Gretna Baptist Church Constitution
Article I – Name
The name of this church shall be Gretna Baptist Church in the city of Gretna, and the state of Nebraska, and shall be so incorporated under the laws of this state.
Article II – Purpose
The purpose of this church is to be a traditional Baptist church that will preach and practice the timeless Word of God, without compromise but with compassion, ready and willing to reproduce itself.
Article III – Associations and Cooperation
The church shall be an independent, autonomous Baptist church subject only to Jesus Christ, its Head. It has the right to cooperate and associate with other biblical groups on a voluntary basis.
This church shall not associate nor cooperate with any person or group which is a part of or approves of religious movements and organizations with beliefs contrary to our articles of faith (II Corinthians 6:14-17; Romans 16:17, I Tim. 6:3-5).
Article IV – Membership
Section 1. Reception of Members
A. Membership in this church shall be open to all those who:
1. Profess to be born again through faith in Jesus Christ;
2. Have been baptized by immersion following profession of faith in Christ;
3. Seek to live a Christ-honoring life, avoiding areas of immorality as taught in Scripture;
4. Are in agreement with the Covenant, Constitution, and Articles of Faith of this church.
5. Membership shall not be denied to any person on the basis of race, color, sex, or social status.
B. Candidates may be received into membership by majority vote of the church after one of the following;
1. Baptism by immersion following salvation;
2. A letter of recommendation from another church of like faith and practice;
3. Statement of Christian experience (when it is impossible to secure a church letter), provided the candidate has been saved and immersed;
4. Restoration to membership after having been dismissed from membership.
C. All candidates for baptism and/or membership shall be interviewed by the pastor and/or deacons. They shall give satisfactory evidence of their conversion, Christian experience and acceptance of the covenant, constitution and articles of faith of this church. The pastor and deacons shall recommend qualified candidates to the church for appropriate action.
Section 2. Benefits of Members
The benefit of membership includes voting in all business meetings, holding office, and serving in positions of leadership such as Sunday school teacher and ministry leader.
Section 3. Discipline of Members
A. The purpose of church discipline shall be:
1. To help errant members recognize and repent of their sins so they may be restored to fellowship with the Lord and this church (Galatians 6:1);
2. To maintain the purity of this church by removing those who are unrepentant toward their sins (I Cor. 5:7, 11)
3. To restrain others from committing sin
(I Timothy 5:20).
B. Any unscriptural attitude, action, or violation of the church covenant may be deemed sufficient cause for discipline, Situations which may require disciplinary action shall be handled by the pastor and deacons confidentially, Discipline may include loss of office, placement on the inactive list, or dismissal from membership. Dismissal from membership shall be by vote of the church (Matthew 18:15-17).
C. Members who are absent from the services of this church for a period of 90 days without due cause shall be placed on the inactive membership list. Those on the inactive list may not vote, hold office, or serve in the church.
D. Persons on the inactive list who desire to be restored to full membership shall meet with the pastor and deacons to give satisfactory evidence of a repentant attitude and renewed interest.
Section 4. Termination of Membership
A. Members who are disciplined by exclusion are removed from membership.
B. Members who have been on the inactive list for nine months shall be removed from membership.
C. Members who unite with other churches shall be removed from membership. Letters of dismissal with a recommendation may be sent upon request to other churches of like faith for those members in good standing.
D. Members who have died shall be removed from membership.
Article V – Ordinances
Ordinances are ceremonies established by the Lord Jesus Christ which He gave as symbolic reminders to the Church.
Section 1. Baptism
Those professing faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior shall be immersed in water by the pastor or someone appointed by the pastor and/or deacons.
Section 2. The Lord’s Supper
The Lord’s Supper shall be served at regular intervals to the assembled church by the pastor and deacons. Since it is the Lord’s Supper, none who are born-again shall be barred. The pastor shall explain the meaning of the ordinance, encouraging those present to examine their own lives before participating. The elements shall be unleavened bread and grape juice.
Article VI – Officers
Section 1. Officers and Leaders
A. The elected officers of the church shall be pastor, deacons, clerk, treasurer, and financial secretary.
B. No person shall be elected to office who has not been a member of this church for at least six months.
C. All officers and leaders shall be spiritually mature, loyal to the Word of God, faithful in attendance and support of the regular services and business meetings of the church. Their moral conduct shall be beyond reproach and free of carnal indulgences, such as the use of intoxicating beverages or drugs, tobacco in all forms, and other worldly practices.
D. All officers shall normally assume their duties at the conclusion of the annual business meeting. Any officer unable or unwilling to fulfill the duties of the office shall resign or the church may vote to declare the office vacant and shall elect another to fulfill the duties of that office.
Section 2. Pastor
A. The pastor shall be a fundamental Baptist minister who meets the qualifications listed in I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. He shall be a spiritually mature man who evidences a burden for lost souls and who is in agreement with the documents and policies of this church. He shall be a man who has never been divorced nor married to a divorced woman.
B. A candidate for the pastorate shall be carefully examined by the pulpit committee as to his salvation, doctrine, Christian conduct and call to the ministry. If he has served in other churches, his ministry should be explored for evidence of the Lord’s blessing. Pastoral candidates shall have opportunity to question and be questioned by the church membership.
C. A vote to call a candidate pastor may be taken at a meeting of the church called for that purpose and announced from the pulpit for two Sundays immediately preceding the date of the meeting. Voting shall be by written ballot. Only one candidate shall be considered at any given meeting. A three-fourths majority of those present and voting shall be necessary for a call. The deacons shall inform the candidate of the church’s decision as soon as possible. If favorable, a written notification shall also be sent to the prospective pastor giving details of the church-pastoral relationship, including salary, housing and car allowances, insurance, vacations, etc.
D. The pastor shall serve for an indeterminate time, and shall continue as pastor as long as it is mutually agreeable to him and the church. The pastor may announce his resignation at any time but shall not terminate his duties until thirty days after his announcement or at a time mutually agreeable to both him and the church.
E. The pastor may be dismissed by a two-thirds ballot vote at a meeting called for that purpose and announced from the pulpit on the two preceding Sundays. If dismissed, the pastor’s duties shall end immediately and he shall receive sixty days’ salary.
F. The pastor, his wife and qualified children shall be received into the membership of this church.
G. The pastor shall be the administrative overseer of the church. He shall be responsible for coordinating the church’s programs and ministries. The pastor may call a meeting of the church, deacons or committees at any time and may moderate such meetings. He shall be an ex officio member of all committees.
H. The pastor shall receive no less than two weeks of paid vacation annually. He and his wife may be sent to two conferences per year approved by the deacons with all expenses paid by the church. Time spent shall not be considered as vacation time.
Section 3. Deacons/Trustees
A. The church shall elect from its membership at least two qualified men to serve as deacons. They shall be spiritually mature men who have been members of this church for at least six months. They shall be actively engaged in seeking to win the lost, have a good family testimony, have never been divorced, and shall be in hearty agreement with the policies and programs of this church. The must meet the standards of Acts 6:3 and I Timothy 3:8-13.
B. The term of office shall be two years, arranged so that one-half of the deacons are elected each year. If a deacon is unable to complete his term of office, a special election may be held to choose a replacement to complete the unexpired term.
C. The deacons shall assist the pastor in promoting the spiritual welfare of the church, serving as his helpers and counselors. They shall exercise prudent watch care over the church membership, visiting the sick and examining candidates for baptism and membership. They shall assist at baptisms and with the preparation and distribution of the Lord’s Supper.
D. The deacons shall serve as trustees of this church for legal purposes. They shall have authority to acquire and dispose of church property up to the value of one thousand dollars. All transactions exceeding that amount shall first be approved by vote of the church except for routine budget matters. The deacons shall be responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the church facilities, equipment and properties.
E. The deacons shall serve as the pulpit committee when a vacancy occurs in the office of pastor. They shall also serve on the nominating committee.
Section 4. Staff Personnel
A. All staff personnel such as Associate Pastors, Secretary, and Custodian, shall be approved by the pastor, work under his supervision and be in harmony with the program of this church.
B. All staff personnel shall be called by majority vote of the church upon the recommendation of the pastor and deacons.
C. Staff personnel may be dismissed at any time by the pastor and deacons. Salaried personnel shall be paid thirty days’ salary and shall have thirty days to vacate church-owned housing. Their duties shall terminate immediately or at the time set by the pastor and deacons.
Section 5. Clerk
A. A church clerk shall be elected each year at the annual business meeting. The clerk shall record and maintain a printed record of the minutes of all business meetings of this church, receive and keep on file the quarterly and annual reports from all administrative committees, maintain a current record of membership, baptisms, receptions and dismissals of members.
B. The church clerk shall be responsible for all official correspondence requiring an official signature. The clerk shall certify to the bank the names of officers who are authorized to have access to the safety deposit boxes and to sign the checks for disbursement of funds.
C. The church clerk shall make available all records, files or document upon request to the pastor, deacons or church. Upon retirement or removal from office, the clerk shall promptly deliver all records, files and papers belonging to the church to the newly elected clerk or to the deacons.
Section 6. Treasurer
A. A treasurer shall be elected each year at the annual business meeting, shall be responsible for keeping an accurate and permanent record of all financial transactions of church funds and shall make quarterly and annual reports to the pastor, deacons and church.
B. The treasurer shall be responsible for depositing all funds in appropriate accounts at an approved banking facility, shall pay and record all bills and routine expenses approved by the pastor and deacons as well as disburse funds and salaries directed by the church.
Section 7. Financial Secretary
A. A financial secretary shall be elected each year at the annual business meeting. This person, along with others so appointed, shall be responsible for receiving, counting, and recording all offerings of the church. This person shall promptly turn all monies over to the treasurer for deposit and shall give an accurate record thereof to the treasurer and pastor each week.
B. The financial secretary shall keep an accurate, confidential record of all individual contributions and shall issue annual statements of receipt to all donors.
Article VII – Finances
Section 1. General Fund
A. This church and its ministries shall be financed through the tithes and offerings of God’s people. No sales, suppers or other commercial means shall be used. All monies are to be placed in the General Fund under a unified budget. Additional monies may be borrowed when approved by vote of the church.
B. The salaries of the pastor and staff personnel shall be paid from the General fund and shall be reviewed at least once a year with consideration being given to the rising cost of living.
C. All expenses for special meetings and speakers shall be paid from the General Fund with speakers being reimbursed for their travel expenses. They shall receive honorariums determined by the pastor and deacons.
Section 2. Missions Fund
All missionary support shall be paid from the Missions Fund. At least ten percent of the annual budget of the church (or a higher amount approved by the church) shall be designated from the General Fund to the Missions Fund. In addition, all special offerings received for missions shall be transferred to the Missions Fund. Monies will be received for and sent only to those missionaries who meet the requirements of Article IX.
Section 3. Building Fund
A building Fund shall be maintained for the purpose of acquiring properties, constructing and maintaining the facilities of this church. At least ten percent of the annual budget of the church (or an amount approved by the church) shall be designated to the General Fund to the Building Fund. In addition, all special offerings received for the Building fund shall be transferred to the Building Fund.
Section 4. The Budget Committee
The budget committee shall consist of the pastor, at least two deacons and the treasurer. It shall be the duties of this committee to prepare the budget for the ensuing year for presentation to the church for its approval at the annual meeting. The committee shall function throughout the year to recommend budget revisions to the church as may be deemed necessary.
Section 5. The Auditing Committee
The auditing committee shall consist of two members appointed by the budget committee. It shall audit all accounts of the church and its organizations and certify the same by written report at the first quarter business meeting. All financial records shall be made available upon request to the auditing committee. The committee may be assisted by a professional auditing firm if authorized to do so by vote of the church.
Article VIII – Business Meetings
Section 1. Calling Business Meetings
A. The annual business meeting shall be held during the month of January on a day set by the pastor and deacons and shall be announced at least two weeks in advance.
B. Quarterly business meetings shall be held during the months of April, July, and October, or on a day set by the pastor and deacons and shall be announced at least two weeks in advance.
C. Special business meetings may be called at any time by the pastor or deacons (with the pastor’s knowledge) or upon written request to the pastor and deacons by ten unrelated voting members.
D. The official church year shall coincide with the calendar year.
Section 2. Procedures at Business Meetings
A. All items for church action shall first be submitted to the pastor and deacons for their consideration and recommendation. If an item is rejected by the pastor and deacons, it may be re-submitted with the signatures of ten unrelated voting members and shall be placed on the agenda at the next quarterly business meeting.
B. The pastor shall moderate all business meetings. If the office of pastor is vacant, the chairman of the deacons shall serve as the moderator.
C. Robert’s Rule of Order shall be the final authority when disagreement arises in procedural matters, unless such matters are covered by this constitution.
Section 3. Voting at Business Meetings
A. The presence of twenty-five percent of the voting members shall constitute a quorum. Active members eighteen years of age and older shall be eligible to vote.
B. All elections and matters of business shall be decided by majority vote of members voting unless otherwise stated in this constitution.
C. Election of officers shall take place at the annual business meeting. Special elections to complete unexpired terms shall be held as the nominating committee recommends. Newly elected officers shall assume their responsibilities at the close of the business meeting during which they were elected.
Section 4. Nominating Committee
A. This committee shall be composed of the pastor, two deacons and two members selected by the deacons from the church at large. No elected officer of the church whose term expires shall be appointed to the nominating committee.
B. All nominations shall be submitted in writing to the nominating committee for review. Unqualified names shall be dropped from consideration. The committee shall meet with each qualified nominee and secure consent to serve in harmony with the pastor and the constitution of the church, if elected.
C. Names of qualified nominees shall be made public two weeks prior to elections. If qualified candidates are available two or more members shall be nominated for each office. No nominations shall be made from the floor.
D. The committee shall provide ballot forms for all elections.
Section 5. Committees
A. Such committees as may be deemed necessary may be appointed by the pastor and deacons or established by vote of the church for the furtherance of this ministry.
B. Each committee chairman shall submit a written report of discussions, decisions and plans to the pastor and deacons and shall submit written quarterly and annual reports to the church.
C. Committees shall make available upon request all records and materials to the pastor, deacons or church. The pastor and deacons shall have the right to overrule any plans or decisions made by any committee.
D. No committee or subsidiary organization shall engage in any practice or conduct contrary to the position and policies of this church.
Article IX – Missions
Missionaries, mission agencies and organizations desiring to speak in or be supported by this church shall be Baptist in name and practice. They shall be in agreement with the doctrinal position of this church and shall be separated from all forms of apostasy and those who compromise therewith.
A. It shall be the policy of this church to support missionaries who are actively engaged in evangelism, the training of national church leaders and the establishment of Baptist churches at home and abroad.
B. Missionary support levels shall be reviewed at least once a year with consideration being given to the rising cost of living.
Article X – Property
Section 1. Property
A. This church shall have the right to own, buy, and sell tangible properties, both real and personal, in its own name and through properly elected officials, when authorized by vote of the church.
B. No profit shall ever accrue to the benefit of any individual from the assets, holdings or other transactions in which this church may become involved.
Section 2. Dissolution
In the event of the dissolution of this church, all of its debts shall be paid in full. None of its remaining assets or holding shall be divided among the members or other individuals, but shall be irrevocably designated by corporate vote of this church prior to dissolution to non-profit fundamental Baptist organizations which are in agreement with the articles of faith adopted by this church and in conformity with the requirements of the United States Internal Revenue Service Code of 1954 (Section 501 C-3) and the laws of the State of Nebraska.
Article XI – Amendments
This constitution may be amended, altered or revised by a three-fourths vote of the members voting at a business meeting of this church called for that purpose. The proposed amendment(s) shall be made available to church members at least two weeks prior to said meeting.
The church may adopt from time to time such bylaws in amplification hereof as may be necessary or desirable, and shall provide therein for amendment of the same.