HBC Constitution

Constitution of Harrisonburg Baptist Church

PREAMBLE

We declare and establish this constitution and bylaws to secure and preserve the principles of our faith and to govern the body in an orderly manner. This constitution and its bylaws establish the liberties of each individual church member and the freedom of action of this body in relation to other churches and/or religious entities.

ARTICLE I

NAME

The name of this congregation shall be Harrisonburg Baptist Church.
ARTICLE II
MISSION , VISION, AND PURPOSES

A. Our mission is to go and make passionately devoted followers of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 28: 19-20)
B. Our vision is to reach the next generation for Christ while ministering to all. (Psalm 71:17-18)
C. Our purposes are derived from the description of the church in Acts 2:42-47. They are:

1. Worship – Be a worshiping fellowship that experiences an awareness of God, recognizes His person, and responds in obedience to His leadership.
2. Evangelism – Help others to accept and declare Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.
3. Discipleship – Be Christlike in our daily living by emphasizing total commitment of self, talents, and possessions to the Lordship of Christ.
4. Ministry – Unselfishly minister to all persons in Jesus’ name.

5. Fellowship – Experience an increasingly meaningful fellowship with God and fellow believers.
ARTICLE III
STATEMENT OF FAITH
 
We believe in the divine Lordship of Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, as revealed in the New Testament. We affirm the Holy Bible as the inspired word of God and the basis for our beliefs. We voluntarily band ourselves together as a body of baptized believers in Jesus Christ personally committed to sharing the good news of salvation with all persons.
ARTICLE IV
CHURCH COVENANT

As members of Harrisonburg Baptist Church, we commit to :

A. Safeguard the unity of the church by:
1. Acting in love toward other members
2. Refusing to gossip
3. Supporting the leaders
B. Share the responsibility of the church by:
1. Praying for its growth
2. Inviting the unchurched to attend
3. Warmly welcoming those who visit
C. Serve the ministry of the church by:
1. Discovering our gifts and talents
2. Being equipped to serve
3. Developing servant hearts
D. Support the testimony of the church by:
1. Attending faithfully
2. Living godly lives

3. Giving regularly
ARTICLE V
POLITY AND RELATIONSHIPS
The government of this church is vested in the body of believers who comprise it and as expressed by decisions made by those present at the annual or a called business meeting and operating according to the procedures established in the bylaws of this constitution. This church is not subject to the control of any other ecclesiastical body. It recognizes the obligations of mutual counsel and cooperation with other Baptist churches. Insofar as is practical, this church will cooperate with and support any Baptist/Christian church, or Baptist/Christian organization with which we share common goals and values.
All matters shall be decided by a simple majority of the voting members present at a properly convened business meeting, except as otherwise provided for, in the following order of priority: by this constitution; bylaws; and the latest edition of Robert’s Rules of Order.
ARTICLE VI
ORGANIZATION

A. Business Meeting
A business meeting shall consist of all voting members present at the annual or a called business meeting of the congregation. The congregation, through a business meeting, shall have final authority in managing its internal and external affairs.

B. Leadership Team (As defined in Articles 5, 6, and 7 of the Bylaws)
The Leadership Team is responsible for implementing and managing the church’s ministry. However, the following matters are reserved for action exclusively by the congregation at a business meeting:

1. Call or remove a called minister.
2. Purchase or sell church real estate or buildings.
3. Incur a non-budgeted emergency expense over 5% of the annual budget.
4. Adopt the annual operating budget.

C. Officers (As defined in Article 4 of the Bylaws)
The officers of this congregation shall be such officers as the bylaws of this constitution prescribe. The officers prescribed in the bylaws shall have no authority beyond that conferred upon them in the constitution or bylaws.

 
ARTICLE VII
PROPERTY RIGHTS
 
If circumstances lead to a division or dissolution of the congregation, the church’s property shall be held or allocated as determined by a majority of the members entitled to vote at that time.
ARTICLE VIII
AMENDMENTS
This constitution and bylaws may be amended by two-thirds of the votes cast in a business meeting. The wording of the amended constitution and bylaws shall be published and made available to all members as far in advance as possible, but no fewer than three weeks in advance.

Bylaws of Harrisonburg Baptist Church

ARTICLE 1
MEMBERSHIP

 

A. Candidacy
Any baptized believer may be a candidate for membership in this church. The Leadership Team may approve candidates for membership by:
1. Profession of faith in Jesus Christ or a letter of recommendation from another Christian church and,
2. Completion of the church’s orientation program.

B. Baptism
1. Baptism by immersion shall be used for all persons baptized by our church, except when valid medical (physical or emotional) reasons exist and are agreed to by the Senior Pastor.
2. Persons who have previously experienced water baptism, who have had a born again experience, and who, as a matter of personal conviction and conscience, request exemption from immersion baptism are eligible for membership.

C. Rights of Members
All members shall have the right to:
1. Vote when attending a business meeting, and
2. Be a candidate for elective office.

D. Discipline
This church will emphasize to its membership that every reasonable measure will be taken to assist any member potentially subject to church discipline. The Senior Pastor, members of the ministerial staff, and Deacons will make every reasonable attempt to counsel such persons. They shall be guided by a concern for redemption, reconciliation, and restoration. Additionally, they will strive to resolve problems, in a manner pervaded by a spirit of love and kindness, in accord with Matthew 18: 15-18.

E. Termination of Membership
The church clerk is authorized to remove a member’s name from the church roll when membership is terminated by:
1. Death,
2. Letter of transfer requested by the member or another church with the member’s consent,
3. Written request of the member,
4. Whereabouts unknown for more than two years, or

5. Recommendation of the Leadership Team and secret ballot by three-fourths of those present at a business meeting. Such action will only be taken after the application of the procedures in bylaw Article 1 D.
Article 2
Business Meetings

A. The annual business meeting shall be held each year in November. The day and hour of the annual business meeting shall be set by the Leadership Team and publicized at least one month in advance. The notification shall contain an agenda of items to be considered as well as the slate of nominees for election. The agenda for the annual business meeting shall include the vote on the annual operating budget and the election of Deacons, Trustees, and officers. Other items, properly added, may also be placed on the agenda.

B. Additional business meetings may be held at other times of the year subject to a call by the Moderator or the Leadership Team. In addition, a business meeting is required if the Moderator receives a written petition requesting a business meeting signed by forty resident members or 15% of all resident members, whichever is greater. Notice of any special meeting shall be publicized as far in advance as possible, but no less than one week in advance. The notice shall contain an agenda of items to be considered. No agenda items may be added once notification of any meeting is publicized.

C. The Moderator chairs the business meeting. If not available, the Chair of the Leadership Team chairs the business meeting. If not available, the Vice-chair of the Leadership Team chairs the business meeting.

D. A quorum of forty resident members or 10% of all resident members, whichever is less, must be present to conduct business. If a quorum is not present, the Moderator may suspend the meeting for a period of not less than one week. When the meeting is resumed, the quorum shall be all those in attendance at the resumed meeting.

E. Any motion may include a request that the vote on the motion be held without further discussion at the end of each worship service on a particular Sunday.
ARTICLE 3
MINISTERIAL STAFF

A. Ministerial staff shall include any minister called by the church.

B. When a ministerial staff position needs to be filled, a search committee shall be nominated by the Leadership Team and elected by the church to find and recommend a ministerial staff member. The currently serving Deacons shall not constitute a majority on a search committee. The committee shall bring to consideration of the church only one name at a time. Election shall be by secret ballot, and require a three-fourths majority to elect at a business meeting, with the minister serving until the relationship is terminated by request of the minister or as described in Article 3.E below.

C. Working agreements and job descriptions shall be developed jointly by the search committee and other appropriate groups before being presented at a business meeting.

D. The Senior Pastor, or person delegated by the Senior Pastor, shall supervise all ministerial staff members.

E. A ministerial staff person may be removed from that position by two-thirds secret ballot of those attending a business meeting called exclusively for the purpose of considering that action. Such action can only be initiated by the Leadership Team.

F. During the vacancy of the Senior Pastor or other ministerial staff positions, the Leadership Team shall implement a course of action to ensure that all ministerial responsibilities are fulfilled.
ARTICLE 4
OFFICERS & RESPONSIBILITIES

The officers elected by the church are Clerk, Treasurer, and Moderator. Their responsibilities are as follows:

A. Clerk:
1. Keep a record of all official actions of the church,
2. Keep a register of names of members with dates of admission, termination, and resident member status.
3. Issue letters of transfer approved by the Leadership Team,
4. Prepare and send the annual letter of the church to the association,
5. Preserve on file all communications and official reports,
6. Keep secure all church records,
7. Give notice of all meetings, and
8. Delegate clerical responsibilities to a church secretary as needed.

B. Treasurer:
Serve as the financial officer of the church,
Receive, preserve, and pay out all money or things of value paid or given to the church,
Report monthly a summary of the receipts and disbursements of the preceding month(s),
Provide the Leadership Team at its regularly scheduled meetings a summary of the church’s receipts and disbursements for the year-to-date. These reports will be made available to the congregation through the Leadership Team’s quarterly report. The annual financial statement will be available to the congregation no later than March 1st.
Secure an annual audit that is reported directly to the Leadership Team after the close of the calendar year; convey the annual audit, with any appropriate comments, to the annual business meeting.

C. Moderator
Preside at all business meetings of the church,
Develop an agenda for each meeting in cooperation with the Senior Pastor, Chair of the Leadership Team, and other church members.
Be familiar with parliamentary principles as expressed in the latest edition of Robert’s Rules of Orders.

D. Term of Office

Each officer shall serve for a term of three years and may serve multiple and consecutive terms.
ARTICLE 5
LEADERSHIP TEAM

The Leadership Team consists of the church’s twelve Deacons, Senior Pastor, Treasurer, and Clerk.

A. Voting Privileges
The voting members of the Leadership Team shall consist of the church’s twelve Deacons whose purpose, and responsibilities shall be set forth in the Church Operations Manual. Non-voting members of the Leadership Team shall be the Senior Pastor, Treasurer, and Clerk.

B. CHAIR AND VICE CHAIR
THE DEACONS SHALL ELECT ONE DEACON TO SERVE AS CHAIR AND ONE DEACON TO SERVE AS VICE-CHAIR FROM AMONG THEIR TWELVE MEMBERS. THESE TWO SHALL ALSO BE THE CHAIR AND VICE-CHAIR OF THE LEADERSHIP TEAM.

C. MEETINGS
The Leadership Team shall meet at least quarterly and meetings may be called more frequently at the request of the Chair or any three Leadership Team members. The Chair or Vice-chair shall be present and preside with seven voting members of the Leadership Team to constitute a quorum for any meeting. Notice of each meeting shall be posted. The minutes shall fully disclose all actions taken and be signed by the Chair and Clerk. Minutes of the meetings shall be available to church members upon request. Meetings are open to the congregation.

The Leadership Team may handle sensitive matters such as, but not limited to, issues regarding paid staff, volunteer leaders, and members in closed executive session, without release of any written record of the deliberation. The Leadership Team may disclose whatever information about the deliberation that it feels is appropriate for public awareness.

D. REPORTING

The Leadership Team shall provide quarterly a written report of its proceedings to the congregation.
ARTICLE 6
RESPONSIBILITIES OF LEADERSHIP TEAM
 
The Leadership Team shall develop policies and organizational structures as required to execute the goals approved at a business meeting. Written policies shall be available upon request. The Leadership Team shall have no authority beyond that which has been conferred upon it by the constitution, its bylaws, or action of the congregation at a business meeting.
ARTICLE 7
DUTIES OF THE LEADERSHIP TEAM

A. The Leadership Team shall act in all matters pertaining to the legal and general welfare of the congregation, except those reserved for action by the congregation at a business meeting in Article VI B of the constitution.

B. The Leadership Team shall ensure that all activities of the church reflect the mission, vision, purposes, and faith of the congregation.

C. The Leadership Team shall establish policies to enable the congregation to implement the mission, vision, purposes, budget, and plans adopted at business meetings.

D. The Leadership Team shall establish any groups needed to accomplish the church’s mission, vision, and purposes. It shall oversee and have authority over all groups and organizations of the congregation.

E. The Leadership Team shall not operate without a Church Operations Manual. Position descriptions contained in the manual must be updated at least every five years.
Article 8
Nomination and Election of Deacons and Other Officers, Removal, and Vacancies

A. Nominating Committee for Deacons and Officers
The Nominating Committee’s responsibility shall be to develop a slate of Deacons and officers to be elected each year. The Nominating Committee for Deacons and officers shall consist of six members who may serve for a maximum of one term of three years and cannot be re-elected to the Nominating Committee without an absence of one year. The Leadership Team shall nominate three members to the Nominating Committee from within its voting membership and three from the church at large. Election shall be by secret ballot and require a two-thirds majority vote to elect at a called business meeting scheduled by the Leadership Team. If one or more candidates do not receive the required two-thirds majority vote cast to be elected, the Leadership Team shall bring forward within no less than three weeks a new slate of candidates equal to the number of vacancies to fill the remaining position or positions. The Vice-chair of the Leadership Team shall chair the Nominating Committee, but shall not have a vote. The Senior Pastor shall be a non-voting member of the Nominating Committee.

B. Nominating Process
All nominees for election as a Deacon or officer shall be members noted for their Christian maturity, passion for Christ, and commitment to the church’s mission, vision, and purposes. All nominees for election of Deacon or church officer shall be a member of the church for a minimum of one year. Specific criteria for Deacons and officers shall be outlined by the Nominating Committee prior to accepting any nominations. Any church member may propose candidates for consideration. A call for potential candidates shall be distributed to the congregation no fewer than two months prior to the annual business meeting.

The Nominating Committee shall review all potential candidates and determine a final slate equal to the number of vacancies for elected positions. The final slate, along with a candidate’s Christian testimony and brief biography, shall be distributed with the agenda for the annual business meeting at which elections shall be held. No nominees shall be added to the list of candidates after the slate of candidates has been distributed.

C. Election
Election shall be by secret ballot cast for each individual nominee at the annual business meeting. A two-thirds majority of votes cast for each nominee is required to elect. If one or more candidates do not receive the required two-thirds majority of votes cast to be elected, the Nominating Committee shall bring forward within no less than three weeks a new slate of candidates from the previous list of nominees, equal to the number of vacancies to fill the remaining position or positions.

D. Taking Office
All persons assuming elected positions shall begin their terms of office on the first Sunday in May following their election.

E. Term of Office
1. The term for Deacons shall be three years, with approximately one-third of the Deacons being elected each year. Deacons shall serve no more than one term in that position without a break of one year,
2. Officers may serve multiple and consecutive terms.

F. Vacancy
The Leadership Team shall be authorized to appoint a person to fill an unexpired term of any elected position.

G. Removal from Office of Elected Officials
Any person serving in an elected position, who is unable or is willfully neglectful in the performance of his or her official duties, shall be removed from office by two-thirds secret ballot vote of a business meeting. Such action shall be initiated by the Leadership Team.

H. Compensation

Elected positions in the church carry with them no compensation. Any person serving in an elected position in the church may receive compensation for goods or services provided to the church only if they a) recuse themselves fully from the decision making process (both discussion and voting) concerning such compensation, and b) there is a finding that the compensation is of an amount equal to or less than that available in the marketplace from parties with no connection to the church.
ARTICLE 9
TRUSTEES
 
There shall be five Trustees, nominated by the Leadership Team and elected at the annual business meeting, who shall serve for a term of three years and may serve multiple consecutive terms. Election shall be by secret ballots cast for each individual nominee at the annual business meeting. A two-thirds majority of votes cast for each nominee is required to elect. The Trustees’ responsibilities as to ownership of church property shall be as set forth in Section 57-7.1 et seq. of the Code of Virginia (1950), as amended. The Trustees shall hold in trust all funds for which they have been designated and report to the church at a business meeting the results of an annual audit of such funds. Any other Trustee responsibilities shall be as designated by the Leadership Team or the congregation at a business meeting.
ARTICLE 10
CHURCH ORDINANCES

A. Baptism
This church shall receive for baptism any person who has professed Jesus Christ as Savior by personal faith and indicates a commitment to follow Christ as Lord. Baptism shall be by immersion in water during a worship service of the church, unless a valid medical (physical or emotional) reason is presented to and accepted by the Senior Pastor.

B. Lord’s Supper

The church shall observe the Lord’s Supper at least six times per year.