Governance By-Laws

BY-LAWS

Article 1: COMMUNICANT MEMBERSHIP

Section 1. Membership

Membership Covenants for communicant membership in this congregation shall be submitted to the Pastor who shall determine whether such applicants are eligible for membership in accordance with Article 4 of the Constitution. Those not familiar with the doctrines and confessions of the Lutheran Church shall be required to attend a course of instruction, and to make professions of their faith either before the congregation, or at the Pastor’s discretion, before witnesses who are members of the Ministry Team of Elders, before being received as members.

Those from other Evangelical Lutheran Churches shall submit a letter of transfer from their former congregation to establish their eligibility for membership. In the case of any whose previous membership in a Lutheran congregation has lapsed, the Pastor may, with the consent of the Ministry Team of Elders, arrange for a period of reinstruction prior to reaffirmation of faith for such applicant.

After they have given satisfactory evidence of their eligibility in accordance with the two preceding paragraphs, their admission as communicant members shall be recommended by the Pastor to the Ministry Team of Elders which shall have the authority to act in behalf of the congregation. The roster of new members shall be publicized in the various publications of the congregation.

Section 2. Privileges and Duties of Communicant Members

It shall be the privilege and duty of members of this congregation to:

Grow in the Christian faith and life through faithful use of the means of grace, searching the Scriptures at home and in fellowship with other members of the congregation and its agencies, and partaking of the Lord’s Supper frequently.

Live a morally decent life before God and men, abstaining from open works of the flesh (Galatians 5:18-21), and so conducting themselves at all times as to bring credit rather than blame upon the Church of Jesus Christ.

Provide for the proper Christian training of their children by instruction at home and through the agencies of the Church.

Contribute toward the maintenance of the congregation and the extension of the Kingdom of God at home and abroad to the limit of their financial ability.

Place their God-given talents and abilities at the service of agencies of the congregation, the officers, and the Pastor as set forth in its Constitution and By-Laws, so that the purposes and function of the congregation may be effectively implemented.

Article 2: VOTING MEMBERSHIP

Section 1. Eligibility

Any communicant member of this congregation who is 18 years of age or over, male or female, shall be a voting member.

Section 2. Privileges and Duties of Voting Members

It shall be the privilege and duty of a voting member of this congregation to:

Conscientiously and prayerfully exercise the right of voting in all measures that will advance the work of Christ’s Kingdom both locally and in the church-at-large.

Willingly serve in any office or capacity appropriate to the voting member’s talents and abilities.

Faithfully attend all meetings of the voting members.

Assist with wholehearted diligence in administering the material and spiritual affairs of the congregation.

Encourage, by personal example, friendly interest, and judicious counsel, such communicant members who are not participating as voting members to consider seriously exercising the responsibilities and privileges of voting members.

Article 3: DISCIPLINE IN THE CONGREGATION

All discipline in this congregation shall be administered in accordance with the order of discipline laid down in Matthew 18:15-20 and other related New Testament passages. The following procedure shall be under the direction of the Pastor and Ministry Team of Elders.

Section 1. Membership – Termination

A. Transfers. A member desiring transfer to another Lutheran congregation shall contact the Pastor to request a letter of transfer. Upon approval by the Pastor and the Ministry Team of Elders, a letter of transfer shall be issued by the Pastor. The Ministry Team of Elders shall report all transfers to the congregation via church publications and to the voting members at the next regular meeting of that body.

B. Joining Other Churches. In cases where members of this congregation have joined a non-Lutheran congregation, they shall upon the decision of the Pastor and the Ministry Team of Elders, be deemed to have terminated their membership in this congregation.

C. Whereabouts Unknown. The names of members whose whereabouts are unknown and cannot be established within a period of six months shall be removed from the membership list of the congregation and placed in a file designated “Whereabouts Unknown.” Such membership is terminated and shall be reported as such to the next regular meeting of the voting members.

D. Self-Exclusion and Excommunication. Self-exclusion results when a member of St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church, willfully and without excuse has not communed for an extended period of time (usually deemed to be a year or more) and has had full benefit of the regular and evangelical admonition of the congregation through the Ministry Team of Elders.

Self-exclusion releases the individual from all responsibilities to this congregation, but it also excludes the member from the privileges of church membership, such as full Christian burial, Holy Communion, transfer to a sister congregation, and of any claim against the properties of this congregation. Such a person, however, will at all times be cordially welcome to attend all divine services of this congregation.

Excommunication is to be applied to any member who conducts himself in an unchristian manner; i.e., to one who openly adheres to false doctrine, gives evidence of an immoral and offensive life, or willfully despises the preaching of the Gospel and the Lord’s Supper. The Ministry Team of Elders shall administer church discipline in behalf of the congregation.

Persons who have been removed from membership for whatever reason shall be restored with all rights and privileges when they repent and ask forgiveness through the Pastor and the Ministry Team of Elders. Both acts of discipline and restoration shall be made known to all communicant members by whatever method the Pastor and the Ministry Team of Elders deem most suitable.

Section 2. Provisions Pertaining to Church Officers, Directors, and Elders

Any officer or director of the congregation who willfully neglects the duties of his office may be deposed. The Ministry Team of Elders and Pastor shall initiate such disciplinary action. A two-thirds majority vote of the voting members present in a meeting of the voting members is required to approve deposition. When an office is made vacant by deposition, resignation, death, or excommunication of the incumbent, a successor to such officer or director shall be elected by the voting members at the next meeting. Until such election, an interim officer or director shall be appointed by the Parish Planning Council.

An Elder shall normally have permanent tenure; however, his ministry may be temporarily or permanently terminated. An Elder may request a temporary leave of absence for personal or family needs. Resignation due to poor health, retirement or time constraints may result in an Elder Emeritus Status.

An Elder may be deposed for any of the following reasons: joining another church; proven charges of immoral conduct; false doctrine or neglect of duty; resignation from office if he feels he is no longer received by the body. The Ministry Team of Elders and Pastor shall initiate any required disciplinary action. A two-thirds majority vote of the voting members present in a meeting of the voting members is required to approve deposition. When an Elder position is made vacant, a successor shall be selected by the Ministry Team of Elders and the Pastor and confirmed by the Parish Planning Council and the voting members at the next regularly scheduled meeting.

Section 3. Provisions Pertaining to Pastor and Other Called Church Workers

Sufficient grounds for deposing a pastor or duly called church worker shall be persistent adherence to false doctrine, scandalous life, and willful neglect of official duties or evident and protracted incapacity to perform the function of duties of the position descriptions agreed upon with the Ministry Team of Elders or in concert with the Ministry Team of Parish Education. Should such charges be substantiated by clear evidence, the individual involved shall first be given an opportunity to resign his position in the congregation. Such opportunity having been given and declined, the above-mentioned Ministry Team or Ministry Teams shall, after consultation with the appropriate officers of the Indiana District, notify the voting members of the situation, and shall submit the matter for action at a special meeting of that body. Until such a meeting can be called, suspension may be necessary, with pay. A three-fourths majority vote of the voting members present shall be required to depose a pastor or church worker.

Should the occasion to depose a pastor or church worker ever arise, the intended deposition shall be announced by the Director of Elders at regular divine service on the two Sundays preceding a special meeting of the voting members called for that purpose. All voting members shall be notified by mail at least two weeks in advance.

Article 4: MEETINGS OF THE CONGREGATION

Section 1. Regular Meetings

Regular meetings of the voting members shall be held two times during the calendar year on the first Sunday of the following months – May and December.

The December meeting shall include consideration of the annual budget for the following year.

The May meeting shall include the Election of Officers and Ministry Team Directors and Members. Meetings of the voting members shall be announced at the worship services on the two Sundays prior to the meeting and shall be published in the Sunday bulletin on those Sundays.

Section 2. Special Meetings

Special meetings of the voting members may be called by the Ministry Team of Elders, the Pastor, at the request of any one of the Ministry Teams, or at the request of any ten (10) voting members of the congregation. Notice of the date and time of such a meeting, and of the nature of the business to be transacted, shall be given on the two (2) Sundays prior to the meeting date.

Section 3. Order of Business at Regular Meetings

Regular meetings of the voting members shall proceed as follows:

  1. Scripture reading and/or prayer
  2. Recording of attendance
  3. Minutes of previous meeting(s), including special meetings
  4. Unfinished business
  5. A printed copy of the Treasurer’s Report shall be presented at the meetings with copies for all attending.
  6. Reports from Committees of the voting members
  7. A printed copy of all Ministry Team reports shall be presented at the meetings with copies to all persons attending.
  8. New business
  9. State of the Parish report by Pastor

10. Adjournment

The Executive Director may, with the consent of the voting members, vary the above order in the interest of efficiency.

In general, for the purpose of order, Robert’s Rules of Order shall prevail.

Section 4. Quorum and Voting

A quorum shall be comprised of those voting members who are present for a meeting held at the announced time.

In the event of a tie vote, the Executive Director shall cast the deciding ballot.

There shall be no voting by proxy.

Article 5: THE OFFICE OF PASTOR

Section 1. Procedure for Securing a Pastor or Other Called Church Workers

The Ministry Team of Elders along with additional appointed members from the congregation at large shall serve as Call Committee.

After consultation by the Ministry Team of Elders with the President of the Indiana District or his representative, candidates for the pastorate shall be proposed at the next regular meeting of the voting members or at a special meeting called for that purpose. Additional candidates may be proposed by any voting member at the meeting called to discuss the candidates. The voting members shall then adopt a list of candidates. At that meeting, or at a subsequent regular or special meeting of the voting members, the voters shall elect one of the proposed candidates by ballot and simple majority. It shall be the duty of the Executive Director to see that notice of his election is delivered promptly to the candidate in whatever manner the voting members shall deem advisable.

Section 2. The Pastoral Office

The Pastoral Office is the authority conferred upon pastors by God, through a call of the congregation (the holder of the priesthood and of all congregational authority) to exercise in public office the common rights of spiritual priesthood in behalf of all. The Pastoral Office is the primary office in the congregation from which all other offices of the congregation issue. However, the congregation may establish as many auxiliary offices as its needs require and determine what work is to be consigned to such offices.

Upon being installed, the Pastor is authorized and obligated to proclaim to the congregation, jointly and severally, the Word of God in its full truth and purity as contained in the canonical writings of the Old and New Testaments and professed in the Book of Concord of the year 1580. He is further:

To administer the sacraments in accordance with their divine institution;

To discharge toward all members of the congregation the functions of a minister and curate of their souls in an evangelical manner, in particular to visit the sick and the dying and to admonish indifferent and erring members;

To spiritually guard the welfare of the younger members of the congregation and adults during their preparation for acceptance of Holy Communion;

To guide the congregation in applying the divinely ordained discipline of the church;

To provide spiritual leadership and oversight in the educational agencies and the various adult and youth organizations within the congregation;

To serve as an example by Christian conduct and to do all that is possible for the up-building of the congregation and for the advancement of the Kingdom of Christ.

By reason of his position the Pastor is not only a servant and steward of God, but also of the congregation.

The Pastor shall have the authority and responsibility for supervising the musical portion of all worship services in conjunction with the Ministry Team of Elders so that it is at all times in harmony with the doctrine and practice established in our statement of confession, Constitution, Article 2.

Members of the congregation are obligated to accord the Pastor honor, love and obedience in his ministry of God’s Word, and to support his biblical ministrations with diligence and faithful prayers; to help him in the discharge of his God-given duties by cordial one-mindedness, by willing readiness, by peaceable conduct, and in every other way possible; and to provide for his maintenance according to the ability of the congregation.

In calling a pastor to preach the Word of God and to administer the sacraments on their behalf, the members of the congregation exercise their royal priesthood and by no means relinquish it. This is the privilege and responsibility of all members of the church.

Article 6: ELECTION OF OFFICERS, DIRECTORS, AND MINISTRY TEAMS

Section 1. Nomination Procedure

In the election year the Parish Planning Council shall appoint a Nominating Committee consisting of six (6) qualified voting members of the congregation and the Pastor.

The Nominating Committee shall be appointed in the February meeting of the Parish Planning Council, and it shall submit a list of the candidates for the offices to the Parish Planning Council at its April meeting or sooner. This list of candidates shall be made available to the communicant membership of the congregation. Only male candidates shall be nominated for membership on the Ministry Team of Elders. Male and female candidates may be elected to the offices of Executive Director and Assistant Directors.

Following the publication of the Nominating Committee’s list, any communicant member of the congregation may submit to the committee additional names for inclusion on the list; such names shall be placed in nomination by the committee, along with the candidates already chosen, provided:

1. That such names shall be submitted at least ten (10) days before the date of the May meeting of the voting members, and

2. That the Nominating Committee, through consultation with the Pastor and the Ministry Team of Elders, shall have investigated the status of the proposed candidates and found them eligible for office and willing to serve.

The Nominating Committee, at least one week before the date of the May meeting, shall post on the church bulletin board the list of candidates for the following offices:

Executive Director, Assistant Executive Directors, Secretary, Treasurer, Directors of the various Ministry Teams, Purchasing Agent, and Ministry Team members as necessary to complete the membership of each of the Ministry Teams.

Section 2. Election Procedure

From the list of candidates for each elective office submitted by the Nominating Committee, the voting members shall, at the May meeting, elect by ballot and simple majority, the following officers in the order herein indicated:

  1. An Executive Director
  2. First and Second Assistant Executive Directors
  3. A Secretary
  4. A Treasurer
  5. Ministry Team Directors as specifically nominated for the directorship of one of the following Ministry Teams: Elders, Evangelism, Parish Education, Youth, Stewardship, Church Properties, Parish Fellowship, Public Relations, Family Life, Preschool and Daycare, plus a Purchasing Agent.
  6. Ministry Team members, to the number required to complete the membership of each of the Ministry Teams.

 

As needed Ministry Team members may be nominated to serve by a Director submitting their name for approval to the Parish Planning Council.

Section 3. Installation of Officers – Term of Office

The newly elected officers and Ministry Team members of the congregation shall be installed on the last Sunday in June, and shall assume their duties of office as of July 1.

The term of office of all officers, directors, and Ministry Team members shall be two (2) years, terminating on June 30 of the second year of their terms.

The two-year term of office does not apply for Elders.

Article 7: DUTIES OF OFFICERS; FUNCTIONS, POWERS, AND

ORGANIZATION OF MINISTRY TEAMS AND THE

PARISH PLANNING COUNCIL

These provisions shall be stated in the Parish Leadership Manual.

Article 8: AMENDMENTS

These By-Laws may be amended at any meeting of the voting members by a majority vote, provided:

1. That a motion to submit for consideration such a proposal to amend has been made at a meeting of the voting members at least thirty (30) days prior to the date of the meeting at which it is considered.

2. That all voting members have been advised of the nature of the proposed changes and of the date of the meeting at which the proposed amendment is to be acted upon at least two (2) Sundays prior to the meeting at which the amendment is considered. Such notice shall be published in the Sunday bulletin on the two (2) Sundays prior to this meeting date.

 

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