Constitution and Bylaws for
Central Lutheran Church
We, baptized members of the Church of Christ, responding in faith to the call of the Holy Spirit through the Gospel, desiring to unite together to preach the Word, administer the sacraments, and carry out God's mission, do hereby adopt this constitution and solemnly pledge ourselves to be governed by its provisions. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
NAME AND INCORPORATION
C1.01. The name of this congregation shall be Central Lutheran Church of Bellingham, Washington.
C1.02. For the purpose of this constitution and the accompanying bylaws, the congregation of Central Lutheran Church is hereinafter designated as "this congregation."
C1.03. This congregation shall be incorporated under the laws of the State of Washington.
CONFESSION OF FAITH
C2.01. This congregation confesses the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
C2.02. This congregation confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and the Gospel as the power of God for the salvation of all who believe.
a. Jesus Christ is the Word of God incarnate, through whom everything was made and through whose life, death, and resurrection God fashions a new creation.
b. The proclamation of God's message to us as both Law and Gospel is the Word of God, revealing judgment and mercy through word and deed, beginning with the Word in creation, continuing in the history of Israel, and centering in all its fullness in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
c. The canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the written Word of God. Inspired by God's Spirit speaking through their authors, they record and announce God's revelation centering in Jesus Christ. Through them God's Spirit speaks to us to create and sustain Christian faith and fellowship for service in the world.
C2.03. This congregation accepts the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the inspired Word of God and the authoritative source and norm of its proclamation, faith, and life.
C2.04. This congregation accepts the Apostles', Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds as true declarations of the faith of this congregation.
C2.05. This congregation accepts the Unaltered Augsburg Confession as a true witness to the Gospel, acknowledging as one with it in faith and doctrine all churches that likewise accept the teachings of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession.
C2.06. This congregation accepts the other confessional writings in the Book of Concord, namely, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles and the Treatise, the Small Catechism, the Large Catechism, and the Formula of Concord, as further valid interpretations of the faith of the Church.
C2.07. This congregation confesses the Gospel, recorded in the Holy Scripture and confessed in the ecumenical creeds and Lutheran confessional writings, as the power of God to create and sustain the Church for God's mission in the world.
BL2.07.01 This congregation shall reject all fellowship or worship with organizations, secret or open, which are avowedly religious or practice a form of religion without confessing faith in the Triune God and in Jesus Christ as the eternal Son of God incarnate to be our only Savior from sin. It shall declare such organizations to be anti-Christian.
BL2.08.02 No lodge ceremonies are to be permitted in the church or on the church premises of this congregation; nor shall its pastor(s) take part in any such ceremonies wherever they are conducted.
NATURE OF THE CHURCH
C3.01. All power in the Church belongs to our Lord Jesus Christ, its head. All actions of this congregation are to be carried out under his rule and authority.
C3.02. The Church exists both as an inclusive fellowship and as local congregations gathered for worship and Christian service. Congregations find their fulfillment in the universal community of the Church, and the universal Church exists in and through congregations. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, therefore, derives its character and powers both from the sanction and representation of its congregations and from its inherent nature as an expression of the broader fellowship of the faithful. In length, it acknowledges itself to be in the historic continuity of the communion of saints; in breadth, it expresses the fellowship of believers and congregations in our day
C3.03 The name Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA or "this church") as used herein refers in general references to this whole church, including its three expressions - congregations, synods, and the churchwide organization. The name Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is also the name of the corporation of the churchwide organization to which specific references may be made herein.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
C4.01. The Church is a people created by God in Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, called and sent to bear witness to God's creative, redeeming, and sanctifying activity in the world.
C4.02. To participate in God's mission, this congregation as a part of the Church shall:
a. Worship God in proclamation of the Word and administration of the sacraments and through lives of prayer, praise, thanksgiving, witness, and service.
b. Proclaim God's saving Gospel of justification by grace for Christ's sake through faith alone, according to the apostolic witness in the Holy Scripture, preserving and transmitting the Gospel faithfully to future generations.
c. Carry out Christ's Great Commission by reaching out to all people to bring them to faith in Christ and by doing all ministry with a global awareness consistent with the understanding of God as Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier of all.
d. Serve in response to God's love to meet human needs, caring for the sick and the aged, advocating dignity and justice for all people, working for peace and reconciliation among the nations, and standing with the poor and powerless, and committing itself to their needs.
e. Nurture its members in the Word of God so as to grow in faith and hope and love, to see daily life as the primary setting for the exercise of their Christian calling, and to use the gifts of the Spirit for their life together and for their calling in the world.
f. Manifest the unity given to the people of God by living together in the love of Christ and by joining with other Christians in prayer and action to express and preserve the unity which the Spirit gives.
C4.03. To fulfill these purposes, this congregation shall:
a. Provide services of worship at which the Word of God is preached and the sacraments are administered.
b. Provide pastoral care and assist all members to participate in this ministry.
c. Challenge, equip, and support all members in carrying out their calling in their daily lives and in their congregation.
d. Teach the Word of God.
e. Witness to the reconciling Word of God in Christ, reaching out to all people.
f. Respond to human need, work for justice and peace, care for the sick and the suffering, and participate responsibly in society.
g. Motivate its members to provide financial support for the congregation's ministry and the ministry of other parts of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
h. Foster and participate in interdependent relationships with other congregations, the synod, and the churchwide organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
i. Foster and participate in ecumenical relationships consistent with churchwide policy.
C4.04. This congregation shall develop an organizational structure to be described in the bylaws. The Congregation Council shall prepare descriptions of the responsibilities of each committee, task force, or other organizational group and shall review their actions. Such descriptions shall be contained in continuing resolutions in the section on the Congregation Council.
C4.05. This congregation shall, from time to time, adopt a mission statement which will provide specific direction for its programs.
CR4.05.01 The mission statement for Central Lutheran Church shall be:
"Celebrating together in Grace, we nourish Faith, proclaim Hope, and share Love."
(Adopted April 2011)
C4.06 References herein to the nature of the relationship between the three expressions of this church - congregations, synods, and the churchwide organization - as being interdependent or as being in a partnership relationship describe the mutual responsibilities of these expressions in God's mission and the fulfillment of the purposes of this church as described in this chapter, and do not imply or describe the creation of partnerships, co-ventures, agencies, or other legal relationships recognized in civil law.
POWERS OF THE CONGREGATION
C5.01. The powers of this congregation are those necessary to fulfill its purpose.
C5.02. The powers of this congregation are vested in the Congregation Meeting called and conducted as provided in this constitution and bylaws.
C5.03. Only such authority as is delegated to the Congregation Council or other organizational units in this congregation's governing documents is recognized. All remaining authority is retained by the congregation. The congregation is authorized to:
a. call a pastor as provided in Chapter 9;
b. terminate the call of a pastor as provided in Chapter 9;
c. call or terminate the call of associates in ministry, deaconesses, and diaconal ministers in conformity with the applicable policy of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America;
d. adopt amendments to the constitution, as provided in Chapter 17, and amendments to the bylaws, as specified in Chapter 16, and continuing resolutions, as provided in Chapter 18.
e. approve the annual budget;
f. acquire real and personal property by gift, devise, purchase, or other lawful means;
g. hold title to and use its property for any and all activities consistent with its purpose;
h. sell, mortgage, lease, transfer, or otherwise dispose of its property by any lawful means;
i. elect its officers and Congregation Council, and require the members of the council to carry out their duties in accordance with the constitution, bylaws, and continuing resolutions; and
j. terminate its relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America as provided in Chapter 6.
C5.04. This congregation shall choose from among its voting members laypersons to serve as voting members of the Synod Assembly as well as persons to represent it at meetings of any conference, cluster, coalition, or other area subdivision of which it is a member. The number of persons to be elected by the congregation and other qualifications shall be as prescribed in guidelines established by the Northwest Washington Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
C5.05. This congregation may have a mission endowment fund that will operate as specified in this congregation's bylaws. The purpose of the mission endowment fund is to provide for mission work beyond the operational budget of this congregation.
C6.01. This congregation shall be an interdependent part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America or its successor, and of the Northwest Washington Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. This congregation is subject to the discipline of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
C6.02. This congregation accepts the Confession of Faith and agrees to the Purposes of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and shall act in accordance with them.
C6.03. This congregation acknowledges its relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in which:
a. This congregation agrees to be responsible for its life as a Christian community.
b. This congregation pledges its financial support and participation in the life and mission of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
c. This congregation agrees to call pastoral leadership from the clergy roster of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in accordance with its call procedures except in special circumstances and with the approval of the bishop of the synod. These special circumstances are limited either to calling a candidate approved for the roster of ordained ministers of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America or to contracting for pastoral services with an ordained minister of a church body with which the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America officially has established a relationship of full communion.
d. This congregation agrees to consider associates in ministry, deaconesses, and diaconal ministers for call to other staff positions in the congregation according to the procedures of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
e. This congregation agrees to file this constitution and any subsequent changes to this constitution with the synod for review to ascertain that all of its provisions are in agreement with the constitution and bylaws of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and with the constitution of the synod.
C6.04. Affiliation with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America may be terminated as follows:
a. This congregation takes action to dissolve.
b. This congregation ceases to exist.
c. This congregation is removed from membership in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America according to the procedures for discipline of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
d. This congregation follows the procedures outlined in C6.05.
C6.05. A congregation may terminate its relationship with this church by the following procedure:
a. A resolution indicating the desire of this congregation to terminate its relationship must be adopted at a legally called and conducted special meeting of this congregation by a two-thirds majority of the voting members present. Such meeting may be held no sooner than 30 days after written notice of the meeting is received by the bishop of the synod, during which time the congregation shall consult with the bishop and the bishop's designees, if any. The times and manner of the consultation shall be determined by the bishop in consultation with the congregation council. If the consultation with the congregation is not completed by the scheduled meeting date, the provisions of this section will be conclusively presumed to have been followed. Unless he or she is a voting member of the congregation, the bishop and the bishop's designees, if any, shall have voice but not vote at the meeting.
b. The secretary of this congregation shall submit a copy of the resolution to the bishop, attesting that the special meeting was legally called and conducted and certifying the outcome of the vote, and shall mail a copy of the resolution to voting members of the congregation. This notice shall be submitted within 10 days after the resolution has been adopted.
c. The bishop of the synod and the congregation shall continue in consultation, as specified in paragraph a. above, during a period of at least 90 days after receipt by the synod of the notice as specified in paragraph b. above.
d. If this congregation, after such consultation, still seeks to terminate its relationship, such action may be taken at a legally called and conducted special meeting by a two-thirds vote of the voting members present. Notice of the meeting shall be mailed to all voting members and to the bishop at least 10 days in advance of the meeting. Unless he or she is a voting member of the congregation, the bishop and the bishop's designees, if any, shall have voice but not vote at the meeting.
e. A copy of the resolution, with a notification attesting that the special meeting was legally called and conducted and certifying the outcome of the vote, shall be sent to the bishop within 10 days after the resolution has been adopted, at which time the relationship between the congregation and this church shall be terminated subject to paragraphs g., h., and i. Below. Unless this notification to the bishop also certifies that the congregation has voted by a two-thirds vote to affiliate with another Lutheran denomination, the congregation will be conclusively presumed to be an independent or non-Lutheran church.
f. Notice of termination shall be forwarded by the synodical bishop to the secretary of this church, who shall report the termination to the Churchwide Assembly
g. Congregations seeking to terminate their relationship with this church which fail or refuse to comply with each of the foregoing provisions in C6.05., shall be required to receive Synod Council approval before terminating their membership in this church.
h. Congregations which had been members of the Lutheran Church in America shall be required, in addition to complying with the forgoing provisions in C6.05. to receive synodical approval before terminating their membership in this church.
i. If a congregation fails to achieve the required two-thirds vote of voting members present at the congregation's first meeting as specified in paragraph a. above, another special meeting to consider termination of relationship with this church may be called no sooner than six months after that first meeting. If a congregation fails to achieve the required two-thirds vote of voting members present at the congregation’s second meeting as specified in paragraph d. above, another attempt to consider termination of relationship with this church must follow all requirements of C6.05, and may begin no sooner than six months after that second meeting.
C6.06. If this congregation considers relocation, it shall confer with the bishop of the synod in which it is territorially located and the appropriate program unit of the churchwide organization before any steps are taken leading to such action.
C6.07 If this congregation considers developing an additional site to be used regularly for worship, it shall confer with the bishop of the synod in which it is territorially located and the appropriate program unit of the churchwide organization before any steps are taken leading to such action.
C7.01. If this congregation ceases to exist, title to undisposed property shall pass to the Northwest Washington Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
C7.02. If this congregation is removed from membership in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America according to its procedure for discipline, title to property shall continue to reside in this congregation.
C7.03. If a two-thirds majority of the voting members of this congregation present at a legally called and conducted special meeting of this congregation vote to transfer to another Lutheran church body, title to property shall continue to reside in this congregation, provided the process for termination of relationship in C6.05 has been followed. Before this congregation takes action to transfer to another Lutheran church body, it shall consult with representatives of the Northwest Washington Synod.
C7.04. If a two-thirds majority of the voting members of this congregation present at a legally called and conducted special meeting of this congregation vote to become independent or relate to a non-Lutheran church body and have followed the process for termination of relationship in C6.05., title to property of this congregation shall continue to reside in this congregation only with the consent of the Synod Council. The Synod Council, after consultation with this congregation by the established synodical process, may give approval to the request to become independent or to relate to a non-Lutheran church body, in which case title shall remain with the majority of this congregation. If the Synod Council fails to give such approval, title shall remain with those members who desire to continue as a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
C8.01. Members of this congregation shall be those baptized persons on the roll of this congregation at the time that this constitution is adopted and those who are admitted thereafter and who have declared and maintain their membership in accordance with the provisions of this constitution and its bylaws.
C8.02. Members shall be classified as follows:
a. Baptized members are those persons who have been received by the Sacrament of Holy Baptism in this congregation, or, having been previously baptized in the name of the Triune God, have been received by certificate of transfer from other Lutheran congregations or by affirmation of faith.
BL8.02.01 Baptized members are:
a. A child, one or both of whose parents or guardians are members of this congregation, shall, upon receiving Baptism, become a baptized member.
b. A child, neither of whose parents or guardians is a member of the congregation, shall, upon receiving Baptism, become a baptized member of this congregation, unless for good reason he/she is to be a baptized member of another congregation, in which case his membership shall be transferred to that congregation.
c. A child baptized in another congregation shall be received as a baptized member in this congregation when a transfer has been received.
d. An unbaptized adult who has received instruction and has given evidence of an adequate understanding and acceptance of the teachings of the Word of God as confessed by the Lutheran Church, shall, upon confession of faith and Baptism, become a baptized member of the congregation.
e. When one or both parents of baptized children are received into the membership of the congregation, such children should be received as baptized members with the consent of the member parent or parents.
f. Where a baptized child is an orphan or ward of someone and these people move into the area served by this congregation, the child may be received as a baptized member when it is commended to the care of this congregation by the congregation which baptized the child.
g. When the parents of a baptized child are not themselves members of the Lutheran Church but move into the area served by this congregation and desire to have their child put within the pastoral care of this congregation, the child may be received as a baptized member.
b. Confirmed members are baptized persons who have been confirmed in this congregation, those who have been received by adult baptism or by transfer as confirmed members from other Lutheran congregations, or baptized persons received by affirmation of faith.
BL8.02.02 Confirmed members are:
a. A baptized member of this congregation shall become a confirmed member through the rite of Affirmation of Baptism; except that an adult who has become a baptized member in accordance with the provisions of Section BL08.02.01.d., of this part of the bylaws, shall be considered a confirmed member without participation in the rite of Affirmation of Baptism.
b. An applicant for membership who presents a Letter of Transfer which certifies that he is a confirmed member in good standing of a Lutheran congregation shall become a confirmed member of this congregation upon approval by the Congregation Council. The acceptance of the applicant shall be reported to the congregation.
c. A baptized adult, not previously a confirmed member of a Lutheran congregation, shall become a confirmed member of this congregation after having received instruction, having given evidence of adequate understanding of the teachings of the Word of God as confessed by the Lutheran Church, and having publicly affirmed his faith.
d. An applicant for membership who presents evidence of confirmation in a Lutheran congregation but does not have a Letter of Transfer shall be admitted to confirmed membership when the Congregation Council has determined that the applicant meets the standards of Christian faith and life indicated in the constitution and bylaws and when the applicant has reaffirmed his faith before this congregation
c. Voting members are confirmed members. Such confirmed members, during the current or preceding calendar year, shall have communed in this congregation and/or shall have made a contribution of record to this congregation. Members of this congregation who have satisfied these basic standards shall have the privilege of voice and vote at every regular and special meeting of the congregation.
BL8.02.03 The Congregation Council shall determine the roster of voting members of the congregation in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.
d. Associate members are persons holding membership in other Lutheran congregations who wish to retain such membership but desire to participate in the life and mission of this congregation, or persons who wish to retain a relationship with this congregation while being members of other congregations. They have all the privileges and duties of membership except voting rights and eligibility for elected offices or membership on the Congregation Council of this congregation.
C8.03. All applications for confirmed membership shall be submitted to and shall require the approval of the Congregation Council.
C8.04. It shall be the privilege and duty of members of this congregation to
a. make regular use of the means of grace, both Word and sacraments;
b. live a Christian life in accordance with the Word of God and the teachings of the Lutheran church; and
c. support the work of this congregation, the synod, and the churchwide organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America through contributions of their time, abilities, and financial support as biblical stewards.
C8.05. Membership in this congregation shall be terminated by any of the following:
c. transfer or release;
e. disciplinary action by the Congregation Council; or
f. removal from the roll due to inactivity as defined in the bylaws.
Such persons who have been removed from the roll of members shall remain persons for whom the Church has a continuing pastoral concern.
BL8.05.01 Pastoral Concern of Members
a. A confirmed member in good standing desiring to change their membership to another Lutheran congregation shall, upon request receive a Letter of Transfer.
b. A confirmed member who does not, for a period of one year, partake of Holy Communion; support the church with their offerings; and does not in the judgment of the Congregation Council appear to desire to participate in the life and worship of the congregation, shall be visited by the pastor and a Congregation Council member encouraging the member to active participation. If, during the second year, the confirmed member does not actively participate, the member’s name shall be removed from the membership roster of the congregation but be retained on a responsibility list as one who is in special need of the congregation’s prayer and concern.
c. The congregation shall, in the event of the removal of a member from the community it serves, encourage the member to request a transfer to a Lutheran congregation which can serve the member effectively. Should the member fail to request a transfer, a Lutheran congregation in the community of the member’s residence shall be notified.
d. A child, neither of whose parents or guardians is a member of the congregation, may be removed from the roster of baptized members if the child fails to participate in the life and worship of the congregation.
C9.01. Authority to call a pastor shall be in this congregation by at least a two-thirds majority ballot vote of members present and voting at a meeting legally called for that purpose. Before a call is issued, the officers, or a committee elected by the Congregation Council to recommend the call, shall seek the advice and help of the bishop of the synod.
C9.02. Only a member of the clergy roster of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America or a candidate for the roster of ordained ministers who has been recommended for the congregation by the synodical bishop may be called as a pastor of this congregation.
C9.03. Consistent with the faith and practice of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,
a. Every ordained minister shall:
1) preach the Word;
2) administer the sacraments;
3) conduct public worship;
4) provide pastoral care; and
5) speak publicly to the world in solidarity with the poor and oppressed, calling for justice and proclaiming God’s love for the world.
b. Each ordained minister with a congregational call shall, within the congregation:
1) offer instruction, confirm, marry, visit the sick and distressed, and bury the dead;
2) supervise all schools and organizations of this congregation;
3) install regularly elected members of the Congregation Council; and
4) with the council, administer discipline.
c. Every pastor shall:
1) strive to extend the Kingdom of God in the community, in the nation, and abroad;
2) seek out and encourage qualified persons to prepare for the ministry of the Gospel;
3) impart knowledge of this church and its wider ministry through distribution of its periodicals and other publications; and
4) endeavor to increase the support given by the congregation to the work of the churchwide organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and of the Northwest Washington Synod of the ELCA.
C9.04. The specific duties of the pastor, compensation, and other matters pertaining to the service of the pastor shall be included in a letter of call, which shall be attested by the bishop of the synod.
a. The call of a congregation, when accepted by a pastor, shall constitute a continuing mutual relationship and commitment, which, except in the case of the death of the pastor, shall be terminated only following consultation with the synodical bishop and for the following reasons:
1) mutual agreement to terminate the call or the completion of a call for a specific term;
2) resignation of the pastor, which shall become effective, unless otherwise agreed, 30 days after the date on which it was submitted;
3) inability to conduct the pastoral office effectively in the congregation in view of local conditions, without reflection on the competence or the moral and spiritual character of the pastor;
4) the physical or mental incapacity of the pastor;
5) disqualification of the pastor through discipline on grounds of doctrine, morality, or continued neglect of duty;
6) the dissolution of the congregation or the termination of a parish arrangement; or
7) suspension of the congregation as a result of discipline proceedings.
b. When allegations of physical or mental incapacity of the pastor or ineffective conduct of the pastoral office have come to the attention of the bishop of the synod, the bishop in his or her sole discretion may, or when such allegations have been brought to the synod’s attention by an official recital of allegations by the Congregation Council or by a petition signed by at least one-third of the voting members of the congregation, the bishop shall, investigate such conditions personally in company with a committee of two ordained ministers and one layperson.
c. In case of alleged physical or mental incapacity, competent medical testimony shall be obtained. When such disability is evident, the bishop of the synod with the advice of the committee shall declare the pastorate vacant. Upon the restoration of a disabled pastor to health, the bishop of the synod shall take steps to enable the pastor to resume the ministry, either in the congregation last served or in another field of labor.
d. In the case of alleged local difficulties that imperil the effective functioning of the congregation, all concerned persons shall be heard, after which the bishop of the synod together with the committee described in C9.05.b. shall decide on the course of action to be recommended to the pastor and the congregation. If they agree to carry out such recommendations, no further action shall be taken by the synod. If either party fails to assent, the congregation may dismiss the pastor at a legally called meeting after consultation with the bishop, either
a) by a two-thirds majority vote of the voting members present and voting where the bishop and the committee did not recommend termination of the call, or
b) by a simple majority vote of the voting members present and voting where the bishop and the committee recommended termination of the call.
e. If, in the course of proceedings described in C9.05.d., the committee concludes that there may be grounds for disciplinary action, the committee shall make recommendations concerning disciplinary action to the synodical bishop, who may bring charges in accordance with the provisions of the constitution and bylaws of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the constitution of this synod.
f. If, following the appointment of the committee described in C9.05.b. or d., it should become apparent that the pastoral office cannot be conducted effectively in the congregation(s) being served by the ordained minister due to local conditions, the bishop of the synod may temporarily suspend the pastor from service in the congregation(s) without prejudice and with pay provided through a joint synodical and churchwide fund and with housing provided by the congregation(s).
C9.06. At a time of pastoral vacancy, an interim pastor shall be appointed by the bishop of the synod with the consent of this congregation or the Congregation Council.
C9.07. During the period of service, an interim pastor shall have the rights and duties in the congregation of a regularly called pastor and may delegate the same in part to a supply pastor with the consent of the bishop of the synod and this congregation or Congregation Council. The interim pastor and any ordained pastor providing assistance shall refrain from exerting influence in the selection of a pastor. Unless previously agreed upon by the Synod Council, and interim pastor is not available for a regular call to the congregation served.
C9.08. This congregation shall make satisfactory settlement of all financial obligations to a former pastor before calling a successor. A pastor shall make satisfactory settlement of all financial obligations to this congregation before beginning service in a call to another congregation or employment in another ministry setting related to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
C9.09. When a pastor is called to serve in company with another pastor or pastors, the privileges and responsibilities of each pastor shall be specified in documents to accompany the call and to be drafted in consultation involving the pastors, the Congregation Council, and the bishop of the synod. As occasion requires, the documents may be revised through a similar consultation.
C9.11. With the approval of the bishop of the synod, the congregation may depart from C9.05.a. and call a pastor for a specific term. Details of such calls shall be in writing setting forth the purpose and conditions involved. Prior to the completion of a term, the bishop or a designated representative of the bishop shall meet with the pastor and representatives of the congregation for a review of the call. Said call may be extended by congregational action. Such a call may also be terminated before its expiration in accordance with the provisions of C9.05.a.
C9.12. The pastor of this congregation:
a. shall keep accurate parochial records of all baptisms, confirmations, marriages, burials, communicants, members received, members dismissed, or members excluded from the congregation;
b. shall submit a summary of such statistics annually to the synod; and
c. shall become a member of this congregation upon receipt and acceptance of the letter of call. In a parish of multiple congregations, the pastor shall hold membership in one of the congregations.
C9.13. The pastor(s) shall submit a report of his or her ministry to the bishop of the synod at least 90 days prior to each regular meeting of the Synod Assembly.
C9.14. The parochial records of this congregation shall be maintained by the pastor and shall remain the property of the congregation. The secretary of this congregation shall attest in writing to the bishop of this synod that such records have been placed in his or her hands in good order by a departing pastor before the installation of that pastor in another field of labor or the granting by the synod of retired status to the pastor.
C9.15. Under special circumstances, subject to the approval of the synodical bishop and the concurrence of this congregation, an ordained minister of a church body with which the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America officially has established a relationship of full communion may serve temporarily as pastor of this congregation under a contract between the congregation and the ordained minister in a form proposed by the synodical bishop and approved by the congregation.
C10.01. The annual meeting of this congregation shall be held at a time specified in the bylaws.
BL10.01.01 The date for the annual meeting shall be established by the Congregation Council and will occur in the latter half of January or first half of February.
C10.02. A special Congregation Meeting may be called by the pastor, the Congregation Council, or the president of this congregation, and shall be called by the president of the congregation upon the written petition bearing the signature of ten of the voting members. The call for each special meeting shall specify the purpose for which it is to be held and no other business shall be transacted.
C10.03. Notice of all meetings of this congregation shall be given at the services of worship on the preceding two consecutive Sundays and by mail (either USPS or email) to voting members postmarked at least 10 days in advance of the date of the meeting. The posting of such notice in the regular mail, with the regular postage affixed or paid, sent to the last known address of such members shall be sufficient.
BL10.03.01 All congregational meetings shall open with the Word of God and close with the Lord’s Prayer.
BL10.03.02 The president, and in the president’s absence, the vice-president of the congregation shall preside.
BL10.03.03 The order of business for the annual meeting of the congregation shall be:
a. The reading of the minutes.
b. The reports of:
the Congregation Council President,
the Audit Committee,
the Nominating Committee,
c. Approval of the budget.
d. Unfinished business
e. New business.
BL10.03.04 The order of business for special meetings called as specified in C10.02 shall be:
a. A statement of the purpose for the special meeting.
b. Action on the purpose for the meeting.
c. No other business shall be transacted at this meeting.
C10.04. Voting members equal to 40% of the average worship attendance, where attendance is taken, for the twelve months prior to the date the meeting notice is mailed shall constitute a quorum.
C10.05. Voting by proxy, by absentee ballot, or electronic means shall not be permitted.
C10.06. All actions approved by the congregation shall be by majority vote of those voting members present and voting, except as otherwise provided in this constitution or by state law. The purchase, sale, or other disposition of real property shall require a 2/3 majority of those voting members present and voting.
C10.07. Robert’s Rules of Order, latest edition, shall govern parliamentary procedure of all meetings of this congregation.
C11.01. The officers of this congregation shall be a president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer.
a. Duties of the officers shall be specified in the bylaws.
b. The officers shall be voting members of the congregation.
c. Officers of this congregation shall serve similar offices of the Congregation Council and shall be voting members of the Congregation Council.
BL11.01.01. The President shall preside at all meetings of the Congregation and Congregation Council. It shall be the president’s duty to make certain that all meetings are conducted in a proper and orderly manner and in accordance with the terms of this constitution and Bylaws. Furthermore it shall be the president’s duty to perform all of the appropriate functions of this office for the best interests of the congregation and as may be required by the Congregation and/or the Congregation Council. The President shall be an ex officio member of all committees comprising the Congregation Council.
BL11.01.02 The Vice-president shall preside in the absence of the President. The Vice-president shall assist the President as required and attend all meeting of the Congregation Council. The Vice-president shall be the personnel director of the lay staff employees of the Church.
BL11.01.03 The Secretary shall perform and/or direct and supervise the performance of all duties and functions appropriate to this office. These duties shall include:
a. The keeping of accurate minutes of all of the congregational meetings.
b. The preserving of the archives of the congregation
BL11.01.04 The Treasurer shall perform and/or direct and supervise the performance of all duties and functions appropriate to this office. These duties shall include:
a. The disbursing of funds necessary to all authorized financial obligations of the congregation. All disbursements shall be made only upon approval of the Congregation Council or in accordance with specific resolutions of the congregation.
b. The keeping of detailed and accurate records and ledgers, subject to the approval of the Congregation Council, pertaining to all financial affairs of the congregation, except, the keeping of records of the contributions of the individual members of the congregation. This duty is assigned to the financial secretary.
c. The presenting of a statement showing the financial condition of the congregation to the Congregation Council each month.
d. The presenting of a complete and duly audited financial statement of the congregation to the annual meeting of the congregation.
BL11.01.05 The Treasurer shall furnish a surety bond to the congregation (at the congregation’s expense) of not less than five thousand dollars ($5,000). The exact amount shall be determined by the Congregation Council.
C11.02. The congregation shall elect its officers and they shall be the officers of the corporation. The officers shall be elected by written ballot and shall serve for one year or until their successors are elected. Their terms shall begin on March 1 and end on the last day of the following February.
C11.03. No officer shall hold more than one office at a time. No elected officer shall be eligible to serve more than three consecutive terms in the same office with the exception of the Treasurer.
C12.01. The voting membership of the Congregation Council shall consist of the pastor(s), the officers of the congregation, and not more than thirteen at-large members of the congregation as set by the bylaws. Any voting member of the congregation may be elected, subject only to the limitation on the length of continuous service permitted in that office. A member’s place on the Congregation Council shall be declared vacant if the member a) ceases to be a voting member of this congregation or b) is absent from four consecutive regular meetings of the Congregation Council without cause. Consistent with the laws of the State of Washington, the congregation may adopt procedures for the removal of a member of the Congregation Council in other circumstances.
The at-large members of the Congregation Council shall be elected at the annual meeting. Their term of office shall be for three years, with the term of office beginning on March 1 and ending on the last day of the last February of the term. Members shall be eligible to serve no more than two full terms consecutively. With the exception of the Treasurer, no member shall serve more than six consecutive years on the Congregation Council.
BL12.01.01 In addition to the four officers the congregation shall elect at least four, but not more than thirteen, at-large members to serve on the Congregation Council.
BL12.01.02 The Congregation Council shall organize itself in two groups, one group shall be responsible for program activities of this church and the other group shall be responsible for administrative activities of this church.
BL12.01.03 The group responsible for program activities shall oversee the ministry functions of this congregation and shall be led by the pastor(s).
BL12.01.04 The group responsible for administrative activities shall oversee the administrative, finance, and property functions of this congregation and shall be led by the President. The treasurer shall be a member of this group.
BL12.01.05 Changes to these responsibilities may be changed as needed by continuing resolution.
C12.02. Should a member’s place on the Congregation Council be declared vacant, the Congregation Council shall elect, by majority vote, a successor until the next annual meeting.
C12.03. The Congregation Council shall have general oversight of the life and activities of this congregation, and in particular its worship life, to the end that everything be done in accordance with the Word of God and the faith and practice of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The duties of the Congregation Council shall include the following:
a. To lead this congregation in stating its mission, to do long-range planning, to set goals and priorities, and to evaluate its activities in light of its mission and goals.
b. To seek to involve all members of this congregation in worship, learning, witness, service, and support.
c. To oversee and provide for the administration of this congregation to enable it to fulfill its functions and perform its mission.
d. To maintain supportive relationships with the pastor(s) and staff and help them annually to evaluate the fulfillment of their calling or employment.
e. To be examples individually and corporately of the style of life and ministry expected of all baptized persons.
f. To promote a congregational climate of peace and goodwill, and, as differences and conflicts arise, to endeavor to foster mutual understanding.
g. To arrange for pastoral service during the sickness or absence of the pastor.
h. To emphasize partnership with the synod and churchwide organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America as well as cooperation with other congregations, both Lutheran and non-Lutheran, subject to established policies of the synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
i. To recommend and encourage the use of program resources produced or approved by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
j. To seek out and encourage qualified persons to prepare for the ministry of the Gospel.
C12.04. The Congregation Council shall be responsible for the financial and property matters of this congregation.
a. The Congregation Council shall be the board of directors of this congregation, and as such shall be responsible for maintaining and protecting its property and the management of its business and fiscal affairs. It shall have the powers and be subject to the obligations that pertain to such boards under the laws of the State of Washington, except as otherwise provided herein.
b. The Congregation Council shall not have the authority to buy, sell, or encumber real property unless specifically authorized to do so by a meeting of the congregation.
c. The Congregation Council may enter into contracts of up to $2,500 for items not included in the budget.
d. The Congregation Council shall prepare an annual budget for adoption by this congregation, shall supervise the expenditure of funds in accordance therewith following its adoption, and may incur obligations of more than $2,500 in excess of the anticipated receipts only after approval by a Congregation Meeting. The budget shall include this congregation’s full indicated share in support of the wider ministry being carried on in partnership with the synod and churchwide organization.
e. The Congregation Council shall ascertain that the financial affairs of this congregation are being conducted efficiently, giving particular attention to the prompt payment of all obligations and to the regular forwarding of benevolence monies to the synodical treasurer.
f. The Congregation Council shall be responsible for the congregation’s investments and its total insurance program.
BL12.04.01 The Congregation Council shall appoint a financial secretary, who shall be responsible for the receiving of all funds of the congregation, depositing the same in a financial institution in the name of the congregation and recording the receipts.
C12.05. The Congregation Council shall see that the provisions of this constitution, its bylaws, and the continuing resolutions are carried out.
C12.06. The Congregation Council shall provide for an annual review of the membership roster.
C12.07. The Congregation Council shall be responsible for the employment and supervision of the staff of this congregation. Nothing in this provision shall be deemed to affect the congregation’s responsibility for the call, terms of call, or termination of call of any employees who are on a roster of this church.
BL12.07.01 The clerical and bookkeeping work required by the office of treasurer may be, at the option, approval and direction of the Congregation Council, delegated to employees on the staff and performed in the church office. The Treasurer, subject to the approval of the Congregation Council, is eligible to serve as a staff employee for this purpose.
C12.08. The Congregation Council shall submit a comprehensive report to this congregation at the annual meeting.
C12.09. The Congregation Council shall normally meet once a month. Special meetings may be called by the pastor or the president, and shall be called by the president at the request of at least one-half of its members. Notice of each special meeting shall be given to all who are entitled to be present.
BL12.09.01 a. Meetings shall open with the Word of God and close with the Lord’s Prayer.
b. The normal order of business shall be:
1) Approval of the minutes of the previous meeting.
2) The report of the pastor(s).
3) The Treasurer’s report.
4) The report of the Trustees.
5) The report of the Deacons.
6) Committee reports.
7) Unfinished business.
8) New business.
C12.10. A quorum for the transaction of business shall consist of a majority of the members of the Congregation Council, including the pastor or interim pastor, except when the pastor or interim pastor requests or consents to be absent and has given prior approval to the agenda for a particular regular or special meeting, which shall be the only business considered at that meeting.
C13.01. The officers of this congregation and the pastor shall constitute the Executive Committee.
BL13.01.01 The Executive Committee shall meet monthly before the Congregation Council meeting to a) review the work of the congregation, b) set the agenda for the council meeting.
BL13.01.02 The Executive Committee shall be empowered to make emergency decisions for the best interests of the church when an emergency arises that cannot wait for the next regular scheduled council meeting. At least one lay member of the Executive Committee and one pastoral staff member must be involved in said decision and be held responsible for any action until the next council meeting.
C13.02. A Nominating Committee of six voting members of this congregation, two of whom, if possible, shall be outgoing members of the Congregation Council, shall be elected at the annual meeting for a term of one year. Members of the Nominating Committee are not eligible for consecutive reelection.
C13.03. An Audit Committee of three voting members shall be elected by the Congregation Council. Not more than one Audit Committee member shall be a member of the congregation council. Audit Committee members shall serve for three years, with one member elected each year. Members shall not serve more than two consecutive terms. This committee shall elect its own chairperson from its membership.
C13.04. A Staff Support Committee shall consist of the Vice-president, one at-large Congregation Council member, and senior pastor, and any member appointed as needed on a temporary basis by the Congregation Council. The Vice-president will chair this committee. This committee shall:
a. Evaluate annually, job performance of all paid employees.
b. Deal with job description or personnel problems of all employees.
c. Review annually the salaried and total financial package of paid staff and make recommendations to the Budget Committee or Council.
C13.05. When a pastoral vacancy occurs, a Call Committee of six voting members shall be appointed by the Congregation Council. The term of office for Call Committee members shall expire upon installation of the newly called pastor.
C13.06. Other committees of this congregation may be formed, as the need arises, by decision of the Congregation Council.
BL13.06.01 Those serving on committees created under C13.06 shall be appointed by the Congregation Council.
C13.07. Duties of committees of this congregation shall be specified in a continuing resolution(s).
C13.08. The senior pastor of this congregation shall be ex officio a member of all committees and boards of the congregation.
ORGANIZATIONS WITHIN THE CONGREGATION
C14.01. All organizations within this congregation shall exist to aid it in ministering to the members of this congregation and to all persons who can be reached with the Gospel of Christ. As outgrowths and expressions of this congregation’s life, the organizations are subject to its oversight and direction. This congregation at its meeting shall determine their policies, guide their activities, and receive reports concerning their membership, work, and finances.
BL14.01.01 All organizations affiliated with the congregation that handle funds shall submit accounts at the annual meeting of the congregation.
C14.02. Special interest groups, other than those of the official organizations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, may be organized only after authorization has been given by the Congregation Council
DISCIPLINE OF MEMBERS AND ADJUDICATION
C15.01. Denial of the Christian faith as described in this constitution, conduct grossly unbecoming a member of the Church of Christ, or persistent trouble-making in this congregation are sufficient cause for discipline of a member. Prior to disciplinary action, reconciliation will be attempted following Matthew 18:15-17, proceeding through these successive steps:
a. private admonition by the pastor,
b. admonition by the pastor in the presence of two or three witnesses, and
c. citation to appear before the Congregation Council. If, for any reason, the pastor is unable to administer the admonitions required by a. and b. hereof, the president (if not the pastor) or vice president shall administer such admonitions.
C15.02. The process for discipline of a member of the congregation shall be governed as prescribed by the chapter on discipline in the Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. If discipline against a member proceeds beyond counseling and admonition by the pastor, charges against the accused member(s) that are specific and in writing shall be prepared by member(s) of the congregation who shall sign the charges as the accuser(s). The written charges shall be filed with the pastor, who shall advise the Congregation Council of the need to issue a written citation to the accused and the accusers that specifies the time and place of the hearing before the Congregation Council. The written charges shall accompany the written citation to the accused. The written citation that specifies the time and place of the hearing before the Congregation Council and requests the presence of a member charged with the offense shall be sent at least ten days prior to the meeting. If the member charged with the offense fails to appear at the scheduled hearing, the Congregation Council may proceed with the hearing and may pass judgment in the member’s absence.
C15.03. Members of the Congregation Council who participate in the preparation of the written charges or who present evidence or testimony in the hearing before the Congregation Council are disqualified from voting upon the question of the guilt of the accused member. Should the allegations be sustained by a two-thirds majority vote of the members of the Congregation Council who are not disqualified but who are present and voting, and renewed admonition prove ineffectual, the council shall impose one of the following disciplinary actions:
a.censure before the council or congregation;
b.suspension from membership for a definite period of time; or
c. exclusion from membership in this congregation.
Disciplinary actions b. and c. shall be delivered to the member in writing.
C15.04. The member against whom disciplinary action has been taken by the Congregation Council shall have the right to appeal the decision to the Synod Council. Such right may not be abridged and the decision of the Synod Council shall be final.
C15.05. Disciplinary actions may be reconsidered and revoked by the Congregation Council upon receipt of
a. evidence that injustice has been done or
b. evidence of repentance and amendment.
C15.06. For disciplinary actions in this congregation, “due process” shall be observed as specified in 20.41.04. in the Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
C15.07. No member of a congregation shall be subject to discipline for offenses that the Congregation Council has previously heard and decided, unless so ordered by the Synod Council after an appeal.
C15.08. When there is disagreement among factions within this congregation on a substantive issue that cannot be resolved by the parties, members of this congregation shall have access to the synodical bishop for consultation after informing the chair of the Congregation Council of their intent. If the consultation fails to resolve the issue(s), the Consultation Committee of the synod shall consider the matter. If the Consultation Committee of the synod shall fail to resolve the issue(s), the matter shall be referred to the Synod Council, whose decision shall be final.
C16.01. This congregation may adopt bylaws. No bylaw may conflict with this constitution.
C16.02. Bylaws may be adopted or amended at any legally called meeting of this congregation with a quorum present by a majority vote of those voting members present and voting.
C16.03. Changes to the Bylaws may be proposed by any voting member provided, that such additions or amendments be submitted in writing to the Congregation Council at least 60 days before a regular or special Congregation Meeting called for that purpose. The Congregation Council shall notify the congregation’s members by mail/email of the proposal with the council’s recommendations at least 30 days in advance of the Congregation Meeting.
C16.04. Approved changes to the Bylaws shall be sent by the secretary of this congregation to the synod.
C17.01. Unless provision C17.04. is applicable, those sections of this constitution that are not required, in accord with the Model Constitution for Congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, may be amended in the following manner. Amendments may be proposed by at least 10 voting members or by the Congregation Council. Proposals must be filed in writing with the Congregation Council 60 days before formal consideration by this congregation at a regular or special Congregation Meeting called for that purpose. The Congregation Council shall notify the congregation’s members by mail/email of the proposal together with the council’s recommendations at least 30 days in advance of the meeting.
C17.02. An amendment to this constitution, proposed under C17.01., shall:
a. be approved at a legally called Congregation Meeting according to this constitution by a majority vote of those present and voting;
b. be ratified without change at the next annual meeting by a two-thirds majority vote of those present and voting; and
c. have the effective date included in the resolution and noted in the constitution.
C17.03. Any amendments to this constitution that result from the processes provided in C17.01. and C17.02. shall be sent by the secretary of this congregation to the synod. The amendment shall become effective within 120 days from the date of the receipt of the notice by the synod unless the synod informs this congregation that the amendment is in conflict with the constitution and bylaws of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America or the constitution of the Northwest Washington Synod of the ELCA.
C17.04. This constitution may be amended to bring any section into conformity with a section or sections, either required or not required, of the Model Constitution for Congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America as most recently amended by the Churchwide Assembly. Such amendments may be approved by a simple majority vote of those voting members present and voting at any legally called meeting of the congregation without presentation at a prior meeting of the congregation, provided that the Congregation Council has submitted by mail notice to the congregation of such an amendment or amendments, together with the council’s recommendations, at least 30 days prior to the meeting. Following the adoption of an amendment, the secretary of the congregation shall submit a copy thereof to the synod. Such provisions shall become effective immediately following a vote of approval.
C18.01. The congregation in a legally called meeting or the Congregation Council may enact continuing resolutions. Such continuing resolutions may not conflict with the constitution or bylaws of this congregation.
C18.02. Continuing resolutions shall be enacted or amended by a majority vote of a meeting of the congregation or a two-thirds vote of all voting members of the Congregation Council.
C19.01. Consistent with the provisions of the laws of the State of Washington under which this congregation is incorporated, this congregation may adopt provisions providing indemnification for each person who, by reason of the fact that such person is or was a Congregation Council member, officer, employee, agent, or other member of any committee of this congregation, was or is threatened to be made a party to any threatened, pending, or completed civil, criminal, administrative, arbitration, or investigative proceeding.