CHAPTER 1: BASIS
- The name and designation of the church shall be “Germiston Baptist Church”, hereinafter referred to as the church.
Article 2: DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLE
- The sole authority for faith and practice of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.
- While the Church holds to the 1689 (London) Baptist Confession of Faith (hereinafter referred to as the “Confession”), as a true interpretation of its religious convictions based upon the Scriptures, it does not regard the Confession as complete or infallible nor does the church by holding to the Confession intend to add anything to the simple conditions of salvation revealed in the Scriptures.
Article 3: MEMBERSHIP OF THE BAPITST UNION OF SOUTHERN AFRICA
- The Church shall seek to obtain membership of and to remain affiliated to the Baptist Union of Southern Africa but shall be independent of any control thereof save as is hereinafter provided.
Article 4: SHORT DECLARATION OF FAITH
While holding to the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith as the official declaration of faith for conduct and teaching, the church recognises that not all believers have the same convictions and accordingly requires that all candidates for membership should at least accept the following Short Declaration of Faith prior to admission as members:
- We believe the Bible to be the complete Word of God, that the sixty-six books, as originally written, comprising the Old and New Testaments were verbally and plenary inspired by the Spirit of God and are entirely free from error and that the Bible is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice and the true basis of Christian union.
- We believe in one God, Creator of all, holy, sovereign, eternal, existing in three equal Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
- We believe in the absolute and essential deity of Jesus Christ, in His eternal existence with the Father in pre-incarnate glory, in His virgin birth, true humanity, sinless life, substitutionary death, bodily resurrection, triumphant ascension, mediatorial ministry and personal return.
- We believe in the absolute and essential deity and personality of the Holy Spirit who convinces of sin, of righteousness, and of judgement, who regenerates, sanctifies, illuminates, comforts and abides in all who believe in Jesus Christ.
- We believe that Satan exists as an evil personality, the originator of sin, the archenemy of God and man.
- We believe that man was divinely created in the image of God; that he sinned, becoming guilty before God, resulting in total depravity, thereby incurring physical and spiritual death.
- We believe that none but those who exercise repentance from sin and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved, and that salvation is by the sovereign grace of God; that by the appointment of the Father, Christ voluntarily suffered a vicarious expiatory and propitiatory death; that justification is by faith alone in the all-sufficient sacrifice and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and that those whom God has effectually called shall be divinely perfected in the image of the Lord.
- We believe in the personal, bodily and glorious return of the Lord Jesus Christ; in the resurrection of the just and unjust; in the eternal blessedness of the redeemed and in the judgement and conscious, eternal punishment of the wicked.
- We believe that an ideal church is a company of believers who have been baptised, called out from the world, separated unto the Lord Jesus, voluntarily associated for the ministry of the Word, the mutual edification of its members, the propagation of the faith and the observance of the ordinances. We believe it is an autonomous body in a particular locality, exercising its own divinely awarded gifts, precepts and privileges under the Lordship of Christ, the Head of the church. We believe that its officers are Pastors (Elders) and Deacons.
- We believe that there are two ordinances for the Church regularly observed in the following orders: Baptism, which is the immersion of the believer in water, whereby he obeys Christ’s command and sets forth the washing away of sins and identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection; and The Lord’s Supper, which is the memorial wherein the believer partakes of the two elements, bread and wine/grape juice which symbolise the Lord’s body and shed blood proclaiming His death until He comes again.
- We have believed that God has sanctioned marriage only between a man and a woman, therefore we believe in heterosexual relationships between a natural man and a natural woman within the confines of lawful matrimony. Adherence to this stated principle of sexual behaviour is an inherent requirement for membership with the Germiston Baptist Church.
CHAPTER 2: MEMBERSHIP
ARTICLE 5: MEMBERSHIP
The membership of the church shall consist of baptised believers:
- Whose names appear on the present membership role of the church as at the date of the adoption of this Constitution and sign their acceptance thereof.
- Who are added to the membership role of the church in accordance with Article 6.
ARTICLE 6: ADMISSION TO MEMBERSHIP
- Persons are admitted to membership of the church upon the recommendation of the Elders and the acceptance of the church.
- All candidates will be given a copy of this Constitution, together with a copy of the Confession. After the candidate has completed and signed the prescribed membership application form, been interviewed and instructed where required to the satisfaction of the Elders, his or her application will be announced to the church on two consecutive Sundays (at all services). Members will be invited to lodge any objections in writing to the Elders within seven days of the announcement.
- Any objections thus raised shall be investigated by the Elders and then referred to the members of the Church at the following Quarterly General Meeting for a decision, whose final decision shall be binding.
- In the event of no objections being received, the applicant may be received into membership on the following Lord’s day at any one of the services.
- Should the Elders not recommend the application to the church, the applicant shall be informed by the Elders of the reason for non-acceptance, and whether or not the Elders propose to review the matter within a certain period and under what conditions, if any.
- No member of any secret society or any other association or organisation whose principles and/or objectives are in conflict with the Christian gospel shall be entitled to membership of the church.
- Members of other churches who come to live in our area for a limited period of time (e.g. students, military personnel, persons on special work assignments) may be received into or removed from the membership of the Church on the same basis and in the same manner as persons who have permanent residence in our geographical area. Such a person need not be released from the membership of his/her “home church” but will be regarded as an associate member while in our midst, enjoying all the privileges, performing all the duties, and submitting to all the liabilities of regular membership. When such a person terminates his period of temporary residence, he will be released to the fellowship of his “home church” and no longer be regarded as a member of this Church (compare: Acts 18: 27; Rom 16: 1-2). If such a person decides to live in our area permanently and to end his membership in his former “home church”, he may request that he be regarded as a regular member of this Church. Such regular membership will begin once his membership in his former “home church” has ended. A letter will be sent to the “home church” informing it of the new status of all who begin or end associate membership in this Church.
This may apply to members of the Germiston Baptist Church who for the same reason as set out above will be away from the Church for a limited period of time.
ARTICLE 7: PRIVILEGES AND OBLIGATIONS OF MEMBERSHIP
- Under the Divine Headship of the Lord Jesus Christ, the final authority and responsibility in all matters touching the life and service of the Church rests with the whole membership.
- Therefore, every member shall be entitled and expected to attend General Meetings, unless prevented by some reasonable cause, and to exercise his or her franchise for the welfare of the whole Church in the spirit of prayer and lave.
- Members should maintain the fellowship of the Church, especially by prayer, attendance at Services, engaging in some definite work in connection with the Church, and conscientious giving of tithes and offerings in money or kind as God’s provision enables. It is the special privilege and duty of members to seek to win others to the Lord Jesus Christ, and to introduce strangers to the Church.
ARTICLE 8: REVISION OF MEMBERSHIP ROLL
- For statistical and disciplinary purposes the membership roll shall be revised at least annually and kept up to date by the Elders in accordance with this Article and Articles 9 and 10.
- The Elders shall remove from the roll the name of any member who has died or any member who requests in writing that his or her name be removed, except in a case where disciplinary action has been commenced in terms of Article 10.
- The Elders shall report all changes made to the Membership roll at the next General Meeting.
ARTICLE 9: TRANSFER OF MEMBERS
- Any member who desires to join another church may be given a letter of commendation by the Elders upon application by the person concerned. Such action shall be reported at the next General Meeting.
ARTICLE 10: DISCIPLINE
- If any member is absent from the services of the Church and/or fails to comply with any of the privileges and obligations of members for a period exceeding six months, the Elders shall visit and encourage the member concerning these matters. In the event of such communication not producing a satisfactory response, the name of the member shall be reported to a General Meeting together with recommendations by the Elders.
- In the unhappy event of an allegation of conduct unworthy of a Christian or erroneous belief being brought against a member, the Elders shall make enquiry into the matter. If after the enquiry the Elders deem such course necessary, they shall present a report and a recommendation to a General Meeting, at which meeting any further action shall be determined after prayerful consideration. The suspension or expulsion of members of the Church shall be resorted to only if there is no evidence of repentance and all efforts to bring about restoration have proved unsuccessful.
- Purely personal matters between members shall be settled in accordance with Matthew 18: 15 – 17.
CHAPTER 3: MEETINGS
ARTICLE 11: GENERAL MEETINGS
- Quarterly General Meetings shall be held in the first, second and third quarters of the year if possible or as often as called by the Elders for the proper conduct of Church affairs, provided that the purpose of such meetings are always declared beforehand.
- The Church business year shall end on the last day of December. Unless otherwise agreed upon by the Church, completed Financial Statements for the year shall be presented at the first Quarterly General Meeting of the following year. Such statements may be audited if so required by vote of the Church
- The Annual General Meeting shall be held not later than the end of November. At such Annual General Meeting, reports shall be submitted by the officers and various ministries of the Church and the budget for the following year shall be approved by the Church in accordance with article 18.11.
- The appointment of Deacons, Sunday School Superintendent and any other office bearers in terms of articles 18.2-4 and 20.2 shall preferably be made at the Annual General Meeting.
- A General Meeting shall be called by the Elders upon a request in writing signed by not less than six members qualified to vote at such meetings, provided that the request be submitted in writing, designating the subject matter of the meeting for prior consideration by the Elders. Such Meeting shall be called within one month of receipt by the Elders of such request.
- Notice of a General Meeting and its subject matter shall be given at all the Services on at least two Sundays immediately prior to the proposed date of the Meeting in question.
- All meetings at which proposals concerning the purchase, sale or mortgaging of immovable property, or an alteration of the Constitution shall be submitted, and shall in addition to the above notice, require that all members be notified in writing at least seven days prior to the meeting. The non-receipt of such notice shall not invalidate the proceedings.
- If one-third of the members present who are entitled to vote at such a meeting so request, any matter brought forward without proper notice beforehand shall be postponed for consideration at a future meeting.
ARTICLE 12: GENERAL MEETINGS: QUORUM
- No business shall be transacted at any General Meeting unless a quorum of members entitled to vote at such meeting is present at the time when the meeting goes to business.
- Fifteen members qualified to vote or 30% of total membership qualified to vote, whichever is the greater, shall be a quorum for all General Meetings of the Church.
ARTICLE 13: FRANCHISE
- At all Meetings any member of the Church shall be entitled to vote.
- This qualification shall apply to all explicit or implied reference to an exercise of the right of franchise in the Constitution.
ARTICLE 14: VOTING AT MEETINGS
- Every matter of Church business shall be decided by an ordinary majority of votes cast at a properly called General Meeting unless otherwise stipulated in this Constitution.
- Voting shall be by a show of hands, provided that the Chairman may decided that voting be by secret ballot, and shall so decide upon a request by a member entitled to vote at such a Meeting.
ARTICLE 15: CHAIRMAN
- An Elder or any suitable member of the Church nominated by the Elders and approved by a majority of the members present shall preside at all meetings of the Elders, Church Officers and Church.
CHAPTER 4: GOVERNMENT AND DIVISION OF DUTIES
ARTICLE 16: CHURCH OFFICERS
- The Officers of the Church shall be the Elders and the Deacons, who shall have been chosen to in accordance with this Constitution.
ARTICLE 17: ELDERS (including full-time paid Elders, sometimes known as pastors)
- The oversight of the Church rests with the Elders. The ideal is a plurality and equality of Elders.
- In the absence of any Elders the call and appointment of an Elder is vested in the members of the Church.
- Recognising that persons are fitted and gifted by the Holy Spirit for the office of Elder, the appointment of Elders shall, in accordance with Chapter 26, paragraph 9 of the Confession, be as follows: Any member having the right to vote at meetings may at any time make recommendation in writing to the Elders. Hereupon the Elders, having made the necessary enquiries and having obtained the consent of the proposed Elder to submit his name, may make recommendation to a General Meeting, which meeting shall consider the recommendation of the Elders, provided that no person shall be ordained as Elder unless at least seventy-five percent of the members present and voting when the recommendation was considered voted in favour. Voting shall be by secret ballot. When the result of the ballot is known the proposed Elder shall be informed of the full resolution of the Church and he shall be requested to confirm or decline the appointment within 30 days of the General Meeting.
- Only such male persons shall be suitable for election who conform to the qualifications laid down for Elders in 1 Timothy 3: 1-7, and Titus 1: 5-10, and have been baptised upon profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and who undertake to the satisfaction of the Elders to uphold the Confession and to teach and have oversight in the Church in accordance with the Confession and this Constitution and the by-laws.
- The Church must provide a salary where necessary for the support of an Elder so as to release him wholly or to a certain extent from secular services. The salary or other emoluments shall be determined by the finance committee in accordance with the by-laws of the Church.
- Every Elder shall remain an Elders as long as he is a member unless his office is terminated or he resigns as an Elder.
- It is the duty of all the Elders to teach, administer the ordinances, exercise discipline, lead the flock, oversee every function of the Church according to the Scriptures and ensure that pure doctrine according to the Scriptures and as set out in the Confession, be taught in the Church. Elders shall teach and preach regularly in the Church according to their gifts. Elders shall lead by example, serving with humility and faithfulness and not lording it over the flock.
- The exercise of the gifts of teaching and preaching by brethren who do not hold the office of Elder in the Church shall be permissible with the consent of the Elders.
- The Elders shall meet as often as the proper fulfillment of their responsibilities may require.
- Any engagement between the Church and an Elder shall be terminable by three month’s notice on either side, unless otherwise agreed upon, provided that pastoral duties may be suspended immediately as provided for below.
- The Church may, at a General Meeting for default in duty or manner of life, terminate the office of an Elder and suspend him from preaching immediately, provided that such termination be sustained by the vote of seventy-five percent of the members present at such General Meeting. Voting shall be by secret ballot.
ARTICLE 18: DEACONS
- Deacons are to be appointed, as the need shall arise to serve in the Church according to the recommendations of the Elders so that the Elders may devote themselves more effectively to their pastoral duties.
- Deacons shall be elected annually at a General Meeting to hold office for one year, after which they shall be eligible for re-election.
- Additional deacons may be appointed by the vote of the Church at a General Meeting called for the purpose, and the persons so elected shall hold office until the annual meeting at which the position would normally be filled.
- The election of Deacons shall be as follows: Any member having the right to vote at meetings may at any time send in nominations in writing, duly signed by the proposer, and seconder, provided that every nomination is lodged with the Elders at least 21 days before the meeting at which the election is to take place. The Elders shall then approach the nominee for consent. The Elders shall thereupon be obliged to table such a recommendation to the meeting of the Church. The names of the nominees shall be made public at least the Sunday preceding the meeting at which the election is to take place. No person shall be ordained as Deacon unless at least seventy five percent of the members present when the recommendation was considered voted in favour. Voting shall be by secret ballot.
- Only such persons shall be eligible for election who undertake to the satisfaction of the Elders to uphold the Confession and comply with the qualifications laid down in Acts 6:3 and 1 Timothy 3: 8-13, and are members of the Church.
- The provisions of Article 17.11 shall apply mutatis mutandis (with the necessary alterations or changes) to Deacons.
- The Elders together with the Deacons shall constitute the Church Officers.
- The Church officers shall meet as often as the proper conduct of the Church affairs may require, but preferably at least once a month.
- Meetings of the Church officers shall be called by the Elders.
- Every Deacon shall be responsible for the administration of their ministry under the oversight of the Elders.
- The Church officers shall appoint a finance committee under the oversight of an Elder from among the Church officers or members. This finance committee shall compile and control the annual budget, administer the finances and determine the remuneration of all paid workers of the Church. The budget shall be approved by the Church at an Annual General Meeting.
ARTICLE 19: ADMINISTRATION OF THE ORDINANCES
- BAPTISM: In addition to those desiring to join the Church in accordance with Article 6, the Elders shall be free to baptise anyone who so desires to confess the Lord Jesus Christ, provided that they have satisfied themselves regarding the candidate’s personal salvation and appreciation of the essential meaning of the ordinance.
- COMMUNION: The Lord’s Supper shall as far as possible be celebrated on the first and third Sunday in each month or as frequently as deemed advisable by the Elders. Participation at the Lord’s Table shall be open to all who love Jesus Christ and accept Him as Lord and Saviour.
- All prospective participants should examine themselves prior to coming to the Table and all disputes should be handled in conformity with Scriptural principles prior to partaking of the elements, that the unity of the body is not marred.
ARTICLE 20: ORGANISATIONS, DEPARTMENTS, COMMITTESS AND SUB-COMMITTEES
- All organisations, departments, committees or subcommittees of the Church shall be subject to the Elders in all their operations.
- All appointments of office bearers to organisations, departments, committees and subcommittees shall be by the Church upon the recommendation of the Elders.
- The Church may require or permit any or all organisations, departments, committees and subcommittees to have Standing Orders, provided that such Standing Orders be first approved by the Elders before being put into operation.
CHAPTER 5: FINANCE AND PROPERTY: RIGHTS POWERS AND INDEMNITY
ARTICLE 21: FINANCE
- The funds for the work of the Lord Jesus Christ through the Church shall be received by means of tithes and offerings at the Services or meetings of the Church.
- The Finances of the church shall be administered as provided for in article 18.11.
- No goods shall be sold or traded under the auspices of the Church for the purpose of fund-raising other than for the normal disposal of church assets. This effectively means that there will be no raffles, bazaars or jumble sales for the purpose of fund raising with the exception of projects that do not involve sales to the general public.
ARTICLE 22: PROPERTY: MOVABLE AND IMMOVALBE
- Church property, whether movable or immovable and whether already acquired, purchased, held, hypothecated or mortgaged, or hereafter purchased or acquired in any manner, held or hypothecated or mortgaged, shall vest in and be held by the Trustees for the time being of the Church for and on behalf of the Church.
- Trustees shall deal with property as instructed and authorised in accordance with this Constitution.
- Trustees for the time being shall be the deacons for the time being as duly appointed in accordance with Chapter 4 article 18 of this Constitution.
- Any vacancy shall be filled by the Church officers to hold office until the next ensuing General meeting.
- Immovable property shall be registered in the name of the “Trustees for the time being of the Germiston Baptist Church”.
- The Church shall have power to buy, sell, donate, let or hire, exchange, transfer, receive by way of donation, or otherwise, movable and immovable property and to invest its funds in Government or Municipal stock, mortgage bonds, or on fixed deposit or otherwise, in Banks, Post Offices, Building Societies or approved organisations and shall further have power to borrow money with or without security in such manner as the Church shall think fit, negotiate loans from Bankers or others by overdraft or otherwise and by passing mortgage and notarial bonds for registration with the proper authorities, and to open and operate upon banking accounts, and to make , draw, accept, discount, execute and issue promissory notes, bills of exchange and other negotiable and transferable instruments to guarantee the performance of contracts by any person or duly constituted Church having objectives wholly or partly similar to the objectives of this Church and to enter into guarantee or suretyships of every description.
- Any purchase or lease of immovable property or any sale, borrowing, mortgage, pledge, or other alienation or encumbrance of the whole or any part of the movable property of the Church shall be effected upon the authority of a resolution passed by a three fourths majority of members present at a General Meeting provided that the Meeting is attended by no less that 20 (twenty) percent of the membership, provided that the Church officers will be entitled to disburse sums of up to R500 without the authority of such prior resolution, subject to subsequent ratification in the same manner as set out in this sub-article. Provided further that, in the event of a quorum not being present at any such General Meeting, the members present may decide to call another meeting at least fourteen days later, notice of which shall be given at all intervening Sunday Services; at this subsequent meeting the members then present shall constitute a quorum.
- Such General Meetings may decide to pass resolutions in principle, leaving details to the Church officers.
ARTICLE 23: INDEMNITY
- The Trustees and all officers of the Church shall be fully indemnified against all actions, costs, charges, losses, damages and expenses which they or any of them shall or may incur by their own wrongful action done intentionally or with gross negligence.
CHAPTER 6: BY-LAWS AND ADMENDMENTS OF THE CONSTITUTION
ARTICLE 24: BY-LAWS
- The Church may at a General Meeting frame and amend such By-laws as it may deem necessary for administering the funds, managing the affairs of the Church, or clarifying any point of doctrine or practice, such By-laws to be available as a supplement to the Constitution.
ARTICLE 25: AMENDMENT OF CONSTITUTION
- This Constitution may be amended at a General Meeting, provided three months notice of motion has been given at a previous General Meeting.
- The amendment in writing shall be made available to the members for a period covering at least three Sundays preceding the General Meeting.
- No change shall be made to the Constitution unless at least seventy five percent of the members present at such a meeting vote in favour of the proposed amendment either in its original form or with such amendments as the meeting itself may make.
CHAPTER 7: COOPERATION WITH OTHER CHURCHES
We recognise that it is desirable to have fellowship with other churches, particularly churches of a reformed Baptist persuasion.
- The church may decide from time to time upon joint ministries with other churches
- The church will recognise the disciplinary action of other churches.
- The church will seek to express fellowship visibly with the Reformed Baptist Association (RBA) from time to time; and
- The church officers will meet with the officers of other RBA churches to resolve matters of mutual interest, provided that the elders shall endeavour to meet at least once every three months, and provided, further, that consultation regarding any proposed constitutional amendment will take place prior to such amendment.
CHAPTER 8: DISSOLUTION OF THE CHURCH
ARTICLE 27: DISSOLUTION OF THE CHURCH
- The church may at any time be dissolved by resolution of three quarters of the members present at a General Meeting. The quorum for such a meeting shall be forty percent of the membership.
- In the event of a resolution being passed as required above, the church officers, or in the event of there being no church officers, the Trustees, shall wind up the affairs of the church and shall in particular transfer or cause to transfer all assets of the church to the Baptist Union of Southern Africa or to another Baptist church, whether a member of the Baptist Union or not, as designated by a majority vote at a general meeting at which the resolution to dissolve the church was passed.
- In the event of the church contemplating dissolution it shall not be competent for the church to give away or sell for less than market value any of its property whether movable or immovable.
- In the event of the church at any time ceasing to exist for any reason whatsoever all property and rights to property owned by it shall be deemed to have become the property of and shall be transferred by the trustees to the Baptist Union of Southern Africa, or to another Baptist Church, whether a member of the Baptist Union or not. In the absence of Trustees, the Trustees of the Baptist Union of Southern Africa shall be empowered to wind up the affairs of the Church and transfer, or cause to transfer all assets of the Church to the Baptist Union of Southern Africa, or to another Baptist Church, whether a member of the Baptist Union or not.
- The Church shall be deemed to have ceased to exist when the members of the Church shall have become totally dispersed or when Meetings and Services of the Church shall have ceased for a period of at least six consecutive months.
10th June 2004 (Revised)