We, the members of The Grand Marais Evangelical Free Church, in order to carry out more efficiently the commission given by Jesus to His Church, do ordain and establish the following By-Laws to which we voluntarily submit ourselves:
The name of this organization shall be “The Grand Marais Evangelical Free Church.”
The purpose of this organization shall be to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ in every way prescribed or approved by the Holy Scriptures, to engage in such religious, educational, charitable and benevolent work as the Constitution and By-Laws of this organization many determine, and to own and maintain such buildings and equipment as may be required to carry out the above stated purpose.
CONFESSION OF FAITH:
The Confession of Faith of this organization shall be the same as that of the North Central District Association and the Evangelical Free Church of America which reads:
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
Section 1 - Qualifications
Any person having reached the age of 16 years who confessed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who has the assurance or salvation, whose conduct is in accord with his confession who subscribes to the above Confession of Faith, and who is willing to support The Grand Marais Evangelical Free Church with faithful attendance, prayer and material means may become a member of this organization, hereafter referred to as the Church.
Section 2 – Admission
Admission to membership in this Church shall be as follows:
- Application for membership shall be made to the Pastor, Church Chairman, or any member of the Elder Board. The Elder Board shall examine all applicants for membership. Prior to this examination each applicant shall be provided with a copy of the Church Constitution and packet of Evangelical Free Church material to review, thus becoming acquainted with the Evangelical Free Church work.
- All satisfactory candidates shall be recommended by the Elder Board at any business meeting of the Church for approval and admission. If approved, they shall be received into membership by a two-thirds majority vote of members present. The applicant shall not be present in the meeting when their application is being considered.
- All members received into the Church shall be encouraged and expected to withdraw their membership from a church of which they were previously a member. Withdrawal of previous membership may be waived in individual cases by action of the Elder Board.
- All accepted applicants shall be publicly welcomed into membership at some subsequent regular worship service of the Church. At this time a membership certificate shall be presented to them.
Section 3 - Absence
- Any person absent for more than two years, from whom no communication has been received, may be dropped from the roll by a vote of the Church after having been contacted and upon recommendation from the Elder Board.
- In the event of inactive members, the Elder Board shall visit or contact them in an effort to restore interest. The Board shall recommend to the Church a course of action mutually agreed upon between the member and the Elder Board.
Section 4 - Dismissal of Members
- Any member who wishes to withdraw from the Church shall receive a letter of transfer, recommendation or withdrawal from the Church Secretary under the direction of the Elder Board and approved by the Church, providing such a request is presented in writing.
Section 5 - Conduct
- Regular attendance at services of the Church, daily reading of the Bible, private and family devotions, personal and public testimony and the winning of others to Christ are urged upon each member.
- It shall be the sacred duty of the parents to provide Christian instruction for their children.
- Each member shall consider it his sacred duty and privilege to make full use of his talents for the Lord’s service whenever opportunity affords.
- All members are encouraged to remember each other in prayer, to aid one another in the time of sickness and distress and to be courteous in speech and slow to anger.
- Each member is urged to pledge himself to a systematic contribution of a portion of his income for the support of the Church according to the principles laid down in I Corinthians 16:3.
- Each member is called upon to heed the Scriptural admonitions of I John 2:15; Romans 12:1-2; I Timothy 4:12 and others relative to Christian living. He is expected to abstain from any act or practice which may be harmful in its influence or a stumbling block to the weak. Romans 14:13, 21.
Section 6 - Discipline
- If any member shall conduct himself in a manner which, in the studied opinion of the Pastor and Elder Board, is not in harmony with the above Scriptural principles, and for which he does not give evidence of repentance, he shall be interviewed and counseled by the Pastor and/or Elder Board as the case many require, after the manner indicated by the Word of God, Matthew 18:15-17; Galatians 6:1. The single purpose should be for the restoration of the erring member, using love as the sole motivating force in these interviews.
- If the member should choose to continue in his unrepentant condition, he shall be deprived of his membership. This can be done only by the Church upon a recommendation of the Elder Board and by a two-thirds majority vote of the members present and voting at any regular business meeting of the Church.
- Suspended members, one who has been deprived of membership, may be restored by the provision of this constitution for new members upon evidence of repentance and reformation.
Section 7 - Property Rights
- The private property of the individual members of this Church shall be exempt from corporate debt.
Section 1 - Pastor
- The Pastor shall be of irreproachable Christian character, having a “Good Report.” I Timothy 3:1-13.
- The Pastor shall teach and preach the Word of God, lead the public services of the Church, watch over the spiritual welfare of the Church, visit the sick, administer the ordinances, lead the members in a practical Christian life, discharge all the functions of the ministry including a regular visitation outreach. He shall be an ex-officio member of all boards and committees.
- The Pastor shall be chosen by a two-thirds majority vote at any regular or special business meeting of the Church.
He shall be called for an indefinite period of time.
Three months notice must be given by the Pastor or the Church for the termination of his ministry.
- The Pastor and his wife shall be voting members of the Church during his ministry.
Section 2 - Other Pastoral Staff.
- Same character qualifications as for the Pastor.
- Job description must be written and approved by the congregation.
- Candidate will be approved by a two thirds majority vote of the congregation at any regular or special business meeting of the church. Termination of ministry can be made by the Elder Board.
- The Pastoral Staff member and his/her spouse will be voting members of the congregation during his/her ministry.
Section 3: Officers.
- Pastor (See Article 5, Section 1)
- Member in good standing of the congregation.
- A pastoral temperament; able to teach, listen and visit those in crisis.
- Personal Character as described in 1 Timothy 3:1-7; with an emphasis on spiritual maturity as defined in Galatians 5:22-23.
- Election and Duration of Term: They shall be elected to serve a term of three years; their terms of office being so arranged that roughly one third of their terms expire each year. After two consecutive terms, an Elder must take a sabbatical of one year from the Elder Board.
- Duties: See “Elder Board”.
- Man or woman who is a member in good standing in the congregation.
- A servant heart with a skill set and aptitude for the particular area of service.
- Personal character as described in Acts 6:1-3; 1 Timothy 3:8-13; with an emphasis on spiritual maturity as defined in Galatians 5:22-23.
- Election and Duration of Term: They shall be elected to serve a term of three years. After two consecutive terms, a Deacon must take a sabbatical of one year as a Deacon.
- Duties will be defined according to the ministry group they lead.
- Church Chair
- Appointment: Nominated by the Elders and affirmed by the congregation.
- Qualifications and terms the same as Deacons.
- The Chair shall call and preside over business meetings.
- The Chair shall ensure that congregational decisions are carried out.
- The Chair shall be an ex-officio member of all boards and committees.
- Church Secretary
- Appointment: Elected by the congregation.
- Duration of Office: The secretary shall be elected to serve a term of three years. After two consecutive terms, a secretary must take a sabbatical of one year as secretary.
- Keep an accurate record of major issues discussed and decisions reached at all business meetings and counsel meetings.
- Have meeting notes ready for congregational approval at the next business meeting.
- Maintain membership records.
Section 4: Governing Bodies.
- Elder Board.
- The Board will consist of at least four Elders and all pastoral staff who will meet monthly for business and at least semimonthly for prayer. Special meetings can be called by the Elder Board Chairman, Church Chairman, two Elders in agreement, or the Pastor.
- They shall oversee worship, the ministries of the church, interview membership applicants, undertake church discipline, decide matters of doctrine and theology, and promote spiritual growth in the congregation.
- They will visit, pray for and anoint the sick and needy. They will administer the Helping Hand benevolent fund.
- They will assist the Pastor in the ministries of worship and adult Christian Education. They will assist in administering Communion, Baptism, and Pulpit Supply in the absence or incapacity of the pastor.
- They shall provide a list of qualified nominees for new Elders to the nominating committee
- Regarding the Pastoral Staff, the Elder Board will:
- Hold the pastoral staff accountable regarding matters of personal and professional conduct.
- Evaluate staff performance as deemed necessary.
- Care for the spiritual, mental and physical health of the pastoral staff.
- Deacon of Facilities (Trustee).
- The Facilities Deacon will chair a Building Committee of no less than three members who are members of the church. Members of the committee are to be selected by the Deacon of Facilities and approved by the Elder Board.
- Submit an annual budget to maintain and improve the physical plant of the church including buildings, properties and vehicles.
- Keep the physical plant of the church in good repair and respectable appearance.
- iii. Engage non-pastoral employees of the church.
- Deacon of Finances (Treasurer)
- Will receive funds of the church and disburse them as directed by the church.
- Will compose a comprehensible financial report to the congregation every quarter and advise the church regarding its financial condition.
- Will prepare the annual budget including employee compensation packages in consultation with the Elders and the Deacon of Facilities.
- Will oversee the annual church audit by members as well as the supervision of any bookkeeping staff hired by the church.
- Deacon of Missions.
- Will chair a Missions Committee of no less than two people. Members of the committee are to be selected by the Deacon of Missions and approved by the Elder Board.
- Will organize an annual missions event that will educate and motivate our congregation regarding evangelization and ministry beyond our own fellowship and generally outside of our immediate community.
- Will conduct a Faith Promise pledge drive.
- iii. Will propose a budget to the congregation for discussion and approval.
- Will supervise the disbursement of funds according to the approved budget.
- Will encourage prayer for our missionaries in the congregation and facilitate communication and fellowship with our missionaries.
- Deacon of Children’s Ministries (C.E.).
- Will chair a Christian Education Committee of no less than two people. Members of the committee are to be selected by the Deacon of Children’s Ministries. and approved by the Elder Board.
- Will review and purchase lesson materials for children’s Christian Ed. Hour.
- Will establish policies for making our program safe for children.
- Will provide nursery care for Sunday morning, Christian Ed. Hour, and worship services.
- Will seek to disciple our children ages K-5 and will work with the Youth Ministry to assist in discipling middle and high school students.
- Appoint teachers for the Christian education hour and other Christian education programs.
- Deacon of Youth Ministries
- Will chair a Youth Ministries Committee of no less than two people. Members of the committee are to be selected by the Deacon of Youth Ministries and approved by the Elder Board.
- Will disciple and evangelize the middle and high school students in our fellowship and in our community.
- Will work with Christian Education Committee to provide education curriculum for middle and high school students.
- Deacon of Worship
- Will chair a Worship Committee of no less than two people. Members of the committee are to be selected by the Deacon of Worship and approved by the Elder Board.
- Will consult with pastoral staff and elders about the worship service
- Will work with available musicians to schedule worship music leadership and accompaniment for Sunday morning worship services.
- Will provide for training and scheduling of sound board technicians.
- Deacon of Fellowship
- Will chair a Fellowship Committee of no less than three people. Members of the committee are to be selected by the Deacon of Fellowship and approved by the Elder Board.
- Will establish and communicate with Fellowship Teams regarding hospitality needs for events in the fellowship hall.
- May be the Ministry Coordinator.
- Deacon of Facilities (Trustee).
- Church Council.
- Composition: Pastoral Staff, Elders, and Deacons. Meetings are led by the Church Chairman.
- Meeting schedule: at least once in each of the fall, winter and spring quarters and whenever called by the Church Chairman or the Pastor.
- To foster good communication and creative exchange between church ministry leaders.
- To develop ministry strategies and formulate clear proposals for the congregation to consider.
- Nominating Committee
- Shall consist of an Elder, Deacon and 3 at large members.
- At large members are elected to 1 year term.
- Auditing Committee
- The Auditing Committee shall consist of two members. They shall examine all accounts of the Church and submit a report to the annual meeting.
- The members will be elected for a 1 year term.
Section 5: Organizations within the Church.
- Sponsors who wish to start new groups or ministries within the faith community of The Grand Marais Evangelical Free Church shall submit an action plan that includes its purpose, activities, anticipated participants and curriculum (when applicable) to the Pastor.
- The pastor will: Consult with the Elder Board and the corresponding Deacon (when applicable) for approval.
- If necessary, the sponsor will be asked to meet with other appropriate church leaders and boards to clarify and answer questions about their plans.
- Leaders of all church groups and ministries must be members in good standing of our church.
- Records of any financial transactions within the group must be provided to the Deacon of Finance.
- Fund raising plans for any group or ministry in our church must first be approved by the Elder Board.
Section 1 - Worship Services:
Sunday school and all other Gospel services shall be conducted at such times as decided by the Church.
Section 2 - Order of Business:
- Regular business meetings of the Church shall be held during the third week January, April, and October. The election of officers shall take place at the October business meeting, with the new officers taking their positions officially January 1. Following their election, the new board members will be invited to attend Elder or Deacon meetings as observers without authority until they take office on January 1. Division of responsibilities for the coming year shall be decided at the December meeting of each board.
- Special Business meetings of the Church may be called by the Pastor, Chairman, by a vote of the Church, or any Board of the Church. Notice of such special meetings shall be given either by announcement at the regular Sunday services of the Church at least three days previous to the date of the meeting, or by a notice given to all resident members at least three days prior to the date of the meeting.
- The annual business meeting of the Church shall be held during the month of January each year at such time as may be decided by the Church. At this meeting annual reports shall be received and other necessary business transacted.
- Quorum: Twenty percent of the membership shall constitute a quorum for the transacting of business unless specified differently in this constitution.
- Voting: All members having reached the age of 18 years have a right to vote in all matters coming before the business meeting except where a legal voting age is required by law. All matters shall be determined by simple majority except when otherwise specified in this constitution, or by a decision of the session.
- Rules of Order: The rules, of order contained in Roberts Rules of Order (revised) shall govern this organization when it is not inconsistent with its constitution and by-laws. The Chairman shall conduct the Annual and business meetings in the following order unless otherwise decided.
- The opening of the meeting with prayer.
- Minutes of the previous meeting read and approved
- Reports from the various officers and committees (Pastor, Elder … Treasurer).
- Old business: Undecided, unfinished, tabled business
- Officers & committees elected if their term expires or vacancies occur.
- New business for discussion:
- First - - That which is occasioned by the reports from officers, boards or committees.
- Second-New business coming from the membership. This must be referred to the proper Board who shall consider the matter and bring a recommendation to it to the next Church business meeting or sooner.
- Closing prayer.
Section 1 - Handling of Property
This church shall have the power to receive, either by gift or purchase, and to hold such real, personal, or mixed property as is authorized by the laws of the State of Minnesota and as is deemed necessary for the business of the Church and shall have the power to dispose of such property by mortgage, deed or otherwise. All such property shall be held in the name of the Church. The Church Council shall have power to receive, purchase, acquire, sell, lease, convey, mortgage, deed or otherwise transfer property of the Church, but only after having been duly authorized by the Church at a regularly called business meeting. All contracts, notes, mortgages, conveyances, assignments, leases, releases and other documents and papers in behalf of the Church shall be executed by the Church Council.
Section 2 - Division:
In case of division of the Church (from which we pray God in His mercy to preserve us) the property of the Church shall belong to those who abide by the constitution.
Section 3 - Dissolution:
In case of dissolution of the Church organization, the property shall be assigned to the North Central District Association of the Evangelical Free Church of America. The Church shall be considered dissolved if so decided by the organization, or when the Church has not held an annual meeting for three years, or when less than six members remain.
Section 1 - Authority:
The congregation at its business meetings is the legislative and governing body of this organization.
Section 2 - Affiliation:
This Church shall be affiliated with the North Central District Association and its parent organization the Evangelical Free Church of America and its branches. It shall send delegates to their conferences, support their home and foreign missions and unite in all mutual efforts for the furtherance of the Gospel of Christ in the measure that the Church itself may officially decide.
Section 1 - Changes in the by-laws
These by-laws may be changed and altered by the Church when deemed necessary. Such proposed changes must be submitted in writing to the members and adopted as a preliminary step at a regular business meeting of the Church at least 90 days prior to any business meeting. Change(s) shall be adopted by a two-thirds majority vote of members present.