First Congregational Church
Searsport, Maine

 

 

 

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BY-LAWS OF THE FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH SEARSPORT, MAINE

Amended February 14, 1999, March 11, 2001, and April 3, 2005

Article I: Name
Article II: Object
Article III: Polity
Article IV: Doctrine
Article V: Membership
Article VI: Services & Meetings
Article VII: Officers
Article VIII: Boards
Article IX: Committees
Article X: Organizations
Article XI: Stewardship
Article XII: Amendments
Article XIII: Dissolution

 

ARTICLE I NAME

This church shall be known as the First Congregational Church of Searsport, Maine, originally incorporated as Pew-Holders of the First Congregational Church of Searsport, February 20, 1855.

ARTICLE II OBJECT

The avowed purpose of this church shall be to worship God, to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to celebrate the sacraments; to realize Christian Fellowship and unity within this church and the Church Universal; to render loving service toward mankind; and to strive for righteousness, justice and peace.

ARTICLE III POLITY

This church acknowledges Jesus Christ as its head and finds in the Holy Scriptures, interpreted by the Divine Spirit through reason, faith and conscience, its guidance in matters of faith and discipline. The government of this church is vested in its members, who exercise the right of control in all its affairs, subject in legal matters, however, to the Laws of the State of Maine. While this church is amenable to no ecclesiastical judicatory, it accepts the obligations of mutual council, comity and cooperation involved in the free fellowship of the Congregational Christian Churches, and pledges itself to share their common aims and works.

ARTICLE IV DOCTRINE

This church recognizes the Bible as the sufficient rule of faith and practice, and holds that living in accordance with teachings of Jesus Christ is the true test of fellowship. Each member shall have the undisturbed right to follow the word of God according to the dictates of his/her conscience, under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit

1. Principles: The following statement of faith (or principles), therefore, is not a test but an expression of the spirit in which the church interprets the Word of God.

We believe in God the Father, infinite in wisdom, goodness and love; and in Jesus Christ, his Son, our Lord and Savior, who for us and our salvation lived and died and rose again and liveth evermore; and in the Holy Spirit, who taketh of the things of Christ and revealeth them to us, renewing, comforting, and inspiring the souls of men.

We are united in striving to know the will of God as taught in the Holy Scriptures, and in our purpose to walk in the ways of the Lord, made known or to be made known to us.

We hold it to be the mission of the Church of Christ to proclaim the gospel to all mankind exalting the worship of the one true God and laboring for the progress of knowledge, the promotion of justice, the reign of peace, and the realization of human brotherhood.

Depending, as did our fathers, upon the continued guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth, we work and pray for the transformation of the world into the kingdom of God; and we look with faith for the triumph of righteousness and the life everlasting. "

The Kansas City Statement of Faith, 1913

2. Covenant:

We covenant with the Lord and with one another to walk together as followers of Jesus Christ. We propose to devote ourselves to the study, practice and spread of Christianity. We will endeavor to be loyal to this fellowship, to help one another in the Christian life according to our ability and opportunity, to support the work and attend meetings of this Church, and in every way to strive to make it a power in the service of God and mankind.

ARTICLE V MEMBERSHIP

1. Qualifications: The members of this church shall be persons who have been received by recommendation of the Pastor and vote of the Board of Deacons and by public acceptance of the church's covenant: (a) on presentation of satisfactory letter of transfer from other churches; (b) if letters are not available, by reaffirmation of faith; or (c) on confession of faith and baptism.

2. Reception: The public reception of members shall ordinarily be upon the Lord's Day when the Lord's Supper is administered.

3. Duties: Members are expected to be faithful in all the spiritual duties essential to the Christian life, to attend the services of this church, to give regularly for its support and its charities, and to share in its organized work.

4. Rights: Such members who are in full and regular standing and have attained the age of eighteen years may act and vote in transactions of the Church.

5. Termination

a. Any member may, on the request from another church, be granted a letter of transfer to that church. If wishing to join a body not in fellowship with this church, he/she may be dismissed with a certificate of church membership.

b. If a member requests to be released from his/her covenant obligations to this church for reasons which the church may finally deem satisfactory, after it shall have patiently and kindly endeavored to secure his/her continuance in its fellowship, such request may be granted and his/her membership terminated.

c. A member whose address has long been unknown, or for a period of two years, in spite of spiritual care, has not attended the church worship or contributed to its support, may by recommendation of the Board of Deacons and a vote of the church, be removed from the active membership roll and placed on an inactive list. The inactive member shall remain in that status until such time as he or she submits in writing a request to return to active membership.

d. Should a member become an offense to the church and to its good name by reason of immoral or unchristian conduct, or by persistent breach of his covenant vows, the church may terminate his/her membership, but only after due notice and hearing, and after faithful efforts have been made to bring such members to repentance and amendment.

6. Restoration to Membership: Any person whose membership has been terminated shall, upon written application and affirmation vote of the church at a duly called meeting, be restored to membership; if for any offense upon evidence of reformation, or if for any other cause, upon satisfactory explanation.

7. Associate Members: Any member of a Christian church may, on recommendation of the Pastor and vote of the Board of Deacons and by public acceptance of the church’s covenant at any service of reception of members, be admitted into associate membership. Associate members shall have the right of voice, but not of vote.

ARTICLE VI – SERVICES AND MEETINGS

1. Services of Worship

a. Services of Worship shall be held at a given hour each Sunday, except when temporarily suspended by action of the Board of Deacons or by vote of the church. Special services of worship may be held at the discretion of the Board of Deacons.

b. Holy Communion. The Sacrament of Holy Communion shall be celebrated at such regular dates as the Board of Deacons may, from time to time, determine.

c. Baptism. The baptism of adults and children shall be administered at such times as the minister or, in his/her absence, the Board of Deacons may appoint.

2. Meetings

a. Annual meetings. At the call of the clerk, the annual meeting shall take place within the last two weeks of October. The fiscal year shall be from October 1 through September 30. At the meeting, the Pastor, church officers, and all church organizations, boards and committees shall submit an annual report in writing; the officers be elected; and such other business be transacted as may be brought before the meeting.

b. Special Meetings. Special meetings shall be called by the Clerk on request from the Church Council. Special meetings shall also be called by the Clerk on petition of at least five (5) members, who have first sought resolution of their salient concerns from the Church Council and feel that the matter has not been resolved after a period of at least thirty days.

c. Call of Meeting. The Clerk shall post notice of the meeting and its purpose at least twenty days prior to the meeting and shall mail notice to the membership at least ten days prior. If the Clerk is unavailable, the meeting shall be called by the Moderator. All meetings shall be conducted according to Roberts Rules of Order.

d. Quorum. At the annual meeting and all special meetings, twenty-five (25) members shall constitute a quorum.

e. Input from absent members. Absentee ballots will not be permitted; however, absent members shall the opportunity to submit written input, which shall be read aloud by the clerk during deliberations.

 

 

ARTICLE VII – OFFICERS

 

The following officers, with the exception of the pastor, shall be elected with these stipulations: They must have been active church members for a minimum of one year. They may be removed from office by a two-thirds vote of the Church Council. No interim pastor shall be considered an officer of the church.

1. Pastor

a. The Pastor shall have in special charge the welfare of the church and the pastoral care of its people. The Pastor shall preach the Gospel and have in care all services of public worship and shall administer the Sacraments. He/she will have general supervision over the whole organization of the church and will supervise the day-to-day work of all paid staff.

b. Whenever a vacancy shall occur, the Church Council, with the advice of the Board of Deacons, shall, if possible, appoint an interim minister. The interim minister shall not be a candidate for the position of minister and shall not be an adviser to the Search Committee. Any other minister providing Pulpit Supply for more than four services during the vacancy period likewise shall not be a candidate for the position of Pastor. The Moderator shall ask the Clerk to call a special church meeting at which the congregation shall elect a Search Committee.

1. The Search Committee shall be composed of at least five members, one of whom shall be a Deacon and one of whom a Trustee, who are representative of the congregation and who shall elect their own chairman. It shall request applications, interview candidates, check references, select one candidate and attend at least one service conducted by the final candidate before recommending that candidate to the congregation.

2. The Search Committee’s recommended candidate shall be determined by a committee vote of at least 80%, but unanimity is desirable.

3. The Search Committee shall introduce the candidate to the congregation, and the candidate shall preach a sermon at a regular Sunday worship service. Following that service, the Search Committee shall propose the election of the candidate and the congregation shall vote at a duly called meeting on the same day. A positive vote shall be by 80% of those present and voting.

4. The Search Committee shall assist the Diaconate in arrangement of a service of installation for the newly elected pastor.

c. The Search Committee, in conjunction with the Board of Deacons, Board of Trustees and the Moderator, shall state the terms of the call as expressed by the vote of the church.

d. The Search Committee in conjunction with the Board of Deacons shall continue to provide support to the new minister for twelve (12) months after the effective date of the contract.

e. The Pastor shall become a member of the church in the regular manner prescribed in Article V as soon as possible but not later than the Service of Installation.

f. The Pastor shall be an ex-officio member of all church committees.

g. A pastor wishing to resign from office shall give sixty days written notice to the Church Clerk and oral notice to the Diaconate, if such notice is practicable. Oral notice will be made at the Deacon’s meeting immediately preceding submission of the official resignation letter.

h. The Congregation may at any time, by two-thirds vote of those present and voting, at a church meeting called for that purpose, request the resignation of the pastor. Such resignation shall be presented to the Church Clerk and shall become effective within sixty days of an official church vote. The pastor in question will be notified orally at the next immediate meeting of the Diaconate or at any special meeting as may be appropriate. An official written notification shall be prepared by the Church Clerk, signed and delivered in hand by the Moderator or by certified mail with a receipt requested. Careful documentation of all proceedings will be kept by the Church Clerk and will become part of the former pastor’s personnel file.

 

2. Moderator

a. The Moderator shall be the lay leader of the Church.

b. The Moderator shall be elected at the Annual Meeting for a term of one year not to exceed three consecutive years.

c. This does not preclude the appointment of a former Moderator by the Church Council to fill an unexpired term.

d. The Moderator shall be an ex-officio member of all standing boards without vote and shall have a deciding vote on any tied vote of the Church Council.

e. In the absence of the Moderator the Clerk shall act as Moderator pro tem.

f. Responsibilities:

      1. To preside at the Annual Meeting and all special meetings of the Church.

      1. To preside at meetings of the Church Council.
      2. Provide advice and counsel to the Pastor in the general areas of vision, mission and policy compliance.
      3. To represent the Church at appropriate public functions.
      4. To prepare agendas for the Church Council and regular and special Church Meetings.
      5. Other duties as required.

 

 

3. Clerk

a. The Clerk shall be elected at the annual meeting for a term of one year.

a. The Clerk shall keep a faithful record of the proceedings of the church. He/she shall keep a register with addresses of the members of the church, with dates and modes of their reception and removal; also a record of baptism and marriages. He/she shall compile the annual reports of the pastor, boards, committees and organizations into a Church Annual Report to be available to the membership the Sunday prior to the Annual Meeting. He/she shall issue letters of transfer, notifying the churches to which they are addressed; preserve on file all communications and written official reports including those of the Trustees and Deacons; notify all persons elected to offices when such notices are necessary; conduct all correspondence as far as this is not otherwise provided for, and perform such other duties as are prescribed by law or as usually pertain to the office of clerk or secretary of an assembly.

4. Treasurer

a. The Treasurer shall be elected at the annual meeting for a term of two (2) years. He/she may be elected without limit upon the recommendation of the Board of Trustees.

b. The Treasurer shall be a voting member of the Board of Trustees.

c. The Treasurer shall deposit all funds received in such depository as the Trustees shall order. Under the direction of the Trustees, he/she shall have access to all papers relating to the property of the church. The Treasurer shall pay the bills of the church on order from the Trustees or their properly appointed agent. He/she shall keep accurate accounts of all receipts and disbursements and give such bonds as the Trustees shall prescribe. The Treasurer shall be expected to give written accurate monthly reports of all income and expenses. If he/she is unable to have reports ready for the monthly meetings for unforeseeable reasons, then the report should be made at the earliest time possible before the next monthly meeting. He/she shall give explanations of all church accounts, to the satisfaction of the Trustees when requested. He/she shall make written quarterly summary financial reports to the church members. He/she shall not use funds (memorial or otherwise) for any other purpose than intended without the written approval of the Trustees. When memorial moneys are received, the Treasurer shall give an accounting of the fund, along with the intention of the giver, to the Memorial committee. The policy for handling memorials should be strictly adhered to. He/she shall make all financial accounts and records accessible to Trustees upon request. He/she shall pay all salaried personnel in a timely fashion as per their agreements, and pay any withholding tax and appropriate deductions. He/she shall make disbursements records available to Trustees, along with receipts or other documentation, at regular scheduled Trustees meetings. If the Treasurer plans not to be available for more than seven (7) days, the checking operational account shall be given to the Assistant Treasurer or Chair of the Trustees for emergency disbursements of funds if necessary. The Treasurer shall, with the approval of the Board of Trustees, contract with a financial institution to invest endowments, legacies, trust funds, securities, etc. and pay the regular income from the same to the church in regular installments consistent with the investment policy of the church. All records pertaining to the church should be kept in the church office.

d. Assistant Treasurer

The Assistant Treasurer shall be elected at the annual meeting for a term of one (1) year and shall assist the Treasurer in such duties as the Treasurer may direct, including making deposits. The Assistant Treasurer will act as Treasurer in the absence of the Treasurer.

ARTICLE VIII BOARDS

1. Church Council

a. The Church Council shall consist of the Moderator, the Clerk, the Treasurer, the Senior Pastor, the Chairs of the Boards of Deacons, Trustees, and Religious Education, the Chair of the Music Committee, and three members elected from the membership at large. Church organizations may be represented by filling one of the three positions of member-at-large.

b. Members-at-large shall be elected for a three-year term and shall be eligible for reelection after a lapse of one year.

c. Functions of the Council: It shall be the function of the Church Council to consider the entire task of the Church and to advise and cooperate with the Pastor(s) on the general direction of the Church's activities in the formulation of a well-rounded program. It shall act as a clearing-house for the activities of the Officers, Boards, Committees and Organizations of the Church. It shall provide job descriptions for church committees not otherwise provided for by these bylaws. The Church Council may act for the Church in minor matters, such as sending greetings, or responding to correspondence. The Church Council shall fill vacancies between Church Meetings of all offices, boards and committees. It may appoint special committees. The Church Council shall meet monthly. Special meetings may be called by the Moderator or any three (3) members of the Council. All Boards and Committees shall make summary report at each meeting, and submit the minutes of their meetings to the Church Council Secretary. One half of the Church Council members shall constitute a quorum.

d. The Council will elect from within the Council membership a Secretary, whose function will be to:

Keep the minutes of all Council meetings.
Assemble the minutes from the Boards and Committees.
Handle correspondence for the Council.

 

2. Board of Deacons

a. The Board of Deacons shall consist of six (6) members plus any Life Deacons. Two Deacons shall be elected each year at the annual meeting to a three (3) year term of office. After serving two full terms, a Deacon shall be for one (1) year ineligible for reelection. All Deacons must have been active church members for a minimum of one year prior to serving.

b. For unusual service and dedication, a Deacon, upon recommendation of the Board of Deacons, may be elected to the office of Permanent or Life Deacon at the Annual Meeting. A life Deacon may carry out all the duties of a regular Deacon.

c. The Board of Deacons shall organize the selection of its own Chairperson, its own clerk, and such other officers or subcommittees as it may ordain.

d. It shall be the duty of the Deacons to cooperate with the Pastor in ministering to the spiritual interests of the church and community. They shall assist in the preparation and administration of ordinances and in caring for the poor, the sick, the sorrowing, the indifferent, and the stranger. They shall receive applications by letter or otherwise for admission to church membership. They shall make an annual survey of the church roll and at the annual meeting submit recommendations to the church regarding necessary revisions; new, conditional and terminated members. They shall have the discretion to suspend temporarily any Worship Services and to hold any Special Service of Worship. They shall determine the regular dates for holding the Sacraments of Holy Communion. They shall provide for the supply of pulpit in case of vacancy and in the absence of the Pastor. When a Pastor accepts a call to the church, the Board of Deacons shall arrange for a service of installation or recognition. The Deacons will supervise the performance of the Pastor, conduct an annual performance review, and work with the Trustees to establish an appropriate compensation package.

e. In the absence of the Pastor, the Chairperson of the Board of Deacons may carry on ministerial duties except communion, baptisms and weddings.

f. The Board of Deacons shall meet monthly and/or upon such occasions as they deem necessary. A quorum shall consist of four (4) members including the chairperson.

 

3. Board of Trustees

a. The Board of Trustees shall consist of seven (7) members including the Treasurer, who shall be an automatic member. All trustees must have been active church members for a minimum of one year prior to serving.

b. Of the six elected members, two (2) shall be elected each year to a three (3) year term of office. After serving two (2) full terms, a trustee shall be for one (1) year ineligible for reelection. From these six elected members, a chairperson shall be elected annually. He/she shall act as Financial Officer of the church signing all legal documents and speaking for the church on financial matters. He/she shall not be eligible to serve for more than three (3) consecutive years as chairperson.

c. The Board shall meet monthly and/or upon such occasions as deemed necessary. A quorum shall consist of four (4) members including the chairperson.

d. Under the direction of the church and except as otherwise provided, the Board of Trustees shall have the care and custody of the property of the church which shall include all renovations, repairs, improvements and usage, and have charge of its financial affairs, always subject to regulations prescribed by the laws of the State. They shall appoint from within their Board a subcommittee on building and grounds, a financial advisory subcommittee, and a memorials subcommittee to follow the policy adopted by the Board of Trustees, and they shall appoint any such additional subcommittees as they deem necessary. The Board shall have no power to buy, sell, mortgage, lease, or transfer Real property or spend in excess of five percent (5%) of the budget without specific authority by vote of the church. The Board has the responsibility of administering the Church investment accounts consistent with the investment policy adopted by the Trustees. The Board will be responsible for conducting an annual stewardship program.

e. The Board shall require all persons engaged to work on church properties to be covered by Workmen's Compensation and general liability insurance. This requirement shall be included with bid specifications for future work and no persons shall be hired without proof of adequate insurance as approved by the Trustees.

4. Board of Religious Education.

The Board of Religious Education shall consist of six members. Two members shall be elected each year at the annual meeting to three (3) year term of office. After serving two terms a member shall be for one (1) year ineligible for reelection. The Pastor shall be a member ex-officio. The Board shall have supervision and direction of the educational work of the church.

They shall have charge of the Church School with full power to appoint and remove teachers and also officers not otherwise provided for, also to inaugurate and maintain other religious activities.

The Board of Religious Education may recommend to the Council and Trustees the hiring of a Christian Education Director, who will work in cooperation with the minister and under the supervision of the Board of Religious Education.

The board shall cooperate in the educational aspects of social service and benevolences. It shall determine the distribution of funds contributed by the Church School.

ARTICLE IX COMMITTEES

1. Nominating Committee

The nominating committee shall consist of five(5) members to be elected annually, and shall include one(1) from the Board of Trustees and one(1) from the Board of Deacons, and three (3) from the church body at large.

 

It is their duty to prepare nominations for all offices, boards, and committees not otherwise provided for. Public notice of such nominations shall be posted by bulletin or letter at least one (1) week before the election. Other nominations may be made from the floor at the meeting at which the election is held. All the officers and committees shall be elected by ballot (either secret or show of hands as requested) and all elections shall be determined by a majority of the votes cast by the members present.

2. Music Committee

The music committee shall consist of at least three (3) members elected at the annual meeting for a term of one (1) year. This committee shall be responsible for the hiring and dismissing of the organist and choir director(s) and shall work with the Trustees to establish an appropriate compensation package. This committee, with the cooperation of the choir director (s), shall be responsible for the church choir, arranging for the maintenance of the musical instruments, promotion of the music activities and interests which seem desirable, and shall recommend an estimated annual budget for the same to the Board of Trustees.

3. Enlistment Committee

The Enlistment Committee shall consist of six (6) members elected at the annual meeting for a term of one (1) year. This committee shall work with the Pastor in securing the enlistment of men, women, and young people in commitment to the ways of Jesus Christ, in the membership of the church, in active service and for the church, and in regular attendance at church worship services.

4. Pastoral Relations Committee

The Pastoral Relations Committee will be composed of the Pastor, the Chair of the Board of Deacons, the Chair of the Board of Trustees, and the Moderator.

This committee will function as a resource to the Pastor by providing counsel, advice and feedback concerning the Pastor's role and relationships between the Pastor and congregation. It will also be a forum for the Pastor to reflect about personal concerns, hopes, ambitions, and frustrations. It will assist the Pastor in setting goals for the church's programs. This committee will meet at least three times annually. All matters discussed in meetings will be treated with the appropriate level of confidentiality. Minutes will not be kept.

5. Outreach Committee

A. The Outreach Committee shall consist of five members elected for one year terms.

B. Duties:

1. To sponsor mission awareness education programs, including regular articles in the Landmark.

2. To make the congregation aware of the work of the NACCC Missionary Society.

3. To promote and publicize the outreach work of the Women’s Fellowship, Deacons’ Fund, Food Cupboard, Sunday School, and other church organizations.

4. To conduct special collections and allocate the proceeds from the One Great Hour of Sharing, Christmas Eve offering, disaster relief and other emergency mission needs.

5. To allocate other benevolences received by the Church

6. To coordinate the congregation’s participation in local mission projects.

6. Bylaws Committee

Bylaws Committee. The Church Council shall form a Bylaws Committee every three years consisting of two Deacons, two Trustees, the Clerk, the Moderator and three at-large members. It shall review the existing bylaws and recommend any changes deemed appropriate to the Church Council.

 

7. Other Committees.

The church shall elect the following committees to operate in the fields indicated: a- Usher b- Flowers c- Greeting d- Coffee Hour e- Delegates f- Auditors g- Fund Raising and such other committees as shall be needed.

ARTICLE X ORGANIZATIONS

The church regards as integral parts of itself all organizations formed for the purposes of ministration and which use the facilities of the church property. Of all such organizations, the pastor shall have general oversight, and the church will expect a written report from each, to be distributed one week prior to its annual meeting.

ARTICLE XI STEWARDSHIP

The continuing success of the ministry of the First Congregational Church of Searsport to the benefit of the congregation depends upon the gifts of time, talents, and financial support given by our members and friends. On the annual Stewardship Sunday members are called upon to make an annual pledge or a financial giving promise to the church as their personal financial blessing and life circumstances allow.

Contributions to the church endowment funds overseen by the Board of Trustees present a means of making extraordinary contributions for special needs or for funding the church for future generations.

ARTICLE XII – AMENDMENTS

These bylaws may be amended by two-thirds vote at any regular or special meeting called at the request of the Church Council.

ARTICLE XIII – DISSOLUTION

Upon the dissolution of the Corporation or the termination of its activities, the assets of the Corporation remaining after the payment of all its liabilities shall be distributed exclusively to one or more organizations organized and operated exclusively for such purposes as shall then qualify as an exempt organization or organizations under Section 501 (c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, and as a charitable, religious, eleemosynary, benevolent or educational corporation within the meaning of Title 13B, of the Maine Revised Statutes as amended.

No part of the net earnings of the Corporation shall inure to the benefit of any member, director, or officer of the Corporation, or any private individual (except that reasonable compensation may be paid for services rendered to or for the Corporation in carrying out one or more of its purposes), and no member, director, or officer of the Corporation, or any private individual, shall be entitled to share in the distribution of any of the corporate assets on dissolution of the Corporation.

 

By laws Committee: Loren Cole (chair), Ralph Harvey, Patrick Stevens, Joan Andrews, Carol Bisbee, Dana Swift, Jay Holweger, Arlin Larson