The CONSTITUTION of
THOUSAND ISLANDS BAPTIST CHURCH
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The Name of this organization shall be the Thousand Islands Baptist Church.
The object of this church is set forth in its Covenant and Statement of Faith, namely: for worship, biblical instruction, the observance of the divinely instituted ordinances, the presentation of a corporate testimony to the power of the Gospel in its constituency and such service as the Gospel requires both at home and abroad; recognizing and accepting Christ as the one supreme Lord and Lawgiver and taking His Word as its only sufficient rule of faith and practice.
Having been led, as we believe, by the Spirit of God to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour, and on the profession of our faith, having been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, we do now in the presence of God, angels and this assembly most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another, as one body in Christ.
We commit, therefore, by the enabling of the Holy Spirit:
- To walk together in Christian love.
- To strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness and comfort.
- To promote its prosperity and spirituality.
- To sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline and doctrines.
- To contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of its ministry and general expenses, the relief of the poor and the spread of the Gospel among all nations.
We also commit:
- To maintain family and personal/private devotions.
- To religiously educate our children.
- To seek the salvation of our kindred and acquaintances.
- To walk circumspectly in the world, to be just in our dealings, faithful in our engagements and exemplary in our conduct.
We further commit:
1 To watch over one another in brotherly love.
2. To remember each other in prayer.
3. To aid each other in sickness and distress.
4. To cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and courtesy in speech.
To be slow to take offence, but always ready for reconciliation and mindful of the rules of our Saviour to secure it without delay.
We morever commit that when we remove from this place we will, as soon as possible, unite with some other church, where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God’s Word.
IV. STATEMENT OF FAITH
We believe the Bible to be the complete Word of God; that the sixty-six books, as originally written, comprising the Old and New Testaments, were verbally inspired by the Spirit of God and therefore entirely free from error; that the Bible is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice and the true basis of Christian union. (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21)
We believe in one God (Deuteronomy 6:4), Creator of all (Genesis 1:1; Col. 1:16), Holy (Leviticus 19:2), Sovereign (Daniel 4:25, 35), Eternal (Hebrews 9:14, Psalm 90:1-2), existing in three equal Persons (Matthew 28:19) – the Father (Isaiah 63:16; 64:8), the Son (John 1:1; Philippians 2:6; Colossians 1:15), and the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4).
We believe in the absolute and essential deity of Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:9), in His eternal existence with the Father in preincarnate glory (John 17:5), in His virgin birth (Matthew 1:20,23), sinless life (1 Peter 2:22; Hebrews. 4:15), substitutionary death (Romans 8:3-4), bodily resurrection (Luke 24:6-7), triumphant ascension (Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9), mediatorial ministry (Romans 8:34) and personal return (John14:3; Acts 1:11).
- THE HOLY SPIRIT
We believe in the absolute and essential deity and personality of the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4), who convinces of sin, of righteousness, and of judgement (John 16:8); who regenerates (Romans 8:9), sanctifies (2 Thessalonians 2:13), illuminates (1 Corinthians 2:12-13; John 14:26) and comforts those who believe in Jesus Christ (John 15:26).
We believe that Satan exists as an evil personality (Isaiah 14:12-15; 2 Peter 2:4), the originator of sin (John 8:44), the arch-enemy of God and man (Genesis 3:15; 1 Peter 5:8).
We believe that man was divinely created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27); that he sinned (Romans 3:23), becoming guilty before God (Romans 1:18), resulting in total depravity (Isaiah 59:2), thereby incurring physical (Ezekiel 18:4, 26) and spiritual death (Ephesians 2:1).
We believe that salvation is by the sovereign (Acts 2:23), electing grace of God (Ephesians 1:4); that by the appointment of the Father (John 3:16), Christ voluntarily (John10:17-18) suffered a vicarious, expiatory, and propitiatory death; that justification is by faith alone (Romans 3:23-26) in the all sufficient sacrifice and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:12,28; 1 Corinthians 15:17) and that those whom God has effectually called shall be divinely preserved and finally perfected in the image of the Lord (Romans 8:28-30).
- FUTURE THINGS
We believe in the personal and bodily and glorious return of the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 1:11; Matthew 24:30); in the bodily resurrection of the just (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) and the unjust (Revelation 20:11-13); in the eternal blessedness of the redeemed (Revelation 21 & 22) and in the judgement and eternal conscious punishment of the wicked (Revelation 20:10, 15).
- THE LOCAL CHURCH
We believe that the church is a company of baptized (immersed) believers (Acts 2:38), called out from the world, separated unto the Lord Jesus (2 Corinthians 6:16-17), voluntarily associated for the ministry of the Word (Acts 6:4), the mutual edification of its members (1 Corinthians 12:12-26), the propagation of the faith and the observance of the ordinances (Matthew 28:18-20). We believe it is an autonomous, independent body, exercising its own divinely awarded gifts, precepts and privileges under the Lordship of Christ, the Great Head of the Church (Ephesians 4:11-16). We believe that its officers are Pastor(s)/Elders (Ephesians 4:11; 1 Timothy 3:1; 1 Peter 5:1; Titus 1:7-9) and Deacons (Acts 6:1-4; 1 Timothy 3:8).
We believe that there are only two ordinances for the church regularly observed in the New Testament in the following order:
- Baptism: which is the immersion of the believer in water, whereby he obeys Christ’s command and sets forth his identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection (Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3-11).
- The Lord’s Supper: which is the memorial wherein the believer partakes of the two elements, bread and cup, which symbolize the
Lord’s body and shed blood, proclaiming His death until He comes (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
11. THE CHURCH AND THE STATE
We believe in the entire separation of Church and State (Acts 5:27-29; Matthew 22:21).
- RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
We believe in religious liberty; that every man has the right to practice and propagate his beliefs (Acts 5:34-42).
- THE LORD’S DAY
We believe that the first day of the week is the Lord’s Day and that, in a special sense, it is the divinely appointed day for worship and spiritual care (Acts 5:29).
- CIVIL GOVERNMENT
We believe that civil government is of divine appointment for the interest and good order of society; that magistrates are to be prayed for, conscientiously honored and obeyed, except only in the things opposed to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only Lord of the conscience and Prince of the Kings of the earth (Romans 13:1-7; Acts 5:29).
- New converts may be accepted by a simple majority vote of the church for baptism and membership, having given satisfactory evidence of regeneration and personal faith in Christ as their Saviour and Lord to the Elders, the Church as a whole or to a committee appointed for this purpose.
- Immersed believers may be accepted for membership in the same manner as above.
- Members with letters of commendation from other evangelical Baptist Churches of like faith and order may be received by simple majority vote after an interview with the Elders and Pastor.
All members in good standing shall be eligible for letters of transfer to other evangelical Baptist Churches. Letters of transfer shall be forwarded to the church and not given to the member being commended. Should a member desire to unite with other than an evangelical Baptist church a letter stating their standing will be granted and the membership terminated.
There are two sets of instructions given regarding church discipline, each treating a different scenario. The first has to do with a personal offense against another member of the church. The Lord Jesus Christ encapsulates the procedure of discipline into four steps in Matthew 18:15-17. A succeeding step is taken only when the previous step is exhausted, having failed to resolve the situation or produce repentance and restoration.
Step 1: Personally and privately confront the erring believer.
Step 2: Confront again with one or two witnesses.
Step 3: Confront again in the presence of the church.
Step 4: Regard him/her as an unbeliever.
The second is addressed in I Corinthians 5: where a member is guilty of ongoing sin against the Body, and contrary to the Word of God, not showing the fruit of repentance. Such a one is to be removed from fellowship, vv. 2, 7, 11-13, with the intent of producing repentance.
4. REMOVAL OF MEMBERSHIP
Any member of Thousand Islands Baptist Church who moves out of the area will have his/her name removed from the membership roll by the Elders after one year from the time he/she moves, unless he/she has an acceptable reason for requesting that he/she remain a member. Any member who lives in the area, but does not attend without an acceptable explanation will have his/her name removed by the Elders after six months of absence from services.
5. VOTING PRIVILEGES
All members in good standing, sixteen years of age and over, may vote in any and all business matters of the church.
We affirm that marriage is a divinely ordained institution. It is the foundation of family, church and country. Therefore we, as a church, affirm the following:
1. We affirm that God’s intention for marriage is repeatedly established in both the Old and New Testaments of Scripture.
a. The purpose of partnership. (Genesis 2:18)
b. The purpose of parenthood. (Genesis 1:28, Psalm 127:3-5)
c. The purpose of pleasure. (Proverbs 5:15-20, Hebrews 13:4)
d. The purpose of preventing fornication. (I Corinthians 7:2-5)
e. The purpose of picturing the church. (Ephesians 5:31-33)
2. We affirm that God ordained marriage as a voluntary union of one man and one woman for life. (Genesis 2:22-24, Matthew 19:5-6, Ephesians 5:31)
3. We affirm that sexual intimacy is legitimate only within the bounds of marriage. (Proverbs 6:32, Colossians 3:5-6, Hebrews 13:4, I Peter 2:11)
4. We affirm that Christian marriage is not simply a contract between a man and woman, but is a covenant ratified in the presence of God. (Proverbs 2:16-17, Malachi 2:14, Matthew 19:4-6)
5. We affirm that God directs those who have been born again to only marry other believers. God’s intent of intimate fellowship between the spouses is compromised if they are “unequally yoked together”. (2 Corinthians 6:14-17)
6. We affirm that a healthy marriage is the best foundation for families and raising children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Proverbs 1:8-9, 6:20-23, Ephesians 6:1-4)
7. We affirm that it is our church’s intention not only to teach and preach abstinence before marriage and purity during marriage, but also sexual fulfillment in marriage. (Exodus 20:14, Proverbs 6:32, 5:19, 1 Corinthians 7:2-5)
We believe that our church has been given the privilege and responsibility by God to be an agent of His blessing of marriage, as a primary witness, and as a supportive community. Because we believe that marriage is a divinely ordered institution, our Pastor or other person designated by our church to perform marriages may do so only as the applicants submit to our statement of marriage contained in the Constitution. The Board of Elders shall also be in consultation with the Pastor because, as Scripture states, one day we will give an account (Hebrews 13:17) of how marriage was upheld before God. Furthermore, no marriage will be performed on any property or facility of Thousand Islands Baptist Church without the said marriage adhering to the scriptural statement contained in the Constitution of this church.
- The calling of a Pastor shall be made by a two thirds vote of the members present at a duly called business meeting, the nature of the business having been clearly announced.
- The dismissal of a Pastor shall be upon a simple majority vote of the members present at a duly called business meeting, the nature of the said meeting having been clearly announced.
- The duties of a Pastor are primarily to minister the Word to his flock, do the work of an evangelist among the unsaved, visit the homes and members of his congregation, and to promote a spiritual atmosphere in the church as a whole. The Pastor is a member, ex-officio, of all boards and committees appointed by the church.
2. SENIOR PASTOR
The Thousand Islands Baptist Church Senior Pastor automatically serves as an elder and, because of his public presence and responsibility before the congregation, will assume the primary leadership role of the Church.
The Elders Board will consist of the Senior Pastor and selected men in the congregation who meet the qualifications of 1 Tim. 3:1-16 and Titus 1:5-9. The function of the Elders is to give spiritual oversight to the congregation, with responsibility in the areas of doctrine, direction, discipline, discipleship. The selection, examination, and installing of Elders will be the responsibility of the Elders Board. The Chairman of the Elders Board shall chair all congregational meetings unless he is absent, in which case the Elders will make the appointment of a chairman for that meeting. Members of the church will be given opportunity to speak to the qualifications of the nominees before their installation.
a. Plurality of Elders
The Scriptures teach that a plurality of elders governed individual New Testament churches. (Acts 14:23; Acts 20:28; Titus 1:5; Philippians 1:1) Scripture does not mention any congregations featuring a stand-alone pastor and leader. A plurality of godly elders, exercising their individual giftedness, squares with the Scripture's teaching that wisdom is found in a multitude of godly counsellors. (Proverbs 11:4; Proverbs 12:15; Proverbs 15:22; Proverbs 19:20; Proverbs 24:6) This truth does not eliminate the possibility and likelihood that one or more elders will stand out from the others as more public in their ministries or more influential in their workings on the Board of Elders.
b. Appointment process
All elders are to be fully qualified, formally examined, and publicly installed in office. The examining, approving and installing of prospective elders, will be directed by the elders in office. The church elders should take the initiative and supervise the appointment process. Before a man is appointed to eldership, he is already proving himself by leading, teaching, and bearing responsibility in the church. Since the prospective elder will serve the congregation, the people will have a voice in approving the prospective elder. Any objection must be supported by scriptural reasons. These objections are to be brought in person to the appointing elders. If there are verified scriptural reasons why the prospective elder should not serve in this office, his name will be withdrawn.
The Deacons are recognized servants of the church, whose qualifications are clearly set forth in the Scriptures, 1Timothy 3:8-12. They shall be elected annually or as the church may decide and always by a two-thirds vote. The church shall stipulate as to the amount of financial expenditures the Deacons may make without presenting same to the church for its approval. The Deacons primary responsibility will be finance, facility, and mercy ministries.
5. CHURCH CLERK
The clerk shall keep an accurate membership roll in a proper book provided by the church. Records of all members, date of reception, by baptism, transfer or experience, a full record of all church meetings, motions, etc., carry on all correspondence relative to the membership and such other matters as the church may direct.
6. CHURCH TREASURER
The treasurer shall keep an accurate account of all monies received and disbursed. He/she shall carry on the banking business in the name of the church. He/she shall pay all accounts approved by the church budget. Other expenditures shall be approved by the church. He/she shall prepare quarterly statements at such times as the church may require. He/she shall supply the auditor, or auditors, with such records as may be required when auditing the church books.
The Trustees will consist of the Deacons in office at any time. The duties of a trustee shall be to sign legal documents on behalf of the church as the church may direct. All legal and valuable items shall be deposited by them in a safe place for the church.
The government of this church and the administration of its affairs shall be by the church and such officers as it may direct.
There shall be an annual business meeting of the church when full reports from all departments of the church shall be given and accepted by the church.
Other meetings for business may be called from time to time by the Pastor, Elders, or by a request to the Church Clerk by at least five members specifying the reason for the meeting.
TWO CHURCH OFFICES
The biblical teaching on the subject of two church offices, Elders and Deacons, is found in I Timothy 3:1-16 and Titus 1:5-9. (Though there are three terms used for the offices of the church, i.e. Bishop, Elder, and Deacon, a careful analysis of these terms indicates that Bishop and Elder are used interchangeably, with the Bishop simply being the ‘ruling’ or leading Elder.)
1. BOARD OF ELDERS
The business, legal, and spiritual matters of the Church will be managed and/or delegated by its Board of Elders. All decisions affecting the overall doctrine, direction, discipline and discipleship of the church will be the responsibility of the Board of Elders. The Scriptures are clear that the Elder’s responsibility is the spiritual oversight of the congregation. The Elder’s responsibility can be broken down into four main areas:
1. Ensuring that the doctrine of the church remains purely biblical; all doctrinal issues in the church will be settled by the Board of Elders.
2. Ensuring that the direction of the church remains consistent with the statement of purpose and the vision statement.
3. Administering in love and humility the biblical process of reconciliation as outlined in Matthew 18:15-20 and Galatians 6:1-4, and church discipline as further taught in 1 Corinthians 5.
4. Discipleship – Through a caring and loving interaction, point and encourage people to Christ.
The functions and responsibilities of the Board of Elders will consist of, but not be limited to, the following:
The Elder Board Chairman will work in cooperation with the other Elders to ensure healthy ministry development and strong accountability. Agenda items for the Elder meetings must be submitted to the Elder Board Chairman prior to the Elders meeting. An Elders meeting may not be held without a majority of the Elders present and the entirety of the Elder Board informed. The Elder Board Chairman will be selected by consensus decision of the Board of Elders with no fixed term. The Elder Board will consist of the Chairman, the Senior Pastor, and additional Elders, who will assume responsibility as agreeable and necessary. All Elders will have equal authority, but not necessarily equal influence.
The term of office for Board of Elders members is to be consistent with the fiscal year of the church. When the need arises for additional Elders, a nominee will be recommended by the existing Board of Elders. In keeping with the biblical injunctions regarding authority structures within the church, only men will be considered for the office of Elder. An in-depth interview will ensue to determine if the nominee is biblically qualified. The congregation will then be reminded of the biblical requirement for Elders and given 30 days to speak personally with the nominee if they are aware of any disqualifying characteristics. If the matter remains unresolved, the nominee or church member should approach the Board of Elders and request that their name be withdrawn from consideration.
The Thousand Islands Baptist Church Senior Pastor automatically serves as an Elder for as long as he remains employed by the Church. Although Scripture indicates no fixed terms for Elders, there will be an ongoing yearly review. During the review, both the individual and the other Elders will evaluate his continued service on the Board of Elders, again considering the biblical qualifications, as well as any personal factors that might affect his service. An individual’s service on the Board of Elders may be discontinued by his own decision or by a consensus decision of the other Elders. A person leaving the Board of Elders would not signify a disqualification for service as a future Elder, subject to the regular selection process.
In order to remove a member serving as an Elder, the Board of Elders will first conduct a reasonable inquiry and hearing concerning the cause of removal. Person(s) under consideration for removal may not be counted for purpose of establishing quorum nor have any vote in such proceedings. A consensus of the Board of Elders not under consideration for removal will constitute the removal of said Elder.
Elders will not receive any stated salaries for their services on the Board of Elders, but by resolution of the Board of Elders, expenses of attendance, if any, may be allowed for each regular or special meeting of the Board of Elders. Nothing herein contained will be construed to preclude any Elder serving the Church in any other capacity and receiving reasonable compensation for that service. This Section will not preclude the Pastors receiving compensation as Pastors.
2. Church Council
At the discretion of the Board of Elders, a Church Council meeting may be called to provide input to the Board of Elders. The Church Council consists of the three divisions of church leadership: the Pastoral staff, which is responsible for the day to day operation of the church; the Deacons, who direct the financial, benevolent, ordinance, and facility operations of the church; and the Elders, who oversee the doctrine, direction, discipline and discipleship of the church. The Elders may also include, when needed, small group coaches and/or leaders or other key ministry leaders who are not on staff in a Church Council meeting. All are to be under the authority of, and in submission to, the Board of Elders.
This constitution may be amended by a two-thirds vote taken at any business meeting, which has been announced the two previous Sundays, providing such proposals are clearly stated in the announcement calling for the meeting.