ARTICLES OF PRACTICE (CHURCH POLITY)
Article 1. Name
The corporate name of this congregation shall be German Seventh-Day Baptist Church.
Article 2. Membership
Section 1: Reception—A person who is in harmony with the distinctive beliefs and practices of the church may become a member of the church by a majority vote of the members present, after giving evidence of regeneration and faith in Christ, of having been baptized, and of observing the Sabbath of the Lord, which is the seventh day of the week.
Section 2: Release—A person may have his name dropped or transferred from the church roll if he requests it in writing. If he is no longer in relationship to the church or if he is no longer in harmony with the distinctive beliefs and practices of the church (see Article 9, Section 2: Discipline), a person may have his name dropped from the church roll by a majority vote of the members present.
Article 3: Government
The government of the church shall be vested in its members.
Article 4: Offices
The offices of the church shall consist of three boards—elders, deacons, and trustees—as well as a pastor, a clerk, and a treasurer.
Article 5. Meetings
The church shall hold four regular business meetings a year on the first week of each quarter, if possible, and shall elect officers at the fourth quarterly meeting. The pastor and the boards shall report on their activities and concerns at each regular meeting. Special meetings may be called by the pastor, by one of the boards, or by any five church members. Five members or at least one fourth of the average yearly number of voting members shall constitute a quorum for all such meetings. Notices of all business meetings shall be announced at the Sabbath morning worship services and/or published in the bulletin and electronically at least two weeks before the scheduled meeting. The time of any one of the business meetings may be temporarily changed or the meeting may be postponed by the church or the Board of Trustees.
Article 6. Election of officers
Section 1: The pastor shall be elected at any time and in any manner as the church may direct.
Section 2: The elder board shall be three members of the church, each of whom shall serve for three years. They shall be elected to partially overlapping terms, so that one elder shall be elected each year at the last quarterly meeting. Vacancies occurring by death or otherwise shall be filled at the first quarterly meeting or at such time as the church may direct.
Section 3: The deacon board shall be three members of the church, each of whom shall serve for three years. They shall be elected to partially overlapping terms, so that one deacon shall be elected each year at the last quarterly meeting. Vacancies occurring by death or otherwise shall be filled at the first quarterly meeting or at such time as the church may direct.
Section 4: The trustee board shall be five members of the church, each of whom shall serve for five years. They shall be elected to partially overlapping terms, so that one trustee shall be elected each year at the last quarterly meeting. Vacancies occurring by death or otherwise shall be filled at the first quarterly meeting or at such time as the church may direct.
Section 5: The other officers shall be elected by the church at the fourth quarterly meeting or at such time and manner as the church may direct, and shall hold office for one year or until their successors are elected.
Section 6: Unless otherwise ordered by the church, all elections shall be by ballot, and a majority of the members present at the meeting shall be necessary to make a choice.
Section 7: Any officer may be dismissed for impropriety at any time and in any manner as the church may direct.
Article 7. Duties of Those Who Hold Offices
Section 1: Pastor—The pastor, by the election of the church, sustains a relation to it indicated by such New Testament titles as Preacher, Teacher, Minister, and Shepherd; and it shall be his duty to have general supervision over the spiritual interests of the church, including serving as an ex officio member of the elder and deacon boards and other boards or committees as the church shall specify and direct. As a spiritual leader, he shall also be at the service of the greater community, as he is able.
Section 2: Elders—The elders shall aid the pastor in ministering to the spiritual interests of the congregation (e.g., administration, counseling, preaching, teaching, visitation; 1 Tim 3:1-7; 5:17; Titus 1:6-9).
Section 3: Deacons—The deacons shall aid the pastor in ministering to the physical needs of the congregation (e.g., sick, impoverished, elderly; Acts 6:1-6; 1 Tim 3:8-13). The deacons shall also assist in administering the ordinances of Baptism and Communion.
Section 4: Trustees—The trustees shall hold in trust all property belonging to the church, transact its legal business subject to the direction of the church, and transact its financial business when so instructed by the church. They shall organize by electing their own chairman and secretary whose duties shall be the same as those of such offices in similar bodies. The chairman of this board shall also preside at all business meetings of the church.
Section 5: Clerk—The duties of the clerk shall be the same as those of such officers in similar bodies and shall include the responsibility for acting as custodian of the church records.
Section 6: Treasurer—The treasurer shall be the custodian of the church funds and shall pay them only by order of the church. The treasurer shall have authority to pay emergency repair bills and regular monthly bills without special order of the church. The treasurer shall also administer the Benevolence Fund and shall pay such monies only at the direction of the elder and deacon boards.
Article 8. Committees
The church shall form committees for special tasks as needed. These shall include the following:
Section 1: The Pastoral Salary Committee shall be composed of the treasurer, one representative from each of the boards, and one representative from the congregation. This Committee shall review the pastor’s salary and shall recommend any changes to the church at the fourth quarterly meeting.
Section 2: The Nominating Committee shall present a slate of officers for the church to consider at the fourth quarterly meeting.
Section 3: The Fellowship Committee shall schedule, plan, and recruit help for social activities, in consultation with the trustees.
Article 9. Members
Section 1: Duties—Members shall strive to conduct their lives “worthy of the Lord” (Col 1:10). They shall also bear equally, according to their ability, the necessary expenses of the church, and shall attend, when practical, all the meetings of the church with punctuality and diligence, especially those on the Sabbath and those for the transaction of business.
Section 2: Discipline—Members who are not striving to conduct their lives worthy of the Lord, but who are persistently gratifying their sinful nature (Gal 5:19-21) and who reject all appeal to repent (following the directives in Matt 18:15-17), shall be removed from the church roll (1 Cor 5:12-13) by a majority vote of the members present.
Article 10. Ordinances and Other Practices
Section 1: Communion—It is the practice of the church to observe communion at least once a year on the Friday evening preceding the observance of Christ’s resurrection. The service shall include the washing of one another’s feet before the breaking of the bread (John 13:14). At any time, upon request, special communion services may be administered to individuals.
Section 2: Baptism—It is the practice of the church to employ trine immersion, in recognition of our triune God, and in the forward position, as a sign of our humility (Matt 28:19; cf. John 19:30). The church, however, recognizes other forms of immersion.
Section 3: Blessing—It is the practice of the church to bless children and to acknowledge their parents’ commitment to rearing them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Mark 10:13-16).
Section 4: Anointing—It is the practice of the church to anoint the sick with oil in the name of the Lord (Mark 6:13; Jms 5:13-16).
Section 5: Pacifism—The founders of the church did not believe in active participation in war by military service but did provide patriotic assistance to their country through alternate service. We continue to support those who conscientiously choose to serve their country in a non-violent manner.
Article 11. Ministers
Section 1: Licensing—Having received a call to the ministry, an individual may request to the pastor consideration for licensing. The pastor will review this request with the elders and deacons, who will, upon approval, submit it at a regular or a specially called business meeting of the church. If the members vote to approve the request, the applicant will be licensed to preach for one year and may renew that license for as many years as is mutually agreed. The church will issue a temporary Certificate of Licensing to the applicant at an installation ceremony in one of the regular worship services.
Section 2: Ordination—After serving as a licensed minister for three consecutive years in any congregation the church recognizes, an individual may request to the pastor consideration for ordination. The pastor will review this request with the elders and deacons, who will, upon approval, convene an Ordination Council to examine the applicant. Upon the Council’s approval, the pastor will submit the applicant’s request at a regular or a specially called business meeting of the church. If the members vote to approve the request, the applicant will be ordained to the pastoral ministry. The church will issue a permanent Certificate of Ordination to the applicant at an ordination ceremony in one of the regular worship services.
Article 12. Amendments
This constitution may be amended at any quarterly meeting by vote of two-thirds of the members present, provided that the proposed amendment shall have been presented in writing at a previous quarterly meeting and provided that two notices shall have been given of such proposed amendment in connection with the regular notice of the meeting.
Article 13: Dissolution and Liquidation
In the event the corporation is dissolved and liquidated, the Board of Trustees, shall after a majority vote of the members at a business meeting, pay or make provisions for payment of assets to such organization or organizations as shall have been determined by the membership at the business meeting to have purposes most closely allied to those of this church; provided however, that the transferee organization or organizations shall be qualified tax exempt charitable organizations within the meaning of Sec 501(c)(3) and Sec 170 (b)(1)(A), other than in clauses (vii) and (viii) of the Internal Revenue Code or their successor provisions. Any of the property or assets not so distributed shall be disposed of by the court having jurisdiction of the dissolution and liquidation of a Pennsylvania non-profit corporation to such organization or organizations as defined above.