Preamble

            Since it pleased Almighty God, by His Holy Spirit to assemble His servants to unite in 2009 under the name of Sovereign Grace Baptist Church of Cape Girardeau for the worship of God and the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  In the summer of 2014, the membership of Sovereign Grace Baptist Church moved to Jackson, Missouri and adopted the new name of Grace Baptist Church. Our Lord and savior has sustained and prospered this work to the present day;

            Whereas we, the members of Grace Baptist Church, having searched the Scriptures under the guidance of His Spirit, have recognized the need to constitute ourselves to more closely conform to His will for the Church in this age and prepare ourselves for greater efforts in His name;

            Now therefore we, the members of Grace Baptist Church, do hereby organize ourselves in accord with the Missouri Nonprofit Corporation Law and adopt this Constitution as our articles of governance, to be interpreted at all times to reflect the character of and bring glory to Jesus Christ, as revealed in the Holy Scriptures and articulated in the standards set forth in the Baptist Confession of Faith (1689) and Covenant of Grace Baptist Church (2015).

 

Article I—Name

The name of this Church shall be called Grace Baptist Church of Cape Girardeau (hereafter “GBC” or “the Church”). The Church shall have authority to make all rules and regulations necessary to put into effect any and all of its articles of government, directives for worship, discipline, and judicial proceedings.

  

Article II—Purpose

This church exists to spread a hunger for God’s glory and His sovereign grace so that all people might know Jesus Christ as their Lord, Savior, and Treasure.

        This church glorifies God by loving Him and obeying His commands through

      Worshipping Him;

      Equipping the saints through Bible instruction and study;

      Proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ through preaching and personal evangelism, and any other means consistent with the teaching of Holy Scripture;

      Encouraging, supporting, and participating in mission work: local, domestic, and international;

      Administering the ordinances of baptism and Lord’s Supper;

      Encouraging Biblical fellowship among believers;

      Serving other families, churches and individuals by providing for physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, in the name of Jesus Christ;    

  

Article III—Authority

Section 1: Holy Scriptures

The God of the Holy Scriptures (the Bible, which is composed of both the Old and New Testaments), is recognized as the source of all GBC authority, and the Holy Scriptures contain His ultimate precepts and directives to guide the Assembly in all of its articles of government, worship, discipline, and judicial proceedings.  The Holy Scriptures shall, therefore, be recognized as legitimate, standing, authoritative, and directive unto all of the rules of government, the practice of worship, and the disciplinary and judicial procedures of the Assembly.

 

Section 2: Church Authority

The GBC Statement of Faith, the GBC Covenant, the GBC Constitution and By-Laws, and the GBC Eldership shall also be recognized as legitimate, standing, and authoritative in as far as they direct or affect the rules of government, the practices of worship, and the disciplinary and judicial procedures of the Church.

 

Section 3:  Articles of Faith

We have adopted, as the fullest expression of our faith, the Baptist Confession of Faith (1689), as directed by the Elders.  This document is an excellent summary of things most surely believed among us.  We accept the same, not as an authoritative rule or code of faith, but as an assistance to us in controversy, a confirmation in faith, and a means of instruction in righteousness.  In this Confession the members of our Church will have Biblical doctrine in a condensed form and by means of Scriptural proofs will be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in them (1 Peter 3:15).

  

Article IV—Membership

Section 1:  Requirements for Membership

Any person who professes repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, who has been baptized as a believer, and who expresses substantial agreement with the doctrines, aims, and government of this Church, shall be eligible for membership.  It is understood that each individual will have thoroughly read the Statement of Faith, the Constitution, and the Covenant of this Church for mutual agreement and conscientious commitment. Each member must agree to submit to the teaching of Scripture as expressed in the Statement of Faith and must promise to keep the commitments expressed in the Church Covenant.

 

Section 2:  By Confession of Faith

Any person who meets the above mentioned requirements may apply for membership to one of the Elders.  The Elders shall then fix a time and place for meeting with the potential member, who shall attend and be questioned as to his or her personal Christian experience, doctrinal beliefs, and seriousness of intention to wholeheartedly support the total ministry of this Church.

 

Section 3:  Covenanting

Those applying for membership shall be received as members of GBC upon the reading and committing to the Covenant of GBC individually before the existing members.

 

Section 4:  Transfer of Membership

1.     For the edification of the body, the member household should be in communication beforehand with the Elders when they are considering transferring their membership, whereby the Elders may have discussions and prayer with them about the change.

2.     If a member household or individual member of GBC in good standing requests to be transferred to the care of another Christian church, the Elders will grant the request, and transfer them with a blessing.

3.     If a member household or individual member of GBC requests to be released from membership during disciplinary proceedings against the individual or anyone in the household, the Elders will deny the request until the disciplinary matter is resolved by the Elders giving the matter their utmost attention.

 

Section 5: Duties and Privileges of Membership

          In accord with the duties enumerated in the Church Covenant, each member shall be privileged and expected to participate in and contribute to the ministry and life of the church, consistent with God’s leading and with the gifts, time, and material resources each has received from God.  Only those shall be entitled to serve in the ministries of the church who are members of this congregation; non-members may serve on an ad-hoc basis with approval of the elders.  Notwithstanding, non-members may serve the church for purposes of administration and professional consultation.

           

Section 6: Associate Membership

          Students attending university and others temporarily residing in the Southeast Missouri area who are members of an evangelical church may apply for associate membership.  Qualifications are identical for full membership as set out above, except that home church membership must be retained.  A letter of commendation will be sought from the applicant’s home church.

          Duties and privileges of associate members are the same as for other members except:

(a) when absent from the Southeast Missouri area for extended periods of time they are released from the responsibility to attend our church services;

(b) while they will be encouraged to participate in members’ meetings they will not be eligible to stand for any office or to vote.

          Termination of associate membership as a disciplinary measure will be as it is for other members, except that the elders shall notify the pastor or elders of the home church of that termination.  Associate membership will normally terminate immediately upon the ending of the period of temporary residence in the Southeast Missouri area.

 

 Article V—Prayer Regarding Decisions

Section 1:  Definition & Overview

Grace Baptist Church is governed by the elders.  Christ is the head of the church, and He places elders to lead the church by prayer, teaching, and example.  Rather than popular vote, the elders will present certain items to the church for a time of prayer.  This allows for open & clear communication of important decisions, and allows everyone an opportunity to take part in the functioning of the church.

All decisions, including any Articles of Amendments to this constitution, addition of or changes to Church by-laws, rules of government, its directives and practice of worship, or disciplinary and judicial procedures, membership, and officer appointment shall only be determined by the elders. 

 

Section 2:  Petition for prayer

Prior to enactment of certain items, the elders will present to the church the decision to move forward into a time of prayer.  These items include:

  • The yearly Budget
  • Election of officers (Article VII)
  • Membership
  • Excommunication
  • Amendments (Article XI)
  • Other items as requested by the elders
  •  

Section 3: Concerns or Encouragement

Following a request for prayer regarding decisions, any concerns, encouragements, or questions during this time should be brought to the elders within one month.  All concerns or encouragements will be considered and prayed over by the elders, and elders will determine whether to move forward with the decision (i.e. approval of budget, begin the term of the officer, covenant with new members or return to the church requesting further prayer, etc.)

 

Article VI—Meetings

Section 1: Worship Meetings

            Worship services shall be held each Lord’s Day, and may be held throughout the week as the church determines.

 

Section 2: Men’s Prayer Meetings

            The men of the church shall gather each Wednesday for a time of prayer, fellowship, and reading of the scriptures, unless circumstances prevent meeting (i.e. weather) as determined by the elders.  If a meeting does not take place, men will pray individually/with their families instead.

 

Section 3: Women’s Prayer Meetings

            Time will be set aside for regular women’s prayer meetings for prayer, fellowship, and reading of scripture as designated by the elders.

 

Section 4: Members’ Meetings

            Each members’ meeting shall begin and end in prayer, reminding ourselves of who we are in Christ and the exonerations we are given to act in accordance with Christ’s commands, while remembering that this church does not belong to us but to Christ who died for her.

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.

Special members’ meetings may be called as required by the elders.  The date, time, and purpose of any special meeting shall be announced at each public service of the church within two weeks preceding the meeting. 

            An elder designated by the elders shall preside as moderator at each members’ meetings of the church.  The elders shall see that the stated meetings of the church are regularly held and that required reports are submitted to the church by the responsible members.

 

Section 5: Elders Meetings

Elders shall begin and end in prayer, and shall meet a minimum of once a month for general planning for and discussion regarding:

      weekly worship,

      special worship times (i.e. Christmas celebration or Good Friday Service),

      need for any specially called meetings,

      budgeting,

      membership,

      church discipline actions, or

      other matters that are needed for the care and shepherding of the church body.

  

Article VII—Church Officers

Section 1:  Offices

The Biblical offices in the church are Elders and Deacons.  Additionally, offices of Secretary and Treasurer will be designated.  Any member holding one of these offices may have access to the church’s banking account.

Section 2:  Duties of Elders

The Elders shall oversee the ministry and resources of the Church.  In keeping with the principles set forth in Acts 6:1-6; 20:28 and 1 Peter 5:1-4, the Elders shall devote their time to prayer, the ministry of the Word (by teaching and encouraging sound doctrine), and shepherding God’s flock.

The Elders shall arrange the details of all men’s meetings and see that all possible preparation for their successful conduct is made.

The Elders shall hold regular monthly Elder meetings.  All authoritative decisions made by the Elders at the Elder meetings shall be recorded.

 

Section 3:  Plurality and Parity of Elders

The Scriptures indicate that normally there should be a plurality of Elders in the local church (Acts 20:17; Philippians 1:1).  This is the goal and desire of GBC.

There is parity (equality) among the Elders, each bearing authority in the deliberations and decisions of GBC.  Thus the plurality and parity of the Elders guard the flock from the weakness of rule by one man and use the collective wisdom of several godly men to rule the flock of God.

 

Section 4:  Qualifications of Elders

The Elders shall be comprised of men who satisfy the qualifications for the office of Elder set forth in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9.  No Elder shall hold the office of Deacon during his tenure as Elder.

In order for any man to become an Elder he must be a member in good standing of this local body for a minimum of one year prior to being nominated for the office.  This wait will allow him and the people of the church to become familiar with one another.  Only under special circumstances, such as a transfer from another Reformed Baptist church, may an Elder hold the office without waiting that year’s time with the approval of GBC Elders.

 

Section 5:  Deacons

The office of Deacon is described in 1 Timothy 3:8-13 and Acts 6:1-7.  The Church shall recognize, in accordance with constitutional provisions on elections, men who are giving of themselves in service to the Church, who possess gifts of leadership and who are called to further service. 

The Deacons shall hold regular monthly Deacon meetings, with oversight by the Eldership.

Deacons shall receive ministry task assignments from the Elders.  These tasks will concentrate on serving the practical needs of the Church.

In order for any man to become a Deacon he must be a member in good standing of this local body for a minimum of one year prior to being nominated for the office.  This wait will allow him and the people of the church to become familiar with one another.  Only under special circumstances, such as a transfer from another reformed Baptist church, may a deacon hold the office without waiting that year’s time with the approval of GBC Elders.

 

Section 6: Secretary

It shall be the duty of the secretary to record the minutes of all regular and special members’ meetings of the church, to preserve an accurate roll of the membership, and to render reports as requested by the pastor, the elders, the deacons, or the church.

The secretary shall be nominated by the elders to serve a term of one year.  There shall be no limit to the number of terms (including consecutive terms) that a member serves as secretary.

In the absence or incapacity of the secretary the elders shall appoint a member to perform the duties of the church secretary.

For purposes of compliance with the nonprofit corporation law, the secretary shall serve as the secretary of the corporation.

The church secretary shall ensure that dated copies of the most recent version of the constitution shall be available for all church members.

 

Section 7: Treasurer

The treasurer shall ensure that all funds and securities of the church are properly secured in such banks, financial institutions, or depositories as appropriate. The treasurer shall also be responsible for presenting regular reports of the account balances, revenues and expenses of the church at each members’ meeting. The responsibility may be delegated with the approval of the elders. The treasurer shall also ensure that full and accurate accounts of receipts and disbursements are kept in books belonging to the church, and that adequate controls are implemented to guarantee that all funds belonging to the church are appropriately handled by any officer, employee, or agent of the church. The treasurer shall render to the elders annually, or whenever they may require it, an account of all transactions as treasurer and of the financial condition of the church.

In the absence or incapacity of the treasurer the elders shall appoint a member to perform the duties of the church treasurer.

For purposes of compliance with the nonprofit corporation law, the treasurer shall serve as the treasurer of the corporation.

 

Article VIII—Appointment

Jesus Christ alone is Head of the Church (Colossians 1:18).  He governs His church through office-bearers whom He equipped and who are endowed by His Spirit with the gifts and graces needed to accomplish their work.  Office-bearers in the church are of two kinds: Elders (also called in Scripture overseers, bishops and pastors) and Deacons (Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1-13).

 

Section 1:  Nominations

  • It is the duty of the Church to seek and discover among its male members those to whom Christ the Lord has imparted the necessary gifts for office-bearing.
  • In the calling of any man to the office of Elder or Deacon, substantial prayer, both individually and corporately, should be an integral part of the nomination process (as described in Article VI.
  • Any male member head of a household may nominate men for the office of Elder and Deacon, and make their selections known to the Elders of the Church.  Then will begin an examination process of nominees to be carried out under the direction and authority of the Elders of SGBC.
  •  Nominations will proceed only with the support of the SGBC Elders.

Section 2:  ExaminatioN

  • All candidates for the Church office of Elder or Deacon should be treated with the grace, kindness, and honesty appropriate in evaluating fellow members.

  • The examination process shall express a spirit of mutual trust, openness and loving consideration which is appropriate within the body of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  •  The church shall be notified that an examination is taking place.

  • Nominees will be examined by the Elders of GBC and, if need be, with the help from Elders of like-minded Reformed Baptist churches or other covenanted men of GBC

  • Existing Elders will meet with the nominee and his family.

 

Section 3:  Election

  • Once the examination process has been completed, only those nominees that meet the Biblical requirements for Elder or Deacon shall be presented to the church by the existing Eldership as candidates, as designated in Article V.
  • A man may not be recognized as a candidate without the unanimous consent of the existing GBC Elders.
  • The names of candidates to serve as Elders or Deacons shall be presented to the Church and made known to the Church at least one month prior to their taking office.
  • It is incumbent on any member with reason to believe that a nominated candidate is unqualified for an office to privately express such a concern to the GBC Elders.  If a concern has been shared regarding a nominated candidate, the elders will discuss this concern with him and answer any questions the candidate may have.

 

Section 4:  Procedure for Appointing Elders and Deacons

  • The Appointment of Elders and Deacons shall be made by the unanimous decision of GBC Eldership.  Appointment procedures shall follow the guidelines put forth above in Article V.

  • The Church shall recognize these men as gifted and willing to serve in this calling, in accordance with the constitutional provisions on elections.  These men shall be received as gifts of Christ to His church and set apart as Elders or Deacon.

 

Section 5:  Length of Service

The Holy Spirit equips and places Elders and Deacons in the Church (Acts 20:28).  Therefore, the Church cannot arbitrarily fix either the number of Elders or Deacons, or their term of service.  Therefore, once installed, the term of service for Elders and Deacons is indefinite unless he resigns or he is removed.  An Elder may take a designated personal leave of absence with the approval of the other Elders.

 

Article IX—Church Discipline

Section 1: Purpose

Any member consistently neglectful of his or her duties or guilty of conduct by which the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be dishonored, and so opposing the welfare of the church, shall be subject to the admonition of the elders and the discipline of the church, according to the instructions of our Lord in Matthew 18:15-17 and the example of Scripture.  Church discipline, then, should ordinarily be contemplated after individual private admonition has failed.

            Church discipline can include admonition by the elders or congregation, suspension from communion for a definite period, deposition from office, and excommunication (see Matthew 18:15-17; 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15; 1 Timothy 5:19-20; 1 Corinthians 5:4-5)

The purpose of such discipline should be:

For the repentance, reconciliation, and spiritual growth of the individual disciple (see Proverbs 15:5; 29:15; 1 Corinthians 4:14; Ephesians 6:4; 1 Timothy 3:4-5; Hebrews 12:1-11; Psalm 119:15; 141:5; Proverbs 17:10; 25:12; 27:5; Ecclesiastes 7:5; Matthew 7:26-27; 18:15-17; Luke 17:3; Acts 2:40; 1 Corinthians 5:5; Galatians 6:1-5; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14-15; 1 Timothy 1:20; Titus 1:13-14; James 1:22)

For the instruction in righteousness and good of other Christians, as an example to them (see Proverbs 13:20; Romans 15:14; 1 Corinthians 5:11; 15:33; Colossians 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:14 [note this is written to the whole church, not just to leaders]; 1 Timothy 5:20; Titus 1:11; Hebrews 10:24-25);

For the purity of the church as a whole (see 1 Corinthians 5:6-7; 2 Corinthians 13:10; Ephesians 5:27; 2 John 10; Jude 24; Revelation 21:2);

For the good of our corporate witness to non-Christians (see Proverbs 28:7; Matthew 5:13-16; John 13:35; Acts 5:1-14; Ephesians 5:11; 1 Timothy 3:7; 2 Peter 2:2; 1 John 3:10); and

Supremely for the glory of God by reflecting His holy character (see Deuteronomy 5:11; 1 Kings 11:2; 2 Chronicles 19:2; Ezra 6:21; Nehemiah 9:2; Isaiah 52:11; Ezekiel 36:20; Matthew 5:16; John 15:8; 18:17, 25; Romans 2:24; 15:5-6; 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1; Ephesians 1:4; 5:27; 2 Peter 2:12).

 

Section 2:  Resolving Difficulties

Corrective Church discipline results from disorderly conduct or heretical doctrine which is contrary to the Church’s Biblical standard of life and doctrine.  The Church’s doctrine is laid out in the GBC Statement of Faith.  Reasonable efforts shall be made to resolve difficulties and remove offenses before any action is taken.  No offences shall be brought before the Church until the instructions of Scripture have first been followed, and will be at the discretion of the Elders (Matthew 5:23-24; 18:15; Galatians 6:1-2).  Church discipline always has for its aims the glory of God, the welfare and purity of the Church, and the restoration and spiritual growth of the offender.

 

Section 3:  Removal for Absenteeism

A member who willfully, without good reason, absents himself or herself from corporate Sunday worship for more than two consecutive months may be removed from the membership of GBC, at the discretion of the Elders.

Such removal from membership is considered a disciplinary action because of the breach of the Church covenant by the absentee member.

 

Section 4:  By Discipline

The Elders, at their discretion, shall discipline any member of this Church who persist in holding false or heretical doctrine; or who obviously and persistently lives a life inconsistent with his Christian profession; or who lives in violation of the law of the land or public morals; or who walks disorderly; or who gossips or talebears; or any person who persists in disturbing the unity and peace of this Church (Matthew 18:15ff; 1 Corinthians 5:1ff; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 11, 15; Romans 16:17; Hebrews 10:23-25; Titus 3:10).

 

Section 5:  Excommunication

We recognize termination of GBC Church membership as a disciplinary measure to be a most serious action; however, in order that the purity of the Church may be maintained, any member guilty of a serious offense or holding to a heretical doctrine and remaining unrepentant despite repeated admonitions must be removed from the membership of the Church.  Yet our zeal for the glory of God must ever be tempered by a loving and prayerful concern for the full restoration of the offender.

 

Section 5:  Restoration of Ex-Communicated

The Church shall have the right to restore the repentant ex-member to membership, under the recommendation of the Eldership. 

 

Article X—Discipline and Removal of Elders and Deacons

Section 1:  Discipline and Removal

If one of the members believes an Elder or Deacon has sinned against him or may be morally or doctrinally unfit for his office, the member may go directly to the remaining Elders and voice his concerns, along with two or three witnesses (1 Timothy 5:19).  If one of the members believes an Elder or Deacon has sinned against him, he is to approach that person individually first (Matt. 18:15), and then with two or three others (Matt. 18:16).  If the problem remains, then the individual, with the two or three witnesses, must come to the Elders and present the charges (1 Timothy 5:19).  If the charges are doctrinal or moral in nature, and if the remaining Elders unanimously decide that the question merits an investigation and/or trial, then they may or may not inform the men of the Church of the nature of the charges, at their discretion.  If the charges are unanimously sustained by the remaining Elders, then that Elder or Deacon, depending on the gravity of the charges and the response to the correction, will be rebuked in the presence of the congregation (1 Timothy 5:20), or will be publicly removed from the office (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9), or both, at the discretion of the other Elders.

An Elder or Deacon may be removed should he not faithfully discharge his duties, no longer conform to the attributes of 1 Peter 5:2-3, or become unable to perform his duties, but not be guilty of any chargeable sins or false doctrine. 

 

Article XI—Amendments

Section 1:

All Amendments to the GBC Statement of Faith, Church Covenant or Constitution and By-Laws shall be made by unanimous decision by the GBC Eldership.

 

Section 2:  Confirming or Denying an Amendment

The Statement of Faith, the Covenant, the Constitution, or By-Laws may be amended at any time.  Before an amendment may take effect,

1.     There must be the unanimous consent of the Elders. 

2.     A written copy of the proposed change is distributed to the Church at the Sunday morning worship when the petition for the members to pray is made by the elders.  Potential date for enactment shall be made at this time, and it shall be at least one month after the request for prayer.

3.     Any concerns brought before the elders will be considered and prayed over before enactment.