Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Saint Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church
Article I – Name of the Congregation
Article II – Confessions
Article III – Conditions of Membership
Article IV – Voting Membership
Article V – Contributions
Article VI – Excommunication
Article VII – Pastor’s Office
Article VIII – Supreme Authority
Article IX – Privilege to Call
Article X – Duties of Deacons
Article XI – Corporate Officers
Article XII – Deposition from Office
Article XIII – Congregational Meetings
Article XIV – Divisions
Article XV – Doctrinal Literature
Article XVI Amendments
Article I – Admission into Membership
Article II – Duties of Membership
Article III – Termination of Membership
Article IV – Officers
Article V – Election of Officers
Article VI – Duties of Officers
Article VII – Church Council
Article VIII – Board of Elders
Article IX – Amendments
THE CONSTITUTION AND BYLAWS
SAINT PAUL’S EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
Whereas, according to the Word of God, I Corinthians 14:40 and Colossians 2:5, all things should be done decently and in order in the church, and since our forefathers have set us a worthy example by writing constitutions for their congregations; therefore, we, the members of Saint Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, accept and subscribe to the following constitution and bylaws, in accordance with which all spiritual and material affairs of ur congregation shall be governed.
ARTICLE I – NAME OF THE CONGREGATION
Our congregation shall be known by the name: THE SAINT PAUL”S EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH, UNALTERED AUGSBURG CONFESSION, located at Fredericksburg, Chickasaw County, Iowa.
ARTICLE II – CONFESSIONS
This congregation accepts and acknowledges all the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments as the inspired Word of God, and all the symbolical books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, contained in the Book of Concord, as the true and sound exhibition of Christian doctrine taken from and in full agreement with the Holy Scriptures. In this congregation no doctrine shall be taught nor tolerated which is at variance with these symbols of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, viz:
1. The three ecumenical creeds: The Apostles’ Creed,
The Nicene Creed, and The Athanasian Creed;
2. The Unaltered Augsburg Confession;
3. The Apology of the same;
4. The Smalcald Articles;
5. The Small and Large Catechisms of Doctor Martin Luther; and
6. The Formula of Concord.
According to this norm of doctrine all doctrinal controversies which may arise in this congregation shall be decided and adjudicated.
ARTICLE III - CONDITIONS OF MEMBERSHIP
No one shall be or remain a member of this congregation, or hold an office in the same, or enjoy and exercise the rights and privileges of a member, except such an one:
1. Who is baptized;
2. Who declares adherence to all the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments, as the only divine rule and norm of faith and life;
3. Who, while he may yet perhaps be deficient in the knowledge of all the Lutheran symbols, yet is familiar at least with the Unaltered Augsburg Confession and Luther’s Small Catechism and declares his acceptance thereof:
4. Who does not live in manifest works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21) but leads a Christian life;
5. Who, together with the congregation partakes of the Lord’s Supper with due frequency, if he be of sufficient age;
6. Who permits himself to be fraternally admonished and corrected when he has erred; and
7. Who is not a member of any ungodly secret society, whatever name it may be known by.
ARTICLE IV- VOTING MEMBERSHIP
All confirmed members of the congregation who are eighteen years of age or older and have read and signed the constitution and bylaws shall be entitled to vote at congregational meetings. Only men shall be eligible for election to the church council.
ARTICLE V - CONTRIBUTIONS
In case any member does not contribute toward the support of the congregation for a period of three months and does not excuse himself on account of poverty, then it shall be the duty of the deacons to admonish such a person in a brotherly manner.
ARTICLE VI - EXCOMMUNICATION
When a member of this congregation, after fruitless admonition in the various grades prescribed by the Word of God (Matthew 18:15-20), where the observance of such grades had been possible, shall have been expelled from this congregation, such excommunicated person shall then have forfeited all rights of a member of this congregation and all claims upon the property of this congregation as such, or upon any part thereof, so long as such person has not been reinstated as a member of this congregation. The same shall also hold true which such members as may have refused to submit to church discipline and thus have excommunicated themselves. It also holds true with reference to those who may have severed their connection with the congregation by removal to another place.
ARTICLE VII - PASTOR’S OFFICE
The pastoral office of this congregation shall be conferred upon such ministers or candidates only, who profess their acceptance of and adherence to all the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments as the inspired Word of God and all the symbolical books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church enumerated in Article II of this constitution as derived from the Word of God. Pastors, as well as schoolteachers, shall be pledged to faithful adherence to the Word of God and the symbols of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the call extended to and accepted by them.
ARTICLE VIII - SUPREME AUTHORITY
The congregation as a body shall have the supreme power in the external and internal administration and management of all is own ecclesiastical and congregational affairs. No decision, enactment, or performance in behalf of the congregation, or with reference to a member thereof as such, shall be valid, whether it have preceded from an individual or from a body within the congregation; and whatever may have been ordered or decided by individuals or minor bodies within the congregation shall always be subject to revision and final decision by the congregation. Not even the congregation, however, shall be empowered to order, enact, or decide anything contrary to the Word of God and the symbols of the Evangelical Lutheran Church; and any ordinance, enactment, of decision contrary to the Word of God and these symbols shall be null and void.
ARTICLE IX - PRIVILEGE TO CALL
The right of choosing and calling ministers and schoolteachers and the selecting of all other officers of the congregation shall ever be vested in the congregation, and shall never be delegated to an individual, or to a minor body, or circle within the congregation.
ARTICLE X - DUTIES OF DEACONS
The deacons at any time in office shall have no authority beyond that which has been conferred upon them by the congregation, and whatever power may have been delegated to them shall be at all times liable to change or revision by the congregation.
ARTICLE XI - CORPORATE OFFICERS
The corporate officers shall serve the church in a legal capacity. They shall be the president, vice-president, and treasurer of the congregation. They are authorized at the instruciton of the congregation and on its behalf to make contracts, to sign legal documents, to buy and sell property, and to appear in court on behalf of the on behalf of the congregation when such a need arises.
ARTICLE XII - DEPOSITION FROM OFFICE
All offices of the congregation may in Christian and lawful order be removed from office. Sufficient and urgent causes for deposing a pastor or schoolteacher are: persistent adherence to false doctrine, scandalous life, and willful neglect of official duties.
ARTICLE XIII - CONGREGATIONAL MEETINGS
A. Time. The annual meeting of the congregation shall be held on or near the fourth Sunday of January. The church council shall set the exact date, time, and place of the annual meeting. Special meeting may be called at any time b the church council, or the pastor, or the president, or upon written request of 10% of the voting members. Notice for congregational meetings much be made at two public worship services immediately preceding the meeting.
B. Quorum. Whenever a meeting has been property announced, the voters present shall constitute a quorum, capable of transacting business. However, for amending the articles of incorporation, the constitution and the bylaws, the erection of buildings, the purchase or sale of property, or the removal of a pastor or officer from office, a quorum of one-third of the voting members is necessary, and a two-thirds majority shall be required for adoption of a resolution.
C. Decisions. Matters of doctrine and conscience shall be decided by the Word of God Other matters shall be decided by a majority vote unless otherwise specified by the constitution and bylaws.
D. Order of Business. The following shall be the order of business at the annual meeting:
1. Devotion and / or Topic
2. Roll Call
3. Reading of the Minutes
4. Reports of Officers and Boards
5. Unfinished Business
6. New Business
E. Parliamentary Procedures. All parliamentary procedures not covered by the constitution and bylaws shall be determined by the current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order.
ARTICLE XIV - DIVISIONS
A. If at any time a division should take place within the congregation on account of doctrine, the property and all benefits therewith connected shall remain with those voting members who continue to adhere in confession and practice to Article II of the constitution, whether they be in the majority or minority.
B. If at any time a division should take place for any other reason, the property shall remain with the majority of the voting members.
ARTICLE XV - DOCTRINAL LITERATURE
Only such hymns, prayers, and liturgies shall be used in the public services of the congregation and in all ministerial acts as conform to the confessional standard of Article II. Likewise, in all classes for instruction in Christian doctrine only such books shall be used as conform to this standard.
ARTICLE XVI - AMENDMENTS
This constitution may be altered or added to according to necessity. However, the following articles thereof shall be unalterable: I, II, III, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X
ARTICLE I - ADMISSION INTO MEMBERSHIP
A. Baptized Membership. Persons may be admitted
into the baptized membership of this church:
1. By Holy Baptism. Since holy baptism is the sacrament of entrance into the Christian Church, all persons baptized by this church become the members of this church.
a. Holy baptism may be administered to anyone who has repented of his sin and confessed his faith in Christ.
b. Holy Baptism may be administered to infants and children brought by their parents or guardians, provided there is evidence that the ones presented for holy baptism will be brought up in true godliness and in all things pertaining to this evangelical covenant.
2. By Other Means. All persons received into the communicant membership of this church are hereby also received into its baptized membership. Likewise, the baptized children of all persons received into communicant membership are received into the baptized membership, provided their parents or guardians so desire.
B. Communicant Membership. Persons may be admitted into the communicant membership of this church:
1. By Holy Confirmation. A baptized member of this church, who gives satisfactory evidence of meeting the conditions for communicant membership set forth in Article III of the constitution, shall be accepted for communicant membership by the board of elders. Upon reception of the rite of holy confirmation, the person shall be declared a communicant member.
2. By Transfer. A person coming with a communicant letter of transfer from a sister church, provided he conform in all respects to the requirements of membership in this church, shall be accepted into communicant membership by the board of elders.
3. By Profession of Faith. A person who gives satisfactory evidence of meeting the conditions for communicant membership set forth in Article III of the constitution and is well instructed in the fundamentals of he Christian faith, but does not come to us with a letter of transfer from a sister church, shall be accepted into communicant membership by the board of elders on the basis of his profession of faith.
C. Non-Resident Membership. Baptized and communicant members who no longer reside in the vicinity of the church shall be classified as non-resident members.
D. Voting Membership. An applicant for voting membership shall give notice of his intention to the pastor or another officer and shall read a copy of the constitution and bylaws, which shall be furnished him. Upon signing the constitution and bylaws he shall be declared a voting member by the church council.
ARTICLE II - DUTIES OF MEMBERSHIP
A. Baptized Membership. Baptized members are expected to attend Sunday School and divine services regularly; and to receive instruction to prepare for communicant membership.
B. Communicant Membership. Communicant members are expected to:
1. Give of their time and talents in the service of the church;
2. Admonish erring members according to Matthew 18:15-20;
3. Bring their children to holy baptism at an early age and commit all unconfirmed children under their care to the educational agencies that the church provides, in full cooperation with the educational program of the church
4. Contribute, according to their ability, to missions and to the maintenance of all church property and to the payment of all debts of the church; and
5. Comply in all other respects with the provision of the constitution, particularly with Article III thereof.
C. Non-Resident Membership. Non-resident members are expected to keep the church informed as to their address and to continue in their support of the church’s financial program.
D. Voting Membership. Voting members are expected to attend congregational meetings. They shall accept nominations for offices, committee appointments, etc., if possible , and generally participate in the business activities of the congregation.
ARTICLE III- TERMINATION OF MEMBERSHIP
A. Baptized Membership. Persons may be dismissed from the baptized membership of this church:
1. By Self-Exclusion. One who has been baptized and later refuses to receive instruction and confirm his baptismal covenant shall be dealt with according to Matthew 18:15-20. If he does not respond to admonition, his name shall be removed from the membership roster by a resolution of this congregation.
2. By Other Means. All persons dismissed from the communicant membership of this church are thereby also dismissed from its baptized membership. Baptized members may also be dismissed under the provisions of Article III, B: by transfer to another church by joining another church, by delinquency.
B. Communicant Membership. Persons may be dismissed from the communicant membership of this church:
1. By Transfer to Another Church. A member desiring to join a church in fellowship with this church shall present his request for a transfer to the pastor, and such transfer of membership shall be effected by the board of elders.
2. By Joining Another Church. A member, who joins a church outside our fellowship, shall, upon the recommendation of the board of elders, be considered such as has terminated his membership in this church, and his name shall be removed from the membership roster by a resolution of the congregation.
3. By Whereabouts Unknown. A member, whose whereabouts are unknown and cannot be established shall, upon the recommendation of the board of elders, be considered such as has terminated his membership in this church, and his name shall be removed from the membership roster by a resolution of the congregation.
4. By Delinquency.
a. A member who have moved out of the community, but refuses to transfer when such a transfer is advisable, shall, upon the recommendation of the board of elders, be considered such as had terminated his membership in this church, and his name shall be removed form the membership roster by a resolution of the congregation.
b. A member who without just cause does not regularly attend services and partake of holy communion and contribute to the support of this church, shall, upon the recommendation of the board of elders, be considered such as has terminated his membership in this church, and his name shall be removed from the membership roster by a resolution of the congregation.
5. By Excommunication or Self-Exclusion
a. General. Any member who conducts himself in an unchristian manner shall be admonished according to Matthew 18:15-20. If he refuses to amend his sinful life after admonition, he shall be excommunicated by a resolution of the congregation. If the member refuses to attend a congregation meeting to discuss his case, he has thereby excluded himself and his name shall be removed from the membership roster by a resolution of the congregation.
b. Status. Excommunicated and self-excluded persons are specifically denied the following spiritual privileges: (1) partaking of holy communion, (2) of being a sponsor at holy baptism, and (3) of a Christian burial.
C. Non-Resident Membership. A non-resident member who does not communicate with this church after annual contacts from the congregation for three years thereby severs his membership.
D. Voting Membership. A voting member who does not partake of holy communion for a period of one year without offering a valid excuse shall be removed from the roster of voting members by a resolution of the church council. Each member so removed shall be notified by mail of his non-eligibility to vote.
ARTICLE IV - OFFICERS
The elected officers of the congregation shall be the minister (or ministers), and the following deacons (or councilmen): the president, the vice-president, the secretary, the treasurer, the financial secretary, four elders, and two councilmen-at-large.
ARTICLE V - ELECTION OF OFFICERS
A. The Election of Ministers
1. Nominations. At a meeting of the congregation, properly convened, candidates for the office of minister shall be submitted by the church council. Any voter is entitled to make additional nominations from the floor.
2. Calling. The election of a minister from the list of candidates chosen by the congregation shall be by ballot. The candidate receiving the majority of all votes cast shall be considered elected. The election shall, if possible, be made unanimous by a rising vote, and the call shall be sent to the minister elect.
B. The Nominating Committee. The president shall present to the September meeting of the church council for ratification a committee of three voting members to serve as a nominating committee. The pastor is ex officio a member of this committee. Having received from the secretary the list of expired offices, the committee shall select a slate of candidates to fill these offices and in the year of a district convention, the committee shall also present a slate of at least two candidates, of which one is to be elected to represent the congregation at the convention. All candidates shall be informed in regard to the responsibilities of the offices for which they are bing nominated. Their consent for such candidacy shall be gained. The nominating committee shall report to the November meeting of the church council, that it may review and publish in the congregation the slate of candidates at least two Sundays prior to the annual meeting.
C. The Election of the Councilmen-at-large. The slate proposed by the nominating committee shall consist of at least two candidates for each vacancy. Additional nominations may be made from the floor by any voter. The election shall be by ballot and shall take place at the annual meeting. The councilmen-at-large shall assume their duties on February 1.
D. The Election of the Elders. The nominating committee shall select candidates that meet the qualifications set forth in I Timothy 2:8-13. The slate proposed by the nominating committee shall consist of at least two candidates for each vacancy on the board of elders. Additional nominations may be made from the floor by any voter. The election shall be by ballot and shall take place at the annual meeting. The elders shall assume their duties on February 1.
E. The Election of the Other Officers. The slate proposed by the nominating committee shall consist of at least two candidates for each vacancy. Additional nominations may be made from the floor by any voter. The election shall be by ballot and shall take place at the annual meeting. The elected officers shall assume their respective duties on February 1.
ARTICLE VI - DUTIES OF OFFICERS
A. President. The president shall preside at the meetings of the church council and of the congregation.
B. Vice-President. The vice-president shall preside at the meetings of the church council and of the congregation in the absence of the president. The vice-president shall also be the congregational representative to the Circuit Forum.
C. Secretary. The secretary shall keep the minutes of the church council and of the congregation.
D. Treasurer. The treasurer shall have custody of all funds of the congregation. He shall receive and disburse such funds in accordance with the decisions of the congregation and the church council.
E. Financial Secretary. The financial secretary shall maintain records of all contributions and make reports to the members of the congregation as required by the congregation or the church council.
F. Councilmen-at-Large. The councilmen-at-large,
as representatives of the church council, shall be responsible for an annual inspection of the church’s property, making recommendations for the needed upkeep.
ARTICLE VII- CHURCH COUNCIL
A. Membership. The church council shall consist of the deacons of the congregation: the president, the vice-president, the secretary, the treasurer, the financial secretary, four elders, and two councilmen-at-large. They shall be chosen for two year terms, with approximately one-half of the terms expiring annually. The pastor, and officers of other organizations within the congregation recognized by the church council shall be advisory members of the councl, accorded the right of voice without vote at its meetings.
B. Duties. The church council shall:
1. Have general oversight of the spiritual life and activities of the congregation to the end that everything is done is accordance with the Word of God and the faith and practices of the Evangelical Lutheran Church;
2. Provide schools and facilities for Christian education for children, youth, and adults;
3. Inculcate the motives and practice of stewardship in all members of the congregation;
4. Support the pastor in fulfilling his calling;
5. Promote a spirit of peace and good will within the congregation and if any differences arise, endeavor to restore harmony and mutual understanding;
6. Be the board of trustees of the congregation, and as such be responsible for its property and the management of its business and fiscal affairs. It shall have the powers and be subject to the obligations that pertain to such boards under the laws of the state of Iowa. The church council shall not, however, have the authority to buy, sell, or encumber real property unless specifically authorized to do so by a meeting of the congregation. It shall prepare an annual budget for adoption by the congregation and shall supervise the expenditure of funds in accordance therewith following its adoption;
7. See that the provisions of this constitution and its bylaws are obeyed and that resolutions of the congregation are carried out;
8. Be responsible for the employment and supervision of the salaried lay workers of the congregation.
9. Elect delegates in the permitted numbers to the meetings of the district and circuit.
10. Have authority to appoint as many committees as the business of the congregation requires. Each such committee shall be composed of one or more members of the council and, in addition, other confirmed members of the congregation. Although appointed by and responsible to the church council, these committees shall be recognized as representative of the interests of, and performing essential services for, the congregation as a whole. The pastor shall have a voice and vote in all committees. Each committee shall be appointed for a specific task (or tasks) and shall automatically be dissolved when its job is done;
11. Submit a comprehensive report to the congregation at the annual meeting;
12. Be authorized to fill vacancies on the church council until the annual meeting;
13. Transact all other business assigned to it by the congregation.
1. Meetings of the church council shall be open to all members of the congregation.
2. A roll call vote may be ordered by any councilman.
3. A councilman who is absent from two consecutive regular meetings shall be consulted by the president of the congregation. If he is absent from three consecutive regular meetings without valid excuse, the council may declare his office vacant.
4. Six councilmen must be present in order to constitute a quorum for both regular and special meetings of the church council.
5. A special meeting of the church council may be called by the pastor, the president, or any three councilmen.
6. A regular meeting of the church council shall be held each month. Regular meetings shall be announced in the Sunday bulletin.
ARTICLE VIII - BOARD OF ELDERS
F. Membership. The board of elders shall be
composed by the minister and the elders.
B. Duties. The board of elders shall meet regularly to
discuss the spiritual needs and problems of the church. Specifically, they shall:
1. Receive and release members as directed by the constitution and bylaws.
2. Be concerned that the membership comply with the constitution and bylaws of the congregation, particularly with Article III of the constitution and Article II of the bylaws. Any who show laxity or are delinquent in these matters shall be visited by the board of elders. If a member will not respond to admonition, the board of elders shall recommend to the congregation that his membership be terminated;
3. Consider complaints and grievances of members of the congregation when Matthew 18:15-16 has been observed;
4. See to it that proper attention and care are given to the sick and needy;
5. See to it that worship services are conducted properly and in an orderly manner;
6. See to it that there are sufficient services and at suitable times.
7. Look out for the practical needs for orderly worship services, such as an ushering service, necessary supplies, proper furnishings and an edifying music program.
8. See to it that evangelism is satisfactorily promoted in the congregation; and
9. Be responsible for the public relations program of the congregation.
ARTICLE IX - AMENDMENTS
The bylaws may be changed, repealed, or added to at any annual meeting, provided:
1. That a quorum of one-third of the voting members is present; and
2. That the proposed amendment is approved by a two-thirds majority vote.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We are deeply distressed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) recent decision to require nearly all private health plans, including those offered by religious employers, to cover contraceptives. This will include controversial birth-control products such as “Ella” and the “morning after” pill, even though the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that such drugs can cause the death of a baby developing in the womb. The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) objects to the use of drugs and procedures that are used to take the lives of unborn children, who are persons in the sight of God from the time of conception, and we are opposed to the HHS’ decision mandating the coverage of such contraceptives.
This HHS action relates to a provision in the “health care reform” legislation (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) signed into law in 2010. The church’s benefits partner, Concordia Plan Services, which provides health care coverage to nearly 48,000 people, has been actively monitoring this legislation and, as a result, Concordia Health Plan (CHP)—the LCMS church workers’ health plan—has been maintained as a “grandfathered” plan. As such, employers and workers participating in CHP would not be subjected to the mandate. However, many religious organizations do not have grandfathered plans and cannot avail themselves of the extremely narrow religious-employer exemption, which only is applicable to religious employers that primarily serve and employ members of that faith.
For centuries, Lutherans have joyfully delivered Christ’s mercy to others and embraced His call to care for the needy within our communities and around the world. In a nation that has allowed more than 54 million legal abortions since 1973, we must consider the marginalization of unborn babies and object to this mandate.
In addition, I encourage the members of the LCMS to join with me in supporting efforts to preserve our essential right to exercise our religious beliefs. This action by HHS will have the effect of forcing many religious organizations to choose between following the letter of the law and operating within the framework of their religious tenets. We add our voice to the long list of those championing for the continued ability to act according to the dictates of their faith, and provide compassionate care and clear Christian witness to society’s most vulnerable, without being discriminated against by government.
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, a church body of sinners redeemed by the blood of Jesus, has affected the lives of millions of people with care, aid, housing, health care, spiritual care and much more. We have been a force for good in this nation, promoting education (the nation’s largest Protestant school system), marriage and giving people the tools and assistance to be good citizens. We live and breathe Romans 13:3–7. The governing authorities are “God’s servant for good.” We pray constantly for our President and those in authority. We have sent our sons and daughters to fight for this country. We have provided military chaplains, elected officials, officers, including some who have held the highest military offices and other appointed positions in this country. Our people have and are serving as congressmen and women and senators.
Increasingly we are suffering overzealous government intrusions into what is the realm of traditional and biblical Christian conscience. We believe this is a violation of our First Amendment rights. We will stand, to the best of our ability, with all religious and other concerned citizens, against this erosion of our civil liberty. Come what may, we shall do everything we can, by God’s grace, to “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
In His peace,
Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod