Approved by the Church on January 31, 2018
We declare and establish this constitution for the preservation and security of the principles of our faith, and so that this body may be governed in an orderly manner. This constitution will preserve the liberties of each individual member of this church and the freedom of action of this body in its relationship to other churches of the same faith. We acknowledge the Lordship and leadership of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior, in all matters of church business and government.
ARTICLE I. Name
This body shall be known as the First Baptist Church, Erwin, Tennessee.
ARTICLE II. Purpose
The purpose of this church shall be that which is the mission of the Church of Jesus Christ: the public worship of God, the proclamation of the gospel, the development of Christian character, ministering to the deepest needs of the community, the state, the nation and the world, through Christian education, action, missionary endeavor and personal witness.
ARTICLE III. Statement of Faith
The Holy Bible is the inspired Word of God and is the basis for any statement of faith. This church receives the Scriptures as its authority in matters of faith and practice.
The church subscribes to the doctrinal statement of the "Baptist Faith and Message" as adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention in 1963. We band ourselves together as a body of baptized believers in Jesus Christ personally committed to sharing the good news of salvation to a lost world. The ordinances of the church are Baptism and The Lord's Supper.
ARTICLE IV. Government
The government of this church is vested in the body of believers who compose it. It is subject to the control of no other body, but it recognizes and sustains the obligations of mutual counsel and cooperation which are common among Baptist churches. In so far as is practical, this church will cooperate with and support the Holston Baptist Association, Tennessee Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention, and all organizations and arms thereof, and will cooperate, if possible, with all churches in the true spirit of Christian love and compassion, without compromising our faith or violating our fundamental beliefs.
ARTICLE V. Membership
Section 1. General
This is a sovereign and democratic Baptist church under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The membership retains unto itself the right of exclusive self-government in all phases of the spiritual and temporal life of this church. The membership reserves the exclusive right to determine who shall be members of this church and the conditions of such membership.
Section 2. Candidacy
Any person sincerely willing to accept the rights and duties of church membership may offer himself as a candidate for membership in this church. All such candidates shall be presented to the church at any regular worship service for membership in any of the following ways:
A.Upon public profession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and receiving the ordinance of baptism, or
B.By letter of recommendation from another Baptist church of like faith and order, or
C.By statement professing membership in another Baptist church of like faith and order where the membership records have been lost or destroyed or are otherwise unavailable, or
D.By statement professing membership in a church of another denomination which teaches and practices the same doctrines we have with respect to salvation by grace through faith and the symbolism of baptism by immersion, or
Should there be any dissent as to any candidate, such dissent shall be referred to the pastor and the deacons for investigation and the making of a recommendation to the church within thirty (30) days.
Section 3. Termination
Membership shall be terminated in the following ways:
B.Dismissing to another Baptist church of like faith and order, or
C.Erasure upon becoming affiliated with a church of another faith or denomination, or
D.Exclusion by action of the church following, in a tender spirit, the rules given by our Lord in the Gospel according to Matthew, or
E.By the personal request of the member.
Section 4. Rights
Members who are in full and regular standing may act and vote in the transactions of the church, as specified herein.
ARTICLE VI. Church Officers and Staff
Section 1. Pastor
A. Election: A pastor shall be chosen and called by the church whenever a vacancy occurs. A five (5) member pastor selection committee shall be formed by nominations from the deacons, made up of (3) three men and two (2) women. At the designated time that these (5) five nominated members are presented to the church, the Church membership has the right at that meeting to add other names as nominations to serve on this committee. Immediately following nominations, a ballot vote by the church will be held. The three (3) men and two (2) women receiving the highest vote will be elected to serve as the pastor selection committee.
Only church members shall vote on or be elected to the pastor selection committee. Members of the church staff or church employees shall not be eligible to serve on the pastor selection committee. The committee shall elect its’ own Chairman. The committee shall bring to the consideration of the church only one nominee at a time.
The action on electing a pastor shall take place only at a Sunday morning service or a special meeting of church membership called for this purpose. At least one week's advance notice of such meeting shall be given to the membership. A discussion period will be held on the Wednesday prior to the election being held on Sunday morning. No discussion will be allowed at the Sunday morning election. Members wishing to vote absentee may do so prior to the Sunday morning election by the Church body present. The prospective pastor shall not be present at this meeting. An affirmative vote of three-fourths (3/4) of the members voting shall be necessary for election. On voting for prospective pastors the vote shall be by ballot.
B. Termination: The pastor shall serve until the relationship is terminated by the resignation, death or retirement of the pastor or by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the members voting at a Sunday morning service called for this purpose. This vote shall be by ballot. At least one week's notice shall be given to the membership prior to any such meeting. The pastor shall not be present at this meeting.
C. Requirements: The pastor shall meet the requirements set forth in Timothy 3:1-7 and shall be called of God and dedicated to the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ; of spiritual discernment and insight; evangelistic in his preaching, visitation and program; and missionary in spirit, seeking to lead the church in every area to carry out the "Great Commission" (Matthew 28:19-20).
D. Duties: The pastor shall be the "under shepherd" of the church and as such shall give spiritual leadership and guidance; seek to comfort, counsel and guide the members of the church in spiritual matters; by counsel, advice and prayer, aid all church officers in carrying out their responsibilities; lead and direct the congregation and all church organizations in performing their tasks and duties; be an ex officio member of all church committees, both special and regular, and shall appoint all special committees established by the church unless the church specifies otherwise; be in charge of the preaching at all regular and special services. He shall have freedom to proclaim the Word of God as he is led by the Holy Spirit; arrange for supply speakers and other special speakers unless the church specifies otherwise; guide and direct the work of all church staff and employees; and arrange for evangelists for revivals, upon approval of the church.
Section 2. Other professional staff
The church may have such other professional staff as it deems necessary and proper and their duties shall be specified at the time they are called or secured. All professional staff shall be elected by an affirmative vote of two-thirds (2/3) of those members voting. All such professional staff shall serve at the will of the church and shall serve until the relationship is terminated by resignation, death, retirement or by a majority vote of the members voting at a Sunday morning service called for this purpose. Such professional staff may include ministers of music, education, youth, children, senior adults or any other designation chosen by the church at the time they are called or secured. The church may choose not to have any additional professional staff, beyond the pastor, or it may choose to combine some or all of these positions into one professional staff person’s responsibilities. In any event, the will of the church shall be controlling in all matters related to professional staff not specifically covered in this section. All professional staff will be supervised by and answer to the pastor.
Section 3. Staff and general employees
The church may have such other staff and general employees as it deems necessary and their duties shall be specified at the time they are secured. All such staff and general employees, excluding secretary, shall be employed and terminated by the personnel committee in counsel with the pastor. Secretarial personnel shall be employed and terminated by the pastor in counsel with the personnel committee.
Section 4. Deacons
A. Number, term, election and vacancies: The church may have twelve (12) active deacons. Four (4) elected each year for a term of three (3) years beginning September 1. After serving as an active deacon, an individual shall not be eligible for re-election as a deacon for one (1) year.
The annual election of deacons shall be held on the first Sunday in August at the conclusion of the morning worship service. On the first Sunday in August, each member present shall be given an opportunity to select up to four (4) individuals he or she (after prayerful consideration) feels best meet the qualifications for deacons and would best serve our church most effectively in that position.
A committee composed of active deacons shall count the ballots. Those individuals receiving at least twenty percent (20%) of membership voting will be asked to serve. The maximum number of deacons elected shall be four (4), except in the event of a tie vote. In the event of a tie for the final vacancy on the ballot, all individuals receiving the tie vote would be ask to serve. In this event, the number of deacons set out above, will be increased for the terms of those individuals serving as a result of the tie vote. Any ballot with more than four (4) names will not be counted. Any unordained individual elected to be deacon shall appear and be approved by the Ordination Council prior to serving as deacon. The church may hold an election to fill a vacancy at any time it votes to do so.
B. Qualifications: A deacon shall measure up to the requirements given in 1 Timothy 3:8-13 and Acts 6:3 and shall be at least eighteen (18) years of age as of the date of the individual's election by the church and have been a member of this church for at least one (1) year as of the date of the individual's election by the church.
C. Duties: In accordance with the meaning of the Word and practice of the New Testament, deacons are to be servants of the church and are to be zealous in guarding the unity of the spirit within the church in the bonds of peace; serve as counsel to the pastor in all matters pertaining to the welfare and work of the church. With the pastor, they are to consider and formulate plans for the growth and progress of the church in all things pertaining to the saving of souls, the development of Christians and the extension and growth of the Kingdom of God; establish and maintain personal fraternal relations with, and inspiring oversight of, all the membership of the church. Especially are they to seek to know the physical needs and the moral and spiritual struggles of the church members and to serve the whole church in relieving, encouraging and developing all who are in need; in counsel with the pastor, and by such methods as the Holy Spirit may direct, in accordance with New Testament teachings, they are to oversee the discipline of the church and members of the deacon body. In matters of discipline they are to be guided always by the principles set forth in Matthew 18:15-17, I Corinthians 5:9-13 and I Thessalonians 5:12-14; and in case of the inability of the pastor to provide supply speakers, the deacons will provide for them. In any period when the church is without a pastor, unless the church shall otherwise provide, the deacons shall arrange for the temporary ministry and take counsel with reference to securing an interim pastor.
D. Method of procedure: The whole body of active deacons shall be organized as a unit for consideration of all larger problems and general policies, and shall meet regularly each month on the first Monday evening of each month, or at such other times as are designated by the deacons. They may organize themselves into such committees as their wisdom may direct for efficiency in service. They shall apportion the membership of the church among themselves whereby the entire membership may have the benefit of the services of the deacons. Each deacon shall confer with the pastor about all matters, causes and cases of discipline which in the deacon's judgment would be most wisely and spiritually handled in private.
Section 5. Moderator
The moderator shall be the pastor. When the church is without a pastor or he is absent, the chairman of the deacons shall serve as moderator. In the absence of the chairman, the vice-chairman of the deacons shall serve as moderator. The moderator shall conduct all business meetings in accordance with the parliamentary procedure as provided for in Robert's Rules of Order and in keeping with the constitution and bylaws of the church.
Section 6. Trustees
A. Number, election and vacancies: The church shall have three (3) trustees They shall be elected on a rotating basis. When a vacancy occurs, the deacons shall nominate to the church the candidate for trustee. The church body may make other nominations. The church shall then elect the trustee(s) for a three (3) year term beginning September 1, after which time they will rotate off as a trustee. In case of death or inability to serve of any of the trustees, the church will elect a new trustee(s) by the method herein specified.
B. Qualifications: Trustees, being charged with the stewardship of the church property, shall be good stewards of their personal possessions, shall have good reputations in the community and shall be at least thirty-five (35) years of age as of the date of election and have been a member of this church for at least two (2) years as of the date of election.
C. Duties: Trustees are to hold in trust all the property of the church. They shall have no authority to buy, sell, mortgage, pledge, transfer or lease any property without a specific vote of the church authorizing each action; they shall affix their signatures to legal documents involving the sale, mortgage, purchase, transfer, pledge or rental of property or other legal documents where the signatures of trustees are required; and they shall act in any other matter when specifically authorized to do so by the church.
Section 7. Clerk and assistant clerk
A. Election and term: The church shall elect annually a clerk and assistant clerk whose terms of office shall coincide with the church year, September 1 to August 31.
B. Duties: The clerk and assistant clerk shall keep the minutes of all business meetings of the church and present them for approval by the church at the next regularly scheduled business meeting; bring to the church matters involving the receiving and granting of letters of recommendation to be voted on by the church and preserve on file all communications and written official reports; and the assistant clerk shall, render such assistance to the clerk as the latter shall request.
Section 8. Treasurer and assistant treasurer
A. Election and term: The church shall elect annually a treasurer and assistant treasurer whose terms of office shall coincide with the church year, September 1 to August 31. After serving three (3) consecutive one (1) year terms, or a portion thereof, a person shall not be eligible for re-election as treasurer or assistant treasurer for at least one (1) year. The treasurer and assistant treasurer shall be nominated to the church by the nominating committee, in consultation with the finance committee.
B. Duties of treasurer and assistant treasurer: The treasurer and assistant treasurer shall sign all checks at the church office as often as necessary, at least twice-weekly; receive, count and deposit, along with the offering counters, all church offerings and receipts, and provide a record of all deposits; and the assistant treasurer shall be able to exercise all duties of the treasurer at all times, including the signing of checks.
ARTICLE VII. Committees
Section 1. General provisions
The regular committees of the church and their general duties are listed below. All regular committees shall operate on a rotating system. Members shall be elected for three (3) year staggered terms beginning September 1. Inactivity of any committee member for the preceding year should preclude that person from being nominated for the coming year, unless a valid reason exists. It shall be the responsibility of the nominating committee to recommend annually the chairman of all regular committees except as otherwise provided. Nomination of committee members should include as broad a representation of church members as possible, and duplication of committee responsibilities should be avoided. The church may have such additional committees as it may from time to time elect. Nothing in this constitution shall prohibit the church from electing additional regular or special committees as the need arises.
Section 2. Nominating committee
The nominating committee will be appointed by the pastor, or in the absence of the pastor the interim pastor, or in the absence of the interim pastor the chairman of the deacons, in April of each year and will consist of three (3) members including the chairperson. The nominating committee shall lead the church in filling all church elected leadership positions filled by volunteers. They shall focus, first, on organization leaders, such as Sunday School director who, in turn, after election, will be charged with the responsibility of reorganizing the respective organizations in council with the pastor. The committee should, if possible, present a final recommendation to the church at the July Quarterly Business meeting.
Section 3. Personnel committee
The church personnel committee will consist of three (3) members. It shall assist the church in matters relating to employed personnel excluding the pastor and other professional personnel. They shall develop and recommend policies and procedures to the church for these employed personnel. After consultation with the pastor, the committee will, in turn, present all personnel for approval by the church.
Section 4. Finance committee
This committee will consist of three (3) members. Nominations to replace those whose terms are expiring shall be made by the nominating committee. They shall have general oversight of all budgetary matters, including planning the church budget for presentation to the church, overseeing expenditures and making recommendations on all financial matters, budgeted or otherwise. The church budget shall be handed out to the congregation no later than the last Sunday in November. It shall be discussed during the next Wednesday evening’s service. It shall be voted on, without discussion, at the conclusion of the next Sunday morning’s worship service. The church by majority vote may alter or change this schedule at any time. They shall develop and recommend to the church all financial policies and procedures. They shall prepare the quarterly financial reports to the church. They shall review the financial status of the church and at least annually review and audit the financial records of the church. They shall be responsible for the implementation of all financial recommendations which have been approved by the church or which will be approved by the church in the future which are not inconsistent with this constitution or any amendments thereto. They shall be responsible for seeing that all church offerings are promptly counted and deposited in the bank following each Sunday.
Section 5. Grounds, Property and Space (House) committee
This committee will consist of up to five (5) members and shall assist the church in the care of property, grounds and buildings; study and recommend use, space and furnishings as related to programs and activities; and resolve property and space problems in the administering of church property.
Section 6. Youth committee
This committee will consist of three (3) members and shall be charged with the general oversight of youth activities. Its chairperson, in consultation with the pastor and the youth director or minister, will plan programs and youth activities. They shall provide oversight to insure that all programs and activities have adult supervision. They shall establish policies and procedures for the youth ministry and present them to the church for approval. If directed by the church, the committee will, in consultation with the pastor, secure and recommend to the church a youth director or minister for approval.
Section 7. Children’s committee
This committee will consist of three (3) members and shall be charged with the general oversight of children’s activities. Its chairperson, in consultation with the pastor, will plan programs and children’s activities. They shall provide oversight to insure that all programs and activities have adult supervision. They shall establish policies and procedures for the children’s ministry and present them to the church for approval. If directed by the church, the committee will, in consultation with the pastor, secure and recommend to the church a children’s minister or director for approval.
ARTICLE VIII. Organizations
Section 1. General guidelines
All organizations of the church shall be under church control. All officers of church organizations shall be elected by the church and each organization shall report quarterly to the church at the quarterly business meeting. The pastor shall be ex officio head of all church organizations. The officers of the organizations listed may be changed to correspond with the recommendations of the denominational agencies.
Section 2. Sunday School
A. Purpose. The purpose of the Sunday School is to reach the people, teach the Bible, equip the saints and win the lost.
B. Officers and teachers: The Sunday School shall have a Sunday School director, outreach director, secretary and such departmental officers and teachers as needed. The Sunday School director shall be enlisted by the nominating committee, working with the pastor. The Sunday School director, working with the pastor, shall enlist all other officers and teachers to be presented to the church for approval.
Section 3. Woman's Missionary Union
A. Purpose: The purpose of the Woman's Missionary Union is to promote Christian missions through a program of mission study, prayer, community missions, stewardship and fellowship.
B. Organization: All of our Woman's Missionary Union organizations shall be organized substantially in accordance with the applicable manuals and guidelines published by the Southern Baptist Convention.
C. Election of leaders: The director and other officers as needed in the Baptist's women's group shall be elected by the Woman’s Missionary Union. The workers in the youth organizations shall be elected in like manner.
Section 4. Church Council/Long Range Planning
The church council shall seek to correlate and coordinate the activities and organizations of the church by the formulation of the church calendar. The church council will discover and analyze long-range church and community needs; recommend goals and strategies to the congregation; evaluate the effectiveness of church programs; and interpret goals and strategies to appropriate groups. The church council shall have advisory powers only. The church council, unless otherwise determined by vote of the church, shall be composed of the pastor, all other professional staff, director of Sunday School, Woman's Missionary Union president, chairperson of the deacons, youth committee, children’s committee, finance committee and senior adult committee, if any, and two (2) at-large individuals, nominated by the nominating committee and elected by the congregation.
ARTICLE IX. Meetings
Section 1. Worship
Regular worship services shall normally be held on Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday evening of each week. A regular worship service may be cancelled only by the Pastor and a consensus of the deacons. Special religious meetings may be scheduled by the pastor or by vote of the church. The Lord's Supper shall be observed at least once each quarter and at such other times as the pastor or the church may determine.
Section 2. Business
A. Regular meetings: The time for the regular quarterly business meeting shall be the fourth Wednesday night in the month following the end of each quarter. Changes in the time for the regular quarterly business meeting shall be governed by the provisions set forth below for special business meetings.
B. Special meetings: The moderator, at his discretion, or when requested by the deacons, trustees or a regular committee, shall call from the pulpit a special business meeting, the particular object of the meeting being clearly stated. Special business meetings of the church shall also be called upon written application of any five (5) members specifying the object thereof.
C. Notice: Notice of special business meetings must be made on the Sunday preceding the special meeting. The earliest a special meeting can be held will be the Wednesday evening following the notice on Sunday.
D. Procedure: Any and all matters of church business must be brought at a regular business meeting or a special business meeting, called as specified herein. Only matters pertaining to the purpose of the special meeting shall be in order at such meetings. All business shall be conducted in accordance with Robert's Rules of Order.
ARTICLE X. Miscellaneous
Section 1. Use of buildings and equipment
The church building and equipment shall be used for church purposes only except as voted by the church in business session or as stated otherwise in this constitution. The pastor and church council shall be authorized to schedule and permit the use of the church building, equipment and musical instruments for piano and organ recitals, weddings and other appropriate requests, subject to the direction of other church policies.
Section 2. Licensing and ordaining ministers
A. Licensing: Any member who, in the judgment of the church, gives evidence by that individual's piety, zeal and aptness to teach that individual is called of God to the work of the ministry may be licensed by the church to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In order to be licensed the individual must first be examined and recommended to the church by a licensing council composed of the ordained deacons and ministers of our church; must preach before the church; and must be approved by a three-fourth (3/4) majority vote of the members voting at a business meeting.
B. Ordaining: If the church decides to take action leading to the ordination to the ministry of one of its members, or former members, it shall call a council of ordained deacons and ministers from our church to examine the qualifications of the candidate. The council shall recommend to the church whether or not to proceed with the ordination. Upon affirmative vote of the church an ordination service shall be held and shall include a charge to the candidate, a charge to the church, the laying on of hands and the extension of the hand of fellowship by the congregation.
Section 3. Procedure for ordaining deacons
If the church elects to the office of deacon individuals who have not previously been ordained, the church shall follow the same procedure for their ordination as set forth for the ordaining of ministers.
Section 4. Financial policies generally
A. Fiscal year: The church fiscal year shall be the calendar year.
B. Special offerings: Special offerings shall only be received when authorized by vote of the church.
C. Designated gifts: Contributions received designated for an organization or project not approved, undertaken or sanctioned by the church, or when the church lacks complete control over its expenditure, shall be entered into a holding account until instructions are received from the church. Contributions designated to budgeted accounts shall be accepted as contributions to the general budget. Line items in the budget can be changed only by action of the church.
D. Expenditures: Money shall be paid out only as authorized by the church adopted budget or as voted by the church.
Section 5. Policy on expenditures
The church, upon recommendation of the finance committee, shall specify budget designees for each budget item and only the designees shall be authorized to make purchases or draw against that budget item. Each budget designee shall be responsible for staying within the amount allotted in the budget. The budget designees shall make charges against their budget items in the following manner:
A. A purchase order or purchase order number shall be secured from the church office before any purchase is made or services secured, except as otherwise provided.
B. The purchase order or the purchase order number shall be given to the merchant or dealer with a request that the purchase order be returned by the merchant with any statement of charges, or the purchase order number be entered on the bill and returned to the church office in order that incomplete purchase orders may be completed.
When non-budget items are voted by the church, the above purchase order procedure shall be followed by the person designated to make the transaction. Items for which the treasurer is specified as the budget designee may be disbursed without obtaining a purchase order. It is not the purpose of the above policy to work any hardship on any person, but only to provide a sound system of budget control for the church.
Section 6. Amendment to constitution
The church constitution may be amended in the following manner:
A. A proposed amendment may be submitted in writing at any time by the deacons or any standing committee. All proposals of such standing committee will be of direct interest to the standing committee, as described in each section of Article 7 for each named committee. A proposed amendment may also be submitted in writing by any five (5) church members at any time.
B. The proposed amendment, or a summary of it, must be published in at least one (1) issue of the newsletter or in at least two (2) weekly Sunday bulletins, following submission of the proposal. If only a summary of the proposed amendment is published, then a minimum of three (3) copies of the complete proposed amendment must promptly be filed and kept in the church office for inspection by any church member.
C. The proposed amendment, and amendments relevant thereto, if any, shall be voted on at a special business meeting held during the Wednesday evening service immediately following the publications as specified above. No additional notice of said special business meeting shall be necessary other than the publication of the proposed amendment as specified above.
D. Any amendment, in order to be effective, must be adopted by a two-third (2/3) majority of the members voting.
Section 7. Effective date
This constitution shall be in full force and effect from the date of its adoption by a majority vote of the congregation at a Wednesday evening service called for this purpose. This constitution shall supersede and override any prior action of the church inconsistent herewith.