We declare and establish this constitution to preserve and secure the principles of our faith, and to govern our fellowship in an orderly manner. This constitution shall preserve the liberties of each individual member of this church and the freedom of the action of this body in relation to other churches.
Article I NAME
This body shall be known as the North Central Baptist Church of Gainesville, Florida, Inc.
Article II PURPOSE STATEMENT
The North Central Baptist Church is a fellowship of baptized believers in Jesus Christ who rely upon the Bible as our guide and authority, and who join ourselves together for the purpose of honoring the Lord Jesus with our worship, for doing evangelism that builds his church, and for teaching his people to live the Christian life and to do ministry which further builds his church.
Article III STATEMENT OF BASIC BELIEFS
The Bible is our basis for any statement of faith. The church accepts The Baptist Faith and Message, a doctrinal statement adopted in the Southern Baptist Convention, June 14, 2000, as a description of our doctrinal position.
Article IV CHURCH COVENANT
Believing we are in a new covenant relationship with the Lord Jesus, we commit ourselves to God and to one another to be Christ-like in our lives and relationships through the presence, guidance, and power of God’s Holy Spirit.
We will love one another as Christ loved us, honor one another above ourselves, be kind and compassionate to one another, encourage and build up one another, comfort one another, and offer hospitality to one another.
We will have a spirit of loving unity based on our common bond in Christ, meet together regularly, have equal concern for each other, suffer when one suffers, rejoice when one is honored, and together follow our leaders.
We will use our God-given knowledge to instruct one another, use the word of Christ to teach and admonish one another, and nurture one another toward spiritual maturity measured by the life and ministry of Jesus.
We will confess our sins to one another, pray for each other, warn the idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with one another, forgive one another as the Lord forgives us, and gently restore those who sin.
We will not talk negatively about one another, nor pass judgment on one another, nor put any stumbling block in one another’s way, nor be morally impure, nor use obscenities, nor be greedy, nor be involved with alcohol or drugs and their resulting evils; rather we will be filled with the Spirit.
We will serve the ministry of our church by discovering our gifts and talents, by being equipped to serve, by developing a servant’s heart, by praying for its growth, by inviting the unchurched to attend, by warmly welcoming those who visit, by attending faithfully, and by giving regularly, all of this in order to accomplish our purpose of worshipping God, evangelizing unbelievers, and teaching believers, all to the glory of God.
Article V POLITY AND RELATIONSHIPS
The government of North Central Baptist Church is vested in the body of believers who are her members. Persons received by the members according to the policy established in the Bylaws under Article I shall constitute the membership. All internal groups created and empowered by the church report to and are accountable to the church, unless otherwise specified by church action.
This church is subject to no other ecclesiastical body, but it recognizes the obligations of mutual counsel and cooperation common among Southern Baptist churches. Insofar as is practical, this church will cooperate with and support financially the Santa Fe River Baptist Association, Florida Baptist Convention, Southern Baptist Convention, and their individual and collective mission efforts. The nature and extent of the church’s participation in these and other organizations with which we share a common purpose shall be determined by vote of the church in a business conference.
Article I MEMBERSHIP
Section 1. Membership Defined
Membership shall consist of persons who confess Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, who support the purpose, doctrinal statement, and covenant of the church as spelled out in the constitution, who request membership, and who are received by vote of the church. Membership carries responsibility as well as privilege.
Section 2 Entering the Membership
Anyone who confesses Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord may request membership in one of these ways: profession of faith in Christ and baptism; transfer of membership by letter from another Baptist church; statement of faith in Christ and of baptism in a church of like faith and order; and restoration of membership. All persons coming for membership are subject to a vote of the church and are under watchcare (under the authority of the church without voting privilege) until baptized or receipt of letter.
Section 3 Privileges and Responsibilities of Membership
Every member is entitled to participate in all programs and ministries of the church, to vote on all questions submitted to the church in any business conference, provided the member is present, and to hold elective offices and positions of leadership in the church according to the eligibility identified in the Bylaws and/or policies of the church. Every member is expected to be in comfortable agreement with the purpose, doctrinal and covenantal positions of the church. Should a member violate those standards in ways that damage the church’s witness and/or welfare, the pastor and deacons shall take every reasonable measure to resolve the problem redemptively in accord with Matthew 18:12-17. If it becomes necessary for the church to take action to exclude a member, a two-thirds majority of the church members present and voting is required to dismiss a person from membership. Upon evidence of the excluded person’s repentance and reformation, the church may restore to membership any person previously excluded, upon request of the excluded person and by a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting.
Section 4 Leaving the Membership
Membership in the church may be terminated in any of these ways: transfer of membership by letter to another Baptist church; personal request to be dismissed; death; and dismissal by vote of the church.
Article II CHURCH OFFICERS
The Officers of this Church shall be: Pastor, Deacons, Directors, Clerk, and Treasurer. Additionally there may be any number of Associate Pastors and a Moderator.
Section 1 Pastor
Our pastor is called by God to be our shepherd and leader, to provide direction, to set the pace, and to lead our church in seeking to fulfill our purpose. In Christ-like manner he is to seek to measure up to those qualities found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. He is to guide and direct associate pastors and other church staff, delegating as he sees fit. In consultation with the administrative committee he may recommend associates to the church and employ other staff. He is an ex officio member of all committees.
When the church is without a pastor, the nominating committee shall nominate a nine-member search committee to be elected by the church. The search committee shall prayerfully and carefully select one candidate to present to the church in view of a call, and in a special business conference a three-fourths majority of the members present and voting in favor of the recommendation from the search committee shall constitute a call as pastor. He shall serve as pastor until he resigns, retires, or is dismissed.
Our pastor deserves our support. No public accusation may be brought against him without first trying to reconcile differences with him privately. If the differences are serious and persist, they may be brought before the active deacons, who may decide how to resolve them. In an extreme case a two-thirds majority of deacons present and voting may decide to bring an accusation against our pastor before the church in a business conference. The church may dismiss the pastor by a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting.
Section 2 Associate Pastors
Our associate pastors are called by God to serve along with and under the direction of our pastor in shepherding and leading the fellowship. They are added to our pastoral team to provide specific giftedness in specific areas of ministry, but they are to have a heart for the entire church as we all seek to follow Christ.
The pastor and administrative committee shall recommend that the church approve filling a vacated or new associate position, and shall serve as the search committee. They shall prayerfully and carefully select one candidate to present to the church in view of a call, and in a special business conference a three-fourths majority of the members present and voting in favor of the search committee recommendation shall constitute a call as associate pastor. He shall serve until he resigns, retires, or is dismissed. The pastor may dismiss an associate pastor, after prayerful consultation with the administrative committee and deacons, or the church may dismiss an associate pastor by a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting in a special business conference.
Section 3 Deacons
Scriptural and church qualifications. A deacon seeks to measure up to those qualities found in 1 Timothy 3:8-12, he lives a consecrated Christian life, seeks to never bring reproach upon his church or the cause of Christ, is faithful in attendance to the total program of the Church, honors God with the tithe of all his material increase, bringing it systematically to the church for the Lord’s work, is evangelistic and missionary in spirit and action, deeply interested in the salvation of souls at home and abroad, is cooperative with his pastor and church, willingly ministers to church families, refrains from destructive criticism of his pastor and church, is willing to settle difficulties in a Christian manner, faithfully attends all deacon meetings, keeps in confidence those things which should not be discussed publicly, and tries to be a man about whom all people say, “He is a good Christian man.”
In their ministry role as servant-leaders, deacons free the pastor for increased Bible study and prayer, the spiritual preparation he needs to preach the gospel, promote church harmony by pouring oil on troubled waters, thus guarding the fellowship, provide for the welfare of members, meeting needs that may escape the attention of the pastor, strengthen the personal evangelism of the church by actively participating in witnessing and disciple-making, and lead through genuine service to the people of God.
A deacon nominating committee of six deacons appointed by the pastor and deacon chairman may nominate prospective deacons to the church in any business conference. Routinely men are elected to serve with the active deacon body for three years beginning September 1, then rotate into inactive status for at least a year. A deacon is eligible for re-election to active status after one year inactive. Exceptions can be made if the need arises. The deacons shall elect their officers and form committees as they see fit. The deacon chairman is an ex officio voting member of the administrative committee and the stewardship committee.
Section 4 Directors of the Corporation
The three Directors of North Central Baptist Church of Gainesville, Florida, Inc., shall be nominated by the committee on committees and elected by the Church to serve for a three year period. The Directors shall follow the direction of the church. They have the power to execute documents on behalf of the corporation to buy, sell, encumber, deed, or dispose of any real property only upon the direction of a two-thirds majority vote of the members of the corporation present and voting at a regular or special business conference that has been properly called as provided in Article VIII. The financial secretary of the church shall be the custodian of corporate records and the corporate seal, and the pastor shall be the registered agent of the corporation.
Section 5 Moderator
The pastor has the option to serve as moderator or he may ask the chairman of deacons to serve at the regular business conferences and any special called business conference. In the absence of the pastor, the chairman of the deacons shall preside. In the absence of both, the clerk shall call the church to order and a moderator pro-tem shall be elected.
Section 6 Clerk
The clerk is nominated by the committee on committees and elected by the church each church year. A book of records of all the actions of the church is maintained in the church office by the church secretary specified by the pastor to serve as assistant clerk.
Section 7 Treasurer
The treasurer and assistant treasurer are nominated by the committee on committees and elected by the church each church year. The treasurer is responsible for receiving and disbursing church funds. Checks are to be co-signed, routinely by the treasurer and financial secretary. Other signers are the assistant treasurer and a church secretary specified by the pastor and the treasurer. The financial secretary maintains the financial records in the church office. The church treasurer is an ex officio voting member of the stewardship committee and makes regular reports to the church.
Article III CHURCH STAFF
Section 1 Pastoral Staff
The pastor and associate pastors are the pastoral staff, and the pastor is the leader of both the pastoral staff and other church staff, as detailed in various sections of these bylaws.
Section 2 Other Staff
The pastor and administrative committee may recommend positions as needed, and once approved by the church, the pastor in consultation with the administrative committee, is empowered to fill the positions. He may delegate supervision to an associate.
Section 3 Personnel Manual
The pastor and the administrative committee shall maintain a personnel manual to govern the details of the relationship between all personnel and the church, such manual being subject to approval by the church as needed.
Article IV CHURCH MINISTRY AND MISSIONS ORGANIZATIONS
The church year is September 1 through August 31. The church shall organize and operate in any way it desires to accomplish the purpose of the church stated in Article II of the Article of Incorporation and in Article II of the Constitution. All phases of the church organization are under control of the church; all leaders are elected by the church, and serve under the coordination and supervision of the pastor, associate pastors, or other elected leaders.
Article V CHURCH COMMITTEES
The committee year is April 1 through March 31. Members serve on a three-year rotation plan, normally not being elected to serve on a committee until at least a year after rotating off of that same committee. Members who resign or move away will be replaced by a member elected to complete that three year term.
Section 1 Nominating Committee
This six-member committee with the pastoral staff seeks out and nominates qualified persons to serve in all of the church organizations, and on the committee on committees. They are assisted by organization directors in their areas of ministry.
Section 2 Committee on Committees
This six-member committee with the pastor seeks out and nominates qualified people to serve on all the other church committees and as directors, clerk, treasurer, assistant treasurer, and messengers to denominational meetings.
Section 3 Administrative Committee
This six member committee assists and advises the pastor on all personnel matters, making recommendations to the church as needed to create or modify personnel positions, policies, or remuneration. They serve with the pastor in searches for associate pastors and consult with the pastor in employment of all other approved staff positions. They also assist the pastor on other administrative matters, which may eventually be shifted to other committees for ongoing attention.
Section 4 Stewardship Committee
This six-member committee provides stewardship education and promotion, reviews church financial reports, makes adjustments within established guidelines, coordinates recommendations to the church when funds are needed beyond the budget, and with the pastor recommends an annual budget and maintains financial policies, including methods for counting and depositing offerings. They assist the treasurer in reporting to the church, coordinate special emphases on mission giving with local church support, and educate and encourage members to consider deferred giving via wills and trusts.
Section 5 Buildings and Grounds Committee
This six-member committee along with the pastor and associate pastors develop, recommend, and help to oversee projects and policies related to the maintenance and improvement of the buildings, grounds, and supporting equipment of the church.
Section 6 Other Committees
Other standing committees are formed by the church as needed, usually upon recommendation of the pastor, and are staffed by vote of the church, usually upon nomination by the committee on committees.
Occasionally the church may form a special committee for a project spelled out in the recommendation to form the committee, and staffed by a vote of the church upon nomination by the pastor or the committee on committees. Such committees cease to exist upon making their final report to the church.
Article VI CHURCH ORDINANCES
Section 1 Baptism
The church may receive for baptism any person who has received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior by personal faith, who professes him publicly with a commitment to follow Christ as Lord. Baptism shall be by immersion in water. The pastor, or whomever he or the church shall authorize, shall administer baptism as an act of worship during any worship service of the church. A person who professes Christ and is not baptized after a reasonable length of time will be asked by the pastor, associate pastor, or deacons to confirm his or her desire to be baptized.
Section 2 The Lord’s Supper
The church shall observe the Lord’s Supper at least quarterly to commune with our Lord Jesus in thankful remembrance of his giving his body for us and shedding his blood for us. It is to be a time in which participants rededicate themselves as they proclaim our Lord’s death with the joyful anticipation of his coming again. The pastor, or whomever he or the church shall authorize, shall lead the church in observing the Lord’s Supper.
Article VII WORSHIP SERVICES
The church shall meet each Sunday, and other times determined by the church, to worship the Lord God. These regular services will include prayer, praise, preaching, instruction, and evangelism, all offered in a manner consistent with the purpose of the church, stated in Article II of the Constitution. All worship services of the church will be under the direction of the pastor. From time to time there will be a need to place on the church calendar special services to accomplish the purpose of the church. The responsibility for scheduling these services will belong to the pastor.
Article VIII BUSINESS CONFERENCES AND VOTING
Section 1 Regular Business Conference
A regular business conference may be held on Sunday evening each month, as needed, but at least once a quarter. It is considered properly announced when it is announced from the pulpit or is noted in the Sunday church bulletin at least one week in advance.
Section 2 Special Business Conference
A special business conferences may be called by the pastor, the deacon chairman, or by written request of ten percent of the resident members. The purpose of any called special business conferences must be stated plainly, with at least a one week notice if announced in Sunday morning worship, or notification of all members by mail if less than one week.
Section 3 Quorum
A quorum shall consist of those members in attendance at either a regular or a special conference, provided only that the conference has been properly scheduled or called.
Section 4 Voting Privileges
Any member present in a properly scheduled or called business conference is eligible to vote. There is no provision for either absentee voting or proxy voting.
Section 5 Parliamentary Rules
The most recent revision of Robert Rules of Order shall be used as a guide for parliamentary procedure, with emphasis being placed on the Leadership of the Holy Spirit.
Article IX CHURCH POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
The pastor and administrative committee will maintain a church manual of policies and procedures. All activities of the church body or conducted on church property will be governed by these policies and procedures.
Article X CHURCH FINANCES
Section 1 Budget
The stewardship committee and pastor shall recommend a comprehensive annual budget to the church for approval. Any amendments to the budget may be adopted at regular or special business conferences. Membership in the church involves a financial obligation to support the church and its causes with tithes and offerings.
Section 2 Financial Accounting
All funds received by the church shall be properly recorded in the books of the church by the financial secretary. The pastor, treasurer, and stewardship committee shall oversee a system of accounting that will adequately provide for the handling of all funds. All undesignated gifts shall be received and disbursed through the budget. Designated gifts must be for church approved ministries, and the designation will be honored, or the gift will be returned to the donor.
Section 3 Fiscal Year
The church fiscal year is the calendar year.
Article XI AMENDMENTS
The Constitution and Bylaws may be amended by a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting at any regular business conference, or at a meeting specifically called for that purpose, provided the proposed change has been laid before the church in writing not less than two weeks before the time of the proposed action.
Adopted July 30, 2000