HOPE FELLOWSHIP CHURCH BYLAWS

 

Article I

Name

 
1. The name of this organization is called Hope Fellowship Church of New Ipswich, referred to herein as “the Church”.
 
 

Article II

Constitution

 
1. The Constitution of the Church, when established, is to be subordinate to the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, consisting of the Constitution and the amendments thereto. Whenever possible, these Bylaws shall be interpreted so as to be consistent with the Constitution. Should any Bylaw be found to contradict a provision of the Constitution, the Constitution shall control.
 
 

Article III

Organization and Incorporation

 
1. The Church was organized as a non profit corporation under the laws of the State of New Hampshire on February 25, 2005.
 
 

Article IV

Purpose and Limitations

1. In addition to the purposes (to be) set forth in the Church Constitution, the purposes of the Church are:

1. To bring glory and honor to the Triune God by promoting true worship, mutual edification, and gospel witness.

2. To operate exclusively for religious, charitable, and educational purposes within the classification of legal charities, and no part of the net earnings of the organization shall inure to the benefit of any individual; and no substantial part of the organization, or any receipt of its funds, shall be utilized for any purpose except those mentioned above.

3. To handle affairs pertaining to property and other temporal matters as required by the civil authorities.

4. The Church shall not have or issue shares or stock, and no dividends shall be paid. No part of the income or assets of the Church shall be distributed to any member or officer without full consideration. The Church is prohibited from lending money to, or guaranteeing the obligation of a member or officer of the Church. No member or officer of the Church has any vested right, interest, or privilege in; or to the assets, property, functions, or activities of the Church. The Church may contract in due course, for reasonable consideration, with its members or officers without violating this provision subject to the Church’s then current Conflict of Interest policy.
 
 
 

Article V

Location and Office

 
1. The registered office of the Church shall be located within the State of New Hampshire at such address as the elders of the Church shall determine. The board of elders may change the registered agent and the address of the registered office from time to time, upon filing the appropriate statement with the Secretary of State.
 
 

Article VI

Membership

1.  The membership of the church shall consist of:

1. Those persons who confess their belief in the Lord Jesus Christ as revealed in the Bible (Romans 10:9-10), subscribe to the authority of the Bible in matters of faith, Church order and discipline; submit to the Statement of Faith, the Bylaws, and Constitution of the Church; and have regularly joined in fellowship for at least three months. Children, who acknowledge these tenets without coercion, shall be accepted as members.

2. Every membership candidate shall meet with at least two members of the board of elders to confirm the testimony of the candidate regarding their faith in the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Instruction shall be held at the discretion of the elders. Acceptance for membership shall be by written recommendation of the two elders for approval by the board of elders.

3. It is the duty of the membership to live Godly lives, to pray for and support the congregation together with the elders and the deacons, to use their gifts as responsible members of the body of Christ, to communicate to the leadership regarding issues which affect the church while submitting to the leadership of the elders, to search out the scriptures to test the leadership for sound teachings (as did the Bereans, Acts 17:11), and to provide resources (finances, time, and talents) to support the Church.

2. All members, who are at least 18 years old, and in good standing in the Church shall be voting members. “Good standing” means that a member is not presently under corrective discipline as defined and set forth herein below. Any voting member in attendance at a duly called meeting shall be entitled to one vote on matters brought before the congregation. Voting by proxy shall not be permitted.

3. Members may be removed from membership at their own request by informing the board of elders of their intention to withdraw and the reasons therefore. If a member requests to withdraw because of specific problems or disappointments with the Church, the board of elders may attempt to resolve those matters so that the member may remain in the Church, and enjoy greater fruitfulness and personal spiritual growth. If it appears to the board of elders that a member has requested removal merely to avoid Church discipline as defined and set forth in Art. XIII sec. C, that request shall not be given effect until the disciplinary process has been properly concluded.

4. Members may also be removed from membership by the board of elders when they: persistently, over an extended period of time, and without adequate reason absent themselves from the stated services of the Church; become a member of another church; cannot be found for a period greater than two years; or are removed by disfellowshipping for persistent impenitence.

5. The following items are those which will require a 2/3 majority vote of the church membership at a duly called congregational meeting:

1. Acceptance of or amendment to the Church Constitution, By-laws, or Statement of Faith.

2. Approval of a compensated elder.

3. Those items specified in Art. X sec. C.

4. Any other item brought before the congregation by the board of elders for approval.

 

Article VII

Board of Elders

1. The board of elders shall be made up of at least five qualified male members of the Church (Matt. 20:25-28, 1Tim 3:1-7, Titus 1: 5-9.). They are to choose from among themselves a Chairman and Secretary. The Chairman will moderate all meetings conducted by the board of elders. The Secretary shall record minutes of these meetings and shall publish all minutes recorded therein for use by the Church.

2. The board of elders shall have the authority to make rules, policy, and regulations not inconsistent with the Scriptures of Old and New Testament, the Church Constitution, and these Bylaws. They are to serve the Church in this capacity, humbly seeking the will of God through the Holy Scriptures, prayer, advice from the congregation, and guidance of the Holy Spirit. The board of elders shall lead and care for the spiritual condition of the Church, oversee all matters concerning the conduct of public worship, and determine the best measure for promoting the spiritual growth and Gospel witness of the Church. It shall receive, dismiss, and exercise discipline over the members of the Church, supervise the activities of the board of deacons, and all other organizations of the Church, and have final authority over the use of church property.

3. The board of elders shall meet at least monthly, and shall convene at the request of any three members of the board of elders. It will strive through prayer and waiting on God to be unanimous in its decisions (Phil. 2:1-5). When it is evident that a unanimous decision is not going to be reached and that reasonable men disagree, then a quorum with 2/3 majority in agreement will determine the action of the board of elders. A quorum is at least 2/3 majority of the board of elders being present at a meeting. For those rare occasions when the members of the board of elders are in agreement that an impasse (an unwillingness to submit to a 2/3 vote) has been reached, the elders will immediately appoint three male deacons who will lead the congregation in a week of prayer. After such time, a meeting will be called of the board of elders and all male deacons to decide the issue by a 2/3 vote. That vote is final and binding on all.

4. The board of elders may conduct business by other means (i.e. telephone, e-mail, etc.) than in a formal meeting if a matter of urgency is present. The results of such meetings shall be duly recorded by one of the elders and approved at the next regularly scheduled meeting.

5. If the board of elders determine that additional elders are needed for service or the number of elders drop below five, they will initiate a nominating process:

1. The congregation will be provided with teaching regarding the qualifications of an elder and be asked to prayerfully submit names of male members who they deem to meet these qualifications for consideration by the board of elders.

2. Those men whose names are submitted will be asked to engage in personal evaluation regarding this call to service. That individual may withdraw his name if he does not wish to serve in this office.

3. The elders will review the names and conduct an interview with each individual.

4. After prayerfully considering each nominee, the elders will make a selection(s) to be brought before the congregation, who will be given 3 months to show cause why any nominee would not be qualified to serve. Consistent with Mathew 18:15, anyone with such cause must first express his or her concern to the prospective elder and then also express the concern in writing to the board of elders for consideration. During this 3 month period, the nominee agrees to a weekly study of biblical eldership with one the current elders. At the end of the 3 month period the prospective elder will be presented to the congregation for their approval and a service of dedication.

6. Recognizing that God provides gifts to serve the congregation on an ongoing basis, each elder commits to serve a three year term. This is to be done on a rotating basis with the intention that no more than 1/3 of the elder’s terms expire in a given year. At the conclusion of each term, that elder’s name may be submitted for consideration along with new nominations from the congregation as described above. The remaining elders will consider his name along with other nominations with equal consideration according to the needs of the congregation required to be met. This in no way guarantees or denies his ability to serve concurrent terms.
 
 
 

Article VIII

Board of Deacons

 
1. The board of deacons shall be made up of members of the Church as set forth in the Constitution. They are chosen by the congregation in similar manner to an elder for the specific role(s) needed as enumerated to the congregation by the board of elders. The deacon(s) qualification process will be 1 month instead of the 3 months required for an elder. Deacons will commit to a minimum of 2 year term. They will meet formally or informally as needed and be subject to the board of elders in all things.
 
 

Article IX

Compensated Elders

1. Compensated elders are those elders called to serve in a full or part time capacity, according to their giftedness, primarily to fulfill the role of a pastor as set forth by the Constitution. Although teaching is not limited to this elder, it is the expectation of this elder to teach and exhort by precept and example, stressing both the understanding and application of God’s truth. He is to help believers to mature in Christ, equipping them to be true ministers in the body.

2. A compensated elder will commit to a minimum of 2 years of service and if unable to fulfill his term shall be required to give a written 90 days notice of reason and intent to leave prior to resignation. He shall be subject to an annual review of the board of elders which shall be used to encourage him in anything they deem to require his attention regarding his service.
 
 

Article X

Congregational Meetings

1. An annual meeting of the Church membership shall be held the last Saturday of January. At least two subsequent meetings shall be held at four month intervals on a date and time set by forth by the elders.

2. Special meetings of the Church shall be announced to the Church membership in accordance with the Church Constitution at least two weeks prior to such meetings. The elders shall provide a congregational meeting venue for discussing issues of concern. This may not necessarily be at the Annual Membership Meeting.

3. The purpose of a meeting shall be announced at least two weeks in advance if it involves: an amendment to the Church Constitution and/or Bylaws; the calling or removal of a compensated elder; the sale of church property or the expenditure of church funds for the purchase of property or the alterations of church property or any expenditure that exceeds $25,000.00; or the dissolution of the church. When a meeting is called for the transaction of specific matters of business, then no other business shall be conducted except that which is stated in the meeting notice.
 

Article XI

Biblical Counseling

1. All Christians struggle with sin and the effect it has on their lives and relationships (Rom. 3:23, 7:7-25, Gal. 5:19-23) Whenever a Christian is unable to overcome sinful attitudes or behaviors through private efforts, God’s Word teaches that he should seek assistance from other members, and especially from the elders, who have the responsibility of providing pastoral counseling and oversight (Rom. 15:14, Gal. 6:1-2, Col. 3:16, 2Tim. 3:16-17, 4:1-2, Heb. 10:24-25, Heb. 13:7). Therefore, this Church encourages its members to make confession and to seek counsel from each other, the elders, or other members of Christ’s church here on earth as clearly provided in James 5:16.This Church also recognizes Christian counselors who have been professionally trained in these areas as those to whom the members may be directed for help.


 

Article XII

Confidentiality

1. The Bible teaches that Christians should carefully guard any personal and private information that others reveal to them (Prov. 11:13). Protecting confidences is a sign of Christian love and respect (Matt. 7:12). It also discourages gossip (Prov. 16:28,17:9, 20:19, 26:20) invites confession (Prov. 28:13, Jam. 5:16) and encourages people to seek counseling ( Rom. 15:14) Since these goals are essential to the ministry of the gospel and the work of the Church, all members are expected to refrain from gossip and to respect the confidences of others. In particular, the elders shall carefully protect all information that they receive through pastoral counseling, subject to the following guidelines:

1. Although confidentiality is to be respected as much as possible, there are times when it is appropriate to reveal certain information to others. In particular, when the elders of the Church believe it is biblically necessary, they may disclose confidential information to appropriate people in the following circumstances:

1. When an elder is uncertain of how to counsel a person about a particular problem and needs to seek advise from other elders in the Church (Prov. 11:14,13:10,15:22, 20:18 Matt. 18:15-17)

2. When the person who disclosed the information or any other person is in danger of serious harm unless others intervene (Prov. 24:11-12)

3. When a person refuses to repent of sin and it becomes necessary to institute disciplinary proceedings (Mat 18:15-20) or seek the assistance of individuals or agencies outside the Church (Rom. 13:1-5)

4. When required by law; e.g., to report suspected child abuse (Mar. 9:36-37, 42)
 
 

Article XIII

Conflict Resolution

1.The Church is committed to resolving in a biblical manner all disputes that may arise within the congregation. This commitment is based on God’s command that Christians should strive earnestly to live at peace with one another (Matt. 5:9, John 17:20-23, Rom. 12:18, Eph 4:1-3) and that when disputes arise, Christians should resolve them according to the principles set forth in the Holy Scriptures (Prov. 19:11, Matt. 5:23-25, Matt. 18:15-20) We believe that these commands and principles are obligatory of all Christians, and absolutely essential for the well being and work of the Church. Therefore, any and all disputes in the Church shall be resolved according to biblical principles, as provided in the Church Constitution and these By-laws.

2.When a member of the Church has a conflict with, or is concerned about the behavior of another member, he shall attempt to resolve the matter as follows:

1.The offended or concerned person shall prayerfully examine himself and take responsibility for his contribution to a problem (Matt. 7:3-5) and he shall prayerfully seek to discern whether the offense is so serious that it cannot be overlooked (Prov. 19:11, 12:16, 15:18, 17:14, 20:3, Eph. 4:2, Col. 3:13, 1Pet. 4:8)

2.If the offense is too serious to overlook, the offended person shall go, repeatedly if necessary, and talk to the offender in an effort to resolve the matter personally and privately, having first confessed his own wrongdoing (Matt. 18:15, Gal. 6:1-2). If the problem is too serious to overlook, the offended or concerned person shall return with one or two other people who will attempt to help the parties resolve their differences (Matt. 18:16) these other people may be other members or other respected Christians in the community. At the request of either party to the dispute, the Church shall make every effort to assist the parties in resolving their differences and being reconciled (Matt. 18:17).
 

 

Article XIV

Church Discipline

1. We believe that loving church discipline is one of the great blessings and privileges of the Christian Church. Church discipline is the exercise of that authority which the Lord Jesus Christ has committed to the Church for the preservation of its purity, peace, and good order. All members of the Church are under the care of and subject to the discipline of the Church. Those who serve in leadership positions in the Church are subject to the same actions as the rest of the members. The following guidelines provide a clear biblical framework for carrying out Church discipline. Mutual accountability and discipline within the Church is commanded by God in the Scriptures (Matt. 18:12-20, Rom. 16:17, 1Cor. 5:1-13, Gal. 2:11-14, Eph. 5:11, 1Thes. 5:14, 2Thes. 3:6-15, 1Tim. 1:20, 5:19-20, 2Tim. 3:1-5, Tit. 3:10, 2John 1:7-11, Rev. 3:19)

2. Church discipline is concerned with the prevention and correction of offenses, an offense being defined as anything in the doctrine or practice of a member that is contrary to the Word of God. The purpose of discipline is:

2.1. To ensure the name of God is glorified (Rom. 2:24, 1Cor. 10:31)

2.2. To protect the purity of the Church and to guard other Christians from being tempted, misled, divided, or otherwise harmed (1Cor. 5:6)

2.3. To restore fallen Christians to fruitfulness and fellowship with the Church (Matt. 18:12-14, 2Cor. 2:5-11, 2Cor. 7:8-10, Gal. 6:1-2)

3. According to Matthew 18:15-20, discipline involves four components or phases:

3.1. Each believer has a responsibility to confront privately other believers who have sinned. The individual who is aware of the violation should arrange a private meeting with the offender. The objectives are to guard that precautions have been taken to assure accuracy of perception of conduct, to clarify the Biblical basis of concern, and, if he repents, to forgive the person. If the sinning believer acknowledges their sin and repents, the confronting believer has won him to a place of restoration. This first step is where most Church discipline begins and ends.

3.2. If the sinning believer does not repent, step two requires the confronting believer bring other brothers and sisters in Christ to lovingly confront, counsel, and encourage him toward repentance. This may be done repeatedly. The intent of others being involved is to guarantee clear communication and to provide witnesses should matter later is taken to the public level.

3.3. If the previous efforts do not resolve the offense, the unrepentant person may be brought before the Church. This shall be done in the following manner:

3.3.1. The board of elders, if not already involved shall be informed of the matter in writing.

3.3.2. A person accused of persistent, unrepentant sin shall be given notice to appear before the board of elders.

3.3.3. At the first meeting with the board of elders addressing this matter, the following actions will be taken:

3.3.3.1. The specifics of the accusation will be read and formally presented to the accused.

3.3.3.2. The board of elders shall specify the time of the next meeting with the accused and any other persons deemed necessary to attend.

3.3.4. At the second meeting with the board of elders, the accused shall be asked whether or not he is guilty of the accusation. If he pleads he is not guilty, evidence shall be considered to determine the guilt or innocence of the accusation. If subsequent meetings are required by the board of elders or the accused, to establish the truth, they shall be granted. The testimony of one witness shall be insufficient to establish the guilt or innocence of any accusation without corroborating evidence (Deut. 19:15, Matt. 18:16)

3.3.5. At the conclusion of the matter, the board of elders, after prayerful deliberation, shall come to a unanimous decision about the guilt or innocence of the accused. If the offender after tender exhortation, solemn rebuke and warning does not repent, then the board of elders shall proceed to determine an appropriate time and occasion to inform the Church about the unrepentant person.

3.3.6. When the unrepentant person is mentioned before the Church, the congregation shall be instructed to pray for him, and to pursue him for the purpose of restoration, which is the ultimate goal of all Church discipline.

3.3.7. After a sufficient time determined by the elders, the sinning member either repents or refuses to do so. If he refuses then by virtue of Jesus’ own pronouncement in Matthew 18:18-20, Step four shall be enacted.

3.4. The fourth step of Church discipline is public dismissal, or disfellowshipping from the congregation. The public announcement of discipline shall always be accompanied by prayer that God will graciously use the discipline for His own glory, the restoration of the offender, and the edification of the Church. Public dismissal precludes his attendance at all public meetings in keeping with the instructions of 1 Corinthians 5:9-13. He is to be treated as one who rejects the gospel of Christ, warned of the consequences of his sin, and exhorted to come to a saving relationship with the Christ he once confessed. The Church should continue to pray for the individual, imploring God to bring about repentance.

3.5. If an accused person leaves the Church during the disciplinary process or after having been disfellowshipped, and if the board of elders learns he is attending another church the board of elders may inform that congregation that he is under Church discipline. The board of elders may ask that congregation to entreat the accused to repent of his sin and be restored to the Lord and to any people he has offended. Such communications enhance the possibility a person may repent of their sin, and at the same time warn the other congregation to be on guard against the harm that the accused might do to its members (2Thes. 3:6-14, 3John 1:9-10)

3.6. Just as a good shepherd will seek out a sheep that has wandered from the flock (Mat 18:12-14) so should the Board of Elders and members of the Church seek to restore a wandering member to the Lord through biblical discipline. Therefore, discipline may be instituted or continued either before or after a member seeks to withdraw from membership if the board of elders determines such discipline may serve to ensure the name of God remains glorified, protect the purity of the church, or restore the wandering member to the Lord. While the Church cannot force a withdrawing person to remain within a congregation, the Church has the responsibility to encourage restoration, to bring the disciplinary process to an orderly conclusion, and to make a final determination as to the persons membership status at the time withdrawal is sought or acknowledged. In doing so, the board of elders, at its discretion, may temporarily suspend further disciplinary proceedings, dismiss any or all accusations against the accused, or proceed with discipline and pronounce an appropriate disciplinary action.

3.7. If a person who has been disfellowshipped comes to repentance, the Church shall warmly and lovingly restore him to fellowship within the congregation (Luke 15:11-32). Once the elders are persuaded the person is sincere in his repentance, sought forgiveness from God and the offended parties, his restoration shall be announced to the congregation. The announcement shall be accompanied by exhortation to the congregation to receive him with love and forgiveness into restored fellowship. When deemed appropriate by the board of elders, however, the restored person may be restricted from certain responsibilities within the congregation until he has demonstrated the requisite qualities for those responsibilities ( Phil. 1:10, 2:12-14, Col. 1:22, 1Tim. 3:2, Tit. 1:6, 1Pet 2:11-12)
 
 
 

Article XV

Ownership and Distribution of Property

 
 
 

Article XVI

Indemnification of Officers

 
 
 

Article XVII

Amendment of Bylaws

 
1.  1/30/10 – Article VIII Board of Deacons p.10 line 357 change:
“will commit to a minimum of 1 year term.  They will meet formally or”
to
“will commit to a minimum of 2 year term.  They will meet formally or”

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