Church Constitution

Constitution of the First Baptist Church

Ottawa, Kansas

 

PREAMBLE

Because we believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and because we accept the distinctive historic convictions of the Baptist people which, simply stated are:

  1. a.              The right and competency of each individual soul to approach God in faith for salvation through Christ;
  2. b.              A church membership composed of believers in Jesus Christ;
  3. c.              The spiritual authority of the Bible in all matters of faith and practice;
  4. d.              The independence of a local congregation under the Lordship of its Head, Jesus Christ, and the responsible cooperation of that congregation with other Baptist churches;
  5. e.              The principle of spiritual freedom which calls for separation of Church and State;
  6. f.              The obligation to take the Gospel to every person and nation of the world, we, therefore, band ourselves together as a body of baptized believers in Jesus Christ and adopt for our government, plan of worship, and service, the following articles.

 

ARTICLE I

Name

The name of this organization shall be the First Baptist Church of Ottawa, Kansas.

 

ARTICLE II

Purpose

The purpose of this church shall be the advancement of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. It shall seek to attain this through the public worship of God, the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and by bringing people to a personal acceptance and confession of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Personal and corporate evangelism, the witness of consistent Christian living by its members, Christian education, Christian social action programs, Christian fellowship and nurturing, and missionary and philanthropic endeavors, under God's leadership, will accomplish our purpose.

 
ARTICLE III

Denomination Affiliations

This church shall be affiliated with the East Central Area ABC, American Baptist Churches of the Central Region, the American Baptist Churches of the U.S.A., the Baptist World Alliance, National Council of Churches, and the World Council of Churches. Furthermore, the church shall work cooperatively with all other evangelical Christian groups.

 

ARTICLE IV

Property

Title:    Documents of ownership of all church property, real or personal, shall vest in the Church Council.

Transfer:

  1. Transfer of real estate shall be made upon recommendation of the Church Council and an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members present at a properly called business meeting announced for-that purpose.
  2. Transfer of vehicles and/or items of antique or historic value may be accomplished with the approval of the Church Council.
  3. Simple transfer of money accounts and/or securities from one type of investment to another may be made by the Church Council upon recommendation of a majority of the members of the Stewardship Committee present at a properly called meeting. Security documents require signatures designated in Subsection (4).
  4. Transfer of documents of ownership of real or personal property must bear the signatures of any two of the following persons: Pastor, Moderator, Chairperson of the Stewardship Committee.

 

ARTICLE V

Members

Section 1.    The fellowship of this church is open to all people who come seeking forgiveness of sins and eternal life. The members of this church in full and regular standing shall consist of persons professing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, giving evidence of such faith through practice and behavior, and adopting and upholding the views and practices generally held and followed by the American Baptist Churches, U.S.A.

 Section 2.    Associate Members:  Membership may be granted to member of other churches, (e.g. students and others temporarily residing in Ottawa) who wish to be affiliated with the church without severing connections with their home church. Associate members shall be entitled to all rights and privileges of the church except the right to vote on questions which affect the doctrinal position of the church or on the purchase or sale of real property. 

Section 3.    Reception of Members: Any person professing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal savior and adopting the views of faith and practice held by this church may be received as a candidate for full membership in First Baptist Church in one of the following ways:

           a.  By Baptism.   Baptism by immersion shall continue to be taught as the most meaningful symbol of the new birth and one's identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Baptism by immersion shall be administered to the new Christians requesting membership in the church and to any other person requesting baptism of this church.

            b.   By Letter. Members in full and regular standing from other Christian churches may be received by letter from their respective churches provided that the church accepts the New Testament as a basis of doctrine and practice.

            c.  By Experience of Relation. Those who have once been members of a church that accepts the New Testament as a basis of doctrine and practice and have no valid letter of dismissal may be received upon statement in person of their belief in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and of their unity of faith with us.

            d.  By Restoration. Any member on the inactive list of the Church Roll may request the Diaconate Ministries to reinstate them to the active member list in the Church Roll, and all such requests will be approved unless the Diaconate Ministries Committee learns of some reason why the request should be disapproved.  Candidates' names shall be submitted to the Diaconate Ministries Committee for review and recommendation to the Church Council for action.

 Section 4.    Dismissal of Members: Members may be dismissed in any of the following ways:

             a.  By Letter. Members who are in good standing, shall, upon their request be granted letters of dismissal. Letters shall be issued to specific churches, not to the member.

                 b.    By Forfeiture. The Diaconate Ministries Committee will contact any member who is inexplicably absent from all the meetings of this church for two months. If efforts to contact a member continue unsuccessfully for greater than one year, and upon recommendation by the committee, the member's name will be moved to the inactive list in the church roll following a review of the matter by the Church Council.

             c.  By Resignation. Any member may resign by delivering a letter stating the desire to resign to the Pastor or to the Chairperson of the Diaconate Ministries Committee.

 

ARTICLE VI

Officers - Powers - Duties

 Section 1.    The Moderator: The Moderator shall be elected in accordance with the election processes provided in the By-Laws, to serve for a two-year term. The Moderator shall be Chairperson of the Church Council, preside over all major business sessions of the church, shall execute (sign) all legal documents approved by the Church Council, and have such other duties as ordinarily apply to the presiding officer of a group organization. In the absence of the Moderator, the Pastor or another member of the Church Council as designated by the Church Council will act for the Moderator. The Moderator is responsible to the congregation.

 Section 2.    Church Council: The Church Council shall be the executive body of the church, subject to the authority of the entire church membership. The Church Council will be composed of Moderator, Pastor, Assistant Pastor and/or Minister of Education, a representative of th eAmerican Baptist Women's Ministries and nineteen members from the membership of the Church. In accordance with the election processes provided by the By-Laws, there will be twelve elected members at large on the Church Council. They will he elected for one three-year term, one-third being elected each year. There shall also be at least one additional member of high school or college age elected for a term of one year. No elected Church Council member may serve more than one elected term consecutively. The provision is made that when an individual is filling an uncompleted term, the person may be eligible to serve one three year term upon the completion of the original term. Six of the nineteen members will be elected to serve two-year terms as Chairpersons of the Standing Committees. Insofar as possible, the congregation will elect to chair the committee, a person who has had one or more years of experience as a member of that Committee. The duties of the Church Council shall include, but not be limited to the following:

          a.              To promote the spiritual interests of the church.
          b.              To recommend plans for current and future activities.
          c.              To elect ad hoc committees as may be provided or considered advisable.
          d.              To be responsible for the ordinances of the church.
          e.              To nominate a pastoral search committee in case of a vacancy in the pastorate, to be elected by the congregation, and to secure interim pastoral service.
          f.              To determine, unless directed otherwise by the congregation, staff personnel -- lay and professional salaries, conditions, and employment.
          g.              To act for the church in all matters of business, financial concerns and obligations within the regular approved budget parameters. Non-budgeted expenditures exceeding one percent (1%) of the total approved budget must be presented to the church congregation for approval. In the event of an emergency, in which time would not permit proper notification for a business meeting, the Church Council shall be empowered to act in behalf of the congregation.
         
h.              To call meetings of the church on its own motion or upon a petition signed by any fifteen or more members of the Church.
          i.              To authorize signatures for official communications and substitute signatures for documents of title in the event of absence or incapacity of any two persons so authorized in Article IV, d.
          j.              To arrange its own organizations, plans, and procedures.

Vacancies in the elected Church Council members shall be filled for the unexpired term in accordance with the election processes provided in the By-Laws. Council members who shall accumulate more than three (3) unexcused absences from regular scheduled meetings during any calendar year shall be automatically dismissed from the Council. The following absences shall be excused: illness, death in the family, vacations, employment obligations. The Church Council shall carry out its work as far as possible through the following standing committees: Diaconate Ministries, Education, Fellowship, Outreach, Stewardship, and Worship.

 Section 3.    Standing Committees: Each committee shall consist of a Chairperson elected to a two year term in accordance with the election processes provided by the By-Laws. In addition to the Chairperson, each committee shall consist of a minimum of four (4) persons who are recommended by the Chairperson for approval of the Church Council plus the pastor and/or a pastoral appointee as an ex-officio member.

 Responsibilities of the standing committees will include the following:

          a.   Arrange their organization, plans and procedures.
          b.   Act in areas of concern within their responsibility and within budget parameters set by the approved budget total for their committee. Line items, within committee budgets, may be changed by affirmative action of the committee providing the total approved committee budget is not exceeded.
          c.
   Implement policy of the Church Council.
          d.   Elect task force groups for specific needs.
          e.   Make regular reports of activities and concerns to the Church Council.
          f.    Prior to disbanding, transfer to the subsequent committee all relevant information concerning the work of the committee. 

The six standing committees are:

Diaconate Ministries:   Areas of concern for this committee will include but not be limited to: matters of membership and dismissal as directed in Article V, Sections 3 and 4; membership orientation, working with the pastors on pastoral and spiritual care of members, hospital and shut-in visitation, working with the pastor on benevolent needs as they arise, and attention to members through a program of care and concern.

Education:    Areas of concern for this committee will include but not be limited to the following: church school, nursery care, children, youth, adult, and family work, teacher education, Bible study, and teaching church doctrine.

Fellowship:   Areas of concern for this committee will include but not be limited to the following: Social events, social visitations, specific social programs, and recreation.

Outreach: Areas of concern for this committee will include but not be limited to the following: Mission (home and foreign), evangelism, social action, ecumenical relations, community needs, general calling, calling on newcomers, and publicity.

Stewardship:  Areas of concern for this committee will include but not be limited to the following: Supervision of finance, audits, budget preparation, supervision of properties, insurance, stewardship programs, and use of the buildings and facilities.

Worship: Areas of concern for this committee will include but not be limited to the following: Corporate worship, prayer, preaching, music, scripture reading, bulletins, ushers, pulpit supplies, ordinances, flowers and decorations, and other matters having to do with the worshiping life of this congregation.

 

Section 4.    Pastor: The pastor is directly responsible to the local church (as pastor) and to the Church Council (as administrator). The Pastor shall have such authority in management and leadership as is necessary for effective church action, subject to the Constitution and the advice of the Church Council. The Pastor will be in overall charge of worship, pastoral care, social welfare, and such other activities as are commonly associated with pastoral leadership.

          a.   Calling: The Pastor shall be called by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members present, and upon recommendation of a pastoral search committee as provided in Article VI, Section 2 of this Constitution. The pastoral search committee shall only consider pastoral candidates who are registered with the American Baptist Personnel Services, or recommended by the Area Minister. The congregational vote to call the Pastor will only occur at a properly called business meeting of the church with the approval of two-thirds of the members present. The written notice must state that a vote to call the Pastor will occur at the meeting.
          b.  Releasing: The Pastor shall serve a continuing term, it being understood and agreed that either the congregation, upon recommendation of the Church Council, or the Pastor shall give a sixty-day notice of desire to terminate the agreement. The congregational notification of release of the Pastor will only occur at a properly called business meeting of the church with the approval of two-thirds of the members present. The written notice must state that a vote to release or retain the Pastor will occur at the meeting.

 Section 5.    Minister / Coordinator of Education, Assistant or Associate Pastor, Youth Worker or similarly named position: This position or its equivalent shall be filled by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members present at a properly called business meeting of the church upon recommendation by the Pastor and in agreement with the majority of the Church Council. The staff person shall be directly supervised by the Pastor. Release of this staff person shall be accomplished by the Church Council in consultation with the Pastor. Appeals can be made to the congregation.

 Section 6.    Support Staff- The Support Staff, i.e., Minister of Music, Organist, Financial Secretary, Custodians, Office Secretary, is employed by the Church Council upon recommendation of the Pastor. Release of the Support Staff shall be accomplished by the Church Council in consultation with the Pastor. In the daily performance of their duties, all support staff shall work under the supervision of the Pastor, who shall coordinate the supervision with the Church Council and/or appropriate standing committees. In the absence of the Pastor, this administrative responsibility shall be assumed by the Moderator. 

Section 7.    Lay Staff- The Lay Staff, i.e., Recording Clerk, Hostess, Librarian, Historian, shall be elected by and be responsible to the Church Council to serve one-year terms. 

Section 8.    Pastoral/Staff Relations Committee: The principle area of concern for this committee will be to improve the pastor, staff, and member relationships in order to bring about a mutuality of ministry, resolve unfruitful conflict, and assist the church with its mission.  Membership shall consist of five members serving two-year terms: two shall be appointed by the Nominating Committee on behalf of the Congregation, one appointed by the Church Council, and two appointed by the Pastor.  The members shall serve on a rotating basis. After serving two terms (four years), a person must be off the committee at least one year before reelection/reappointment. The committee shall elect one of its members as chairperson. The committee shall meet at least quarterly. Duties of this committee will include but not be limited to the following; serving as an advisory group to the pastors, bringing concerns of the congregation to the pastors; and the concerns of the pastors to the congregation.

 Section 9.    Affiliated Groups: Officers, functions and procedures of affiliated groups, such as American Baptist Men's Fellowship, American Baptist Women's Ministries, will be determined by the groups themselves, subject only to the general supervision of the Pastor, Church Council, or other church agencies which would have relevant relationship.

  

ARTICLE VII

Amendments

 Section 1.    This constitution and Bylaws may be amended by written ballot at any properly called business meeting of the church with the approval of two-thirds of the members present, provided that notice of the amendment is made in writing in the official church publication and/or by special written communication to all members at least two weeks before the vote is taken.

Adopted January 23, 2000
Last Amended September 5, 2007