Revised: July 17, 2016
Constitution of Bethlehem Baptist Church
We declare and establish this constitution to preserve and secure the principles of our faith and to govern the body in an orderly manner. This constitution will preserve the liberties of each individual church member and the freedom of action of this body in relation to other churches.
Article 1. Name
This body shall be known as Bethlehem Baptist Church, located at 1286 Briar Ridge Road in Mt. Eden, Kentucky.
Article 2. Objectives
~ To bring glory to God through personal commitment to a local church.
~ To be a dynamic spiritual organism empowered by the Holy Spirit to share Christ with as many people as possible in our church, community, and throughout the world.
~ To be a worshipping fellowship, experiencing an awareness of God, recognizing His person, and responding in obedience to His leadership.
~ To experience an increasingly meaningful fellowship with God and fellow believers.
~ To help people experience a growing knowledge of God and man.
~ To be a church which ministers unselfishly to persons in the community and the world in Jesus’ name.
~ To be a church whose purpose is to be Christ-like in our daily living by emphasizing total commitment of life, personality, and possessions to the lordship of Christ.
Article 3. Church Covenant
Having been led as we believe by the Spirit of God to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and, on the profession of our faith, having been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, we do now in the presence of God and this assembly most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another as one body in Christ.
We engage, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit to walk together in Christian love; to strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness, and comfort; to promote its prosperity and spirituality; to sustain its worship, ordinances, doctrines, and discipline; to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, and the relief of the poor, and the spread of the gospel through all nations.
We also engage to maintain family and secret devotions; to religiously educate our children; to seek the salvation of our kindred and acquaintances; to walk circumspectly as Christians in the world; to avoid all gossiping, backbiting, and disruptive anger; to abstain from all forms of sexual immorality; to use our influence to combat the abuse of drugs and alcoholic drinks; and to be zealous in our efforts to advance the kingdom of our Savior.
We further engage to watch over one another in brotherly love; to remember one another in prayer; to aid one another in sickness and distress; to cultivate Christian sympathy and courtesy; to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation.
We moreover engage that if we remove from this place we will as soon as possible unite with another Christian church where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God’s Word.
Article 4. Policy and Relationships
The government of this church is vested in the body of believers who compose it. Persons duly received by the members shall constitute the membership. (See Article I of the Bylaws.)
All internal groups created and empowered by the Church shall report to and be accountable only to the Church, unless otherwise specified by Church action.
This church is subject to the control of no other ecclesiastical body. Insofar as is practical, this church will cooperate with and support local Christian churches, the Shelby Association, the Kentucky Baptist Convention, and the Southern Baptist Convention.
Article 1. Statement of Faith
Section 1. Baptist Faith and Message
This church subscribes to the doctrinal statement of The Baptist Faith and Message as adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention in 2000.
Section 2. Gender Identity
We believe gender is determined by God at conception. Because of sin’s corruption and the willful choice of individuals, perceived physical and mental gender is nondeterminative.
We understand an individual’s gender as either male or female as determined by his or her DNA.
Section 3. Marriage
In addition to the definition of marriage within section XVIII of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, we further clarify that a marriage relationship is distinct from and cannot be maintained with any other marriage-like partnership (such as civil unions, handfasting, etc.). Further, we maintain that marriage is distinctly held between two living human beings.
Section 4. Sin, Repentance, and Restoration
We believe that God offers redemption and restoration to all who confess and forsake their sin, seeking His mercy and forgiveness only through Jesus Christ.
Article 2. Church Membership
Section 1. General
This is a sovereign and democratic Baptist church under the lordship of Jesus Christ. The membership retains unto itself the right of self-government in all phases of the spiritual and temporal life of this church.
The membership reserves the exclusive right to determine who shall be members of this church and the conditions of such membership.
Section 2. Candidacy
Any person may offer himself as a candidate for membership in this church.
Every member of this church must be a believer in Jesus Christ who has been baptized by immersion in obedience to Christ; who gives evidence of regeneration by a living consistent with their profession; who holds without mental reservation to the Christian faith as revealed in the Bible; who agrees to submit to the teaching of Scripture as expressed in the Statement of Faith; who promises to keep the commitments expressed in the Church Covenant and Constitution; and who has been received into its membership according to the By-Laws of this Church.
The Pastor(s) shall be responsible for determining each person’s qualification for membership.
Section 3. Admission of Members
A person shall be received as a Member of the church upon the recommendation of the pastor(s) and the subsequent agreement of at least three-quarters of the Members present and voting on the question at any regular Worship Service or Members’ Meeting.
Candidates shall be announced to the church in any of the following ways:
- By profession of faith and for baptism according to the policies of this church.
- By promise of a letter of recommendation from another Baptist church.
- By statement of prior conversion experience and previous baptism by immersion when no letter is obtainable.
- By repentance and restoration following exclusion by the Church.
No Member of this church shall retain membership in any other church.
Section 4. New Member Orientation
New Members of this church are required to participate in the church’s new member orientation before being voted on for church membership.
Section 5. Rights and Responsibilities of Members
- Members are expected to participate actively in the life of the church by regularly attending its Lord’s Day meetings to the extent of their abilities.
- Members are expected to participate in and contribute to the ministry and life of the church in ways consistent with God’s leading and with the gifts, time, and resources each has received from God.
- Members of the Church shall faithfully observe the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper as administered by the Church.
- Members shall submit to the discipline and instruction of the Church.
- Members are expected to make every effort to live at peace with one another and to resolve disputes with each other in private or within the Church according to Matthew 18 and 1 Corinthians 6:1-8. Dispute resolutions shall be based on biblical principles, without reliance on the secular courts.
- Because this church is governed by its members, it is the privilege and responsibility of each Member to attend all Members’ Meetings. Every Member of the Church is entitled to present, discuss, and vote at all elections and on all questions submitted to the church in conference, provided the Member is present or provision has previously been made for absentee balloting by the Church.
- Only Members of the church are eligible to lead the ministries or serve in the offices of the church, unless the Pastor(s) give specific consent.
Section 6. Termination of Membership
Membership shall be terminated in the following ways:
- Death of the Member.
- Transfer of membership to another Church.
- Voluntary resignation.
- Exclusion by action of this church
The Church shall have authority to refuse a Member’s voluntary resignation or transfer of membership to another church for the purpose of proceeding with a process of church discipline or for any other reason the Church deems necessary or prudent.
Section 7. Accountability, Discipline, and Restoration
It shall be the practice of this church to emphasize to its members that every reasonable measure will be taken to assist any troubled member. The Pastor(s), other members of the church staff, and deacons are available for counsel and guidance. The attitude of members toward one another shall be guided by a concern for redemption rather than punishment.
If a Member is found consistently neglectful of the duties enumerated in Article 1, Section 5 or engaging in habitual sin by which the reputation of Christ or His Church is dishonored, the Church shall have authority to exercise discipline, which may involve excluding from its membership any such Member. Such action shall be done in accordance with the instructions of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 18 and those of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 and 2 Corinthians 2:6-8.
Church discipline can include admonition by the Pastor(s) or congregation, suspension from the Lord’s Supper for a period of time, removal from office, and excommunication.
If it becomes necessary for the Church to take action to exclude a Member, a two-thirds vote of the Members present is required; and the Church may proceed to declare the person to be no longer in the membership of the Church. All such proceedings shall be pervaded by a spirit of Christian kindness and forbearance.
The Church may restore to membership any person previously excluded, upon request of the excluded person, and by vote of the Church upon evidence of the excluded person’s repentance and reformation.
Section 8. Associate Membership
Any person under the age of 18 seeking membership in the Church shall be considered for Associate Membership. Qualifications are identical to those for full membership as set out above. A letter of consent will be sought from the applicant’s parents / guardians. Duties and privileges of Associate Members are the same as for other Members except that they will not be eligible to stand for any office or to vote in Members’ Meetings. Such Members are still encouraged to participate in Members’ Meetings to remain involved in the life of the Church.
Termination of Associate Membership as a disciplinary measure will be as it is for other members. Associate Membership will automatically be transferred to full Membership upon the individual turning 18 years of age.
Students and other temporary residents in the area who are members of an evangelical church may also apply for Associate Membership. In such cases home church membership must be retained and a letter of commendation will be sought from the applicant’s home church. Duties and privileges remain the same except that when absent from the area for extended periods of time they are released from the responsibility to attend our church services.
The Pastor or Elders of the individual’s home church shall be notified of any disciplinary measures. Associate Membership will normally terminate immediately upon the ending of the period of temporary residence in the area.
Article 3. Church Meetings
Section 1. Worship Services
The Church shall meet each Sunday morning. Other services may be held throughout the week as the Pastor(s) or Leadership Team determines.
Section 2. Members’ Meetings
The church shall hold regular Members’ Meetings the second Sunday evening of each month.
During Members’ Meetings, the Church shall be responsible to elect officers, recognize the termination of Members, exercise church discipline, approve the church budget, hear reports from the Pastor(s), officers, and ministry leaders, and take any other action they deem necessary or desirable.
A special Members’ Meeting may be called by the Pastor(s), the Leadership Team, or by written request of at least five percent of the Church membership. This special meeting shall be given at least one week’s public notice.
In every meeting together, members shall act in that spirit of mutual trust, openness, and loving consideration, which is appropriate within the body of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Roberts’ Rules of Order, Revised, is the authority for parliamentary rules of procedure for all Members’ Meetings of the church.
Article 4. Church Government
Section 1. Church Officers
The Biblical offices in the Church are Pastors and Deacons. In addition, our Church recognizes the administrative positions under this constitution of Moderator, Clerk, Treasurer, and Trustees. All who serve as officers of the church shall be members of this church who hold without reservation to the Church’s Statement of Faith. Final earthly authority in the Church is vested in the assembled congregation.
Section 2. Pastors
The church recognizes pastors as the same office translated in various Bible versions as elders, bishops, overseers, shepherds, or pastors. All persons designated as pastors of the Church shall function as leading elders of the congregation. The Church shall call as many pastors as the wisdom of the congregation and ministries of the Church commend.
The pastors will be men who adhere to the Biblical description of an elder as found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. In addition, pastors will ascribe without reservation to the Church’s Statement of Faith, Covenant, Constitution, and By-Laws. The pastors are responsible for overseeing the ministry and resources of the Church. In keeping with principles set forth in Acts 6:1-7, 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and 5:17, Titus 1:5-9, James 5:14, and 1 Peter 5:1-4, the pastors shall devote their time to prayer, the ministry of the Word, and shepherding God’s flock. By this service, the Pastors direct the Church body in matters of doctrine and faith to function as a New Testament church. They lead the membership by word and example to achieve its mission, of proclaiming the gospel to believers and unbelievers, and caring for the church’s members and other persons in the community.
The Pastors shall have particular authority to plan and oversee worship services, the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and the work of the Deacons, Church agents, and ministry teams; to examine and instruct prospective members; to recommend all candidates for offices and positions; to equip the membership for the work of the ministry; to encourage sound doctrine and practice; to admonish and correct error; to oversee the process of church discipline; to coordinate and promote the ministries of the Church; and to mobilize the Church for world missions. The Pastors are further to ensure that all who minister the Word to the congregation share our fundamental convictions.
Pastors shall be chosen and called by the Church whenever such need arises. A Pastor Selection Team including all current pastors shall be elected by the Church to seek out a suitable pastor for the position. The recommendation of the Selection Team will constitute a nomination. However, any church member has the privilege of making other nominations according to the policy established by the Church. The team shall bring to the consideration of the church only one candidate for pastoral office at a time.
The election of the candidate for pastoral position shall take place at a meeting called for that purpose, of which at least one week’s public notice has been given. Election shall be by ballot, an affirmative vote of three-fourths of those present being necessary for calling the nominated individual as a pastor of the Church. Once elected, he shall serve until the relationship is terminated by his own or the church’s request.
Pastors of the church shall meet all the qualifications and hold all the rights and responsibilities of the Members of the Church.
Any Pastor may relinquish his office as Pastor by giving at least two week’s notice to the church at the time of resignation. The Church shall compensate the Pastor for vacation time accrued on the percentage of the fiscal year that has passed if such time has not already been used. The resigning Pastor shall reimburse the Church for such time used but not yet accrued on the percentage of the fiscal year that has passed.
The Church may declare the office of Pastor to be vacant. Such action must occur in the attitude and instruction of Matthew 18:15-17 and 1 Timothy 5:17-21. A special Members’ Meeting shall be called for this purpose with at least one week’s public notice given. The meeting may be called upon the recommendation of a majority of the Personnel Team and the Deacons or by written petition signed by not less than one-fourth of church members.
The vote to declare the office vacant shall be by secret ballot, an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members present being necessary to declare the office vacant. Except in instances of gross misconduct by the pastor so excluded from office, the church will compensate the pastor with not less than one-twelfth of his total annual compensation.
The termination shall be immediate and the compensation shall be rendered in not more than thirty days.
Section 3. Lead Pastor
The church shall call one pastor to serve as Lead Pastor over the Church. Though equal to all the pastors, He is considered the chief among those equals and serves as chairman of the Pastors. He must be noted by the congregation as a man of wisdom and discipline who has been called to the ministry of the word and prayer and is particularly gifted for such service.
Section 4. Ministerial Staff Members (Other than the Pastors)
The ministerial staff shall be called and employed as the Church determines the need for such positions. A job description shall be written when the need for a staff member is determined. Those staff members of whom the church requires evidence of a personal call of God to minister shall be recommended to the church by the Pastors and Personnel Team and called by church action.
At the time of resignation, at least two week’s notice shall be given to the Church. The Church may vote to vacate such positions upon recommendation of the Pastors or Personnel Team. The vote to declare the office vacant shall be by secret ballot at any regular Members’ Meeting, an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members present being necessary to declare the position vacant. Such termination will be immediate and the compensation conditions will be the same as for pastors, except that the amount shall relate to the individual’s compensation.
Section 5. Deacons
The number of deacons shall be determined by the needs of the ministry and by the call and qualification of men in the Church. The Church shall seek to have at least one deacon for every ten church families or fraction thereof on the membership roll.
Each Deacon shall be elected from among the men of this church who have proven themselves to have scriptural qualifications in accordance with 1 Timothy 3:8-13. The church shall elect deacons by ballot at a regular Members’ meeting of the Church to a term of three years. Men who have served faithfully may be re-elected to additional terms with no gap in service.
Deacons shall at all times consider themselves servants of the church. In keeping with the principles set forth in Acts 6.1-7, Deacons shall not exercise a ministry of spiritual authority, but shall support the Pastor(s)’ ministry of the Word. Specifically, they shall work to maintain the unity of the Church, help prepare and oversee the ordinances, and care for the physical needs of the Church.
To help meet the physical needs of the Church, the Deacons shall serve as the stewards of the Church’s benevolence funds.
The Deacons shall arrange for regular meetings and such committees as are necessary to the discharge of their duties. They shall elect annually their own chairman. The Pastor(s), or the Chairman of the Deacons, may call the Deacons into special session whenever the need for such arises.
Any Deacon may relinquish his office as Deacon at any regular Members’ Meeting. Likewise, the Church may remove an unfaithful Deacon from office. Such action must occur in the attitude and instruction of Matthew 18:15-17 and 1 Timothy 5:17-21. A special Members’ Meeting shall be called for this purpose with at least one week’s public notice given. The meeting may be called upon the recommendation of a majority of the Personnel Committee and the Pastors or by written petition signed by not less than one-fourth of church members.
In the absence of Deacons, the Pastor(s) may perform their duties or appoint other faithful men to do so.
Section 6. Moderator
The Church shall elect annually a moderator as its presiding officer at all regular and special Members’ Meetings. Pastors of the church may not serve as moderator at any Members’ Meeting.
In the absence of the Moderator, the Clerk shall call the church to order and preside for the election of an acting moderator.
Section 7. Clerk
The Church shall elect annually a clerk as its clerical officer.
The Clerk shall be responsible for keeping a suitable record of all official actions of the church, except as otherwise herein provided.
The Clerk shall be responsible for keeping a register of names of members with dates of admission, dismissal, death, or erasure, together with a record of baptisms. The Clerk shall issue letters of dismissal voted by the church, preserve on file all communications and written official reports, and give required notice of all meetings where notice is necessary, as indicated in these Bylaws. The Clerk shall be responsible for preparing the annual letter of the church to the association.
The Church may delegate some of the clerical responsibilities to a church ministry assistant who will assist the elected Clerk. All church records are church property and shall be kept in the church office where an office is maintained.
In the absence or incapacity of the Clerk, the Pastor(s) shall appoint a member to perform the duties of the Church Clerk.
Section 8. Treasurer
The church shall elect annually a church treasurer as its financial officer.
It shall be the duty of the treasurer to receive, preserve, and payout, upon receipt of vouchers approved and signed by authorized personnel, all money or things of value paid or given to the church, keeping at all times an itemized account of all receipts and disbursements.
The treasurer shall render to the church a quarterly report at a regular Members’ Meeting containing an itemized report of the receipts and disbursements of the preceding quarter. The treasurer will also be responsible for rendering to the church an annual report of the receipts and disbursements of the preceding year. The treasurer may enlist the help of the church ministry assistant in keeping and preparing the information necessary for the completion of such reports.
When needed, the church may appoint an assistant treasurer to serve as a back-up signator for church finances.
Section 9. Trustees
The Church shall elect three or more trustees to serve as legal officers for the church. Trustees are appointed to manage the legal affairs and physical property of the church.
Whenever contract work is necessary, the trustees will oversee the process of selecting such laborers. All contracted positions must be licensed and insured.
Section 10. Nominating Team
The Nominating Team shall be made up of at least three church members elected from the non-staff church congregation. The team shall select and confirm individuals from the church membership to serve in all other positions as deemed necessary by the Church. These recommendations shall be elected by simple majority vote at any regular Members’ Meeting. All who serve in these positions shall be members of this church who hold without reservation to the Church’s Statement of Faith.
Section 11. Leadership Team
The Leadership Team shall serve the Church by leading in planning, coordinating, conducting, and evaluating the ministries and programs of the Church and its organizations. The primary functions of the Leadership Team shall be to recommend to the Church suggested objectives and goals; to review and coordinate ministry and program plans recommended by church officers, organizations, and teams; to recommend to the Church the use of leadership, calendar time, and other resources according to program priorities; and to evaluate achievements in terms of church objectives and goals. Regular members of the Leadership Team shall be church officers and directors of church ministries. All matters agreed upon by the team which call for action not already approved shall be referred to the Church for approval or disapproval.
Section 12. The Personnel Team
The Personnel Team oversees the hiring, reviewing, and firing of church staff. They may seek council from the Pastor(s) in their efforts to complete these tasks.
The Personnel Team shall be made up of four or five church members elected annually from the non-staff church congregation. Members of the team may serve for up to three consecutive years after which they must take at least a one year break before serving on the team again.
As the Church determines the need, the Personnel Team shall have the authority to employ and to terminate services of contract workers. Such employment and termination of services shall be with the recommendation of the supervising staff member and, as appropriate, with the consultation of related teams of the Church.
Section 13. Indemnification
If a legal claim or criminal allegation is made against a person because he or she is or was an officer, employee, or agent of the Church, the Church shall provide indemnification against liability and costs incurred in defending against the claim if the elders determine that the person acted in good faith; with the care an ordinarily prudent person in a similar position would exercise under similar circumstances; in a manner the person reasonably believed to be in the best interest of the church; and with no reasonable cause to believe his or her conduct was unlawful.
Section 14. Corporate Officers
In compliance with the nonprofit corporation laws of Kentucky regarding the corporation registered as Bethlehem Southern Baptist Church, we recognize the following officers. The Lead Pastor shall serve as President, the Clerk shall serve as Secretary, the Treasurer shall serve as Treasurer, and the Trustees shall serve as Directors.
In addition, the church shall appoint a member to serve as the Registered Agent of the corporation.
Article 5. Church Finances
Section 1. The Finance Team
The Finance Team is responsible for setting the budget and reviewing the purchases of the church. It shall consist of a minimum of three members made up of the Treasurer and a minimum of two church members. Elected members of the team may serve for up to three consecutive years after which they must take at least a one year break before serving on the team again.
Section 2. Budget
The Finance Team shall prepare and submit to the Church for approval an itemized budget for all expenses. The proposed budget shall be presented for approval at the last Members’ Meeting of each fiscal year. A simple majority of those present and voting is required to approve the budget.
Section 3. Member Support
It is understood that membership in this church involves financial obligation to support the church and its causes with regular, proportionate gifts.
Section 4. Accounting Procedures
All funds received for any and all purposes shall pass through the hands of the Treasurer or Finance Team and be properly recorded on the books of the Church. A system of accounting that will adequately provide for the handling of all funds shall be the responsibility of the Finance Team.
Section 5. Fiscal Year
The church fiscal year shall run concurrently with the church year which begins September 1 and ends on August 31.
Article 6. Church Ordinances
Section 1. Baptism
This church shall receive for baptism any person who has received Jesus Christ as Savior by personal faith, who professes Him publicly, and who indicates a commitment to follow Christ as Lord.
- The Pastor(s) shall be responsible for determining each person’s qualification for baptism.
- A recognized baptism shall only be by immersion in water.
- The Pastor(s), or whomever the church shall authorize, shall administer baptism. A person shall be authorized to baptize upon evidence of his/her own salvation and approval by the Pastor(s).
- Baptism should be administered as an act of worship during any worship service of the Church.
- A person who professes Christ and is not baptized after a reasonable length of time shall be counseled by the Pastor(s). If negative interest is ascertained on the part of the candidate, he shall be deleted from those awaiting baptism.
- The Deacons shall assist the Pastor(s) in the preparation for, and the observance of, baptism.
Section 2. The Lord’s Supper
The Church shall observe the Lord’s Supper regularly. The frequency shall be determined by the Church and the times of observance scheduled by the Pastor(s).
The regular observance of the Lord’s Supper shall take place during any worship service of the Church.
Any Christian who judges himself as in good standing concerning the Lord and his local church may partake in the Lord’s Supper.
Under the Pastor(s) discretion, the Lord’s Supper may be observed at other gatherings of the Church. These additional instances shall not take the place of regular worship observances.
Article 7. Amendments
Section 1. Procedure
Changes in the Constitution and Bylaws may be made at any regular Members’ Meeting of the Church provided each amendment shall have been presented in writing at a previous Members’ Meeting and copies of the proposed amendment shall have been furnished to each member present at the earlier meeting.
Section 2. Ratification
Amendments to the Constitution shall be by two-thirds vote of church members present. Amendments to the Bylaws shall have a concurrence of a majority of the members present and voting.