PROVIDENCE REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Revised and Adopted October 25, 2015
ARTICLE I. THE CONGREGATION
Section 1. The classes of membership of this church shall be non-communicant, communicant, voting, and associate members as defined in the Constitution of this church.
Section 2. The responsibilities of the congregation of this church include:
a. Call of the pastor;
b. Election of ruling elders and deacons;
c. Regular review and evaluation of the total ministry of this church;
d. Regular review of the total ministry of the denomination;
e. Other ecclesiastical matters not delegated to the pastor or other officers of this church by these bylaws.
Section 3. The meetings of the congregation shall be governed by the following rules:
a. The pastor of this church shall be the moderator of all congregation meetings.
b. The regular stated meeting will ordinarily be the first Sunday of May each year.
c. Regular meetings of the congregation will be called by the Session in the following manner:
(1) By written announcement printed in the weekly bulletins for two weeks to notify all voting members, stating the purpose of the meeting in the announcement;
(2) And by oral announcement from the pulpit on the two (2) consecutive Sundays prior to the meeting, stating the purpose of the meeting in the announcement, and with the provision that the meeting may be held on that second Sunday.
d. Special meetings of the congregation must be held in response to a majority vote of the Session or in response to a petition signed by at least one-fourth (1/4) of the voting membership. Such meetings are to be called by the Session in the same manner as regular meetings (Section 3:c;1,2 of this Article). Unless otherwise stipulated, such meetings are to be held within thirty (30) days of Session action or receipt of petition by the Session.
e. A quorum for any regular or special meeting shall consist of one-fourth (1/4) of the voting members, except in the case of calling or dismissing a pastor, or amending the constitution, in which case it shall be prescribed in Article III or Article IV of these bylaws, or in Article VI of the Constitution.
f. All voting members present shall be entitled to vote at congregation meetings.
g. In the conduct of meetings, the latest edition of Robert's Rules of Order shall be used to decide any parliamentary question not covered by the Constitution and these Bylaws.
h. The congregational meetings of this church may be resolved into corporation meetings when corporate matters are to be considered, with the provisions that an officer of the corporation presides at the corporate meeting.
ARTICLE II. PASTOR
Section 1. The office of minister is first in the church, both for dignity and usefulness. The person who fills the office has in Scripture obtained different names expressive of his various duties. As he has the oversight of the flock of Christ, he is termed bishop. As he feeds them with spiritual food, he is termed pastor. As he serves Christ in His church, he is termed minister. As it is his duty to be grave and prudent, and an example of the flock, and to govern well in the house and kingdom of Christ, he is termed presbyter or elder. As he is sent to declare the will of God to sinners, and to beseech them to be reconciled to God through Christ, he is termed ambassador. And, as he dispenses the manifold grace of God, and the ordinances instituted by Christ, he is termed steward of the mysteries of God, and in humility he is the servant of Christ, separated unto the Gospel of God.
Section 2. The pastor of this church shall have general oversight of the spiritual life, regular service, and ordination and installation of elders and deacons. He shall be ex-officio a member of all committees of this church's officers. The preaching of the Word of God in regular sermons is the responsibility of the pastor. The administration of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper, and the blessing of the people by the divine benediction are, in orderly procedure, reserved to the pastor, or other ordained minister who may fill the pulpit in the absence of the pastor.
ARTICLE III. CALLING OF A PASTOR
Section 1. A pastor shall not be called to serve this church except by congregation approval using a secret written ballot at a congregation meeting called for the purpose of voting on a candidate. Said meeting is to be held within ten days of the candidating sermon, which must be heard by the congregation. Prior to the vote on any candidate, the congregation shall be advised of the basic terms of the call. A quorum for this meeting shall consist of fifty percent of all voting members, and approval to extend a call shall consist of a minimum of seventy-five percent vote in favor of acceptance by those present on the first ballot.
Section 2. The pulpit committee shall consist of nine voting members, and shall be formed and used in the selection of each pastor of this church after the first pastor. The elders shall elect two of their own representatives. The deacons shall elect two of their own representatives. The remaining members of the committee shall be voting members to be elected by the congregation, and at least two of them shall be women.
If the elders or the deacons do not have two members who can be placed on this committee, the committee shall function with those representative seats remaining vacant.
A non-elder member shall convene the first meeting of the committee for the purpose of electing officers of the committee. The minimum offices to be filled shall be chairman and secretary.
Section 3. The responsibilities of the pulpit committee are as follows:
a. The committee shall adopt a minimum and maximum set of terms for basic salary, expenses and other allowances, vacation time, etc., in consultation with the Finance Committee, which shall receive approval from the Session before terms are discussed with any of the list of possible candidates. The committee shall also adopt with consultation with the Finance Committee, and receive approval from the Session for a budget, or guide for expenditures, for the effective functioning of the committee.
b. The committee shall prepare a list of possible candidates. Each one on this list is to receive identical, brief, descriptive statements of this church as approved by the Session. The statements are to include the statement of purpose (Article II of the Constitution), current membership, current attendance at all weekly services, a brief history of this church, the date the pulpit became vacant, an estimate of growth potential, and any other information considered pertinent. The committee is to send with each statement a request for the individual to respond with a biographical and professional resume, a personal theological statement, and a list of at least three references. Each possible candidate contacted by the committee must be informed of the committee's ultimate decision regarding his candidacy.
c. The committee shall contact the references submitted and request information about preaching ability, pastoral ability, administrative ability, basic Christian character, and any other pertinent facts. It may then decide to rule out some or all of the possible candidates.
d. Upon arriving at a consensus decision for a selected candidate, the committee must review the decision with the Session which must approve the selection prior to the committee either
(1) Inviting the candidate to the church to preach and to be interviewed by the committee in private, or
(2) Going to the church of the candidate to hear him preach and to interview him in private.
e. The committee shall prepare a list of incisive questions to assist them in evaluating each man in the personal interview with them. The questions should seek to point out such things as the man's understanding of the purpose of the church (locally, denominationally, and universally), his attitude regarding the role his wife and family will play in the work, his positions with regard to local cultural situations such as sports, and clubs and societies, and whether he has the degree of commitment needed for the particular task. The same list shall be used for each possible candidate. During the same interviews, the proposed terms of the call should be discussed and reaction to them noted.
f. When the pulpit committee has decided on a candidate, it will make arrangements for the candidate to spend a minimum of three days, including at least a Sunday, with this church. The schedule is to be planned so that the maximum number of members of the congregation will have an opportunity to meet the candidate.
Section 4. When the congregation ratifies a call to a candidate, he shall be notified in the manner prescribed in BCO, Chapter 20, paragraph 6. The call shall not be considered effective until the requirements of BCO, Chapter 20, paragraph 6 have been met. When the congregation decides not to ratify a call, the candidate must be informed by the pulpit committee.
ARTICLE IV. REMOVING A PASTOR
A pastor may be removed only by following BCO, Chapters 23 and 34, and other relevant passages.
ARTICLE V. THE SESSION
Section 1. The Session of this church shall be the pastor together with the installed ruling elders, as described in BCO, Chapter 12.
Section 2. The qualifications of the ruling elders are outlined in the Scriptures, especially in I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.
Section 3. The Session shall be responsible to maintain the spiritual welfare of the church; to supervise the affairs and activities of the church and any organization that is a part of this church; and to receive reports from and review the activities of all organizations of this church. Certain powers and responsibilities included as duties of the Session may be delegated to other organizations or to individuals within the church, but such powers and responsibilities shall always be subject to the discretion and review of the Session.
Section 4. The Session regularly shall supervise and evaluate the work of the pastor. As part of this responsibility, the Session shall meet with the pastor approximately two months prior to the annual congregation meeting to evaluate the progress of the work of the church, the areas of need in that work, and the adequacy of the pastor's execution of his responsibilities. The results of these meetings shall be summarized and presented to the congregation at the congregation meeting.
Section 5. There shall be three classes of ruling elders on the Session, one class only of which shall expire each year. Terms shall be for three years. The minimum number of elders serving at any one time shall be two. The Session can be of any reasonable size over the minimum of two, dependent on the number of ruling elders elected by the congregation.
Section 6. No ruling elder shall serve on the Session for more than two consecutive three year terms A ruling elder having served on the Session for six consecutive years shall be ineligible to serve thereon until at least one year has elapsed from the expiration of this service.
Section 7. The Session shall hold regular business meetings at least quarterly, with exceptions as the Session may approve. Special meetings may be called at any time by the pastor, or by the Clerk of Session upon the written request of one-third of the ruling elders presently active on the Session.
Section 8. In addition to the moderator, who shall be the pastor, the Session shall elect annually a clerk from among the ruling elders.
Section 9. The Session may establish standing and special committees and determine their composition, functions, and terms of service.
Section 10. The Session shall not incur the congregation into indebtedness in excess of five percent of the general fund budget per transaction without approval of the congregation.
Section 11. When the membership of this church shall reach 250 communicant members, the Session shall evaluate starting a sister church in another part of the community. If, after due consideration the Session shall conclude that the Lord does not appear to be opening up that possibility, they shall encourage this church in its growth. The Session shall, however, be required to evaluate the same possibility with the addition of each 25 members.
Section 12. The Session shall appoint at least one member of Session to accompany the pastor to each presbytery meeting, and this church shall underwrite all expenses incurred by the pastor and those elders in their attendance.
ARTICLE VI. THE DIACONATE
Section 1. The Board of Deacons shall be the deacons elected to serve.
Section 2. The qualifications of the deacons are outlined in the Scriptures, especially in I Timothy 3:8-13, and BCO, Chapter 9.
Section 3. The duties of the Board of Deacons shall be to minister to those of the church who are in need, such as the poor, the sick, and the shut-ins. The Board of Deacons shall be responsible for ushering at all worship services, and for the preparation of the elements and maintenance of the vessels of Holy Communion. The Board of Deacons also may have such other duties as may be delegated to it by the Session. Their ministry shall be executed through meeting the needs of individuals and the supervision and administration of social service projects, as the needs arise.
Section 4. The same structure and tenure of the deacons shall be the same as for the ruling elders. The Board of Deacons may appoint committees from their board and the congregation from time to time to carry on their responsibilities as described herein.
ARTICLE VII. NOMINATION, ELECTION, & INSTALLATION OF OFFICERS
Section 1. The only elected offices in this church shall be those of ruling elder and deacon.
Section 2. Nominees may be any men who are voting members of Providence Reformed Presbyterian Church and who manifest the following qualifications:
a. They shall be men of God who already manifest those qualities mentioned in I Timothy 3:1-3 and Titus 1:5-9.
b. They shall be men who are well acquainted with God's Word and who are in the practice of teaching and defending it.
c. They shall be men who administer Christian discipline in their homes.
d. They shall give indication of being willing to take the time necessary to do the work involved in the office.
Section 3. Nominations shall be made during November of each year by communicant members of the congregation. Names shall be submitted in writing and shall be signed by the member making the nomination. The Session will then have the responsibility of contacting each nominee and ascertaining his qualifications as outlined in Section 2 above. No nominations will be allowed from the floor at any meeting pertaining to the election of officers.
Section 4. Each nominee shall attend an extensive training program conducted by the pastor, or in case of his absence, by another minister or qualified elder. This program of training shall be concluded at least two weeks before the annual congregational meeting. The program shall include:
a. A discussion of the scriptural qualifications for the office involved;
b. The key points of the Presbyterian system of government and Reformed theology;
c. The responsibilities involved in the office under consideration;
d. An acquaintance with present and future programs for outreach to the lost by the local church;
e. Having each person read the theological and governmental standards of the denomination during the time of the course.
If a person has taken the training program within the past two years, or if he has served in that office, he need not repeat it unless he so desires. At the conclusion of the training program the Session shall conduct an examination of the candidates to determine those who shall stand for election.
Section 5. Elections shall be held ordinarily at the annual congregational meeting each May and shall automatically be a part of that meeting.
Section 6. The newly elected officers shall be ordained and/or installed within three weeks of their election at one of the stated Sunday services of the church.
Section 7. All existing officers shall serve until the newly elected officers are duly installed.
ARTICLE VIII. THE CORPORATION
Section 1. The membership of the corporation shall be all the voting members of this church.
Section 2. The board of directors of the corporation are the ruling elders comprising the present active Session. The board of directors must elect corporate officers of president, vice-president, and treasurer at the first Session meeting after the annual meeting. The secretary of the corporation is the clerk of the Session.
Section 3. The responsibilities of the corporation are:
a. Making decisions regarding the purchase or sale of all properties;
b. Other matters dealing with the physical concerns which the congregation delegates to the corporation.
c. Any items required by a not-for-profit corporation in the State of Missouri.
Section 4. The annual corporation meeting shall be held immediately following the annual congregational meeting. The corporation business shall be presided over by the proper corporate officer. The fiscal year of the corporation shall be the same as for the congregation, which ends April 30th. The procedures for calling congregational meetings shall hold true for the corporation meetings.
ARTICLE IX. AMENDMENTS
The "By Laws" may be amended by a majority vote at any duly called meeting of the congregation, provided the amendment has been read at the time the meeting is announced.