Family of Faith Lutheran Church Constitution
We, baptized members of the Church of Christ, responding in faith to the call of the Holy Spirit through the Gospel, desiring to unite together to preach the Word, administer the sacraments, and carry out God’s mission, do hereby adopt this constitution and solemnly pledge ourselves to be governed by its provisions. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
NAME AND INCORPORATION
C1.01.The name of this congregation shall be Family of Faith Lutheran Church.
C1.02. For the purpose of this constitution and the accompanying bylaws, the congregation of Family of Faith Lutheran Church is hereinafter designated as “this congregation.”
C1.03. This congregation shall be incorporated under the laws of the State of Michigan.
C1.04. This congregation is organized exclusively for religious purposes under section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or corresponding section of any future federal tax code.
CONFESSION OF FAITH
*C2.01. This congregation confesses the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
*C2.02. This congregation confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and the Gospel as the power of God for the salvation of all who believe.
a .Jesus Christ is the Word of God incarnate, through whom everything was made and through whose life, death, and resurrection God fashions a new creation.
b. The proclamation of God’s message to us as both Law and Gospel is the Word of God, revealing judgment and mercy through word and deed, beginning with the Word in creation, continuing in the history of Israel, and centering in all its fullness in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
c. The canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the written Word of God. Inspired by God’s Spirit speaking through their authors, they record and announce God’s revelation centering in Jesus Christ. Through them God’s Spirit speaks to us to create and sustain Christian faith and fellowship for service in the world.
*C2.03. This congregation accepts the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the inspired Word of God and the authoritative source and norm of its proclamation, faith, and life.
*C2.04. This congregation accepts the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds as true declarations of the faith of this congregation.
*C2.05. This congregation accepts the Unaltered Augsburg Confession as a true witness to the Gospel, acknowledging as one with it in faith and doctrine all churches that likewise accept the teachings of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession.
*C2.06. This congregation accepts the other confessional writings in the Book of Concord, namely, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles and the Treatise, the Small Catechism, the Large Catechism, and the Formula of Concord, asfurther valid interpretations of the faith of the Church.
*C2.07. This congregation confesses the Gospel, recorded in the Holy Scripture and confessed in the ecumenical creeds and Lutheran confessional writings, as the power of God to create and sustain the Church for God’s mission in the world.
NATURE OF THE CHURCH
*C3.01. All power in the Church belongs to our Lord Jesus Christ, its head. All actions of this congregation are to be carried out under his rule and authority.
*C3.02. The Church exists both as an inclusive fellowship and as local congregations gathered for worship and Christian service.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
*C4.01. The Church is a people created by God in Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, called and sent to bear witness to God’s creative, redeeming, and sanctifying activity in the world.
*C4.02. To participate in God’s mission, this congregation as a part of the Church shall:
a. Worship God in proclamation of the Word and administration of the sacraments and through lives of prayer, praise, thanksgiving, witness, and service.
b. Proclaim God’s saving Gospel of justification by grace for Christ’s sake through faith alone, according to the apostolic witness in the Holy Scripture, preserving and transmitting the Gospel faithfully to future generations.
c. Carry out Christ’s Great Commission by reaching out to all people to bring them to faith in Christ and by doing all ministry with a global awareness consistent with the understanding of God as Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier of all.
d. Serve in response to God’s love to meet human needs, caring for the sick and the aged, advocating dignity and justice for all people, working for peace and reconciliation among the nations, and standing with the poor and powerless, and committing itself to their needs.
e. Nurture its members in the Word of God so as to grow in faith and hope and love, to see daily life as the primary setting for the exercise of their Christian calling, and to use the gifts of the Spirit for their life together and for their calling in the world.
f. Manifest the unity given to the people of God by living together in the love of Christ and by joining with other Christians in prayer and action to express and preserve the unity which the Spirit gives.
*C4.03. To fulfill these purposes, this congregation shall:
a. Provide services of worship at which the Word of God is preached and the sacraments are administered.
b. Provide pastoral care and assist all members to participate in this ministry.
c. Challenge, equip, and support all members in carrying out their calling in their daily lives and in their congregation.
d. Teach the Word of God.
e. Witness to the reconciling Word of God in Christ, reaching out to all people.
f. Respond to human need, work for justice and peace, care for the sick and the suffering, and participate responsibly in society.
g. Motivate its members to provide financial support for the congregation’s ministry and the ministry of Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ.
h. Foster and participate in interdependent relationships with other congregations, and Christians.
i. Foster and participate in ecumenical relationships consistent with congregational policy.
*C4.04. This congregation shall develop an organizational structure to be described in the bylaws. The Congregation Council shall prepare descriptions of the responsibilities of each committee, task force, or other organizational group and shall review their actions. [Such descriptions shall be contained in continuing resolutions in the section on the Congregation Council.]
*C4.05. This congregation shall, from time to time, adopt a mission statement which will provide specific direction for its programs.
POWERS OF THE CONGREGATION
*C5.01. The powers of this congregation are those necessary to fulfill its purpose.
*C5.02. The powers of this congregation are vested in the Congregation Meeting called and conducted as provided in this constitution and bylaws.
*C5.03. Only such authority as is delegated to the Congregation Council or other organizational units in this congregation’s governing documents is recognized. All remaining authority is retained by the congregation. The congregation is authorized to:
a. the executive council appoints the mission pastor during the organization phase, thereafter the congregation at a specially called congregational meeting shall call a pastor as provided in chapter 9
b. terminate the call of a pastor as provided in Chapter 9;
c. call or terminate the call of associates in ministry, deaconesses, and diaconal ministers in conformity with the applicable policy of the local congregation;
d. adopt amendments to the constitution, as provided in Chapter 16, and amendments to the bylaws, as specified in Chapter 15.
e. approve the annual budget;
f. acquire real and personal property by gift, devise, purchase, or other lawful means;
g. hold title to and use its property for any and all activities consistent with its purpose;
h. sell, mortgage, lease, transfer, or otherwise dispose of its property by any lawful means;
i. elect its officers and Congregation Council, and require them to carry out their duties in accordance with the constitution and]bylaws.
*C5.04. This congregation may have a mission endowment fund that will operate as specified in this congregation’s bylaws.
*C5.05 This congregation shall have a heart fund that will operate as specified in this congregation's bylaws.
*C6.01. This congregation is affiliated with Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC), which is an association of congregations that respects the reality that the congregation is where the people of god gather together around word and sacrament. the congregation, however, is where the church becomes a concrete reality for god's people.
*C6.02. This congregation accepts the confession of Faith and agrees to the Purposes of Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ.
*C6.03. This congregation:
a. agrees to be responsible for its life as a Christian community
b. pledges its financial support and participation in the life and mission of Jesus Christ
c. agrees to consider associates in ministry, deaconesses, and diaconal ministers for call to other staff positions in the congregation.
*C7.01. If this congregation ceases to exist, congregational assets shall be distributed as indicated by the voting majority of the congregation at that time.
*C8.01. Members of this congregation shall be those baptized persons on the roll of this congregation at the time that this constitution is adopted and those who are admitted thereafter and who have declared and maintain their membership in accordance with the provisions of this constitution and its bylaws.
*C8.02. Members shall be classified as follows:
a. Baptized members are those persons who have been received by the Sacrament of Holy Baptism in this congregation, or, having been previously baptized in the name of the Triune God, have been received by certificate of transfer from other Lutheran congregations or by affirmation of faith.
b. Confirmed members are baptized persons who have been confirmed in this congregation, those who have been received by adult baptism or by transfer as confirmed members from other Lutheran congregations, or baptized persons received by affirmation of faith.
c. Voting members are those persons who have been affirmed in faith by the congregational council. Members of this congregation shall have the privilege of voice and vote at every regular and special meeting of the congregation.
*C8.03. All desiring membership shall be submitted to and shall require the approval of the Congregation Council.
*C8.04. It shall be the privilege and duty of members of this congregation to:
a. make regular use of the means of grace, both Word and sacraments;
b. live a Christian life in accordance with the Word of God and the teachings of Jesus Christ; and
c. support the work of this congregation, and the broader work of Christians around the world through contributions of their time, abilities, and financial support as biblical stewards.
*C8.05. Membership in this congregation shall be terminated by any of the following:
c. transfer or release;
d. disciplinary action by 2/3 vote of the Congregational Council; or
e. removal from the roll due to inactivity.
Such persons who have been removed from the roll of members shall remain persons for whom the Church has a continuing pastoral concern.
*C9.01. Authority to call a pastor shall be in this congregation by at least a two-thirds majority ballot vote of members present and voting at a meeting legally called for that purpose. Before a call is issued, the officers, or a committee elected by the Congregation Council to recommend the call, shall seek the Lord's guidance in prayer and fasting.
*C9.02. Consistent with the faith and practice of Jesus Christ and practice of Martin Luther and the Augsburg Confession,
a. Every ordained minister shall:
1) preach the Word;
2) administer the sacraments;
3)conduct public worship;
4) provide pastoral care; and
5) speak publicly to the world in solidarity with the poor and oppressed, calling for justice and proclaiming God’s love for the world.
b. Each ordained minister with a congregational call shall, within the congregation:
1)offer instruction, confirm, marry, visit the sick and distressed, and bury the dead;
2)supervise all schools and organizations of this congregation;
3) install regularly elected members of the Congregation Council; and
4) appoint trained lay worship leaders to provide pastoral coverage to include the sacraments in times of pastoral absence, and
5) with the council, administer discipline (See *8.05)
c. Every pastor shall:
1)strive to extend the Kingdom of God in the community, in the nation, and abroad;
2)seek out and encourage qualified persons to prepare for the ministry of the Gospel;
3)impart knowledge of this church and its wider ministry through distribution of its periodicals and other publications; and
4)endeavor to increase the support given by the congregation to the work of the church wide organization churches.
*C9.04. The specific duties of the pastor, compensation, and other matters pertaining to the service of the pastor shall be included in a letter of call, which shall be attested by the council of the congregation.
*C9.05. The Call
a. The call of a congregation, when accepted by a pastor, shall constitute a continuing mutual relationship and commitment, which, except in the case of the death of the pastor, shall be terminated only for the following reasons:
1)mutual agreement to terminate the call or the completion of a call for a specific term;
2)resignation of the pastor, which shall become effective, unless otherwise agreed, 30 days after the date on which it was submitted;
3)inability to conduct the pastoral office effectively in the congregation in view of local conditions, without reflection on the competence or the moral and spiritual character of the pastor;
4)the physical or mental incapacity of the pastor;
5)disqualification of the pastor through discipline on grounds of doctrine, morality, or continued neglect of duty;
6) the dissolution of the congregation or the termination of a parish arrangement; or
7)suspension of the congregation as a result of discipline proceedings.
b. When allegations of physical or mental incapacity of the pastor or ineffective conduct of the pastoral office have come to the attention of the church council, they will be investigated. This is done by a recital of allegations by the Congregation Council and by a petition signed by thee greater of: (1) 25 voting members, or (2) at least one-third of the voting members of the congregation. An investigate such conditions shall be conducted personally in company with two council members and one layperson.
c. In case of alleged physical or mental incapacity, competent medical testimony shall be obtained. When such disability is evident the committee shall declare the pastorate vacant. Upon the restoration of a disabled pastor to health, the church council shall take steps to enable the pastor to resume the ministry, either in the congregation last served or in another field of labor.
d. In the case of alleged local difficulties that imperil the effective functioning of the congregation, all concerned persons shall be heard publicly and timely, with the aid of professional assistance outside the parish. Then, at the recommendation of the professional(s) in consultation with the council, the congregation may, by two-thirds vote of the voting members present, recommended termination of the call.
e. If, in the course of proceedings described in *C9.05.d., the committee concludes that there may be grounds for disciplinary action, the committee shall make recommendations concerning disciplinary action to the church council, who may bring charges.
f. If, following the appointment of the committee described in *C9.05.b. or d., it is apparent that the pastoral office cannot be conducted effectively in the congregation being served by the ordained minister due to local conditions, the council may temporarily suspend, not to exceed 90 days, the pastor from service in the congregation without prejudice.
*C9.06. At a time of pastoral vacancy, an interim pastor shall be called or appointed under the contract by the Congregation Council in concert with the congregation.
*C9.07. During the period of service, an interim pastor shall have the rights and duties in the congregation of a regularly called pastor and may delegate the same in part to a supply.
*C9.08. This congregation shall make satisfactory settlement of all financial obligations to a former pastor before calling a successor. A pastor shall make satisfactory settlement of all financial obligations to this congregation before beginning service in a call to another congregation or
*C9.09. When a pastor is called to serve in company with another pastor or pastors, the privileges and responsibilities of each pastor shall be specified in documents to accompany the call and to be drafted in consultation involving the pastors, the Congregation Council. As occasion requires, the documents may be revised through a similar consultation.
*C9.10. With the approval of the church council, the congregation may depart from *C9.05.a. and call a pastor for a specific term. Details of such calls shall be in writing setting forth the purpose and conditions involved. Prior to the completion of a term, the church council or executive or a designated representative shall meet with the pastor and representatives of the congregation for a review of the call. Such a call may also be terminated before its expiration in accordance with the provisions of *C9.05.a.
*C9.11. The pastor of this congregation:
a. shall keep accurate parochial records of all baptisms, confirmations, marriages, burials, communicants, members received, members dismissed, or members excluded from the congregation;
b. shall submit a summary of such statistics annually to the congregation; and
c. shall become a member of this congregation upon receipt and acceptance of the letter of call. In a parish of multiple congregations, the pastor shall hold membership in one of the congregations.
*C9.12. The pastor(s) shall submit a report of his or her ministry to the church council at least 10 days prior to each regular annual meeting of the Congregation. The pastor (s) shall submit a report of his or her ministry to the church Congregation.
*C9.13. The parochial records of this congregation shall be maintained by the pastor and shall remain the property of the congregation. The secretary of this congregation shall attest that such records have been placed in his or her hands in good order.
C10.01. The annual meeting of this congregation shall be held at a time specified in the bylaws.
C10.02.A special Congregation Meeting may be called by the pastor, the Congregation Council, or the president of this congregation, and shall be called by the president of the congregation upon the written request of 1/3 of the voting members. The call for each special meeting shall specify the purpose for which it is to be held.
C10.03. Notice of all meetings of this congregation shall be given at the services of worship on the preceding two consecutive Saturdays/Sundays and by mail to all [voting] members at least 10 days in advance of the date of the meeting. The posting of such notice in the regular mail, with the regular postage affixed or paid, sent to the last known address of such members shall be sufficient.
C10.04. 30 % voting members shall constitute a quorum.
C10.05. All actions approved by the congregation shall be by majority vote of those voting members present and voting, except as otherwise provided in this constitution or by state law.
C10.06. Robert’s Rules of Order, latest edition, shall govern parliamentary procedure of all meetings of this congregation.
C11.01. The officers of this congregation shall be a president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer and the pastor.
a. Duties of the officers shall be specified in the bylaws.
b. The officers shall be voting members of the congregation.
c. Officers of this congregation shall serve similar offices of the Congregation Council and shall be voting members of the Congregation Council.
C11.02. The congregation shall elect the officers of this congregation who shall serve for up to two years our until their successors are elected. Their terms shall begin at the close of the annual meeting at which they are elected.
C11.03. No officer shall hold more than one office at a time. No elected officer shall be eligible to serve more than two consecutive terms in the same office.
C12.01. The voting membership of the Congregation Council shall consist of the pastor(s), the officers of the congregation, and not more than four (4) nor fewer than two (2) members of the congregation. Any voting member of the congregation may be elected, subject only to the limitation on the length of continuous service permitted in that office. A member’s place on the Congregation Council shall be declared vacant if the member a) ceases to be a voting member of this congregation or b) is absent from four (4) successive regular meetings of the Congregation Council. Consistent with the laws of the state in which this congregation is incorporated, the congregation may adopt procedures for the removal of a member of the Congregation Council in other circumstances.
C12.02. The members of the Congregation Council except the pastor(s) shall be elected by written ballot to serve for three (3) years or until their successors are elected. Such members shall be eligible to serve no more than two full terms consecutively. Their terms shall begin at the close of the annual meeting at which they are elected.
C12.03. Should a member’s place on the Congregation Council be declared vacant, the Congregation Council shall elect, by majority vote, a successor until the next annual meeting. Individuals who have served less than one-half of a regular term shall be eligible for nomination and possible election of a full term.
C12.04. The Congregation Council shall have general oversight of the life and activities of this congregation, and in particular its worship life, to the end that everything be done in accordance with the Word of God and the faith and practice of this congregation and the larger church. The duties of the Congregation Council shall include the following:
a. To lead this congregation in stating its mission, to do long-range planning, to set goals and priorities, and to evaluate its activities in light of its mission and goals.
b. To seek to involve all members of this congregation in worship, learning, witness, service, and support.
c. To oversee and provide for the administration of this congregation to enable it to fulfill its functions and perform its mission.
d. To maintain supportive relationships with the pastor(s) and staff and help them annually to evaluate the fulfillment of their calling or employment.
e. To be examples individually and corporately of the style of life and ministry expected of all baptized persons.
f. To promote a congregational climate of peace and goodwill, and, as differences and conflicts arise, to endeavor to foster mutual understanding.
g. To arrange for pastoral service during the sickness or absence of the pastor.
h. To emphasize partnership with church wide organizations, as well as cooperation with other congregations, both Lutheran and non-Lutheran.
j. To seek out and encourage qualified persons to prepare for the ministry of the Gospel.
C12.05. The Congregation Council shall be responsible for the financial and property matters of this congregation.
a. The Congregation Council shall be the board of directors of this congregation, and as such shall be responsible for maintaining and protecting its property and the management of its business and fiscal affairs. It shall have the powers and be subject to the obligations that pertain to such boards under the laws of the State of Michigan, except as otherwise provided herein.
b. The Congregation Council shall not have the authority to buy, sell, or encumber real property unless specifically authorized to do so by a meeting of the congregation.
c. The Congregation Council may enter into contracts of up to $2,500 for items not included in the budget.
d. The Congregation Council shall prepare an annual budget for adoption by this congregation, shall supervise the expenditure of funds in accordance therewith following its adoption. The budget shall include this congregation’s full indicated share in support of the wider ministry being carried on in partnership with church wide organizations.
e. The Congregation Council shall ascertain that the financial affairs of this congregation are being conducted efficiently, giving particular attention to the prompt payment of all obligations.
f. The Congregation Council shall be responsible for this congregation’s investments and its total insurance program.
C12.06. The Congregation Council shall see that the provisions of this constitution[,] [and] its bylaws[,][and the continuing resolutions] are carried out.
C12.07. The Congregation Council shall provide for an annual review of the membership roster.
C12.08. The Congregation Council shall be responsible for the employment and supervision of the salaried lay workers of this congregation.
C12.09. The Congregation Council shall submit a comprehensive report to this congregation at the annual meeting.
C12.10. The Congregation Council shall normally meet once a month. Special meetings may be called by the pastor or the president, and shall be called by the president at the request of at least one-half of its members. Notice of each special meeting shall be given to all who are entitled to be present.
C12.12. A quorum for the transaction of business shall consist of a majority of the members of the Congregation Council, including the pastor or interim pastor, except when the pastor or interim pastor requests or consents to be absent and has given prior approval to the agenda for a particular regular or special meeting, which shall be the only business considered at that meeting. Chronic or repeated absence of the pastor or interim pastor who has refused approval of the agenda of a subsequent regular or special meeting shall not preclude action by the Congregation Council.
C13.01. The officers of this congregation, the outgoing pastor (for one year) and the pastor shall constitute the Executive Committee.
C13.02. An Audit Committee of three voting members shall be elected by the Congregation Council. Audit Committee members shall not be members of the Congregation Council. Term of office shall be three years, with one member elected each year. Members shall be eligible for reelection.
C13.03. When a pastoral vacancy occurs, a Call Committee of six voting members shall be elected by the congregation. Term of office will terminate upon installation of the newly called pastor.
C13.04. Other committees of this congregation may be formed, as the need arises, by decision of the Congregation Council.
C13.05. Duties of committees of this congregation shall be specified in the bylaws.
C13.06. The senior pastor of this congregation shall be an ex officio member of all committees and boards of the congregation. The president of this congregation shall be an ex officio member of all committees and boards of the congregation.
DISCIPLINE OF MEMBERS AND ADJUDICATION
*C14.01. Denial of the Christian faith as described in this constitution, conduct grossly unbecoming a member of the Church of Christ, or persistent trouble-making in this congregation are sufficient cause for discipline of a member. Prior to disciplinary action, reconciliation will be attempted following Matthew 18:15-17, proceeding through these successive steps: a) private admonition by the pastor, b) admonition by the pastor in the presence of two or three witnesses, and c) citation to appear before the Congregation Council. If, for any reason, the pastor is unable to administer the admonitions required by a. and b. hereof, the president (if not the pastor) or vice president shall administer such admonitions.
*C14.02. Members of the Congregation Council who participate in the preparation of the written charges or who present evidence or testimony in the hearing before the Congregation Council are disqualified from voting upon the question of the guilt of the accused member. Should the allegations be sustained by a two-thirds majority vote of the members of the Congregation Council who are not disqualified but who are present and voting, and renewed admonition prove ineffectual, the council shall impose one of the following disciplinary actions:
a. censure before the council or congregation;
b. suspension from membership for a definite period of time; or
c. exclusion from membership in this congregation.
Disciplinary actions b. and c. shall be delivered to the member in writing.
*C14.03.The member against whom disciplinary action has been taken by the Congregation Council shall have the right to appeal the decision to the Church Council.
*C14.04. Disciplinary actions may be reconsidered and revoked by the Congregation Council upon receipt of a) evidence that injustice has been done or b) evidence of repentance and amendment.
*C14.05. For disciplinary actions in this congregation, “due process” shall be observed.
*C14.06. No member of a congregation shall be subject to discipline for offenses that the Congregation Council has previously heard and decided.
*C15.01. This congregation may adopt bylaws. No bylaw may conflict with this constitution.
*C15.02. Bylaws may be adopted or amended at any legally called meeting of this congregation with a quorum present by a majority vote of those voting members present and voting.
*C15.03. Changes to the bylaws may be proposed by any voting member provided, however, that such additions or amendments be submitted in writing to the Congregation Council at least 45 days before a regular or special Congregation Meeting called for that purpose and that the Congregation Council notify the congregation’s members in writing of the proposal with the council’s recommendations at least 30 days in advance of the Congregation Meeting.
*C16.04. Approved changes to the bylaws shall be sent by the secretary of this congregation.
*C16.01. Proposals must be filed in writing with the Congregational Council 60 days before formal consideration by this congregation at a regular or special Congregational Meeting called for that purpose. The Congregation Council shall notify the congregation's members by mail of the proposal together with the council's recommendations at least 30 days in advance of the meeting.
*C16.02. An amendment to this constitution, proposed under *C16.01., shall:
a. be approved at a legally called Congregational Meeting according to this constitution by a majority vote of those present and voting;
b. be ratified without change at the next annual meeting by a two-thirds majority vote of those present and voting, and;
c. have the effective date included in the resolution and noted in the constitution.
*C17.01. The congregation in a legally called meeting or the Congregation Council may enact continuing resolutions. Such continuing resolutions may not conflict with the constitution or bylaws of this congregation.
*C17.02. Continuing resolutions shall be enacted or amended by a majority vote of a meeting of the congregation or a two-thirds vote of all members of the Congregation Council.
*C18.01. Consistent with the provisions of the laws under which this congregation is incorporated, this congregation may adopt provisions providing indemnification for each person who, by reason of the fact that such person is or was a Congregation Council member, officer, employee, agent, or other member of any committee of this congregation, was or is threatened to be made a party to any threatened, pending, or completed civil, criminal, administrative, arbitration, or investigative proceeding.