CONSTITUTION OF CHRIST CHURCH (UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST)
NORRISTOWN, MONTGOMERY COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA
Revised and Passed – May 17, 2015
ARTICLE I. Name
The name of this Church shall be Christ Church of the United Church of Christ situated at 1003 West Marshall Street, Norristown, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.
ARTICLE II. Purpose
The avowed purpose of this Church shall be to worship God, to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to celebrate the Sacraments; to realize Christian fellowship and unity within this Church and the Church universal; to render loving services toward mankind; and to strive for righteousness, justice, and peace.
ARTICLE III. Polity
1. This Church shall be a part of the United Church of Christ and it shall sustain that relationship to the United Church of Christ described in those portions of the Constitution and By-Laws of the United Church of Christ adopted July 4, 1961, relating to local churches.
2. The administration of this Church is vested in its members, who shall exercise the right of control in all its affairs, subject to the Non-Profit Corporation Law of Pennsylvania.
ARTICLE IV. Faith and Covenant
Faith – This Church acknowledges as its sole Head, Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Savior of the world. It acknowledges as brothers and sisters in Christ all who share in this confession. It looks to the Word of God in the Scriptures, and to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, to prosper its creative and redemptive work in the world. It claims as its own the faith of the historic Church expressed in the ancient creeds and reclaimed in the basic insights of the Protestant Reformers. It affirms the responsibility of the Church in each generation to make this faith its own. In accordance with the teaching of our Lord and the practice prevailing among evangelical Christians, it recognizes two Sacraments: Baptism and Holy Communion.
One expression of this faith is:
“STATEMENT OF FAITH”
“We believe in God, the Eternal Spirit, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and our Father, and to his deeds we testify:
He calls the world into being, creates man in his own image and sets before him the ways of life and death.
He seeks in holy love to save all people from aimlessness and sin.
He judges men and nations by his righteous will declared through prophets and apostles.
In Jesus Christ, the man of Nazareth, our crucified and risen Lord, he has come to us and shared our common lot, conquering sin and death and reconciling the world to himself.
He bestows upon his Holy Spirit, creating and renewing the Church of Jesus Christ, binding in covenant faithful people of all ages, tongues and races.
He calls us into his Church to accept the cost and joy of discipleship, to be his servants in the service of men, to proclaim the gospel to all the world and resist the powers of evil, to share in Christ’s baptism and eat at his table, to join him in his passion and victory.
He promises to all who trust him forgiveness of sins and fullness of grace, courage in the struggle for justice and peace, his presence in trial and rejoicing, and eternal life in his kingdom which has no end.
Blessing and honor, glory and power be unto Him, Amen.”
Covenant - We covenant one with another to seek and respond to the Word and the will of God. We purpose to walk together in the ways of the Lord, made known and to be made known to us. We hold it to be the mission of the Church to witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ in all the world, while worshipping God, and striving for truth, justice and peace. As did our fathers, we depend on the Holy Spirit to lead and empower us. We pray for the coming of the kingdom of God, and we look with faith toward the triumph of righteousness and eternal life.
ARTICLE V. Incorporation
1. The church may in its corporate name sue or be sued, acquire by purchase, gift, devise, bequest or otherwise and own, hold, invest, reinvest or dispose of property both real and personal for such work as the church may undertake and may purchase, own, receive, hold, manage, care for and transfer, rent, lease mortgage or otherwise encumber, sell, assign, transfer, and convey such property for the general purpose of the church; it may receive and hold in trust both real and personal property and invest and reinvest the same and make any contracts for promoting the objectives and purposes of the church.
2. Upon dissolution of the church, its assets and all property and interests of which it shall then be possessed, including any devise, bequest, gift or grant contained in any will or other instrument, in trust or otherwise, made before or after such dissolution, shall be transferred to the Pennsylvania Southeast Conference of the United Church of Christ.
ARTICLE VI. Membership
1. Any person may become a member of this Church who confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and may be received by (a) Baptism; (b) Confirmation; (c) Profession of Faith; (d) Restoration to communicant membership; or (e) Letter of Transfer.
2. The expectations of membership are:
- Regular attendance at the worship services of the Church.
- Partaking of the Sacrament of Holy Communion at least once each year.
- Concern for the welfare of the Church
- The Christian training of children entrusted to his/her care.
- The winning of others to Christ and His Church.
- Rendering volunteer service to the Church through its organizations and service projects.
- Contributing to the financial support of this Church and its benevolences.
3. If a member shall not partake of the Holy Communion, or contribute to the financial support of the Church, or attend the services of worship for a period of one year, the Spiritual Council shall make special effort through visitation and counsel to encourage participation. If, at the end of a second year, the effort of the Spiritual Council has not succeeded, it shall, after due notice, delete his/her name from the membership roll.
4. An “Inactive List” will be maintained of those persons deleted from the membership roll. An inactive person can be returned to the membership roll through re-profession of faith.
ARTICLE VII. Governing Body
The governing body of this Church shall be the membership assembled in church meeting. A quorum shall consist of ten (10) percent of the Church members. The vote of a majority of members present at the meeting shall be the action of the Church.
ARTICLE VIII. Boards and Their Functions
1. The Consistory shall be the executive body of this Church. It shall be composed of the Pastor, six (6) Elders, and six (6) Deacons. Consistory shall appoint a Financial Secretary, and Treasurer for one year terms. One-half of its members shall constitute a quorum, two of whom shall be Elders. Should the Financial Secretary and/or the Treasurer not be appointed from among members of Consistory, they may, if members of the Church, be asked and encouraged to serve as members of Consistory. Should the appointee(s) be non-Church members they, as a condition of employment, may be required to attend meetings of the Consistory, as necessary, in an advisory capacity, and shall not be entitled to vote on matters currently before the Consistory.
2. The Consistory shall organize itself each year, electing a President, Vice-President and a Secretary. The officers shall be lay persons of the Consistory. The Consistory shall appoint such committees as will serve to further the purpose of the Church. In addition to the six Deacons designated heretofore, two additional non-voting Youth Deacons, not exceeding eighteen years of age, may be appointed by the Consistory for a term not exceeding one year.
3. The Consistory shall be the policy making body and shall transact the business of the Church, handle the monies and make provision for the determining and raising of the current expense budget as well as for Our Church’s Wider Mission and benevolences, and provide for the auditing of financial accounts and for the adequate support of the staff. It shall keep a complete and accurate record of its proceedings, be the custodian of all Church records, and report to the Church at its regular and special meetings. All acts and deliberations of the Consistory are subject to the will and revision of the Governing Body.
4. The Consistory shall instruct the proper officers on all fiscal matters including the payment of bills; with monthly review by the Consistory. However, when any matter of substantial importance presents itself, after approval by the Consistory, the Consistory must obtain the will of the majority of such voting members of the congregation as may assemble at a meeting called for the purpose, of which at least two weeks previous notice shall have been given from the pulpit.
5. The Consistory shall meet at least once every month for the transaction of Business. Special Meetings and summer recesses are subject to the President’s call.
6. Members of the Consistory, Trustees, Board of Christian Education, Board of Music Ministry or Investment Committee may be dismissed from their respective positions after consultation and due notice for failure to fulfill their duties in that position. Dismissal must be approved by a minimum of three-fourths of Consistory present at the meeting. Each Board is to define its standards of non-performance.
1. An Elder shall assist and support the Pastor in the spiritual affairs of the Church, including confirmation instruction, and aid in visiting the sick. The Pastor and Elders together shall compose the Spiritual Council.
2. The Elders shall elect a Chairperson from among their own number.
3. The Elders shall set performance criteria applicable for their members so that recommendations to Consistory regarding dismissal for non-performance of duties are fully defined.
1. A Deacon shall aid in securing the funds necessary for the support of the Church in its various activities and foster the principals of stewardship. The Financial Secretary and Treasurer will serve on the Finance and Stewardship Committee as defined under Article VIII, Consistory, 1.
2. The Deacons shall elect a Chairperson from among their own number.
3. After receiving budget recommendations from all the Boards, the Finance and Stewardship Committee will submit a consolidated Church budget to Consistory in time for review, approval, and presentation at the Church’s Annual Meeting.
4. The Deacons shall set performance criteria applicable for their members so that recommendations to Consistory regarding dismissal for non-performance of duties are fully defined.
1. The Board of Trustees so constituted shall have the management of the physical properties. The Trustees shall be responsible to the Consistory. Any changes or innovation in the policy or program must be reviewed and approved by the Consistory.
2. The Trustees shall meet monthly for the transaction of current business and hold such Special Meetings as necessary. Notice of such Special Meetings shall be given to all of the Trustees.
3. The Trustees shall elect a Chairperson and a Secretary from among their own number.
4. The Trustees shall set performance criteria applicable for their members so that recommendations to Consistory regarding dismissal for non-performance of duties are fully defined.
5. The Trustees’ expenditures shall be a part of the Church’s Annual Budget. The Board shall be charged with the preparation of its budget and shall supervise the expenditures of approved funds.
BOARD OF CHRISTIAN EDUCATION
1. The educational ministry of this Church shall be directed by the Board of Christian Education. The Board shall develop, equip and staff all educational programs related to the Church. The Board shall further be charged with the supervision of all Youth Programs using the Church’s facilities. Such programs shall be consistent with the stated purpose of the Church.
2. The Board shall be responsible to the Consistory. Any changes or innovation in the policy or program must be reviewed and approved by the Consistory. The Board shall consist of the Pastor(s) and six (6) members.
3. With Consistory approval, a Director of Christian Education may be engaged. The Director reports to the Board, and works with oversight of and in cooperation with the Pastor. The Director shall attend Board meetings in a non-voting advisory capacity.
4. The Board shall elect a Chairperson from among its members.
5. In addition to the six members designated heretofore, two additional non-voting Youth Members, not exceeding eighteen years of age, may be appointed by the Board for a term not exceeding one year.
6. The Board shall be responsible for, but not limited to, the following program areas:
- The Youth Fellowships
- The Church School enrollment children through adults
- The Educational Resources, Library and Audio-Visuals,
- Camps, Conferences, Retreats
- Training of Teachers
- Weekday and Summer Experiences
- Church Nursery
7. The Educational Program expenditures shall be a part of the Church’s Annual Budget. The Board shall be charged with the preparation of its budget, and shall supervise the expenditure of all approved funds.
8. The Board shall set performance criteria applicable for their members so that recommendations to Consistory regarding dismissal for non-performance of duties are fully defined.
BOARD OF MUSIC MINISTRY
1. The music ministry of this Church shall be directed by the Board of Music Ministry. The Board shall establish policy relative to the music program; establish a clear and workable set of goals and plans for the music ministry. All policy, goals and plans shall be consistent with the stated purpose of the Church.
2. The Board shall be responsible to the Consistory. Any changes in policy or program must be reviewed and approved by the Consistory.
3. The Board shall consist of the Pastor(s), Director of Music and six members. The Director of Music, who is engaged by the Board with Consistory approval, reports to the Board, and works, with the oversight of and in cooperation with the Pastor. The Director of Music shall attend Board meetings in a non-voting advisory capacity. The Board shall elect a Chairperson from among its members.
4.The Board shall be responsible for, but not limited to the following:
- Coordinating and evaluating the music ministry of the whole Church e.g., music in worship, church school, special events, etc.
- Provide feedback to the congregation relative to the music program.
- Engage in long-range planning for the music program.
- Work closely with the Pastor and Director of Music on special music events.
- Act as a source of information for other Boards and committees relative to music matters.
5. The music expenditures shall be a part of the Church’s Annual Budget. The Board shall be charged with the preparation of the music budget and shall supervise the expenditures of approved funds. The Board will also supervise the expenditures from the Cultural Endowment Fund, within the parameters established by the Fund.
6. The Board shall periodically review the contracts of the Director of Music as well as any other paid music staff. For the Director of Music, performance criteria should be established and thereafter evaluated on an annual basis.
7. The Board shall be responsible for securing all paid music staff as needed. This would include advertising, interviewing, contract negotiations and preparing final recommendations for Consistory approval.
8. The Board shall set performance criteria applicable for their members so that recommendations to Consistory regarding dismissal for non-performance of duties are fully defined.
1. The Investment Committee is the fiduciary for all investment funds. Those funds for which the benefactors made restrictions must be reported separately. All investments must be in Mutual Funds whose size, diversity, and performance record establish them as prudent choices.
2. The use of non-restricted investment income and non-restricted principal must fit the current needs of the church; therefore, income reinvestment objectives must be formulated annually and simultaneously with the budgeting process.
3. The Investment Committee shall be comprised of two (2) members, and at least one of the Financial Officers (Financial Secretary and Treasurer).
4. The Committee elects its Chairperson.
5. The Committee reports to the Consistory stating monthly the financial condition of the investment funds and the executed investment decisions.
6. The Committee must meet at least once per quarter. An annual report shall also be made to the Congregation.
7. An audit of the Investment Committee’s actions and accounting will be part of the annual financial audit and will be reported as a separate item by the Audit Committee.
The Financial Secretary shall receive all the monies of the congregation and keep a full accounting of these both in total and for each of the members. All monies shall be reported to the Treasurer and a deposit receipt given. Monthly reports shall be furnished to the Consistory and an annual report presented to the congregation at their annual meeting. Each February, the Financial Secretary shall report to the Spiritual Council the names of the members not contributing the previous year.
The Treasurer shall receive a receipt for all monies from the Financial Secretary. The Treasurer shall pay all orders drawn on the Church by the Consistory, Board of Trustees, Board of Music Ministry and the Board of Christian Education when such orders are properly approved. Complete accounting records of income and expenses must be kept. This accounting shall be presented to the Consistory monthly and to the Congregation at their annual meeting.
1. Nominations shall be made for the offices of Elders, Deacons, Trustees, Board of Christian Education, Board of Music Ministry, and Investment Committee each year by the Nominating Committee. The Nominating Committee, consisting of five (5) members, shall be appointed by the Consistory not later than September. The slate of officers shall be submitted by the Nominating Committee to the Consistory for approval, and then to the Congregation at the annual meeting. Public notice of such nominations shall be given from the pulpit or by bulletin or letter at least two weeks before the annual meeting. Other nominations may be made from the floor at the meeting at which the election is held.
2. Six (6) Elders, six (6) Deacons and six (6) Trustees, six (6) Board of Christian Education members, six (6) Board of Music Ministry members and two (2) members of the Investment Committee shall be elected by majority vote cast at the annual Church meeting. Elders, Deacons, Trustees, Board of Christian Education members and Board of Music Ministry members shall be elected for three (3) years. In order to provide continuity, not more than one-third (1/3) of each office shall become vacant in any one year. The two (2) members of the Investment Committee shall be elected for a term of two (2) years. The terms are staggered so that one vacancy occurs each year.
3. All elections shall be controlled by a Judge and two (2) Tellers, who shall be chosen by the members from among their own number.
4. The candidates receiving the greatest number of votes cast shall be declared duly elected.
5. Consecutive terms of service for Elders, Deacons, Board of Trustees, Board of Christian Education, Board of Music Ministry and Investment Committee shall not be limited. However, the Trustees, Board of Christian Education and Board of Music Ministry shall include a Consistory member on their Board.
6. When elected, the Elders, Deacons, Trustees, Board of Christian Education, Board of Music Ministry and Investment Committee members shall be publically ordained to, or installed in, their respective offices.
7. Should any of the offices of the congregation be vacant or held by an appointee, said offices shall be filled at the first annual church meeting thereafter, for the unexpired term of said office. The election shall be held in accordance with the methods of holding elections as herein before set forth. During the interim period, the Consistory may appoint a member of the Congregation to fill the vacancy.
ARTICLE IX. Pastor
1. It shall be the responsibility of the Search Committee, appointed by the Consistory, to seek a candidate for a vacant seat in the office of Pastor.
2. As soon as a pastoral vacancy occurs, it shall be reported to the Conference Executive.
3. In filling a vacancy or in securing interim ministers for the period of the vacancy, the Search Committee may seek the counsel of the Conference Placement Committee.
4. The Search Committee may request the Conference Executive to secure relevant information about any minister whom it wishes to consider for the vacancy.
5. The Search Committee shall present to the Church the name of the candidate it recommends to fill the vacancy. The favorable vote of the Church constitutes a call.
6. In the call, the terms of the relationship shall be stated, including the agreement of the Church to participate in the Pension Fund in the United Church of Christ, the minister’s health insurance program, and the other terms agreed between the candidate and the Committee. The Minister, the Church, the Association, and the Conference Executive shall each receive a copy of the call.
7. When a minister accepts a call to this Church, the Church and he/she shall join in requesting the Association to arrange for a service of installation or recognition. A report of this service shall be signed by the proper officer of the Association, and by the Conference Executive, and copies shall be sent to the Secretary of the United Church of Christ, and to the Committee on Ministry.
8. A pastor shall be elected for an indefinite period. In order to terminate his/her relationship, three month’s notice shall be given by either party or sooner by mutual agreement. The procedure shall be in accordance with the Constitution and By-Laws of the United Church of Christ.
The Church may, at its discretion, choose an associate or assistant Pastor (s).
ARTICLE X. Safe Church Committee
A Safe Church Committee, as appointed by Consistory, is responsible for keeping current on and establishing policies in adherence to applicable laws, communicating same to all Boards, and monitoring their application to all Boards and programs.
ARTICLE XI. Audit Committee
The Consistory shall appoint three individuals to serve as an Audit Committee. The appointees may include non-church members, but may not include any individuals with co-signing or investment authority. The Audit Committee will conduct at least one audit each year and report results to Consistory. Starting in 2015 and at least every three years thereafter, a non-church member who is a certified auditor shall be engaged to fulfill the role of the Audit Committee.
ARTICLE XII. By-Laws
The Consistory may enact such by-laws for the government of the Board and the transaction of business and the government of the Church as they may severally deem necessary, provided, however, that they be approved by a congregational meeting called for the purpose and do not conflict with this Constitution.
ARTICLE XIII. Church Meetings
1. The annual meeting of the Church shall be held in the month of January on a date set by the Consistory. At least two (2) weeks notice of the annual meeting shall be given. At this meeting, the Consistory, the Officers of the Church, the Pastor(s), and ALL Church Organizations shall submit their annual reports in writing.
2. Special Church meetings may be called by the Consistory as often during the Church Year as circumstances may require. At least two (2) weeks notice of Special Church meetings shall be given.
ARTICLE XIV. Rules of Order
Robert’s Rules of Order shall be the parliamentary authority for all matters of procedure not specifically covered by this Constitution and/or By-Laws.
ARTICLE XV. Amendments
This Constitution and/or By-Laws may be amended at any duly called Church Meeting by a two-thirds (2/3) affirmative vote of the members present. Notice of the text of the proposed amendment(s) shall be given two (2) weeks prior to the meeting.
ARTILE XVI. Revocation
All Constitutions and By-Laws, heretofore adopted by this Church contrary to or inconsistent with this Constitution and By-Laws are hereby revoked.
The foregoing Constitution and By-Laws are hereby approved this day of Sunday, May 17, 2015, at a Special Congregational Meeting.
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