In order to affirm and preserve the principles of our faith, to guarantee that this body may be governed in an orderly and efficient manner consistent with the Scriptures, and for the purpose of preserving the unity of this Church, the liberties inherent in each individual member, and the freedom of action of this body with respect to its relation to other churches of the same faith, we do declare and establish this constitution.
The name of this Church shall be Calvary Bible Church of Stratton, located in the Town of Eustis, in the County of Franklin, in the State of Maine.
The purpose for which this church is established and ordained shall be:
- To honor our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
- To bear united witness to the faith of its members in the whole Bible as the Word of God.
- To build our local body of believers to a place of spiritual maturity, fruitful service, and mutual love.
- To make known the Gospel to our fellow citizens here in Stratton, in other areas of our country, and in the whole world in obedience to the mission given us in the final command of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 1:8)
- To function properly as a body of Christ in agreement with the Scriptures. (I Cor. 12)
ARTICLE III—ARTICLES OF FAITH
- We believe in the absolute authority and inerrancy of the sixty six books of the Bible. We believe in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Old and New Testaments in the preservation of God’s Word through the Hebrew Masoretic Text and the Greek Textus Receptus. We believe that it is all sufficient as the Christian’s rule of faith and practice. We believe that the King James translation is the best English translation of the Bible. (Psa. 12:6-7; Psa. 33:11; Psa. 100:5; Psa. 119:89; Isa. 40:8; II Tim. 3:16-17; II Pet. 1:19-21; Heb. 1:1-2; Rom. 15:4; Rev. 22:19)
- We believe that there is but one God, the Creator, Preserver, and Ruler of all things, who is perfect in holiness, and in love, infinite in wisdom and measureless in power; and Who reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (Deut. 6:4; Neh. 9:6; I Chron. 29:11-12; Ex. 15:11; I John 4:8b; Matt. 28:19)
- We believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal and only begotten Son of God, conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, and that He is true God and true man, and is the only Mediator between God and man. (Matt 1:20; Luke 1:35; John 1:1, 12, 14; 12:45; 14:9; I Tim. 2:5)
- We believe that the Holy Spirit is a divine Person, equal with the Father and Son, and of the same substance and nature; that He convicts of sin, righteousness and judgment; that He bears witness of the Truth; that He is the Agent of the new birth; and that, at conversion, He baptizes the believer into the Body of Christ; and that He seals, endues, guides, teaches, witnesses to, sanctifies, and helps the believer; indwelling every true child of God. (John 16:8-11; 3:3-7; Eph. 1:13; II Cor. 13:14; John 14:16-17; Rom. 8:14-27; I Cor. 12:12-13)
- We believe the baptism of the Holy Spirit is an act of God occurring at the moment of rebirth; that at least one gift of God’s Spirit is given to each believer according to God’s sovereign choice, and is to be used by each member of the Church as part of the body of Christ, working together for common goals as directed by God’s Spirit. We believe that God gave special sign gifts to the apostles and early believers, and that such gifts are not necessarily signs of spiritual maturity today. We further believe that the authority of Scripture and not personal experience must be the test of validity in all cases of differing opinions. (Acts 1:4-5; 19:11-12; Rom. 8:8; 12:6-8; I Cor. 12:1-31; 13:8-9; II Cor. 12:12; Heb. 2:4; I John 4:1)
- We believe that man was created in the image of God by direct creation, and that he sinned, and thereby incurred both physical and spiritual death; thus, we believe that all men by nature and by choice are sinners, and, apart from Christ shall be forever separated from God. (Gen. 1:26; 2:17; Ezek. 18:20a; Rom. 3:23; 6:23)
- We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures as a representative and substitutionary sacrifice, so that all who believe on Him are justified on the ground of His shed blood. (I Cor. 15:3-4; Rev. 1:5)
- We believe that salvation is by grace through faith, not of works, and that all who receive by faith the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are born again of the Holy Spirit, thereby becoming children of God. We believe in the eternal security of the believer. (Eph. 2:8-9; John 1:12; 3:3-7; 10:27-29)
- We believe in the resurrection of the crucified body of our Lord, in His ascension into Heaven, and in His present ministry there for us as High Priest and Advocate. We believe in the personal, visible, imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ for His Church. (I Cor. 15:4; Acts 1:9-11; Heb. 4:14-16; I John 2:1-2; I Thess. 4:13-17; Rev. 19:11-16; 20:1-15)
- We believe in the bodily resurrection of the just, the bodily resurrection of the unjust, the everlasting conscious blessedness of the saved, and the everlasting conscious punishment of the lost. (I Cor. 15:20-24; Rev. 20:12-15; II Cor. 5:8)
- We believe that the local Church is the local expression of the Body of Christ, and is a voluntary association of baptized believers equal in rank and privilege, subject to the Word of God, and independent of any external ecclesiastical control whatsoever. We believe in baptism by immersion in water. Though baptism has no saving merit, it does show forth in solemn and beautiful symbolism the believer’s faith in and union with the crucified, buried and risen Savior. (Acts 8:38; 18:8; Rom. 6:3-5)
- We believe that the Lord’s Supper is a provision of bread and the cup which are symbolic of Christ’s broken body and shed blood; that the Lord’s Supper is partaken of by saved individuals in commemoration of the suffering and death of their Lord and in anticipation of His soon coming again; that its observance is to be preceded by faithful self-examination. (Luke 22:19-20; I Cor. 11:23-30)
- We believe that marriage is a divinely ordered institution designed to form a permanent union between one man and one woman for the purpose of procreating or propagating the human race and is a picture of the relationship of the church with Christ, (Gen. 1:27 – 28; 2:24; Matt. 19:5; Eph. 5:22–27). According to the Bible, God never intended marriage to be between people of the same gender. In fact God calls it an abomination for a man to lie with a man or a woman to lie with a woman, (Lev. 18:22–24: Lev. 20:13; Rom. 1:26–29). For this reason we believe that marriage between the same genders is not God’s plan and thus do not recognize nor will we allow such practice in the church.
ARTICLE IV—CHURCH MEMBER’S STATEMENT OF PURPOSE AND DESIRE
Having been led by the Spirit of God, I have received Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord (John 1:12). I have been born again through the Holy Spirit (John 1:13; 3:6-7) and have publicly confessed my faith by word (Rom. 10:8-10) and in baptism (Rom. 6:3-5). I subscribe to the Articles of Faith of this Church, and do now with other members of the Church as one body in Christ, state my purpose and desire as a member of Calvary Bible Church:
- To walk lovingly (John 13:34-35) and humbly with my brethren (I Pet. 5:6; Rom. 12:3); to pray for them (James 5:16); to separate myself from worldly and unchristian practices (Titus 2:1-2).
- To pray for the advancement of my Church in knowledge, spiritual growth and fruitfulness (John 15:8, 16); to uphold its program of worship, training and teaching; to observe its ordinances (Matt. 28:19-20; I Cor. 11:24-27); and affirm its teaching (I Pet. 3:15; Jude 3).
- To give regularly and cheerfully to my Church as God prospers me for the support of the evangelistic, teaching and training ministry among us (II Cor. 9:6-7; I Cor. 16:2); for the relief of the needy (Prov. 19:17); and for the spread of the Gospel both here in Stratton and over all the earth (Matt. 28:19-20).
- To serve faithfully in some activity in the Church body according to God’s leading and according to my spiritual gifts and abilities (Rom. 12:4-8; James 1:22-24; 2:18); taking care to assume only such duties as can be effectively performed (I Cor. 4:2); to improve my service by prayerful study of God’s Word (II Tim. 2:15).
- To maintain family worship, training and discipline in my home; to encourage family prayer, Bible study and spiritual growth for any under my care (Eph. 6:1-4; Prov. 22:6).
- To endeavor by my example (Matt. 5:16), witness (I Pet. 3:15), and effort to point people to Christ, and to do my part in building them up in the faith (Matt. 28:19-20; Eph. 4:11-16; Col. 1:28).
- To follow the Bible as my rule of faith and practice (II Tim. 3:16-17).
- To endeavor to understand and appreciate my fellow members in the Church, especially those who may have personalities, ministries and backgrounds quite different than mine (Rom. 14:1-7; I Cor. 12:4-7, 18-27; Gal. 3:26-28).
- To endeavor to put into practice the Scriptures relating to our Church as the Body of Christ (Rom. 12:4-16; I Cor. 12:11-27; Eph. 4:11-16).
- Qualifications: To be received into this Church any person shall have:
- Confessed Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior.
- Expressed suitable agreement with the Articles of Faith, the Church Member’s Statement of Purpose and Desire, and the By-Laws.
- Experienced Christian believer’s baptism by immersion.
- Procedure: After having given satisfactory testimony as to conversion, baptism, and views of Christian faith and practice, the applicant for membership in the Church shall be recommended to the Church by the Pastor and Board of Deacons. The membership of this Church shall consist of those who are received by vote of the Church on the recommendation of the Pastor and Deacons in one of the following ways:
- By profession of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, followed by baptism; or:
- By letter of dismissal from another Church holding the same faith and practice; or:
- By experience, if, having been baptized and holding membership elsewhere, or in peculiar circumstances cannot obtain a letter of dismissal from his respective Church or group; or: By restoration, if, having been excluded from membership of this Church, and upon giving satisfactory evidence for restoration or explanation of lapse of membership.
- Recognition: the Pastor, Deacons, and members shall extend to all new members the “right hand of fellowship” in recognition of their admission to all rights and privileges of the Church. All persons uniting with the Church shall be made acquainted with the Church Constitution and By-Laws.
- Duties: Members are expected to be faithful in all the duties essential to the Christian life; faithful in attendance and service on the Lord’s Day and at the Mid-week service; supporting the program of the Church; giving regularly to the support of the work and finding an active place of service in the work of the Church.
- Termination: All dismissals shall be made upon the recommendation of the Pastor and the Board of Deacons to the Church.
- Any member in good standing, who so desires, may obtain a letter of dismissal to another fundamental Church.
- Any member who shall unite with any other Church without such letter of dismissal shall be dropped automatically from the Church roll.
- Any member regularly absenting himself from Church services for six months without satisfactory excuse to the Pastor or Deacons may be dropped from the Church membership on recommendation of said officers and a two thirds vote of the members present at the annual business meeting. Every available effort, however, should be made to restore him to active fellowship.
- A member may be subject to dismissal by Church discipline. (See Article 11- Discipline.)
- Since it is the desire and purpose of the Church to maintain an active membership, the Board of Deacons, Pastor, and Church Clerk shall constitute a committee for revising the roll. They shall meet before the annual meeting and take into full consideration the attitude of the members, their loyalty, their willingness to support the Church, and, after proper notification of delinquent members, shall recommend at the annual meeting the exclusion of delinquent members. (See item “c.” above.)
Scriptural basis: Matt. 18:15-17; Tit. 3:10; Eph. 5:11; I Tim. 5:19-21; I Thess. 5:12-14; I Cor. 5:1-13; Rom. 16:17.
- Definition of discipline:
- Definition: The term “discipline” as used in this Article refers to the method of correction for problems and difficulties in the Church body. It is that procedure including Christian teaching, training, admonition, and also rebuke (both public and private) with a view to helping the individual Christian to grow spiritually in the faith, and to throw off unchristian attitudes and practices.
- Attitude for discipline: An attitude of prayer, love, patience, calmness, and understanding shall be the under girding factor in all matters of Church discipline, regardless of the nature of the difficulty or violation.
- Matters requiring discipline: A member of this Church shall be subject to Church discipline for:
- Differences between individuals: The order given in Matt. 18:16 shall be followed to resolve disharmony between members.
- Heresy: Members who hold and/or persistently propagate false doctrine shall be subject to Church discipline.
- Public sin: Members found walking disorderly, in a manner unbecoming to Disciples of Christ, shall be subject to disciplinary action after careful consideration by the Pastor and Deacon Board.
- Attitude toward the local Church: Members who treat the acts and decisions of the Church contemptuously, or pursue such a course which produces discord, disunity or dissension shall be subject to disciplinary action.
- Procedure for discipline: The Pastor and Deacons are responsible to see that discipline is administered in true love, patience, and understanding, and with a calm spirit. The principles and steps laid down in Matt. 18: 15-17 will be followed as a guide in all matters requiring Church discipline.
- Exclusion: If the member in question neglects to hear the Church (Matt. 18:17), and a proper solution in line with the Scriptures and the Church’s faith and practice still cannot be worked out, the member who is found guilty of violation will be dismissed from the membership of the Church by a majority ballot vote of the members present and voting at the meeting.
- Restoration: Excluded members may be restored to membership upon recommendation of the Pastor and Deacons, if there is satisfactory evidence of a genuine repentance.
ARTICLE III—CHURCH OFFICERS
Introduction: All duly elected officers shall have the full trust and confidence of the Church body so that they may carry out their ministries and responsibilities without undue “red tape.” They shall realize, however, their responsibility to the Church by keeping the Church body informed. They are to remain in the bounds of the authority placed upon them by the Constitution and By-Laws and by the Church body. An attitude of pride and independence has no place in the Church of Jesus Christ.
- Qualifications: The qualifications of the Pastor are those given in I Tim. 3: 1-7 and Tit. 1:5-9. He must be spiritually and educationally qualified to lead the Church as an Under Shepherd of God, to preach, teach, train, and to provide leadership to carry out the spirit and letter of the New Testament and the Constitution and By-Laws. At the time of his call he shall be in complete accord with our Constitution, Articles of Faith and By-Laws; and shall, upon his call to this pastorate, become a member of this Church.
- To earnestly carry on a preaching, teaching and training ministry with the aim of bringing each member to a place of spiritual harmony with the rest of the Church body, and to a place of spiritual maturity and fruitfulness. (Col. 1:28-29; II Tim .2:2 )
- To oversee the teaching and training ministries of the Church; to tenderly watch over its members and spiritual interest; and oversee and seek to develop its strengths for the best possible service.
- To set an example in Christian living and dedication. (I Tim. 4:12; I Pet. 5:1-3)
- To oversee the administering of the ordinances, to be a member ex-officio of all Church boards, committees, and groups.
- Respect for his office: The Pastor shall be held in esteem and respect as an Under Shepherd of God. (I Thess.5:12-13; I Tim. 5:17-19; Heb. 13:17) To aid the Pastor in carrying out his ministry, the Church body shall not burden him down with tasks unrelated to those duties listed above. (See Section 1,b.)
- Call and termination: Whenever a vacancy occurs, the Board of Deacons will serve as the Pulpit Committee. If it is felt necessary by the Pulpit Committee, a secretary may be appointed from outside the Pulpit Committee to assist in correspondence and paper work. Such secretary shall have no vote in the Committee nor enter into the deliberations of the Committee. The Pulpit Committee shall bring to the Church for consideration only one candidate at a time. This candidate should be the man they feel led of God to recommend as Pastor of the Church. The Church shall act upon the recommendation of the Pulpit Committee as soon as possible after the candidate speaks at the Church. Two weeks public notice shall be given for the meeting called for this purpose. Such notice may be given before the candidate comes to speak so that there will be no delay. Voting shall be by ballot, and an affirmative vote of three-fourths of those present and voting shall be necessary for the call of a Pastor. The Pastor thus called shall serve until the relationship is terminated. The office of Pastor may be terminated either by resignation or by Church vote. Previous notice of thirty days must be given by either party desiring the termination; however, this provision may be waived if mutually agreed upon.
- Qualifications: Deacons shall be men who are active members of this Church, of mature judgment, unquestioned Christian character, loyal to the Lord Jesus Christ, living in accordance with the qualifications of I Tim. 3:8-13, and Acts 6:1-7.
- Election: The Deacons shall consist of qualified and willing men. They shall be elected for up to a three year term. The Deacons shall elect a Chairman at their first meeting, and report it to the Church by the second Sunday in August.
- Duties: The Deacons are to serve in council and conference with the Pastor in all matters pertaining to the spiritual welfare and work of the Church. Specific duties include:
- Meeting regularly at least once a month for prayer in seeking God’s will for plans, decisions, and for business. They shall discuss ways in which the life of the Church may be enriched, its fellowship strengthened, and its outreach increased.
- Aiding the Pastor in visitation, counseling, and in the training of new believers.
- Providing for pulpit supply and conducting prayer meetings in the Pastor’s absence.
- Assisting in the distribution of the elements of the Communion Service, and overseeing the preparations and functioning of the Baptismal Services.
- Counseling with the Pastor in matters of Church discipline. (See Article II.)
- Examining with the Pastor all applicants for membership as set forth in Article I, Section 1.
- Determining the needs of people in financial difficulty with particular attention to the needs of our Church members.
- Assisting the Pastor in other areas that may need attention.
- In the case the Church is without a Pastor, the Deacons shall moderate all business meetings.
- Qualifications: Trustees shall be members of this Church, of mature Christian judgment, of good Christian character, and loyal to the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Election: The Trustees shall consist of qualified and willing members. They shall be elected for up to a three year term. The Trustees shall elect a chairman at their first meeting, and report it to the church by the second Sunday in August.
- Duties: The Trustees shall have the care and oversight of the house of worship and all property of the Church, including the parsonage. They shall have custody and control of all temporalities and property, real or personal belongings of the Church, and the revenues there from, and shall administer the same in accordance with the procedures, rules and usages of the Church.
- The Clerk, elected at the Annual Meeting of the Church, shall keep in a suitable book, a record of all the actions of the Church; acting as a Church Historian, indicating any events of significance in the life of the Church.
- The Clerk shall keep a register of the names of members with dates of admission, dismissal or death, together with record of baptisms.
- The Clerk shall also notify all officers, members, or committees and delegates of their election or appointment.
- The Clerk shall issue letters of dismissal voted by the Church, preserve on file all communications and written official reports as indicated by these By-Laws.
- A Church Treasurer elected at the annual meeting of the Church shall keep an accurate account of all funds received and dispersed in support of the Church, its programs, and organizations.
- The Treasurer shall present a report at each quarterly and annual meeting, and at such other times as requested by the members of the Church.
- The Treasurer shall be a member of the Finance Committee.
- Sunday School Superintendent:
- A Sunday School Superintendent shall be elected at the annual meeting of the Church.
- The Sunday School Superintendent shall oversee all activities of the Sunday School ministry, Jr. Church, and Vacation Bible School under the direction of, and in cooperation with, the Pastor and deacons.
- The Sunday School Superintendent shall meet as needed with the Pastor and deacons to discuss and recommend plans related to his areas of responsibility. These plans include teaching material, schedules, class room assignments, material and supply ordering, making recommendations to Pastor and deacons regarding the Sunday School ministry, Jr. Church, and Vacation Bible School ministries. All teachers participating in the Sunday School, Jr. Church, and Vacation Bible School ministries shall be approved by the Pastor and deacons.
- Deaconess Committee:
- The Deaconess Committee shall assist the Pastor and Deacons in visiting the members of the Church, caring for the sick, needy and distressed members; promoting fellowship and hospitality among the women members, overseeing the preparation of the women and girl candidates for baptism, maintaining an attitude of loyalty and prayer for the Pastor and the Church and its varied ministries.
- They should seek to make their lives a spiritual example for the other women and girls in the Church.
- They shall care for and prepare the Communion Service elements.
- It is not the task of the Deaconess Committee to govern or make Church policy.
- Membership Committee:
- The Membership Committee shall be composed of the Board of Deacons and the Pastor.
- It shall be their responsibility to study ways and means of maintaining, strengthening, and increasing the membership of the Church.
- They shall examine all applicants for membership to determine their status on the Church Constitution.
- They shall recommend no one for membership who does not, in their judgment, meet these requirements.
- Finance Committee:
- The Finance Committee shall be composed of the Chairman of the Board of Deacons, Treasurer, chairman of the Board of Trustees, and two members at large voted on at the annual meeting.
- They shall be responsible to prepare an annual budget to meet the financial needs of the Church.
- Hospitality Committee:
- The Hospitality Committee shall be composed of all willing ladies of the church.
- The Hospitality Committee shall meet as soon as practical after the annual meeting to elect a Chair and Co-Chair from the group assembled. They will be responsible for the organization and facilitation of the committees ministries at the direction of the Pastor and Deacons. This meeting will be organized and overseen by the deacons wives.
- The Hospitality Committee’s responsibilities will include, but not be limited to:
- Providing meals for those in need
- Arrangements for guests
- Ministering to shut-ins
- Encouragement of college students
- Management of supplies and inventory
- Oversight of fellowship and activities including decorations, set-up, and clean up
- Nursery staffing and scheduling
- Pulpit Committee: There shall be a Pulpit Committee formed in accordance with Article III, Section I, d.
- Nominating Committee:
- The Nominating Committee shall be comprised of the Board of Deacons.
- They shall present at the annual meeting one or more nominees for each vacancy or office.
- It shall ascertain the willingness of each nominee to serve if elected, before the time of annual meeting.
- Public services shall be held regularly on the Lord’s Day, morning and evening.
- Weekly services shall be held for the purpose of prayer, praise, and Bible study.
- The Lord’s Supper shall be observed at lease once a month, if possible.
- Other meetings shall be held from time to time as the interest of the Lord’s work may necessitate.
- Due to special circumstances, the Pastor and Deacons may alter temporarily any of the above meetings.
- The Annual Meeting shall be held the second week of July unless another date is specified with proper notice given, at which time the annual reports shall be presented, board members, committee members, and officers elected, the Church budget adopted, and such other business be transacted as may be specified in the call or authorized by the By-Laws.
- Specially called business meetings may be held as the need arises. Such special meetings may be called by the Pastor or the Board of Deacons, or by written request of ten members of eighteen years of age or over, and of good standing.
- The purpose and time of all business meetings must be announced for two successive previous Sundays either by the bulletin or from the pulpit if the meeting is to involve a change in the Constitution or Articles of Faith. Other business meetings must be announced at least one Sunday from the pulpit or in the Church bulletin.
- Seven active members shall constitute a quorum. The moderator may be counted as one of the seven.
- All elections and decisions shall be determined by a simple majority vote unless otherwise specified.
- In order to qualify to vote a person must be a member of the Church in good standing, and eighteen years of age or older.
- The Scriptures are the sole authority of the financial policy of this Church. Scriptural giving is an expression of love to the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Therefore, it shall be a voluntary and free will offering uninfluenced by any consideration of material or worldly reward.
- No solicitation, sales, or bazaars shall be permitted in the name of this Church.
- Tithes and offerings brought into the general treasury of the Church is the only method of financing found in the Scriptures. Therefore, it shall be the duty of the members to bring their tithes and offerings into the general treasury of the Church. (Mal. 3:10; I Cor. 16:1-3; II Cor. 8 and 9; Acts 4:34-35)
- System: The Church may provide and encourage the use of Church offering envelopes.
- Fiscal year: The fiscal year of the Church shall begin the first Sunday of July and be divided into quarters which will begin the first Sunday of October, January, and April respectively. All committee members and officers shall remain in office until their successors are elected and the Church shall continue to operate on the previous year’s budget until the annual meeting.
- Pastor’s salary: It shall be the duty of the Board of Deacons to review the financial needs of the Pastor and to make appropriate recommendations to the Church.
- Amendments: This Constitution and By-Laws may be amended at any regular or specially called business meeting of the Church by three-quarters of those active members present and voting, providing a quorum is present and voting. Notice of such amendments must be made from the pulpit two Sundays prior to said meeting.
- Dissolution: In the event this organization is voluntarily dissolved, all assets remaining after corporate creditors have been paid in full shall be apportioned equally to those missionary groups which received regular support in the preceding year.
- Licensing and Ordaining:
- Any member who, in the judgment of the Church, gives evidence of his consecration, zeal, and aptness to teach, and is convinced that he is called of God to the work of the ministry, may be licensed by the Church to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A two-thirds vote is required at any regular meeting of the Church.
- If one of the members, being a licensed preacher, desires ordination and possesses Scriptural qualification, the Church may call an ordination council of ministers and brethren to examine the candidate. The action to ordain may be referred to the council which shall in turn advise the Church to proceed with the ordination.