We, the members of the First Christian Church, adopt the following Bylaws effective December 2, 2018, and rescind all previous Constitutions, Covenants, and Bylaws.
It is understood that First Christian Church was birthed out of the recognition, conviction and acceptance that the Word of God, the Bible, is the highest and final authority for faith and practice. The creation of this document is in no way intended to replace, divert, or detract from the stance that this church is governed by the Bible, which we believe is God’s Word and is the only infallible rule of all faith and practice.
ARTICLE (1). Name and Purpose
Section A. Name
The name of this organization shall be the First Christian Church of Stratford, Texas, (also known as FCC or FCC Stratford) and shall be an independent, or nondenominational, body of believers in Jesus Christ, committed to living out the tenets of the Holy Bible.
Section B. Purpose
The purpose of this church shall be as revealed in the New Testament, to win people to faith in Jesus Christ and commit them actively to God’s Church. To train them to grow and increase in the grace and knowledge of Christ that they may know and do His will and ultimately, become disciples. Our purpose is to send those disciples into the world to bring more people to the faith in Christ and, thereby, building the Kingdom of God. This is in unity with the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8), which Jesus Christ gave to His apostles.
This church is organized and shall be operated exclusively for religious, charitable, and educational purposes within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.
ARTICLE (2). Relationship
This church shall be in harmony with the cooperative work of the Church, but not committed to any plans and programs of any group or body outside the local church except that which is agreed upon on a case-by-case basis, and that which brings about the greatest glory to God. We shall commit to work interdenominationally to further God’s Kingdom on Earth, focusing on the agreement of issues of salvation, rather than the minor disagreements of our practices.
ARTICLE (3). Membership and Duties
- Any person who has trusted in Jesus Christ for his or her salvation, and is a regular attendee of FCC, and who has completed the requirements for membership set forth by the Elder Board shall be considered a member of FCC.
- It is the responsibility of the Elder Board to maintain requirements by which individuals who are believers in Jesus Christ and who wish to submit themselves to the fellowship and authority of FCC as their home church can become members (in keeping with 3.1 of these Bylaws), such as membership classes, regular attendance at services, personal interviews, and agreement with the FCC statement of faith, as set forth in Article 8.
- It is the duty of every member to pray and work for harmony and peace in the church, so that happiness and success may result; to cooperate with the pastor and the Elder Board by offering constructive suggestions and criticism, and by abstaining from public criticism of the administration or policies and the methods of the Board and Pastor to the detriment of the Church and its work.
ARTICLES (4). The Elder Board
- The Elder Board, also referred to as the Board, is the governing body of the Church and is charged with the responsibility of managing and overseeing the affairs of the church. The biblical concept of Elder is that of a shepherd and leader of God’s church who serves in a mutually accountable relationship with other men or women. The biblical concept of an Elder Board is a plurality of leadership, made up of church members who are biblically qualified to serve in the position. Therefore, the combined terms “Elder” and “Board” accurately reflect this biblical standard.
- Voting members of the Elder Board shall consist of the minister and such elders as may be elected to the Board by congregation, as well as the board of trustees unless a conflict of interest exists. Elder board meetings are generally open to the public and while non-Elders do not have a vote during these meetings, their participation is encouraged, except when dealing with matters that the Board determines that private discussion and prayer are required. The Elder Board reserves the right to close a meeting at any time it deems necessary.
- Power to Contract: The authority to contract debts up to $20,000 or make agreements of any and all kinds and nature, on behalf of or pertaining to the Church shall be vested in the Board. Matters of greater importance, such as conveyance of property, contracting major indebtedness (over $20,000), and adoption of the annual budget shall require ratification by the congregation. No officer or member of the Church or of the Board shall have authority to expend any funds of the Church or to pay any debt of the Church except upon approval by the Board through the annual budget or special vote.
- Auxiliaries: No societies, aids or associations, of whatever name or character, on behalf of or pertaining to the Church shall exist except upon approval of the Board.
ARTICLE (5). Congregational Meetings
- Annual Congregational meeting shall be held after Morning Worship, or as called by the Board Chair, the last Sunday in May or the first Sunday in June to elect Officers of the Church, adopt the annual budget, and conduct any other necessary business of the Church.
- Special meetings may be held as required, such meetings to be called by the Chairman of the Board upon the request of the Board or upon written petition signed by twenty-five (25) members of the church.
- Notice of regular or special meetings shall be given at all regular Church services at least one week in advance.
ARTICLE (6). Leadership Structure and Policies
- Number of Elders
The number of Elders comprising the Elder Board from time to time must be a function of the needs of FCC, and shall not be less than 3 nor more than 20. As a matter of religious belief and practice, the office of Elder is reserved for those who are members of FCC (according to article 3 of these Bylaws). The duration of service of an Elder on the Elder Board is to be for life, subject to the provisions in para. 6.04-6.06 of these Bylaws.
- Elder Candidates: Qualifications
In order for someone to be considered for Eldership, he or she shall be recognized as being biblically qualified according to 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. Any member of FCC who believes themselves or another member to be qualified may submit a name at any time to the Elder Board, in order that they may be taken under consideration for service as an Elder. The Elder Board may also propose people for consideration for service as an elder.
- Elder Candidates: Selection
The Elder candidate will be considered by the Elder Board and, if found to be qualified, he/she will be presented to the congregation, but only by unanimous vote of the Elder Board. The vote by the congregation during the annual meeting is a vote of affirmation.
- Removal from the Elder Board may occur when:
- According to the Elder’s own request;
- If the majority of the remaining Elders on the Elder Board believe he or she no longer qualifies as an Elder;
- If the majority of the Elders on the Elder Board believe he or she has ceased to function as an Elder.
- Members May Bring Concerns
Any member of FCC may bring scriptural reasons for an Elder’s disqualification, or concern over an area of sin in the Elder’s life to the attention of the Elder Board. However, any question concerning an Elder’s qualifications or sin will only be received for consideration with the testimony of two or three witnesses in accordance with 1 Timothy 5:19.
- Leave of Absence
An elder may take a leave of absence for a specified period of time from service if the leave of absence is approved by a majority of the remaining Elder Board members. The leave of absence may be no longer than six (6) consecutive months, unless the Board determines special circumstances warrant such a leave. While on leave of absence, the Elder is not considered a member of the Elder Board and will not hold a vote on church matters. After due consideration, reinstatement at the end of the leave of absence will be at the discretion of the Elder Board.
- Deacons and Committees
The elders shall be responsible for appointing committees for the church, as needed, including a board of Deacons. Any member in good standing may recommend a Deacon candidate for consideration. All such committees serve at the will of, and are ultimately answerable to, the Elders.
ARTICLE (7). Roles in the Church
- Senior Pastor: The senior pastor shall be an elder and shall be required to meet the same requirements as the other members of the Elder Board. The Senior Pastor shall be recognized by the church as particularly gifted and called to vocational ministry in the area of Preaching, Teaching and Vision-casting. The Senior Pastor is one member of the Elder Board, who serves in a mutually accountable relationship with other qualified Elders. The Senior Pastor shall provide general oversight, but the Elder Board is final authority for all Personnel matters.
- Chairman of the Board: The Chairman of the Board (also known as Chairman) must be an elder and shall, in general, administratively supervise all of the business of FCC. He or she must not be a paid staff member of FCC. He/she must preside at all meetings of the Elder Board. In the event of the Chairman’s absence from a scheduled meeting, he/she may, at his/her discretion appoint another Elder to preside in his/her absence. The Chairman may sign any deeds, mortgages, bonds, contracts, or other instruments which the Elder Board have authorized to be executed, except that which is designated the responsibility of the Trustees or another officer or agent of FCC based on these Bylaws. The Chairman shall be selected by the Elder Board annually. A Chairman must not serve more than three consecutive years in this position.
- Trustees: 3 in number, shall act as legal agents of the Church in all business matters under the direction of the Board and subject to the approval of the congregation hold legal title to all church property and handle all business transactions related thereto; be responsible for the care of the church property, including insurance coverage, have supervision over all endowments and trust funds, and perform such duties as required by the laws of the State of Texas. A Trustee’s term is for life as long as he/she is an Elder or Honorary Elder, or unless he/she resigns.
ARTICLE (8). Doctrinal Statement
This brief Statement of Faith is consistent with the historic, reformed, Christian faith, and finds its foundation in the Bible.
- GOD’S WORD
We believe the Bible is the Word of God, is fully inspired and without error in the original manuscripts, was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and has supreme authority in all matters.
- THE TRINITY
We believe there is one living and true God, eternally existing in three persons, that these are equal in every divine perfection, and that they execute distinct but harmonious offices in the work of creation, providence, and redemption.
- GOD THE FATHER
We believe in God the Father, an infinite, personal Spirit, perfect in holiness, wisdom, power and love. We believe He concerns Himself mercifully in the affairs of men, He hears and answers prayer, and He saves from sin and death all who come to Him through Jesus Christ.
- JESUS CHRIST
We believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, conceived by the Holy Spirit. We believe in His virgin birth, sinless life, miracles and teachings. We believe in His substitutionary atoning death, bodily resurrection, ascension into Heaven, perpetual intercession for His people, and personal visible return to Earth.
- THE HOLY SPIRIT
We believe in the Holy Spirit who has been sent to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment, and to regenerate, sanctify and empower all who believe in Jesus Christ. We believe the Holy Spirit indwells every believer in Christ, and He is an abiding helper, teacher and guide.
We believe all men are sinners by nature and by choice and are, therefore, under condemnation. We believe those who repent of their sins and trust in Jesus as Savior have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit.
- THE CHURCH
We believe in the universal church, a living spiritual body, of which Christ is the head, and all regenerated people are members. We believe in the local church that consists of a company of believers in Jesus Christ who are baptized by water on a credible profession of faith, and associate for worship, work, and fellowship. We believe God has laid upon members of the local church the primary task of taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost world.
- CHRISTIAN CONDUCT
We believe Christians should live for the glory of God and the well-being of their fellow man. We believe their conduct should be blameless before the world, they should be a faithful steward of their possessions, and they should seek to realize for themselves and others the full stature of maturity in Christ.
We believe all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and therefore all need forgiveness through Jesus’ death on the cross. As such, all people, regardless of race, culture, sexual orientation, or any other factors which might act as a discriminatory factor, are welcome with the same openness and love to our worship and relationship with Christ in our local church body. While we are commanded to love, we also must obey the words of the Bible. As such, only marriage ceremonies between a natural-born male and natural-born female will be conducted on church property and by church leadership. This is in keeping with the biblical definition of marriage (Ephesians 5:21-33). While we will not perform homosexual marriages, we accept all people into the body of believers and desire that they build a strong relationship with our Lord and Savior. We believe that we are all sinners who need that relationship with Christ, regardless of the nature of the sin, and that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to change our hearts through that relationship.
We believe the Lord Jesus Christ has committed two ordinances to the local church — baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We believe Christian baptism is by immersion in water and in the name of the triune God, but we also recognize the validity of baptisms done by other denominational faith traditions (sprinkling, etc …) by those who have made a sincere confession of faith. We believe Christ instituted the Lord’s supper for commemoration of His death. We believe these two ordinances should be observed and administered until the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- LAST THINGS
We believe in the personal and visible return of the Lord Jesus Christ to earth and the establishment of His kingdom. We believe in the resurrection of the body, the final judgment, the eternal joy of the righteous, and the endless torment of the wicked.
ARTICLE (9). Amendments
The articles of the Constitution and By-laws may be amended at any congregational meeting of the church by a two-thirds vote of the members present provided the written notice of the proposed amendment shall be read at all regular Sunday services of the church and mailed or electronically delivered to the members of the congregation at least two weeks before the vote is taken. Proposed amendments read to the congregation shall also be posted on the church website or bulletin board at least two weeks before the vote is taken.