The CONSTITUTION of
Redeemer’s Covenant Baptist Church of Cebu
Adopted February 2019
We, the members of the Redeemer’s Covenant Baptist Church of Cebu, a non-profit organization, do ordain and establish the following articles, to which we voluntarily submit ourselves.
Section 1. General Statement
A true Christian church as a divine institution, separate from the family and the state, is a definite group of Christ’s disciples, distinguished both by being an ecclesiastical organization, constituted by their solemn ecclesiastical commitment to Christ, and by being a spiritual organism, animated by Christ’s special presence with them, expressed by endowing them with the Holy Spirit, thereby consecrating them as a true temple and house of God (1Cor. 3:17; 1Tim 3:15; Rev. 2:5).
This article addresses our existence as an ecclesiastical institution. Our essential distinctiveness as an ecclesiastical institution is defined in Section 2. The principle and procedures for our perpetuation as an ecclesiastical institution, with these distinctives, are specified in Section 3. Our ultimate hope for our glorious consummation, is specified in Section 4.
Section 2. Our Essential Distinctives as an Ecclesiastical Institution
Paragraph A. General Statement
Our essential distinctives, which are each defined in the following paragraphs, are Our Name, Our Purpose, Our Doctrinal Commitment, Our Policy Commitment, and Our Civil Commitment.
Paragraph B. Our Name
The official name of this church is Redeemer’s Covenant Baptist Church of Cebu, Inc.
Paragraph C. Our Purpose
The general ecclesiastical design and purpose of Redeemer’s Covenant Baptist Church of Cebu is to walk together in ecclesiastical life and practice, to be and do everything Christ, in the Scriptures, wills for a local church, whether respecting our existence as an institution, our membership, our leadership, our commission, our order, our assemblies, or our associations.
Paragraph D. Our Doctrinal Commitment (Articles of Faith)
The Identity of Our Articles of Faith
We adopt as our articles of faith and doctrinal statement the London Confession of Faith of 1689 (or the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith), with revisions mainly based upon the work of the Elders of Trinity Baptist Church, Montville, NJ, The Reformed Baptist Church, Grand Rapids, MI, and The Grace Reformed Baptist Church, Mebane, NC. The ultimate authority in all matters of faith, order, and morals is and must be the Bible alone, which truth is clearly set forth in the opening article of the Confession itself. This historic document, albeit imperfect, is an excellent summary of “the things most surely believed amongst us”, and we find it to be an assistance in controversy, a confirmation in faith, and a means of edification in righteousness.
Possible future revision of the 1689 Confession of Faith
Although the 1689 is a comprehensive summary of our doctrinal distinctives, nevertheless, because it was written in the 17th century, it could not have anticipated and addressed adequately all the relevant issues of our day. Furthermore, since the 1689 was written by fallible men, it might lack precision in articulating the “things most surely believe amongst us” in certain areas. Therefore, we make provision for the possible future revision of our confession of faith. This future revision, however, must be done cautiously, and prayerfully, never precipitously or presumptuously. Furthermore, it must not in any way alter the distinctives of our doctrinal heritage as defined in our articles of faith, namely, our Orthodox, Covenantal, Calvinistic, Puritan, and Independent/Baptistic distinctives. Therefore, any proposed revision must be distributed to the congregation in written form at least one month prior to its public consideration and adoption. And, since this process of revision concerns the entire church, this Confession may only be amended by a three-fourths majority of the members present and voting at a duly convened business meeting of the congregation. Any future amendments of the Confession shall be listed in writing at the conclusion of the Confession, and subsequently published along with it as part of our doctrinal commitment.
Paragraph E. Our Polity Commitment (Church Constitution)
The Necessity of Having a Written Polity Commitment.
We as a church strongly hold to the position that the bible alone is the only rule for faith and practice to which nothing is to be added or subtracted. However, since what the bible teaches about church polity is not given in one place but is scattered all throughout the bible, it is therefore necessary to have a written document that summarizes the biblical teaching. Furthermore, in certain matters of church’s practice, the bible only gives general directives and principles without giving minute details concerning its implementation; therefore, it is essential to have a written document that outlines the implementation of those general directives and principles in our specific situation in order to avoid confusion and chaos in the church (1Cor 14:33).
The Identity of Our Polity Commitment
Our ecclesiastical commitment to a common polity is defined comprehensively in its entirely in this Constitution. We have no secret, unwritten commitment in addition to this Constitution.
The Authority of Our Polity Commitment
The Bible alone is absolutely binding upon our consciences, as our final and ultimate authority in all ecclesiastical matters. However, since this Constitution is an attempt to apply biblical principles, we are committed and bound to follow this Constitution conscientiously. We are never at liberty to violate it at whim, or to ignore its provisions and requirements, lest we be brought to confusion and chaos, for God is not the author of confusion but of peace. Therefore also, any actions taken in violation of its statements, provisions and requirements are not valid acts of this church.
The Interpretation of Our Polity Commitment
From time to time questions may arise as to whether an action, contemplated or taken, is in accord with this Constitution, or in violation of it. In such cases, the elders shall attempt to resolve the matter privately to the satisfaction of all concerned. If they are unable to do so, the question shall be resolved by congregational suffrage as a matter of corporate church business, at a specially called congregational meeting for that purpose.
The Revision and Amendment of Our Polity Commitment
Since this Constitution is the product of fallible men living in a changing world, we may desire from time to time, to revise or amend it. This process should be undertaken cautiously, and prayerfully, never precipitously or presumptuously. Therefore, any proposed revision or amendment must be distributed to the congregation in written form at least one month prior to its public consideration and adoption. And, since this process of revision concerns the entire church, this Constitution may only be amended by a three-fourths majority of the members present and voting at a duly convened business meeting of the congregation. Any future amendments of this Constitution shall be listed at the conclusion of this Constitution, and consequently published along with it as part of our polity commitment.
Paragraph F. Our Civil Commitment (Legal Incorporation)
- In order to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s”, this church will be incorporated under the laws of the Philippines as “Redeemer’s Covenant Baptist Church of Cebu.”. While the Scriptures do not recognize trustees as a biblical church office, our Certificate of Incorporation requires that trustees be elected by the church to represent the church in all its relations with the civil government.
- The corporation shall have a board of trustees consisting of five members, each of whom shall be elected by the members of the corporation (the church) at each annual congregational meeting. Each member so elected shall serve until his successor shall be elected and qualified. A trustee may be elected to succeed himself. Trustees may be elected from the church officers and from the congregation at large.
- The trustees shall perform such legal and business transactions as are specifically designated to them by the laws of the Philippines, the Articles of Incorporation and By Laws of the corporation, and the necessities of church life. Any action taken or decision made by the Board of Trustees, however, shall not be considered valid and binding to the corporation without the written consent of the elder/s of Redeemer’s Covenant Baptist Church of Cebu.
Section 3. Our Perpetuation as an Ecclesiastical Institution
Paragraph A. The General Foundation of Our Perpetuation as an Ecclesiastical Institution
Christ has willed and insured that His church universal be perpetuated in every generation until His return (Mt. 16:18; Eph. 3:21), not through natural bloodlines and the physical procreation of the children of church members (Mt. 3:7-9; Rom. 9:6-8; Is. 59:20,21), but through the success of the Gospel, spiritual birth, and true conversion (Acts 2:47; 5:13,14) of the spiritual children of Christ and of the church (Is. 53:10; 59:21; Rom. 9:6-8; Gal. 3:29). Although no particular church has a promise of Christ of age-long perpetuation, each church should strive to avoid dishonorable discharge from Christ’s service and kingdom through gross sin and apostasy, and His subsequent repudiation of them as a temple of His Spirit (Rev. 2:5).
Paragraph B. The Substance of Our Perpetuation as an Ecclesiastical Institution
Therefore, our concern is both to preserve the essential elements of our ecclesiastical being, namely, our ecclesiastical purpose and our corporate indwelling with the Holy Spirit and to preserve our distinctive identity and heritage as a Reformed Baptist Church as embodied in our articles of faith and in this constitution. Provision for the preservation of our essential being as a true Christian church is found in paragraph C. Provision for our preservation in our distinctive identity and heritage is found in paragraph D.
Paragraph C. The Preservation of Our Essential Being as an Ecclesiastical Institution
The Preservation of God’s Special Presence with Us
Since our corporate indwelling with the Holy Spirit is essential to our being and remaining a true church, we then must not grieve and quench the Spirit of God by corporate rebellion so that Christ will not repudiate us and take the Holy Spirit from us. To this end, the elders shall provide for comprehensive instruction for all the members respecting grieving the Holy Spirit and the benefits of the Holy Spirit’s presence. In addition, the elders shall see to it that during the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, the members are to thank God for that measure of His presence enjoyed, confess our known sins, plead with God for light and grace concerning any corporate sins of which we are ignorant and blind, make a concentrated effort to resolve any known and outstanding grievances amongst the members, and resolve to put away anything that would grieve the Spirit of God.
The Preservation of Our Ecclesiastical Purpose
Since preservation of our ecclesiastical purpose is also essential to our continuation as a true church, we must take care lest we forget what we are designed to be and to do as an organization. The elders shall therefore make provision for the comprehensive instruction of the entire congregation regarding our corporate purpose. In addition, prior to each annual meeting, the elders, with the advice of the congregation, shall formally review our life and ministries in order to insure that we have been acting in accord with our purpose, and in order to address any necessary corrections or proposed improvements. The elders shall report the substantial findings of this review to the congregation at the Annual Meeting.
Paragraph D. Our Preservation in Our Distinctive Identity or Heritage as an Ecclesiastical Institution
The Concept of Our Heritage
Our heritage is that which unifies, identifies and distinguishes us as an ecclesiastical institution. The apostles declare that our duty is to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). This spiritual unity, which is rooted in true, religious experience (Eph. 4:4-6), has as its basis the Word of God (Eph. 4:11-15), and therefore, is doctrinal. And believing that our Articles of Faith are a comprehensive, orderly and precise statement of what the Bible teaches about the most important issues, we therefore consider them as an essential aspect of our Heritage. Similarly, this Constitution, since it is definitive of our ecclesiastical commitment, is also essential in preserving unity and order amongst us and, as such, is an essential element of our Heritage.
The Transmission of Our Heritage
We, therefore, in order to achieve our perseverance in our distinctive identity, do hereby make provision for the transmission of our heritage, embodied in our articles of faith and this Constitution, unimpaired, to succeeding generations of our spiritual children, God willing, until Christ returns. We commit ourselves to this task convinced that this church will only be steadfast in our distinctives for as long as the members remain aware of this rich heritage, are instructed in it, and are committed to it. Provision for the maintenance of this awareness, instruction, and commitment is defined in the following sections of the paragraph.
Awareness of Our Heritage
Each member of the church shall be furnished with a copy of our articles of faith and of this Constitution. Each member is expected to read through each of them annually, prior to the Annual Meeting.
Instruction in Our Heritage
The Elders shall provide for the comprehensive instruction of each member in the articles of faith and this Constitution at least once through the duration of his membership.
Commitment to Our Heritage
Awareness and instruction alone will never suffice in transmitting our heritage unimpaired. Constant vigilance and open, unashamed affirmation, on a regular basis, are essential. Without these, the things which we now hold dear will someday be matters of indifference, and then someday will be lost altogether. Therefore, each member shall publicly re-affirm his or her commitment to our articles of faith and to this Constitution at a specially called, congregational meeting for this purpose. The first such confirmation meeting shall be held upon the adoption of this Constitution. Subsequent confirmation meetings shall be held sometime in the first January of each decade for as long as this church continues. The voting rights of any member or officer unwilling to reaffirm publicly his commitment to the articles of faith and this Constitution or is absent at these meetings shall automatically be suspended. Any member or officer unwilling at these meetings to reaffirm publicly his commitment to the articles of faith and this Constitution is subject to exclusion. Anyone absent from these confirmation meetings shall also be subject to exclusion. Any member providentially hindered from attending the confirmation meeting may express his reaffirmation in written form.
The elders shall investigate the reasons for any member’s failure to re-affirm his commitment and seek to ascertain whether such reasons are valid and are in line with the general principles of Scripture. The elders can then recommend to the church the appropriate actions to be taken, which may include exclusion or escalation to church discipline.
Section 4. Our Consummation as an Ecclesiastical Institution
Paragraph A. General Statement
Our hope and prayer is that Redeemer’s Covenant Baptist Church of Cebu will continue vibrant and faithful, as a true church of Jesus Christ, with our heritage intact, until the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, if in God’s providence, this church must dissolve and disband prior to Christ’s return; this section is intended to provide for that dissolution in a decent and orderly manner, in the fear of Christ.
Paragraph B. The Grounds for Dissolution
The grounds for the dissolution of this church prior to the coming of Christ are:
1) If it were no longer physically capable of pursuing its purpose due to providential dwindling through scarcity of conversion, scattering by persecution, or other such circumstances;
2) If it were no longer consecrated by the Holy Spirit as a true church of Christ, but rather were to be repudiated by Christ for its rebellion and apostasy (Rev. 2:5);
3) If it were no longer willing to remain committed to the distinctives of our doctrinal heritage as defined in our articles of faith, namely, our orthodox Christianity, our covenantal theology, our Calvinism, our Puritanism, and our independent and Baptistic Ecclesiology.
Paragraph C. The Procedure for Dissolution
The Proposal to Pursue Dissolution
The elders, or other leadership, shall propose to the congregation the pursuit of dissolution. Congregational approval of such a proposal, at a duly called congregational meeting for that purpose, is necessary for the dissolution process to begin.
The Process of Dissolution
Upon congregational approval of the leadership’s recommendation to pursue dissolution, the congregation shall decide on the receiver or receivers of its assets, make arrangements for, and actually dispose of the same within the guidelines defined in the following section of this paragraph. The last act of the congregation shall be to acknowledge and certify that all its assets have been disposed as specified herein.
The Guidelines for Dissolution
The dissolution shall proceed with these guidelines, which shall not be violated. All assets are to be disposed, and all just debts paid. No member is to take possession of any assets, or profit from their liquidation. The disposal of all assets, or the proceeds from their liquidation, shall be to a church holding to our doctrinal distinctives specified in paragraph B 3 of this section. In the unlikely event that no such Reformed Baptist Church or churches exist, our assets shall be given to an Evangelical Presbyterian church, holding to the Westminster Standards. If no evangelical Reformed churches, Baptist or Presbyterian exist, may God have mercy on our nation and those who dispose our assets. Let them then be distributed to spread the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, by giving them to an Evangelical, Orthodox, true church of Jesus Christ, which we know shall exist somewhere according to God’s promise, until Christ returns (Mt. 16:18).
Section 1. The Warrant for Membership
The New Testament demands all Christians, formal, open, solemn, voluntary, and enduring commitment to Jesus Christ, to His truth and to His people. A true Christian’s commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ must include, and is inseparable from his commitment to Christ’s truth and to Christ’s people. Such a commitment to Christ, His truth and His people ordinarily requires a formal, open, solemn, voluntary, and enduring commitment of church membership in a local church for the following reasons:
1) Fulfillment of Christ’s Great Commission requires church membership. According to the Great Commission of Christ (Mt.28:18-20) there is an inseparable connection between making disciples, baptizing them and teaching them. The apostles implemented this commission by gathering baptized disciples into local churches. It was therefore in local churches that baptized disciples were taught all that Christ commanded (Acts 2:38-42; 1Cor. 4:17). With the uncertain exception of the Ethiopian eunuch, the New Testament knows nothing of believing men and women who were not members of local churches.
2) Obedience to Christ’s directives to observe the Lord’s Table requires church membership. Since all believing men and women are required by Christ to observe the Lord’s Table (Lk. 22:19; 1Cor.11:23-25), and since the Lord’s Table is clearly a local church ordinance (1Cor. 11:17, 18, 33, 34 with 1Cor. 1:1, 2), it follows that all Christians must belong to a local New Testament church in order to partake biblically.
3) The New Testament presents the local church as a distinct group of individuals which could a) be counted (Acts 2:41,42;4:4), b) be added to (Acts 2:47; 15:14), c) be called upon to select leaders and representatives from among itself (Acts 6:1-6; 2Cor. 8:12, 23; Acts 15:22), d) be officially gathered together (Acts 14:27; 15:22), e) carry out church discipline by congregational suffrage (Mt. 18:17; 1Cor. 5:4, 13; 2Cor. 2:6), f) observe the Lord’s Table as a wholly present corporate assembly (1Cor.11:17-20, 33-34). There is therefore clear biblical warrant for the existence and careful maintenance of local church membership involving formal, open, solemn, voluntary, and enduring commitment. This biblical warrant compels us to use great care in maintaining biblically-ordered church membership.
Section 2. The Requirements for Membership
Any man and woman (Acts 5:14; 8:3,12) shall be eligible for membership in this church, who profess repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ ( Acts 2:37-42; 5:14; 8:12; 16:30- 34; 20:21), who manifest a life transformed by the power of Christ ( 1Cor.1:1,2 with 6:11; Gal. 1:1,2 with 4:8,9; 1Thess. 1:1- 9), who have been baptized upon profession of faith (Mt.20:18-20; Jn. 4:1,2; Acts 2:41; 8:12; 16:31-34; 18:8), who express substantial agreement with the Confession and Constitution of this church (1Cor. 1:10; 14:40; Eph. 4:3), who intends to give wholehearted support to its ministry (1Cor.14:40; 2Cor.8:5; 1Thess. 5:12-14; Acts 15:39), and who are willing to submit to its government (1Cor.14:40; Acts 2S:42; 1Cor. 1:10; Heb. 13:17) and discipline (Mt. 18:15-18; Acts 5:13,14).
Mastery of the church’s Confession or Constitution is not required of any new disciple before he is admitted to church membership. Such requirement would violate the order of Mt. 28:19,20, which instructs us to discipline, to baptize, and then to teach the baptized disciple to observe all things whatsoever Christ has commanded. It is necessary, however, that any disciple applying for membership manifest a willingness to be taught and be in substantial agreement with what he already knows concerning the church’s doctrinal commitment and polity.
If one who is already a member of the church at any time concludes that he no longer satisfies the requirement for membership, he is under obligation to inform the elders of that fact.
Section 3. Types of Membership
Paragraph A. General Statement
Each member of a local church is acknowledged to form a vital part of the body and to have a special function in the life of that body (1Cor. 12:14-27). Practical considerations, however, require that certain distinctions be recognized in the membership of this church (1Cor. 1:2).
Paragraph B. Regular Members
All who are received into the membership of the church according to the procedures set forth in Section 4 of this article, whose membership has not been terminated in any of the ways specified in Section 6 of this article, and who do not come under the corrective discipline of the church as set forth in article IV section 5, shall be considered regular members in good standing and entitled to all the rights and privileges of membership in the church (Acts 2:37-47).
Paragraph C. Associate Members
- The membership status of any whose relationship to the church involves special or abnormal circumstances shall be determined in each case by the action of the elders.
- Such special circumstances are as follows:
- a) Regular members who move away from our area and who cannot find another church with which they can in good conscience unite will, at their request, be retained as associate members of this church. Such persons must maintain regular communication with the church in order to retain their associate membership. However, they are urged to diligently seek a church with which they can unite elsewhere.
- b) Likewise, members out of the area for a limited time due to work assignments or studies shall, at their request, be retained as associate members while they temporarily unite with a church of like faith in that locality.
- c) Christians who cannot attend regularly the stated meetings of the church either because of physical disabilities or unusual Sunday work that does not violate the Sabbath may be received into the church as an associate member.
- d) Christians who in unusual circumstances are living in places where there are no local churches or they cannot in good conscience unite with existing local churches may also be received into the church as an associate member (Acts 8:27f).
- An associate member shall not be allowed to vote in any business meeting of the church. Upon termination of the special circumstances which are the reason for associate membership, an associate member may become a regular member in status at the discretion of the elders, after regular attendance for period of one month.
Section 4. Procedures in the Reception of New Members
Paragraph A. General Statement
The scriptural pattern for the reception of new members into the church includes not only careful scrutiny, consisting of pastoral examination and investigation, but also congregational suffrage, consisting of their advice and consent. The requirement of pastoral scrutiny is rooted in the general scriptural teachings respecting oversight (Heb. 13:17); and discernment (Acts 9:27); and in the apostolic pattern of making disciples (Acts 2:41; 10:47, 48). The requirement of congregational advice and consent is rooted and grounded in the general scriptural teachings respecting proving (Acts 9:26; 1Tim. 3:10) and congregational unity (Acts 9:26), the apostolic pattern of congregational suffrage (Acts 6:3, 5), and by implication from the biblical procedure for excommunication (Mt. 18:15f). Our polity of pastoral scrutiny is defined in Paragraph B and C. And our polity of congregational suffrage is defined in Paragraph D and E.
Paragraph B. Pastoral Examination
A person who desires to become a member of the church shall apply to the elders and request to be interviewed by them. During the interview the elders will seek to determine whether that person has a credible profession of faith in Christ, has been scripturally baptized, is in substantial agreement with the Confession and Constitution of the church, is capable of assuming the responsibilities and liabilities of church membership, intends to give wholehearted support to its ministry, and is willing to submit to its government and discipline (Acts 9:26, 27; 10:47-48 with 11:2-18; 11:23).
Paragraph C. Pastoral Investigation
If the applicant is or has been a member of another church, special effort will be made to determine the person’s standing in that church and his reasons for leaving (Acts 15:1, 2 with 24, 25). If a former church raises an objection which the elders consider valid (3Jn. 8-10 g.p.), the applicant may be denied membership at the discretion of the elders.
Paragraph D. Congregational Advice
If the elders are satisfied that the applicant meets the requirements for membership, they shall announce the same to the congregation at a stated meeting of the church. The applicant’s testimony shall be put in writing and read publicly before the congregation. This writing testimony must first be examined and approved by the elders. A period of a least three Lord’s days shall be allowed for objections or questions to be raised privately with the elders by any member concerning the applicant’s manner of life or doctrine. The members should consider it their solemn personal duty to voice out any objections to the elders since the purity of the church is at stake. If no objection is raised, the person will be publicly received into the membership at the stated meeting of the church, usually the next Lord’s Supper following the three-week period. The elders shall postpone the reception of a person into membership until all objections are investigated and resolved to their satisfaction (Acts 9:26-29).
Paragraph E. Congregational Consent
In the stated meeting of the church at which a person is to be received into membership, each prospective member shall be asked verbally to affirm his commitment to Christ and to the Confession and Constitution of this church (1Tim. 6:12 g.p.), and the members of the congregation shall be asked to express their consent to the reception (Acts 9:26-28; Rom. 15:7). No person shall be received into the regular membership without making this public affirmation or without receiving this expressed congregational consent.
Section 5. The Privileges of Membership
Paragraph A. General Statement
Christ in His word, has granted to the members of His church many gracious privileges. These may be divided into two categories, the plenary privileges of membership, which pertain to all regular members in good standing, and the supplementary privileges of membership, which pertain to all the regular male members in good standing. These privileges are delineated in the following paragraphs.
Paragraph B. Plenary Privileges
The following rights and privileges pertain to all the regular members in good standing:
1) The privilege of attending private congregational meetings (Acts 6:2).
2) The privilege of participating in congregational suffrage as defined in this Constitution (Acts 6:3).
3) The privilege of receiving pastoral and congregational nurture, and where appropriate, benevolence (Eph. 4:11-13; Col. 1:28; 1Thess. 2:11).
4) The privilege of protection by and participation in Christ’s due process in the resolution of grievances (Mt. 18:15-18).
5) The privilege of appropriate participation in the ministries of the church in accordance with gift, opportunity, and qualification (Rom. 12:5-7; 16:1, 2; Tit. 2:3-5; 1Pet. 4:9-11).
6) The privilege of partaking the Lord’s Supper (1Cor.10:16, 17; 11:20-22, 26).
7) The privilege of receiving the right hand of Christian recognition and fellowship, with all the benefits that pertain to it (Mt. 18:15f; Acts 11:26; Rom. 5:5-9; 1Cor.5:11).
Paragraph C. Supplemental Privileges
The following additional rights and privileges pertain to all the regular male members in good standing:
1) The additional privilege of holding church office in accordance with the qualifications and procedures defined in this Constitution (1Tim. 3:1-6).
2) The additional privilege of giving leadership to the church in its drawing near to God, whether in corporate prayer or worship (1Tim. 2:8; 1Cor. 14:33-36).
Section 6. The Duties of Membership
Paragraph A. Attendance at Stated Meetings
All regular members are required to attend all the stated meetings of the church unless providentially hindered by illness, accident, unusual working conditions which do not violate the Sabbath, and other such circumstances. The stated meetings of the church are all services on the Lord’s Day (the Sunday school or Bible class, morning and evening worship, and the Lord’s Supper), the midweek prayer meeting, the business meetings of the congregation, and any special meeting which the elders shall occasionally deem necessary to call (Acts 2:42; Heb. 10:24, 25).
Paragraph B. Financial Support
Since it is clearly taught in the scriptures that Christians should support financially the work of the Lord by systematic and proportionate giving made through the local church (Mal.3:8-10; 1Cor.16:1&2; 2Cor. 8&9), all the members of this church are expected to conform to this rule of scripture. The tithe (giving 10% of the gross income) is strongly urged upon each member as an expression of worship and the biblical norm for basic giving, to which should be added gifts and offerings according to one’s ability and the willingness of his heart (2Cor. 8:1-5; Ex. 36:2- 7).
Paragraph C. Promotion of Edification and Peace
In as much as the church is represented in scripture as a body having many members, each of the members having its particular function and yet having a concern for the health and protection of the whole (1Cor. 12:12-27; Eph. 4:4-16), this church expects that each member will strive for the good of the entire body. The members must actively seek to cultivate acquaintance with one another and maintain mutual transparency and honesty so that they may be better able to pray for one another; love, comfort, and encourage one another; and help one another materially as necessity may require (Eph. 4:25; Gal. 6:10; 1Jn. 3:16-18). In addition, members must discreetly confess their sins to one another (Jas. 5:16), faithfully admonish and encourage one another (Mat. 18:15f; 1Thess. 5:14; Heb. 3:12, 13; 10:24,25), refrain from all backbiting and gossip (Ps. 15:3; Prov. 16:28; 26:20-22), and keep in strict confidence all matters which the elders determine are of private concern to the church (Prov. 11:13).
Paragraph D. Support of and Submission to the Leadership
- All who come into the membership of this church are expected to support and submit to the overseers of the church. Supporting God’s servants necessitates praying for them and their labors (Eph. 6:18,19); cultivating personal acquaintance with them, loving them, and esteeming them highly for their work’s sake (1Thess. 5:12, 13); standing by them and not forsaking them in their afflictions and in all their good causes (2Tim. 1:15); and defending rather than prejudicing or damaging their good name (Acts 23:5; 1Tim.5:19).
- Submitting to God’s servants necessitates imitating their Christian graces, faith, and godly principles as they also imitate Christ (1Cor. 11:1; Heb. 13:7; 1Pet. 5:3); receiving their teaching with all readiness of mind and teachableness of spirit, yet with ultimate allegiance to the Word of God (Acts 17:11; Jas. 1:19-21; 1Thess. 2:13); humbly heeding their scriptural rebukes and warnings as from those appointed to watch for the souls of the sheep and committed to labor to present them complete and mature in Christ (Heb. 13:17; Col. 1:28); seeking and carefully considering their counsel as from those counted faithful by the Lord (1Cor. 7:1, 25); and cheerfully embracing and abiding by their decisions regarding corporate policy in God’s House, which is His church (1Tim. 3:5; Heb. 13:17), without gainsaying and murmuring even when personally differing with their judgment (Rom. 10:21; 1Cor. 10:10; Phil. 2:14; Jude 11).
Paragraph E. A Godly Christian Life
All who come into the membership of this church are expected to walk worthily of the Lord, that His Name and Word be not blasphemed but rather His excellencies be displayed through us, and that the good name of the church be not damaged but rather enhanced (Col. 1:10; 1Pet. 2:9). Therefore, every member is expected to practice and cultivate godliness in the following areas:
Personal Devotion to God
Each member is expected to walk personally with the Lord, making regular use of all the private means of grace available to him, including: daily prayer (Mat. 6:6, 10; Ps. 55:17; 88:9; Dan. 6:10); daily reading and meditating on God’s word (Ps. 1:2; 119:11, 97); continual maintenance of a good conscience with judgment day honesty (Acts 24:16; 1Tim. 1:19; Heb. 10:22; 13:18); periodic and wholesome self-examination, prayerfully conducted by the standard of God’s word (Ps. 139:23,24; 2Cor. 13:5; 2Pet. 1:10,11; 1Jn. 5:13); and careful, spiritual observance of the Lord’s Day Sabbath (Gen. 2:1-3; Ex. 20:8-11; Is. 58:13, 14; Acts 20:7; 1Cor. 16:2; Rev. 1:10).
The church expects its members to obey the teaching of the scriptures with respect to family life and government of the home. As the God-appointed head of the family, the husband must rule over the household with gentleness and love but also with wisdom and firmness (Eph. 5:25ff; 1Tim. 3:4-5). The wife must be in subjection to her husband in all things according to the rule of scriptures (Eph. 5:22-24; 1Pet. 3:1). The husband with the wife must “nurture their children in the chastening and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:1-4), by setting a godly example before them, by leading them in family worship, by instructing them consistently in the scriptures (Gen. 18:19; Deut. 6:7,9), by praying for them (1Chron. 29:19), and by wise and firm discipline, including corporal punishment when it is needed (Prov. 13:24; 22:15; Heb. 12:7).
It is the duty of every Christian individually and as a member of a local church to pray and labor according to his God-given ability and opportunity (Rom. 12:6) for the extension of the kingdom of God both at the home and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8 g.p.). Therefore, every member of this church is expected to seek to recognize and to seize every opportunity to bear witness to his faith in Christ both by consistent Christian conduct and by the testimony of his lips (Mt. 10:32,33; Rom. 1:16, 17; 9:1-3; 10:1; Phil. 2:14-16; Col. 4:2-6; 1Pet. 3:14-16).
Each member of the church is required to render in his daily life loyal obedience to all the moral precepts established in the Word of God (Rom. 8:3, 4). If God has not condemned or forbidden a practice in His Word, a Christian is at liberty to participate in it. The exercise of Christian liberty, however, must at all times be governed by an earnest desire to walk in the fear of God and to glorify Him in all things (1Pet. 1:17; 1Cor. 10:31), a loving regard for the consciences of weaker brethren (1Cor. 8:9; Rom. 15:1-3), a compassion for the lost (1Cor. 9:19-22), and a zealous regard for the health of one’s soul (Rom. 13:14; 1Pet. 2:16).
Separation from the World
God never intended the glorious blessing of Christian liberty which His people enjoy to become an excuse or covering for worldliness (Gal. 5:13; 1Pet. 2:16). To the contrary, Christians have been liberated from the bondage of their former sins in order that they might be a people distinct from this wicked world and set apart unto God (Lev. 18:1-30; Tit. 2:11-14; 1Pet. 1:14,15). Accordingly, Christ’s disciples are commanded not to love the world (Ps. 139:19-22; Jas. 4:4; 1Jn. 2:15), to refrain from their former worldly attitudes and deeds (Eph. 4:17-22; 5:7- 12; Tit. 2:12; 3:3; 1Pet. 4:3,40), and to resist the wicked influence of godless society ( Prov. 1:10-19; Rom. 12:1, 2; Jas. 1:27). Therefore, all members of this church are expected to separate from the attitudes, practices, and unwholesome influences of the world. Specially, members are expected to resist the worldly materialism that regards things of this life to be of primary importance (Mk. 8:36; Lk. 12:15; 1Jn. 2:15-17), and from participating in idolatrous rituals like the Roman Catholic mass (1Cor. 10:1-22; Rev. 2:14; 2:18). Members are also expected not to indulge in any of the world’s vices, such as drunkenness, drug abuse, gluttony, viewing pornographic materials, fornication, homosexuality, and other such sins (1Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21). Members are also expected to refrain from all entangling relationships with the ungodly, such as intimate, frequent companionship with them (1Cor. 15:33; Jas. 4:4), pursuing romantic interest with them (Judg. 16:4, 5; 1Ki. 11:1- 4, 9; Prov. 2:16,17; 6:20,23-25), and contracting marriages with them (2Cor. 6:14; 1Cor. 7:39). Similarly, members are expected to carefully seek to discern and resist any wicked influence of this godless society upon their souls and families by whatever means it is exerted (Rom. 12:1,2).
Section 7. Liabilities of Membership
Paragraph A. General Statement
Although church membership involves many privileges and rights, it also carries with it unique liabilities to which all who enter church membership are subject. The two primary liabilities of membership are specified in the following paragraph. Careful consideration of these liabilities is healthy, because the Lord has designed it to prevent both presumptuous living within the church (Acts 5:11) and frivolous identification with the church (Acts 5:13).
Liability to Greater Judgment
Church members are liable to greater judgment from the Lord, both in this life and in the world to come, if they live in gross hypocrisy (Acts 5:1-11) or renounce their profession of faith and return to the world (Heb. 10:29).
Liability to Church Discipline
All the members of this church are liable, unlike worldlings (1Cor. 5:12, 13), to the punishment of church discipline (1Cor. 5:11; 2Cor. 2:6), in accordance with the procedure specified in the scriptures and in this Constitution.
Section 8. Termination of Membership
Paragraph A. Ways of Termination
By Physical Death
When a member of the church is removed from our midst by death, his name shall be removed from the membership roll (Heb. 12:23).
When it is so requested, the elders may grant to a departing member in good standing a letter of transfer to the fellowship of another church (Acts 18:27). No such letter may be given to a member who is at that time under the corrective discipline of this church. The elders may refuse to grant a letter of transfer to any church which is in their judgment is disloyal to “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3) or which does not exercise godly care over its members.
Occasionally, a person’s membership may need to be terminated under circumstances, which make both transfer and corrective discipline inappropriate. In such circumstances, a member may be excluded.
3a. The Warrant of Exclusion
While there is no explicit precedent for dismission in the New Testament, it is required by biblical principles, including the voluntariness of local church membership (Acts 5:13; 9:26; 1Jn2:19) and the demands of biblically defined love and justice (Lam.3:31-33); 1Cor.13:4a, 5a; Prov.17:15; 18:5); and by the exigencies of a church not yet wholly redeemed and facing the results of nearly 2000 years of church history.
3b. The Grounds for Exclusion
The following are the grounds for exclusion:
1) If a member in good standing wishes to terminate his membership for reasons that do not impugn his Christian profession.
2) If a member ceases to maintain vital contact with this church due to relocation or other unique circumstances.
3) If a member is unwilling or fails to reaffirm his commitment to our Confession of Faith or to our Constitution as specified in Article I, paragraph D (5) of this Constitution.
4) If a member in good standing concludes that he is not truly saved.
3c. The Procedure for Exclusion
Exclusion may be initiated either by the written request of a member to the elders, or by the elders themselves when such action is believed to be needed and the member cannot be contacted and/or is uncooperative. In either case, the final decision regarding initiating the action of exclusion lies with the elders. Church membership is a very serious matter. Members, therefore, shall be excluded only after due inquiry and admonition by the elders (Ezek. 34:4; 2Tim. 2:24-26). Before any individual is excluded, the church shall be informed of the intention of the elders to exclude the individual, this information must include the grounds for the proposed exclusion. A suitable period of time following the announcement shall be given to the church to privately raise concerns with the elders. After due consideration of such concerns, the elders may proceed with the exclusion. No person may be excluded without the expressed consent of the congregation. When possible, the elders shall send a letter to the individual informing him of the exclusion. If one who has been dismissed applies again for membership, the normal procedures shall be followed as set forth in Section 4 of this article.
According to the teaching of Scripture a congregation must cut off from its fellowship and membership any person who teaches or insists on holding false and heretical doctrine, who blatantly and impenitently conducts himself in a manner inconsistent with his Christian profession, or who persists in disturbing the unity, peace or purity of the church (Mt. 18:15ff; Rom.16:17- 20); 1Cor. 5 ff; Tit. 3:10, 11). The procedure to be followed in such excommunication is set forth in Section 5 of Article IV of this Constitution.
Paragraph B. The Implications of Termination
- Redeemer’s Covenant Baptist Church of Cebu does not exist in isolation from, but is part of the universal church of Christ, composed of all true churches (Gal. 1:13,22; Eph 3:21). Accordingly, open and forthright communication among the churches is vital for the purity, peace, edification, and unity of the universal church. Therefore the elders may, at their discretion, disclose to the members of Redeemer’s Covenant Baptist Church of Cebu and to other churches the circumstances under which a person’s membership was terminated (Acts 15:24; 1Tim. 2:17; 4:10).
- In addition, this church does not exist in isolation from society at large. Accordingly, this church has a moral obligation both to act with integrity and to maintain its testimony (2Cor.8:20, 21). Therefore, the elders may, at their discretion, disclose to other persons outside the ecclesiastical circles mentioned, about the circumstances under which a person’s membership
was terminated (Lev.5:1; Prov. 29:24; 1Pet 4:15).
- Termination of membership does not give license to former members to sow discord, spread false teachings or slanders, or engage in any other behavior, which threatens the peace and unity of this church or the church universal. Accordingly, when it is established that a former member is behaving divisively, the elders may issue whatever warnings they deem appropriate to maintain and preserve the peace and harmony of this congregation and the church universal (Acts 15:24; Rom. 16:17-20; 1Tim. 1:20; 2Tim. 2:17; 4:14).
Section 9. Records of Membership
The elders shall keep a file of all past and present members. This file shall have three divisions: regular members, associate members, and former members. The file of former members shall include the date and reason church membership was terminated, as well as any other necessary information.
Leadership (Church Officers)
Section 1. The General Concept of Church Officers
Jesus Christ alone is Head of the church (Col. 1:18), and he governs his church through officers whom He appoints (Acts 20:28; Eph 4:11) and who are endowed by His Spirit with graces and gifts needed to accomplish their work (lCor. 15:9,10). Because Christ appoints church officers, they both have authority (2Cor.13:10) and their authority is limited by him in the Scriptures (1Cor.14:36-38; 3Jn:9). There are two kinds of church officers, elders and deacons (Phil.1:1; 1Tim.3:1-13). Elders are called “overseers” because they are charged with the oversight of the assembly (Acts 20:28; 1Pet. 5:2), “pastors” because they shepherd the flock of God (Acts 20:28), and “rulers” or “leaders” because they govern and care for the house of God (1Tim.3:4; Heb.13:17, 24).
It is the duty of the church to seek and discover among its members those to whom Christ the Lord has imparted the necessary graces and gifts for office-bearing (Acts 6:3), and after formally recognizing them by common suffrage (Acts 6:5,6), to set them apart by united prayer (Acts 6:6), and then to submit to their authority (Lk.10:16; Jn. 13:20; Heb.13:17; 1 Pet. 5:5). Church officers are not exempt from church discipline, but to the contrary, their office obliges them to a more rigorous standard of conduct than other members (James 3:1).
Section 2. Elders
Paragraph A. The Authority of the Elders
The Ground of their Authority
The Head of the church (Col.1:18), through his apostles (Eph.2:20; 1Jn. 4:6), has given to his church the Scriptures as an infallible and unchanging rule of practice (Mt.20:28; 1Cor. 7:17; Col.4:16; 2Thess.2:15; 3:14; 1Tim.3:14-15), unto which all church officers are always bound (1 Cor.14:36-38). Where the Scriptures give explicit or implicit direction to the church on a topic, this direction is never to be contravened. When no regulative word from Christ is given, church officers are subject to the general principles of Scripture and to the light and order displayed in creation (1Cor.11:13-14;14:40).
The Limits of Their Authority
2a. The word of God defines the limits and boundaries of the authority of church officers and of the congregation.
2b. The eldership as a body is authorized and responsible to give comprehensive oversight to the church (Acts 20:17:35; 1Pet. 5:1,2), including the preaching and teaching of the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:20,21,27; Tit. 1:9); the watching out for the welfare of the soul of every member of the church (Eph. 4:11- 16;Col. 1:28; 1Thess. 2:11;Heb.13:17); and the directing of the church in all its tasks by setting general policy and by making specific decisions (1Tim.3:4, 5; Heb. 13:17; 1Pet. 5:1, 2). Nonetheless, the elders must exercise this authority with sensitivity to the consensus of the congregation (Ezek. 34:4; 1Tim. 3:4, 5; 1Pet 3:7) in the posture of servants and examples to the congregation (Mt.20:25-28; 1Pet.5:3). Therefore, the elders should seek the advice and support of the congregation respecting any major endeavor or large expenditure and should be willing to yield to the congregation when appropriate (Acts 19:30; 21:11-14).
2c. Furthermore, the Lord has ordained that congregational approval or suffrage is mandatory in two important matters, namely, the recognition and confirmation of church officers (Acts 6:1ff; 14:21-23) and the exercise of the most serious acts of church discipline, namely, suspension and excommunication (1Cor.5:4, 5; 2Thess.3:14). Congregational approval is defined for recognition and confirmation of officers in this article, Section 4, Paragraph B (2), and for the church discipline in Article IV, Section 5, Paragraph C and D.
2d. In addition, congregational approval is necessary for any change of this constitution, for the possible future revision of our Confession, and for entering or leaving church associations. Congregational approval is defined for constitutional revision in Article 1, Paragraph E (4), for possible future revision of our Confession in Article 1, Paragraph D (3).
2e. Finally, congregational advice and consent is necessary for the reception and exclusion of members. The process for obtaining congregational advice and consent is defined for the reception of members in Article 11, Section 4, Paragraph C and D, and for exclusion from membership in Article 11, Section 8, Paragraph A, and in Article 1V, Section 5.
Paragraph B. Plurality of Elders
- The Scriptures clearly teach that there should be a plurality of elders in each local church (Acts 14:23; 20:17; Phil. 1:1; Tit. 1:5). Therefore, the church should endeavor to discover and then to formally recognize all the men whom the Holy Spirit has endowed with the requisite graces and gifts, but only such men.
- If, in the providence of God, Redeemer’s Covenant Baptist Church of Cebu were to have only one man holding the office of elder, the church should wait upon God with fervent prayer that He might remedy this abnormality (Mt. 9:37, 38). In such cases, the sole elder should seek spiritual oversight for himself and his family from the eldership of another church. He should seek counsel for matters of importance and guard against being self-willed or tyrannical in his attitude or rule (Eph. 5:21; 1Pet. 5:3, 5). The sole elder bears full authority in and responsibility for the affairs of the church.
Paragraph C. Parity and Diversity of Elders
The elders are all equal in office and authority (Acts 20:28; Heb. 13:17), but have diverse gifts and functions. Each elder must be “apt to teach” and be engaged in private instruction and admonition and in the administration and government of the church (Acts 20:28; 1Tim. 5:17). However, some will be more experienced, involved, and proficient than others in executing various dimensions of the pastoral office, and in view of the God-given diversity of gift, some should be more engaged in formal and public preaching and teaching than others (1Tim. 5:17). In view of this diversity of gifts as well as the numerous and grave responsibilities of the office, it is highly desirable that at least one elder should devote himself full-time to the work of the ministry and the oversight of the church as his calling in life. The church is responsible to give adequate financial support to elders who labor in the Word, while others of the elders fulfill the office as they maintain an ordinary vocation (Acts 18:3-5; 1Cor. 9:9-11; 1Tim. 5:17,18).
Paragraph D. Number of Elders and Length of Term
Since the church should endeavor to recognize all the men, and only the men, whom the Holy Spirit has endowed with the requisite graces and gifts, the number of the elders shall not be fixed. And since the elders may continue in office as long as they remain qualified, able, and willing to serve; therefore, the length of their term of office shall not be fixed by the church.
Paragraph E. Qualifications of Elders
The general qualifications for a man chosen to fill the office of elder are clearly set forth in Scripture, particularly in 1Tim. 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. Any man called to this office must be able conscientiously to affirm his agreement with our Confession of Faith and the Constitution of the church. Should he at any time move from this position, he is under spiritual and moral obligation to make this fact known to the church.
Section 3. Deacons
Paragraph A. Duties of Deacons
Deacons are responsible to administer the ordinary business, secular affairs, and benevolent concerns of the church so that the elders may devote themselves without distraction to the more “spiritual” matters (Acts 6:3, 4). They must fulfill the duties of their office in cooperation with and subjection to the elders (Acts 11:30 g.p.).
Paragraph B. Number of Deacons and Length of Term
The number of deacons shall not be fixed. The church shall choose as many as are needed for the work to be done from among the men who give evidence of having the scriptural qualifications for that office (Acts 6:3). Neither shall the length of their term of office be fixed by the congregation.
Paragraph C. Qualifications of Deacons
The qualifications for a man chosen to fulfill the office of deacons are particularly set forth in Acts 6:3 and 1Tim. 3:8-13. Any man called to this office must be able conscientiously to affirm his agreement with our Confession of Faith and the Constitution of the church. Should he at any time move from this position, he is under spiritual and moral obligation to make this fact known to the church.
Section 4. The Recognition, Installation, and Confirmation of Church Officers
Paragraph A. The Task of Recognition
- The local church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is responsible to appoint men to the offices of elder and deacon. Each potential officer should have the desire to serve in that office, and the church should determine the validity of that call as it observes in the individual evidence of the graces and gifts which the Scripture requires for the particular office. In no case may a man be nominated to either office without his knowledge and prior consent.
- This responsibility to recognize the gifts of Christ to his church is a matter of such gravity that it should be accompanied by much prayerful waiting on God for guidance, a careful perusal of the relevant passages of Scriptures, and an objective evaluation of each man considered for a particular office. These activities are the responsibility of each individual member of the church as well as the church as a whole (Acts 6:1-6; 14:2, 3).
Paragraph B. The Process of Recognition
1a. Nominations to the offices of elder and deacon shall be made annually by a nominating committee consisting of the elders and an equal number of members in good standing chosen by the congregation. In the absence of any elders, this shall consist of three members in good standing chosen by the congregation. These shall be chosen at least one month prior to the annual business meeting of the church. After earnest prayer and careful consideration of all the potential office bearers, this committee shall place into nomination as many or as few men as it sees fit by the unanimous approval of the committee. The members of the congregation shall see it as their solemn duty to inform the committee of any men they consider to be qualified for the office. After making its report to the congregation at the annual meeting, the committee shall be automatically dissolved.
1b. Only the elders may at any time during the year nominate a candidate or candidates to either office, and call a special congregational meeting for their consideration. Likewise, members are free at anytime to suggest to the elders the names of men whom they consider to be potential officers.
Any congregational meeting for the approval of office bearers so nominated shall be announced, along with the names of the nominees for each office, on four consecutive Lord’s Days prior to its being held. The names of all nominees shall be separately discussed and voted upon. Four weeks prior to the scheduled congregational suffrage, the members will be provided with copies of the exposition of the qualifications of office bearers for reflection. During the four-week period between the nomination and congregational suffrage, questions or concern regarding the nominee must be brought privately to the person first as an act of brotherly duty; and if not satisfied, should be brought to the existing elders. In case there is no existing eldership, then it should be brought to the nominating committee. If the person who raised the matter is still not satisfied, then, with the approval of the nominating committee it should be raised in a free public discussion during the official meeting in which the congregational suffrage will be made. No concerns that have not been brought up to the nominee should be brought up during a free public discussion. If there are no questions or concerns to be brought up in a free public discussion, the voting will be done with the open raising of the hands so that the one voting must be able to give a biblical justification for his vote. The congregation shall seek unity of mind concerning each nominee, but if that is not fully realized, no less than a three-fourths majority of the members present and voting shall be required for the approval of an office bearer.
Paragraph C. Installation
Following the approval of an office bearer by the vote of the congregation, he shall be publicly installed with the prayer of the church and the laying on of the hands by the existing elders as soon as possible.
Paragraph D. Confirmation
Church officers are subject to the same rules of discipline as are other members of the church. They hold office as long as they are faithful to their calling and have the confidence of the congregation. The church shall reconfirm (or express the withdrawal of) its confidence of each of its officers at its annual meeting four years following the date of his installation and every four years thereafter in the manner designated in Paragraph B2 of this section. The elders may at their discretion call for a vote of confidence on any officer at any time.
Section 5. The Discipline of Church Officers
Paragraph A. The Warrant for Discipline of Officers
- While elders are overseers of the flock, they are themselves members of the flock. Therefore, each elder as an individual is under the oversight of his fellow elders and is subject to the same discipline as are all the members of the church.
- Church Officers are subject not only to the same rules of discipline as the other members, but in addition are subject to public reprimand by the elders (Gal. 2:14; 1Tim. 5:20) and/or removal from office, if they no longer are qualified for their office (1Tim. 3:1) or capable of fulfilling its functions, or if their behavior is disorderly or scandalous, thereby bringing reproach to
Christ and the church and setting a bad example before the brethren.
Paragraph B. The Procedure for Discipline of Officers
- The process of discipline may be initiated either by the elders or by the individual members of the congregation. Any member who is offended at the behavior of any church officer should first approach that officer privately and express his concerns. If the concerns are not resolved, the member should inform the elders of the situation and wait upon them in their determination of the matter (Mt. 18:15 g.p.).
- Since this is such a delicate and serious matter, the elders shall proceed with due caution and earnest prayer (1Tim. 5:19). If the elders judge discipline to be necessary, they shall inform the congregation of the basis for the proposed discipline. If he so desires, the officer accused shall have opportunity to speak in his own defense. The removal of an officer shall require congregational approval at a duly convened congregational meeting. In order to retain his office in such circumstances the officer must receive a vote of confidence by no less than a three-fourths majority of the members present and voting.
Section 6. Termination of Office
Paragraph A. Reasons for Termination
By voluntary resignation
An officer may resign his office without prejudice if for good and valid reasons he finds he is no longer able to discharge the duties of it.
By failure to receive confirmation
An officer is removed from office when he fails to be confirmed pursuant to Paragraph D of Section 4 of this article.
By failure through non-culpable incompetence
In cases where the elders determine that an officer is no longer competent to fulfill all the duties of the office by reason of infirmities not in and of themselves culpable (2Sam.21:15-17 g.p.), they shall in the absence of his resignation recommend to the congregation that he be removed from office. In order to retain his office in such circumstances the officer must receive a vote of confidence by no less than a three-fourths majority of the members present and voting.
By removal through disciplinary action of the church
An officer may be removed from office by congregational vote pursuant to Section 5 of this article.
Paragraph B. Implications of Termination
- When a man leaves office, he no longer retains the authority of that office and may no longer continue in its functions, privileges and titles with respect to this church, other churches, and the society at large.
- It is expected that all former officers will respect the sanctity of the trust previously given to them and that they will maintain the confidentiality of all ecclesiastical matters (Prov. 11:13).
- A man having previously held office and relinquished it may be reconsidered for office only in the manner prescribed in Section 4 of this Article.
Commission (Man-date, Mission, Tasks)
Section 1. General Statement
The purpose of this church is to glorify the God of the Scriptures (Eph. 3:21) by promoting his worship (1Cor. 3:16, 17; 1Pet.2:5), evangelizing sinners (Acts 13 & 14; 1Cor. 14:24, 25; 1Tim. 2:1:1-5 with 3:15), edifying saints (1Cor. 14:12, 18, 19, 26; Eph. 4:11-16), spreading and strengthening the church (Acts 11:29, 30; 15:3, 36, 41; 16:5), and showing benevolence to the needy (Rom. 15:26, 27; Gal. 2:10). Therefore we are committed to the proclamation of God’s perfect Law and the glorious Gospel of His grace through all the world (Lk. 24:47; Acts 20:20, 21, 27; Rom. 1:15-8:39), and to the defense of “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
The primary methods and means for the accomplishment of this purpose are prayer and the public and private ministry of the Word of God (Acts 6:24; 20:20; 2 Cor. 10:3-5; 1Tim 2:1-8 with 3:14-16; 2Tim.4:1, 2). In addition, we may at times employ various other ministries and means to accomplish this purpose, such as the production, distribution, and sale of audio materials; the distribution, sale, and publication of Bibles; distribution, sale and publication of books and other literature; the training of men for the Christian ministry. We are not obligated to employ other supplemental means, which we regard to be biblical (1Cor. 10:23).
Section 2. Worship
Although the only triune God, is to be worshipped daily in private and by families in the home, God has mandated that His people gather together for worship every first day of the week (Gen 2:1-3; Ex. 20:8-11; Col. 2:16,17; 1 Cor. 16:1,2; Acts 20:7; Rev. 1:10). The constituent elements of worship are set forth and limited by God in Scriptures of which nothing is to be added or neglected (Deut. 12:29-32) and which are the following: prayers (1Tim. 2:1f), the public reading of the Scriptures (1Tim. 4:13), the preaching, and hearing of the Word of God (2 Tim. 4:1-4, Lk. 8:18), teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing praises with grace in the hearts to the Lord (Heb. 2:11,12; Heb. 13:15; Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19); the giving of our tithes and offerings to the Lord (1Cor. 16:1,2; Phil. 4:18; Heb. 13:16); as also the administration of baptism (Mat. 28:19, 20) and the Lord’s Supper (1Cor. 11:26). All parts of the religious worship of God are to be performed in obedience to Him, with understanding, faith, and in the climate of joy and reverential awe (Heb. 12:28,29). Therefore, it is necessary that worshippers come to worship God with due preparation of heart (Mal. 1; 1Cor. 11:28).
Section 3. Advocacy of the Word
As pillar and ground of the truth, the church has to advocate the word. This involves the work of spreading the gospel, planting churches, defending the truth, the preservation, and translation of the Scriptures, the support of gospel ministers, and the training of faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
Since some of these specifics are beyond the ability for one local church to perform, then cooperation with other like-minded churches is to be sought whenever possible and appropriate in a way consistent with local church autonomy.
Section 4. Corporate Nurture
Every disciple of Christ must be under his discipline (his instruction and correction), which is administered to each one both personally (Acts 5:1-11; 1Cor. 11:30-32; 1Thess. 4:6; Heb. 12:5-11; Rev. 2:22,23) and through the church (1Cor. 12:12-27; Eph. 4:11-15; Gal. 6:1; 1Thess. 5:14; Heb. 3:12-14; 12:15). Mutual submission to one another and to the overseers whom the Lord has set over his church (Eph. 5:21; 1Pet. 5:5) will result in the sanctification of each member individually and of the whole body of the church collectively. There are occasions, however, when formative discipline alone is insufficient and corrective discipline becomes necessary.
Section 5. Corrective Discipline
Paragraph A. General Statement
- Corrective discipline becomes necessary when either heretical doctrine or disorderly, immoral, or scandalous conduct appears among the members of the church. As a general rule and whenever feasible, an effort must be made to resolve difficulty, correct error, and remove offense through counsel and admonition before drastic steps are taken (Gal. 6:1f; Jms. 5:19,20). The principle given to us in Mt. 18:15&16, Rom. 16:17-20, 1Cor. 5:1-13, 2Thess. 3:6-15, 1Tim. 5:19,29 and Tit. 3:10 must be carefully followed and appropriately applied to each and every case of corrective discipline. In some cases, public admonition may be warranted (Mt.18:17; 1Tim. 5:20). In other cases, some of the privileges of membership may need to be suspended and appropriate strictures imposed (Rom. 16:17-20; 2Thess. 3:14, 15). In most extreme cases excommunication from the membership of the church may be necessary (Mt. 18:17; Rom. 16:17-20; 1Cor. 5:1-13; 1Tim. 1:20; Tit. 3:10).
- Since the church is a spiritual and religious institution, the punishments inflicted by the church in corrective discipline (2Cor. 2:6,7) are also spiritual. They include public verbal reproof (Mt. 18:17; 1Tim. 5:20), social avoidance (Rom. 16:17; 1Cor. 5:9-11; 2Thess. 3:6,14) and withdrawal of distinctive Christian fellowship (Mt. 18:17; 1Cor. 5:13; 2Jn 10), and are intended to effect repentance through a sense of sorrow and shame (2Cor. 2:7; 2Thess. 3:14). The church has no right, however, to confiscate goods, revoke conjugal rights, or inflict corporal punishment of any kind. Nevertheless, a member guilty of criminal actions may be delivered to the civil authorities according to the rule of Scripture (1Pet. 4:15).
- Corrective discipline always has for its goal the glory of God, the welfare and purity of the church (1Cor. 5:60) and the restoration and spiritual growth of the offender (1Cor. 5:5; 2Cor. 2:5-8; 1Tim. 1:20).
Paragraph B. Public Reproof or Censure
Public reproof consists of a pastoral effort, before the gathered church, to call an impenitent church member or church members to repentance for sin too blatant to be dealt with in an exclusively private manner; or to deal with serious sin even where there may have been repentance. The elders may administer public censure whenever in their judgment either public misconduct (Gal. 2:11- 14; 1Tim. 5:20), patterns of sin (Tit. 1:12, 13), or serious doctrinal error (Tit. 1:10-13) pose a significant threat to the godliness, unity or testimony of the congregation. Those who humbly receive the word of public reproof, own and confess their sin, and manifest a transformed life (Prov. 28:13) shall afterward be publicly commended for their godly repentance (2Cor. 7:7-11). If the reproof is not heeded, further discipline may be imposed.
Paragraph C. Suspension of Privileges
- Some misconduct on the part of a member is so detrimental to the unity, holiness and testimony of the church that the Lord requires public reproof to be accompanied by the suspension of some or all the privileges of membership according to the nature and gravity of the offense (Rom. 16:17-20; 2Thess. 3:14,15). In all cases of suspension, the offending person is still to be regarded as a brother and as a member of the church, and not as a wicked man cut off from distinctly Christian fellowship (Mt. 18:17,18; 2Thess. 3:15). In addition, the Lord wills that this severe reproof be expressed (Mt. 18:17) and enforced (Rom. 16:17- 20; 2Thess. 3:6-12) by the entire church.
- Therefore, in accordance with the procedures outlined below for each of the five major categories of offences, the elders shall, at a regular or specially called congregational meeting, recommend to the congregation that the offending member be suspended, specifying the grounds for the discipline, the privileges to be revoked, and the strictures to be imposed. To be valid, an act of suspension must have the approval of at least three-fourths of the members present and voting. In the interest of maintaining a climate of peace, the elders shall have the right, at their discretion, to impose a temporary suspension upon a member during the brief interval between their determination to recommend suspension and the congregational vote.
- A member under suspension shall be treated by the congregation according to the specific applications of the general principle of social avoidance (Rom. 16:17-20; 2Thess. 3:14, 15) determined by the elders. Those who humbly submit to the imposed discipline shall afterwards be forgiven, have their privileges restored, and be publicly received back into the full fellowship of the church (Mt. 18:15f; 2Cor. 2:5-11). The general grounds and generic categories of sin which require suspension are as follows:
3a. A stubborn private offender (Mt.18:15-17). When a private offense remains unresolved even after the method prescribed by our Lord in Mt. 18:15 has been graciously and prayerfully followed, it is considered an aggravated offense. The brethren involved shall bring to the elders who, if they judge the matter to be serious enough and cannot persuade the brother to repent, shall report the situation to the church, and recommend that the stubborn brother be suspended (Mt. 18:17a). If, even after suspension, the person remains adamant in his sin, excommunication shall be enacted according to the procedure outlined in Paragraph D of this article (Mt. 18:17b).
3b. Divisive teachings or behavior (Rom. 16:7-20; Tit. 3:10). When a member deliberately persists in the propagation of serious doctrinal error contrary to Scriptures and our Confession (which expresses what we believe the Scripture teaches), or attempts to sow discord among the membership contrary to Scripture and this Constitution (which expresses the application of the directives and general principles of Scripture to our corporate situation), he may be suspended as a factious man. Since every member is responsible to help preserve the unity of the Spirit (Eph. 4:1f), no member is to conceal such divisive behavior, but rather to reprove it and disclose it to the elders (Deut. 13:6f; 1Cor. 1:10, 11). Whenever the elders become aware of divisive behavior, they are to confront it meekly and patiently according to the Word of God (1Cor. 1:10-4:2; Tit. 3:10). If, even after receiving repeated admonition from the elders, a member persists in such behavior, the elders shall report the situation to the church and recommend that the divisive brother be suspended. If, even after the suspension, the person remains adamant in sowing discord or in spreading serious doctrinal error, excommunication shall be enacted according to the procedure outlined in Paragraph D of this Article.
3c. Disorderly behavior (2Thess. 3:6-11). When a member deliberately persists in conduct which displays a flagrant or public disregard for either the order appointed by God for all mankind in the creation ordinances, namely, work, sabbath, and marriage (Gen. 2:1-3, 15, 18-24; Ex. 20:8-11; 1Cor. 7:1-17; 2Thess. 3:6-15; 1Tim. 5:8; Tit. 2:5); or for the order established by Christ for His church in Scripture (1Cor. 11:17- 34; 1Cor. 14:37-40; 1Tim. 3:14, 15; Tit. 1:5) and adapted to our congregation in this Constitution, he may be suspended as a disorderly person (2Thess. 3:10-12). If, even after receiving such admonition from the elders, a member persists in this behavior, the elder shall report the situation to the church and recommend that the disorderly brother be suspended (2Thess. 3:14,15). If, even after suspension, the person remains adamant in disorderliness, excommunication shall be enacted according to the procedure outlined in Paragraph D of this Article.
3d. A scandalous sin. If a member has sinned scandalously but has shown hopeful signs of repentance, including submission to the elders, it would be wrong to excommunicate him. It may still be necessary, however, to suspend him for a time from some of the privileges of membership lest reproach be brought upon the name of Christ and the church (2Sam. 12:14; Rom. 2:24), lest others be emboldened to sin (1Tim. 5:20), lest the offender himself fail to test his own repentance and realize the gravity of his offense (Heb. 3:12, 13). If fruits worthy of repentance are not forthcoming, the elders may recommend to the church at a later date that this person be excommunicated according to the procedure outlined in Paragraph D of this Article.
3e. Contempt for church discipline. If a person is accused or suspected of a sin requiring corrective discipline, yet absents himself from the meetings of the church, or refuses to meet with the elders so that the matter may be investigated, such person may be suspended (Mat. 18:17; Num. 16:12,20,23-27). The elders may recommend to the church at a later date that this person be excluded or excommunicated according to the provisions of this Constitution.
Paragraph D. Excommunication
- In addition to suspension cases elevated to excommunication of those who have been previously suspended, some expressions of sin (ethical or doctrinal) are so gross and heinous in nature that preliminary actions like public reproof and suspension are inappropriate. In such cases, the guilty member may be immediately excommunicated by the church (1Cor. 5:1-4). This severe measure is to be employed when both aggravated lawlessness is discovered, and there are no hopeful signs of repentance. This severe measure is designed to purge the lawbreaker of his attachment to sin, unto a sincere and enduring repentance (1Cor. 5:5; 6:9-11). The elders therefore, having made earnest but unsuccessful efforts to bring the offender to true repentance and reformation, shall report the same to the church and recommend that the offender be excommunicated.
- All acts of excommunication must be executed by the gathered church (Mat. 18:17; 1Cor. 5:4). To be valid, an act of excommunication must have the approval of at least three-fourths of members present and voting.
Paragraph E. Restoration
Since one purpose of church discipline is to restore a fallen brother or sister, it is the duty of the church to forgive and to restore to full membership a suspended or excommunicated member who gives satisfactory evidence of his repentance (2Cor. 2:6-8). This shall be done in a duly convened congregational meeting of the church by no less than three-fourths of the members present and voting.
Section 6. Benevolence
Although each member of the church as an individual is to be sensitive to the needs of fellow members and seek to wisely and compassionately meet these needs according to one’s ability (Mat. 25:31-46; Jms. 2:14-18), yet the church corporately, through the elders and with the help of the deacons, is also under solemn obligation to be sensitive to the needy in the church and seek to wisely and compassionately help them (Acts 4:32-5:4; 6:1-6; Gal. 2:10; 1Tim. 5:3-10). However, the church must never be burdened with helping those who refuse to work (Thess. 3:6-14) or those who still have other resources to tap (1Tim. 5:3, 4, 16).
At the discretion of the elders, special and voluntary collections may also be made from the church members in order to meet a very pressing need of a believer or even, in some cases, unbelievers (1Cor. 16:1f; Gal. 6:10).
Section 7. Ordinances
Paragraph A. General Statement
There are two ordinances that our Lord has commanded us to observe, namely, baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Neither of them has saving merit, nor is receiving them absolutely necessary for salvation, nor is any grace imparted to the recipients through the water of baptism or through the bread and cup of the Supper. These ordinances are not means of “special grace”, but they are “special means of grace” that greatly aid the faith of believers who properly participate in them. Accordingly, our Lord is concerned that they be observed unto edification, in a decent and orderly manner.
Paragraph B. The Polity of Baptism
Only confessed disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ are proper candidates for Baptism, and all such persons should be baptized (Acts 2:38). Believing that Baptism is the God-ordained door of entrance into the visible community of the people of God, we shall receive into the regular membership of the church only those who have been baptized in the biblical mode, which is by immersion and “into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 28:19).
Paragraph C. The Polity of the Lord’s Supper
Whereas Baptism is the initiatory ordinance by which a disciple of Christ enters the local church and should be observed only once by each believer, the Lord’s Supper should be celebrated frequently by the assembled church (1Cor. 11:26). While this is a most holy ordinance and should be observed with solemnity and dignity, the bread and the cup of the Supper are and remain only symbols of the broken body and the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. In order to maintain the purity of this ordinance, the elders will faithfully seek to insure that only true believers who are members in good standing of true churches of Christ are to be admitted to the table. True believers whose church membership involves unusual circumstances may be admitted at the discretion of the elders. The Lord’s Supper, under normal circumstances, shall be celebrated by the church on the first Lord’s Day of the month.
Paragraph D. Child Dedication
As the Scripture neither commands nor provides an example of child or infant dedication for the New Testament churches, such will not be the practice of this church. The danger of such a practice is not in what is done, for it is essential that we pray for our children and thus bring them to Jesus. Rather the danger is in introducing into the church a practice (with all the appearance of an ordinance or sacrament) which Christ the Head has not authorized or commanded. Invariably this custom will result in superstitious minds concluding that some special grace is conveyed to the child by virtue of such a service in the church of Christ (Gal. 2:3f).
Section 8. Prayer
Although Christians are each to pray in private, and in their homes with their families, yet God has ordained that the church gather regularly for corporate prayer (Acts 2:42; 1Tim. 2:1-8 with 3:14, 15). These prayers should not focus upon trivial issues and concerns but upon the great concerns of the kingdom of God, namely, the preaching of the Word (Eph. 6:19-20; Col. 4:2,3; 2Thess. 3:1,2), For rulers and those in authority “in order that we may lead a tranquil and quite life in all godliness” (1Tim. 2:1- 9), for more laborers in the field of harvest (Mt. 9:35-380, for crisis situations involving the safety of God’s people (Acts 12:1-5; 2Cor. 1:10-11), and for the genuine and important needs of the brethren (Gal. 6:10; Jms. 5:13,14). Furthermore, these prayers must not only focus upon the concern of our congregation but of the kingdom of God at large (Eph. 6:18). Therefore, maintaining and cultivating communication with other churches must be pursued through various legitimate means like letter writing (Rom. 16:23; Col. 4:16) and personal visits and reports (Eph. 6:21, 22; Col. 4:7-9; Acts 15:1-3; 21:14-17).
Special corporate prayers may also be called for by the elders whenever the need of it arises (Acts 4:32f; 12:5).
Order (Apostolic Traditions)
Paragraph A. The Place of Women in Church Membership
Christ has clearly revealed His mind that women be admitted to the community of His disciples (Jn. 4:1, 2; Acts 5:13; 8:3, 12; 9:2; Gal. 3:27,28) and that this entire community, the whole church, participates in the exercise of congregational suffrage (Acts 6:2,5; 15:22). Therefore, every woman who is a regular member in good standing is entitled to the plenary privileges of membership, including full participation in the process of congregation advice, consent, and approval, as defined in this Constitution. Similarly, every woman who is a regular member is responsible to fulfill all the obligations of membership, and is liable to church discipline (Acts 5:1-11), as defined in this Constitution.
Paragraph B. The Place of Women in Church Leadership
The Lord, through His apostles (1Cor. 14:37), has clearly revealed His mind that men alone should give leadership to His church (1Cor. 14:34, 35; 1Tim. 2:11-15). This restriction is not derived from the changing and temporary cultural mores, or limited to a specific culture or era, but is derived from the unchanging norms of the creation and fall (1Tim. 2:13, 14), and is therefore binding upon all the churches of Christ in every culture and era (1Cor. 14:33,37).
Therefore, no woman shall ever be eligible or permitted to give leadership to this congregation either by holding the office of elder or of deacon, or by teaching or preaching in the gathered church (1Tim. 2:12). Furthermore, God requires that the corporate worship of His people be regulated by His revealed will alone (Deut. 12:32), which includes the exercise of authority and spiritual gifts (1Cor. 14:23, 26, 33-37, 40). Therefore, women are not eligible or permitted to give leadership to this church in its corporate worship whether by presiding over the service of worship, or by ministering or distributing the church’s ordinances, or by administering the congregation during its worship. In addition, the regulative principle also applies to our drawing near to God through the corporate prayers of the gathered church (Deut. 12:32 g.p.); and, the Lord has commanded only the men, not the women, to lead in corporate prayer (1Tim. 2:1,8 with 3:14). Therefore, women are not eligible or permitted to lead the gathered church in prayer at the stated meetings of this church. They are however, expected to pray silently with those who lead the congregation, and to participate in the corporate affirmation by saying the “Amen” (1Cor. 14:16).
Paragraph C. The Place of Women in Church Ministries
God, our gracious Creator, has ordained that the woman’s role is to be a helper to her husband (Gen. 2:18; 1Cor. 11:9), and thus, that her focus should be upon her husband, her children, and her home (Prov. 31:10-31; Tit. 2:3, 4). In accordance with her created nature as a helper, and within the constraint of the priority of her domestic focus, the Lord Jesus, our loving redeemer, has given to women a broad and valuable place of service and ministry in His church. Women are therefore eligible to serve the Lord and the church by assisting and helping the deacons in the broad spectrum of diaconal ministry, in accordance with scriptural qualifications for this service (1Tim. 3:11). The church should gratefully aid those women who are called to such labor on the behalf of the church (Rom. 16:1, 2). A woman may also help and assist the congregation in its public worship by playing a musical accompaniment. Furthermore, women are also eligible to care for minor children and to teach them the things of God in church ministries designed for that purpose (Prov. 1:8; 2Tim. 1:5; 3:15). In addition, the older women of the church should train the younger women in domestic piety in accordance with their ability and opportunity (Tit. 2:3,4).
Paragraph D. The Place of Women in Church Assemblies
- The Lord’s will is that women should behave in church meetings in a manner consistent with decorum (1Tim. 2:9, 10) and submission (1Cor. 14:34, 35; 1Tim. 2:11). In order to behave with decorum in church, every woman should be dressed in such a manner as to avoid both immodesty and ostentation (1Tim. 2:9, 10), so that the congregation’s attention will not be intentionally diverted from God and drawn to her. In order to behave with submission in church, every woman should adorn herself with a meek and quiet spirit (1Pet. 3:4). Therefore, she should not speak out individually in corporate worship (1Cor. 14:23,26,33-37), nor should she, while receiving corporate instruction from the scriptures, publicly question her teacher before the gathered church, but, in deference to her husband, should first address her concerns about the teaching privately to him (1Cor. 14:34,35; 1Tim. 2:11), or if she has no husband, to an elder.
- This mandate of decorum and submission does not, however, cancel or nullify her privileges and duties as a church member in good standing. Therefore, since women, as well as men, are commanded to participate in congregational suffrage, women who are members in good standing are permitted to address the gathered church on all matters in which congregational advice and consent are voluntarily sought or constitutionally required, yet always with a meekness befitting their femininity. Therefore, also, since women are commanded by the Lord personally and publicly to confess their repentance towards God and faith in Christ (Mt. 3:6; Acts 5:13,14; 8:12), every woman who is a member in good standing is permitted to participate freely in all church assemblies gathered for the purpose of public testimony and praise, or public confession of sin or faith, whether by testifying to the church of God’s goodness to her, or by confessing before church her sin or her faith and hope in Christ. Similarly, with a view to confessing their faith, women may compose hymns and spiritual songs which, if suitable, may be sung by the gathered church (Heb. 13:15). Therefore, also every woman who is a member in good standing is permitted to participate freely in the lighter and informal social gatherings of the church, at which she may address those assembled in a manner befitting the occasion (1Cor. 11:2-16; 1Cor. 14:40). Finally, this mandate of decorum and submission in church assemblies does not deny Christian women all opportunity to exercise their spiritual gifts. Therefore, in the auspices of their own home, or in private company, women may exercise a gift to teach (Acts 18:26; 21:9), or put forth questions regarding the Scriptures (1Cor. 14:34,35), or lead in prayer (1Cor. 7:5; 11:5; 1Pet. 3:7), or bear witness to any sinner of the grace of God in the gospel (1Cor. 7:16).
Paragraph A. General Statement
There shall be an annual business meeting of the church for the hearing of reports, the election, and confirmation of officers, election of trustees, and the transaction of other business. Special business meetings may be called at other times at the discretion of the elders.
Paragraph B. Notice of Meetings
Notice of all congregational meetings shall be given at regular worship services. A minimum of seven days notice shall be given for any meeting at which official church business is to be conducted. However, in the case of an emergency, a meeting may be called on short notice by notifying each regular member of the time, place, and purpose of the meeting. Meetings for the hearing of special reports or for seeking the counsel of the congregation may be called on shorter notice, but no vote may be taken or other business transacted at such meeting.
Paragraph C. Quorum
The regular members present at any properly convened business meeting shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.
Paragraph D. Chairmanship
As a general rule, a chairman shall preside at all business meeting who shall be chosen by the elders from among themselves.
Paragraph E. Voting
All regular members in good standing in the church may vote on any question properly brought before the congregation. Unanimity of heart and mind under God shall at all times be sought and prayed for (Acts 6:5), but when unanimity is not realized, no less than a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting shall be required to make any resolution valid. In some cases, as specified in this constitution, a three-quarters majority shall be required.
Members who cannot attend the business meeting of the church for some valid reason/s may yet exercise congregational suffrage in written form, which is to be given to the elders prior to the meeting. Moreover, members who cannot regularly attend the stated meetings of the church because of providential hindrances can only exercise congregational suffrage at the discretion of the elders.
Affiliation (Church Associations)
Section 1. The Independence of the Church
We acknowledge no ecclesiastical authority other than our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Head of the Church (Eph. 5:23) and who directs the affairs of the church through elders chosen and ordained according to the precepts of Holy Scripture (Acts 14:21- 23; 1Tim. 3:1f; Tit. 1:5f). The elders themselves at all times and in all their activities stand under the authority of the Holy Scriptures (Acts 16:4; 1Cor. 7:17).
Section 2. The Interdependence of Churches
The church may and should cooperate with other like-minded churches in matters of mutual interest and concern (2Cor. 8:18- 24). We may seek the assistance (1Cor. 16:1, 2) and should seek the counsel (1Thess. 1:7; 2:14) of other churches in matters of special importance and concern to us, but the decision of no other church or group of churches shall ever be binding to this church (Acts 14:21-24; Phil. 4:15).