Proposed Constitutional & By-Law Changes:

The current Constitution and By-Laws were adopted in 2009. This began a congregational/elder led model of governance. Under Pastor Mike’s ministry we have developed effective patterns that made this work well. As we enter into a transition to our next pastor, our proposed changes bring these practices to our official documents. They also simplify our official documents.

Notes—

  1. The changes being proposed bring our Constitution and By-Laws in line with our current practices as a church and are in keeping with the spirit of the original document.
  2. The changes are highlighted with this deep red font. The sections that include changes are also highlighted in the table of contents.


Table of Contents

CONSTITUTION

Article I Name

Article II Statement of Faith

Article III Purpose

Article IV Membership

Article V Elder Board

Article VI Corporate Officers

Article VII Business Meetings

Article VIII Standing

Article IX Amendments

Article X Provision for By-Laws

Article XI Property Rights

By-Laws

I Core Values & Vision

II Membership & Discipline

III Governance:

  A. Congregation

  B. Elders

  C. Senior Pastor 

  D. Pastoral Staff

  E. Servant Leaders (Deacon/Deaconess)

IV Filling a Pastoral Vacancy 

V Meetings

VI Financial Accountability

CONSTITUTION

Adopted October 25, 2009

Revised: 2011, 7/29/2012, 12/09/2012, 3/1/15, 6/28/15

ARTICLE I: Name

The name of this Church shall be: La Center Evangelical Free Church (Church).

ARTICLE II A: Statement of Faith

God

1. We believe in one God, Creator of all things, holy, infinitely perfect, and eternally existing in a loving unity of three equally divine Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Having limitless knowledge and sovereign power, God has graciously purposed from eternity to redeem a people for Himself and to make all things new for His own glory.

The Bible

2. We believe that God has spoken in the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, through the words of human authors. As the verbally inspired Word of God, the Bible is without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for salvation, and the ultimate authority by which every realm of human knowledge and endeavor should be judged. Therefore, it is to be believed in all that it teaches, obeyed in all that it requires, and trusted in all that it promises.

The Human Condition

3. We believe that God created Adam and Eve in His image, but they sinned when tempted by Satan. In union with Adam, human beings are sinners by nature and by choice, alienated from God, and under His wrath. Only through God’s saving work in Jesus Christ can we be rescued, reconciled and renewed.

Jesus Christ

4. We believe that Jesus Christ is God incarnate, fully God and fully man, one Person in two natures. Jesus—Israel's promised Messiah—was conceived through the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He lived a sinless life, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, arose bodily from the dead, ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father as our High Priest and Advocate.

The Work of Christ

5. We believe that Jesus Christ, as our representative and substitute, shed His blood on the cross as the perfect, all-sufficient sacrifice for our sins. His atoning death and victorious resurrection constitute the only ground for salvation.

The Holy Spirit

6. We believe that the Holy Spirit, in all that He does, glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ. He convicts the world of its guilt. He regenerates sinners, and in Him they are baptized into union with Christ and adopted as heirs in the family of God. He also indwells, illuminates, guides, equips and empowers believers for Christ like living and service.

The Church

7. We believe that the true church comprises all who have been justified by God's grace through faith alone in Christ alone. They are united by the Holy Spirit in the body of Christ, of which He is the Head. The true church is manifest in local churches, whose membership should be composed only of believers. The Lord Jesus mandated two ordinances, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, which visibly and tangibly express the gospel. Though they are not the means of salvation, when celebrated by the church in genuine faith, these ordinances confirm and nourish the believer.

Christian Living

8. We believe that God's justifying grace must not be separated from His sanctifying power and purpose. God commands us to love Him supremely and others sacrificially, and to live out our faith with care for one another, compassion toward the poor and justice for the oppressed. With God’s Word, the Spirit’s power, and fervent prayer in Christ’s name, we are to combat the spiritual forces of evil. In obedience to Christ’s commission, we are to make disciples among all people, always bearing witness to the gospel in word and deed.

Christ’s Return

9. We believe in the personal, bodily and premillennial return of our Lord Jesus Christ. The coming of Christ, at a time known only to God, demands constant expectancy and, as our blessed hope, motivates the believer to godly living, sacrificial service and energetic mission.

Response and Eternal Destiny

10. We believe that God commands everyone everywhere to believe the gospel by turning to Him in repentance and receiving the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that God will raise the dead bodily and judge the world, assigning the unbeliever to condemnation and eternal conscious punishment and the believer to eternal blessedness and joy with the Lord in the new heaven and the new earth, to the praise of His glorious grace. Amen.

ARTICLE II B: Marriage

We believe that marriage is the exclusive, covenantal union of one man and one woman, which union was designed by God.

Genesis 2:24 states, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Jesus Christ affirmed this in Matthew 19:4-6: “And he answered and said, ‘Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.’”

We will faithfully follow this scriptural definition of marriage in the teachings and practices of this church. Therefore this church will not officiate, solemnize, perform or host a marriage or marriage-like ceremony involving anything other than the union of one man with one woman as instituted by God.

ARTICLE III: Purpose

We exist to seek and transform our community for Christ . . . by connecting people to Christ and His Church, helping them grow in Christ, and involving them in service in Christ’s name.

ARTICLE IV: Membership

This church shall receive as members those of any age who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior, being born again, and in their lives manifesting the fruits of a true faith in God. Voting privileges shall be restricted to those members who are sixteen (16) years of age or older, and who are active members. Members under the age of eighteen may not vote on matters governed by law (Such as the purchase of property). The chairman shall note any items on the agenda for which this applies.

ARTICLE V: Elder Board

The Elder Board shall be:

a) Up to three Pastors, and

b) A plurality of lay Elders to exceed the number of pastors on the board, one of which shall be the Elder-Chairman.

c) The elders shall operate by consensus with 75% of the board providing a quorum.

Elders are encouraged to take a year break after two three year terms. 

ARTICLE VI: Corporate Officers:

The Corporate Officers shall be appointed within or by the Elder Board and shall be authorized to establish and execute financial considerations in accordance with the church budget and policies. 

a) Elder-Chairman

b) Secretary of the Congregation, and the

c) Elder over Finances

ARTICLE VII: Business Meetings

The Congregation shall be comprised of the active voting membership of the Church and shall be the highest decision making body of the Church.

Regular meetings shall be held each trimester when all matters the congregation has retained shall be acted upon.

Elections can be held at any of the trimester meetings (preferably the winter meeting) or at any specifically called meeting by the elder board. 

Special meetings can be announced at any time by the Elder-Chairman in conjunction with the Elder Board according to need. Congregational meetings shall be led by the Elder-Chairman or his appointee.

The operating budget of the church will be approved in June at a meeting called for that purpose.  The fiscal year shall be from July 1 to June 30.

ARTICLE VIII: Standing

The church will remain an affiliate of the Evangelical Free Church of America and work together with other churches by sending delegates to conferences, giving financial support, and/or by uniting in any mutual efforts for the furtherance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

ARTICLE IX: Amendments

That amendments to this Constitution may be made at any official business meeting of the church by a two-thirds (2/3) majority of votes cast. Proposed amendments must have been published and announced at least 3 weeks prior to a members meeting. There will be at least one open forum (not business meeting) within the two weeks prior to the meeting where the vote will be taken.

ARTICLE X: Provision for By-Laws

A supplement to this Constitution known as By-Laws shall embody the stated qualifications of pastor and officers and their duties, conditions for membership, method by which members are received, parliamentary rules and regulations for the various activities of the church.

Amendments to these By-Laws may be made at any official business meeting of the church by a two-thirds (2/3) majority of votes cast. Proposed amendments must have been published and announced at least 3 weeks prior to a members meeting. There will be at least one open forum (not business meeting) within the two weeks prior to the meeting where the vote will be taken.

ARTICLE XI: Property Rights

If a division occurs in the church, the name and all property are retained by those adhering to this Constitution and the By-Laws. If the church ceases to function and its organization is dissolved, the property shall automatically belong to the Evangelical Free Church Of America (EFCA)


BY-LAWS

I Core Values & Vision

A. Core Values (moved from pg. 15 of original document)

We value all Scripture as truth and teach its relevance to life

1. We value reliance on prayer for direction, power, and fellowship with God. 

2. We value loving unity shown through kindness, forgiveness, acceptance, and common direction. 

3. We value heartfelt worship that draws people toward God. 

4. We value Christ-like character as the criteria for leadership. 

5. We value reaching and discipling people of all ages with a special emphasis on youth. 

6. We value flexibility in methods to reach our changing culture with the timeless truths of God’s Word. 

7. We value gracious personal relationships to reach people with Christ’s love in our community and worldwide. 

8. We value teamwork for effective ministry. 

B. Vision

Each year the Elder Board will set and prioritize measurable goals designed to achieve our purpose as stated in Article III of our constitution and in keeping with our Core Values.  These goals will be communicated to the congregation.

II. Membership & Discipline

A. Membership

To become a member of La Center Church a person must meet the following expectations:

1. Have trusted Jesus Christ as their personal savior.

2. Attend a membership orientation which covers who we are, what we believe and how we function as a church.

3. Be interviewed by an elder or two to confirm their faith in Christ and commitment to the church

4. Be approved by the Elder board and presented to the church as a new member.

New members may vote at the first business meeting after becoming a member.

The secretary of the Elders and Senior Pastor shall keep the official list of current members and will make it available upon request.

A member may withdraw his/her membership by letter to the Elder Board.

5. Lack of Attendance

Any member who demonstrates a lack of interest in the ministry of the church for a period of three months as evidenced by lack of attendance will be considered inactive and will lose the privileges of membership.

Reinstatement to active membership may be obtained after the member resumes faithful attendance and satisfied any questions or concerns of the Board of Elders

Any member who demonstrates a lack of interest in the ministry of the church for a period of six months as evidenced by their lack of attendance, having been encouraged to return by the Elders but refused, their membership will be removed.

Exceptions: prolonged travel, temporary moves for study/work, military service, other valid reasons including health and genuine hardship.

6. The Secretary of the Congregation shall keep the official list of current members and maintain a current copy in the church office. Any member may obtain a copy of the membership list upon request to the Secretary of the Congregation or any Pastor, understanding that the list is not to be used for commercial, soliciting, advertising or illegal purposes.

7. A member may withdraw his/her membership by letter to the Elder Board.

8. Every member is expected, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to continue to grow toward Christlikeness through their spiritual disciplines and relationships with others.

B. Discipline and/or Dismissal

1. As the local body of Christ, we understand it to be our responsibility to pray for and encourage one another to spiritual maturity. Accordingly, any member of this Church who is found to walk in a way unworthy of a Christian, or to teach contrary to the Word of God or the Statement of Faith of this Church, shall be lovingly admonished by fellow members according to the Word of God.

2. If repentance and reconciliation are not achieved, the matter will be referred to the Elder Board. The steps taken towards reconciliation will be as follows:

a. The Elder Board will pursue resolution utilizing Matt. 18:15-17, 2 Cor. 2:5-7 and Gal. 5:22 as a guide. Restoration efforts shall always be emphasized over sanctions.

b. If resolution is not achieved after appropriate efforts, the Elder Board may dismiss a member and may choose to inform the congregation at the next congregational meeting or in writing, if in their judgment the unresolved issue is of a public nature.

3. A member removed from the Church membership as a result of disciplinary action, may be restored to membership by giving to the Elder Board satisfactory evidence of repentance and reconciliation. The Elder Board may then act to restore that member’s membership. In some cases, the Elder Board may require the repentant individual to undergo a supervised restoration process. (Gal. 6:1-3)

III. Governance

A. Congregation

The congregation has the highest authority in making decisions within the church.  It has reserved authority for decisions as specified in Article VII of the Constitution.

Specific Responsibilities Include:

a. The calling of Pastors, (excluding temporary appointments, i.e. interim)

b. The election of Elders

c. The approval of alterations to the Constitution and By-laws.

d. The approval of the operating budget.

e. Approval of any purchase, sale or encumbrance of real property

f. The approval of dissolution

The congregation shall grant authority to the Elder Board to act on all other matters on behalf of the congregation.

B. Elders

1. In partnership with the pastoral staff, the elders lead, shepherd and instruct the congregation in God’s truth and ways. 

2. Qualifications:  The elder shall be above reproach as described in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. 

3. Candidating Period:  A candidate for elder will be presented to the congregation as a candidate and join the Elder board as a non-voting member for a period of up to three months prior to their congregational affirmation.  This provides both the candidate and congregation time to confirm their involvement.

4. Specific responsibilities include:

a. Receiving of new members

b. Appointing the chairman, elder over finance, and secretary of the congregation.

c. Setting annual goals

d. Overseeing the various ministries of the church.

e. Approving fiscal and administrative policies

f. Providing accountability for one another, the pastoral staff, and the congregation.

g. Giving reports to the church at each of the trimester meetings.

5.  Removal:  An Elder may be removed by the unanimous decision of the remaining Elder Board.  In the event of a voting impasse, the Evangelical Free Church of America – Pacific Northwest District (EFCA-PNWD) leadership will be brought in for council and steps of resolution.  

C.  Senior Pastor

In conjunction with the Elders, the Senior Pastor provides leadership in the development and direction of the ministries of La Center Church and in the building up and care of the members. 

1. Qualifications:  The Senior Pastor shall maintain the same qualifications as elder as found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.

2. Specific Responsibilities Include:

a. Preaching and teaching God’s word

b. Provide guidance to the elders and leadership to the staff

c. Propose goals and priorities to the elders for building up the church.

d. When needed, present to the elders a candidate for staff positions.

e. Oversee the staff, the various ministries and the functions of the church, providing encouragement and direction.

f. Oversee administrative and fiscal policy compliance.

g. Comply with the various details of the job description provided by the Elders.

h. He shall be a full voting member of the elder board on all matters except those concerning him.

D. Pastoral Staff

Pastoral Staff are directly accountable to the Senior Pastor or to the elders in the absence of a senior pastor.  They are responsible for the ministries for which they are assigned. 

Qualifications:  All pastoral staff shall maintain the same qualifications as elders as found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.

Specific responsibilities include:

a. Under the vision established by the Senior Pastor, provide leadership and direction for their assigned ministries.

b. Recruit, train and supervise volunteers.

c. Oversee fiscal and administrative policy compliance in their area of responsibility.

d. Be eligible to become a full voting member of the Elders on all matters except those concerning him.

e. Comply with the various details of the job description provided by the Senior Pastor.

E. Servant Leaders (Deacon/Deaconess) 

Servant Leaders are appointed by and accountable to the Elders to lead various ministries or functions within the church. 

1. Qualifications:  The Servant Leader can be male or female and will meet the qualifications listed in 1 Timothy 3:8-13; Acts 6:1-7

2. Responsibilities: 

a. Develop goals in accord with the vision of the Senior Pastor and Elders.

b. Develop and lead a Ministry Team.

c. Communicate with the staff and elders regarding the progress and needs of their ministry.

3. Appointment:  The Elders will appoint individuals to serve as Ministry Leaders and commission them before the congregation through prayer.

4. Potential Ministry Teams:  Ministry teams, lead by a Servant Leader, may include but not be limited to  men’s ministry, women’s ministry, children’s ministry, youth ministry, property maintenance, construction, an audit team, search committee, and a nominating team.

IV Filling a Pastoral Vacancy

a) Organization:  When a vacancy occurs in the office of the Senior Pastor, the Elder Board and other members designated by the Elder Board shall serve as the Search Committee.  The Elders  shall appoint a chairman(s) and secretary of the Search Committee.  The Search Committee shall be responsible for all matters of communication with the candidate.

b) District’s Role:  The Search Committee shall contact the Superintendent of the Pacific Northwest District of the Evangelical Free Church of America for counsel and for names of possible candidates.  The Search Committee may also contact other candidates whose doctrines and Church Policy are consistent with those of the Evangelical Free Church of America.  The Superintendent should be apprised of those contacts. 

c) Interim Pastor: If there is a need for an interim pastor, the search committee will participate in screening the interim pastor.  This individual will be presented to the church. After congregational feedback the elders will develop a contract with an interim for a specific period of time.  

d) Candidating:  After careful and prayerful investigation, the Search Committee and Elders shall present a candidate to the Church.  He will be given an opportunity to preach and meet with various groups within the congregation.

e) Congregational Vote:  After the candidate has been heard by the congregation, the Elder Board shall call a meeting of the congregation to extend a call for the candidate to serve as their pastor.  Members of the congregation will vote on the candidate with a 2/3’s majority needed to extend a call to serve.

f) Pastoral staff:  The Senior Pastor will present a candidate for a pastoral staff position to the Elders.  Upon their agreement, this person will be presented to and voted on by the congregation.

V. MEETINGS

A. Meetings may be called at the discretion of the Elder Board with two weeks published written public notice and an oral public announcement at regular Church worship services during the two weeks. These may be informational and/or to receive state of the Church updates from the Elders and any other business deemed appropriate by the Elder Board.

B. Any member of the congregation may call a congregational meeting with signatures of 10% of the active voting members of the Church and two weeks published written public notice and an oral public announcement at regular Church worship services during the two (2) weeks.

C. A seventy-five percent (75%) majority vote shall be required for the affirmation of changes to the Core Values, the annual budget, calling of a pastor, election of all elected positions, dissolution of this church, and purchase or encumbrance of property. Amendments to our Constitution and these By-Laws shall be handled as required in our Constitution, Articles IX and X. All other matters shall be decided by a simple majority vote.

D. Any member may request a secret ballot on any matter.

VI. FINANCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY

A. Accountability:  There shall be at least two people involved in the process of counting the offering and in approving monies that are spent.  The Elder over Finances oversees these processes.

B. Book Keeping—With the approval of the Elders, the Senior Pastor will appoint a bookkeeper who will keep accurate records of income and expenditures. 

C. Reports:  There will be weekly reports of giving provided to the congregation, monthly budget reports provided to the pastors and elders, and quarterly budget summaries provided to the congregation, and individual giving statements given to those who give. 

D. Annual Budget:  A proposed budget will be provided to the congregation for approval in June. Upon approval monies within the budget may be spent as needed. 

E. Discretionary Fund:  Included within the annual budget is a discretionary fund amount.  This provides the elders the opportunity to use these monies on some unexpected need without further congregational approval.

F. Transparency:  Digital records will be kept of every transaction and are available for inspection as needed.


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