We subscribe to the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 as an accurate expression of our faith allowing exception to the statement regarding elect infants in paragraphs 10:3 and equating the antichrist with the pope in 26:4. The ultimate authority in all matters of faith, order, and morals is and must be the Bible alone, which truth is clearly set forth in the opening article of the Confession itself. This historic document is, however, an excellent summary of "the things most surely believed among us" (Luke 1.1), and we find it to be an assistance in controversy, a confirmation in faith, and a means of edification in righteousness.
Section 1. We acknowledge no ecclesiastical authority other than our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the head of the church (Ephesians 5.23) and who directs the affairs of the church through elders chosen and ordained according to the precepts of Holy Scripture (Acts 14:21-23; 1 Tim. 3:1-13; Tit. 1:5-9). The elders themselves at all times and in all their activities stand under the authority of Holy Scripture. (Acts 16:4; 1 Cor. 7:17)
Section 2. The church should cooperate with other like-minded churches in matters of mutual interest and concern. We may at any time seek the assistance (1 Cor. 16:1-2) and counsel (Prov. 11:14; 1 Thess. 2:14) of other churches in matters of special concern to us, but the decision of no other church or group of churches shall at any time be acknowledged as binding on this church.
Section 3. The church may call an official Advisory Council in cases of critical concern which threaten the integrity, unity or biblical order of this church (Acts 15:2, LBC 1689 Ch.26:15).
Obviously, the elders of EBC may seek advice from the elders of sister churches at any time. However, if matters arise that seriously threaten the integrity, unity or order of the church the elders may determine it is necessary to call for an official Advisory Council. Such a Council may be called by a majority of the elders, or should the church have only one elder, by the elder, or if the church be without any elders, by a majority of the deacons. If, due to an even number of elders, there is deadlock on the question of whether to call an official Council, and those favoring wish to press the matter, the question shall be passed to the deacons and a majority of the deacons shall decide the question. If the deacons as well are deadlocked with no majority consensus such deadlock of the entire body of church officers shall in itself require the calling of an official Advisory Council.
There must be three elders selected from at least three sister churches holding to our Confession of Faith to sit on such a council. If there is no consensus as to who should be asked to sit on the council each party disagreeing will select one of their choice and then the two parties must agree on a third. The consent of those proposed to sit on the council must be obtained. Having done so, in a duly called meeting of the church, the recommendation to call an Advisory Council shall be presented and the names of those recommended to sit on the Council shall be announced to the church. The measure must be approved by at least a three fourths majority of the members present.
The advice given by any such official Council to the elders (or officers if there is not an existing plurality of elders) shall be presented to the members of the church in a duly called church meeting. The week following, the church shall vote as to whether to embrace the advice given. Acceptance of the advice must be approved by a three fourths majority of the members present.
The purpose of this church is to glorify the God of Scripture in promoting His worship, evangelizing sinners, and edifying saints. Therefore we are committed to the proclamation of God's perfect law and the glorious Gospel of His grace through all the world and to the defense of "the faith once delivered unto all the saints" (Jude 3).
Section 1. Requirements for membership. Any person who professes repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 2:37-42; 5:14; 8:12; 16:30-32; 20:21), who manifests a life transformed by the power of Christ (1 Cor. 1:1-2 with 6:11; Gal. 1:1-2 with 4:8-9; 1 Thess. 1:1-9), who has been baptized upon the profession of his faith (Mt. 28:18-20; Jn.4:1-2;Acts 2:41; 8:12; 16:31-34; 18:8), who expresses substantial agreement with the Confession and Constitution of this church (1 Cor. 1:10; 14:40), and who is willing to submit to its government (Heb. 13:7) shall be eligible for membership in it. By substantial agreement with the Confession and Constitution is meant that having reviewed them a person accepts the doctrinal positions set forth in the Confession and the stipulations of the Constitution insofar as he presently understands them and is willing to abide by them so long as he remains a member of this church.
Section 2. Types of membership. Each member of the church is acknowledged to form a vital part of the body and to have a peculiar function in the life of that body (1 Cor. 12.14-27). Practical considerations, however, require that certain distinctions be recognized in the membership of this church.
Paragraph A. Regular members. All who are received into the membership of the church according to the procedures set forth in Section 3 of this Article, who continue in regular attendance at the stated meetings of the church, and who do not come under the corrective discipline of the church as set forth in Article VI shall be considered regular members in good standing and entitled to all the rights and privileges of membership in the church (Acts 2:37-47).
Paragraph B. Temporary members. Persons who come to live in our area for a limited period of time (e.g., college students, military personnel, persons on special work assignments) may be received into the membership of the church on the same basis and in the same manner as persons who have permanent residence in our geographical area. If such a person is already a member of a church in his place of permanent residence, he need not be released from the membership of his "home church" but will be regarded as a temporary member while in our midst, enjoying all the rights and privileges of regular membership. When such a person terminates his period of temporary residence and leaves our area, he will automatically be released to the fellowship of his "home church" and no longer be regarded as a member of this church. (Acts 18:27; Rom. 16:1-2; 2 Cor. 3:1; Col. 4:10; 3 Jn. 5-10)
Paragraph C. Associate members. Regular members who move away from our area and who cannot find another local church with which they can conscientiously unite will, at their request, be retained as associate members of this church. Such persons must maintain regular communication with the church in order to maintain their associate membership in it. Nevertheless, they are urged to seek diligently a church with which they can unite elsewhere. An associate member shall not be allowed to vote in any business meeting of the church or hold office in the church. At the discretion of the elders, associate membership may also be granted to invalids, Christian workers, and others whose relation to the church involves unusual circumstances.
Section 3. Procedures for the reception of new members.
Paragraph A. A person who desires to become a member of the church may apply to the elders and request to be interviewed by them. During the interview the elders will seek to determine whether that person has a credible profession of faith in Christ, has been baptized, is in substantial agreement with the Confession and Constitution of the church, and intends to give wholehearted support to its ministry and submit to its discipline.
Paragraph B. If the applicant is or has been a member of another church, special effort will be made to determine the person's standing in that church and his reasons for leaving. At the discretion of the elders, enquiry may be made to that church concerning the person's standing before his acceptance as a member in this church is determined.
Paragraph C. If the elders are satisfied that the applicant meets the requirements for membership, they shall announce the same to the congregation at a stated meeting of the church. Time will be allowed for objections or questions to be raised by any member concerning the applicant's manner of life or doctrine. (Such objections are to be brought to the elders in private.) If no objection is raised which the elders consider to be valid, the person will be publicly received into the membership at a stated celebration of the Lord's Supper. The elders may postpone the reception of a person into membership until proper investigation can be made concerning objections which in their judgment are sufficiently serious.
Section 4. Termination of membership.
Paragraph A. By physical death. When a member of the church is removed from our midst by death, his name shall automatically be removed from the membership roll.
Paragraph B. By transfer. When it is so requested, the elders may grant to a departing member in good standing transfer to the fellowship of another church. No such transfer may be given to a member who is at the time under the corrective discipline of this church. The elders may refuse to grant transfer to any church which is in their judgment disloyal to "the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3) or which does not exercise godly care over its members. See Appendix 1 for the minimal requirements for a church to be recognized in the judgment of charity by Emmanuel Baptist Church as evangelical and one to which a transfer may be granted.
Paragraph C. By dismissal. If a member ceases to attend the stated meetings of the church, or if due to relocation ceases to maintain vital contact with the church, the elders shall try to contact the person to determine the situation. If unable to do so and in the judgment of charity no evidence of sinful behavior warranting church discipline is revealed he may be dismissed from the membership at the discretion of the elders. Also, any member who personally so requests may be dismissed from the membership. In such cases no congregational approval of the action shall be needed; the elders shall simply announce to the congregation that such a person has been dismissed as a member for one of the reasons mentioned. If a dismissed member applies again for membership, the procedures set forth in Section 3 of this Article will again be followed. If a member requests to be dismissed after disciplinary processes outlined in Article 6 Section 2 have begun in their case and have not yet been resolved, the request will not be granted.
Paragraph D. By exclusion. If a member not guilty of sin warranting corrective discipline renounces or chronically ceases to maintain his commitment to abide by the Confession and Constitution of this church (Ps. 65;1; Eccl. 5:1-5; Mt. 23:3) and yet refuses to resign his membership or request dismissal, he may be excluded from the membership but only after due admonition from the elders. The elders shall call a meeting of the church to recommend exclusion giving the reasons for the recommendation, and the church will be asked to give their consent. A two thirds majority vote of the members present is required for exclusion. The elders will inform the person, when feasible, of the church’s action.
Paragraph E. By excommunication. According to the teaching of Holy Scripture a congregation must cut off from its fellowship and visible membership any person who teaches or insists on holding false and heretical doctrine, who blatantly and persistently conducts himself in a manner inconsistent with his Christian profession, or who persists in disturbing the unity or peace of the church (Matthew 18.15 ff.; 1 Corinthians 5. I ff.). The procedures to be followed in such excommunication is set forth in Section 2 of Article VI of this Constitution.
Section 5. Conduct required of members.
Paragraph A. All regular, associate and temporary members agree to attend all the stated meetings of the church unless providentially hindered (by illness, accident, unusual working conditions, and other such circumstances). The stated meetings of the church are all the services on the Lord's Day (the Bible school, morning and evening worship, and the Lord's Supper), the midweek prayer service, the business meetings of the congregation, and any special meetings which the elders shall occasionally deem it necessary to call. (Heb. 10:23-25)
Paragraph B. The church expects its members to make use of the various other means of grace which are available to them, such as the regular daily reading of the Bible (Ps. 1:2; 119:11, 97);, regular private prayer (Mt. 6:,6,10), family worship (Gen. 18:19; Josh. 24:15; Ps. 118:15; Eph. 6:4) and a proper reverence for and observance of the Lord's Day (Gen. 2:1-3; Ex. 20:8-11; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Rev. 1:10).
Paragraph C. Since it is clearly taught in Scripture that Christians should support financially the work of the Lord by systematic and proportionate giving made through the local church ( Mal. 3:8-10, 1 Cor. 16:1-2, 2 Cor. 8-9), all the members of this church are expected to conform to this rule of Scripture. The tithe (10 percent of one's income) is not imposed on the people of God as a tax but is strongly urged upon each member as an expression of worship and the biblical norm for basic giving, to which should be added gifts and offerings according to one's ability and the willingness of his heart (2 Cor. 8:1-5, Ex. 36:2-7).
Paragraph D. The church expects its members sincerely to desire and endeavor to obey the teachings of the Scriptures in respect to family life and government. As the God-appointed head of the family, the husband must rule over the household with gentleness and love but also with wisdom and firmness (Ephesians 5:25 ff.; l Timothy 3:4-5). The wife must be in subjection to her husband in all things according to the rule of Scripture (Ephesians 5:22-24; 1 Peter 3:1). The husband with the wife must "nurture their children in the chastening and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:2), by setting a godly example before them, by instructing them consistently in the Scriptures, and by wise and firm discipline, including corporal punishment when it is needed (Prov. 13:24, 22:15 & 29:15; Heb. 12:7).
Paragraph E. Inasmuch as the church is represented in Scripture as a body having many members, each of the members having its particular function and yet having a concern for the health and protection of the whole (1 Cor. 12:12-27; Eph. 4:4, 11-16), this church expects that each of its members will strive for the good of the entire body. The members must actively seek to cultivate acquaintance with one another so that they may be better able to pray for one another; love, comfort, and encourage one another; and help one another materially as necessity may require. They must refrain from speaking ill of one another and must keep in strict confidence all matters of private concern to the church and not discuss them with persons outside of this fellowship.
Paragraph F. It is the duty of every Christian individually and as a member of a local church to pray and to labor for the extension of the kingdom of God both at home and to the ends of the earth in accordance with one’s God-given abilities, opportunities, and vocation in life (Rom. 12:6). Therefore, every member of this church should seek prayerfully to recognize and to seize every opportunity to bear witness to his faith in Christ both by consistent Christian conduct and verbal testimony (Mt. 10:32-33; Rom. 1:16-17; Pp. 2:14-16; 1 Pet. 3:14-16).
Paragraph G. Each member of the church is expected to pursue in his daily life loyal obedience to all the moral precepts established in the Word of God (Romans 8:3-4). If God has not condemned or forbidden a practice in His Word, a Christian is at liberty to participate in it. The exercise of Christian liberty, however, must at all times be governed by an earnest desire to walk in the fear of God and to glorify Him in all things (I Peter 1:17; 1 Corinthians 10:31), a loving regard for the consciences of weaker brethren ( I Corinthians 8:9 ; Romans 15:1-3 ), a compassion for the lost (1 Corinthians 9:19-22), and a zealous regard for the health of one's own soul (Romans 13:14; 1 Peter 2: 16).
Paragraph H. All who come into the membership of this church are expected to recognize and submit to the authority of the elders of the church as that authority is defined in Article VIII, Sect. 2, Paragraphs C, D and E (1 Cor. 16:15-16; 1 Thess. 5:12-13, Heb. 13:17).
Section 1. Formative Discipline
Every disciple (follower) of Christ must be under His discipline (His instruction and correction), which is administered to each one through the church, according to 1 Cor.12:12-27 and other passages. Mutual submission to one another and to the overseers whom the Lord has set over His church (Eph. 5:21; 1 Pet. 5:5) will result in the sanctification of each member individually and of the whole body of the church collectively.
Section 2. Corrective Discipline
There are occasions when failure in the application of this formative discipline makes the application of corrective discipline necessary. Corrective discipline becomes necessary when heretical doctrine or disorderly or scandalous conduct appears among the members of the church. In all such cases reasonable efforts must be made to resolve difficulty, correct error, and remove offense through counsel and admonition before more drastic steps are taken (Gal. 6: 1; Ja. 5:19-20). The principles given to us in Mt. 18:15-16 for private offenses that have escalated into public concerns and in 1 Cor.5:1-13 for openly known scandalous behavior must be carefully followed in all cases of corrective discipline. When admonition is not heeded, suspension of some of the privileges of membership may need to be imposed (2 Thess. 3:14), and if this measure fails, excommunication from the membership of the church may be necessary. There also may be cases of publicly known, confirmed behavior so scandalous in nature that the church moves immediately to excommunication (I Cor. 5:1-2) with attempts at admonition and correction following.
Section 3. Types of Corrective Discipline
Paragraph A. Public Admonition. When a church member sins in such a way that the offense may not be righteously overlooked (Prov. 19:11; 1 Pet. 4:8), and the behavior has been confirmed by witnesses he may be admonished by the elders and called to repentance before the gathered church (Mt. 18:15-17; 1 Tim. 5:19-20). For those who remain impenitent, further corrective discipline may be enacted (Matt. 18:15-17; Luke 17:3; 1 Cor. 5:4-5; Titus 3:10-11). Those who humbly receive the word of public admonition, own and confess their sin, and manifest appropriate fruits of repentance (Prov. 28:13) shall afterward be commended publicly for their godly repentance (2 Cor. 7:7-11).
Paragraph B. Suspension. Any conduct on the part of a member which disturbs the peace of the church or prejudices its testimony may require that the offending brother or sister be suspended from participating in certain activities of the church, or the church called to withdraw from certain social activities with the offender for a time, as a kind of halfway measure between public admonition and excommunication according to the gravity of the offense (1 Thess. 3:14) At the discovery of sin warranting suspension the elders at their discretion will announce in a called meeting of the church a temporary suspension with evidence of the reasons for it while deliberating the most prudent course of action to take next with reference to the offender. A temporary suspension imposed by the elders may remain in effect no more than two months before being resolved in one of the following four ways:
One, if the suspended member gives evidence of true repentance and change of conduct this will be announced by the elders to the congregation and the suspension will be removed and the member restored to full fellowship.
Two, if it is determined that the situation does not warrant further discipline but the circumstances do require that the suspended party be either dismissed or excluded from the membership this will be enacted or recommended in accordance with the stipulations in Art. V, Sect. 4, Para. C and D.
Three, if sinful behavior continues unabated after due admonition and patient efforts on behalf of the elders to bring correction, or if new evidence is discovered of behavior that warrants it, the elders will recommend excommunication according to the procedures laid out in Sect. 3 para. C of Article VI.
Or, four, if after further consideration it is deemed necessary by the elders for the suspension to be extended beyond two months before either resolutions one, two or three are deemed appropriate, the elders will bring this recommendation to the congregation. The extension of a temporary suspension must be approved by at least two-thirds of the members present and voting in a duly called business meeting of the church.
While a member is under suspension he must still be regarded as a member (2 Thess. 3:6-15).
(1) If a member has sinned publicly but shows hopeful signs of repentance, including submission to the admonition of the elders, it may still be necessary to suspend him for a time from some of the privileges of membership according to the guidelines above lest reproach be brought upon the church, lest others be emboldened to sin, and lest the offender himself fail to test his own soul and realize the gravity of his offense. Those who humbly submit to the imposed discipline shall afterwards be wholly forgiven and publicly received back into the full fellowship of the church.
(2)In the case where a member is accused or suspected of gross sin and absents himself from the congregation, refusing to meet with the elders that the matter may be investigated, the elders at their discretion and after patient efforts shall announce to the congregation that the person is temporarily suspended from the membership while they continue to establish contact with him and such suspension shall continue in force as long as the situation remains unresolved in one of the four ways mentioned above.
Paragraph C. Excommunication.
(1)Although the people of God are never completely free of sin in this life, certain types of conduct are especially grievous, and are not consistent with a profession of faith (1 Cor. 5:9-11, 6:9-10). A member guilty of such conduct must be cut off from the fellowship of the church (1 Corinthians 5:3-5, 13; Matthew 18:17). In such a case the elders shall make earnest efforts to bring the offender to true repentance and reformation, but if these efforts fail, they shall report the same to the congregation at a regular or specially called business meeting of the church and recommend that the offender be excommunicated -- which must be done, according to Scripture (Matthew 18:17; 1 Corinthians 5:4), by action of the entire church. To be valid, an act of excommunication must have the approval of at least two-thirds of the members present and voting. There may be circumstances in which behavior is so scandalous, confirmed and already publicly known that the church moves immediately to excommunication with attempts to bring the offender to repentance and reformation following after (1 Cor. 5:1-2). Again any such action to be valid must have the approval of the church after the manner mentioned earlier in this paragraph.
(2) Likewise, some wrong opinions regarding the doctrines of Scripture are so serious that they must be categorized as "heretical" (Gal. 1:6-9; I Tim. 4:1), and a member who persists in propagating or holding any such opinion, in spite of earnest and patient admonition by the elders, shall be excommunicated in the same manner as above. (Rom. 16:17-18; Tit.3:10-11).
(3) When satisfactory evidence of true repentance is observed by the elders they shall recommend that the excommunicated person be restored. The elders must provide reasons for their recommendation and evidence of repentance to the church in a duly called meeting of the members. There may be occasions in which it is deemed best by the elders to recommend that privileges be restored or strictures be removed in stages. Any such recommendation for gradual or full restoration must be approved by a two thirds majority of the members present.
Paragraph D. Protective Discipline.
While the church has no authority to exercise discipline over nonmembers, it does have the right and responsibility to protect its members from those who would disrupt its peace and the purity of its life and doctrine (Titus 1:9-11). If and when such persons should trouble the church, the elders may name them, identify their errors, and warn the members not to associate with them (Rom. 16:17).
Section 1. General Statement. There are two ordinances of special significance which our Lord has commanded us to observe, namely, Baptism and the Lord's Supper. (These are sometimes referred to as "sacraments.") Neither of them has saving merit, nor is any grace imparted to the recipient through the water of Baptism or the bread and the cup of the Supper. These ordinances are not means of "special grace," but they are "special means of grace" and powerful aids to the faith of the believers who participate in them.
Section 2. Baptism. Only confessed disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ are proper candidates for baptism, and all such persons should be baptized (Acts 2:38). The proper mode of baptism is a single immersion in water and "into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28: 19). Believing that baptism is the God-ordained door of the entrance into the visible community of the people of God, we shall receive into the membership of the church only those who have been baptized on profession of their faith and who meet the requirements of Article V, Section I. Under unusual circumstances and at the discretion of the elders, we may receive those who have been baptized as a believer by a mode other than immersion. We may also receive at the discretion and recommendation of the elders a paedobaptist as an associate member who meets the other requirements mentioned in this section if the person has manifested a teachable spirit with reference to the Reformed Baptist position on baptism and commits himself or herself to not be divisive over this issue in the church. They must abide by the restrictions placed on associate members mentioned earlier in this document.
Section 3. The Lord's Supper. Whereas baptism is the initiatory ordinance by which one enters the visible church and should be observed only once by each believer, the Lord's Supper should be celebrated frequently by the assembled church (I Corinthians 11: 26). While this is a most holy ordinance and should be observed with solemnity and dignity, the bread and the cup of supper are and remain only symbols of the broken body and the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord's Supper shall, under normal circumstances, be celebrated by the church on the first Lord's Day of each month. Except under unusual circumstances, those who partake of the Lord's Supper should be baptized and members in good standing of a local church.
Section 1. General Statement.
Jesus Christ alone is Head of the church (Col. 1:18), and He governs His church through office-bearers whom He appoints and who are endowed by His Spirit with the gifts and graces needed to accomplish their work. Office-bearers in the church are of two kinds, elders (also called "bishops" or "pastors") and deacons (Philippians 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:1-13). It is the duty of the church to seek and discover among its members those to whom Christ the Lord has imparted the necessary gifts for office-bearing, and after formally recognizing them by common suffrage, to set them apart by united prayer, and then to submit to their authority.
Section 2. Elders.
Paragraph A. Whereas in new or small congregations only one man may have the gifts and graces requisite to his being recognized as an elder (such a congregation may, in fact, invite a man who has the necessary gifts to come and labor among them), the Scriptures appear to indicate that normally there should be a plurality of elders in the local church (Acts 20: 17; Philippians 1:1; Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5). These are also called "bishops" (meaning "overseers") because they are charged with the oversight of the assembly (Acts 20:28; I Peter 5:2). They are the "pastors and teachers" given to the church "for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11-12).
Paragraph B. In view of the fact that the responsibilities of this office are numerous and grave, it is highly desirable that at least one elder should devote his full time to the work of the ministry and the oversight of the church. Such elders are usually referred to as "pastors," not to the exclusion of the others, for they all share the pastoral responsibility, but because they "labor in the word and in teaching" (1 Tim. 5: 17). The church is responsible to give adequate financial support to such men (1 Cor. 9:9-11; I Tim. 5:17-18), and it is free to invite men from outside the local congregation to come into its midst and serve in this capacity. Any man thus called to must be able conscientiously to affirm his full agreement with the doctrinal positions of the Church’s Articles of Faith and the Constitution and By Laws of the church. Should he at any time move from this position, he is under spiritual and moral obligation to make this fact known to the church.
Paragraph C. The elders as a body are authorized and responsible for the comprehensive oversight of the church (Act 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:1-3), including the preaching and teaching of the whole counsel of God from the Bible (Acts 20:20-21,27, Tit. 1:9), the watching out for the welfare of every member of the church (Eph.4:11-13; Col. 1:28; 1 Thess. 5:12; Heb.13:17), and the upholding of the doctrinal standards, discipline and constitution of the church "as they that shall give account" to God (Acts 20:28; Heb. 13:17; I Pet. 5 :2-3). The board of elders are authorized on behalf of Emmanuel Baptist Church to interpret and state the beliefs and practices of this church as taught in the Bible or our Confession of Faith on any matters of dispute. While every elder should be "apt to teach", some may be more engaged in formal and public teaching, while others may be more engaged in private teaching and admonishing. Nevertheless the elders as a body share authority as the overseers of the church and the members are expected to render due submission to their leadership.
Paragraph D: The authority of the elders is to be exercised with sensitivity to the congregation ((Ez. 34:4; Acts 6:5) and in the posture of servants and examples to them (Mt. 20:25-28; 1 Pet. 5:3). Their authority is subject to the limitations stipulated in this document requiring the suffrage of the church members for certain actions. They should also carefully consider congregational input concerning major endeavors affecting the church body and its ministry insofar as doing so does not involve them in a sinful relinquishment of their God-given responsibilities or authority (1 Tim. 3:5; Acts 19:30; 21:11-14). The authority of the elders is also limited in its sphere which means they have no authority over anyone except those who are members of the church they serve; that with respect to disciplinary situations in the church they have no right to require or apply measures beyond those set down in the Bible and this Constitution; and that with regard to subjective matters of judgment to which the Bible, our Confession or this Constitution does not give command or prohibition, though they may give advice, they have no right to usurp or to undermine the will of husbands in their oversight of their wives, parents over their children, employer’s over their employee’s or citizens in their duties to the civil government. (Rom. 14-15:3; 1 Cor.8). Likewise though elders are overseers of the flock, they are themselves members of the flock. Therefore, each elder as an individual is under the oversight of his fellow elders and is subject to the same discipline as are all the members of the church.
Paragraph E. The church should endeavor to discover and then formally to recognize all the men whom the Holy Spirit has endowed with the requisite gifts and graces and has set over the church, but only such men. Thus when men have been ordained to this office, the church will have the confidence that it has recognized the overseers whom the Holy Spirit has set over it (Acts 20:28). It is evident, therefore, that neither the number of elders nor the length of their term of office can be fixed by the church.
Paragraph F. The qualifications for a man chosen to fill the office of elder are clearly set forth in Scripture, particularly in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.
Section 3. Deacons.
Paragraph A. Deacons are responsible primarily to administer the benevolent concerns of the church as well as its legal business and other matters which the elders may delegate to them. (Act 6:1-6) While the deacons are not "rulers" in the church, their office must be held in exceedingly high esteem because of its usefulness to the church and because the diaconal ministry allows the elders to give themselves more fully to the ministry of the Word and prayer and to the general care of souls. Thus these men must be "of good report, full of the Spirit and of wisdom" (Acts 6:3). They must fulfill the duties of their office in cooperation with and in subjection to the elders.
Paragraph B. The number of deacons shall not be fixed. The church shall choose as many as are needed for the work to be done from among the men who give evidence of having the scriptural qualifications for that office (Acts 6:3).
Paragraph C. The qualifications for a man chosen to fulfill the office of deacon are particularly set forth in Acts 6:3 and 1 Timothy 3:8-13.
Section 4. Appointment of office-bearers.
Paragraph A. The local church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is responsible to appoint men to the offices of elder and deacon. Each individual involved should have an inward conviction that the Lord is calling him to the particular office, and the church should recognize that call as it observes in the individual evidence of the gifts and graces which Scripture requires for the particular office (1 Tim. 3:1-13; Tit.1:5-9). This is a matter of such gravity that it should be accompanied by much prayerful waiting on God for guidance, a careful perusal of the relevant passages of Scripture, and a dispassionate evaluation of each man nominated to a particular office. These activities are the responsibility of each individual member of the church as well as of the church as a whole.
Paragraph B. Nominations.
(1) Nominations to offices of elder and deacon shall be made to the congregation by the elders with input from the congregation (Acts 6:1-6; Acts 14:23; Tit. 1:5). The elders will obtain congregational input in two ways. First, the elders will welcome the advice of individual members at any time during the year. Second, the elders will seek the entire congregation's input once each year through an advisory ballot. In March of every year, each member will be asked to prayerfully consider whether he or she thinks any male member should be appointed to the office of elder or deacon. If a significant number of people think a man should be nominated to an office, and if the elders believe the man should be nominated to an office, and if the man is willing to serve in the office, the elders will place his name in nomination before the congregation. Under ordinary circumstances, the elders will announce his nomination to the congregation three months before the congregation is called to vote on the nomination. During these months the congregation will have opportunity to know the man and to pray for God's guidance. The congregation will vote on each candidate at a duly called meeting of the members of the church.
(2) The elders may at any time during the year nominate a candidate or candidates to either or both offices and call a special congregational business meeting for their consideration.
Paragraph C. If any member believes that a nominee is not qualified for the office or if any member has serious questions about the nominee's qualifications, he or she is encouraged to speak directly to the candidate and/or to the elders before the nomination is considered at the proposed meeting. It is not appropriate to express criticisms at the meeting which have not been previously addressed to the elders and/or the nominee in private.
Paragraph D. When the time comes to consider a nomination during a congregational business meeting of the church, the candidate for office and any members of his immediate family who are present shall be requested to leave the room while his qualifications are openly discussed by the entire congregation in the fear of God and the light of Scripture (1 Tim. 3:1-13; Tit. 1:5-9). After that a written ballot shall be taken. It is hoped that the vote of the congregation will in such matters always be unanimous, but if unanimity is not realized, no less than a three-fourths majority of the members present and voting shall be required for the election of an office-bearer.
Paragraph E. Following the recognition of an office-bearer by vote of the congregation, he shall be publicly installed in his office at a regular worship service by the prayer of the whole church and the laying on of the hands of the existing elders or elders invited from sister churches to attend.
Section 5: Termination of Office
Office-bearers are subject to the same rules of discipline as are other members of the church as outlined in this document in Article VI Section 2. Any officer excommunicated from the membership shall immediately and automatically be discharged from his office. Also office-bearers shall only hold office as long as they are faithful to their calling and have the confidence of the congregation that they meet the peculiar qualifications laid out for those offices in 1 Tim.3:1-13, Tit. 1:7-9 and Acts 6:3. There is a distinction to be maintained between the qualifications to be a member in good standing in the church and those peculiar qualifications required to be an elder or a deacon. Therefore there may arise circumstances in which an officer’s qualifications to remain in office are brought under serious question and need to be reviewed. If accusations about an officer have been raised or brought to the attention of the elders concerning patterns of behavior potentially disqualifying the man from office but not requiring church discipline a review meeting of the church may be called by a majority of the elders (or a majority of the deacons if there is no elder or if the officer in question is the only elder). However, before any such meeting is called, first, the validity of the accusations must be investigated, whether of public behavior or private behavior, and must be confirmed by at least two or three witnesses (1 Tim.5:19). Also if deemed valid the elders must engage in private efforts to speak to and inform the individual officer about the concerns. If after having done so, the officer in question chooses not to resign his office, a meeting of the church for review may be called.
(1) In the meeting for review the scriptural qualifications shall be read and the officer’s qualifications and any concerns raised or recommendations openly discussed in the fear of God and with due respect for the reputation of the officer in question. Any charges of disqualification must be presented with biblical and factual warrant as must also any arguments in favor of reconfirming him in his office. After they are presented the officer in question will be allowed to present a defense if he so chooses. Just as it is wrong for a church to retain an officer who is not biblically qualified, so also it is rebellion against Christ the head of the church to reject an officer for any but biblical grounds. The church should seek unity of mind concerning the matter, but should such unity not be fully realized, no fewer than two-thirds of those ballots cast shall be required in favor of the reconfirmation of the officer for him to retain his office. Any officer failing of reconfirmation by two-thirds of the voting members present no longer holds office in the church. The vote shall stand as it is first given in the written ballot.
(2)If the officer discharged is also employed by the church in his function as an officer, the church will ordinarily provide no less than one month’s severance pay to provide opportunity for him to find new employment.
(3)An officer may also resign his office without prejudice if for good and valid reasons he finds he is no longer able to discharge the duties of it.
Section 6: Officer Boards
The elders shall choose one of their number to be chairman, and the deacons shall choose one of their number to be their chairman. These men shall be known as "chairman of the board of elders" and "chairman of the board of deacons," respectively. If sufficient men are not found to efficiently maintain separate boards of elders and deacons, there will not be a separate board of deacons, but instead the deacons will on appropriate occasions meet with the board of elders at which meetings the combined elders and deacons will function as a board of deacons moderated by the chairman of the board of elders.
Section 7: Lack of Officers
Should Emmanuel Baptist Church at any time have no elders, the deacons shall temporarily function as the governing board regarding constitutional matters stipulated in this document requiring elder approval or discretion until such time as an elder or elders are appointed. Likewise if Emmanuel Baptist Church at any time has no elders or deacons she will seek to establish a formal advisory relationship with the elders of a sister church holding to our Confession of Faith (1689 LBC). The elders of the sister church must consent to serve in this advisory role and the arrangement must be approved in a duly called meeting of this church by a three fourths majority of the members present. This relationship will continue until an elder is appointed in Emmanuel Baptist Church or one or the other of the parties decides to sever the advisory relationship. Emmanuel Baptist Church may sever such a relationship by a three fourths majority vote of the members present at a duly called meeting of the church at which time she will seek to establish such a relationship with another sister church according to these procedures so stipulated. Once an elder is appointed in Emmanuel Baptist Church any formal advisory relationship with a sister church as described above will cease.
Section 8. Commissioned Ministers.
The church also recognizes the role of ministers of the gospel specially commissioned by the church for specific gospel tasks, such as foreign or home missions and theological training. The difference between an officer of the church and a commissioned minister is that a commissioned minister does not oversee a duly constituted congregation but is sent or commissioned by the church in obedience to Christ to make disciples and to gather them for the purpose of establishing a duly constituted church body or to engage in the training of those who plant or serve such churches. (Acts 13:1-4; 1 Tim. 1:3-4; 2 Tim. 2:2; Tit. 1:5, 9).
Those commissioned in this way must be nominated to this task by the elders and elected to this task by the church in accordance with the requirements and procedures outlined for the election of officers in Section 4. Following the election there shall be a portion of a regular worship service set aside at which point the person will be officially commissioned to the work by the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Commissioned ministers shall be subject to the same terms for termination stipulated for elders and deacons in Section 5.
Section 1. In order to "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's," this church was incorporated as "The Emmanuel Baptist Church," under the laws of the State of Florida, on September 6, 1985. Our Certificate of lncorporation requires that trustees be appointed to represent the church in all its relations with the civil government.
Section 2. The board of trustees shall consist of at least four members. As the need for new trustees arises (to replace or add trustees), they will be appointed by the officers of the church.
Section 3. The trustees shall perform such legal and business transactions as are peculiarly designated to them by the laws of the State of Florida. In the discharge of their duties, they shall act only at the direction of the office-bearers of the church.
Section 1. General Statement. There shall be an annual congregational business meeting of the church for the hearing of reports, the election of officers, and the transaction of such other business as may properly be brought before the meeting. Special congregational business meetings may be called at other times at the discretion of the elders.
Section 2. Notice of meetings.
Paragraph A. Notice of all congregational business meetings shall be given at regular worship services on two successive Lord's Days immediately prior to the meetings. However, in the case of an emergency, a meeting may be called on shorter notice by notifying each regular member by email or other means of the time, place, and purpose of the meeting.
Paragraph B. Congregational business meetings for the hearing of special reports, giving information or for seeking the counsel of the congregation may be called on shorter notice, but no vote may be taken or other business transacted at such meetings.
Section 3. Quorum. The regular members present at any properly convened congregational business meeting shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.
Section 4. Chairmanship. The chairman of the board of elders shall preside at all congregational business meetings. In the case of his absence or inability to serve, the elders shall appoint another of their number to preside.
Section 5. Voting.
Paragraph A. All regular members who have reached the age of eighteen years and are in good standing in the church may vote on any question properly brought before the congregation.
Paragraph B. Unanimity of heart and mind under God shall at all times be sought and prayed for (Acts 6:5), but when unanimity is not realized, not less than a three-fourths majority of the members present and voting shall be required to make a resolution valid unless otherwise designated in this document.
Paragraph C. Absentee ballots are not permitted.
The elders shall draft and amend from time to time with the advice and consent of the deacons, such by-laws as they shall deem necessary for the efficient implementation of this Constitution; but no by-law which is in violation of any of the terms of this Constitution shall be valid. Also any by-laws added to this document must be presented to the members of the church in a duly called meeting and approved by a three-fourths majority of the members present.
Recognizing that the Lord controls providence for His own glory, it may become necessary to dissolve this church. Such a dissolution may only be accomplished through a specially called congregational business meeting wherein a three-fourths majority vote shall be required to effectuate the dissolution. Any and all property and other assets, or the proceeds from the sale of such, shall then be given, granted, or conveyed to another church (or churches) of like faith and doctrine. The church (or churches) to which these assets and/or proceeds shall go will be determined by a simple majority vote, which vote will be accomplished at the same congregational business meeting. Such a dissolution will not be considered as complete until the final disposition of assets and/or proceeds has been determined and carried out. These proceedings shall be carried out by the trustees under the direction of the existing officers.
Section 1. This Constitution may be amended by a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting at a duly convened congregational business meeting.
Section 2. No proposed amendment may be voted on which has not been distributed to the congregation in written form at least two weeks prior to such meeting.
As the work of the church is financially dependent upon the systematic giving of the people, so should the work itself be systematic and orderly. To that end, before the annual congregational business meeting, the elders and deacons shall prepare an annual budget for the coming year, and shall present said budget to the congregation at a properly called congregational business meeting for congregational approval. The budget shall be considered the basis for the disbursing of funds. Any unexpected necessary unbudgeted need that arises exceeding 1% of the approved budget may be addressed by the elders and deacons but requiring unanimous consent among them.
We believe that God wonderfully and immutably creates each person as male or female. These two distinct, complementary genders together reflect the image and nature of God. (Gen 1:26-27.) Rejection of one’s biological sex is a rejection of the image of God within that person. We believe that the term “marriage” has only one meaning: the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture. (Gen 2:18-25.) We believe that God intends sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other. (1 Cor 6:18; 7:2-5; Heb 13:4.) We believe that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. We believe that any form of sexual immorality (including adultery, fornication, homosexual behavior, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, and use of pornography) is sinful and offensive to God and are required by our biblically framed convictions to declare and uphold this standard as occasion arises. (Matt 15:18-20; 1 Cor 6:9-10.) We believe that in order to preserve the function and integrity of Emmanuel Baptist Church as the local Body of Christ, and to provide a biblical role model to the members of this church and the community, it is imperative that all members and all persons employed by Emmanuel Baptist Church in any capacity, or who serve as volunteers, agree to and abide by this Statement on Marriage, Gender, and Sexuality. (Matt 5:16; Phil 2:14-16; 1 Thess 5:22.) We believe that God offers redemption and restoration to all who confess and forsake their sin, seeking His mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. (Acts 3:19-21; Rom 10:9-10; 1 Cor 6:9-11.) We believe that every person must be afforded compassion, love, kindness, respect, and dignity. (Mark 12:28-31; Luke 6:31.)
Because God ordained marriage and defined the covenant relationship between a man, a woman, and Himself, Emmanuel Baptist Church will only recognize marriage between a biological man, so from birth, and a biological woman, so from birth. The ministers and staff of Emmanuel Baptist Church will only participate in weddings and solemnize marriages between one man and one woman as just described. Finally, the facilities and property of Emmanuel Baptist Church shall only host weddings at the discretion of the elders between one man and one woman as described above, one of which must be a member of this church.
The church’s facilities were provided through God’s benevolence and by the sacrificial generosity of church members. The church desires that its facilities be used for the fellowship of the Body of Christ and to bring God glory. Although the facilities are not generally open to the public, we may make our facilities available to approved non-members, at the discretion of the elders, as a witness to our faith, in a spirit of Christian charity, and as a means of demonstrating the Gospel of Jesus Christ in practice. But facility use will not be permitted under any circumstances to persons or groups that publicly espouse and advocate views inconsistent with the church’s faith or moral teachings, which are summarized in, among other places, the church’s Confession and Constitution and By Laws. Nor may the church facilities be used for activities that contradict, or are deemed inconsistent with, the church’s faith or moral teachings. The elders are the final decision-makers concerning use of church facilities. This restricted facility use policy is necessary for two important reasons. First, the church may not in good conscience materially cooperate in activities or beliefs that are contrary to its faith. Allowing its facilities to be used for purposes that contradict the church’s beliefs would be material cooperation with that activity, and would be a grave violation of the church’s faith and religious practice. (2 Cor 6:14; 1 Thess 5:22.) Second, it is very important that the church present a consistent message to the community, and that the church staff and members conscientiously maintain that message as part of their witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Allowing facilities to be used by groups or persons which publicly advocate beliefs or use the church’s facilities for practices contrary to the church’s faith would have a severe, negative impact on the message the church strives to promote. It could also cause confusion and scandal to church members and the community because they may reasonably perceive that by allowing use of our facilities, the church agrees with the beliefs advocated by or the practices of the persons or groups using its facilities. Therefore, in no event shall persons or groups who advocate beliefs or practices that contradict the church’s faith use any church facility. Nor may church facilities be used in any way that contradicts the church’s faith. This policy applies to all church facilities, regardless of whether the facilities are connected to the church’s sanctuary, because the church sees all of its property as holy and set apart to worship God. (Col 3:17.)
Approved Users and Priority of Use
The elders must approve all uses of church facilities. The church’s facilities may not be used for weddings unless at least one of the parties is a member of the church and only at the discretion of the elders. Generally, in all other possible uses of the facilities, priority shall be given to church members and organized groups that are part of the ministry, organization, or sponsored activities of the church. Church facilities and equipment may be made available to non-members or outside groups other than for weddings meeting the following qualifications:
- Groups or persons requesting facility use must affirm that they do not publicly advocate for beliefs, or plan to use the facilities for practices, inconsistent with the church’s faith and practice.
- The group or person seeking facility use must submit a signed “Facility Use Guidelines and Affirmation” form. (See Appendix for a copy of the form)
- The group or person seeking facility use must be willing to take responsibility for the facilities and equipment used and must agree to abide by the church’s rules of conduct for facility use, as stated below and as described in any additional instructions by church staff.
- The use of the facilities by said group or person must be approved by the elders of Emmanuel Baptist Church.
Fees: Those approved to use the church facilities may choose voluntarily to pay a modest use and maintenance fee. No standard fee will be imposed by the Church.
Occasion may arise in which a member of Emmanuel Baptist Church requests a transfer of membership to a church not holding the 1689 LBC as a summary of their doctrinal convictions. We recognize there are true churches of Jesus Christ that do not agree with us on every point of doctrine. However, while eager to affirm our agreement with and love for all true Christians, there are some doctrines so basic to the gospel that to deny them is to deny biblical Christianity altogether and to place an institution outside the pale of what we are willing to view as a true church of Jesus Christ. We have summarized the minimal requirements to be considered by us as an evangelical church to which transfer in good standing may be granted if requested:
- Acceptance of the absolute authority of the Bible as the supreme rule of faith and practice. (Is. 8:20; 2 Tim. 3:14-17; 1 Jn. 4:6)
- Belief that there is but one true and living God who subsists in three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 8:4-6; Mt. 3:16-17; Mt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14;1 Jn. 5:7)
- Belief that all men are sinners against God and have inherited a sinful nature. (Rom. 3:10; 23; 1 Jn. 1:8.9)
- Belief that the eternal God the Son took to Himself human nature and was born into this world so that Jesus Christ is both fully God and fully man in one person. (1 Jn. 4:1-3; 2 Jn. 7,9)
- Belief that Jesus Christ by his life, death and bodily resurrection in history as the sinners representative and substitute, has obtained salvation from the guilt, power and consequences of sin for all who repent and put their faith in Him. (Acts 20:20-21; 1 Cor. 15:1-4; Gal. 1:8-9)
- Belief in the regenerating and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in a sinner’s heart, separate from which there is no salvation. (Jn. 3:1-8)
- Belief that men are justified before God by grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ on and not on the basis of their own works. (Rom. 3:20-4:6; 5:12-19; Gal. 2:16; 3:10-11)
- Belief that those who die without Christ are damned, while those who believe on Him are received by God in heaven. (Lk. 23:43;2 Cor. 5:6;Lk. 16:23-24)
- Belief in the bodily return of Christ at the time appointed by God in which He will judge the world in righteousness. (Acts 17:31)
Belief that at the appointed time the bodies of those who have died will be raised and reunited to their departed spirits, that of believers to eternal glory and that of the damned to eternal punishment. (Mt. 25:46; 1 Cor. 15 )
- Alcohol Policy: No alcohol may be served in church facilities
- Smoking Policy: Smoking in any indoor church facilities is prohibited
- Groups are restricted to only those areas of the facility the group has reserved.
- Church equipment, such as tables and chairs, must be returned to original placement, unless arranged otherwise prior to the event.
- All lights must be turned off and doors locked upon departure.
- Clean-up is the responsibility of the group using the facility. The facility must be left at the same cleanliness with which it is found before the event. Failure to do so may forfeit consideration for any future use of the facility.
- Abusive or foul language, violent behavior, and drug or alcohol abuse are strictly prohibited on church premises. Any person exhibiting such behavior will be required to leave the premises.
- Any person or group must sign this “Church Facility Use Guidelines” form in the space provided for this below.
- I understand that the church does not allow its facilities to be used in a way that contradicts its faith or by persons or groups advocating beliefs that contradict the church’s faith.
- To the best of my knowledge the purpose for which I am requesting use of church facilities will not contradict the church’s faith, and I commit to promptly disclose any potential conflict of which I am aware or become aware to church staff.
- I am not aware of any beliefs that are advocated by me or the organization I represent and which is requesting use of the church’s facilities that contradict the beliefs of the church. I agree to promptly disclose any potential conflicts in belief to church staff.
- I understand that the church does not allow its facilities to be generally available to the public, and that my use of these facilities is subject to the approval of the elders of the church, which is conditioned in part on my agreement to the requirements in the “Church Facility Use Guidelines,” copy of which I have read and understood.
- I understand that I will be responsible for any damages to the church facilities resulting from this proposed use of facilities.
- The church believes disputes are to be worked out between parties without recourse to the courts. See, generally, Matthew Chapter 18 and 1 Corinthians Chapter 6. Accordingly, users of the facility agree to attempt resolution of any disputes through Christian media.