National Association of Congregational
Congregational Christian Council of Maine
Penobscot Marine Museum
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
2. The Search Committee’s recommended candidate shall be
determined by a committee vote of at least 80%, but unanimity is
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
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
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.
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.
- To preside at the Annual Meeting and all special meetings of the
- To preside at meetings of the Church Council.
- Provide advice and counsel to the Pastor in the general areas of
vision, mission and policy compliance.
- To represent the Church at appropriate public functions.
- To prepare agendas for the Church Council and regular and special
- Other duties as required.
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.
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
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
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
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
c. The Board shall meet monthly and/or upon such occasions
as deemed necessary. A quorum shall consist of four (4) members including
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
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
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.
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
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
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