Bylaws

CONSTITUTIONAL BYLAWS

ST. PAUL’S REFORMED CHURCH

MEADVILLE, PENNSYLVANIA

CRAWFORD COUNTY

 PART I

PREAMBLE

This church is composed of persons who, believing in God as heavenly Father, accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and depending on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, are organized for Christian worship for the furtherance of Christian fellowship and for the ongoing work of Christian Witness.  2. In harmony with the Word of God, “Let all things be done decently and in order,” the members of this church acknowledge the following Constitutional Bylaws and promise to abide by the same.

ARTICLE I

NAME

 The name of this church shall be ST. PAUL’S REFORMED CHURCH, Meadville, Pennsylvania.

ARTICLE II

PURPOSE

The avowed purpose of this church shall be to worship God; to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, God’s Son; to celebrate the Sacraments; to promote Christian fellowship within this church and the community; to promote Christian life and to advance the Kingdom of God by all means both at home and abroad.

ARTICLE III

POLICY

Section 1.  This church shall be an independent, reformed, congregational church guided by the Word of God and the Constitutional Bylaws as adopted and/or amended by the Congregation.

Section 2.  The government of this church is vested in its members who exercise the right of control in all its affairs subject to the Laws of the State of Pennsylvania relating to Corporations not for Profit or Ecclesiastical Corporations.

ARTICLE IV

DOCTRINE

Section 1.  We acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and the New Testaments as the verbally inspired Word of God and as the sole and infallible guide of faith and life.

Section 2.  The Articles of Faith of the congregation shall be the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed.

Section 3.  We accept the interpretation of the Scriptures as laid down principally in the Three Forms of Unity which is comprised of the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dordt. In substance of definition, however, we rely entirely on the passage(s) of Holy Scriptures referring to the same and in this regard, avail ourselves of the freedom of conscience according to the doctrine of the priesthood of believers as taught in the Bible.

ARTICLE V

MEMBERSHIP

Section 1.  Persons may become members by (a) baptism and either confirmation or profession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior;  (b) reaffirmation or re-profession of faith or (c) letter of transfer from other Christian Churches of like faith in affirmation of the Articles of Faith as articulated in Article IV of these Bylaws. These persons shall be communicant members of the Congregation and shall be entitled to all its rights and privileges.

ARTICLE VI

GOVERNING BODY, EXECUTIVE BODY, SPIRITUAL COUNCIL

Section 1.  The governing body of this church is the Congregation.  The Congregation shall be defined as the membership assembled in church meetings duly and legally called as provided in the Constitutional Bylaws.  The legislative and administrative power of the Congregation is vested in the Congregation itself.  The vote of the majority of members present shall be the action of the church.  A quorum shall consist of 10% of the church membership.

Section 2.  The Executive body of this church shall be called the Consistory.  It shall be composed of the Pastor/Pastors without a vote, Elders, and Deacons.  Any person to be eligible as a candidate for membership on the Consistory shall have been a church member, in good standing, and have attained the age of twenty-one (21) years. One shall serve as Deacon and have attained the age of twenty-one (21) years of age before being elected an Elder. The pastor(s), elders and deacons shall conform to the Bylaws of St. Paul’s Reformed Church.

ARTICLE VII

MEETINGS

Section 1.  The Congregation shall hold its Annual Meeting in the month of January.  At this meeting the Consistory, the Officers of the Church, the Pastor (Pastors) and all Church organizations shall submit their annual reports in writing.  Special Congregational Meetings may be called by the Consistory or by a petition to the Consistory signed by not less than 5% of the Membership.  The Consistory shall call such meetings within three (3) weeks from receipt of the petition.  Special Congregational Meetings are to be announced on the two (2) successive Sundays prior to the meeting and the Church Secretary shall be instructed to send a notice of such meetings to each member of the Congregation at least two weeks prior to the special meeting.

Section 2.  The Consistory, the Executive Body of the Church, shall meet the following month after the Annual Meeting of the Congregation for the purpose of organization and thereafter once every month to transact such business as may properly come before it.  Special meetings are subject to the call of the President or Pastor.

ARTICLE VIII

THE PASTOR

Section 1.  The Congregation shall elect as a Pastor a minister who has been approved by St. Paul’s Reformed Church, Meadville, PA.

Section 2.  As soon as a pastoral vacancy occurs, It shall be the responsibility of the Search Committee appointed by the Consistory to prepare a profile and to seek a candidate for a vacancy in the office of the Pastor. In filling a vacancy or in securing supply ministers for a period of vacancy, the Search Committee may seek the counsel of trusted, ordained, members of the clergy of like Christian faith. The Search Committee may request such advisor(s) to secure relevant information about any minister whom it wishes to consider for the vacancy.

Section 3.  A favorable vote of the Congregation constitutes a Call.  In the Call, the details of the relationship shall be stated including the agreement of the church to participate in a pension fund, a health insurance program, and other terms agreed between candidate, the committee and the church. The minister and the church shall receive a copy of the Call.

Section 4.  When a minister accepts a call to this church, the church and/or the minister may join in arranging for a service of installation.

Section 5.  The Pastor shall be elected for an indefinite period.  In order to terminate this relationship, three (3) months notice shall be given by either party.  The procedure shall be in accordance with the Constitutional Bylaws of St. Paul’s Reformed Church.  When either party decides to terminate the relationship, the termination shall be by action of the Church Consistory with the approval of the Congregation.  The Church may, at its discretion, choose additional professional staff as needed.

Section 6.  The discipline of the pastor shall be in conformity with the Constitutional Bylaws of St. Paul’s Reformed Church.

ARTICLE IX

THE PROPERTY

Section 1.  The Church may, in its Corporate name, sue or be sued, acquire by purchase or by gift, devise, bequest, or otherwise own, hold, invest, reinvest, or dispose of property, both real and personal, for such work as the Church may undertake.  The Church may purchase, own, receive, hold, manage, care for and transfer, rent, lease, mortgage, or otherwise encumber, sell, assign, transfer, and convey such property for the general purposes of the Church.  The Church may receive and hold in trust, both real and personal property and invest, reinvest the same, and make any contracts for promoting the objects and purposes of the Church providing the State Laws permit.

Section 2.  The purchasing or selling of property, the borrowing of money, remodeling and erection of buildings shall conform to the State Laws and be determined only by a majority vote of the members assembled at a duly convened congregational meeting with the exception of the expenditures approved by the Consistory as explained in Part 2, Article VI, Section 1 of these Bylaws.

Section 3.  All Church property is and will remain for all times the indivisible possession of the Congregation. No other person or entity shall have any claim on it nor any authority to dispose of it so long as this Congregation exists.

Section 4.  In case of a division in the membership of the Congregation, or of dissolution of the Congregation, the Congregation shall decide the disposition of all assets and property and may obtain independent legal advice, if necessary.

PART 2

The official year of this Congregation shall be from January 1 to December 31, inclusive.

ARTICLE I

PRIVILEGES AND DUTIES OF MEMBERS

Section 1.  Persons who have been duly received into its communion by confirmation, by letter of transfer, or by profession of faith, and have not been excluded by the process of Christian discipline, shall be communicant members of this Congregation and shall be entitled to all its rights and privileges.

Section 2.  Communicant members in good and regular standing shall have the right to voice and vote in the Congregation and also to represent the Congregation on the Consistory or other judicatories of the Church as provided for in the Constitutional Bylaws.

Section 3.  Members shall pledge themselves to attend the regular worship of the Church and celebration of the Lord’s Supper, to live the Christian life, to share in the life and the work of the Church, to contribute to its support and benevolence, and to seek diligently the spiritual welfare of the membership and the community.

Section 4.  It is the duty of all members to pray fervently for the welfare of the Church, to encourage the family to have daily devotions in the home, to present newly born infants for Holy Baptism, to give careful attention and to set an example for the religious training of their children, including regular attendance at Sunday School, catechism instruction and Worship Service.  It is the duty of members to give liberally to the financial support of the Church, to obey the Church laws and authorities, to have an untiring zeal in bringing the unchurched under the influence of the Church, and to participate in Church organizations when and wherever possible.

Section 5.  Continued membership in the Church will be evaluated by the Pastor and Elders. Additions or deletions of members from the membership rolls shall be by vote of the church when a quorum is present at a duly called meeting of the congregation.

Section 6.  Members who have moved to other cities or communities shall be urged by the Pastor to obtain letters of transfer, and as soon as possible, unite with another Congregation.

ARTICLE II

OBLIGATIONS TO OTHER ORGANIZATIONS

Section 1.  The Congregation may contribute to the support of any missions activity, organization or cause that is (1) in conformity with the doctrinal position of this church in matters of faith and practice; (2) for the purpose of promoting the Kingdom of God and the Great Commission of Christ.

ARTICLE III

FINANCES OF THE CHURCH

Section 1.  The finances of the Church shall be administered by a budget.  The budget shall consist of current support of the Church, maintenance, and other benevolence programs decided by the Congregation.  The budget shall be prepared in all details by the Finance Committee, and accepted by the Consistory, before being presented to the Congregation at the Annual Meeting.

Section 2.  If the Church is used for funerals, weddings, or other social activities, a fee schedule as determined by Consistory will govern.

ARTICLE IV

EXECUTIVE BODY, THE CONSISTORY

Section 1.  Members of the Consistory shall be elected by ballot by a majority vote cast at the Annual Congregation Meeting.  The Consistory shall consist of the Pastor (without a vote), six (6) Elders, and six (6) Deacons.

Section 2.  Two (2) Elders and, two (2) Deacons shall be elected each year at the Congregational Meeting for a period of three (3) years.  If any Consistory member is unable to serve his or her full term, a successor shall be appointed by the Consistory to serve the remaining portion of the term.

Section 3.  The committee to nominate members of the Consistory shall consist of five (5) members, two (2) representing the Consistory, and three (3) representing the Congregation.  The President of the Consistory shall appoint one (1) Elder, one (1) Deacon, and appoint one as Chairman.  The Congregation shall elect in October three (3) representatives to this nominating committee.  This five (5) member committee shall meet in November to select a minimum of two (2) Elders, and two (2) Deacons as nominees for Consistory membership.  The Congregation may make nominations from the floor at the annual meeting at which meeting Consistory members are elected.

Section 4.  Fifty-one percent (51%) of Consistory members, not including the Pastor, shall constitute a quorum.

Section 5.  Newly elected members of the Consistory shall be installed as soon after their election as possible and shall remain in office until their replacements are duly elected and installed.

ARTICLE V

DUTIES OF OFFICERS OF THE CONSISTORY

Section 1.  The Officers of the Consistory shall be a President, who shall be an Elder, a Vice President, who shall be an Elder, Secretary, General Treasurer and Benevolence Treasurer.  These Officers shall perform the duties prescribed by these Constitutional Bylaws and by the parliamentary authority adopted by the church.

Section 2.  A nominating committee for Officers of the Consistory shall be appointed by the President.  This committee shall consist of one (1) Elder and two (2) Deacons.  The committee, with the aid of the Pastor, shall present names of nominees to the members of the Consistory for election.

Section 3.  It is the duty of the President to see that all meetings of the Consistory are regularly called by the Secretary of Consistory to open and conduct such meetings and see to the executing of all resolutions.  He shall remind the Pastor to announce all regular and special meetings of the Congregation on two successive Sundays or, in case it is so decided by the Consistory, instruct the Church Secretary to send a call to such meetings to every member by mail.  He shall also be empowered with the Secretary of Consistory to sign all contracts, loans, vouchers, and deeds in the name of the Congregation.

Section 4.  The Vice President shall preside at all meetings where the President is not present and also when business pertaining to the President and his/her administration is before the Congregation.  The Vice President shall do all in his power to help the President and to make his administration easier.  In the absence of the Vice President, an Elder shall preside.

Section 5.  The Secretary shall keep a record of all proceedings at the meetings of the Congregation and of the Consistory, issue the call to all regular meetings at the request of the President, and attend to all correspondence.  The Secretary shall, with the President, sign all contracts, loans, and deeds.

Section 6.  The General Treasurer shall receive and make disbursements of all monies for Congregational support.  The General Treasurer shall render a monthly report to the Consistory and an annual report to the Congregation.

Section 7.  The Benevolence Treasurer shall receive and disburse all monies for Congregational support of benevolence programs as approved by the Missions Committee and shall render a monthly report to the Consistory and an annual report to the Congregation.

Section 8.  The Church Secretary and General Treasurer shall record all monies received in the envelopes and prepare yearly statements to the members of the Congregation.

Section 9.  The President and the Pastor are ex-officio members of all committees of the Congregation and all committees of Consistory.

ARTICLE VI

DUTIES OF CONSISTORY

Section 1.  The Consistory shall transact the business of the Church, making provision for the preparation and raising of the budget, apportionment, and benevolent expenditures.  The Consistory shall not be authorized to make any single expenditure over $5000 without consent of the Congregation.

Section 2.  The Consistory shall approve all bills not covered by a budgeted item before payment.

Section 3.  The Consistory shall keep a complete and accurate record of all its proceedings and shall submit such to the Congregation upon request.

Section 4.  The Consistory shall direct the Pastor to keep a complete record of baptisms, confirmations, reception of members, transfers, dismissals, marriages, and deaths.  All records shall be the property of the Congregation.

Section 5.  The Consistory shall assist the Pastor in acting upon applications for membership, requests for letters of transfer and shall give letters of transfer when legally requested.  It shall discuss and devise plans towards the quickening of the spiritual life of the Congregation.

Section 6.  The property of the Congregation, whether real or personal, and all monies and legacies, shall be under the care of the Consistory.  The Consistory shall hold the property as a sacred trust for the Congregation.  It shall keep church buildings belonging to the Congregation in proper repair.

Section 7.  The Consistory shall approve the selection of a Church Secretary, a Custodian, an Organist, and/or a Choir Director and any other employees as deemed to be necessary to fulfill the mission of the Church.

Section 8.  Consistory shall function to administer the total program of the Church through five (5) major departments whose Chairperson and Co-Chairperson shall be appointed by the Consistory President and Pastor, and these five departments are:  Education, Finance, Mission, Property and Worship.

Section 9.  The five departments, directed by Chairperson and Co-Chairperson, shall consist of as many as deemed necessary by each Chairman, at least fifty-percent of whom are not from Consistory membership, and shall be appointed by the respective Co-Chairpersons for a term of one (1) year, open to reappointment, and each department shall meet a minimum of once a month for nine months each year.

ARTICLE VII

DEPARTMENTS

Section 1.  The EDUCATION Department shall plan, organize and control, through Task Forces, the following:  (a) Christian Education events including family and youth programs; (b) Church Leadership

and Management Training; (c) Library Management; (d) Nursery Care for Sunday School and Worship; (e) Sunday School Management and (f) other educational functions as Consistory deems necessary.

Section 2.  The FINANCE Department shall plan, organize and control through Task Forces the following:  (a) Audit of the Treasurers’ books at the close of each fiscal year; (b) Budget the total church program, including the Memorial and Trust Funds, as directed and approved by the Church Treasurers, Consistory and the Congregation; (c) Personnel management, including annual consultation with church employees and (d) other fiscal functions as Consistory deems necessary.

Section 3.  The MISSIONS Department shall plan, organize and control, through Task Forces, the following:  (a) Social action including community involvement and association with other churches and organizations. (b) Membership care including visitation of the sick and shut-ins, recruitment of new members, assimilation and involvement of all members; (c) Benevolence in general; (d) other functions of evangelism and mission as Consistory deems necessary.

Section 4.  The PROPERTY Department shall plan, organize and control, through Task Forces, the following:  (a) Building and Grounds supervision of maintenance, repair and new purchases when deemed necessary, and periodic inspection of all church properties; (b) Church-use scheduling shall be coordinated principally through the church office with its official calendar; (c) Supervision of the custodian shall be managed through the Co-Chair persons or their representatives for maximum efficient operation of the church; (d) Kitchen and hospitality management of events as Consistory deems necessary and (e) other functions of property management and activities as Consistory deems necessary.

Section 5.  The WORSHIP Department shall plan, organize and control, through Task Forces, the following:  (a) Communication-events supervision of news publicity, broadcasting or other public relations activities; (b) altar maintenance and supervision including – securing acolytes; parament-vestments management in the sanctuary; sacraments scheduled, prepared and supervised; (c) Flowers scheduled, secured and distributed as the Task Force shall determine; (d) Music ministry and coordination with the organist and/or choir director and choir for all worship events including weddings, funerals and special services; (e) Ushers and Greeters, utilizing as much of the membership as is possible, shall provide warm hospitality for members and guests; orderly dignity in distributing bulletins, collecting the offerings and other duties as may be deemed helpful; (f) other functions of worship as Consistory deems necessary.

Section 6.  Other Departments, Committees or Task Forces may be added or deleted as Consistory may determine.  The Chairperson, appointed by Consistory President and Pastor, shall be a member of Consistory.  Consistory shall endeavor to involve as many members as possible in the five departments and their respective Task Forces.

ARTICLE VIII

THE PASTOR

Section 1.  It shall be the duty of the Pastor to set a good example for the Congregation, to conduct all religious services, to administer the Holy Sacraments, visit the sick, counsel the distressed, and to perform all such duties as belong to the Pastor’s office. The minister shall keep a record of services performed, making an annual report to the Congregation and a monthly report to Consistory.

Section 2.  The Pastor is an ex-officio member of the Consistory and all organizations of the Church.  As long as he is Pastor, no other minister shall perform any religious ceremony in the Church without his consent.  To invite a speaker during a temporary absence of the Pastor, or for special occasions in any organization of the Church, the consent of both Pastor and Consistory is necessary.  The Pastor’s salary shall be paid promptly semimonthly (the 15th and end of the month) and shall be sufficient to relieve him from temporal care so far as possible, and to preserve the dignity of his calling.  His moving expenses, when he assumes charge, shall be borne in full by the Congregation.  The discipline of the Pastor shall be in conformity with the Constitutional Bylaws of St. Paul’s Reformed Church.

ARTICLE IX

PARLIAMENTARY AUTHORITY

The current Roberts Rules of Order shall be the parliamentary authority for all matters of procedure not specifically covered by these Constitutional Bylaws.

ARTICLE X

NO SAME SEX MARRIAGE 

As a body of believers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we welcome all individuals in our church worship and invite all to join the membership of this body in accordance with Part 1, Article V of this Constitutional Bylaws. We also believe in the scriptural sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. We will not allow our minister to perform same-sex marriages in St. Paul’s.

ARTICLE XI

AMENDMENT OF CONSTITUTIONAL BYLAWS

Amendments to these Constitutional Bylaws may be made at any duly called Congregational Meeting by a two-thirds (2/3) affirmative vote of the members present:  public announcement of the text of the proposed amendment (amendments) having been made two (2) successive Sundays prior to the meeting.

Adopted by Consistory and Congregation on January 27, 2013.

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