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Constitution and Bylaws
First Christian Church, Shawnee, Oklahoma, Inc.
We, the members of the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Shawnee, Oklahoma, a congregational governed body, in order to promote the work of the Church in the Spirit of Christ, and thus advance His Kingdom, do hereby adopt this Constitution.
Adopted: July 29, 2001.
Revised: November 18, 2007
Revised: February 22, 2010
Revised: November 21, 2010
Revised: October 2, 2011
Amended and Revised: November 22, 2015
Section A: Name and Affiliation
The name of this organization shall be the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Shawnee, Oklahoma, Incorporated, a congregation of the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, of the United States and Canada.
Section B: Purpose
The purpose of this Church shall be, as revealed in the New Testament, to win people to faith in Jesus Christ and commit them actively to the Church, to help them grow in the knowledge and grace of Christ. The Church shall help people to know and do the will of God. It shall share in the individual and group joys and sorrows of the Congregation and work for the unity of all Christians. It shall work in the common task of building the Kingdom of God.
Section C: Membership
The membership of this Church shall consist of those who are now identified as members of the Congregation and those who unite with it by confession and baptism or by transfer of membership. Membership shall be designated as participating or non-participating. Participating members are those who have been involved in some way in the life of the Congregation in the previous 12 months. Those who have been in no way involved in the life of the Congregation in the previous 12 months shall be regarded as non-participating members. Voting privileges shall be accorded all members. This church is an “open and affirming” congregation and all people are welcome to membership regardless of their gender, race, or sexual orientation. All members are eligible to serve in all capacities of the church, including, but not limited to, ministry, elder, deacon, board officers or trustee.
A membership review shall be conducted annually for the purpose of up-dating the membership rolls. However, members’ names shall not be removed from the roll except upon evidence of having died or joined another congregation.
Section D: Officers and Their Duties
The following officers shall be elected by the Congregation at its Annual Business Meeting for a term of one year (except Trustees shall be elected for three years) or until such time as a successor is elected and assumes office. Offices shall be assumed at the beginning of the Church year next following the election.
The Board Chair shall fulfill the usual duties of such office, call and preside at all Regular or Special Official Board Meetings and call and preside at all Regular and Special Business Meetings of the Congregation.
The Vice-Chair shall fulfill the usual duties of such office, and shall call and preside in the absence of the Board Chair.
The Clerk shall keep a record of all meetings of the Official Board as well as all General Meetings of the Congregation. The Clerk may be assigned other special duties.
The Treasurer shall oversee disbursement of all funds of the Church as designated by the Official Board, and shall keep track of the financial well being of the Church; and, monitor and maintain the budget, and in the event of insufficient funds, shall seek the guidance and counsel of the Official Board on the disposition of accounts payable.
The Assistant Treasurer shall serve in the absence of the Treasurer and perform such other duties as needed.
The Financial Secretary (2 individuals) shall be responsible to collect and record the offering and all funds received by the Church and make bank deposits in a timely manner. Ascertain that appropriate giving records are maintained.
The Assistant Financial Secretary (2 individuals) shall serve in the absence of the Financial Secretaries and perform such other duties as needed.
There shall be three (3) Trustees, one elected each year, for a term of three (3) years.
Trustees shall act as legal agents of the Church in all business matters, under the direction of the Official Board and subject to approval of the Congregation for real estate transactions. The affirmative vote of at least two Trustees shall be required to enact any legal business of the Church. Trustees shall hold legal title to all Church property and handle all business transactions related thereto; shall supervise all endowments and trust funds; and, shall perform all duties required by the laws of the State of Oklahoma.
Other officers may be elected to serve the Congregation yet not be members of the Official Board. These may include: honorary officers, Church Historian, Elders and Deacons Emeritus, Pastors Emeritus and others.
Section E: Members of the Official Board
Officers of the Congregation named in Section D, Articles 2 through 8 of this Constitution, shall also serve as members of the Official Board with all privileges and responsibilities thereto.
All Elders and Deacons shall be members of the Official Board with all privileges and responsibilities thereto.
All chairpersons of Functional Departments and Standing Committees here indicated shall be members of the Official Board with all privileges and responsibilities thereto. These are named in Section IV of the By-Laws.
Section F: Delegates
The Official Delegates of the Church to General, Regional, and Area Assemblies shall be selected from the participating membership of the Congregation. Delegates shall vote in behalf of the Church and shall act as messengers in communication to and from these meetings and to the local congregation.
Section G: Election of Officers, Elders, and Deacons
A Nominating Committee composed of a minimum of five (5) members and a maximum of seven (7) which will include at least one (1) member of the Official Board, one (1) Elder, one (1) Deacon, and two (2) members of the congregation who are not members of the Official Board, shall be appointed by the Board Chair, approved by the Official Board, and announced to the Congregation at least eight (8) weeks prior to the annual business meeting to nominate Officers, Elders, and Deacons.
The Nominating Committee shall report its nominations to the Official Board at least thirty (30) days before the Annual Congregational Business Meeting. Upon approval, the Official Board will recommend nominations to the Congregation at least fourteen (14) days prior to the annual business meeting. Nominations may also be made from the floor.
A vote shall be taken in the Annual Meeting of the Congregation to elect Officers, Elders, and Deacons for the terms indicated. A simple majority is required for approval.
Vacancies in any office of the Church shall be filled for the remaining term by nomination of the Board Chair of the Official Board in consultation with the Senior Pastor and approved by the Official Board.
Should any members of the Official Board, or any Trustees, fail, neglect, or refuse to perform the duties of his/her office as set out in the Constitution and Bylaws, the Official Board by a majority vote of those present and voting at a regular or special business meeting of the Official Board, may declare the office vacant and the vacancy shall be filled as specified in Article 4 of this section.
Section H: Duties of the Board
It shall be the duty of the Official Board to:
- Consider and recommend to the Congregation general policies.
- Transact business for the Church.
- Administer the program of the Church through the designated committees, as need dictates.
The Official Board shall perform its duties according to the authority granted in this Constitution and designated to it by the Congregation. It shall operate within the laws of the State of Oklahoma. Reports shall be made regularly to the Congregation.
Section I: Meetings
An Annual Meeting of the Congregation shall be held at least thirty (30) days before January 1st, for the purpose of electing Officers, Elders, and Deacons, and conducting such business as may need to come before the Congregation for approval. Written notice of said meetings shall be given one week prior to the meeting by the most efficient and economical means available, including email and telephone notice to the Congregation, and shall be announced in Sunday service(s) one week prior to the meeting.
The Budget shall be submitted for approval at a special called meeting of the Congregation on the 2nd Sunday of January for the fiscal year beginning in January.
Special meetings of the Congregation and/or the Official Board may be called as needed. They may be called by (1) the Board Chair, (2) the Vice-Chair, (3) request of the Official Board, (4) written petition of ten percent (10%) or more of the participating members of the Congregation, (5) the Senior Pastor.
Notice of all regular or special Congregational Meetings shall be announced at a regular Sunday morning worship service(s) of the Congregation at least one week in advance of the meeting, and by means of the Church newsletter or a written notice sent through the most efficient and economical means available to the congregation, including, but not limited to telephonic and email notification. The purpose, date, time and place of the meeting shall be included in each notice. In case of emergency, the officers of the Official Board may take provisional action until a congregational meeting can be held. If an emergency is declared by the chair person of the board of directors, an emergency meeting of the congregation may be held within one (1) or two (2) days, with Sunday notice given and/or the same notification procedures as outlined herein.
Any business pertaining to the life of the Congregation may be proposed and discussed at a regular congregational meeting; however, the business must appear on the agenda for action to be taken. During a special meeting, only the business stated in the notice of the meeting and related items may be brought before the Congregation for discussion and action.
Parliamentary Rules of Order shall govern all business meetings of the Church and the Official Board.
A quorum for any properly called regular or special Congregational Meeting shall be defined as being all of the members present and voting on the date of such meeting, provided twenty-five percent (25%) of the Elders, twenty-five percent (25%) of the Deacons, and the Board Chair or Vice-Chair are also present at such meeting.
Section J: Mediation
All Church related disputes that arise between members of the Congregation or staff may, at the discretion of the Official Board, be referred to a Mediation Committee in an effort to resolve the dispute. If approved, the Board Chair shall appoint a Mediation Committee.
Section K: Dissolution/Disassociation
Should this Congregation disband, title to all Church property, personal or real, tangible or intangible, along with all business and/or legal liabilities, shall automatically vest in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Oklahoma immediately upon such disbanding. Should the Congregation vote to disassociate from the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), all Church property, personal or real, tangible or intangible, along with all business and/or legal liabilities, shall remain with the Congregation as a non-denominational entity or future association with another denomination.
Section L: Amendments
This Constitution may be amended at any business meeting of the Church by a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting, provided written copies of the amendment have been made available to the congregation two (2) weeks before the vote is taken.
First Christian Church
- The Church year shall begin January 1.
- The Official Board shall hold its meetings under the provisions of Section 1 of the Constitution.
- The Official Board shall hold its regular meetings on the second Sunday of January, March, May, July, September, and November, or at another date approved by a quorum majority at a regular or special called Official Board meeting. The regular board meeting may be continued until the next Sunday in the event the second Sunday conflicts with a holiday or other event scheduled by the church.
- The Official board may hold special meetings as provided in the Constitution.
- Twenty-five percent (25%) attendance of the Official Board, including the board chair or vice-chair, shall constitute a quorum to conduct business.
- An agenda for each meeting shall be presented at the beginning of the meeting. The agenda may include a devotional and prayer, reading and approval of financial reports, minister’s reports, unfinished business, new business, and other actions as seem appropriate.
III. The Nominating Committee will select from the participating membership candidates for Elders, Deacons, and Trustees as follows: one (1) Elder for each thirty (30) participating members, or fraction thereof, with a minimum number of six (6), and one (1) Deacon for each fifteen (15) participating members, or fraction thereof with a minimum number of twelve (12), approximately 1/3 being elected each year.
- Elders – The determined number will be nominated, each for a three (3) year term. Selection shall be from the men and women of the Church who display the qualities and attributes of a person worthy of the office. In the event an elder position becomes vacant before the expiration of the elected term, the board of directors may appoint a qualified individual to fulfill the responsibilities of the vacated office for such term as is necessary to insure that only 1/3 of the elders are elected each year.
- Deacons – The determined number will be nominated, each for a three (3) year term. Selection shall be from the men and women of the Church who display the qualities and attributes of a person worthy of the office. A Deacon, whose term does not expire in the current year, may be nominated to the Eldership to serve a full three (3) year term. In the event a deacon position becomes vacant before the expiration of the elected term, the board of directors may appoint a qualified individual to fulfill the responsibilities of the vacated office for such term as necessary to insure that only 1/3 of the deacons are elected each year.
An Elder or Deacon appointed to fill out an unexpired term may subsequently be nominated to a full three (3) year term. (See III E.)
- Emeritus – From time to time the nominating committee may nominate a person as Elder or Deacon Emeritus. They will be persons who have demonstrated faithfulness in service to First Christian Church over an extended time. Those so honored will be selected after age or illness or other situations have limited their ability to serve on an active basis. If approved by the Official Board and congregation, such persons shall hold the position for life and shall be ex-officio members of the Official Board without vote.
- Vacancies in any Church office shall be filled for the unexpired term by nomination of the Board Chair of the Official Board, in consultation with the Senior Pastor, and approved by the Official Board.
- The Functional Ministries and Fellowship groups of men, women and youth shall carry out the task of developing and administering the programs of the Church. The Functional Ministries include: Church Life Committee and Administrative Committee.
- The Board Chair Person shall select Chairs of the Functional Ministries to be ratified by the Official Board at its January meeting.
- Each Functional Ministry shall organize itself to conduct the business for which it is responsible. It shall meet regularly to conduct its business and plan its general program in cooperation with other ministries. Each Ministry shall keep the Official Board informed of its progress and needs.
- An Administrative Cabinet shall be established to coordinate the various programs of the Church. Membership shall include: Senior Pastor, Board Chair (or representative), Chair of Elders, Chair of Deacons, Chair of Church Life Committee and Chair of Administration Committee. Others may be invited as needs of specific projects dictate. As Chief Administrative Officer of the Church, the Senior Pastor shall convene and preside over cabinet meetings which shall be quarterly and at such other times as may be necessary to perform its stated functions.
- Special committees or task forces shall be appointed as needed by the board chair and approved by the official board at the next regular or special board meeting.
- Basic Duties: Elders, Deacons, Functional Ministries
- Elders – The Elders shall generally be responsible for the spiritual life and development of the congregation. Each Elder shall hold membership in a functional ministry, and participate regularly in worship services. Elders shall specifically be available to:
- Lead the congregation in worship
- Preside at the Lord’s Table
- Participate with regular financial contributions
- Participate in evangelism/personal witness of the Church
- Assist in the care for the ill and bereaved
- Be a ready resource for help to functional ministries and committees
- Assist the Senior Pastor in pastoral services to those in need of spiritual counsel
- Deacons – The Deacons shall generally be responsible for the maintenance and growth of the congregation through its individual members and as a Christian witness to our community and world. Each deacon shall hold membership in a functional ministry, and participate regularly in worship services. The Deacon shall specifically be available to:
- Serve at the Lord’s Table
- Greet, make welcome and otherwise assist those who come to worship
- Assist in ministering to the ill and bereaved
- Participate with regular financial contributions
- Assist the Senior Pastor in service to visitors and members of the congregation
- Be an ambassador for Christ in word and deed
- Functional Ministries
- Church Life – This ministry will design and conduct a genuine experience of worship service and enrich personal and family devotional life. The board chair and senior pastor shall be permanent members of this committee. It shall be responsible for public worship of the Church, pulpit supply, the coordination of communion, baptisms, music, special worship services and encouragement of the devotional life among individual members and homes of the Church family. In consultation with the Senior Pastor, this ministry shall recommend the hiring of a Music Director for approval by the Official Board.
It shall be the duty of this department to develop and encourage an effective program of Christian development for the adults, youth, and children. It shall assist the various classes as requested. In consultation with the senior pastor shall recommend the hiring of the Director of Christian Education.
It shall be the purpose of this ministry to cultivate an evangelistic spirit within the Church family, to create and foster a world vision within the Church and its auxiliary organizations, leading, planning and promoting definite programs of world concern. It shall be responsible for sponsoring a year round program to develop evangelism in all area of the Church. It shall provide a program of outreach education in all departments of the Church, recommending the annual outreach budget, enlisting support for outreach causes, caring for general and local benevolence needs not otherwise provided for, and keeping records of all outreach giving and action in the Church. It will concern itself with the benevolent and social needs of the community of Shawnee and cooperate with other churches and local agencies both local and worldwide. It will also have oversight of the Pumpkin Patch Committee and Ground Hog Committee and will approve, or disapprove, of the recommended distribution of the profits from these two outreach committees.
It shall be the purpose of this ministry to maintain the closest possible contact with the entire Church membership to the end that each member functions effectively in the life of the Church. It should help to develop a spirit of fellowship and love within the congregation founded on a common love for Christ. It shall be responsible for promoting an adequate program of social life for the church and provide publicity about Church life and activities.
- Administration. The board chair and the senior pastor shall be permanent members of this committee. It shall be the purpose of this ministry to develop within the membership an understanding of the full meaning of Christian Stewardship and to direct the financial program of the Church so that it will supply the financial needs of the Church’s program and provide means of spiritual enrichment and character development for each one participating. It shall be responsible for keeping alive in the congregation the realization of its stewardship obligations and opportunities by promoting stewardship education, assisting in the preparation of the Church budget, keeping accurate records and encouraging endowments for future developments for the Church and providing for an annual audit of finances.
It shall be the purpose of this ministry to care for all properties of the Church. It shall be responsible, in cooperation with the trustees, for keeping all property and equipment in proper condition, studying needs and making recommendations for improvements, superintending the work of the custodian caring for the grounds, and keeping the properties adequately insured against possible loss or damage.
- Standing Committees
- Personnel Committee – The Board Chair, Clerk, and Treasurer of the Official Board plus chairs of Church Life and Administration ministries shall constitute a committee to:
- Establish working agreements with all staff of the Church (except Senior Pastor).
- Prepare job descriptions detailing all staff responsibilities
- Review annually the performance of all staff members
- Recommend increases in salaries and benefits for each staff member (including Senior Pastor)
- Serve to counsel and advise all staff members in personnel relationships
- Budget Committee – This committee, consisting of at least three (3) members, the Treasurer, Chair of the Administrative Committee and Chair of the Church Life Committee will be appointed by the Board Chair and approved by the Official Board by the July Official Board meeting.
- This committee’s singular purpose is to consider the financial needs of the Church for the coming calendar year.
- In fulfilling this responsibility, this committee shall solicit recommendations from functional ministries and standing committees.
- Members of the congregation shall be invited to make comments, suggestions, and recommendations.
- This committee shall submit its proposed budget to the Official Board at the September Official Board meeting.
VII. Fellowship and Auxiliary Groups
- Fellowship Groups
- Disciples Men – It shall be the duty of this group to promote work and social projects for the men of the Church to strengthen their commitment to the Church, each other, and responsibilities God has given them.
- Disciples Women – It shall be the duty of this group to promote work and social projects for the women of the Church to strengthen their commitment to the Church, each other, and responsibilities God has given them.
- Christian Youth Fellowship – It shall be the duty of this group to promote work and social projects for the youth of the Church. It shall minister to special needs of youth and also seek to develop leadership qualities in young people. Christian Youth Fellowship includes: Junior Youth (JYF), Chi Rho, and Christian Youth Fellowship (CYF).
- Auxiliary Groups
- Special activity groups that serve human needs are encouraged.
- Auxiliary groups shall organize and function in a manner consistent with the constitution and bylaws of the Church.
- All auxiliary groups will report their activities regularly to the Official Board.
VIII. The Church Staff
- Senior Pastor – This position shall be filled by the congregation in the following manner:
- The Official Board will appoint a Search Committee upon the recommendation of the Board Chair. The committee will consist of between five (5) and nine (9) members. Of the members, at least one (1) shall be an Elder, at least one (1) shall be a Deacon, and at least two (2) shall be members of the congregation at large. The Board Chair may nominate a Chair of the Search Committee, or allow the Search Committee to select the Chair from among their membership. Once appointed, the committee shall serve until their task is completed or until the Official Board either stops the search or chooses to dismiss the committee for failure to perform their duties.
- The Search Committee may use the services of the Regional Ministers for information and counsel concerning prospective candidates.
- To be considered, a candidate must be ordained, licensed, or commissioned and have standing within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ.)
- The Search Committee shall recommend a candidate to the Official Board.
- Approval – The candidate shall be approved as follows:
- The Official Board, at a regular or called meeting, may approve the Search Committee’s recommendation by at least a two-thirds majority of those present and voting, a quorum being present. Upon approval, the Official Board shall recommend calling of the prospective pastor to the congregation.
- The congregation, in a regular or called meeting, may approve the recommendation of the Official Board by at least a two-thirds majority of members present and voting, a quorum being present.
- Call and terms of employment shall be as follows:
- An agreement of employment, setting forth the compensation to be paid, will be provided to the Regional Office, the Pastor, and one copy retained in the Church office.
- The term of ministry shall be for an indefinite period and may be terminated upon a sixty (60) day written notice by either party.
- Resignation – Should the Senior Pastor resign, he/she shall submit a written resignation to the Board Chair of the Official Board, who shall notify the Official Board and the congregation as soon as possible.
- Dismissal – Procedure for this action shall be as follows:
- Any proposal to dismiss the Senior Pastor shall be submitted in writing to the Board of Elders for consideration.
- The Board of Elders shall present any approved proposal for dismissal as a motion at the next meeting of the Official Board. The proposal will include a recommended termination date, all compensation to be extended to the end of the sixty (60) day notice.
- Dismissal by the Official Board will be final upon a two-thirds majority vote, a quorum being present, except that, said dismissal may be appealed to the congregation, in which case a two-thirds majority of members present and voting, in a congregational meeting, a quorum being present, would be required for reversal.
- The Senior Pastor’s services may be terminated immediately for “just cause,” in which case all contractual provisions and compensation will be extended for sixty (60) days from date of dismissal.
- Other Ministers
- Selection – Other ministerial staff shall be selected by a majority vote of the Official Board upon recommendation of the search committee, with the call being extended to the prospective minister(s) by the Official Board on behalf of the congregation.
- Terms of Employment – Provisions shall be the same as in Section VIII C 2.
- Resignation – Provision shall be the same as in Section VIII C 3.
- Dismissal – Provision shall be the same as in Section VIII D 1-4 except that there shall be no provision for appeal to the congregation.
- Other Employees – The Official Board shall hire all other employees upon recommendation by the appropriate ministry or Church leader. Dismissal shall be by action of the Official Board upon recommendation by the appropriate ministry or Church leader.
- These bylaws may be amended by a majority vote of the members of the Official Board present and voting in a regular or called meeting, providing that the proposed amendment has been submitted in writing to the membership of the Official Board at least five (5) days prior to the vote. Such action must be ratified by a two-thirds majority vote of a duly constituted congregational meeting.