Constitution of the
Sovereign Grace Community Church
Of Petaluma, California
We, the members of the Sovereign Grace Community Church of Petaluma, do establish the following articles, to which we voluntarily submit ourselves.
ARTICLE I: NAME
This Church shall be known as the SOVEREIGN GRACE COMMUNITY CHURCH OF PETALUMA.
ARTICLE II: PURPOSE
The Church will have the purposes or powers as may be stated in its Certificate of Incorporation and such powers as are now or may be hereafter granted by the California Non-Profit Religious Corporation of the State of California or any successor legislation.
Sovereign Grace Community Church’s statement of purpose: “We are to be a Church that takes seriously and joyfully the call to love the Lord Jesus Christ with all that we are and to love others in His Name through evangelism of the lost and edification of the believers into the fullness of Christ. To accomplish this endeavor requires us as a Church, under the sovereignty of the Lord and by the power of the Holy Spirit, to be committed to the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) and to have a zeal to be missional, baptistic, and confessional.
The overall purposes of this Church are exclusively religious, charitable, and educational, as stated in its Certificate of Incorporation.
The specific purpose of this Church shall be to glorify God according to the Holy Scripture through public worship, prayer services, preaching, teaching, administering the ordinances, witnessing, biblical counseling and in-depth discipleship. With Christ-like compassion, this Church will reach out to its community and to the world through its missionary endeavors and commitments.
ARTICLE III: STATEMENT OF FAITH
This Church places its faith completely in the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, through His perfect life, atoning sacrifice, and bodily resurrection provides the only real salvation. This Church accepts the Bible as the inspired, infallible Word of God and as the basis for any statement of faith. This Church receives the entire Bible, both Old Testament and New Testament (66 books,) as God’s authoritative will for our lives. The specifics of what we believe are contained in the Second London Baptist Confession of 1689 and the Baptist Faith and Message (2000). We are in substantial agreement with these Confessions seeing them as subordinate to Scripture and amendable.
ARTICLE IV: MEMBERSHIP
SECTION 1: Requirement for Membership
Anyone, who through repentance from sin and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, confesses Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, has been baptized as a believer, and is in agreement with the doctrines, aims, and government of this church, shall be eligible for membership in this Church. A person may be joined to this Church as a member in one of the following ways:
- By profession of faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior giving public testimony of that faith through baptism, or
- By a letter of recommendation from another church of like faith, or
- By a statement of faith in Jesus Christ as a baptized believer when no church letter is obtainable.
Candidate members shall attend a New Members’ Class (conducted by the Pastor or an Elder) covering the beliefs and practices of the Church.
SECTION 2: Forms of Membership
- Regular – All who are received into membership shall be considered members in good standing until such status is changed by one of the conditions described in Article IV, Section 6. Any change in status shall be determined by unanimous vote of the Elders.
- Other – The membership of such individuals whose relationship to the Church involves special circumstances and consideration shall be determined in each case by a unanimous vote of the Elders.
SECTION 3: Procedure for Receiving New Members
Once profession of faith is made and has met the requirements for membership, the Elders may accept this person into membership by a unanimous vote. At a Sunday morning worship service, the new member shall be officially and publically received into membership.
SECTION 4: Rights of Members
- Each member is eligible for participation in formal positions of leadership including Elder, Director, Church Staff, and other leadership positions of the Church consistent with these bylaws.
- Each member is eligible to vote in a general or special meeting on issues that require action by the Church Body if he/she is sixteen (16) years of age or older. A member must be in good standing as a member, specifically “attending faithfully,” as well as present in said meeting to exercise their voting privilege.
- Each member is entitled to one (1) vote on issues that require action by the Church Body.
SECTION 5: Transfer of Membership
Upon request from another church of like faith and order, the Church may grant the transfer of the membership of any Member, in its sole discretion, provided the member in question is in good standing and not under church discipline at the time of the request. Membership may not be transferred in any other manner.
SECTION 6: Termination of Membership
Upon termination of membership in the Church, the rights of members as outlined in Article IV: Membership, Section 4: Rights of Members, are immediately terminated or suspended by specific actions as indicated:
a. Any Member may resign by filing a written resignation with the Church.
b. Membership in the Church is automatically and immediately terminated by the:
c. Member’s action of uniting with another church body.
d. Membership is terminated upon physical death of the member.
e. Membership is terminated through church discipline in accordance with the biblical principles found in Matthew 18:15-20.
SECTION 7: Restoration of Membership
Members terminated by the Board of Elders may be restored to active membership according to the spirit of II Corinthians 2:7-8 as determined by the Elders.
ARTICLE V: MEMBERSHIP MEETINGS
SECTION 1: Worship
- Regular Meetings. The church shall meet regularly on Sundays and others days as deemed necessary for worship of God, for preaching, instruction, and evangelism. These meetings will be open for the entire membership of the church and for all people and shall be conducted under the direction of the Pastor, Elders, or his designee.
- Special Meetings. The Lord’s Supper will be celebrated bimonthly, and at additional times as the Pastor or Elders may determine and is open to all believers in Christ.
- Bible Studies. Educational opportunities for all ages are to be provided on Sunday and at other times as opportunities develop. Leaders and teachers of such studies must be members of this Church. Exceptions must be approved by the Elders.
SECTION 2: Church Ordinances
The ordinances observed by Sovereign Grace Community Church are:
- Believer’s Baptism (by immersion)
- Communion or the Lord’s Supper
- Believer’s Baptism: The purpose of baptism is for a professing believer, in a solemn and joyful occasion, to give testimony of saving faith and a personal commitment to Jesus Christ for salvation. Done in obedience to Christ, it is a symbolic act showing saving faith, union with Christ, and identifying with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection. It is to be administered by the Pastor or Elders.
- Communion or The Lord’s Supper: The purpose of the Lord’s Supper is to commemorate, remember, and proclaim the Lord’s death and His atoning sacrifice for His Elect. It is open to all believers. The elements (the bread and the grape juice) symbolize the body and blood of Jesus. The Lord’s Supper will be celebrated at least bimonthly, and at additional times as the Pastor or Elders may determine and is open to all believers in Christ.
SECTION 3: Church Business
- General Meetings. The Church shall meet annually or as required by the Elders to conduct church business including the affirmation of the annual church budget. At said annual meeting, church members present may transact such other business that is pertinent for the body. Such items must be given in writing to the Board of Elders at least two (2) weeks prior to such meeting. Meetings will be held at the church building unless otherwise specified.
- Special Meetings. Special meetings of the membership may be called by or at the request of the Board of Elders. Meetings will be held at the church building unless otherwise specified.
- Notice. Notice of General or notice of Special meetings of the Membership shall be given at least seven days previous thereto by posting notification of same in a prominent place in the church building. Enclosing of information concerning the meeting by any means of the Church shall be considered sufficient notice.
- Quorum. A quorum of the church body shall be defined as the number of active members present at a General or Special meeting where due notice has been given.
- Manner of Acting. The act of a majority of the active members present at the meeting shall be the act of the Church, except where otherwise provided by law or by these bylaws.
- Place of Meeting. The notice of meeting, whether General meeting or Special meeting, may designate any place within the State of California as a place for the meeting. If no designation is made, the place of the meeting shall be at the church building.
- Running of Meetings. This church will follow Roberts Rules of Order in running church meetings.
ARTICLE VI: CHURCH OFFICERS
SECTION 1: Definitions
The Sovereign Grace Community Church shall function under the biblical mandate of two church offices: The office of church leadership (Elders) and the office of church service (deacons).
Elders: Jesus Christ alone is the head of the Church, and He has ordained the church to be governed by servant leaders called Elders who are its overseers and shepherds. They are equipped by the power of the Holy Spirit to oversee the work of ministry and give spiritual direction for it. The Board of Elders shall consist of preaching-teaching Elders (Pastor) and ruling Elders.
Deacons: This office consists of those who serve the Body of Christ. They will exercise no governing authority over the church and shall be accountable to the Board of Elders.
SECTION 2: Pastor
- A Pastor shall be chosen and called by the Board of Elders and confirmed by the voting members of the church. In the event that the office of Pastor becomes vacant or the church desires to call an associate pastor, the Board of Elders shall appoint a Pastor Search Committee to assist them in the search for a suitable candidate to fill said Pastor position. His election shall take place at a meeting called for that purpose of which at least one week’s public notice shall be given. A pulpit committee shall be appointed by the Board of Elders to seek a suitable Pastor, and their recommendation will constitute a nomination, though any member has the privilege of making other recommendations. The Board of Elders shall bring to the consideration of the church only one man at a time. Election shall be by ballot with an affirmative vote of seventy-five (75%) per cent of members present being necessary to approve the choice. Voting shall be by secret ballot.
The pastor thus elected shall thus serve until the relationship is terminated by one of three ways:
- By mutual consent, or
- By a vote of seventy-five (75%) percent of members present at a specially called meeting for that purpose, or
- When the pastor feels he can no longer fulfill the duties for which he was called.
- The Senior Pastor is responsible for the following areas of ministry: shepherding, public worship, Christian education, ministry development, leadership training, Biblical counseling discipleship, and evangelism. He is an ex-officio member of all committees. The Pastor shall be charged with the spiritual and physical welfare and oversight of the church. A major concern of the Pastor is to perform pastoral duties such as: preaching the Gospel; administering the Ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper; visiting the sick, sorrowing and needy; and promoting the membership of the church through visitation. He may serve as the Church Moderator and shall be an ex-officio member of all church organizations.
SECTION 3: Elders
- Elders shall be male members in good standing within the Church those who meet the scriptural qualifications for the office of Elder:
- Blameless as a steward of God; above reproach (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6-7).
- Husband of one wife; a one-woman man (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6).
- Temperate, sober, vigilant (1 Timothy 3:2).
- Sober-minded, prudent (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8).
- Of good behavior; orderly, respectable (1 Timothy 3:2).
- Given to hospitality (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8).
- Apt to teach; able to teach; he can exhort believers and refute false teaching 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:9).
- Not given to wine (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7).
- Not violent; not pugnacious (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7).
- Patient, moderate, forbearing, gentle (1 Timothy 3:3).
- Not a brawler; contentious; not soon angry or quick-tempered (1 Tim. 3:3;Titus 1:7).
- Not covetous; not a lover of money; not greedy of base gain (1 Timothy 3:3;Titus 1:7).
- Rules well his own house; his children are faithful, not accused of rebellion to God (1 Timothy 3:4; Titus 1:7).
- Not a novice; not a new convert (1 Timothy 3:6).
- Has a good report or reputation with outsiders (1 Timothy 3:7).
- Not self-willed (Titus 1:7).
- A lover of good men and things (Titus 1:8).
- Just, fair (Titus 1:8).
- Holy, devout (Titus 1:8).
- Self-controlled (Titus 1:8).
2. Elders will have completed a Church Elder’s Training Class.
3. Elders shall be elected at the annual meeting by a 75% majority vote of the church membership present and absentee ballots at the time the vote is taken. Voting shall be done by secret ballot.
4. Elders will serve for a term of two years but may be reelected to as many terms as voted by the congregation.
The Elders thus elected shall serve their term unless the relationship is terminated by 1 of 3 ways:
- Mutual consent of the Board of Elders.
- A majority vote (75%) by the congregation.
- When an Elder feels he can no longer fulfill the duties for which he has been called.
The need of the church and the availability of qualified men for the office of Elder will determine the number to be elected by the church.
- PREACHING: supervision of the pulpit and the Word preached. This is the primary function of the Church and, therefore, primary supervisory responsibility of those who serve the Lord by governing His Body.
- THE ORDINANCES: the true administration of the Lord’s Supper & Baptism are marks of the Church. Faithful and proper administration is the Elder’s responsibility.
- DISCIPLINE: the Word preached and made visible in the Ordinances must come to fruition in the lives of all members. Encouragement and admonition, along with discipline and, when required, excommunication, is the Elder’s task.
- MEMBERSHIP: admission to membership in the local congregation is under the supervision of the Board of Elders.
- CARE AND COMFORT: since the Body of Christ is also the Family of God, an Elder is to reach out to all the members of it who are in any kind of need.
- CONGREGATION ACTIVITIES: the Board of Elders must supervise all of the activities of the congregation in worship, education, societies, clubs, and diaconal outreach.
- TRENDS: the Board of Elders must be alert to trends in Church and world. They shall be especially watchful of potential threats to doctrine and life in the fellowship.
- The Board of Elders is the governing board of the Sovereign Grace Community Church. The Board of Elders is to oversee and direct all of the affairs of the Church. The Board of Elders from time to time may delegate certain responsibilities as the Board determines. Said responsibilities delegated may include, but need not necessarily be limited to, the overseeing of legal and financial matters related to the operation of the Church, overall spiritual leadership and direction of the church, and providing for care and maintenance of all properties owned by the Church. The delegation of said responsibility shall not be considered a relinquishment of authority, and the Board of Elders reserves the right to object to decisions, provided said objections are made in a timely fashion.
- Regular meetings of the Board of Elders will be held monthly.
- Special meetings may be called by the president of the Board of Elders whenever they are necessitated by urgent business.
- A majority of the members of the Board must be present to constitute a quorum for business.
SECTION 4: Deacons
1. The Deacons shall consist of members possessing the qualifications described in 1 Timothy 3:8-13:
- A Deacon shall be a man of dignity,
- Not double-tongued,
- Not addicted to much wine,
- Not fond of sordid gain,
- Holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience,
- First tested and found above reproach
- Husband of one wife
- Managing their own children and households well
2. Deacons shall be nominated by members of the church. The Board of Elders will compile and confirm the nominations and submit the names to church members for affirmation at the annual meeting. The Deacons shall serve for a term of one (1) year.
3. Deacons will have completed a Church Elder’s Training Class.
The Deacons thus elected shall serve their term unless the relationship is terminated by 1 of 3 ways:
- Mutual consent of the Board of Elders.
- A majority vote (50% + 1) by the congregation.
- When an Elder feels he can no longer fulfill the duties for which he has been called.
The Deacons shall assist the Elders in the shepherding of the saints, assist the Pastor at Communion and baptismal services, aid in the general spiritual care of the church, and perform other duties as assigned by the Board of Elders.
- Because the office of deacon is a service office and because of the New Testament teaching and example, the Sovereign Grace Community Church shall commission (but not ordain) deaconesses working alongside male deacons in diaconal work.
- The Deaconesses shall consist of members possessing the qualifications described in 1 Timothy 3:11: “Likewise, their wives (lit. “women”) must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things.”
- Deaconesses shall be nominated by members of the church. The Board of Elders will compile and confirm the nominations and submit the names to church members for affirmation at the annual meeting.
- Duties: The Deaconesses shall assist the Elders and Deacons in the ministry of the saints, aid in the general spiritual care of the church, and perform other duties as assigned by the Board of Elders.
(For a more detailed analysis of the biblical role of deaconess, see the web article “The Case for Commissioning but Not Ordaining Deaconess” by Tim Keller at: http://byfaithonline.com/page/in-the-church/the-case-for-commissioning-not-ordaining-deaconesses)
SECTION 5: Councils and Committees
To promote efficient handling of church ministry, the Board of Elders may appoint various councils and committees from within its membership, the staff, and from the church at large. These councils and committees shall perform tasks solely in accordance with the duties and with powers specifically delegated by the Board of Elders. The general functions of councils and committees are:
- To bring considered recommendations to the Board of Elders concerning ministries.
- To provide a wider base of counsel to the Board of Elders having the oversight of specific ministries. All councils and committees shall exist for the period specified by the Board of Elders.
ARTICLE VII: REGISTERED OFFICERS
The Church shall have and continuously maintain in the State of California a registered office and a registered agent whose office is identical with such registered office, and may have other offices within or without the State of California as the Board of Elders may from time to time determine.
SECTION 1: Officers
The officers of the Church shall be President, Treasurer, Secretary, and such other officers as may be elected by the Board of Elders in accordance with the provisions of this Article. The Board of Elders may elect or appoint such other officers as it shall deem desirable.
SECTION 2: Selection and Term of Office
The officers (except the President) of the Church shall be elected annually by the active Board of Elders. Vacancies may be filled or a new office created and filled at any meeting of the Board of Elders. Each officer shall hold office until his successor has been duly elected and has qualified.
SECTION 3: Removal
Any office (except the President) or agent elected or appointed by the Board of Elders may be removed by the Board of Elders whenever in its judgment the best interests of the Church would be served thereby; such removal should be without prejudice to the contract rights, if any, of the person so removed.
SECTION 4: Vacancies
Any vacancy in any office (excluding President) because of death, resignation, removal, disqualification, suspension or otherwise, may be filled as determined by the Board of Elders for the unexpired portion of the annual term.
SECTION 5: President
The President of the Church shall be the Senior Pastor. He shall in general supervise and direct all of the business and affairs of the Church. He may sign, with one or more Elders, any deeds, mortgages, bonds, contracts, and other instruments which the Board of Elders has authorized to be executed. In general the Senior Pastor shall perform all duties incident to the office of President. In the event of vacancy in the office of the President, the Board of Elders shall recommend the candidate by unanimous vote.
SECTION 6: The Treasurer
- If required by the Board of Elders, the Treasurer shall be bonded (at the expense of the Corporation) in such sum and with such surety or sureties as the Board of Elders shall determine.
- The Treasurer shall have charge and custody of all funds and securities of the Church; keep and maintain adequate and correct accounts of the Corporation’s properties and business transactions; render reports and accounts to the Board of Elders. The Treasurer, along with a designated signee, shall receive and give receipts for moneys due and payable to the Church from any source whatsoever.
- The Treasurer shall deposit all such moneys in the name of the Church in such banks, trust companies, or other depositories as shall be selected by the Elders.
- In general, the Treasurer shall perform all of the duties incident to the office of the Treasurer and such other duties as from time to time may be assigned by the President or by the Board of Elders.
SECTION 7: The Secretary
The Secretary of the Church shall be the Administrative Secretary of the Church. The Secretary shall keep the minutes of the meetings of the Church Body in one or more books provided for that purpose; see that all notices are duly given in accordance with the provisions of these bylaws or as required by law.
ARTICLE VIII: CONTRACTS, CHECKS, DEPOSITS, AND FUNDS
SECTION 1: Contracts
The Board of Elders may authorize any officer or officers of the Church to enter into any contract or execute and deliver any instrument in the name of and on behalf of the Church, and such authority may be general or confined to specific instances.
SECTION 2: Deposits
All funds of the Church shall be deposited from time to time to the credit of the Church in such banks, trust companies, or other depositories as the Board of Elders may select.
SECTION 3: Gifts
The Board of Elders may accept or reject on behalf of the Church any contribution, gift, bequest, or device for the general purposes or for any special purpose of the Church.
ARTICLE IX: BOOKS AND RECORDS
The Sovereign Grace Community Church shall keep correct and complete books and records of all accounts and shall also keep minutes of the proceedings of its members, Board of Elders, and all Ministry Teams. The Church shall keep at the registered or principal office a record giving the names and addresses of the members entitled to vote.
ARTICLE X: FISCAL YEAR
The Sovereign Grace Community Church shall operate on the calendar year beginning with the first day in January and ending the last day of December.
ARTICLE XI: LIMITATIONS OF LIABILITY AND INDEMNIFICATION
The Sovereign Grace Community Church shall not be liable for any loss or damage suffered by any person on account of any action taken or omitted to be taken by one serving as an Elder, or of the Corporation:
- If said action was within that person’s scope of authority and was taken in good faith and said person exercised or used the same degree of care and skill as a prudent person would have exercised or used under the circumstances in the conduct of his/her own affairs, or
- Said person took or omitted to take such action in reliance upon the written advice of the counsel for the Corporation.
- In case any action, suit, or proceedings to which an Elder or Officer is made a party and provided that said Elder or Officer meets the requirements of subparagraph (a) and (b) above, the Corporation shall:
- Pay any final judgment entered against that party or pay the amount necessary to settle said proceedings, and shall reimburse said individual for all costs and expenses, including reasonable attorneys’ fees reasonably incurred by him/her in connection with his/her defense.
ARTICLE XII: AMENDMENTS
These bylaws may be amended by a two-thirds majority vote of members present at any congregational meeting, regular or special. The amendments must be presented in writing and notice given to the Church at least two previous Sunday services.
ARTICLE XIII: STATEMENT OF DISSOLUTION
The property of this church is irrevocably dedicated to religious purposes, and no part of the net income or assets of this corporation shall ever inure to the benefit of any director, officer, or member thereof or to the benefit of any private person. Upon the dissolution or winding up of the church, its assets remaining after payment, or provision for payment, of all debts and liabilities of this church shall be distributed to a nonprofit fund, foundation or corporation which is organized and operated exclusively for religious purposes and which has established its tax exempt status under Section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
ARTICLE XIV: ADOPTION OF THIS CONSTITUTION
Once adopted, this constitution will supersede all previous documents governing the Sovereign Grace Community Church of Petaluma.
Date of Adoption: