FAITH LUTHERAN CHURCH
Corning, New York 14830
Because the Word of God requires the conformance of every Christian congregation in doctrine, and because it also teaches that all things should be done decently and in order (Galatians 1:6-8; 1 Corinthians 14:40), we, the members of Faith Lutheran Church of Corning in Steuben County, New York, set forth this Constitution that shall govern the conduct of all our congregational affairs.
ARTICLE I – NAME
This congregation shall be named, “Faith Lutheran Church of Corning in Steuben County, New York”.
ARTICLE II – PURPOSE
The purpose of this organization shall be that of a Christian congregation: to establish, to maintain, to serve its members, to disseminate the true Gospel by the preaching of the Word of God, and to foster Christian fellowship and charity by the administration of the Sacraments, and by the religious instruction of the young and adults according to the Confessional standard of the Lutheran Church as set forth in ARTICLE III, so the Kingdom of God may expand and spread throughout the world.
ARTICLE III – CONFESSION OF FAITH
The congregation acknowledges and accepts all the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments as the true, verbally inspired Word of God, and acknowledges and accepts all the Confessional Writings of the Evangelical Lutheran Church contained in the Book of Concord of the year 1580 AD, to be the true and genuine exposition of the doctrines of the Bible. These confessional writings are: The three Ecumenical Creeds (Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian), the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles, Luther’s Small and Large Catechism, and the Formula of Concord.
ARTICLE IV – SYNODICAL AFFILIATION
This congregation shall hold membership in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, so long as the confessions and constitution of that Synod are in accord with and adhere to the confessions of this congregation as set forth in ARTICLE III. This congregation shall, to the best of its ability, collaborate with Synod and assist it to affect all sound measures intended for the building up of the Kingdom of God.
ARTICLE V – MEMBERSHIP
The membership of this congregation are those baptized in the name of the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These are further categorized for convenience into Children, Communicant, and Voting Members. The admission, expectations, privileges, and termination of membership are set forth in the By-Laws of this Constitution.
ARTICLE VI – SERVICE TO THE CONGREGATION
The Pastoral office of this congregation, as well as that of a called Teacher in the Christian Day School, if any, shall be conferred upon only such ministers, teachers, and candidates as profess and adhere without reservation to the Confessional standards set forth in ARTICLE III of this Constitution. The right of calling a Pastor and Teacher is vested in the congregation and may never be delegated to a small body or individual.
ARTICLE VII – DISMISSAL FROM OFFICE OF PASTORS OR TEACHERS
The office of Pastor or Teacher is part of Christ’s Church. The call to these offices has been extended by our Lord both through the called one, as well as, the calling congregation. Removal from these offices is exceptional and causes great disruption in the church. Therefore:
- A Pastor, or called Teacher, may not be removed from office except for:
- Persistent teaching of false doctrine as testified in writing by three witnesses (1 Tim. 5:19).
- Immoral living (Gal. 5:19f) as testified in writing by three witnesses.
- Prolonged sickness or incapacity which they cannot recognize nor accept, which inhibit the primary duties and harm the congregation.
- Stubborn and persistent willingness to perform the duties of the office.
- If such exceptional reasons seem to exist, they shall be brought to the Pastor or Teacher at a meeting with the Board of Elders.
- The congregation shall proceed only after consultation with the Circuit Counselor and District President.
- A two-thirds majority vote is required at a specially called Voters’ meeting.
ARTICLE VIII – EXECUTIVE OFFICERS
- Names - The Executive Officers of this congregation are: President, Secretary, Treasurer, Accountant, Elders and Trustees. The office of President and Elders shall be held only by male members of this congregation.
- Executive Committee – The Executive Officers of this congregation comprise the Executive Committee.
- Duties of the Executive Officers and the Executive Committee are set forth in By-Law IX of this Constitution.
- Powers – Executive Officers shall have no authority beyond that which has been conferred upon them by this Constitution or the Voters’ Assembly, and powers delegated to them may at any time be altered or revoked by the voters.
- Removal of Office – Any officer failing to perform the duties of a communicate member as stated in By-Law II, or by inability or willful neglect in the performance of their official duties, may be asked to resign, or be removed from office in Christian and lawful order by the Voters’ Assembly.
ARTICLE IX – POWERS OF THE CONGREGATION
The congregation as a body, through its voting members, shall have supreme power to administer and manage all its affairs, and any member may appeal to it in regard to such matters as are related to its affairs and governments, and its decisions shall be final and binding. The establishment and conduct of all boards, committees, and informal groups within the congregation shall at all times be subject to the approval and supervision of the congregation. The congregation shall not be empowered to decide anything contrary to the Word of God and the Confessions of the Lutheran Church as stated in ARTICLE III. Matters of doctrine and conscience shall be decided by the Word of God; other matters shall be decided by the congregation through its voting members, unless otherwise specified by the Constitution or By-Laws.
ARTICLE X – DOCTRINAL LITERATURE
The hymns, prayers, and liturgies used in the services of this congregation and in all ministerial acts shall conform to the confessional standards of ARTICLE III. All materials used for instruction in Christian doctrine shall also conform to this standard.
ARTICLE XI – PROPERTY RIGHTS
All property of this congregation shall be held by it in its corporate name. As a separate body, this congregation may receive, acquire, hold title to, and manage such real estate and other property as it may need to accomplish its purposes. It may sell or dispose of such real estate and other property or part thereof; and shall have all the rights and powers that are granted by the State of New York to religious corporations. If at any time a separation should take place because of doctrinal differences, the property of the congregation and all benefits therewith connected shall remain with those voting members who continue to adhere in confession and practice to ARTICLE III of this Constitution.
ARTICLE XII – UNALTERABLE ARTICLES
The following ARTICLES of this Constitution or sections of it shall be unalterable:
- ARTICLE III – CONFESSIONAL STANDARDS
- ARTICLE IV – SYNODICAL AFFILIATION
- ARTICLES XI – PROPERTY RIGHTS ARTICLE
- XII – UNALTERABLE ARTICLES ARTICLE
- XIII - AMENDMENTS TO THIS CONSTITUTION
ARTICLE XIII – AMENDMENTS
- Amendments to ARTICLES:
Proposed amendments to the ARTICLES of this Constitution must be presented using the following steps:
- Be proposed in writing at any regularly scheduled Voters’ Assembly by any voting member of this congregation.
- If the majority of the members present at this Voters’ Assembly vote in favor, a copy of the proposed amendment will be mailed to all voting members at least two weeks preceding the next regularly scheduled Voters’ Assembly meeting.
- At that Voters’ Assembly meeting, another opportunity for discussion of the proposed amendment will take place.
- The final vote concerning that proposed amendment will be taken at the next regularly scheduled Voters’ Assembly. A majority vote of the members present at that meeting shall be required for adoption.
- Amendments to By-Laws:
The By-Laws of this Constitution elaborate upon the ARTICLES. This congregation, through its Voters’ Assembly, may delete, change, or adopt such By-Laws as the accomplishment of the purposes of this congregation may demand. Amendments to these By-Laws must be presented in writing at a regular Voters’ Assembly. A majority vote of the members present is required to pass such amendments.
By-law I – Types of Membership
- Children: those who are baptized and under the Pastoral care of this congregation and whose parents, or sponsors, are members. Their names shall be entered into the ledger under “Baptism”, and shall be listed under the “Membership” category. They shall come under our membership responsibility and shall be treated as members unless they are removed according to By-Law III of this Constitution.
- Communicant Members: baptized people who have received instruction in Luther’s Catechism and have made verbal confession of faith before the congregation, or privately before the Pastor and an Elder, and have expressed a desire to be united with this congregation, and have agreed to comply with the confession of the pure faith as expressed in ARTICLE III of this Constitution.
- Voting Members: communicants who have attained the age of eighteen (18) and who have signed the Constitution of this congregation.
By-Law II – Expectations of Membership
- Children – That they:
- Come, or are brought regularly, to Divine Services.
- Come, or are brought, to Christian instruction in Church School.
- Receive, in due time, the pre-confirmation instruction in preparation for responsible Christian confession.
- Be confirmed in their Baptismal faith.
- Communicants – That they:
- Attend Divine Services regularly.
- Abstain from manifold works of the flesh and seek to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit as taught in Galatians 5:19-26.
- Submit, out of Christian love, to brotherly admonition according to Matthew 18:18-22 when having erred or offended.
- Contribute, as God has blessed them, of their time, talents, and treasurers toward the maintenance of the congregation and the extension of the Church at large.
- Repudiate membership in any organization conflicting with the Word of God.
- Submit, for the sake of love and peace, to the regulations made by this congregation provided such regulations do not conflict with the Word of God and one’s conscience.
- Voters – That they:
- Faithfully attend all meetings.
- Be willing to participate in the governance of this congregation.
- All members – That they:
- Be obligated to accord the Pastor honor, love and obedience in his ministry of God’s Word (Heb. 13:17), and to support his ministrations with diligence and faithful prayers: to help him in the discharge of his duties by cordial one-mindedness (I Cor. 1:10), by willing readiness, by peaceable conduct, and in every other way possible; and to provide for his maintenance according to the ability of the congregation.
- Be obligated to accord each other Christian love, support, and compassion recognizing special needs and acting upon them.
By-Law III – Termination of Membership
- Baptized Children:
- By transfer when their parents (or sponsors if the parents were not involved in the child’s baptism) move out of the area and join another Lutheran congregation.
- By action of the Pastor and Elders and subsequently by the Voters when a child, becoming to age, steadfastly refuses to be confirmed.
- By transfer to a sister congregation.
- By release when they desire to join a congregation not in fellowship with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. A letter of release shall be sent to the receiving congregation by the Pastor or Secretary.
- By self-exclusion when all efforts (including Mathew 18) to restore them to active participation have failed.
By-Law IV – Terminated Status
Those communicant and/or baptized members, whose membership has been terminated, have forfeited all rights of a member of this congregation.
By-Law V – Non-Member Baptisms of Children
Children baptized, but not under our membership responsibility are:
- Those brought to the church by Lutherans other than members who want their children baptized because they are away from their home congregation; their names shall be entered into the ledger under “Baptisms”, and their names shall be remanded to their home congregation.
- The children of non-Lutheran Christians who want their children baptized for reasons acknowledged by the Pastor and the Elders, their names shall be entered into the congregation’s ledger under “Baptisms”, but not under “Membership.”
By-Law VI – Records
The Pastor and Elders shall keep records in the congregational ledger, and the Voters’ Secretary shall have notice of all transactions of members in the minutes.
By-Law VII – The Calling of Pastors and Teachers
- The calling of a Pastor, or teacher, shall be transacted at any regular meeting of the Voters’ Assembly, or at one specially called for this purpose.
- A list of candidates shall be presented, including, but not restricted to, a list submitted by the District President (see By-Law IX, B-5f). Nominations may also be made from the floor. If no protest is entered and sustained, the list thus selected shall stand as the recognized slate from which selection is to be made. If a protest is entered and sustained, a new list shall be prepared.
- The procedure for listing the order of priority shall be determined by the President.
- If some Voters request additional time to consider, the Voters may postpone action for a later meeting, agreed to by the Voters, following a duly seconded resolution.
- An unanimous vote is required before issuing the call. The standard call document recognized by our Synod shall be used.
- The Circuit Counselor may be present at all call meetings.
By-Law VIII – Responsibilities of the Pastor
The Pastoral office is the authority conferred upon Pastors by God, through a call of the congregation (which is the holder of the priesthood and of all congregational authority) to exercise in public office the common rights of spiritual priesthood in behalf of everyone. The Pastoral office is the primary office in the congregation from which all other offices of the congregation issue.
The Pastor shall:
- Supervise parish education, including the approval of the course of instruction and printed material used for Sunday School, Confirmation Class, Bible Class, Sunday School Teachers staff (and in the event of a parochial school, shall approve all materials used for religious instruction), and all other such doctrinal education.
- Personally instruct the children’s pre-confirmation class, and the adult pre-confirmation class.
- As a general rule, preach on the Gospel and Epistles of the Church year at all main services.
- Administer the Sacraments.
- Console and advise the members of the congregation, especially the sick and the tempted.
- Advise the Stewards (By-Law X) of their responsibilities and assist them as needed in implementation of their service by sharing materials from the District and Synod. He shall meet with the Stewards in a joint meeting at the beginning of the year, and individually as needed throughout the year.
- Supervise the recording of all baptisms, confirmations, communion, marriages, deaths, and congregational membership, and ensure their accuracy.
- Keep himself informed of all congregational activities, and giving guidance and counsel to their programs and conduct that they be consistent with the aims and principles of this congregation.
- Be an ex-officio member of all committees and organizations appointed and organized as needed.
- Serve as an example by Christian conduct and do all that is possible for the up-building of the congregation and for the advancement of the Kingdom of Christ.
By-Law IX – Governing the Congregation
The Congregation shall be governed by the Voters’ Assembly which shall, in turn, elect from the Assembly the executive officers.
- Voters’ Assembly:
- Shall hold regular meetings. The number, day, and hour shall be fixed by resolution of the Voters’ Assembly.
- May hold special meetings as necessary, or desired. They may be convened upon a call by the Pastor, President, or any five (5) voting members. Notice of such special meetings shall be made in the preceding public service or by best available means, stating purpose, time, and place of such meetings. Special meetings shall be confined to the announced purpose.
- Still require a quorum to convene. A quorum shall consist of at least 1/3 of voting members (By-Law I, C).
- Executive Officers shall be:
- Shall preside over the Voters and Executive Committee meetings and open them with prayer.
- Shall act as the lay-leader of the congregation, submit the order of business, and preserve order and proper decorum during the meetings.
- Shall appoint all ad hoc committees.
- Shall determine that all officers, stewards, and committees are doing their work.
- May vote on all resolutions.
- Shall act as an ex-officio member on all committees.
- Shall prepare minutes of the proceedings of each Voters’ meeting and Executive Committee meetings, and may read the minutes at the next regular meetings of each.
- Shall keep a list of all who have the right of suffrage, and shall keep the roll at Voters’ meetings, and maintain a record of attendance.
- Shall conduct and preserve correspondence.
- Financial Accountant:
- Shall receive all moneys and shall deposit them to the credit of the congregation in the bank to be designated by the Voters.
- Shall make a report to the Voters and to the Treasurer at each Voters’ meeting.
- Shall keep an accurate account of all member contributions that are made in numbered or signed envelopes, and checks.
- Shall annually supply all communicant members, and others who so desire, contribution envelopes.
- Shall give written reports to those who so contribute.
- The collection and tabulation of the regular and plate offerings remain the sole responsibility of the Financial Account.
- Shall make disbursement by check as authorized by the congregation to pay all debts.
- Shall make a report to the congregation at each Voters’ meeting.
- Shall assist the Pastor in all matters pertaining to the spiritual life of the congregation, particularly to those members with special needs.
- Shall ensure that the message proclaimed by the Pastor and teachers is doctrinally pure.
- Shall assist the Pastor and the teachers in the promotion of Christian education.
- Shall see that the Pastor and teachers are properly and adequately compensated.
- Shall assist the Pastor in all aspects of worship.
- Shall prepare a call list of candidates with the assistance of the officer of the Eastern District in case of a vacancy in the Office of the Pastor, or teacher.
- Shall assist with the maintenance of church membership records and annually report these statistics to the Voters’ Assembly.
- Shall act with the pastor to receive or release members, and to recommend such actions to the Voters’ Assembly for approval.
- Shall preside over Voters’ Assembly meetings in the absence of the President.
- Shall make a report to the congregation at each Voters’ meeting.
- Shall serve as executive officers.
- Shall make a report to the congregation at each Voters’ meeting.
- Shall manage the property and legal affairs of the congregation (such as making contracts, borrowing money) according to the instructions received in Voters’ meetings and according to the laws of New York State.
- Whenever the Trustees act in the name and according to the instructions of the Voters, the Voters shall be responsible.
- Shall see that the estate of the congregation is protected against loss and liability.
- Shall see that the deeds and other valuable and important papers of the congregation be kept in a safe deposit box rented by the congregation.
- Shall audit the Treasurer’s records of the congregation or cause them to be audited yearly.
- All the Executive Officers collectively shall be called the Executive Committee.
- The Executive Committee shall meet:
- After the election, and before the end of the calendar year, to appoint Stewards.
- As needed, to consider special needs and to make special recommendations to the Voters.
- The Executive Officers shall be elected two years. Two Elders and two Trustees shall be elected every two years.
- The Executive Officers shall be installed at the first Sunday service of the calendar year.
- The Executive Committee shall meet:
- The Executive Officers named Accountant, Treasurer, one Trustee and one Elder shall be called the Finance Committee. The Financial Resource Steward (see By-Law X, A-4) shall also serve as a member.
- The Finance Committee shall meet prior to the September Voters’ meeting to draw up a budget for the succeeding year, and shall present it at the September Voter’s meeting for tentative approval. Final approval shall be made at the October meeting.
- The Finance Committee shall work together with the Financial Resources Stewart (see By-Law X, A-4) to frame a pledge drive, or any debt retirement program.
By-Law X – Service to the Congregation
Service to this congregation shall be by Stewards appointed by the Executive Officers in a meeting before the end of the calendar year. They shall be chosen by merit of their talents and abilities, and shall work closely with the Pastor. The Stewards may choose others to help them in their duties.
- The Stewards shall be:
- Chancel Steward – who shall:
- Change the color of the paraments as is appropriate for the Liturgical Season.
- Lay the Sacrament of the Altar utensils and linens in place before every Communion Service, and properly store them afterwards.
- Keep the altar, the paraments, and all linens clean.
- Establish a schedule, enlist acolytes, and see that they perform their duties as trained by the Pastor.
- Keep the acolyte robes fresh and clean.
- Education Steward – who shall:
- Be responsible for a Christian education program.
- Conduct opening devotions at each Sunday School session, or appoint a suitable person.
- Appoint Sunday School Teachers, Vacation Bible School Teachers, and Adult Education Teachers, except any classes customarily conducted by the Pastor.
- Obtain teaching and learning materials that comply with ARTICLE XI of this Constitution.
- Conduct teachers’ meetings as needed.
- Evangelism Steward – who shall:
- Conduct a program of Evangelism (local missions) outreach to the community.
- Be familiar with Evangelism education materials.
- Conduct a program of Evangelism education to the congregation at least once a year.
- Financial Resources Steward – who shall:
- Become familiar with the financial needs of the congregation and develop a plan to meet them.
- Help the congregation to recognize its responsibilities in meeting it needs, and to contribute to the work by prayerful financial giving.
- Conduct a pledge drive by working with the Finance Committee towards adoption of a fiscal budget.
- Develop ways to educate the congregation throughout the year, and motivate the members to continue hearty financial support “on the first day of each week as our Lord has blessed them” - (1 Cor. 16:2.).
- Shall participate in promoting special offerings for causes the Voters have designated.
- Mission Steward – who shall:
- Become familiar with the foreign and domestic mission work of the Synod and the materials available for congregational mission education.
- Conduct Mission Education Days which might include a display of materials, speakers, special offerings, etc.
- Nave Steward – who shall:
- Be responsible for passing our worship bulletins, and ushering and greeting visitors.
- Prepare the church for worship with proper lighting, hymn board numbers, ventilation, etc.
- Establish an ushering schedule.
- Tidy the church, close windows, turn off fans, and secure the church after worship.
- Chancel Steward – who shall:
- Each Steward shall serve one year by appointment of the Executive Committee.
- All stewards shall meet once jointly with the Pastor, and Elder, and the President at the beginning of the calendar year, and thereafter as needed.
- All Stewards shall make their report of activities and any recommendations to the Voters, as needed.
Updated version 10. 10. 10