ARTICLE I NAME
The name of this organization shall be GRACE BAPTIST CHURCH OF LAUREL. The GRACE BAPTIST CHURCH OF LAUREL was duly organized in January, 1968, and incorporated in November, 1968, as a non-profit corporation under the laws of the State of Maryland.
ARTICLE II OBJECT
This Church shall be devoted to the salvation of souls and the building up of believers through the preaching of the whole Word of God. It shall be a Church home for true believers and their families where they may be fed on the Word, developed spiritually, and trained for usefulness in service. The constant aim shall be to carry the gospel to the lost everywhere, both at home and abroad. It’s object is further expressed in our Church Covenant. This Covenant shall be read frequently.
ARTICLE III (STATEMENT OF FAITH)
ARTICLE IV FELLOWSHIP AND ASSOCIATIONS
This Church, as a New Testament Church, cannot “join” anything outside itself, but only affiliate therewith on grounds of fellowship. This Church declares itself to be in fellowship with the DELMARVA Baptist Fellowship and the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches. The above named associations now hold strong Biblical convictions, and are vigorously opposed to all apostasy and compromise. If these associations should waver from their present Biblical stand, this church, in standing true to the Word itself, could no longer fellowship with these associations.
ARTICLE V MEMBERSHIP
SECTION 1. PRESENT MEMBERSHIP
All whose names appear upon the rolls of this church are members, but only those upon the “active” list shall have the right of franchise. The names of members who move from our area shall be placed on the “inactive” roll by the deacons until they return to the area. Members under discipline shall have their names placed on the “disciplinary” roll, having no right of franchise, and may not be granted a letter of “good and regular standing”.
Members who have not reached their eighteenth birthday shall not have right of franchise. In matters of civil jurisdiction, this last qualification shall be according to the legal voting age of the State of Maryland.
SECTION 2. RECEPTION OF MEMBERS
Anyone professing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Saviour, giving evidence of change of heart, and declaring himself (or herself) in accord with the principles, practices and statement of faith of this church may become a candidate for church membership. Such candidate shall make written application for membership on an application blank which shall be supplied by the Church.
Candidates for Church membership shall appear personally before the Pastor and Deacons who shall pass upon their qualifications. Persons shall be admitted to membership by majority vote of the congregation. Having been recommended by the Deacons, the name shall then be submitted to the Church for acceptance or rejection and each candidate shall give his (or her) personal testimony before the Church.
It will be expected of members that they shall respect the Pastor and officers of the Church and co-operate with them to the best of their ability in every project for the advancement of the work. They will be expected to abide by the Constitution, By-Laws and Church Covenant of the Church and to agree without mental reservation with its Statement of Faith as presented and defined in the constitution. They will, likewise, be expected to live exemplary Christian lives; to abstain from all appearance of evil in speech and conduct; to live a life separate from the worldly practices, and to faithfully attend the services of the Church.
SECTION 3. DISMISSAL OF MEMBERS
Paragraph A: Church Letters
1. Whenever a member joins another church, their names shall be removed from our church rolls by a majority vote of the congregation.
Paragraph B: Discipline of Members
1. The matter of discipline of the members shall be in the hands of the Deacons assisted by the Pastor, but in cases of expulsion from membership final action must be taken by the Church. No member shall be expelled until every effort has been made, including, if physically possible, personal visits to reclaim him (or her) for Christ and the Church. Members who violate SECTION 2. Paragraph D. Of the Constitution may be placed on the “disciplinary” roll by the Deacons and Pastor. The names of all persons placed on the “disciplinary” roll shall be announced at the next regularly scheduled business meeting of the Church, and such action shall be subject to the will of the Congregation.
2. Members failing to support the Church by their attendance within a period of one year, without legitimate excuse (such “support” and “excuse” to be defined by the Deacons and Pastor) may be placed, by the Deacons and Pastor, on the “disiplinary” roll and those on the “disciplinary” roll for more than one year may be removed from the Church membership roll subject to (1) of this Paragraph.
Paragraph C: Homegoing of Members
1. The names of deceased members shall automatically be dropped from the membership role following the announcement of their homegoing by the Pastor.
ARTICLE VI ORDINANCES
SECTION 1. BAPTISM
Those professing saving faith in Jesus Christ as personal Savior shall, by the Pastor or some person authorized by the Church, be immersed in water in accordance with the Scriptural teaching. Immersion shall be prerequisite to church membership.
SECTION 2. LORD’S SUPPER
The Lord’s Supper (Communion) shall be served to the assembled church by the Pastor, or some person designated by the church. Since it is the Lord’s Table none who are His shall be barred, but the Pastor shall frequently state the Scriptural order, which places baptism by immersion as a prerequisite to Communion, and shall explain the meaning of the ordinances.
ARTICLE VII OFFICERS AND BOARDS
The officers of the Church shall consist of Pastor, Deacons-Trustees, Treasurer, Financial Secretary, Clerk, all of whom, except the Pastor, shall have been a member of this Church for a period of at least one year before being placed in nomination. They shall be elected at the third Quarterly Meeting, and their term of office shall begin on the first of January, coincident with the ending of the term of retiring officers. Other minor offices may be created from time to time as may be deemed necessary. It is recommended that no person shall hold more than two major offices at one time.
SECTION 1. PASTOR
The Pastor of this Church shall be an ordained minister who is in full agreement with the Statement of Faith and the Church Covenant, including the position of the Church on complete ecclesiastical separation from apostasy and modernism. He shall be one who meets the requirements of I Timothy 3:2-7; II Timothy 4:1,2; and Titus 1:6-9.
The Pastor shall be elected for an indeterminate term. Notice of the proposed choice of Pastor shall be given from the pulpit for two successive Sundays preceding the election, voting shall be by ballot, and two-thirds of the votes cast be required for election. The Church shall consider but one candidate for the Pastorate at one time, passing upon his acceptability or lack of acceptability, before considering another.
The Pastor shall give the Church a notice in writing not to exceed sixty (60) days and not less than thirty (30) days of his intention to discontinue as Pastor. The Church may by a two-third vote at a regularly called meeting (see Article XIII, Section 1 .) declare the pulpit vacant, provided a notice of not less than sixty (60) days from the time this action is taken, be given the Pastor occupying the pulpit to vacate the same.
The Pastor shall be the Moderator of the Church and a member ex-officio of all boards and committees, with power to vote in case of tie. No meeting of these boards or committees shall be legal unless the Pastor has first been notified of such meeting.
The Pastor shall be the undershepherd of the flock, preaching and teaching the Word of God without fear or compromise, the bishop, having oversight of the Church, its ordinances, programs, and workers, and the elder, taking heed to himself and to the flock, not greedily as for personal gain, but eager to serve, not by constraint, but willingly, not Iording it over those entrusted to him, but as an example to the flock. He shall fill the office with all fidelity, conduct the services, administer the ordinances, and visit and counsel the members of the church.
SECTION 2. DEACONS
The Church shall elect from its membership Scripturally qualified men (males) to serve as Deacons. Their terms shall be for two (2) years. The number of Deacons shall be changed at the discretion of the Church congregation with one-half of the Deacons being elected each year for two-year terms.
The qualifications for Deacon shall be such as are prescribed and set forth in the New Testament (Acts 6:3; I Timothy 3:8-13). The Deacons shall be men who are in full agreement with the Statement of Faith and the Church Covenant. In addition, they shall be men who have proven themselves faithful to the church in such matters as the regular attendance of the Sunday and mid-week services and the financial support of the Church. They shall be men of spiritual discernment, possess a working knowledge of the Word, and be able to serve as personal workers in the inquiry room.
The Deacons shall be the servants of the church assisting the Pastor in his oversight: providing him with wise counsel, support, and encouragement; being actively engaged in the visitation program; helping to prepare and distribute the elements of the Lord’s Table and to conduct the baptismal services; serving in positions annually assigned by the Pastor to aid in the administration of the church programs. The Deacons shall be the legal Trustees of the corporation with duties as described in Section 3 and shall administrate the finances in accord with the established procedures of the congregation. The Deacons shall make recommendation to the congregation concerning the salary of the Pastor and staff. The Deacons shall, together with the Pastor, act as a screening committee for the congregation: approving all nominations on the nominations ballot for the election of all church officers; serving as the discipline committee; interviewing all candidates for membership and making recommendation prior to the vote of the congregation. Meetings shall be held at the request of the Pastor, or the Chairman, or any two of the Deacons. A majority of the full number shall constitute a quorum. The Deacons shall make full report of their activities to the church at each annual meeting, quarterly meeting, or as requested by the church. The Chairman of the Deacons will be responsible for conducting the services in the absence of the Pastor, and the Deacons shall constitute the Candidate and Pulpit Committee of the Church.
SECTION 3. TRUSTEES
The Deacons shall serve as Trustees of this Church, representing this corporation as its agent.
The Deacons shall appoint from its body, committees to care for the property, to hold, repair, and preserve the same.
1. They shall superintend improvements and perform any business assigned to them by the Church. They are at all times servants of the Church and subject to its corporate action. They shall not have authority to sell, lease, or give away or dispose of Church property in any way to exceed $750.00 in any value, not to mortgage, encumber the same with debts to exceed the same amount, except as the Church shall order the same by a corporate act. In the event of an emergency arising which would make it impossible to hold services without repair of such nature that waiting would cause damage to the Church property, the Trustees shall have the power to act as they deem best.
SECTION 4. TREASURER
The Church shall elect from its membership a Treasurer for a term of one year. The Treasurer shall receive all monies of the church and apply the same as directed by the Church; keep a true and fair record of accounts and make a full report to the Church at each annual meeting and when otherwise directed by the Church. The Treasurer’s books shall be audited annually by persons appointed for that purpose by the Church. The Treasurer shall with at least one officer of the Church count all monies received.
SECTION 5. FINANCIAL SECRETARY
The Church shall elect from its membership a Financial Secretary for a term of one year. The Financial Secretary shall keep an accurate record of all money received through the envelope system. The records of all individual gifts shall be guarded as a sacred trust.
SECTION 6. CLERK
The Church shall elect from its membership a Clerk for a term of one year. The Clerk shall have charge of the official correspondence, and shall keep a record of receptions and terminations of members, marriages, and baptisms. The Clerk shall perform such other duties as properly belong to the office and make full report to the Church at each annual meeting and when otherwise directed by the Church.
SECTION 8. ELECTION PROCEDURES
Paragraph A: Nomination Ballot.
The nomination ballot shall be prepared by our Pastor and the Board of Deacons. This ballot shall be numbered and given or mailed to all eligible voters in good standing at least eight (8) weeks prior to the Election. Blank spaces are to be provided for suggested nominees for each office that needs to be filled. The names of nominees are to be inserted by each voter and the mballot mailed or given to the Chairman of our Board of Deacons, or deposited in a ballot box conveniently located in our Church at least four (4) weeks prior to the Election. Ballots received after this date shall be considered null and void.
Paragraph B: Clearing Committee.
The Clearing Committee shall consist of the Board of Deacons and the Pastor. Names from the Nominating Ballot which receive the most number of nominations shall be considered candidates for the office designated unless the individual(s) are not considered to be qualified by our Clearing Committee. Individuals nominated and considered to be eligible will be contacted for their consent before their names are placed on the Voting Ballot. Only the names of those nominees officially certified shall be made public. The Voting Ballot will provide at least two names for each office if at all possible and shall be posted at least two (2) weeks prior to the Election.
Paragraph C: Election at the third Quarterly Meeting.
All members in good standing and above the age of 18 years of age shall have the right to vote for Church candidates except as indicated in Article V, Section 1. Names appearing on the ballot will be the only names considered. There will be no further nominations from the floor at the meeting. All church officers except the Pastor as noted in Article VII, Section 1, Paragraph B, shall be elected by secret ballot on a majority vote of members present. The voting ballots will be counted by an appointed committee, and names of newly elected officers shall be announced and posted. The newly elected officers will take office on the first of January following the election.
Paragraph D: Vacancies.
Vacancies that occur during the year shall be filled by appointment by the Pastor and the Board of Deacons. The term of appointments to fill vacancies shall end on the first of January coincident with the term of newly elected officers.
SECTION 9. STAFF POSITIONS
Staff positions shall be created and/or dissolved, as the need may arise, by a majority vote of the congregation. Persons to fill these positions will be employed and have their employment terminated by decision of the Pastor, who shall oversee their work and be responsible to report annually to the congregation on each position. At such times as the church shall be without a Pastor, the Chairman of the Deacons will oversee the work of the staff, and persons will be employed and/or terminated by majority vote of the Deacons. Staff resignations are not compulsory upon the resignation of the Pastor, but the incoming Pastor will have the discretion of the continued employment and/or termination of staff as delineated in Paragraph A of this section.
ARTICLE VIII COMMITTEES
SECTION 1. MISSIONARY COMMITTEE
Our Missionary Committee shall consist of our Pastor and Board of Deacons. It shall be their responsibility to recommend various missionaries and missionary projects to our Church for prayer and/or financial support. They shall do this in accordance with Article X.
SECTION 2. AUDITING COMMITTEE
The congregation shall annually (at the third quarterly meeting) elect two (2) Auditors from the membership of the Church to Audit the financial records of the Church and make a report at the next annual business meeting.
SECTION 3. OTHER COMMITTEES
Other committees and persons to serve may be appointed by the Pastor and the Board of Deacons. For example, such committees may be Advertising, Visitation, Flowers, Music, Hospitality, Transportation, Usher, Building, Special Financial Committee, or others as the need arises. Each Chairman must be a member in good standing of the Church. Each Chairman shall be instructed as to duties and shall be instructed to give reports to the Board of Deacons and to the Church.
ARTICLE IX AUXILIARY ORGANIZATIONS
SECTION 1. BIBLE SCHOOL
The Bible School shall be considered as the Church studying the Bible; it shall be under the general supervision and control of the Church. The Bible School Superintendent shall be appointed by the Pastor and Deacons as provided elsewhere in this Constitution. The Directors of our Children’s Church Programs shall be appointed by and subject to our Pastor and Board of Deacons, The Directors’ appointment shall be subject to review at the time of each Annual Business Meeting. Our Children’s Church Director(s) shall be responsible for the administration of our Children’s Church Program which shall be conducted simultaneously with our Sunday Morning Worship Service(s). The purpose of our Children’s Church Programs shall be to provide meaningful worship services for children. The aims shall be:
- To help the children understand why we worship God the way we do.
- To help them understand why we sing, pray, and study God’s Word as part of each service.
- To help them to be able to participate in all other services in a more meaningful manner.
SECTION 3. YOUTH GROUPS
Church membership shall be a prerequisite for persons selected to serve as counselors for the Youth Groups unless otherwise directed by the Board of Deacons. It is recognized that young people serving as officers of the Youth Groups are engaged in a distinct service for the Lord; and because of this, it shall be a prerequisite that they give satisfactory testimony of the new birth. Church membership shall not be required for Youth Officers. The Choir Director, Officers, Organist, Pianist and Choir Members shall be members of this Church in good standing, unless otherwise indicated by the Board of Deacons.
SECTION 5. OTHER ORGANIZATIONS
There shall be other organizations appointed as circumstances dictate, but none shall be started without the consent of the Deacon Board approval. These organizations shall be self-governing, but finally subject to the control of the Church through its Constitution and voted church policy. Literature for all such shall be approved by the Pastor and the Board of Deacons. Officers of the other organizations shall be under the direction of the Board of Deacons who shall state the requirements as to church membership. All officers of these organizations must abide by the statement of Faith, Church Covenant and Rules of Order.
ARTICLE X MISSIONS
It shall be the policy of this Church to support primarily missions engaged in evangelization and church planting. They shall be known to be in hearty agreement with our Statement of Faith, both in doctrine and practice, and be Baptist in name as well as policy and be under an approved agency of this church. A written Missions Policy, authored and maintained by the Missionary Committee and in strict agreement with our Statement of Faith and Constitution, shall provide the guidelines by which the missions of this Church are implemented.”
ARTICLE XI FINANCES
SECTION 1. FISCAL YEAR
The Fiscal Year shall begin on January 1 and end on the following December 31.
SECTION 2. MONEY RAISING
No monies shall be raised by the Church or any auxiliary organization except by free-will giving.
SECTION 3. FINANCIAL OBLIGATION
No financial obligation shall be placed upon the Church either as a mortgage, note, or outstanding bill, or in any other form unless money is in hand to meet the same, except as stated in Article VII, Section 3, Paragraph B, or by Corporate Act of the Church.
ARTICLE XII BUSINESS MEETINGS
SECTION 1. ANNUAL MEETING
There shall be an Annual Meeting of the Church on the first week of February to review and transact yearly financial and other church business, with the exception of elections.
SECTION 2. SPECIAL BUSINESS MEETINGS
Special business meetings may be called by the Pastor, Deacons, or upon written request of any ten (10) eligible voting members, provided public notice is given of the same on the Lord’s Day preceding, except that those for calling or dismissing a Pastor shall be given public notice for two (2) preceding Sundays. At such a meeting, thirty (30) percent of the active members shall constitute a quorum. However, routine business may be done, when necessary, at any stated meeting of the Church without regard to the above requirements. The Pastor and Board of Deacons shall have authority to call an emergency meeting in event of any matter needing immediate attention.
SECTION 3. QUARTERLY BUSINESS MEETINGS
Quarterly business meetings of the Church are to be conducted in the months of May, August, and November, preferably on the second week of the month. The exact date of the meetings will be set by the Board of Deacons and an announcement of these meetings shall be made on the Lord’s Day preceding such meetings. The election of Boards, Officers, and standing committees shall be conducted at the third Quarterly Meeting. In case of any omission in holding any regularly scheduled meeting as above, the meeting shall be called and held upon the earliest available date thereafter.
SECTION 4. ORDER OF MEETINGS
In conducting of business, rules contained in Robert’s Rules of Order shall govern all cases to which they apply. In exceptions a majority vote shall establish the rule. A suggested order of business for the Annual Meeting follows:
1. Reading and approval of minutes of previous meeting.
2. Clerk’s Report.
3. Treasurer’s Report.
4. Report of Deacons-Trustees.
5. Report of the Bible School Superintendent.
6. Reports of Standing Committees and Auxiliary Organizations.
7. Unfinished Business.
8. New Business.
ARTICLE XIII AMENDMENTS
This Constitution may be amended by a two-thirds vote of the members present and voting at any Annual Meeting, or at a called business meeting providing that notice of the proposed amendment shall have been given from the pulpit for two Sundays prior to the meeting at which action is desired.
ARTICLE XIV USE OF THE CHURCH
Use of the church building other than for church-sponsored activities shall be by consent of the Pastor and Board of Deacons.
ARTICLE XV DISSOLUTION
This church shall have the right to own, buy or sell tangible properties, both real and personal, in its own name through properly elected and authorized officers. In event of the dissolution of this corporation, all its debts shall be fully satisfied. None of its assets or holdings shall be divided among its members, but shall be irrevocably dedicated by the Deacons, to such other non-profit religious corporations as are in agreement with the letter and spirit of this Constitution, Statement of Faith, and in conformity with the requirements of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, Code of 1954 L (Section 501 6-3) or any subsequent amendments thereto.
ARTICLE XVI LICENSING AND ORDINATIONS
Any member who in the judgment of the church gives evidence, by his living and aptness to teach, that he is called of God to the work of the ministry, shall be eligible for a license. He shall have preached in the hearing of the Church, and having been examined by the Deacons may upon their recommendation be licensed to preach the Gospel, by the Church, provided two-thirds (2/3) of the members present at any business meeting shall agree thereto. If the Church decides by the two-thirds (2/3) Vote of the members present at any regular called business meeting, that one of its men possesses the Scriptural qualifications for full ordination, it shall call a council of ministers and brethren to examine the qualifications of the candidate and proceed according to custom.
ARTICLE XVII CONSTITUTIONAL INTERPRETATION
When questions arise with regard to the interpretation of this Constitution, the decision of the Board of Deacons shall be considered as the final authority.