Church constitution

1995 CONSTITUTION OF GRACE LUTHERAN CHURCH

Copyright 1995 by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Click on any chapter in the Table of Contents.

Table of Contents

Preamble
Chapter 1 Name and Incorporation
Chapter 2 Confession of Faith
Chapter 3 Nature of the Church
Chapter 4 Statement of Purpose
Chapter 5 Powers of the Congregation
Chapter 6 Church Affiliation
Chapter 7 Property Ownership
Chapter 8 Membership
Chapter 9 The Pastor
Chapter 10 Congregation Meeting
Chapter 11 Officers
Chapter 12 Congregation Council
Chapter 13 Congregation Committees
Chapter 14 Organizations within the Congregation
Chapter 15 Discipline of Members and Adjudication
Chapter 16 Bylaws
Chapter 17 Amendments

PREAMBLE (Table of Contents)

We, baptized members of the Church of Christ, responding in faith to the call of the Holy Spirit through the Gospel, desiring to unite together to preach the Word, administer the sacraments, and carry out God’s mission, do hereby adopt this constitution and solemnly pledge ourselves to be governed by its provisions. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Chapter 1. (Table of Contents)

NAME AND INCORPORATION

C1.01. The name of this congregation shall be Grace Lutheran Church.

C1.02. For the purpose of this constitution and the accompanying bylaws, the congregation of Grace Lutheran Church is hereinafter designated as “this congregation.”

C1.03. This congregation shall be incorporated under the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Chapter 2. (Table of Contents)

CONFESSION OF FAITH

C2.01.This congregation confesses the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

C2.02.This congregation confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and the Gospel as the power of God for the salvation of all who believe.

a. Jesus Christ is the Word of God incarnate, through whom everything was made and through whose life, death, and resurrection God fashions a new creation.

b. The proclamation of God’s message to us as both Law and Gospel is the Word of God, revealing judgment and mercy through word and deed, beginning with the Word in creation, continuing in the history of Israel, and centering in all its fullness in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

c. The canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the written Word of God. Inspired by God’s Spirit speaking through their authors, they record and announce God’s revelation centering in Jesus Christ. Through them God’s Spirit speaks to us to create and sustain Christian faith and fellowship for service in the world.

C2.03.This congregation accepts the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the inspired Word of God and the authoritative source and norm of its proclamation, faith, and life.

C2.04.This congregation accepts the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds as true declarations of the faith of this congregation.

C2.05.This congregation accepts the Unaltered Augsburg Confession as a true witness to the Gospel, acknowledging as one with it in faith and doctrine all churches that likewise accept the teachings of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession.

C2.06.This congregation accepts the other confessional writings in the Book of Concord, namely, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles and the Treatise, the Small Catechism, the Large Catechism, and the Formula of Concord, as further valid interpretations of the faith of the Church.

C2.07.This congregation confesses the Gospel, recorded in the Holy Scriptures and confessed in the ecumenical creeds and Lutheran confessional writings, as the power of God to create and sustain the, Church for God’s mission in the world.

Chapter 3. (Table of Contents)

NATURE OF THE CHURCH

C3.01.All power in the Church belongs to our Lord Jesus Christ, its head. All actions of this congregation are to be carried out under his rule and authority.

C3.02.The Church exists both as an inclusive fellowship and as local congregations gathered for worship and Christian service. Congregations find their fulfillment in the universal community of the Church, and the universal Church exists in and through congregations. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, therefore, derives its character and powers both from the sanction and representation of its congregations and from its inherent nature as an expression of the broader fellowship of the faithful. In length, it acknowledges itself to be in the historic continuity of the communion of saints; in breadth, it expresses the fellowship of believers and congregations in our day.

Chapter 4. (Table of Contents)

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE

C4.01.The Church is a people created by God in Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, called and sent to bear witness to God’s creative, redeeming, and sanctifying activity in the world.

C4.02.To participate in God’s mission, this congregation as a part of the Church shall:

a. Worship God in proclamation of the Word and administration of the sacraments and through lives of prayer, praise, thanksgiving, witness, and service.

b. Proclaim God’s saving Gospel of justification by grace for Christ’s sake through faith alone, according to the apostolic witness in the Holy Scripture, preserving and transmitting the Gospel faithfully to future generations.

c. Carry out Christ’s Great Commission by reaching out to all people to bring them to faith in Christ and by doing all ministry with a global awareness consistent with the understanding of God as Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier of all.

d. Serve in response to God’s love to meet human needs, caring for the sick and the aged, advocating dignity and justice for all people, working for peace and reconciliation among the nations, and standing with the poor and powerless, and committing itself to their needs.

e. Nurture its members in the Word of God so as to grow in faith and hope and love, to see daily life as the primary setting for the exercise of their Christian calling, and to use the gifts of the Spirit for their life together and for their calling in the world.

f. Manifest the unity given to the people of God by living together in the love of Christ and by joining with other Christians in prayer and action to express and preserve the unity which the Spirit gives.

C4.03.To fulfill these purposes, this congregation shall:

a. Provide services of worship at which the Word of God is preached and the sacraments are administered.

b. Provide pastoral care and assist all members to participate in this ministry.

c. Challenge, equip, and support all members in carrying out their calling in their daily lives and in their congregation.

d. Teach the Word of God.

e. Witness to the reconciling Word of God in Christ, reaching out to all people.

f. Respond to human need, work for justice and peace, care for the sick and the suffering, and participate responsibly in society.

g. Motivate its members to provide financial support, as well as time and talents, for the congregation’s ministry and the ministry of other parts of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

h. Foster and participate in interdependent relationships with other congregations, the synod, and the churchwide organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

i. Foster and participate in ecumenical relationships consistent with churchwide policy.

C4.04.This congregation shall develop an organizational structure to be described in the bylaws. The Congregation Council shall prepare descriptions of the responsibilities of each committee, task force, or other organizational group and shall review their actions. (Such descriptions shall be contained in continuing resolutions in the section on the Congregation Council.)

C4.05.This congregation shall, from time to time, adopt a mission statement which will provide specific direction for its programs.

Chapter 5. (Table of Contents)

POWERS OF THE CONGREGATION

C5.011.The powers of this congregation are those necessary to fulfill its purpose.

C5.02.The powers of this congregation are vested in the Congregation Meeting, as described in Chapter I 0, called and conducted as provided in this constitution and bylaws.

C5.03.Only such authority as is delegated to the Congregation Council or other organizational units in this congregation’s governing documents is recognized. All remaining authority is retained by the congregation. The congregation is authorized to:

a. call a pastor as provided in Chapter 9;

b. terminate the call of a pastor as provided in Chapter 9;

c. call or terminate the call of associates in ministry, deaconesses, and diaconal ministers in conformity with the applicable policy of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America;

d. approve the annual budget;

e. acquire real and personal property by gift, devise, purchase, or other lawful means;

f. hold title, to and use its property for any and all activities consistent with its purpose,

g. sell, mortgage, lease, transfer, or otherwise dispose of its property by any lawful means;

h. elect its Congregation Council, boards, and committees, and require them to carry out their duties in accordance with the constitution, bylaws, and continuing resolutions; andi. terminate its relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America as provided in Chapter 6.

C5.04.This congregation shall choose from among its voting members laypersons to serve as voting members of the Synod Assembly as well as persons to represent it at meetings of any conference, cluster, coalition, or other area subdivision of which it is a member. The number of persons to be elected by this congregation and other qualifications shall be as prescribed in guidelines established by the synod.

Chapter 6. (Table of Contents)

CHURCH AFFILIATION

C6.01.This congregation shall be an interdependent part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America or its successor, and of the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. This congregation is subject to the discipline of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

C6.02.This congregation accepts the Confession of Faith and agrees to the Purposes of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and shall act in accordance with them.

C6.03.This congregation acknowledges its relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in which:

a. This congregation agrees to be responsible for its life as a Christian community.

b. This congregation pledges its financial support and participation in the life and mission of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

c. This congregation agrees to call pastoral leadership from the clergy roster of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in accordance with its call procedures except in special circumstances and with the approval of the bishop of the synod.

d. This congregation agrees to consider associates in ministry, deaconesses, and diaconal ministers for appointment to other staff positions in the congregation according to the procedures of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

e. This congregation agrees to file this constitution and any subsequent changes to this constitution with the synod for review to ascertain that all of its provisions are in agreement with the constitution and bylaws of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and with the constitution of the synod.

C6.04.Affiliation with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America may be terminated as follows:

a. This congregation takes action to dissolve.

b. This congregation ceases to exist.

c. This congregation is removed from membership in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America according to the procedures for discipline of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

d. This congregation follows the procedures outlined in C6.05.

C6.05.This congregation may terminate its relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America by the following procedure:

a. A resolution indicating the desire of this congregation to terminate its relationship must be adopted at a legally called meeting of this congregation by a two-thirds majority of the voting members present.

b. The secretary of this congregation shall submit a copy of the resolution to the synodical bishop and shall mail a copy of the resolution to voting members of this congregation. This notice shall be submitted within 10 days after the resolution has been adopted.

c. The bishop of the synod shall consult with this congregation during a period of at least 90 days.

d. If this congregation, after consultation, still desires to terminate its relationship, such action may be taken at a legally called meeting by a two-thirds majority of the voting members present, at which meeting the bishop of the synod or an authorized representative shall be present. Notice of the meeting shall be mailed to all voting members at least IO days in advance of the meeting.

e. A certified copy of the resolution to terminate its relationship shall be sent to the synodical bishop, at which time the relationship between this congregation and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America shall be terminated.

f. Notice of termination shall be forwarded by the synodical bishop to the secretary of this congregation and published in the periodical of this congregation.

C6.06.If this congregation is considering relocation, it shall confer with the bishop of the synod in which it is territorially located before any steps are taken leading to such action. The approval of the Synod Council shall be received before any such action is effected.

Chapter 7. (Table of Contents)

PROPERTY OWNERSHIP

C7.01.If this congregation ceases to exist, title to undisposed property shall pass to the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

C7.02.If this congregation is removed from membership in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America according to its procedure for discipline, title to property shall continue to reside in this congregation.

C7.03.If a two-thirds majority of the voting members of this congregation present at a regularly called and conducted special meeting of this congregation vote to transfer to another Lutheran church body, title to property shall continue to reside in this congregation. Before this congregation takes action to transfer to another Lutheran church body, it shall consult with representatives of the New England Synod.

C7.04.If a two-thirds majority of the voting members of this congregation present at a regularly called and conducted special meeting of this congregation vote to become independent or relate to a non-Lutheran church body, title to property of this congregation shall continue to reside in this congregation only with the consent of the Synod Council. The Synod Council, after consultation with this congregation by the established synodical process, may give approval to the request to become independent or to relate to a non-Lutheran church body, in which case title shall remain with the majority of this congregation. If the Synod Council falls to give such approval, title shall remain with those members who desire to continue as a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Chapter 8. (Table of Contents)

MEMBERSHIP

C8.01.Members of this congregation shall be those baptized persons on the roll of this congregation at the time that this constitution is adopted and those who are admitted thereafter and who have declared and maintain their membership in accordance with the provisions of this constitution and its bylaws.

C8.02.Members shall be classified as follows:

a. Baptized members are those persons who have been received by the Sacrament of Holy Baptism in this congregation, or, having been previously baptized in the name of the Triune God, have been received by certificate of transfer from other Lutheran congregations or by affirmation of faith.

b. Confirmed members are baptized persons who have been confirmed in this congregation, those who have been received by adult baptism or by transfer as confirmed members from other Lutheran congregations, or received by affirmation of faith.

c. Voting members are qualified confirmed members. Such confirmed members shall have communed and made a contribution of record during the current or preceding year, and must be at least I 8 years of age.

d. Associate members are persons holding membership in other Christian congregations who wish to retain such membership but desire to participate in the life and mission of this congregation. They have all the privileges and duties of membership except voting rights and eligibility for elected offices or membership on the Congregation Council.

C8.03.All applications for confirmed membership shall be submitted to and shall require the approval of the Congregation Council.

C8.04.It shall be the privilege and duty of members of this congregation to:

a. make regular use of the means of grace, both Word and sacraments;

b. live a Christian life in accordance with the Word of God and the teachings of the Lutheran church; and

c. support the work of this congregation, the synod, and the churchwide organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America through contributions of their time, abilities, and financial support as biblical stewards.

C8.05.Membership in this congregation shall be terminated by any of the following:

a. death;

b. resignation;

c. transfer or release; or

d. disciplinary action by the Congregation Council’, Such persons who have been removed from the roll of members shall remain persons for whom this congregation has a continuing pastoral concern.

Chapter 9. (Table of Contents)

THE PASTOR

C9.01.Authority to call a pastor shall be in this congregation by at least a two-thirds majority ballot vote of members present and voting at a meeting duly called for that purpose. Before a call is issued, the officers, or a committee elected by the Congregation Council to recommend the call, shall seek the advice and help of the bishop of the synod.

C9.02.Only a member of the clergy roster of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America or a candidate for the roster of ordained ministers who has been recommended for this congregation by the synodical bishop may be called as a pastor of this congregation.

C9.03.Consistent with the faith and practice of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,

a. Every ordained minister shall:

1) preach the Word;

2) administer the sacraments;

3) conduct public worship;

4) provide pastoral care; and

5) speak publicly calling for justice and proclaiming God’s love for the world.

b. Each ordained minister with a congregational call shall, within this congregation:

1) offer instruction, confirm, marry, visit the sick and distressed, and bury the dead;

2) supervise all schools and organizations of this congregation;

3) install regularly elected members of the Congregation Council; and

4) with the council, administer discipline as described in Chapter 15.

c. Every pastor shall:

1) be encouraged to seek out qualified persons to prepare for the ministry of the Gospel;

2) impart knowledge of this congregation, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and its wider ministry; and

3) endeavor to increase the support given by this congregation to the work of the churchwide organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the New England Synod.

C9.04.The specific duties of the pastor, compensation, and other matters pertaining to the service of the pastor shall be included in a letter of call, which shall be attested by the bishop of the synod.

C9.05.

a. The call of this congregation, when accepted by a pastor, shall constitute a continuing mutual relationship and commitment which, except in the case of the death of the pastor, shall be terminated only following consultation with the synodical bishop and for the following reasons:

1) mutual agreement to terminate the call or the completion of a call for a specific term;

2) resignation of the pastor, which shall become effective, unless otherwise agreed, 30 days after the date on which it was submitted;

3) inability to conduct the pastoral office effectively in this congregation in view of local conditions, without reflection on the competence or the moral and spiritual character of the pastor;

4) the physical or mental incapacity of the pastor

5) disqualification of the pastor through discipline on grounds of doctrine, morality, or continued neglect of duty;

6) the dissolution of this congregation; or

7) suspension of this congregation as a result of discipline proceedings.

b. When allegations of physical or mental incapacity of the pastor or ineffective conduct of the pastoral office have come to the attention of the bishop of the synod, the bishop in his or her sole discretion may, or when such allegations have been brought to the synod’s attention by an official recital of allegations by the Congregation Council or by a petition signed by at least one-third of the voting members of this congregation, the bishop shall, investigate such conditions personally in company with a committee of two ordained ministers and one layperson.

c. In case of alleged physical or mental incapacity, competent medical testimony shall be obtained. When such disability is evident, the bishop of the synod with the advice of the committee shall declare the pastorate vacant. Upon the restoration of a disabled pastor to health, the bishop of the synod shall take steps to enable the pastor to resume the ministry, either in this congregation with consent of this congregation by 213 majority of the voting members present at a duly called meeting, by written ballot, or in another field of labor.

d. In the case of alleged local difficulties that imperil the effective functioning of this congregation, all concerned persons shall be heard, after which the bishop of the synod together with the committee described in C9.05.b. shall decide on the course of action to be recommended to the pastor and this congregation. If they agree to carry out such recommendations, no further action shall be taken by the synod. If either party fails to assent, this congregation may dismiss the pastor by a two-thirds majority vote of the voting members present at a duly called meeting, after consultation with the bishop, by written ballot.

e. If, in the course of proceedings described in C9.05A., the committee concludes that there may be grounds for disciplinary action, the committee shall make recommendations concerning disciplinary action to the synodical bishop who may bring charges, in accordance with the provisions of the constitution and bylaws of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the constitution of the New England Synod.

f. If, following the appointment of the committee described in C9.05. b. or d., it should become apparent that the pastoral office cannot be conducted effectively in this congregation bythe ordained minister due to local conditions, the bishop of the synod may temporarily suspend the pastor from service in this congregation without prejudice and with compensation provided through a joint synodical and churchwide fund.

C9.06.At a time of pastoral vacancy, an interim pastor shall be appointed by the bishop of the synod with the consent of this congregation and the Congregation Council.

C9.07.During the period of service, an interim pastor shall have the rights and duties in this congregation of a regularly called pastor and may delegate the same in part to a supply pastor with the consent of the bishop of the synod and this congregation and Congregation Council. The interim pastor and any ordained pastor providing assistance shall refrain from exerting influence in the selection of a pastor.

C9.08.This congregation shall promptly make satisfactory settlement of all financial obligations to a former pastor. A pastor shall promptly make satisfactory settlement of all financial obligations to this congregation.

C9.09.When a pastor is called to serve in company with another pastor or pastors, the privileges and responsibilities of each pastor shall be specified in documents to accompany the call and to be drafted in consultation involving the pastors, the Congregation Council, and the bishop of the synod. As occasion requires, the documents may be revised through a similar consultation with a final draft presented to and approved by this congregation at a meeting duly called specifically for this purpose.

C9.10.With the approval of the bishop of the synod, this congregation may call a pastor for a specific term as per C9.05.a. Details of such calls shall be in writing setting forth the purpose and conditions involved. Prior to the completion of a term, the bishop or a designated representative of the bishop shall meet with the pastor and representatives of this congregation for a review of the call. Such a call may also be terminated before its expiration in accordance with the provisions of C9.05.a.

C9.11.The pastor shall keep accurate parochial records of all baptisms, confirmations, marriages, burials, communicants, members received, members dismissed, or members excluded from this congregation, and shall submit a summary of such statistics annually to the synod. The pastor shall be a member of this congregation, except that when a pastor serves in a parish of multiple congregations, the pastor shall hold membership in only one of those congregations.

C9.12.The pastor shall submit a report of his or her ministry to the bishop of the synod at least 90 days prior to each regular meeting of the New England Synod Assembly.

Chapter 10. (Table of Contents)

CONGREGATION MEETING

C10.01.The tri-annual meetings of this congregation shall be held at times specified in the bylaws.

C10.02.A special Congregation Meeting may be called by either the pastor, the Congregation Council, or the president of this congregation, and shall be called by the president of this congregation upon the signed written request of any 12 the voting members. The call for each special meeting shall specify the purpose for which it is to be held and no other business shall be transacted.

C10.03.Notice of all meetings of this congregation shall be given at the services of worship on the preceding two consecutive Sundays and by mail to all households of confirmed members on the most current mailing list at least 1 0 days in advance of the date of the meeting. The posting of such notice in the regular mail, with the regular postage affixed or paid, sent to the last known address of such members shall be sufficient.

C10.04.Twenty voting members present in person or by proxy shall constitute a quorum.

C10.05.Voting by proxy shall be permitted.

C10.06.All actions by this congregation shall be by majority vote of those present and voting except as otherwise provided in this constitution, or as otherwise required by applicable law.

C10.07.Robert’s Rules of Order, latest edition, shall govern parliamentary procedure of all meetings of this congregation.

Chapter 11. (Table of Contents)

OFFICERS

C11.01.The officers of this congregation shall be a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, financial secretary, and purchasing agent. This congregation may also elect an assistant treasurer, assistant secretary, and more than one vice president as it may deem necessary from time to time.

a. Duties of the officers shall be specified in the bylaws.

b. The officers shall be voting members of this congregation.

c. Officers of this congregation shall serve similar offices of the Congregation Council and shall be voting members of the Congregation Council.

C11.02.This congregation shall elect its officers and they shall be the officers of the congregation. The officers shall be elected and shall serve for one year or until their successors are elected. Their terms shall begin at the close of the annual meeting at which they are elected.

C11.03.No officer shall hold more than one office at a time.

Chapter 12. (Table of Contents)

CONGREGATION COUNCIL

C12.01.The voting membership of the Congregation Council shall consist of the pastor(s), the six mandatory officers of this congregation, and Chair of Board of Elders, Chair of Board of Deacons, Chair of Board of Trustees, Chair of Board of Finance, and Chair of Board of Education, and include chairs of any boards subsequently created by the Congregation Council. A member’s place on the Congregation Council shall be declared vacant if the member either ceases to be a voting member of this congregation or is absent from four successive regular meetings of the Congregation Council without good cause.

C12.02.The members of the Congregation Council except the pastor(s) shall be elected to serve for one year or until their successors are duly elected.

C12.03.Should a member’s place on the Congregation Council be declared vacant, the Congregation Council shall elect, by majority vote, a successor to serve in that member’s place until the next annual meeting.

C12.04.The Congregation Council shall have general oversight of the life and activities of this congregation, and in particular its worship life, to the end that everything be done in accordance With the Word of God and the faith and practice of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The duties of the Congregation Council shall include the following:

a. To lead this congregation in stating its mission, to do long-range planning, to set goals and priorities, and to evaluate its activities in light of its mission and goals.

b. To seek to involve all members of this congregation in worship, learning, witness, service, and support.

c. To oversee and provide for the administration of this congregation to enable it to fulfill its functions and perform its mission.

d. To maintain supportive relationships with the pastor(s) and staff and help them annually to evaluate the fulfillment of their calling or employment.

e. To be examples individually and corporately of the style of life and ministry expected of all baptized persons.

f. To promote a congregational climate of peace and goodwill, and, as differences and conflicts arise, to endeavor to foster mutual understanding.

g. To arrange for pastoral service during the sickness or absence of the pastor.

h. To emphasize partnership with the synod and churchwide units of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America as well as cooperation with other congregations, both Lutheran and non-Lutheran, subject to established policies of the synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

i. To recommend and encourage the use of program resources produced or approved by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

j. To seek out and encourage qualified persons to prepare for the ministry of the Gospel.

C12.05.The Congregation Council shall be responsible for the financial and property matters of this congregation.

a. The Congregation Council shall be the board of directors of this congregation, and as such shall be responsible for maintaining and protecting its property and the management of its business and fiscal affairs. It shall have the powers and be subject to the obligations that pertain to such boards under the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, except as otherwise provided herein.

b. The Congregation Council shall not have the authority to buy, sell, or encumber real property unless specifically authorized to do so by a meeting of this congregation.

c. The Congregation Council may enter into contracts for emergency items costing up to 10% of the current annual budget for items not included in the budget.

d. The Congregation Council shall prepare an annual budget for adoption by this congregation and shall supervise the expenditure of funds in accordance therewith following its adoption.

e. The Congregation Council shall ascertain that the financial affairs of this congregation are being conducted efficiently, giving particular attention to the prompt payment of all obligations and to the regular forwarding of benevolence monies to the synodical treasurer.

f. The Congregation Council shall be responsible for this congregation’s investments and its total insurance program.

C12.06.The Congregation Council shall see that the provisions of this constitution and the bylaws are carried out.

C12.07.The Congregation Council shall provide for an annual review of the membership roster.

C12.08.The Congregation Council shall be responsible for the employment and supervision of the salaried lay workers of this congregation.

C12.09.The Congregation Council shall submit a comprehensive report to this congregation at the annual meeting.

C12.10. The Congregation Council shall normally meet once every two months. Special meetings may be called by the pastor or the president, and shall be called by the president at the request of at least one-half of its members. Notice of each special meeting shall be given to all who are entitled to be present.

C12.11.A quorum for the transaction of business shall consist of a majority of the members of the Congregation Council, including the pastor or interim pastor, except when the pastor or interim pastor requests or consents to be absent and has given prior approval to the agenda for a particular regular or special meeting, which shall be the only business considered at that meeting. Chronic or repeated absence of the pastor or interim pastor who has refused approval of the agenda of a subsequent regular or special meeting shall not preclude action by the Congregation Council, following consultation with the synodical bishop.

Chapter 13. (Table of Contents)

CONGREGATION COMMITTEES

C13.01.The officers of this congregation and the pastor shall constitute the Executive Committee.

C13.02.A Nominating Committee of six voting members of this congregation, shall be appointed by the president of this congregation no later than April I and shall follow these Guidelines:

a. Nominating Committee publicizes positions open.

b. Nominating Committee meets in early April with Pastor(s), President, and appropriate others to review positions and decide on persons to approach for various jobs.

c. Nominating Committee presents state approved by the Congregation council to Voters Meeting in June and President conducts elections beginning with officers and working through board positions.

C13.03.An Audit Committee of three voting members shall be elected by this congregation Council. Audit Committee members shall not be members of the Congregation Council. Term of office shall be three years, with one member elected each year. Members shall be eligible for reelection.

C13.04.When a pastoral vacancy occurs, a Call Committee of at least five voting members shall be elected by the Congregation Council. Term of office will terminate upon installation of the newly called pastor.

C13.05.Other committees of this congregation may be formed, as the need arises, by decision of the Congregation Council.

C13.06.Duties of committees of this congregation shall be specified in the bylaws.

Chapter 14. (Table of Contents)

ORGANIZATIONS WITHIN THE CONGREGATION

C14.01.All organizations within this congregation shall exist to aid it in ministering to the members of this congregation and to all persons who can be reached with the Gospel of Christ. As outgrowths and expressions of this congregation’s life, the organizations are subject to its oversight and direction. This congregation at its meeting shall determine their policies, guide their activities, and receive reports concerning their membership, work, and finances.

C14.02.Special interest groups, other than those of the official organizations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, may be organized only after authorization has been given by the Congregation Council.

Chapter 15. (Table of Contents)

DISCIPLINE OF MEMBERS AND ADJUDICATION

C15.01.Denial of the Christian faith as described in this constitution, conduct grossly unbecoming a member of the Church of Christ, or persistent trouble-making in this congregation are sufficient cause for discipline of a member. Prior to disciplinary action, reconciliation will be attempted following Matthew 18:15-17, proceeding through these successive steps:

a. private admonition by the pastor

b. admonition by the pastor in the presence of two or three witnesses, andc. citation to appear before the Congregation Council.

C15.02.The process for discipline of a member of this congregation shall be governed as prescribed by the chapter on discipline in the Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. A member charged with the offense shall appear before the Congregation Council after having received a written notice, specifying the exact charges that have been made against the member, at least 10 days prior to the meeting.

G15.03.Members of the Congregation Council who participate in the preparation of the written charges or who present evidence or testimony in the hearing before the Congregation Council are disqualified from voting upon the question of the guilt of the accused member, Should the allegations be sustained by a two-thirds majority vote of the members of the Congregation Council, who are not disqualified but who are present and voting, and renewed admonition prove ineffectual, the Congregation Council shall impose one of the following disciplinary actions:

  1. censure before the council or congregation;
  2. suspension from membership for a definite period of time, or
  3. exclusion from membership in this congregation.

Disciplinary actions b. and c. shall be delivered to the member in writing.

C15.04.The member against whom disciplinary action has been taken by theCongregation Council shall have the right to appeal the decision to the Synod Council. Such right may not be abridged and the decision of the Synod Council shall be final.

C15.05.Disciplinary actions may be reconsidered and revoked by the Congregation Council upon receipt of either evidence that injustice has been done or evidence of repentance and amendment.

C15.06.When there is disagreement among factions within this congregation on a substantive issue that cannot be resolved by the parties, members of this congregation shall have access to the synodical bishop for consultation after informing the chair of the Congregation Council of their intent. If the consultation fails to resolve the issue(s), the Consultation Committee of the synod shall consider the matter. If the Consultation Committee of the synod shall fail to resolve the issue(s), the matter shall be referred to the Synod Council, whose decision shall be final.

Chapter 16. (Table of Contents)

BYLAWS

C16.01.This congregation may adopt bylaws. No bylaw may conflict with this constitution.

C16.02.Bylaws may be adopted or amended at any duly called meeting of this congregation with a quorum present by a majority vote of those voting members present and voting.

C16.03.Changes to the bylaws may be proposed by any voting member provided, however, that such additions or amendments be submitted in writing to the Congregation Council at least 60 days before a regular or special Congregation Meeting called for that purpose and that the Congregation Council notify the members of the proposal with its recommendations at least 30 days in advance of the Congregation Meeting.

C16.04.Approved changes to the bylaws shall be sent by the secretary of this congregation to the New England Synod.

C16.05.Tri-Annual Meetings of this congregation are to be held at times and places indicated unless otherwise directed by the Congregation Council.

a. February meeting 2nd Sunday of the month after service. Planning and Reports.

b. June meeting 2nd Sunday of the month after service. Election of Officers.

c. November meeting 2nd Sunday of the month after service. Budget and Business meeting.

Organizational Structure:

CHURCH OFFICERS – The Church Officers are elected yearly, The Church Officers are:

PRESIDENT– Chairs Congregation Meetings and Congregation Council meetings. Acts as Executive Director of all Boards other than those dealing with finances and physical properties.
Guidelines:
1. As executive director, the President sees that the various Boards are functioning and receiving necessary support from the Council, and the Congregation.
2. As chairperson at Congregation Meetings and Congregation Council Meetings, the President sets the agenda before hand, sees that the agenda and reports are distributed, and adheres to Robert’s Rules of Order in conducting the business.
3. Appoints necessary additional committees.

VICE-PRESIDENT– Chairs Congregation Meetings and Congregation Council meetings in President’s absence. Acts as Executive Director of Boards dealing with finances and properties.
Guidelines:
1. As executive director, the Vice-President sees that the finance and property Boards are functioning and receiving necessary support from the Congregation Council and this congregation.
2. As chairperson in President’s absence, see above.

SECRETARY– Records minutes of Congregation Council and Congregation Meetings and serves as official correspondent for this congregation.
Guidelines:
1.Sees that minutes are distributed beforehand with the Agenda and reports through the church office. (Oversees the church office in collecting and distributing these materials.)

FINANCIAL SECRETARY– Receives all monies of this congregation, keeps an itemized account of all transactions, and deposits all monies in the name of this congregation in a bank duly designated by it. – -Notifies the Treasurer of all deposits and the amounts. – Records all contributions on individual’s records and sends out individual quarterly and yearly contribution forms. – Reports all receipts to Congregation Council and an annualreport to this congregation.
Guidelines:
1. With Treasurer, compiles financial report for each month using monthly receipts and expenses and year to date figures for current and previous year.
2. Oversees the Financial Clerks and Counters.
3. Serves on the Finance Board.

TREASURER – Receives receipts of all monies of this congregation from the Financial Secretary. – Keeps an account of all transactions.– Pay* all bills and indebtedness of this congregation authorized by the Budget or otherwise approved by this congregation.– Signs checks (in absence of Treasurer, the President or Vice President signs all checks.)
Guidelines:
1. With Financial Secretary, compiles financial report each month using monthly receipts and expenses and year to date figures for current and previous year.
2. Oversees the Treasurer Clerks.
3. Serves on the Finance Board.

PURCHASING AGENT– Conducts or coordinates all purchases of this congregation. – Researches for price comparison, etc. and makes results available.– Provides a system for simple requisition and stocking of regular supplies.
Guidelines:
1. Provides requisition slips for all Boards, committees, groups, Officers, etc. for regular item purchases.
2. Sees that materials are obtained, checked, etc.
3. Serves on the Finance Board.

CHURCH BOARDS – Under the direction of the Congregation Council.

Board members are elected by the congregation.

Boards determine their own meeting times and agenda for meetings.– Boards give reports to the Congregation Council on a regular basis through the Chair or other designated representative. Boards are:

BOARD OF ELDERS– Consists of four or more members, serving 2 years. At least two elected yearly.– Responsible for: ongoing revision and updating of By-Laws and guidelines; direction of various Boards as assigned by the President (Executive Director); overall evaluation of spiritual life of this congregation and of individual members and implementation of procedures to enrichen spiritual life of this congregation and individual members together with the pastor(s).– Ministers as “Spiritual Leaders” to this congregation, receiving complaints, and concerns, from individuals and groups and seeing that they are properly dealt with.
Guidelines:
1. Prints a manual periodically for this congregation containing By-Laws, Guidelines, and any other material to aid in the mission and ministry of this congregation.
2. Conducts leaders’ workshop(s) to initiate the year’s mission and ministry.– Responsible for: Ministry of this congregation t young people, and ministry of young people to this congregation and others.
Guidelines:
1. Define group(s) to be worked with for the year.
2. Establish goals for the year (since the responsibility above is over-whelming, it is best limited to more specific goals.)
3. Develop and implement specific procedures, events, activities, etc.
4. Evaluate on-going mission and ministry of this congregation and young people.

BOARD OF DEACONS – Consists of four or more members, serving two years, at least two elected yearly.– Responsible for: conduct of all worship services, and related aspects: ongoing enrichment of worship life of this congregation.
Guidelines:
1. Evaluate worship life of this congregation on ongoing basis. _$@ theology of worship to enrich Board and this congregation.
2. Recruit ushers, lectors, greeters, acolytes, etc.
3. Direct participants in worship services.
4. Announce special services. Encourage worship involvement. BOARD OF EDUCATION – Consists of eight or more members, serving two years.Divided into two sub-groups – Director of Sunday School;
-Responsible for: Operation and coordination and enrichment of church schools for all children of this congregation. a. BOARD OF SUNDAY SCHOOL – Recruitment of teachers and students. Selection of curriculum with teachers. Provide supplies and materials. Support and coordinate staff. Oversee maintenance of facilities and equipment (by trustees or director.) Evaluate and support school.
Guidelines:
1. Set yearly goals.
2. Divide responsibility.
3. Implement projects.
4. Conduct staff meetings and training sessions.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES – Consists of four or more members, serving two years at least two elected yearly.– Responsible for: Maintenance and Repair of all properties of this congregation. Exercise of legal powers conferred upon them by the Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Guidelines:
1. Carry out an ongoing evaluation of properties and equipment.
2. Establish regular procedures for maintenance and repair.
3. Determine necessary new equipment and property and provide for a schedule for purchases, etc.
BOARD OF FINANCE – Consists of four or more members, servingtwo years, at least two elected yearly. Plus – Treasurer, FinancialSecretary, Purchasing Agent. – Responsible for: development and presentation of the yearly church budget. Oversee and evaluate receipts and expenses during the year. Recommend specific actions to the Congregation Council and the congregation to meet various financial needs. Provide an ongoing financial picture for all Boards, Committees, etc. and this congregation. Chapter 17. (Table of Contents)

AMENDMENTS

C17.01.Amendments to this constitution may be proposed by at least seven voting members or by the Congregation Council. Proposals must be filed in writing with the Congregation Council at least 60 days before formal consideration by this congregation at a regular or special meeting called for that purpose. The Congregation Council shall notify the members of the proposal with the Congregation Council’s recommendations at least 30 days in advance of the meeting.
Note: At the time of its adoption, all current constitution by-laws were incorporated in the body of this constitution.

C17.02.A proposed amendment to this constitution shall:

a. be approved at a duly called meeting according to this constitution by a majority vote of those present and voting;

b. be ratified without change at the next November business meeting by a two-thirds majority vote; and

c. have the effective date included in the resolution and noted in the constitution. This date must be post-ratification.

C17.03.Any amendments to this constitution shall be sent by the secretary of this congregation to the synod. The amendment shall become effective within 120 days from the date of the receipt of the notice by the synod unless the synod informs this congregation that the amendment is in conflict with the constitution and bylaws of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America or the constitution of the New England Synod of the ELCA.

C17.04.Whenever the Model Constitution for Congregations is amended by the Churchwide Assembly, this constitution may be amended to reflect any such amendment by a two-thirds majority vote at any subsequent meeting of this congregation without presentation at a prior meeting of this congregation, provided that the Congregation Council has submitted by mail notice to this congregation of such an amendment or amendments at least 30 days prior to the meeting. Following the adoption of an amendment, the secretary of this congregation shall submit a copy thereof to the synod, consistent with C17.03.

1999 AMENDMENTS

TO THE MODEL CONSTITUTION FOR CONGREGATIONS

As approved by the 1999 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in AmericaDenver, Colorado – August 16-22,1999 Prepared by the Office of the SecretaryOf the Evangelical Lutheran Church in AmericaSeptember 14 1999 Additions are underlined. Deletions are struck through in the text.

*C6.05G If Since this congregation was established by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, it shall be required, in addition to the foregoing provisions in *C6.05., to receive synodical approval before terminating its membership in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

2 This provision is to be used in the constitutions of all congregations that have been established by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, in accord with provision 9.62.h in the Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

To amend *C9.05.d in the Model Constitution for Congregations to be consistent with †S14.13.d. in the Constitution for Synods:

*C9.05.d. In the case of alleged local difficulties that imperil the effective functioning of the congregation, all concerned persons shall be heard, after which the bishop of the synod together with the committee described in IC9.053b. shall decide on the course of action to be recommended to the pastor and the congregation. If they agree to carry out such recommendations, no further action shall be taken by the synod. If either party fails to assent, the congregation may dismiss the pastor by a two-thirds majority vote of the voting members present and voting at a regular legally called meeting after consultation with the bishop. To amend the Model Constitution for Congregations by the addition of a section on ecumenical pastoral ministry:

C9.20. Ecumenical pastoral ministry

C9.21. Under special circumstances, subject to the approval of the synodical bishop and the concurrence of this congregation. an ordained minister of a church body with which the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America official1v has established a relationship of full communion may serve temporarily under contract as Pastor of this congregation.

To amend *C20.02. to conform to *C9.02, in the Model Constitution for Congregations and churchwide constitutional provision 9 21.d and churchwide bylaw 9.21.01. to read:

*C20.02. Whenever a letter of call is being recommended for extension to an ordained minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America or a candidate for the roster of ordained ministers who has been recommended to the congregation by the synodical bishop to serve the congregations of a parish … [with the remainder unchanged].


ADDITION TO 2001 GRACE LUTHERAN CHURCH CONSTITUTION

(revised at the March 15, 2001 meeting of the Congregation Council)

(Table of Contents)

CHAPTER 16 Under Board of Finance
“A” Responsibility for…
Add “B” Responsibility for the Memorial and Special Gift Fund

B. GIFTS AND MEMORIAL FUND

1. PURPOSE OF FUND

The Grace Lutheran Church Gifts and Memorial Fund, hereafter referred to as “The Fund”, shall consist of those, assets to be held separately from the general operating assets of the congregation into which gifts, bequests in wills, charitable remainder and other such trusts, assignment or ownership of life insurance and transfers of property (cash, stocks, bonds, real estate) given to the church and so designated may be placed. The fund shall consist currently of four separate accounts each with a designated purpose and rules which govern how gifts may be received and disbursed. The four separate accounts shall be as follows: a Capital Account, a Program Ministry Account, Scholarship Accounts and an Unrestricted Account. The four separate accounts will provide an opportunity for donors to specify the area in which they wish their donations to be placed. The purpose of the fund is to enhance the mission of Grace Lutheran Church apart from the general operating budget of the Congregation and the “regular giving of members Also, the purpose of this fund is in part to be a memorial to those who have entered the church triumphant. Adequate records of gifts and memorials shall be kept and from time to time made available to the Congregation. Gift and memorials will be entered in our perpetual Memorial Book.

2. DESCRIPTION OF FUND ACCOUNTS
Capital Account: This account shall be used for the purpose of making capital improvements and acquisitions to Grace Church. Such items shall be from a prioritized list established at the beginning of each calendar year. The Trustees will be responsible for providing such a listProgram
Ministry Account: This account shall be used to provide outreach beyond the scope of the current expense budget.
Long-term Scholarship (endowed) Account: This account shall be set up to accrue assets for the purpose of giving scholarships. The principal shall be invested to earn interest. The annual interest is to be available for distribution of scholarships as set forth below. The Gifts and Memorial Fund committee will review and recommend applicants to the Congregation Council for approval.The Short-term Scholarship Account will receive the dispersible interest from the Longterm funds plus any donations in cash or check less than $1,000.00 directed to “Scholarship Fund” only, which will be credited to the Short-Term Scholarship Account. The entire principal of the Short-Term Fund may be awarded annually on or before June to all qualified students by a subcommittee appointed to be responsible for disbursements each year.
Unrestricted Account: This account exists only so that anyone wishing to donate to the Church in general, without any specific purpose, may do so.

3. RECEIPTS FOR MEMORIALS AND SPECIAL GIFTS FUNDS

Receipts are to be received by the Financial Secretary and recorded as stated in the constitution. (See C16.12) Undesignated funds: shall be allocated as soon as possible to the other accounts as follows (unless the Congregation Council authorizes by a two thirds vote to have a Congregational meeting and a change is approved by the majority at the meeting): ten percent to the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the balance to be disbursed equally among the Program Ministry Account, the Capital Account, the Long-term Scholarship Account and the Unrestricted Account.

4. DISBURSEMENTS OF FUND ACCOUNTS

The Congregation Treasurer shall disburse the assets of these accounts in accordance with the constitution and bylaws of this Congregation and in accordance with the rules and procedures set forth herein.
Capital Account: The Gifts and Memorial Fund Committee shall prioritize all requests and make recommendations to the Congregation Council.
Program Ministry Account: The Gifts and Memorial Fund Committee shall prioritize all requests and make recommendations to the Congregation Council.
Scholarship Accounts: All undesignated gifts to the Scholarship Fund $1,000 or over will be recorded in the Long-Term Scholarship Account for investment purposes. Donations directed to the Long-Term Scholarship Account shall be invested in an interest bearing bond or mutual fund or other non-profit organization. The annual dispersible interest of the Long Term funds shall be assigned to the principal of the Short-Term Scholarship fund. The Long-Term Scholarship can only be drawn by a congregational 2/3 vote as requested by the Congregation Council.
Unrestricted Account: Money may be used for any church need after the Gifts and Memorial Fund Committee has prioritized requests and made recommendations to the Congregation Council.

5. GIFTS AND MEMORIAL FUND STRUCTURE

Committee Membership

The Gifts and Memorial Committee shall consist of the Pastor, Congregation Council Vice President, Finance Chairperson, and two persons appointed by the Congregation Council. The Congregation Council shall approve of a Subcomrnittee for the purpose of Short-Term Scholarship distributions. This Subcommittee shall consist of 3 to 5 volunteers with a Chairperson responsible to the Congregation Council. A chairperson and secretary shall be selected annually.

Meetings: There shall be no fewer than four meetings per year. Meetings shall be called as needed by any member of the committee. Three members of the committee shall constitute a quorum. In the absence of the Chairperson, the Recording Secretary shall serve as the Chairperson at the committee meetings.

Committee Responsibilities: The committee shall:

A. Set up and maintain a plan to encourage contributions to the Gifts and Memorial Fund,

B. Inform and advise the Congregation Council of all its activities via minutes of the Committee.

C. Provide information to the Congregation regarding:

1. Opportunities for planned giving.

2. Opportunities for giving for special needs and ministries.

3. Expenditures from the funds (in accordance with the purpose of the fund). Such information shall be via the Newsletter to the congregation.

D. Provide the Congregation Council with a financial accounting report, separate from the Treasurer’s and Financial Secretary’s Reports. (This will come from the Finance Committee Chairperson).

E. Maintain adequate records of expenditure authorizations.

Financial Secretary: The Financial Secretary of the Gifts and Memorial Fund Committee shall maintain up-to-date memorial records including contributors, contribution dates, contribution amounts and contribution designations. The Financial Recording Secretary of the Gifts and Memorial Fund Committee shall generate lists of contributors to the families of those memorialized and submit this information to the Congregation Financial Secretary so that appropriate and timely acknowledgments are made to donors.

Finance Committee: It shall be the responsibility of the Finance Committee to wisely invest the assets of all funds. It shall also give priority consideration to the opportunities for investment in church related projects and the Mission fund of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

The Congregation: It shall be the responsibility of the Congregation to:

1. Consider requests for the approval of any proposed expenditure which may come to it under the authority of the constitution.

2. Contribute to the Fund, in consideration of God’s grace, being mindful of the call to be good stewards, Christian fellowship, service and needs of others.

(Table of Contents)

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