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Wollaston Baptist Church Constitution
Adopted at Special Church Meeting 25th November 2015
1. Name of the Church
The Church shall be known as Wollaston (Zion) Baptist Church. It shall be affiliated to the Baptist Union of Great Britain, and to the Central Baptist Association. It shall consist of those persons who have become members in the manner prescribed below.
2. The Church
The Church shall be a company of those who have “covenanted together” so forming a Christian Fellowship whose aim shall be to serve as the body of Christ in order to extend the Kingdom of God and glorify His Name.
3.1 Membership shall be open to all who profess repentance towards God, who have faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, and whose lives bear evidence of their Christian profession.
It is expected that this profession will be expressed in the act of Believer's Baptism by immersion, following full preparation by the Minister or person appointed by the Church. Exceptionally, individual circumstances may result in an application for membership from those who have not been Baptised by immersion.
3.2 Application for membership shall be made to the Minister(s) or Deacons and shall only proceed if supported by a three quarters majority of those present at the Deacons' Meeting. Each Candidate shall be interviewed by two Church members appointed by the Diaconate who shall inquire into the reality of his or her Christian faith and Christian character. After visitation, a report and recommendation shall be submitted from these two members to the Ordinary Church meeting where a vote shall be taken.
3.3 Members shall be received from other Christian churches by letter of transfer, such applications to be considered and voted upon in accordance with rule 3.2
3.4 Those accepted for membership shall be received into fellowship of the Church at their Baptism or, at a communion service, at which point they become a member and are now eligible to attend Church Meetings.
3.5 Application for a transfer from this Church to another shall be dealt with by Letter of Transfer or Commendation by the Church Secretary after approval by the Diaconate.
3.6 The roll of members shall be reviewed annually by the Pastor, who may propose that the membership of any who have, without good reason, persistently absented themselves from the public worship of the church be deemed to have lapsed. If, after subsequent visitation from Pastor and a Deacon or two Deacons, there is no change in attendance over a further year, the Church Meeting shall formally recognise that the individual concerned has relinquished his/her membership.
3.7 Members who move their home out of the district and no longer attend should be encouraged to transfer their membership within the first year. Normally, after a further year, and with contact to confirm the situation, their membership shall be deemed to have lapsed, and the Church Meeting shall formally recognise that the individual concerned has relinquished his/her membership. Exceptionally, it may be decided that membership shall be continued subject to annual review.
4.1 The ordinance of Baptism shall be that of believers usually by immersion in water, in the name of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It shall be available only to those who have professed their faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.
4.2 The Communion of the Lord's Supper shall be observed at least once a month, and all Christian people are invited to share this. Members are expected to do their utmost to be present at the Communion Service, regarding it as a sacred privilege so to do.
5.1 The Minister(s) (which term includes the Minister, Assistant or Associate Minister, and Pastor) shall fulfil all the conditions required of other Church members and any other requirements of the Church's Trust Deed.
5.2 At the beginning of a pastoral vacancy, the advice of the Regional Ministry Team may be obtained in regard to the considering or making of a call to the Pastorate and the appointing of a Moderator.
5.3 Only one name shall be submitted to the Church for consideration at any one time.
5.4 An invitation shall only be extended when, at a Special Church Meeting, not less then eighty percent of the members present and entitled to vote support the nomination. Voting shall be by ballot.
6.1 Deacons will be persons who have professed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in believer's Baptism. They, together with the Minister(s), shall be responsible for the spiritual leadership, oversight and administration of the Church.
6.2 The Diaconate shall consist of the Minister(s) and nine Deacons. A quorum shall consist of five members of the Diaconate
6.3 Deacons shall be elected from among members of at least twelve months standing. The spouse of a serving Deacon shall not be eligible for election.
6.4 At the November Church Meeting every member present shall be asked to nominate, on paper, the eligible person(s) whom they consider to have the gifts and calling for the office of Deacon. Those nominated by twenty five percent or more of those present and eligible to vote at the Church Meeting shall be eligible for election, subject to their meeting the legal requirements incumbent upon trustees. All such nominations, with the signed consent of the nominees(s), will be posted for two Sundays prior to the January Church Meeting. Voting at that Meeting shall be by ballot. Appointment to the Diaconate shall take effect as from the date of the Annual Church Meeting.
6.5 Deacons shall serve for a term of up to three years but shall then be eligible for re-nomination, if willing to stand, for one further term of up to three years. Normally one year shall elapse before becoming eligible for nomination again. A third, so far as possible, of the Deacons shall retire annually.
6.6 In the event of a Deacon retiring before completing their term of office an election may be called, and the Deacon so elected shall serve until the next Annual Church Meeting and then be eligible for re-nomination to the remaining period of office.
6.7 The Church shall elect annually, from among the Deacons, a Secretary and Treasurer. They will have been a Church Member for at least two years, and a Christian of at least five years standing. Nominations, bearing the signatures of two Church members and the nominee, may be submitted in writing to the Minister or other person designated by the Diaconate. Election shall be by ballot at the Annual Church Meeting.
Exceptionally and only if every effort to appoint from amongst the Deacons has failed will the following be effected: The Deacons may nominate a Church Member who is not a deacon, but who otherwise fulfils the conditions above, for election to serve in either of these capacities. Those appointed shall serve as Treasurer or Secretary on behalf of the Deacons
7. Church Meetings
7.1 Members, when called together as described below, and seeking the will of God through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and under the Lordship of Christ, shall be the final decision-making authority in all matters relating to all the affairs of the Church. All organisations, committees and groups, and their leaders shall be accountable to it. Such meetings of members shall be termed the Church Meeting. It shall be for the purpose of discussing important issues, and of discovering God's will for the Church in order that it may fulfil its aim and objectives.
7.2 Accordingly, members shall be urged to consider it both a privilege and a duty to attend Church Meetings. The discussion of all matters should be undertaken in the spirit of the Lord Jesus and shall be regarded as strictly private and confidential to the membership.
7.3 No member of the Church may vote at any Ordinary or Special Meeting unless he or she shall have communed with the Church at the Lord's Table at least once, during the period of six calendar months next preceding the Meeting.
7.4 The Church shall meet for Christian fellowship and for the transaction of the business of the Church, not less than once in every quarter. One of these meetings shall be called the Annual Church Meeting. Oral Notice shall be given of all Ordinary Church Meetings at the service(s) on the preceding Sunday.
7.5 The following shall be matters for the decision of a Special Church Meeting, namely :-
7.5.1 The appointment, re-appointment, or dismissal of a Minister.
7.5.2 Matters concerning the alteration, improvement, or enlargement of the buildings on the Church property, or the addition to, pulling down, or re-building thereof, or the erection of new buildings.
7.5.3 Matters concerning the sale, demise, letting, exchange or mortgage of the Church property or any part thereof and the application of monies arising therefrom.
7.5.4 Any permitted alterations of the Church's Trust Deed.
7.5.5 The appointment of new Trustees.
7.5.6 Alterations to this Constitution and Rule.
7.6 A Special Church Meeting may be called by the Minister(s) and a majority of the Deacons, or upon written request signed by not less than one tenth of the Church membership. In this latter case, such a meeting may not be called at the request of fewer than twelve members.
7.7 Notice of a Special Meeting shall be given on each of the two Sundays immediately preceding the Meeting, and the purpose of the meeting shall be stated at the same time.
7.8 The following is the procedure to be observed at all Church Meetings :-
7.8.1 One fifth of the Church Roll shall constitute a quorum.
7.8.2 For any matter to be carried it must be supported by a two thirds majority of those present and entitled to vote, except where otherwise stated.
7.8.3 Votes shall be taken by ballot if so demanded by at least three members present at that Meeting.
7.8.4 Minutes shall be kept of the proceedings of any Church Meeting and following their being made available at a subsequent Church Meeting and signed by the Chairperson, they shall be considered conclusive evidence that such resolutions as are stated therein, were passed by the requisite majority.
8. Church Accounts
8.1 A statement of the Church accounts, duly audited by those appointed by the Diaconate and/or Church Meeting, shall be presented for adoption in every year to the Annual Church Meeting.
8.2 Financial accounts shall be kept by every organisation, and a statement of their accounts as at December 31st, together with all relevant documents, shall be presented to the Church Treasurer by a specified date for audit and presentation to the Annual Church Meeting.
9. General Matters
9.1 Applications for the use of the premises for meetings and other functions shall be made to the Church Secretary or those appointed for that task. No meeting shall be held on the premises without the permission of the Minister(s) and/or Deacons, and upon such conditions as they may decide.
9.2 Overall leaders of organisations and Chairpersons and Secretaries of committees shall be appointed by the Church Meeting upon recommendation of the Diaconate. Other staff of organisations and committees shall be appointed by the Diaconate after consultation with the office-bearers of the organisations and committees concerned.
9.3 The Minister(s) shall ex-officio be President(s) of all committees and organisations.
10. The Church Constitution and Rule
10.1 The Constitution and Rule, a copy of which shall be given to each Church Member, may be altered only by a resolution of a Special Church Meeting called for that purpose, and where at least three months' notice has been given at a Church Meeting, of the proposed alterations.
10.2 This Constitution and Rule is based upon the Fairbairn Trust Deed to which it must at all times adhere and which contains further details that it may be necessary to refer to from time to time.
Constitution and Rule adopted February 24th 1993 and amended at Special Church Meetings on January 22nd 1997, November 25th 1998, March 23rd 2004 and November 25th 2015.
NB Northamptonshire and North Bucks Baptist Association ceased to exist on 31st December 2004 when the Central Baptist Association came into being.