Harbour Shores Church Constitution

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PREAMBLE

We, the members of Harbour Shores Church of Hamilton County, Indiana, desiring to faithfully serve the Lord Jesus Christ, to foster the spirit of harmony, to promote good order in the church, and to better set forth our position before the world, do ordain, and establish the following articles, to which we voluntarily submit ourselves.

 

ARTICLE I - NAME

This assembly is incorporated as Harbour Shores Baptist Church, Inc. We shall be known as Harbour Shores Church.

 

ARTICLE II - STATEMENT OF PURPOSE

A. To exalt the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Savior of the world, and the Head of His church. (Matthew 16:13-18; Romans 10:8-11; Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:15-19.)

B. To establish a local congregation of believers patterned after the New Testament Church and obedient to the teaching of the Scriptures.

C. To build and advance the true church of which Christ is the Head:  

       1. By preaching the Gospel of Christ to the lost and leading them to the Savior, beginning in our "Jerusalem" and extending to the "uttermost parts of the earth (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).

       2. By providing a place where believers can assemble to worship the Lord (Hebrews 10:25).

       3. By teaching believers the doctrines of Scripture and training them for the work of the ministry (II Timothy 2:15; Ephesians 4:11-12).

D. To administer the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord's Supper as set forth in the New Testament.

                 

 

ARTICLE III - CHURCH COVENANT

Having been led by the Holy Spirit to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, and on the public confession of our faith, having been immersed in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, we do now, in the presence of God and  His assembly, solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another as one body in Christ.

We purpose, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love; to strive for the advancement of this church body in knowledge and holiness to promote its prosperity and spirituality; to attend its services regularly; to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline and doctrines; to give it a sacred preeminence over all institutions of human origin; to give faithfully of time and talent in its activities; to contribute cheerfully and regularly, as God has prospered us, to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the gospel throughout all nations.

We also purpose to maintain family and private devotions; to train our children according to the Word of God; to seek the salvation of our kindred and acquaintances; to walk circumspectly in the world; to be just in our dealing, faithful in our engagements, and exemplary in our conduct; to avoid all gossip, backbiting and unrighteous anger; to abstain from all forms of activity which dishonor our Lord Jesus Christ, cause stumbling to a fellow believer, or hinder the winning of a soul to Christ; to be zealous in our efforts to advance the cause of Christ, our Savior; and to give Him preeminence in all things.

We further purpose to encourage one another in the blessed hope of our Lord's return; to watch over one another in brotherly love; to remember each other in prayer; to aid each other in sickness and distress; to cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and courtesy in speech; to be slow to take offense but always ready for reconciliation and mindful of the rules of our Savior, to seek it without delay.

We moreover purpose that when we remove from this place, we will as soon as possible unite with some other church of like faith and practice, where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God's Word. In the event there is no such church, we shall seek, with the Lord's help, to establish one.

 

ARTICLE IV - THE STATEMENT OF DOCTRINAL BELIEF

The Statement of Doctrinal Belief is that which was ratified by the church and is on file in the church office. The Statement of Doctrinal Belief is presented to all candidates for membership in the church.

 

 

ARTICLE V - ASSOCIATION

This church, recognizing Christ as its Head, shall not be subject to any other authority. It may associate in fellowship with those of like faith and practice and may declare itself in agreement with others in a common cause, but under no circumstances shall such association or agreement ever be construed as bringing this church under the authority of any person, group, or body.

 

ARTICLE VI - MEMBERSHIP

SECTION 1. Adult membership in this assembly shall be restricted to regenerated believers, ages 18 and older, who have followed the Lord in baptism by immersion following conversion or who have affirmed their intent for membership having previously held child membership at Harbour Shores Church..

SECTION 2. Youth membership in this assembly shall be restricted to regenerated believers, under 18, who have followed the Lord in baptism by immersion following conversion.

SECTION 3. Applicants for membership will be received upon their confession of faith. Applicants shall be interviewed by the Elders who shall make a recommendation to the church for reception; otherwise the applicant's name shall not come before the church. An attempt shall be made to notify the church where the applicants have been members.

SECTION 4. Applicants for membership shall give their testimony concerning their assurance of salvation and baptism to the Elder Body. They shall declare their substantial agreement with the statement of doctrinal belief of this church and their willingness to be governed by it, the constitution and by-laws. They shall be encouraged to become actively involved in at least one area of ministry within the church.

SECTION 5. Applicants deemed eligible for membership by the Elder Body shall be received into the membership of the church by a majority vote of the HSC membership.

SECTION 6. Letters of transfer shall be granted for members in good standing upon request from churches of like faith and practice. Letters of dismissal shall be granted to members in good standing who are uniting with churches other than those of like faith and practice. If a member is not in good standing, churches requesting a letter will be notified as to their standing and status in the church.

SECTION 7. Members demonstrating a pattern of prolonged absenteeism from all services of the church shall be contacted by an Elder regarding their absence to encourage faithfulness in attendance. Members unwilling to resume regular attendance shall be excluded  from membership by a majority vote of the HSC membership at a duly called business meeting. The delinquent member shall be notified of such action. Exemptions in this matter shall apply in cases of illness, infirmity, missionary/Christian service, school, etc.

SECTION 8. Members of this church who shall err in doctrine or conduct shall be subject to dismissal according to Matthew 18:15-18. Before such dismissal, however, it shall be the duty of any member of this church who has knowledge of the erring member's heresy or misconduct to warn and to correct him/her in private. If the member does not heed this warning, then the warning member shall again go to the erring member accompanied by one or two witnesses to warn and correct him/her. If the erring member still refuses to heed this warning, it shall be brought to the attention of the Elder Body. The Elders shall seek to aid the erring member to restoration. They may recommend to the church proper action in relation to the erring member who declines restoration. He/She shall be subject to public dismissal from the church. A majority vote in a regular or duly called business meeting shall be sufficient for dismissal. The erring member shall be notified of such action.

 

ARTICLE VII - ELDERS

SECTION 1. ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE
            
While we recognize that Jesus Christ is the head of the church, the Elder Body will organize itself in the following manner:

A. The Senior Pastor/Teacher will serve as the head of the Elder Body. He shall have the main teaching and preaching responsibilities within the church family. While he functions as the leading Elder, he is to approach his position as a leader among peers.

B. The Elder Body will meet on a monthly basis. Special meetings may be called when deemed necessary. A quorum, which shall consist of at least 51% of the total number of Elders, shall be present to conduct any business.

C. The Elder Body will organize itself in order to provide oversight for all ministries of the church.  

D. The Elder Body will annually select from its number both a chairman and secretary. The chairman's responsibility will be to provide oversight for the Elder Body in the absence of the Senior Pastor. The secretary's responsibility will be to record and distribute the minutes of the Elder Body meetings.

E. The Elder Body will be responsible for determining and upholding the doctrinal truths believed and practiced at HSC.

F. The Elder Body, will provide oversight for accountability and ministry partnership over the Deacon flock ministry and ensure that the spiritual and physical needs of each individual and/or family are being met. The Elder/Deacon relationship shall be viewed as a team ministry with the Elders primarily responsible for the spiritual needs and the Deacons primarily responsible for the physical needs.

G. The Elder Body will be responsible for developing goals, projects, and ministries for HSC. The Elder Body will  also develop direction to implement the plans it suggests.

SECTION 2. THE AUTHORITY OF THE ELDER BODY
 
A. The Elder Body will have complete authority in any area involving questions relating to scriptural truth.  

B. The Elder Body will have oversight over all ministries and committees of the church. The ministries and committees shall not meet without Elder approval.

C. The Elder Body will have authority to initiate the process for disciplining individuals for violating scriptural purity. Dismissal shall only come after all attempts at restoration have failed according to the biblical pattern of Matthew 18. Any matters that cannot be decided upon unanimously by the Elder Body may  be brought before the congregation for their input and discussion. This is to be done for the purpose of gathering input. It will remain the responsibility of the Elder Body to come to a unanimous decision before any action is taken.

D. Be it resolved that all decisions relating to doctrinal truth and spiritual direction must be decided by unanimous vote by all Elder Body members.

E. If, after having followed the pattern of Matthew 18, the Elder Body fails to regulate itself biblically, they disqualify themselves from office and may be voted out by the congregation. This vote must be taken by a written, signed ballot and be passed by a vote of 80%.

 

ARTICLE VIII - THE STAFF ELDERS OF THE CHURCH

Staff Elders shall consist of the Senior Staff Elder and Associate Staff Elder(s).

SECTION 1. QUALIFICATIONS

A. They must have been called of God to the work of the Gospel ministry and be adequately trained for the preaching/teaching of the Gospel and the pastoral ministry.

B. They must meet the Scriptural qualifications set forth in I Timothy 3:1-7, Hebrews 13:7 and 17, Acts 20:28, and I Peter 5:1-4.

C. They must be men of unquestionable character as determined by careful search into their past history prior to extending the call to minister at HSC.

D. They must be in agreement with the Statement of Doctrinal Belief of this church and be willing to work under its Constitution and By-Laws.

SECTION 2. CALL

A. When the need arises to add or replace a Staff Elder the members of the congregation shall be encouraged to present their recommendations of persons for the office of Staff Elder to the Elder Body. The Elder Body shall interview qualified men recommended for the office.

B. The Elder Body, after prayerful deliberation, will present to the congregation approved candidates for the position of Staff Elder. The congregation will be given an opportunity to hear them preach and to question them.

C. Following unanimous approval among the Elder Body, a candidate’s name will be submitted to the membership of HSC for two consecutive Sundays prior to a vote of confirmation by the members. During this two week period, any objections to the candidate’s appointment should be brought before an Elder privately. If no objections are raised or if the objection(s) is (are) found to be invalid by the Elder Body, the candidate will be submitted to the membership for a public vote of confidence. A candidate must receive 80% approval to be confirmed to the office of Staff Elder.

SECTION 3. TENURE

A. A Staff Elder is called to serve an indefinite term.

B. He may terminate his ministry by submitting in writing his resignation to the Elder Body, no less than thirty (30) days, and no more than sixty (60), days prior to the effective date. The Elder Body will announce the resignation to the congregation. The thirty (30) day notice or the sixty (60) day notice may be waived by mutual consent.

C. A Staff Elder's ministry may be terminated under the following circumstances:

       1. Definite and Deliberate Sin

           a) Two or more persons who believe that a Staff Elder is involved in definite and deliberate, unscriptural or sinful activity should submit to the Elder Body a written statement regarding the accusation supported by their reasons for such an accusation. (Matthew 18:16; I Timothy 5:19).

           b) The Elder Body will investigate the accusation by interviewing all parties involved.

           c) If the Staff Elder is proven to be involved in definite and deliberate, unscriptural and/or sinful activity, which would disqualify him from serving as an Elder, he will be relieved of his duties, his employment will be immediately terminated, and he will be given thirty (30) days severance pay. The church will be notified of such action at the earliest possible date.

       2. Dereliction of Duties

           a) Two or more persons who believe a Staff Elder is failing to discharge his Biblical and/or assigned responsibilities should submit to the Elder Body a written statement regarding the accusation supported by their reasons for such an accusation.

           b) The Elder Body will fully investigate the accusation.

           c) If the Staff Elder is proven to be failing in the discharge of his Biblical and/or assigned responsibilities, the Elder Body will counsel with him to attempt to correct the situation. The Staff Elder will then be given specific goals and a timeline to correct the problem. If the problem is not corrected within the established time frame, the Staff Elder will be relieved of his duties, his employment will be immediately terminated, and he will be given thirty (30) days severance pay. The church will be notified of such action at the earliest possible date.

SECTION 4. DUTIES

A. SENIOR STAFF ELDER

       1. He shall be responsible for the preaching/teaching ministry of the congregation and the spiritual welfare and general oversight of the church.

       2. By virtue of his office, the Senior Staff Elder will serve as the moderator of the Elder Body.

B. ASSOCIATE STAFF ELDER(S)

He/They shall be responsible for duties as agreed upon by him/themselves, the Senior Staff Elder, and the Elder Body. He/They will also assist the Senior Staff Elder in the oversight and shepherding of the church.

SECTION 5. COMPENSATION

The Staff Elders of the church shall be financially compensated for their service to the church and receive other benefits as defined by present church policy set by the Non-Staff Elders and approved by the membership.

 

ARTICLE IX - NON-STAFF ELDERS
    
SECTION 1. QUALIFICATIONS

A. Elders must fulfill the scriptural requirements as outlined in I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.

B. Elders must be men who have been believers for at least 5 years.

C. Non-Staff Elders must have been members of HSC. for one year, which is a sufficient period of time to demonstrate a lifestyle pattern which is in harmony with the biblical qualifications as stated in I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.

SECTION 2. SELECTION

A. The selection of new Elders can occur whenever the Elder Body deems necessary.

B. The Elder Body is responsible for selecting men to serve in available positions. This process involves the following steps:

       1. An interview with the Elder Body.    

       2. The sharing of public testimony.

C. After unanimous approval by all Elder Body members, a candidate's name will be submitted to the membership of HSC for two consecutive Sundays prior to a vote of confidence by the members. During this two-week period, any objections to the candidate's appointment should be brought before a member of the Elder Body privately. If no objections are raised, or if the objection(s) is (are) found to be invalid by the Elder Body, the candidate will be submitted to the membership for a public vote of confidence. A candidate must receive 80% approval to be confirmed to the office of  Elder.

SECTION 3. TENURE

A. Non-Staff Elders are called to an indefinite term.

B. If the non-Staff Elder desires to resign from the Elder Body, 30 days notification prior to the effective date of his resignation is requested.

C. A Non-Staff Elder's ministry may be terminated by the following procedure:

       1. Two or more persons, who feel that a Non-Staff Elder is involved in definite and deliberate unscriptural or sinful activity, or is failing to discharge his biblical ministry  duties, should submit to the Elder Body a written statement regarding the accusation supported by their reasons for such an accusation (Matthew 18:16; I Timothy 5:19).

       2. The Elder Body will investigate the accusation and then proceed to call for a vote of confidence from the congregation, if such action is justified. An eighty percent (80%) affirmative vote will support the Non-Staff Elder's continued ministry. The vote must be by ballot in a business session announced for this purpose on two consecutive Sundays.

       3. Depending upon the severity of the offense, the Non-Staff Elder may be relieved of his duties, pending the vote of confidence.

SECTION 4.  DUTIES
        
A. Elders are expected to devote themselves to prayer, reading, and studying the Bible daily.

B. Elders are expected to shepherd the members of HSC and manage the church body.

 

 

ARTICLE X - THE ROLE OF A DEACON

SECTION 1. QUALIFICATIONS

A. They must meet the spiritual qualifications set forth in I Timothy 3:8-13.

B. Deacons must be male members, twenty-one (21) years of age or older who have been members of the church in good standing for a period of one year.

C. The Board of Deacons will be determined by the size of the congregation, the demands of the ministry, and the availability of biblically qualified men (I Timothy 3:1-13). The Elder Body will recommend to the congregation when additional members should be added.

SECTION 2. SELECTION

A. The Elder Body shall select those they believe are qualified for the office of Deacon. Each voting member is encouraged to contact an Elder with their recommendations for Deacon selection.

B. Those selected will then be personally interviewed by the Elder Body regarding their desire to serve in this capacity, and their individual qualifications as determined by Scripture and the Constitution of the HSC.

C. The names of those selected shall be posted two (2) weeks prior to the election meeting Public testimony will be given prior to the election.

D. The Elder Body will then submit a ballot of name(s) to the church, giving each voting member of the congregation an opportunity to elect said Deacon(s). Each  candidate on the ballot will be presented to the church for an affirmation vote. Each candidate receiving at least 2/3 of the votes cast will serve as Deacon.

E. The Deacons shall serve as the official trustees of the corporation.

SECTION 3. TENURE

A. Once confirmed by congregational vote, each Deacon will be considered to be called to serve an indefinite term, as long as he continues to meet the scriptural requirements for the position.

B. Recognizing that life events may require such, a Deacon may step out of service at any time and for any period of time by notifying the chairman of the Deacons of his intent.

C. However, for the sake of continuity in ministering to the flock, a minimum term of three years is the expectation, unless there are extenuating circumstances as stated above.

D. If there has been a period where a Deacon is not actively serving and he is then ready to return to service, he must meet with a member of the elder body or their designee to discuss his return. Upon approval by that elder or designee, he will be considered an active deacon. An additional public testimony and congregational vote will not be required in that instance.

E. The same procedure will be followed for the dismissal of a Deacon as is outlined for the dismissal of an Elder. (Article VIII, Section 3)

SECTION 4. ORGANIZATION/DUTIES

A. The Board of Deacons shall organize itself in such a way so as to effectively pray for and minister to the physical needs of the congregation.  

B. In the discharge of their duties, the Board of Deacons are under the supervision of the Elder Body.

C. The Deacons shall be organized as a board. The board shall annually select a chairman and a secretary from among their number. They shall meet  each month and whenever requested by the Elder Body.

D. The Deacon Board shall keep minutes of its meetings and shall submit these minutes to the Elder Body regularly. The Deacon Board shall meet with the Elder Body in joint session once a quarter to confer on matters of common interest.
    

 

ARTICLE XI - THE CHURCH MODERATOR

SECTION 1. The Senior Staff Elder, by virtue of his office will  moderate all public meetings and business sessions of the congregation.

SECTION 2. At the request of or in the absence of the Senior Staff Elder, another Elder will moderate.

 

ARTICLE XII - FINANCES

SECTION 1. The fiscal year shall be from January 1st through December 31.

SECTION 2. The primary means of disbursement of moneys shall be by check. All cash disbursements shall be properly receipted and accounted for.

SECTION 3. All regular moneys for the church shall be raised only by voluntary tithes and offerings from the congregation.

SECTION 4. Special moneys for property or buildings may be financed, by vote of the church, by loans, mortgages or bonds.

SECTION 5. No individual or committee shall have the authority to obligate the church to any indebtedness without the prior approval of the church congregation.

SECTION 6. The Finance Committee will oversee the receipt and disbursal of all funds of the church and will monitor budgetary spending in cooperation with the Elder assigned to the various budget categories. An Elder selected by the Elder Body will oversee the Finance Committee.
        
SECTION 7. Designated gifts will be accepted only toward projects approved by the church and are encouraged to be over and above the tithe.

SECTION 8. All church moneys will be distributed in accordance with the annual church budget as approved by the congregation. Any expenditure outside of the church budget must be approved by the Elder Body. Any unfavorable variance of $2,500 or more within the expense categories must be approved by the congregation. These unfavorable variances will be brought to the congregation for approval shortly after the release of each quarterly financial report.

SECTION 9. Financial reporting will take place on a quarterly basis.

 

ARTICLE XIII - MISSIONS

SECTION 1. It will be the policy of this church to promote and support missionaries whose doctrine is in conformity with that of our church as outlined in our Statement of Doctrinal Belief.

SECTION 2. The church will strive to designate not less than ten percent (10%) of its annual operating budget toward mission work.

SECTION 3. All committed missionary support will be approved by the congregation.

 

ARTICLE XIV - MEETINGS

SECTION 1. The church body shall meet each Sunday morning for corporate worship and at other designated times as recommended by the church leadership and approved by the congregation.

SECTION 2. The Annual Business Meeting shall be held no later than the last Sunday in January of the following year. Special Business Meetings may be called by the Elder Body.

SECTION 3. The Annual Budget Meeting will be held prior to the start of the next fiscal year.

SECTION 4. Where applicable, Robert's Rules of Order shall govern the conduct of business in all sessions.

 

ARTICLE XV - AMENDMENTS

SECTION 1. The Constitution and By-Laws of this church may be amended at any duly announced business meeting by a majority vote of members present.

SECTION 2. The proposed amendments or changes will be available for the membership two consecutive Sundays prior to the next business meeting.

 

ARTICLE XVI- QUORUM AND VOTING AGE

SECTION 1. A minimum of 25% of the voting members shall constitute a quorum.

SECTION 2. The voting age shall be eighteen (18) years or older.              

 

ARTICLE XVII- DISSOLUTION CLAUSE

In the event of the dissolution of this corporation, all of its debts shall be fully satisfied. None of its assets or holdings shall be divided among its members or other individuals, but shall be irrevocably designated by corporate vote prior to dissolution to such other nonprofit religious corporations as are in agreement with the letter and spirit of the articles of doctrinal belief adopted by this church, and in conformity with the requirements of the United States Internal Revenue Service's Code of 1954 (Section 501-C-3).

This Constitution and By-Laws were adopted on April 1, 1980, and were last amended on December 19, 2010, and supersede any and all constitutions previously adopted.

 

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