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CHURCH OF BETHPAGE
(REVISED: FEBRUARY 22, 1998)
Whereas the Word of God demands that all things in all Christian congregations be done decently and in order
(1 Corinthians 14:40: “Let all things be done decently and in order.” Colossians 2:5: “…yet am I with you in the spirit joying and beholding your order…”).
And, whereas our fathers in order that this might be done have led the way by drawing up Christian church regulations. Therefore, we, a number of Lutherans, resident in Central Park, Long Island, County of Nassau, Town of Oyster Bay, New York, have united and formed a congregation and we lay down this present document, signed by ourselves, the order in accordance with which all our congregational affairs, spiritual and material, are to be conducted.
ARTICLE I – NAME AND PURPOSE
The name of this congregation shall be, “St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession in Bethpage, Long Island, Town of Oyster Bay, County of Nassau, State of New York”. The corporate name shall be, “St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bethpage, New York”. This congregation shall hold membership in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod as long as that Synod maintains the theological commitment stated in Article II below. It shall support according to its ability, the work of the Synod in all its activities.
The purpose of this congregation shall be to serve its members and to extend the kingdom of God by the preaching of the Word of God, by the administration of the Holy Sacraments, and by the religious instruction of youth and adults, according to the confessional standard of the Lutheran Church (Article II), and to foster Christian fellowship and charity.
ARTICLE II – DOCTRINAL BASIS
This congregation accepts and acknowledges all the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments as the inspired Word of God and all the Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church contained in the Book of Concord as true and sound exhibition of Christian doctrine taken from and in full agreement with the Holy Scriptures; and in this congregation no doctrine shall be taught or tolerated which is a variance with these Symbols of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, viz., l. The Ecumenical Creeds: the Apostolic, the Nicene, and the Athanasian. 2. The unaltered Augsburg Confession. 3. The Apology of the same. 4. The Smalcald articles. 5. Luther’s Large Catechism. 6. Luther’s Small Catechism. 7. The Formula of Concord. According to this form of doctrine all doctrinal controversies, which may arise in this congregation, shall be decided and adjusted.
ARTICLE III – MEMBERSHIP
No one can be or remain a member of this congregation, or hold office in the same, or enjoy or exercise the rights and privileges of a member but such as: A. Are Baptized. B. Declare their adherence to all the Canonical Books of the Old and the New Testament as the only divine rule and norm of faith and life, and their acceptance of all the Lutheran Symbols. C. Do no live on manifest works of the flesh, (Gal. 5, 19-21) but lead Christian lives. D. Contribute to the maintenance of the church to the best of their ability. E. Submit to the church regulations which may have been established, or which may yet be established, provided that they are not contrary to the Word of God. F. Permit themselves to be fraternally admonished and corrected when they have erred.
ARTICLE IV – RIGHT TO HOLD OFFICE AND TO VOTE
All communicant members of this congregation as have completed their eighteenth year, have been a member of this congregation for at least three months, and are in good standing according to the requirements in Article III, shall be entitled to vote at congregational meetings. The right to hold office shall belong to such only as have held voting membership for at least six months.
ARTICLE V – ATTENDANCE AT MEETINGS
It shall be the duty of every voting member to attend, if possible, the meetings of the congregation, and by failing personally to attend a meeting; a member waives the right to cast his or her vote during the meeting.
ARTICLE VI – QUORUM
Regular meetings of the voting members of the congregation shall be announced on the program at divine worship for the two Sundays preceding such meeting. One-Fourth of the average attendance of voting members present at congregational meetings in the past two years shall constitute a quorum.
ARTICLE VII – VALIDITY OF RESOLUTIONS
In matters of doctrine and conscience, unanimity shall be required for a final decision (See Article XIII). Other matters shall be decided by a majority vote of the members present at a meeting properly convened, unless otherwise specified elsewhere in this Constitution and By-Laws.
ARTICLE VIII – RIGHT OF CALLING PASTORS AND ELECTING OFFICERS
The right of choosing and calling pastors and electing members of the Church Council of the congregation shall ever be vested in the voting members of the congregation and shall never be delegated to an individual or to a minor body of circle within the congregation.
ARTICLE IX – UPON WHOM THE PASTORAL OFFICE MAY BE CONFERRED
The pastoral office of this congregation may be conferred upon such ministers or candidates only as profess their acceptance and adherence to all the Canonical Books of the Old Testament and the New Testament as the inspired Word of God and all the Symbols of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, enumerated in Article II, as derived from such Word of God, and the pastors shall be pledged to such faithful adherence of the Word of God and the Symbols of the Lutheran Church by the call extended to them and accepted by them.
ARTICLE X – MODE OF CALLING A PASTOR
The election of the pastor shall be performed in the following manner, via: The names of one or more candidates shall be proposed at a meeting of the voting members of the congregation. When a vote is taken, one name only shall be under consideration. If several candidates have been nominated, the order of voting upon these shall be determined by a primary election, which shall be decided by a majority vote. For a final decision, which must be reached by ballot, the votes of two-thirds of the members present are necessary to elect.
ARTICLE XI – SUFFICIENT CAUSE FOR REMOVAL FROM OFFICE
If the pastor is accused of false doctrine, scandalous life, or willful neglect of duty and such charges be corroborated by two reliable witnesses, the Church Council shall investigate such charges in the spirit of love and kindness. (1Timothy 5:19). If upon investigation, such charges are substantiated, the case shall be immediately submitted to the Visitor of the Synodical District with which the congregation is affiliated. If, however, the Church Council refuses to investigate any well-attested charges, a majority of the voting members has the right to lay the matter before the above-mentioned Synodical Officer. If the voting members of the congregation disagree with the findings of the above-mentioned officer, it reserves the right to render its own decision after proper proceedings.
ARTICLE XII – EXCOMMUNICATION AND ITS CONSEQUENCES
When a member of this congregation, after fruitless admonition in the various grades prescribed by the Word of God (Matthew 18:15-20), where the observance of such grades has been possible, shall have been expelled from the congregation, such excommunicated person shall then have forfeited all rights as a member of this congregation, and all claims upon the property of the congregation as such or upon any part thereof. The same shall hold good with reference to such members as may have refused to submit to church discipline and thus excommunicated themselves, as also of those who may have severed their connection by removal or otherwise.
ARTICLE XIII – POWER VESTED IN VOTING MEMBERS OF THE CONGREGATION
The voting members of the congregation as a body shall have the supreme power in the external and internal administration and management of its own ecclesiastical and congregational affairs. No decision, enactment, or performance in behalf of the congregation or with reference to a member thereof, as such shall be valid, whether it have proceeded from an individual or from a body within the congregation, unless it shall have been enacted or performed according to a general or special power conferred by the voting members of the congregation, and whatever may have been ordered or decided by individuals or minor bodies within the congregation, and whatever may have been ordered or decided by individuals or minor bodies within the congregation, under a power conferred by the voting members of the congregation, shall always be subject to revision and final decision by the voting members of the congregation, but not even the voting members of the congregation shall be empowered to order, enact, or decide anything contrary to the Word of God and the Symbols of the orthodox Lutheran Church, and any such ordinance, enactment, or decision shall be null and void.
ARTICLE XIV – POWER OF THE CHURCH COUNCIL
The Church Council shall have no authority beyond that which has been conferred upon it by the congregation and whatever power may have been delegated to it shall be at all times liable to changes or revision by the voting members of the congregation.
ARTICLE XV – TRUSTEES
All property of the congregation shall be in the custody and control of the successive Trustees, elected by the congregation, i.e., they are to manage the same, sign and execute documents in the name of the congregation, appear before court and carry out all those transactions, matters and obligations which may from time to time be undertaken by or required from the congregation; however, no power or authority is given them to act in any of these matters according to their own wish, will or judgment, but they are to act solely in accordance with the instructions given them by the congregation through formal resolutions of voting members. Whenever the Trustees act arbitrarily, i.e., without authority and instructions from the voting members of the congregation, they shall be held personally and individually responsible for their transactions, and only then shall the entire congregation be responsible for their transactions and secure them against all loss when they act in accordance with the express resolutions and in obedience to the explicit instructions of the voting members of the congregation.
ARTICLE XVI – RIGHT TO PROPERTY IN CASE OF SCHISM
If at any time a separation shall take place in this congregation on account of doctrine, the property of the congregation and all the benefits therewith connected shall remain with those members who shall continue to adhere to Article II and IX of the Constitution.
ARTICLE XVII – AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION AND BY-LAWS
If it be found necessary to amend this Constitution or By-Laws, or alter or repeal any alterable or repealable article of the Constitution or By-Laws, a motion to that effect must be made in a regularly called meeting of the voting members of the congregation. If this motion is carried by a majority vote of the voting members present, proposed amendment repeals, or alterations shall be presented at the divine service of the congregation on three successive Sundays. At the same time a second meeting shall be announced, in which the proposition is to be discussed. Proposed amendments shall be added to the Constitution or By-Laws, or alterations or repeals made thereto when two-thirds of the voting members present at the second meeting have declared themselves in favor of them.
ARTICLE XVIII – UNALTERABLE AND IRREPEALABLE ARTICLES
The following articles of this Constitution shall be unalterable and irreparable and are titled in Blue:
Article 2, 3, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 18.
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