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Hill City Baptist Church Constitution

 Preamble:

Hill City Baptist Church will be a Christian church that exists for the advancement of religion, and all of its activities will be carried on without purpose of gain for its members. Any profits or other assets of Hill City Baptist Church will be used solely to promote its objectives. In the event that Hill City Baptist Church should dissolve, terminating its operations, all of its assets shall be donated to a Canadian registered charity.

 The members of Hill City Baptist Church set forth the following articles to which we voluntarily submit ourselves:

 Article 1: Name and Date of Establishment

 The name of this church is “Hill City Baptist Church” and is located in Peterborough, Ontario and was established on April 28, 2013. Hereafter, in this document, Hill City Baptist Church will be referred to as “the church” or “this church.”

 Article 2: Purpose

The purpose of this church is to advance and teach the religious tenets, doctrines and observances associated with the Christian faith.

 Article 3: Doctrinal Beliefs

This church accepts the Bible as its supreme and complete authority in all matters of doctrine and practice.

However, due to the lack of consensus as to what the Bible specifically teaches, we also generally regard the tenants set forward in the Hill City Baptist Church Confession of Faith, The 1644 Baptist Confession of Faith, The Nicene Creed, and The Apostles Creed as excellent summaries of the basic teachings of the Bible. We do not accept creeds and confessions as infallible, but rather see them as a useful anchor in times of theological controversy.

Article 4: Organizational Structure

 Elders:

The elders of this church will be interchangeably called “elders”, “pastors”, “bishops”, or “overseers”, as each of these terms refers to the same office. They will be primarily devoted to pastoral work; namely, prayer and the ministry of the word (Acts 6:4), and bear ultimate responsibility for governing the church according to the beliefs and practices prescribed by our constitution. Elders will hold their office indefinitely except in the following circumstances:

  1. An elder is no longer willing to hold this office in the church. In such cases, that elder will resign from his office.
  2. An elder comes to believe that it is not in the best interests of the church for him to continue to hold his office. In such cases, that elder will resign from his office.
  3.  An elder is no longer qualified to hold this office in the church, according to the requirements outlined in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. In such cases, that elder will resign or be removed from his office by a vote of the members of the church at a Members’ Meeting.

Whenever an elder vacates his position, the other elders will make known the vacancy to the congregation, and will search for a new elder to take his place, if possible. All prospective elders must meet the Biblical requirements outlined in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.

Qualified men will be recommended to the members of the church by the current elders and elected to the office of elder by a vote of the members of the church at a Members’ Meeting. In addition to replacing elders, new elders may be added even when a position has not been vacated. In this case, the process for adding elders is the same as outlined above.

Whenever the church is financially able, and whenever it would serve to advance the purpose of the church, the church will pay a salary or honorarium to one (or more) of these elders in return for an increased personal investment in pastoral work within the church in keeping with the biblical instruction that “those who proclaim the gospel should receive their living by the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 9:14)

Elders are implicitly considered members of the church, and will have one vote each during Congregational Decisions at Members’ Meetings.

Deacons:

Deacons will serve the church, under the authority of the elders, by overseeing its administration and practical concerns so that the elders may devote themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word (Acts 6:4).

All prospective deacons must meet the Biblical requirements outlined in 1 Timothy 3:8-13. Qualified persons will be recommended to the members of the church by the elders and elected to the office of deacon by a vote of the members of the church at a Members’ Meeting.

 Deacons will hold their office indefinitely except in the following circumstances:

  1. A deacon is no longer willing to hold this office in the church. In such cases, that deacon will resign from his office.
  2. A deacon comes to believe that it is not in the best interests of the church for him to continue to hold his office. In such cases, that deacon will resign from his office.
  3.  A deacon is no longer Biblically qualified to hold this office in the church. In such cases, that deacon will resign or be removed from his office by a vote of the members of the church at a Members’ Meeting.

Whenever the church is financially able, and whenever it would serve to advance the purpose of the church, the church may pay a salary or honorarium to one (or more) of these deacons in return for an increased personal investment in the work of the church, so that the elders may “devote [themselves] to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4).

Deacons are implicitly considered members of the church, and will have one vote each during Congregational Decisions at Members’ Meetings.

Non-elder and non-deacon staff members

Whenever the church is financially able, and whenever it would serve to advance the purpose of the church, the church may hire one (or more) paid non-elder and non-deacon staff member. Such staff members will work under the authority and guidance of the elders and/or deacons.

Members

Though the word “membership” cannot be found in the New Testament, we believe the concept of membership is assumed, and necessary for at least five reasons: 

  1. Churches have an ‘inside’ and an ‘outside’, and can be ‘numbered (cf. 1 Cor 5:12; Acts 2:41, 47).
  2. Church members are expected to know who does and who does not belong to the church (cf. 1 Cor 5:9-12).
  3. Christians are under the authority of the church as a whole, which means giving up our autonomy and putting ourselves under the church’s authority, such that if they persist in unrepentant sin, they are to be excluded from it (cf. 1 Cor 5:4-5,13; Matt 18).
  4. Christians are also under the authority of the leaders, and are instructed to submit to them. (cf. Heb 13:17).
  5. Leaders will give an account for those entrusted to their care, and must therefore know who they are responsible for. (cf. Heb 13:17).

Any person who professes faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and has demonstrated that faith and repentance through baptism, and who has affirmed those principles as set forward in the Hill City Baptist Church Covenant, Hill City Baptist Confession of Faith, and the Hill City Baptist Church Constitution, will be considered for membership.

Any person desiring membership who meets the above mentioned requirements must verbally make their desire for membership known to one of the elders. When a prospective member (hereafter referred to as “the applicant”) has made his or her desire for membership known to one of the elders the following process will commence as soon as possible:

  1. The applicant will attend a Membership Class in which one (or more) of the elders will articulate and explain the expectations, privileges, and responsibilities of members and will articulate and explain our doctrinal beliefs. During this Membership Class the applicant will have the opportunity to ask any questions or raise any of his or her potential concerns and/or hesitations.
  2. After attending a Membership Class, if the applicant desires to continue with the application process, he or she will be required to attend a Membership Interview with one (or more) of the elders. During this interview the applicant will be expected to articulate his or her understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ and affirm his or her personal acceptance of the gospel, as well as verbally affirm substantial agreement with the doctrinal beliefs and practises of this church as outlined in the Hill City Baptist Church Covenant, Confession of Faith, and Constitution.
  3. After the Membership Interview, if the elders are satisfied that an applicant has met the requirements for membership, they will present a motion to the members of the church at the next Members’ Meeting that this church receive the applicant into membership. After hearing the new member’s testimony and the elders’ recommendation, the members of the church will render a Congregational Decision to receive the applicant into membership or deny the applicant membership. 

 A person’s membership in this church may be terminated in any of the following ways:

  1. By physical death.
  2. By resignation. Members in good standing may resign their membership, subject to a Congregational Decision approving the resignation of their membership.
  3. By exclusion. It is right and in harmony with the Scriptures for the members of the church, by means of a Congregational Decision and upon recommendation from the elders, to exclude from this fellowship any person who persists in holding heretical doctrine, or who obviously and persistently lives inconsistently with his or her Christian profession, or who persists in disturbing the peace and unity of the Church, or who has become inactive and/or defunct (see Matthew 18:15ff; 1 Corinthians 5:1ff; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; Romans 16:17).
  4. By inactivity. On occasion, whenever a member ceases attendance and participation in the life of the church for a prolonged period of time, during which the circumstances of his or her withdrawal may be investigated (e.g. incorrect/unavailable contact information), it may be deemed appropriate for the congregation, upon recommendation from the pastors and by congregational decision, to remove such a person from the membership of Hill City Baptist Church.

 Article 5: Church Discipline

Church discipline can be either formative or corrective. Formative church discipline is intended to form godly character and habits within the lives of church members, and corrective church discipline is intended to correct sinful character and habits within the lives of church members. In both cases, the aims of church discipline are always the spiritual health of the member under discipline and of the church as a whole. The most important reason for practicing both kinds of church discipline is to protect the reputation of Jesus.

Formative Discipline Process:

At Hill City Baptist Church, we will encourage each attendee who professes faith in Jesus Christ to become a member. This is because we believe that the accountability and mutual responsibility of church members to one another and to the elders is healthy and helpful for all Christians. Members are accountable to the elders and to one another for the expectations outlined above.

Members are under the care of the elders who regularly pray for the members and keep watch over their souls. From time to time the elders will contact each member to see how they’re doing spiritually. Members are also encouraged to care for and talk to one another regularly about the health of their spiritual lives.

This type of consistent and meaningful interaction between church members and elders helps encourage healthy Christian living and prevent serious spiritual problems.

Corrective Discipline Process:

In the event that a member has severely or persistently failed to meet the expectations of members, the process outlined in Matthew 18:15-20 will usually be followed:

  1.  The sinful member should be approached by one person, then two or three if necessary. The one(s) approaching the sinful member should urge him or her to repent of the sin at hand.
  2. If the sinful member refuses to repent, the ones who have approached the sinful member should make the sin known to the elders. The elders will act as representatives of the church, hearing of the sin and urging the sinful member to repent on behalf of the members of the church.
  3. If the sin is serious enough, or persistent enough, to call the sinful member’s salvation into question, the elders will present a motion to the members of the church to revoke the sinful member’s membership, excluding him or her from membership in the community of God’s people (1 Corinthians 5). There will be a period between the time the sin is made known to all the members and the time that he or she is excluded during which the other members will have the opportunity to plead with the sinful member to repent. If, after this period, the sinful member is still unrepentant, the members of the church will vote to exclude him or her from membership (2 Corinthians 2:6).
  4. In some cases, it may be prudent to bypass the process and exclude a member at the earliest opportunity. In such cases, a Members’ Meeting will be called as soon as possible and the elders will present a motion to the members of the church that the church exclude the sinful person from membership by means of a Congregational Decision.
  5. All decisions to exclude a person from membership must be Congregational Decisions.

The goal of any corrective discipline process is never to harm the sinful member, but to confront him or her with the seriousness of the sin at hand so that he or she may repent and be restored to fellowship (2 Corinthians 2:5-11).

 Article 6: Finances

The fiscal year of this church will begin on May 1 and will end on April 30. This church depends entirely on the voluntary financial gifts of its members, and others who voluntarily decide to give.

Each year at a Members’ Meeting between January and April, the congregation will vote to approve a budget for the following fiscal year. At least 3 weeks prior to this meeting a detailed budget of the proposed expenditures for the coming year will be made available to the members. Once the budget is approved by a vote of the members of the church it will be the basis for the utilization of church funds.

 Article 7: Members’ Meetings

“Congregational Decisions” will refer to decisions that a quorum of members will vote on, and which the outcome of that said vote will be considered binding in regard to the business and affairs of the church. “Pastoral Decisions” will refer to decisions that one or more of the elders will make as appointed representatives for the good of the church.

Members’ Meetings are designed to communicate and discuss both Congregational Decisions and Pastoral Decisions so that the unity of the church may be preserved and so that the purpose of the church may be accomplished. The following decisions must always be “Congregational Decisions:”

  1. Receiving persons into membership.
  2. Excluding persons from membership.
  3. Appointing persons to the office of elder.
  4. Removing persons from the office of elder.
  5. Appointing persons to the office of deacon.
  6. Removing persons from the office of deacon.
  7. Hiring a paid staff member.
  8. Approving the proposed yearly church budget.
  9. Amending our Constitution.

Other decisions not mentioned in Article 7.4 may be either Pastoral Decisions or Congregational Decisions at the discretion of the elders.

The motion for all Congregational Decisions must come from one of the elders with the exception of the motion to remove a person from the office of elder. The reason for this is that the members should generally be looking to the elders for leadership, and respecting their judgment about what decisions must be made and the timing of such decisions. However, in cases where the members do not have confidence in a particular elder, the motion to remove him from his office may come from the floor.

There will be two types of Members’ Meetings: Ordinary Members’ Meetings will be the regularly scheduled meetings that must happen each year. Special Members’ Meetings will be irregular meetings that may be called whenever necessary, but are not a necessary part of the church’s annual calendar.

Ordinary Members’ Meetings will occur 3 times each year: once between January and April, once between May and August, once between September and December. The exact date, time and place of each of these Ordinary Members’ Meeting must be announced at least 2 weeks in advance of the meeting during our weekly worship services. Whenever possible, major Congregational Decisions should be reserved for these Ordinary Members’ Meetings. Additional Special Members’ Meetings may occur after being announced only 1 week prior to the Special Members’ Meeting.

Only members are permitted to attend Members’ Meetings, with the exception of prospective members to be voted into membership at any particular meeting.1/3 of church members will constitute a quorum; 2/3 of church members present will be a sufficient majority to make a Congregational Decision. All members over the age of 18 who are present at Members’ Meetings will have a vote on Congregational Decision. A congregational vote regarding the appointment of elders will be conducted by written ballot. A member may request a written ballot vote for any congregational vote.

 

Appendix:

 

The Apostles Creed:

 

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
      creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
      who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
      and born of the virgin Mary.
      He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
      was crucified, died, and was buried;
      he descended to the dead.
      The third day he rose again from the dead.
      He ascended to heaven
      and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
      From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
      the holy catholic church,
      the communion of saints,
      the forgiveness of sins,
      the resurrection of the body,
      and the life everlasting. Amen.

 

 

The Nicene Creed

 

       We believe in one God,
      the Father almighty,
      maker of heaven and earth,
      of all things visible and invisible.

          And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
      the only Son of God,
        begotten from the Father before all ages,
      God from God,
       Light from Light,
         true God from true God,
      begotten, not made;
      of the same essence as the Father.
      Through him all things were made.
      For us and for our salvation

           he came down from heaven;
           he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,
           and was made human.
           He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;
           he suffered and was buried.
           The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.
           He ascended to heaven
           and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
           He will come again with glory
           to judge the living and the dead.
           His kingdom will never end.

And we believe in the Holy Spirit,
      the Lord, the giver of life.
      He proceeds from the Father and the Son,
      and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.
      He spoke through the prophets.
      We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
      We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
      We look forward to the resurrection of the dead,
      and to life in the world to come. Amen.