By Laws

Article I

 Authority of God’s Word

The Bible alone is the ultimate standard and supreme authority by which all matters of belief and conduct are to be decided and carried out in this Church.  These Bylaws are merely intended to highlight some of the doctrines and practices prescribed in the Bible for a local Church; and, in matters where the Bible is silent, to establish the patterns of procedure and operation that the membership of this particular local Church have agreed upon for conducting business and carrying out Biblical mandates in an orderly fashion.  If, how-ever, at any point, these Bylaws are found to be inconsistent with or contrary to the Bible, they are, in that point, null and void.  All other provisions of these Bylaws would remain in full force and effect.

Article II

Purpose

This Church is a congregation of baptized believers in Christ who are united to worship Almighty God; to recognize and proclaim Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; to teach the doctrines of God’s Word; and, to encourage one another in obeying the teachings of God’s Word.

Article III

Church Membership

Section 1.  Definition of Membership 

The membership of this Church shall consist only of those who have a sound testimony of genuine conversion to Christ by the power of God and who have been baptized by immersion after their salvation under the authority of a Church that believes, preaches, teaches and obeys the Bible.  In addition, the membership of this Church shall consist only of those who are in agreement with the commonly embraced beliefs and practices of this Church.

Section 2.  Requirements for Church Membership

In order to help secure a regenerate and unified membership as described in Section 1 of this article, the following steps are required before a prospective member may be considered for Church membership:

1. A signed “Membership Covenant” must be submitted to the Elders.  This Covenant is to be used in any pre-membership instructional sessions the Elders may deem necessary. 

2. A signed “Doctrinal Statement” must be submitted to the Elders. This Statement is to be used in any pre-membership instructional sessions the Elders may deem necessary.

3. In order to discern evidence of genuine conversion to Christ, the Elders may, at their discretion, require a prospective member to submit a written testimony describing their salvation.

4. In addition to the steps described above, the Elders may require additional verbal or written clarification from a prospective member in order to discern, to the best of their ability, the genuine conversion and Scriptural baptism of that prospective member as described in Section 1 of this article. 

Section 3. Procedure for Receiving New Members

When the requirements set forth in Section 2 of this article have been met, the following process shall ensue to receive a prospect into the membership of the Church:

1. The Elders will meet and must by unanimous vote receive the prospect into church membership.

2. In a Sunday morning worship service, the Elders will present the new member to the Church and ask for a vote of affirmation. The business meeting in which this vote of affirmation occurs will not require a one-week notice.

3. Upon affirmation by the Church, the new member will have the full privileges, rights, and responsibilities of a Church member as described elsewhere in these Bylaws.

Section 4. Charter Members

The charter members of Grace Baptist Church shall be as follows:

1. All former members of Boe Road Baptist Church and Faith Baptist Church may become charter members of Grace Baptist Church by meeting the membership requirements described in items 1 and 2 of Section 2 of this article. No further screening by the Elders will be required.

2. Anyone attending the worship services of Grace Baptist Church at the time of its formation who was not a member of Boe Road Baptist Church or Faith Baptist Church, may become a charter member of the new Church by completing the full requirements of Sections 2 and 3 of this article before June 30, 2017.

Section 5.  Procedures for Dismissing Members

A member may be removed from the Membership Roll of the Church for any of the following reasons:

1. The Church has received a letter of resignation from the member.

2. The Church has received written confirmation that the member has united in fellowship with a Church of like faith and practice.  In such cases, the Elders will send a letter to the leadership of that Church confirming prior membership in this Church and giving a brief pastoral evaluation of the transferring member.

3. The Church has received confirmation that the member has united with another “church” not of like faith and practice.

4. The Church has followed all the steps of Church discipline required by Section 9 of this article, and the member continues in unrepentant sin.

Section 6. Membership Roll

            The Church Recording Secretary will be charged with the responsibility of keeping an up-to-date and accurate list of the members of the Church. This list may be kept in written and/or electronic format. Every effort should be made to preserve the list from loss and to protect the confidentiality of the list.

Section 7.  Responsibility of Members

It shall be the responsibility of Church members to obey the Word of God in all of its precepts and to encourage fellow members in such obedience.

Section 8.  Voting Privileges of Members

All members of the Church who have reached the age of 16 will have the privilege of voting in the

governing meetings of the Church in which they are otherwise qualified to participate.  This privilege will be considered in effect at the time a prospective member is received into the membership of the Church (see Section 3 of this article above).  To maintain the voting privilege, a member must be faithful to attend the regular worship services of the Church.  The Elders may adopt a policy to define a required standard of faithfulness and to restrict the voting of unfaithful members. Such a policy, if adopted, must be presented to the church for a binding vote as described below in Article IV, Section 1.9.

Section 9.  Discipline of Members

In addressing and dealing with ongoing, unrepentant sin in the lives of members, the Elders and Church shall follow the Scriptural instruction for member discipline, particularly that found in Matthew 18:15-17.

Article IV

Church Governance

Section 1.  Elders

            1.1 Authority of Elders. The Elders shall have the full responsibility and authority for shepherding the Church. All the activities and affairs of the Church shall be exercised by or under the direction of the Elders. They shall provide the spiritual leadership for the Church as a whole, leading the Church corporately in the direction God would have it go. In all matters where they are not otherwise limited by these Bylaws, or by the Articles of Incorporation of the Church, the Elders shall have the authority and the latitude to superintend, conduct, manage, and control all phases of the operation of the Church in all its departments. In addition to the general authority hereby granted to them in these Bylaws, and the specific authority granted to them elsewhere in these Bylaws, the following authority is expressly granted to the Elders:

(a) To plan and conduct, or appoint others to plan and conduct, all of the worship services of the Church. In all matters pertaining to the order, content, and conduct of the worship services of the Church, the Elders shall have full and final authority.

(b) To approve in advance any preacher, teacher, or speaker who is invited to address the Church as a whole, or who is invited to address any class, organization or sub-group within the Church.

(c) To administer, or arrange for the administration of, the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

(d) To solemnize marriages.

(e) To serve as ex-officio members of all committees and councils of the Church.

(f) To direct the daily administrative affairs of the Church, including the selection, supervision, and removal of all officers and staff members, whether ordained or not, paid or volunteer. This includes the authority to prescribe to officers and staff members duties consistent with Scripture and these Bylaws, and to fix the terms of their office and compensation, when applicable.

(g) To adopt the annual budget for the Church

(h) To approve missionaries, mission organizations, and other ministries the Church will support

(i) To approve all teachers, officers, and committee and board members for the Church

            (j) To make disbursements from the funds and properties of the Church as are required to fulfill the purposes and obligations of the Church.

            (k) To establish policies and practices for the Church.

            (l) To serve as Trustees of the Church as described in Article V of these Bylaws. As Trustees, the Elders shall have the authority to borrow money and incur indebtedness on behalf of the Church, and to make and execute all contracts, deeds, bonds, negotiable instruments, mortgages, trusts, and all other instruments of indebtedness or conveyance. All such instruments may only be executed after approval by the Elders in an Elder meeting as described below in Section 1.4 of this Article. Whenever possible, all such instruments must be signed by all the officers of the Elders as described below in Section 1.6 of this Article.

            (m) To, at any reasonable time, inspect and copy all books, records, and documents of every kind and to inspect the physical properties of the Church.

            1.2 Qualifications of Elders All Elders must be members of the Church and must meet the Biblical qualifications for Elders as set forth in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9.

            1.3 Appointment and Tenure. The initial Elders of the Church shall be appointed according to a process determined by the male heads of the families of the Church. This initial group of Elders may begin serving immediately, but will be affirmed by the Church at the first official business session of the Church after the Charter Membership has been established as described in Article III, Section 4 above. All subsequent Elders will be appointed by the unanimous consent of the existing Elders and will be affirmed by the Church in an official business session. Newly appointed Elders may begin serving immediately and do not have to wait to be affirmed. Additional Elders may be added at any time throughout the Church year. There will be no required or defined limits on the tenure of service of an Elder.

            1.4 Meetings. The Elders may meet as often they deem necessary to conduct and carry out their official responsibilities to the Church, and to consult with each other concerning those responsibilities. The meetings may be scheduled at any time or place suitable to all the Elders. In general, the Elders should plan to meet not less than once every two months, or six times per year. All Elder meetings shall require a one-week notice given to all Elders. This notice may be communicated by any convenient and effective means. In the event of the need for an emergency meeting, the Elders may, by unanimous consent, dispense with the requirement of a one-week notice. Minutes of all Elder meetings must be recorded and kept on file in perpetuity. All Elder meetings will be for Elders only. By unanimous consent, the Elders may open a meeting and extend an invitation to all Church members to attend that meeting. The Elders may also, at their discretion, and by unanimous consent, invite an individual Church member to attend a meeting when that member may benefit from attending, or when that member may contribute to the discussion of a matter, or matters, on the agenda of the meeting. The Elders may also, at their discretion, and by unanimous consent, invite a non-member of the Church to attend a meeting when that non-member may be in a position to make an important contribution to the meeting. The Elders may also, at their discretion, and by unanimous consent, extend to men who may have emeritus status as an Elder a standing invitation to attend the meetings. Those attending the meetings with emeritus status may participate in the discussions, but will not be eligible to vote on issues being decided.

            1.5 Quorum for Meetings. A majority of the Elders actively serving shall constitute a quorum for all Elder meetings as described in Section 1.4 above. However, when the matter to be discussed at a meeting concerns the calling or dismissing of a pastor, or the buying or selling of real estate, attendance by all of the Elders (100%) is required for a quorum to be established.

1.6 Officers. At the first Elder meeting of each Church year, the Elders shall elect from among themselves a Chairman, Secretary, and Treasurer. Providing there are a sufficient number of Elders, a Vice-Chairman and Assistant Secretary should also be elected. The Chairman shall be responsible for moderating the Elder meetings. The Secretary shall record the minutes of the meetings. The minutes of the Elders Meetings shall be kept on file in perpetuity.

1.7 Decisions of the Elders. After prayerful consideration, all decisions shall be reached by a unanimous vote in a spirit of humility, with each Elder regarding one another before himself.

1.8 Action Without Meeting. The Elders may reach a decision without meeting if all Elders shall consent in writing to a duly prepared resolution prescribing the decision in the matter under consideration. Such resolutions shall have the same effect as a unanimous vote of the Elders and shall be documented by including the signed resolution with the minutes of Elder meetings.

1.9 Referral of Decisions to Church Membership. The Elders may refer pending decisions to the membership of the Church for a vote of affirmation, advisement, or for a binding vote. These votes will occur in either the Annual Meeting of the Church or in Special Business Meetings of the Church as described below in Sections 2.1 and 2.2 of this Article. Decisions referred for affirmation, including those prescribed elsewhere in these Bylaws, are for matters in which the unity and unanimous consent, or near unanimous consent, of the membership is expected. Decisions referred for advisement are for matters in which the will of the majority of the Church is being sought by the Elders to enable them to make a better informed decision on behalf of the Church. Decisions referred for a binding vote are for matters in which the Elders have decided to delegate their decision making authority to the members of the Church. All matters related to the purchase or sale of real property and all proposed amendments to these Bylaws must be referred to the Church for a binding vote.

1.10 Resignation of an Elder. An Elder may resign by giving a written notice to the Chairman or Secretary of the Elders. The resignation may be effective immediately or may specify a future date on which it will become effective.

1.11 Removal of Elders. An Elder who is found to be physically or mentally incapacitated or spiritually unqualified to continue (as set forth in the pertinent Scripture, including 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9), may be removed as an Elder of the Church in one of the following ways:

(a) By the Elders. The Elders may, after a thorough investigation and by a unanimous vote, remove an Elder from office. If a matter of ongoing, unrepentant sin is in question, the Biblical process prescribed in Matthew 18:15-18 and the requirement of 1 Timothy 5:19 must be followed. When an Elder is removed because of sin that disqualifies him from serving, his removal shall be accompanied by a public rebuke before the Church at a regularly scheduled worship service as prescribed in 1 Timothy 5:20.

(b) By the Church Members. The members of the Church may remove an Elder, or Elders, from office by a three-fourths majority vote at a specially called business meeting of the Church. This special business meeting shall be scheduled when two-thirds of the Church members sign a petition calling for the meeting. It will be the responsibility of the Elders to arrange for the special business meeting by giving appropriate notice to the Church membership as required elsewhere in these Bylaws. In the event the Elders refuse to arrange for the meeting, the members may gather at a time announced in advance as required elsewhere in these Bylaws, at which time they may choose a moderator and Secretary from among them and proceed with the vote.

1.12 Elder Advisory Council Meetings. The Elders shall meet with the Elder Advisory Council not less than twice each year, but as often as may be deemed necessary by the Elders. The Elder Advisory Council shall consist of all the men who are members of the Church, eighteen (18) years of age and older, who desire to attend the Elder Advisory Council Meetings. The purpose of these meetings is for the Elders to hear from the other men in the Church concerning issues facing the Church. These meetings must be announced two weeks in advance. An informal discussion format will be followed in the meetings, but the discussion will be moderated by one of the Elders.

1.13 Committees.  The Elders may form committees among themselves as they deem necessary.

1.14 Compensation. Elders, as such, shall not receive any stated or fixed salary for their services. However, nothing shall preclude an Elder from serving the Church in another capacity and receiving compensation in that capacity. Any person receiving compensation directly or indirectly from the Church shall not be in a position to determine the nature or amount of said compensation.

Section 2. Business Meetings of the Church

2.1 Annual Meetings. The Church shall be called into a business meeting on the last Sunday of October each year for the purpose of conducting the Annual Meeting of the Church. This meeting may be postponed to a later date if deemed necessary by the Elders, but may not be postponed by more than six (6) weeks.  If the meeting is postponed, the Elders must notify the membership of the date the meeting will be rescheduled.  This notice must be given at least one week prior to the meeting, and may be made by either printed or spoken announcement during the Sunday morning worship service. The agenda for the meeting must be printed and made available to the Church membership one week prior to the meeting. Only the following items of business may be conducted at the Annual Meeting:

(a) Reports on the various ministries of the Church: Sunday School, Missions, Evangelism, etc.

(b) Affirmation by the Church of the Budget for the following Church year as adopted by the Elders. The budget must be printed and made available to the Church membership one week prior to the Annual Meeting.

(c) Affirmation of the Missions Giving Plan (MGP) for the following Church year as adopted by the Elders in consultation with the Missions Committee. The MGP must be printed and made available to the Church membership one week prior to the Annual Meeting.

(d) Affirmation of the Teachers and Committee & Board Members for the following Church year as adopted by the Elders in consultation with other Church leaders. The list of Teachers and Committee & Board Members must be printed and made available to the Church membership one week prior to the Annual Meeting.

(e) Any other items of business the Elders may refer to the Church for a vote.

(f) The Pastor-Teacher, representing the Elders, will present an Annual Message to the Church.  This message will include the assessment of the Elders concerning the state of the Church and any major proposals they may have for the next Church year. 

2.2 Special Business Meetings. The Elders may call a Special Business Meeting of the Church at the conclusion of any regularly scheduled worship service in order to transact special items of business that may arise throughout the Church year, or to refer matters to the Church for a vote. A one-week notice must be given to the Church of the date and specific business to be considered at such a session. This notice may be given either by printed or spoken announcement during the Sunday morning worship service. In cases of emergency, the Church may, by unanimous consent, suspend the rule requiring a one-week notice.

2.3 Quorum for Business Meetings. At all Annual Meetings and Special Business Meetings, the number of members present and voting shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.

2.4 Majority Required In Business Meetings. At Annual Meetings and Special Business Meetings of the Church, a simple majority (50% + 1) of members present and voting shall be required to decide a question, unless a greater majority is required by provisions elsewhere in these Bylaws. 

2.5 Moderator for Business Meetings. The Elders shall appoint the moderator for the Business Meetings of the Church.

2.6 Rules of Procedure During Business Meetings. At the Annual Business Meetings and all Special Business Meetings of the Church as described in Sections 2.1 and 2.2 of this Article above, the duly servingmoderator may set the agenda, lead the discussions, and conduct the voting as he sees fit.  The members of these respective meetings, however, shall retain the right to overrule the parliamentary decisions of the moderator.

Article V

Trustees

The Trustees of the Church shall be the duly appointed and currently serving Elders of the Church as described above in Article IV, Section 1.3. Any business normally conducted by the Trustees of a Church shall be conducted by the Elders in the Elder meetings as described above in Article IV, Section 1.4. All the responsibilities normally carried out by the Trustees of a Church, and all authority normally granted to the Trustees in a Church, will, in this Church, be vested in the Elders as described above in Article IV, Section 1.1.

Article VI

The Pastor-Teacher

Section 1.  The Position and Qualifications of a Pastor-Teacher

            The Church shall seek to keep in place a man gifted by the Holy Spirit to fill the role of Pastor-Teacher as described in Ephesians 4:11. This man must be a member of the Church and must meet the Biblical qualifications for an Elder as set forth in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9.

Section 2: The Calling of a Pastor-Teacher

Whenever a vacancy occurs in the Church for a Pastor-Teacher, the Elders shall determine the process to be used by the Church in filling the vacancy. This process may or may not include the appointment of a search committee to be selected from among the membership of the Church. If such a committee is appointed, the committee will return their recommendation to the Elders, who will have the full and final authority and responsibility for calling the man who will fill the vacancy. The Elders should, when possible, invite the man under consideration to preach in a regularly scheduled worship service of the Church. The Elders may, at their discretion, refer the decision to the Church for either an advisory or binding vote as described above in Article IV, Section 1.9. In all of this process, the Elders, Search Committee, and Church shall consider only one man at a time, and the decision must not be allowed to become a popularity contest between two or more men, which might jeopardize the unity of the Church. At the conclusion of the process, the man chosen by the Elders will be presented to the Church for a vote of affirmation.

Section 3.  The Responsibilities of the Pastor-Teacher

In addition to other responsibilities which may be assigned to him by the Scripture, the Elders, and these Bylaws, the Pastor-Teacher shall have the following responsibilities and authority:

1. The Pastor-Teacher shall “feed the flock of God” by preaching and teaching the whole counsel of God – the Bible (1 Peter 5:2). This is the Pastor-Teacher’s primary ministry to the members.  It is understood that much of his time will be spent in prayer and preparation for the fulfillment of this most important responsibility.

2. The Pastor-Teacher shall serve as one of the Elders and shall have the same responsibilities and authority as the other Elders.

Section 4. Tenure and Removal of the Pastor-Teacher

            There will be no required or defined limits on the tenure of service of a Pastor-Teacher. Because the Pastor-Teacher also serves as an Elder, he may be removed from serving as Pastor-Teacher by the Elders, as described above in Article IV, Section 1.11(a), or by the Church as described above in Article IV, Section 1.11(b).

Article VII

Deacons

Section 1. Qualifications of Deacons

All Deacons must be members of the Church and must meet the Biblical qualifications for Deacons as set forth in 1 Timothy 3:8-13. 

Section 2. Initial Deacons

            Any man who was serving as an ordained Deacon in either Boe Road Baptist Church or Faith Baptist Church, and who becomes a Charter Member of Grace Baptist Church as described above in Article III, Section 4, shall be a Deacon of the Church.

Section 3. Appointment, Tenure, and Removal of Deacons

The Elders may, at their discretion, and at a time when they deem necessary, appoint men to the role of Deacon. A man appointed as a Deacon of the Church, will  be presented to the membership of the Church for a vote of affirmation. There will be no required or defined limits on the tenure of service of a Deacon. The Elders will also have the authority to remove a man from serving as a recognized Deacon of the Church, who has become physically or mentally incapacitated, or who no longer meets the qualifications for serving.

Section 4.  Responsibilities of Deacons

Deacons are responsible for ministering to the widows and others who may need the help and assistance of the Church, and for assisting the Elders in the practical work of the ministry in the Church. This latter responsibility is set forth in Acts 6 and is intended to enable the Elders to spend more time in prayer and preparation for teaching the Word of God.

Section 5.  Deacons Meetings

The Deacons shall meet as often as necessary to discuss and plan for fulfilling their responsibilities as described above in Section 4 of this article.

Article VIII

Staffing Procedures

The Elders may determine the procedures and policies it will use in hiring and dismissing paid staff members, and in enlisting and dismissing volunteer workers such as Teachers and Committee Members.

Article IX

Church Year and Church Fiscal Year

The Church year and Church fiscal year shall coincide with the calendar year: January through December.

Article X

Church Treasury

The Elders shall appoint a Treasurer who shall be charged with the responsibility of receiving, recording, and depositing in a bank the financial contributions given to the Church; and, adequately accounting for their

expenditure.  The Elders may also designate a Financial Secretary to assist the Treasurer in record keeping and reporting.  The Treasurer must be a member of the Church.

All contributions shall be received into a General Fund, unless the Church establishes a Special Fund for some specific purpose and a contributor specifically designates a gift to that Fund.  All such Special Funds will exist only for a limited duration of time.  Gifts will not be received if designated for some purpose for which the Church has not officially established a Special Fund.  This article does not forbid the Church from receiving special one-time benevolence and ministry offerings designated for specific causes, providing the offerings are recommended by the Elders.

The Elders may instruct the Treasurer not to receive a donation or gift to the Church, if, in their judgment, the receiving of that gift or donation would be contrary to the purposes of the Church, or might cause the reputation of the Church to suffer damage.

Article XI

Corporate Records and Reports

         The Church shall maintain adequate and correct records and reports of its business and properties. All such records and reports shall be kept at its principal location, as fixed by the Elders from time to time. Every effort should be made to preserve these records and reports from loss and to preserve their confidentiality.

Article XII

Dissolution

            Upon dissolution of the Church, after all obligations and liabilities have been accounted for and addressed, the Elders shall cause any remaining assets of the Church to be distributed to another Church or ministry of like faith and practice,

Article XIII

Settlement of Disputes

            In any dispute arising between Church members, pastors, or staff pertaining to any matter of spiritual teaching or practices, Church finances, or title to property purchased with Church contributions, the dispute shall be resolved by the Elders of the Church. A decision shall be reached after prayerful consideration, in a spirit of humility, with each Elder regarding one another before himself and striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace as set forth in Ephesians 4:1-3.

Article XIV

Amending Bylaws or Articles of Incorporation

Proposed amendments to these Bylaws, or the Articles of Incorporation of the Church, must originate with the Elders, or be submitted in writing to the Elders.  After review and consideration, the Elders may, at their discretion, present a proposed amendment to the Church for a binding vote, along with a recommendation concerning its approval. This vote may occur at an Annual Meeting or a Special Business Meeting as described above in Article IV.   A two-thirds (2/3) majority of the members present and voting at such a meeting shall be required to approve a proposed amendment.

Originally Adopted: 09-25-16

Amended: 04-23-17