CONSTITUTION AND BYLAWS OF THE SOMERVILLE BAPTIST CHURCH
ARTICLE I: NAME
The name of the church shall be the Somerville Baptist Church, located at Main Street, Somerville, Morgan County, Alabama.
ARTICLE II: PURPOSE
The purpose of this church is to worship the Lord Jesus Christ by carrying out the command of our Lord, who has made the church to be His earthly body. We shall do this by:
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together (Hebrews 10:25)
Observing His ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 28:18-20; 1 Corinthians 11:26).
Edifying His people and equipping them with His Word (Ephesians 4:11-16).
Spreading the gospel by witnessing for Him in our community and, to the fullest possible extent, throughout the whole world (Matthew 28:18-20).
Training children and families in Bible doctrine, philosophy, and practice (Ephesians 5:21-6:4).
Any activities, which the church may sponsor, will be under the direction of the Pastor and Deacons in accordance with the provisions of the Bylaws of Somerville Baptist Church.
ARTICLE III: STATEMENT OF FAITH
Section 1 – The Doctrine of the Bible
We believe in the Bible as the verbally (every word) and plenary (completely) inspired Word of God and that it was written inerrant in its original languages. All portions of Scripture are equally inspired and contain no contradiction. The Holy Bible has God as its Author (2 Peter 1:21); salvation for its end (2 Timothy 3:15); and truth for its matter
(Proverbs 30:5-6). The Scriptures are our only rule for faith and practice, the supreme standard by which all conduct, creeds, associations, and ministries should be tried (1 John 4:1). The canon, the sixty-six books of the Bible, is complete. Nothing shall be added to nor taken from (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 1:1; Revelation 22:18-19). To eliminate confusion, all preaching and teaching will be from the King James Version. We believe the King James Version of the Scriptures has been translated from the best manuscripts.
Section 2 – The Doctrine of God
We believe there is one, and only one, living and true God. He is an infinite, intelligent, and personal Being; a perfect Spirit, who is the Creator, Preserver, Sustainer, and Supreme Ruler of the universe; inexpressibly glorious in holiness (Ex. 15:11); worthy of all possible honor, confidence, and love (Mark 1:20). The Godhead exists eternally in three persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one God, having precisely the same nature, attributes, and perfection’s. Likewise, they are worthy of precisely the same homage, confidence, and obedience (Genesis 1:1; Genesis 1:25; John 1:1; John 14:1-17; I Timothy 3:16).
Section 3 – The Doctrine of Jesus Christ
We believe in the deity and virgin birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was begotten by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, not having a human father, and He is true God and true man. He is man’s only hope of salvation from sin being the only mediator between God and man. He died, was buried, and rose again the third day for our sins according to the Scriptures. His return for His Church, (the body of Christ), which He will take to Heaven, is imminent. He will come to this earth to set up His Millennial reign (Isaiah 7:14; Luke 1:35; John 1:14; John 10:30; John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5; I Thessalonians 4:1-18; Revelation 20:4-6).
Section 4- The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit
We believe the Holy Spirit to be coequal with the Father and with the Son. He is a person. He came to this earth as the fulfillment of Christ’s promise. He convicts, regenerates, indwells, seals, fills, empowers, and guides the believer (John 16:7-13; John 3:3-5; Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Ephesians 1:1-14; Ephesians 5:18).
Section 5- The Doctrine of Man
We believe that God created man in His own image by the special act of God (Genesis 1:27 and 2:7). Man was created in a state of holiness, but through the temptation of Satan, he voluntarily transgressed and fell from his holy state (Genesis 3:1-24). The consequence of this fall is that mankind is born with a sinful nature (Romans 5:19; Psalm 51:5). This sinful nature is evidenced by sinful acts. We believe that man is totally depraved, and if he is not born again, he is lost (Jeremiah 17:9; Luke 16:23; Romans 3:1-23; I Corinthians 15:21-22; Revelation 20:11-15; Revelation 21:8).
Section 6- The Doctrine of Salvation
We believe that a person is saved when he repents of sin and exercises faith by accepting Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour. Below we list particular matters concerning salvation.
We believe that the great gospel blessing, which Christ secures to all that believe in Him, is Justification (Acts 13:39). Justification includes the pardon of sin (Romans 5:9) and the promise of eternal life on the principles of righteousness (Romans 5:17). It is freely given, not in consideration of any works of righteousness which we have done, but solely through faith in the Redeemer’s blood (Romans 4:4,5). By virtue of faith, His perfect righteousness is freely imputed to us of God (Romans 5:19). It brings us into a state of most blessed peace and favor with God, and secures every other blessing needful for time and eternity (Romans 5:1, 2).
Concerning the Basis of Salvation
The basis of our salvation is the precious blood of Christ: “Forasmuch as ye know ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb, without blemish and without spot” (I Peter 1:18-19). We are saved by Christ’s death, but the Bible teaches it was necessary that His saving death had to be by the shedding of His blood.
Concerning the Way of Salvation
The salvation of man is only by the grace of God and not by works which man can do (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5).
When a person places his faith in Jesus Christ as the One who paid the penalty for sin, that person is regenerated, born again (John 3:3). This means he has a new life and should be changed so that works which glorify God will be manifested through his life (2 Corinthians 5:17). Believers are regenerated by the Holy Spirit using the Word of God (1 Peter 1:23 and Titus 3:5-6).
Concerning Repentance and Faith
We believe that repentance and faith are inseparable graces wrought in our souls by the regenerating Spirit of God. In Acts 20:21, Paul stated that his ministry was one of “Testifying both to the Jews and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Biblical saving faith requires Biblical repentance. Saving faith requires that we turn to God with confession, and supplication for mercy, at the same time heartily receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as the only and all-sufficient Saviour (Luke 13:3-5; Luke 18:13; Romans 10:9-10).
Concerning the Scope of Our Salvation
We believe the scope of salvation includes forgiveness of all our sins – past, present, and future; a perfect standing before God as in Jesus Christ, and the changing of our earthly body to be conformed like unto the body of our Lord at His return for His own.
Concerning God’s Purpose of Grace
We believe election is the eternal purpose of God according to which He graciously regenerates, sanctifies, and saves sinners (2 Timothy 1:8-9). Being perfectly consistent with the free agency of men, it comprehends as well as embraces all the means in connection with the end (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14). It is a most glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness, being infinitely free, wise, holy, and unchangeable (Exodus 33:18-19). It utterly excludes boasting, and promotes humility, love, prayer, praise, trust in God, and active imitation of His free mercy (1 Corinthians 4:7). It encourages the use of means in the highest degree (2 Timothy 2:10). It may be ascertained by its effects in all who truly believe the gospel (1 Thessalonians 1:10). It is the foundation of Christian assurance (Romans 8:28-31), and to ascertain it with regard to ourselves demands and deserves the utmost diligence (2 Peter 1:1O-11).
We believe that sanctification is the process by which, according to the will of God, we are made partakers of His holiness (1 Thessalonians 4:3). It is a progressive work (Proverbs 4:18). It begins in regeneration (1 John 2:29). It is carried in the hearts of believers throughout their earthly lives by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, the Sealer and Comforter, in the continual use of the appointed means, especially the Word of God, self-examination, self-denial, watchfulness, and prayer (Philippians 2:12-13).
Concerning the Filling of the Spirit
We believe that the filling of the Spirit in a believer’s life is manifested by that person’s willingness to be under control of the Spirit and thus to be obedient to the Word of God. We do not believe that speaking in tongues is a primary manifestation of the fullness of the Spirit as it is taught and espoused by the charismatic movement. We believe that tongues were a sign in the early church, and the gift ceased after the completing of the canon of Scripture (1 Corinthians 13:8-10).
Concerning the Security of the Believer
We believe that every true believer has eternal life (John 3:16; 3:36; 5:24; 6:47), and he is kept by the power of God (1 Peter 1:9). God gives eternal life to the believer, and he shall never perish (John 10:28-29).
Section 7 – Doctrine of the Church
1. We believe that the local church is composed of:
A local group of believers who are self-governing, with no ecclesiastical organization in authority over them.
Believers who are baptized by immersion.
Believers who meet regularly for fellowship, worship, and Bible study.
Believers who observe the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
Believers who carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).
2. We believe the only Scriptural officers of a local church are Bishops (Pastors or Elders) and Deacons (Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1, 8). The titles Bishop, Elder, and Pastor in the New Testament refer to the different functions of the same office.
Section 8 – Doctrine of Satan and Fallen Angels
We believe that Satan is a person. He is a created being who sinned and became the archenemy of God and His creation. He is the chief adversary of God’s children. He seeks to keep man from the Lord, and when he cannot succeed in this, he seeks to weaken the testimony of Christians. He has at his command a great host of fallen angels and demons to carry out his purposes. He is not omnipotent and can be overcome by the power of God. His doom is sealed in the Lake of Fire forever and ever (Ezekiel 28:12- 19; Isaiah 14:12-14; Revelation 12:10; Revelation 20:10).
Section 9- Doctrine of Last Things
We believe there will be a resurrection of all, first, the just at the coming of Jesus Christ, and finally, the unjust after the Millennium. The saints are raised to be forever with the Lord, and the unsaved will be confined for eternity in the Lake of Fire. We believe in the ‘Blessed Hope,’ which is the personal, bodily, pre-tribulational, pre-millennial, and imminent return of our Lord and Saviour for His Church (the Rapture). ‘Blessed Hope’ also includes His later return to the earth in power and glory with His saints to set up His Kingdom, the Millennium (John 14:1-3; Acts 1:9, 11; Acts 24:15; 1 Corinthians 15:20; Philippians 3:20; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 2:1-2; Revelation 21:1-8.)
Section 10- Doctrine of Separation
We believe that God commands Christians to be a separated people according to 2 Corinthians 6:17, 18 and 7:1:
“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
The Somerville Baptist Church will be separated from all forms of apostasy and religious inclusivism. We reject the ecumenical movement, joining all churches into one body regardless of doctrine or practice, and the Charismatic renewal movement, with its unscriptural emphasis on tongues and healing. Somerville Baptist Church will enjoy fellowship with churches of like faith and order, but will have no part in any council of churches that is ecumenical in nature and thrust.
We believe Christians are to be personally separated from all worldly practices that hinder spiritual growth and stability. We believe that God’s people should not love the world or the things that are in the world (1 John 2:15-16).
Section 11 – Doctrine of Christian Practice
The Somerville Baptist Church believes that a Christian should live a holy life, be separated from the world, and maintain a testimony consistent with the New Testament. We also believe that by the power of the Holy Spirit, we all should walk together in Christian love, strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness, and godliness, hold a conviction that Christianity is a way of life. Therefore should be propagated through Bible-centered and Christ-centered teaching, promoting the prosperity and spirituality of this church, sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline, and doctrines, contribute cheerfully, and regularly support the church with our tithes and offerings so that the ministry is supported, expenses are met, the poor are helped, and the gospel is spread through all nations.
This church encourages all of its members to maintain family and private devotions; to seek the salvation of kindred and acquaintances, walk circumspectly in the world, be just in our dealings, faithful in our engagements, and exemplary in our deportment, zealous in our effort to win souls to Christ, to avoid all tattling, backbiting, and excessive anger, and to abstain from the sale and use of intoxicating drink as a beverage, and from the improper sale and use of narcotics.
We further encourage each member to show brotherly love toward one another, to remember each other in prayer, to aid each other in sickness and distress, to cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and courtesy in speech, to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation, and mindful of the rules of our Saviour, to secure it without delay. Should the will of God direct any to move from this area, we encourage each, as soon as possible, to unite with some other church of like faith and practice and thereby continue living a testimony for Christ and living the principles of God’s Word.
ARTICLE I: MEMBERSHIP
Section 1- Qualification of Members
Any person who has accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour and Lord, who shows evidence of the new life in Christ; who has, in accordance with our Lord’s command and example, been baptized by immersion upon their confession of faith in Jesus Christ; and who is in agreement with the Statement of Faith of this church, shall be deemed qualified to become a member.
Section 2 – Reception of Members
Any eligible person as provided in Article I, Section 1, of the Bylaws may be received into membership of the Church, having been interviewed and approved by the Pastor and/or a committee of two Deacons. This person shall be received into membership by means of transfer of letter or statement of faith.
Section 3- Members in Good Standing
All persons whose names appear upon the Official Membership Roll of the Church, and who have given evidence of their faithfulness and support shall be deemed members in good standing.
If any member fails to show evidence of faithfulness and support for a period of six weeks consecutively he shall not be considered a member in good standing and shall lose all privileges of membership. Any office or position held by said member shall be declared vacant. Those with extenuating circumstances should notify the pastor and/or a deacon.
Privileges shall be reinstated once one has shown forth the requirements of Section 3.
Section 4 – Dismissal of Members
1. By death
2. By letter
* A letter of transfer from this church to unite with any other church of like faith and order shall be granted upon request from such church.
Section 5 – Removal of Members
1. The name of any member may be recommended for removal from the roll, without a formal trial, by a unanimous vote of the Pastor and the Deacons in the instances listed below. The Scriptural pattern of Matthew 18:15-17 shall be followed.
* When a member, through a change of religious belief or other sufficient cause, presents request to withdraw.
* When a person abandons active connection with the church through failure to attend for a period of one year, or who otherwise gives no indication of interest or support. In this event, the Pastor and Deacons should definitely counsel with the individual to endeavor to bring him back into fellowship.
* When a member manifests blatant disagreement with the church doctrinal statement.
Section 6- Discipline of Members
1. The purpose of church discipline is to preserve the purity of the church and thus protect its testimony! (Ephesians 5:27) The outcome should also be to help the sinning brother be restored to fellowship with the Lord and the church. Ultimately these purposes all bring glory to God.
2. Who shall be disciplined: church discipline shall include, but are not limited to, those listed in I Corinthians 5:10. Those propagating false doctrine within the church. (Romans 16:17) Those sowing discord. (Proverbs 6:19)
3. The procedure for church discipline shall follow the pattern laid out in Scriptures according to Matthew 18:15-20. Once an individual has been met with on at least two occasions with no apparent change, he or she shall be asked privately to terminate his/her membership. If one does not voluntarily terminate their membership, then the leadership will bring that individual’s name before the church for public dismissal.
ARTICLE II: CHURCH MEETINGS
Section 1 – Worship Services
Regularly scheduled services are held on Sunday’s and once during the week. Special services, such as revivals, will also be held for the worship of the Lord and the proclamation of His Word.
Section 2 – Business Meetings
1. Business of the church may be transacted at any of the regularly scheduled church services. The Pastor and/or the Deacons may call for a special meeting apart from the regular services of the church. This meeting must be announced from the pulpit at three regular services and appear in the Sunday church bulletin once.
2. There shall be a monthly business meeting of the church on the first Wednesday after the first Sunday. At this time the treasurer will present a monthly report distributed to those present.
Section 3 – Voting
1. Voting shall be limited to active members 18 years and older.
2. Voting on any staff member, pastor, assistant pastor, etc., shall be by written ballot.
Section 4 – Moderator
The moderator shall be the Pastor. In the event the office of Pastor is vacant, or the issue at hand involves the Pastor, or the Pastor voluntarily wishes to step aside as moderator, the Chairman of the Deacons shall serve as acting moderator.
ARTICLE III: GOVERNMENT
Section 1- Authority:
The church is an independent and autonomous body free from interference of any ecclesiastical or political authority. Jesus Christ is Lord over this Church and governs this local assembly by the Word of God ministered through His spirit in the lives of born again believers.
Section 2- Church Leadership
The government of this church is exercised through the Leadership, consisting of:
1. the Pastor; who has been chosen by the assembly to teach the Word of God and to lead the flock- Hebrews 13:7,17;
2. the Deacons; who are chosen to care for the spiritual matters of the church under the leadership of the pastor- Acts 6:1-7
The Leadership handles and considers suggestions, recommendations, and grievances from the church. Matters affecting the church and requiring decisions will be made by the Leadership unless otherwise determined in this constitution. The Leadership may make recommendations to the church that are opposed by no more than one (1) of their number.
*Men’s Meetings will be held to seek approval of major recommendations from the Leadership. These will include, but are not limited to: support of missionaries, financial matters over $1,000.00, buying or selling property, and personnel and salaries.
*Recommendations approved by the Men’s Meeting will be presented to the church for approval.
1. Choosing a pastor: the deacons of the church shall serve as the pulpit committee. The prospective candidate is to meet the qualifications of I Timothy 3:1-7. The committee may appoint a representative to visit the candidate’s latest field of endeavor. The vote will be announced by the Leadership from the pulpit at least two services in advance. The vote must be an affirmative 80% vote of those voting before the candidate is extended a call. One man at a time is to be presented to the church by the committee. Never is it to be a popularity vote by considering more than one man at a time.
2. Authority: the Pastor, by virtue of his position, will automatically chair all leadership meetings and lead all congregational meetings. He will be allowed freedom in choosing and seeking the will of the Lord concerning messages and special speakers, and is to be active in all spiritual matters. The pastor will act as moderator for all church business meetings. When the church is without a pastor, the chairman of the deacons shall act as moderator.
3. The Pastor, along with the leadership, shall know the people well enough to be able to appoint teachers and make assignments with confidence and peace of heart. The Pastor of the church and its people must realize that God holds the Pastor responsible for every action this body carries out as a church. He shall have authority to hire or dismiss any employee of the church because of failure to perform his or her duties satisfactorily to the church.
4. Dismissal: no vote for the dismissal of the Pastor will take place except at a business meeting called for that purpose, of which a written notice by the Church will have been given to all active members at least seven (7) days prior to the date of the meeting. In order to pass the resolution to dismiss, there must be an 80% affirmative vote of those voting at this meeting.
1. Requirements: the deacons must meet the requirements as stated in I Timothy 3:8-14 and have been a member of the church for at least one year. He must be FAITHFUL!!
2. Ordination: Deacons shall be appointed by the Leadership of the church and then approved in the Men’s Meeting. That recommendation will then be taken to the church for final approval. A special service will then be held to ordain the deacon for service.
3. Terms of Office:
1. Each deacon shall serve a three-year term.
2. Deacons will be selected on a rotation basis. Each year one-third of the Board of Deacons shall be replaced.
3. In case of death or removal or incapacity to serve, the church may select a deacon to fill the un-expired term. All former deacons will be considered candidates to fill this term (provided they meet the qualifications set forth in Scripture and the constitution).
4. A deacon who has served one term will have to retire for at least one year before he is eligible for re-selection
Section 3- Ministries of Helps
1. Finance Committee
The Finance committee shall consist of six men appointed by the leadership. They shall assist the leadership in making recommendations dealing with financial matters, such as an annual budget, non-budgeted expenditures, and salaries and raises.
2. Church Clerk
The church clerk shall be appointed by the Leadership and approved by the church.
Responsibilities: keeping complete and accurate minutes of each church business meeting and having a copy of the minutes available for reading at the next business meeting; to make necessary certifications of actions of the church, such as church letter transfers.
3. Church Treasurer
The church treasurer shall be appointed by the Leadership and approved by the church.
Qualifications: the treasurer must be one of integrity who is to hold in confidence the private contributions to the church.
Responsibilities: the treasurer is to keep an accurate record of individual gifts, deposits, and disbursements. The monthly summary of these records is to be given each month to the Leadership, and is to be available to the church at regular business meetings.
ARTICLE IV: NON-DISCRIMINATION
No activity of this church shall be allowed to discriminate against participation on the basis of race, national origin, or financial status. It is the religious conviction of the members of this church that only those who have been Biblically baptized and who are in full agreement with the Statement of Faith of this church may be members regardless of race, national origin, sex, or financial status. It is also the religious conviction of the members of this church that homosexual practices are an abomination to our God, and no one known to be involved in such practices shall be allowed to become or remain a member, regardless of race, national origin, sex, or financial status.
ARTICLE V: AMENDMENT OF BYLAWS
These Bylaws may be amended upon the recommendation of the Pastor and Deacons by the two-thirds, (2/3), vote of the members present and voting at any regular business meeting or special meeting called for that purpose, provided that notice of the time and nature of the meeting be announced during the three consecutive Sunday services immediately preceding the meeting and provided further that the meeting be announced in two Sunday church bulletins and that copies of the proposed changes be made available for inspection by the membership at least two weeks in advance.