders. This process assumes congregational involvement, by way of update and input, in accordance with the stated options of Article IV (4). A vocational call shall only be extended by the Council of Elders to the leading candidate, after an overwhelming majority-consensus has emerged among the elders. (The Chairman and Vice-Chairman, of the Elder Council, will make a final determination in the event that a majority-consensus is disputable .) All vocational pastors and ministers will be evaluated, no less than once a month, through ongoing accountability provided by an appointed member(s) of the Council of Elders. Each vocational pastor and minister will be subject to reaffirmation, no less than once a year, as provided by the entire Council of Elders. (Congregational participation may be utilized). All vocational pastors and ministers are expected to mentor others and be mentored by others for their own growth in grace and for the up-building of the church. Each vocational pastor and minister will be subject to termination in the event that they are determined to be unfit for vocational ministry, in accordance with the biblical parameters for disqualification (1 Tim. 5:17-25), as it pertains to deficient job-performance and/or reproachable character.
Termination of Vocational Call by the Church.
By resignation. The question of terminating the vocational call of a Vocational Pastor or Minister shall be considered and presented to the congregation, at any time, by the Council of Elders upon the presentation of the Pastor's or Minister's resignation.
Grievance. Where a grievance exists against a Pastor or Minister, either due to his preaching or teaching contrary to the beliefs of the church as set forth in Article II of its Constitution or the beliefs of the Elder Affirmation of Faith or to alleged conduct on his part unfitting an Elder or Deacon, such grievance may be brought before the Council of Elders by any two members in good standing, following the Biblical approach and constitutional procedure of these documents. If the Council, after thorough investigation and consideration, believes the grievance to be true and substantial, then the vocational call of the Pastor or Minister may be terminated upon Elder Council agreement and any essential congregational input. Such termination will be announced to the congregation in the manner, and at the time, deemed most appropriate by the Elders.
Lack of reaffirmation. The vocational call shall be terminated, due to lack of reaffirmation, only if the deficient area(s) of character and/or performance can be confirmed by the matching testimony of two or more witnesses (Matthew 18:16). Such termination will be announced to the congregation in the manner, and at the time, deemed most appropriate by the elders. Removal from office and termination of the vocational call by this means shall not be considered disciplinary action.
Licensing and Ordination. In the matter of licensing and ordaining any person to the Gospel Ministry, the church shall follow, as far as possible, the procedure recommended by the North Pulaski Baptist Association.
Definition. Non-Compensated officers are the Non-Vocational Elders and Deacons of the church.
Duties. Non-Compensated Elders and Deacons shall have the duties of their offices as described in Sections 4 and 5 below.
Calling. The Council of Elders shall identify, interview, and examine candidates for non-compensated Elder and Deacon. All Non-Compensated Officers shall be identified, for the purpose of intentional examination, through church-wide observation of their gifting and calling, over an undefined season of time. This process of identifying and examining candidates for Non-Compensated Office assumes an assessment that goes beyond doctrinal query to the relational and functional sphere of real-live shepherding and outreach. In no instances shall any individual be considered a candidate for the office without the candidate's consent. In those cases where the Council of Elders concludes that a desirous candidate is not qualified for office, they shall so inform the candidate, stating the reasons for this conclusion.
Non-Compensated Elders and Deacons shall be evaluated, no less than once every two months, through ongoing accountability provided by an appointed member(s) of the Council of Elders. Each non-compensated officer will be subject to reaffirmation, no less than once a year, as provided by the entire Council of Elders. (Congregational participation may be utilized). All Non-Compensated Officers are expected to be mentored and to mentor others for their own growth in grace and the up-building of the church.
Resignation. An officer may resign his office at any time if he becomes convinced, according to the biblical qualifications of Scripture, that he is disqualified for the office or if he finds he is no longer able to discharge the duties of the office.
Grievance. Where a grievance exists against an officer of the church either due to the adherence to and propagation of beliefs contrary to the Elder Affirmation of Faith or the beliefs of the church as set forth in Article II (1&2) of its Constitution or to alleged conduct on his part unfitting an Elder or Deacon, such grievance may be brought before the Council of Elders by any two members in good standing, following the procedures prescribed in Article V of the By-Laws of this church. If the Council, after thorough investigation and consideration, believes the grievance to be true and substantial, then the officer may be removed from office upon Elder Council agreement and any essential congregational involvement. Such termination will be announced to the congregation in the manner, and at the time, deemed most appropriate by the Council of Elders.
Lack of reaffirmation. If a Non-Compensated Elder or Deacon fails to be reaffirmed, in accordance with biblical standard (1 Timothy 3:1-13, 1 Timothy 5:17-25, and Titus 1:5-9), the Elder or Deacon shall be removed from office. Removal from office by this means shall not be considered disciplinary action.
COUNCIL OF ELDERS
Composition and Calling. The Council of Elders shall be composed of men only, both Non-Compensated Elders and Vocational Elders. The Council of Elders shall consist of at least two members, preferably three or more, with the number of Elders at any time determined by the needs of the ministry and by the call and qualification of men in the church. The preferred ratio of elders is two Non-Compensated Elders for every Vocational Elder. Each Elder shall be called after the confirmation that follows the observation and examination provided in Article II (2c) and Article II (3c) of these By-Laws. That call and any reaffirmation(s) shall be conducted as provided in Article II (2&3) of these By-Laws.
Qualifications. Elders and candidates for Elder shall be qualified for the office as specified in the Bible. Relevant texts include I Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:6-9 and I Pet 5:1-4. Elders are also required to be in agreement with the Elder Affirmation of Faith adopted from Bethlehem Baptist Church. The Bethlehem Baptist Church Elder Affirmation of Faith shall only be amended by Elder Council approval, following the same procedure to amend the By-Laws.
Responsibilities. The fundamental responsibility of the Elders is to devote themselves to prayer and the Word. The Elders are responsible for governing the church, teaching the Word and tending the flock of God in this church. The responsibilities of the Elders shall include: examining prospective members and acquainting them with the Affirmation of Faith and Church Covenant, overseeing the process of church discipline, examining prospective candidates for office, scheduling and providing a moderator for church-wide informative meetings, providing for reporting and recording of official Council meetings, overseeing the work of the Deacons and appointed church agents and committees, conducting worship services, administering the ordinances of the gospel, equipping the membership of the church for the work of the ministry, teaching the whole counsel of God both formally and informally, correcting error, overseeing, coordinating and promoting the ministries of the church, and mobilizing the church for local and world missions.
Organization. The Council of Elders shall organize itself in the most effective way to best achieve the mission of the church. The Elders shall be equal in authority but may be specialized in function. The Elders must meet at least once per quarter. Meetings of the Elders may be held at any location and may be conducted by means of electronic communication through which the Elders may simultaneously hear each other. Unless the Council provides otherwise, meetings of the Council may be held immediately upon notice. A quorum for meetings of the Elders is defined as at least one-half of the Non-Compensated Elders plus at least one-half of the Vocational Elders. The Council shall annually select its Chairman and Vice-Chairman from among its Non-Compensated Elders.
Composition and Calling. The Deacons shall be men only. The number of Deacons shall be determined by the needs of the ministry and by the call and qualification of men in the church. The call and any reaffirmation shall be conducted as provided in Article II (2&3) of these By-Laws.
Qualifications. Deacons and candidates for Deacon shall be qualified for the office as specified in the Bible. Relevant texts include I Timothy 3:8-12.
Responsibilities. The Deacons shall advise and be ready to assist the Elders in any service that shall support and promote the ministry of the Word, new and existing ministries of the church, and the care for the members of the congregation. While the Elders lead in casting biblical vision and shepherding people for the work of service, Deacons exist as a supporting cast in the implementation of that vision and maintenance of that service. Their responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the below items:
Administering a fund to assist the poor and needy and otherwise providing aid in times of crisis or distress;
The greeting and welcoming ministries of the church;
Assisting in administering the ordinances of the gospel;
Assisting at fellowship gatherings of the church;
Delegation of care for and maintaining the church properties;
Administering the business affairs of the church that pertain to its material assets.
Organization. The Deacons shall organize themselves in the most effective way to best achieve the mission of the church. The Elders or the Deacons may designate any specific Deacon or group of Deacons to specialize in some particular Deaconal function. Meetings of the Deacons or subcommittees thereof shall be held as needed to best fulfill the responsibilities of the Deacons.
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Article III: Church Employees & Financial Matters
In addition to Vocational Pastors and Ministers, the church may employ additional Personnel. The moneys for such Personnel must gain final approval with the Council of Elders and its determined process of Deaconal and congregational participation. The Council of Elders shall be responsible for determining the duties of and hiring such Personnel.
No method of raising funds shall be entertained which is in conflict with the Scriptural ideals of the church. All funds to the church shall pass through the church Finance Secretary and the Treasurer in order that due record may be made and credit given to the church. The Deacons shall provide assistance for the Financial Secretary in accounting for funds donated. All gifts to the church will go into the general fund of the church and will be distributed, according to the existing and official determination of the Elder Council, to the various ministries, missions, and expenses of the church. Any revision or added item line to current expenses and/or Outreach & Missions will require an overwhelming majority-consensus among the Council of Elders and any necessary congregational interaction.
It is understood that membership in this church involves financial obligations to support the church and its causes with regular and proportionate giving. Each member shall be encouraged in Scriptural giving, with tithing as the ideal minimum. Special offerings may be sought by the church, or by any of its organizations, with the approval of the Council of Elders. This shall not preclude individuals from making special offerings or designated gifts at any time as the Spirit of God may so prompt, and though designated gifts may be given directly to the recipient, they will not be passed through the financial matrix of the church, due to the inevitable complications such patterns create over time.
The financial planning of the church shall be carried out through the medium of annual budgets for carrying out of the various programs of its work. Annual budgets shall be adopted upon final approval of the Council of Elders, or, if authorized by the Council, the Deacons or other committee, including congregational involvement. Matters involving staff compensation shall be the responsibility of the Council of Elders. The Council of Elders may delegate any discussions on the exact amounts of compensation to a sub-committee of Non-Compensated Elders, Deacons, or some combination of the two.
Financial receipts from all sources shall be accounted for by the Finance Secretary. All contributions given to the church will be deposited into the general fund and will be distributed according to the purposes and percentages designated by the Council of Elders. The Treasurer of the church shall disburse these funds promptly according to the financial program of the church as detailed in the budgets or other authorized designations. All moneys for missions shall be remitted in accordance with the Mission Budget of the church or otherwise designated, preferably each month and not less than each quarter.
No note or contract exceeding 1% of the total annual budget, whereby the credit of the church is pledged, shall be made except by final approval of the Council of Elders and congregational involvement.
AUTHORITY TO BIND THE CHURCH
The Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Council of Elders are the only officers who have authority, in accordance with these By-Laws, the Church Constitution, and any applicable laws, to execute legal documents relating to real estate, church property, and church finances.
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Article IV: Meetings
Public services shall be held on the Lord's Day. The Lord's Supper shall be celebrated on the first Sunday of each month or at such other times as the Council of Elders may determine. Other religious services may be appointed as the advancement of the work of the church may require.
FOR VISION AND CHURCH-WIDE AFFAIRS
Bi-Annual Vision Meetings. It shall be the normal rhythm of the Council of Elders to cast vision for the calendar year at the beginning of each fall and at the turn of each New Year. The purpose of these meetings may include, but is not limited to, congregational prayer and worship, updates on significant ministry impact, promotion of fresh ministry initiatives, important events scheduled by the Council of Elders for that calendar year, and the presentation of new officers in the church.
Special Meetings. The Council of Elders or any ten members in good standing, may call for a special meeting, with the approval of the Elder Council. Notice of the meeting shall be given from the pulpit or by other notification, the particular object of such meeting being clearly stated in the notice. Notice shall be given at least one week in advance for meetings on especially important matters not otherwise provided for. Seeking the Lord's wisdom and blessing through thankful prayer shall be a part of every meeting.
Quorum. Any number of members shall constitute a quorum at any ordinary meeting of the church. At special meetings, dealing with particular matters of major importance as stipulated in these By-Laws, the quorums prescribed at the time of the announcement or otherwise approved, by the presiding officers on the very occasion of that meeting, shall apply.
Moderator for Special Meetings. The moderator for any special meeting shall be selected prayerfully by the Council of Elders, and preferably from among the Council of Elders, according to the man best suited for the subject matter at hand. The Council of Elders reserve the right to select a man, in good-standing from among the congregation, as the occasion may so warrant.
Notice Provisions. Unless specifically defined in other sections of these By-Laws or the Constitution, “resident membership” means those members who reside within 75 miles driving distance from the church building, “notice . . . in writing” means a written announcement sent by regular U.S. mail, and “notice . . . from the pulpit” means an oral announcement at each of the Sunday morning services.
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Article V: Organization of Members for Ministry
Members of this church shall have the liberty to participate in and organize themselves for ministry, provided that such participation and organization is consistent with the vision and philosophy of the church and does not conflict with Article II of the Constitution. Any such organization may seek church sanction from the Council of Elders as an official ministry of Urban Harvest Fellowship. Such sanction may be granted provided that 1) the object, purpose, belief and conduct of the organization and its members are consistent with Article II of the Constitution, and 2) the primary officers of the organization are: members of the church or other regular attenders of the church who have been approved under guidelines established by the Council of Elders. Sanction by the Council of Elders does not necessarily imply support of the organization by the church with personnel, finances, or facilities. Such support may be requested as provided by the leadership of the church.
All equipping roles of leadership within the church will be reserved for those whose lives and witness most clearly reflect the God-centered message of the Bible as it is interpreted in the Elder Affirmation of Faith. All members in good-standing may freely engage in vital outreach efforts, and those efforts should be guided by the following expectations: (1) The primary aim of all outreach initiatives is to give clear witness to the gospel for the supreme purpose of bringing sinners to God in Christ, (2) Our outreach initiatives should seek to partner with other churches or agencies, when possible, where similar initiatives already exist, (3) Our outreach efforts should pursue those initiatives that will be sustainable for the life of the church and the good of the community, (4) Our outreach efforts should have significant, lasting relationships as a necessary outcome, (5) Our outreach efforts should offer legitimate services that come from a true understanding of the community and its culture, (6) Our outreach efforts should always avoid the distribution of goods and services that only enable the recipients to maintain a lifestyle of misconduct, and (7) Our outreach efforts should aim at redeeming the entire person, through the gospel of Jesus Christ, for internal transformation that visibly manifests itself in a productive life of glad submission to all of God’s commands.
Though there may be instances in which various individuals in the church enjoy an effective sphere of influence in the social or political arena (and we bless them for it), Urban Harvest Fellowship resists any organizational affiliation with any movement that has political and/or social reform as its primary objective. Our rationale is as follows: (1) Such movements fail to get beneath the symptom of social injustice to the supreme threat of divine wrath against depraved sinners; and therefore, settle for something less than God-wrought grace in the soul, (2) Formal cooperation with such agencies and religious organizations risks confusing the content of the gospel with moralism, (3) Formal Affiliation with such movements risks substituting a mere humanitarian goal for the church’s ultimate mission of spreading God’s fame among the nations, (4) Formal affiliation with such agencies may enlarge the church’s scope of outreach at the expense of limiting its depth of impact, and (5) Formal affiliation with some causes invariably means deciding against others to the disappointment of those who promote them.
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Article VI: Discipline
Church discipline shall be carried out at Urban Harvest Fellowship, according to the Scriptures, for the ultimate goal of gently restoring an impenitent church member. UHF seeks to avoid a judgmental and critical approach to church discipline by making the distinction between major and minor offenses. Major offenses are unrepentant acts or patterns of rebellion that threaten the spiritual health of the individual and the church. Minor offenses are sinful moments or patterns, born out of a weakness that is common to the fallen condition of mankind. Minor offenses demand the correction of long-suffering responses, which sometimes address the minor offenses and at other times simply overlook them. Every member in good-standing bears the responsibility to lovingly admonish straying souls. The process of formal church discipline shall be guided by the Council of Elders, according to the Scriptures, in cooperation with the congregation and in a way that is consistent with our constitutional procedure.
The purpose of such discipline should be for the repentance, reconciliation, and spiritual growth of the individual disciplined (see Proverbs 15: 5; 29: 15; I Corinthians 4: 14; Ephesians 6: 4; I Timothy 3: 4–5; Hebrews 12: 1–11; 24 Psalm 119: 115; 141: 5; Proverbs 17: 10; 25: 12; 27: 5; Ecclesiastes 7: 5; Matthew 7: 26–27; 18: 15–17; Luke 17: 3; Acts 2: 40; I Corinthians 5: 5; Galatians 6: 1–5; II Thessalonians 3: 6, 14–15; I Timothy 1: 20; Titus 1:13–14; James 1: 22);
For the instruction in righteousness and good of other Christians, as an example to them (see Proverbs 13: 20; Romans 15: 14; I Corinthians 5: 11; 15: 33; Colossians 3: 16; I Thessalonians 5: 14 [note this is written to the whole church, not just to leaders]; I Timothy 5: 20; Titus 1: 11; Hebrews 10: 24–25);
For the purity of the church as a whole (see I Corinthians 5: 6–7; II Corinthians 13: 10; Ephesians 5: 27; II John 10; Jude 24; Revelation 21: 2);
For the good of our corporate witness to non–Christians (see Proverbs 28: 7; Matthew 5: 13–16; John 13: 35; Acts 5: 1–14; Ephesians 5: 11; I Timothy 3: 7; II Peter 2: 2; I John 3: 10); and
Supremely for the glory of God by reflecting His holy character (see Deuteronomy 5: 11; I Kings 11: 2; II Chronicles 19: 2; Ezra 6: 21; Nehemiah 9: 2; Isaiah 52: 11; Ezekiel 36: 20; Matthew 5: 16; John 15: 8; 18: 17, 25; Romans 2:24; 15: 5–6; II Corinthians 6: 14–7: 1; Ephesians 1: 4; 5: 27; I Peter 2: 12).
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Article VII: Conflict Resolution
Believing that the Bible commands Christians to make every effort to live at peace and to resolve disputes with each other in private or within the Christian Church (see e.g., Matthew 18: 15–20, I Corinthians 6: 1–8), the church shall require its members to resolve conflict among themselves according to Bible-saturated principles, without reliance on the secular courts. Consistent with its call to peacemaking, the church shall encourage the use of Bible-saturated principles to resolve disputes between itself and those outside the church, whether Christian or pagan and whether individuals or corporate entities.
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Article VIII: Indemnification
If a legal claim or criminal allegation is made against a person because he or she is or was an officer, employee, or agent of the church, the church shall provide indemnification against liability and costs incurred in defending against the claim if the elders determine that the person acted (a) in good faith, (b) with the care an ordinarily prudent person in a similar position would exercise under similar circumstances, and (c) in a manner the person reasonably believed to be in the best interest of the church, and the person had no reasonable cause to believe his or her conduct was unlawful.
At the discretion of the elders, the church also may indemnify any person who acted in good faith and reasonably believed that his or her conduct was in the church’s best interest and not unlawful.
If a quorum of the elders is not available for an indemnification determination because of the number of elders seeking indemnification, the requisite determination will be made by the remaining eligible church officers, who reserve the right to seek assistance from any helpful church members in good-standing and/or special legal counsel.
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Article IX: Amendments
General. Amendments to these By-Laws may be introduced to and accepted by the Council of Elders, according to the means prescribed in Article IV (4) of this Constitution, with the exception of Article II (4b) as it relates to amending the Elder Affirmation of Faith which, as previously stated, may only be amended through the constituted means upon Elder Council approval.