This church shall be known as Christ Covenant Church currently meeting in Olive Branch, MS.
ARTICLE II PURPOSE
This church will have as its objective full obedience to the will of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Founder and Head of the Church. More specifically, the purpose of this church shall be:
SECTION 1. the operation of a organization, religious fellowship, and/or congregation which shall regularly preach, teach, and exhort its members in accordance to the distinctives and doctrines of this church.
SECTION 2. To maintain public services for the worship of God, the spreading of the Gospel, the edification and equipping of the saints, the conversion of sinners, and to participate in evangelistic/missionary activities locally and throughout the world.
ARTICLE III CHURCH AFFILIATION
This church, while acknowledging our dependence on God and Jesus Christ as our Head, operates separate from any formal denomination, and is strategically established as such. Our fellowship and cooperation with other churches is based on the kindred spirit evident within the overall Body of Christ. We generally distinguish this church as an independent reformed fellowship.
ARTICLE IV MEMBERSHIP
SECTION 1. MEMBERSHIP
A. PURPOSE. While church membership as such is not clearly taught in Scripture, it is clear that the believer must have a specific point and time when identity with the local church is established. This identity helps the church perform duties and responsibilities clearly taught in Scripture, such as the appropriate use of spiritual gifts, discipleship, corporate responsibilities of the church, decision-making, church discipline, etc. The fulfillment of these biblical responsibilities is the purpose for formally identifying with the local church.
B. QUALIFICATIONS. Membership in this church shall be open to all who profess saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who has received Christian (Trinitarian) baptism, and whose life and testimony is in accordance with Christian character and conduct.
C. ADMITTANCE. Candidates will be accepted into the fellowship of this church by a) making known their desire to join b) a public declaration by the church of their intent to join c) a minimum of one week waiting period d) a public reading and affirmation of our church covenant by the candidate and the church body towards the candidate.
D. RESPONSIBILITIES OF MEMBERS. Fellowship in Christ Covenant Church is a serious matter and should only be sought by those who desire to honor the Lord and this local church family through service, the expression of spiritual gifts, a commitment to spiritual growth, a desire to support the corporate church body, a willingness to joyfully follow the leadership of the Elders, and a desire to reach and disciple others.
SECTION 2. MEMBERSHIP REMOVAL
A. Inactive Status. A periodic update of the church fellowship shall be made to detect any person who, due to lack of involvement, has not fulfilled the expectations the church has of its covenant members. Upon identifying a inactive person, the Elders shall either render a personal letter informing this individual of their concern, or confront them in love directly through a personal visit. If the inactive person persists in failing to meet his or her covenant commitment and does not respond within three months, showing no interest in being involved in the life of the church, their name shall be removed from the church fellowship.
B. Grievance/Discipline Procedure. Those who become opposed to the Church Covenant or to the Church's basic doctrine or practice, or who engage in conduct obviously unbecoming to a Christian with no desire to repent, are subject to loving but firm church discipline and possible removal from the church's fellowship. All such actions will follow the Biblical principles outlined primarily in Matthew 18:15-17 and other places in Scripture as the circumstances require. The Elders will oversee all such proceedings, and their judgments and determinations should be understood as authoritative and final. Restoration of any persons removed from formal covenant fellowship shall be prayed for, sought and granted upon public confession and repentance of the individual after requesting such to the Elders and their recommendation of such.
SECTION 3. TRANSFER OF MEMBERSHIP TO ANOTHER CHURCH
A. Transfer. Any person in good standing, when moving to another area, is encouraged to join a local fellowship of like faith. Upon request, the church Elders shall send a letter of recommendation to the requesting church.
SECTION 4. LIABILITY OF MEMBERS. No individual person(s) shall, by virtue of fellowship in the this church, have any personal liability for the acts, debts, liabilities, or obligations of this church.
SECTION 5. NO OWNERSHIP BY MEMBERS. No individual shall own any interest in the properties or assets of this church. No person shall be entitled to receive any properties or assets of this church upon leaving or dissolution of the church.
ARTICLE V ARTICLES OF BELIEF (Doctrinal Statement)
I. THE SCRIPTURES
The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and are the only sufficient, certain and authoritative rule of all saving knowledge, faith and obedience.
There is but one God, the Creator, Preserver and Ruler of all things, having in and of Himself, all perfections, and being infinite in them all; and to Him all creatures owe the highest love, reverence and obedience.
III. THE TRINITY
God is revealed to us as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit each with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence or being.
God, from all eternity, decrees or permits everything that comes to pass, and perpetually upholds, directs, and governs all creatures and events; yet so, in such a manner, as to not be the author or approver of sin, nor to destroy the free will and responsibility of all people, but rather to establish it.
Election is an expression of God’s eternal will whereby some persons are sovereignly and graciously chosen unto everlasting life - not because of any merit in themselves, but of God’s mere mercy in Christ - and as a consequence of their election by grace they are effectually called, justified, and glorified.
VI. THE FALL OF MAN
God originally created man righteous and in His own image, free from sin; but, through the temptation of Satan, man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original holiness and righteousness; whereby man and his posterity inherit a nature corrupt and wholly opposed to God and His law, are under condemnation, and as soon as they are capable of moral action, become actual transgressors.
VII. THE MEDIATOR
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, is the divinely appointed mediator between God and man. Having taken upon Himself human nature, yet without sin, He perfectly fulfilled the law, suffered and died upon the cross for the salvation of sinners. He was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended to His Father, at whose right hand He ever lives to make intercession for His people. He is the only Mediator, the Prophet, Priest and King of the Church, and Sovereign over all creation.
Regeneration is a change of heart, wrought by the Holy Spirit, who quickens the dead in trespasses and sins, enlightens their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the Word of God, embrace Christ, and renewing their whole nature, so that they come to love and practice holiness of life.
Repentance is an evangelical grace, whereby a person is, by the power of the Holy Spirit, made sensible of the manifold evil of his sin, humbles himself for it, and with godly sorrow, and detestation of it, endeavors to walk before God so as to please Him in all things.
Saving faith is the resting and trusting on God’s authority of whatsoever is revealed in His Word concerning Christ; accepting and believing upon Him alone for justification and eternal life. It is wrought in the heart by the Holy Spirit, and is accompanied by all other saving graces, and leads to a life of holiness.
Justification is the free act of God’s grace whereby sinners, who believe in Christ, are pardoned from all sin through the satisfaction that Christ has made; not for anything wrought in them or done by them; but through the imputation of the obedience and satisfaction of Christ, they receive and rest in Him and His righteousness by faith alone.
Those who have been regenerated and justified are also sanctified by God’s Word and Spirit dwelling in them. This sanctification is progressive through the supply of Divine strength, which all saints seek to obtain, pressing after a heavenly life in faithful obedience to all Christ’s commands - actual moral perfection not being achieved presently, but reserved for our future glorification.
XIII. PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS
Those whom God hath accepted in the Beloved, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere to the end; and though they may fall, through neglect and temptation, into sin, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, bring reproach on the Church, and temporal judgments on themselves, yet they shall be renewed again unto repentance, and be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
XIV. THE CHURCH
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Chief Shepherd and Head of His Body, the Church. The Church is composed of all true disciples and in Christ is invested all authority for its government. According to God’s Word, Christians are not to forsake the assembling of themselves together for mutual growth and edification, and should therefore seek to associate themselves into particular societies or local churches. And to each of these churches God has delegated the needed authority for administering their order, discipline and worship. While each particular manifestation of the Body of Christ is autonomous, every church should seek to conduct itself in such a manner as to reflect the unity of faith and Spirit which binds all true believers together in Christ Jesus. Therefore, Christ has appointed the administration of the local church’s affairs to those men qualified and formally recognized as Elders and Deacons.
Baptism is an ordinance instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ, obligatory upon every believer, wherein he is baptized in or by water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit as an outward sign of his inward identification with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, of the remission of his sins, and of giving himself wholly up to God, to live and walk in newness of life. Baptism is a public act of faith that illustrates the disciples' union with Christ and his engrafting into the Body of Christ, the Church.
XVI. THE LORD’S SUPPER
The Lord’s Supper is an ordinance of Jesus Christ, to be administered to His disciples with the elements of bread and wine, and to be observed by Christians till the end of the world. It is in no sense a sacrifice, but is designed to commemorate His death, and as a means of grace, confirms and strengthens the faith and other evangelical graces of true believers. As a witness and a testimony, it is a bond, pledge and renewal of their continued union and communion with the Lord Jesus Christ and with His Body, the Church.
XVII. THE LORD’S DAY
The Lord’s Day is a Christian institution for regular observance, and should be employed in exercises of worship, rest and spiritual devotion, both public and private, ceasing from worldly employments as far as possible; works of ministry, necessity and mercy only excepted.
XVIII. LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE
God alone is Lord of the conscience, and before Him will each man stand or fall. No individual's conscience may be bound by any other than the Lord. It is free from the doctrines, opinions and commandments of men, which are in anything contrary to His Word, or not contained in it.
XIX. THE CIVIL MAGISTRATE
God has ordained the institution of the civil magistrate to restrain evil and promote the general welfare of the people. The state is to act as the servant of the Lord, an administer of justice, and advocate for peace. All authority granted the civil magistrate is derived from the Lord, and is limited in its scope and function to the revealed will of God. Therefore, if and/or when the civil magistrate exercises its power in excess of, or contrary to God's Word, inflicting injustice, or wounding the conscience of the people, it is everywhere and always the Christian's duty to obey God rather than man.
XX. THE FAMILY
God has ordained the institution of the family in order for mankind to multiply and fill the earth, provide for companionship between a man and a woman, and to propagate a godly seed unto Himself. The family is to function in accordance to the Word of God, with each individual in the home fulfilling certain roles, duties and responsibilities expected of them from Scripture. The family is a separate and distinct entity from both the church and the state. As such, certain freedoms, rights, and privileges are inherently reserved for the family by the Lord, and may not, at any time, be infringed upon by any other sphere of authority. These would include, but are not limited to, domestic decisions that deal specifically with matters relating to the home and family.
XXI. THE RESURRECTION
At the last day, there will be a general resurrection of the bodies of all the dead, both the just and unjust from the dust of the earth where they will all be raised.
XXII. THE JUDGMENT
God hath appointed a day, wherein He will judge the world by Jesus Christ, when everyone shall receive his reward according to his deeds: the wicked shall go into everlasting punishment; the righteous, into everlasting life. Amen.
ARTICLE VI CHURCH COVENANT
SECTION I. In consideration of our glorious salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ and our commitment to surrender ourselves wholly unto Him, and having been baptized in obedience to the Word of God in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, we do now solemnly and joyfully covenant together one with another.
SECTION II. By virtue of this Covenant we promise to live our lives by the precepts and principles of God’s Word, and strive for the unity of the Spirit, which comes through the bonds of peace. Likewise, we promise to walk together in brotherly love, as is becoming the Body of Christ, exercising an affectionate care and watchfulness over one another and faithfully encourage, admonish, and entreat one another as occasion may require.
SECTION III. Additionally, we promise to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together for worship and fellowship, nor neglect to pray for ourselves and others. We will rejoice with one another and with all tenderness and sympathy bear each other’s burdens and sorrows. And by following the model of Jesus Christ, that is, by a pure and loving example, live our lives in such a manner that the salvation of our family, neighbors and friends might be more easily obtained.
SECTION IV. Finally, we promise to strive to forsake every sin and all forms of ungodliness and remembering that, as our old self has been crucified with Christ and raised again in newness of life, there is on us a special obligation now to lead a faithful and holy life.
SECTION V. Therefore, we now covenant together for the mutual edification of one another and for the fulfillment of that Great Commission to which the Bride of Christ has been called, as we sustain our Church’s worship, ordinances, discipline, and beliefs; contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of this ministry, and if we leave this fellowship, as soon as reasonably possible, unite with another true Body of Believers where we can carry out the spirit of this Covenant and the principles of God’s Word.
SECTION VI. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all. Amen.
ARTICLE VII CHURCH GOVERNMENT
SECTION 1. DECISION-MAKING
A. Elder Leadership. The Elders shall be responsible for the primary direction and policy determination of the church and serve as the Directors. As spiritual leaders and rulers of the church, Elders are to carefully and prayerfully consider issues, seeking the clear biblical teaching of God in each case. Each Elder shall be entitled to one vote on each matter which is submitted to a vote of the Elders of the church. A majority of the existing number of Elders shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business at any meeting of the Elders. Split decisions will be either tabled or decided on by input from the heads of household as deemed appropriate by the Elders.
B. Church Input. As in Acts 15, the Elders sought the good will and blessing of the congregation concerning their major decisions. Likewise, the Elders shall keep the church informed of important decisions that have been made and seek their input on appropriate occasions. When called upon by the Elders, a majority consensus of the heads of household shall assist in finalizing decisions and policies.
SECTION 2. HEADS OF HOUSEHOLD. Each household will be represented by that person recognized by the Elders as its head/leader. A household is defined by each distinct person or family who resides in different homes/families. Exceptions to this rule made by made by the Elders who may recognize, for example, a Grandparent who resides with their child's family, they may be recognized as a separate household. Each household will therefore be represented in matters of church business by their head.
SECTION 3. PROXY. If any Head of Household is unable to be present, but desires to participate on the matter being considered, he/she may select a proxy by so informing the Elders beforehand. Inactive Members, as determined by the Elders, may not participate in any formal church business proceedings. A quorum shall consist of 50% of the active fellowship, either present or by proxy.
SECTION 4. BUSINESS MEETINGS. An annual meeting will take place at least once during the calendar year. Special business meetings may be called by the Elders or by written petition of 1/3 of the active Heads of House. Public notice shall be given from the pulpit at least two weeks in advance, stating in general terms the business to be transacted. The pastor or one of the Elders duly appointed shall preside as moderator at the meetings. In general, only other major issues as determined by the Elders will require a business meeting. Most matters will be handled by the Elders or those appointed to particular responsibilities by the Elders.
ARTICLE VIII CHURCH LEADERS
We believe the Word of God specifies two offices in the local church: Elders (also referred to as pastors, shepherds, overseers, bishops (Acts 20:17, 28) and Deacons. Each of these are referred to as being a plurality in a local body of believers. Therefore, only these two offices shall exist with provision being made for a treasurer, clerk, and church staff to be elected or hired by the Elders as they deem necessary, all of whom will work under the ultimate authority of the Elders, with the staff being directly supervised by the pastor. The Elders and Deacons shall view themselves as servants of the church and should labor with deep humility and love, always seeking the best interests of the congregation according to the will of God. These officers shall be chosen by the congregation and shall function as outlined below:
SECTION 1. ELDERS
A. Duty and Function. The Bible teaches that God supplies gifted men to serve as Elders of the local church (Acts 14:23, Titus 1:5, Eph. 4:11-13). In Scripture, the ruling and shepherding of the church was usually given to a plurality of Elders (Acts 11:30; 14:23; 15:2,4,5,22,23; 16:4; 20:17-23; 21:18; Phil. 1:1, James 5:14, I Thess. 5:12, 13a, I Tim. 4:14, 5:17-19; Heb. 13:7,17,24; I Pet. 5:1,2). The Elders are responsible for the spiritual leadership of the church, serving under the Chief Shepherd (I Pet. 5:1-4). They are to equip and prepare the people of the church to the end that everyone is actively involved in personal ministry (Eph. 4:11-13). They shall plan the worship, teaching, evangelistic and prayer services of the church as led by the Holy Spirit, and shall seek to provide spiritual help and counsel to all in need of such, as the Lord leads and enables. In following with Scripture, the Elders shall serve as the rulers of the church. They shall be responsible for the creation and supervision of the ministries of the church and ultimately responsible for the equipping of the saints to accomplish that ministry. The Elders shall also function as the Directors of the church in matters involving legal or governmental issues.
B. Individual Roles. Each of the Elders shall serve in specialized roles, according to their individual gifts and callings in order to best meet the needs of the congregation. The Elders, as a group, shall decide the specific function of each Elder serve in a voluntary function in accordance with their responsibilities. One from among the Elder body may be set apart and remunerated by the church either full time or part time to function as the "first among equals" as determined by the Elders.
C. "First Among Equals" (Primus inter pares). This designation belongs to that one Elder who carries the majority of the responsibilities of the Eldership of the church which include, but are not limited to, such duties as the regular leading of worship, ministry of the Word and Sacrament, and setting the vision and overall direction of the church. The nature of this work will typically be more public in nature, require more time, preparation and equipping and therefore this Elder should be particularly gifted, called and recognized to fulfill this role.
His selection shall be by nomination by the Elders or from a pastoral search committee selected by the Elders. After reviewing the qualifications of the nominee, the Elders, or the pastoral search committee, if one is selected, will approve or reject the nominee based on his qualifications. Once approved by the Elders, or the pastoral search committee if one is selected, his name will be submitted to the Heads of Household for a vote. Approval of the Heads of Household requires a 75% vote in favor of the candidate. A written recommendation by the Elders or 1/2 of the Heads of Household to retain or dismiss the Elder serving as the "First Among Equals" will be presented to the church at a meeting called for this specific purpose only. The "First Among Equals" Elder will be removed from his position, not necessarily his role as an Elder, upon a 51% vote of the Heads of Household in favor of the removal. The Elder under question will be allowed to exercise his vote when being voted upon. In all church voting, each Elder represents his household and has only one vote as both Elder and Head of Household.
D. Election and Recall. Additional men shall be considered, examined and recommended as Elders to the church by those Elders already serving. Prospective Elders shall each evidence the Biblical qualifications for Elder (Titus 1:6-9, I Tim. 3:1-7), heartily agree to the articles of this Constitution, and believe that God has truly led and gifted them to fulfill this office. Objections to any particular man for the role of Elder will be handled by the existing Eldership on a case by case basis. Though the election of Elders lies with the existing Elders, serious consideration and inquiry is to be made into any objections made by a fellow member of the congregation. Elected Elders shall continue in their office indefinitely either until their resignation, departure, death, or until the Heads of Household, by a 51% vote at a duly called meeting for this specific purpose only, remove him from office. Such a meeting may be called by the Elder Body or upon written petition of 1/3 of the Heads of Household. No man shall serve as an Elder of this church until he has been a formal covenant member for no less than 1 year; the only exception, at the discretion of the Elders, would be in seeking a new man to fill the role of "First Among Equals".
SECTION 2. DEACONS.
A. Duty and Function. There shall be as many Deacons as needed in accordance with the ministry needs of the church. A Deacon must be a man of mature Christian character and witness, fulfilling the Biblical qualifications (I Tim. 3:8-13), with an exemplary moral life and reputation in the community. In accordance with the teachings of Scripture, the Deacons shall not function as rulers, but rather are to assist the Elders in the various ministries of the church, take care of the widows of the church, help assure that the various needs of church are addressed, assist in serving communion, and minister to the congregation and the Elders in any way possible in order to encourage ministry effectiveness.
B. Term of Office. The term of office shall be the same as that of an Elder, and his recall shall also be the same. The Elders shall serve as ex-officio members of the Deacon body. No man shall serve as Deacon of this church until he has been a formal covenant member for no less than 1 year.
SECTION 3. TREASURER. The church treasurer shall be responsible for keeping an accurate record of all church finances, pay the legal financial obligations of the church, write checks as needed, and report accurately and regularly to the Elder Body and Church Body as requested. This individual shall have adequate financial and business knowledge so as to qualify for this position. The treasurer shall be elected annually and may be re-elected for consecutive terms. The treasurer must be approved, and can be recalled by the Elders.
SECTION 4. CLERK. A clerk shall be appointed, as needed, from among the congregation of the church and shall be responsible for keeping a careful and complete set of minutes for all called meetings. The clerk must be approved, and can be recalled by the Elders.
SECTION 5. RESIGNATION. Resignation of treasurer shall be in writing to the Elders and shall be effective on the date specified.
SECTION 6. VACANCIES. Any vacancy in office shall be filled by appointment of an Elder.
ARTICLE IX FINANCIAL POLICIES
SECTION 1. PROCEDURE. This church shall follow "faith" principles with reference to funds needed for support of its ministries, looking to the Lord to supply the needs through His people in the church. The amount of any individual's contributions shall not be disclosed to other members. However, the treasurer or financial secretary shall keep a record of individual contributions, insofar as identifiable when made, and furnish statements of total contributions to each person at the end of each calendar year.
SECTION 2. SPECIAL OFFERINGS. Special offerings may be taken for designated purposes as approved by the Elders.
SECTION 3. BUDGET. Money received shall be disbursed by the treasurer in accordance with the budget, which shall be prepared annually by the Elders and the treasurer, and approved by the heads of household in a regular business meeting. The budget may be modified during the year at any time if so recommended by the Elders.
The budget should include all items of anticipated expense, including remunerations, payments on the building and furnishings, etc., as well as approved mission projects. The fiscal year shall be from January 1 to December 31.
SECTION 4. SALARIES. The Elders shall determine salary and benefits, if any, for the "pastor" of the church.
SECTION 5. CONTRACTS. The Elders may enter into any contract or execute and deliver any instrument in the name of and on behalf of the church, and such authority may be general or confined to specific instances.
SECTION 6. LOANS. No loans shall be contracted on behalf of the church and no evidence of indebtedness shall be issued in its name unless authorized by a resolution of the Elders. Such authority may be general or confined to specific instances.
SECTION 7. CHECKS, DRAFTS, ETC. All checks, drafts, or other orders for the payment of money, notes or other evidences of indebtedness issued in the name of the church shall be signed by those so appointed in such manner as shall from time to time be determined by resolution of the Elders.
SECTION 8. DEPOSITS. All funds of the church not otherwise employed shall be deposited from time to time to the credit of the church in such banks, trust companies or other depositories as the Elders may select.
ARTICLE XI ORGANIZATIONS
The church may sponsor such organizations as described by the Elders to be helpful in the church's ministry. All organizations sponsored by the church should in some way contribute to the overall ministry of the church.
ARTICLE XII AMENDMENTS
This Constitution may only be amended by a recommendation from the Elders and a 75% vote of the heads of household in attendance at a duly called business meeting, and that only after careful consideration of all viewpoints and much prayer, followed by the recommendation of the Elders.
ARTICLE XIII DISSOLUTION
SECTION 1. VOTE FOR DISSOLUTION. The church may be dissolved upon an affirmative vote in favor of dissolution by 75% of the heads of household, which vote must also include in favor 51% of the Eldership. Such affirmative vote and approval of dissolution by the Elders shall authorize the officers of the church to prepare and file articles of dissolution with the appropriate offices and agencies.
No part of the net collections of the church shall ever inure to the benefit of any donor, member, or officer of the church or any individual. No donor, member, or officer of the church, or any private individual shall be entitled to share in the distribution of any of the church assets. Upon dissolution, any assets of the church must be remanded to another ministry of like faith to be determined by the Elders.