The Corporation of
Purpose: This policy is to provide direction to our pastoral staff with regard to marriages performed as part of their pastoral duties at Grace Community Church. This policy is established
to uphold the Statement of Faith of Grace Community Church.
Grace Community Church of Martin, TN
The Corporation of Grace Community Church believes that:
- · God’s intention for marriage is established throughout the scriptures of the Old and New Testament;
- · God ordained marriage as a voluntary union for life of one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19: 5-6; Ephesians 5:31; Romans 1: 26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9);
- · sexual intimacy is legitimate only within the bounds of marriage (Hebrews 13:4);
- · Christian marriage is not simply a contract between two persons, but is a covenant ratified in the presence of God (Malachi 2:14);
- · in Christian marriages, the Church acts as an agent of God’s blessing, as a primary witness and as a supportive community; and,
- · a healthy marriage is the best foundation for families and the raising of children.
All pastoral staff are required to adhere to the church’s constitution including the Statement of Faith, and will therefore not officiate or co-officiate at marriages that could reasonably be considered to be contrary to this Statement of Faith.
All pastoral staff have the right to decide whether or not they wish to proceed with solemnizing a marriage, if doing so would be contrary to his or her religious beliefs.
Grace Community Church
Purpose of the Storehouse Fund Policy: The purpose of the Storehouse Fund Policy is to set guidelines and practices that govern benevolence support provided to the
Grace Community Church family.
Storehouse Fund Policy
Purpose of the Storehouse Fund: The Storehouse Fund is a special account set up by agreement of the members of Grace Community Church to serve as a source of basic benevolent assistance for the members of Grace Community Church. The funds may only be used to help those who are members of Grace. All non-members will be directed to We Care Ministries for assistance.
The stated purpose of the Storehouse Fund is to minister to individuals or families during a time of hardship or crisis by temporarily assisting them with their basic needs. Depending on the circumstances, assistance may also include financial counseling, training in household budgeting and/or debt management, or other financial education that would help the individual or family avoid potential hardships or crises in the future.
It is our responsibility to communicate that it is not the church’s intent or practice to be a source of income for monthly and routine expenses. Any monetary gifts are simply to bridge the gap of difficulty, while directing the individual to other financial resources in public and private sector. The Storehouse Fund is intended as a source of last resort, to be used when the individual or family requesting assistance has explored all other possibilities of assistance from appropriate sources (i.e., family, savings, investments, etc). It is intended to be a means of assistance during the time of a crisis or other hardship.
Members should be fully aware that granting of assistance is not guaranteed. While we will do our best to provide whatever assistance is possible, all requests will be evaluated individually and deacons and elders reserve the right to deny a request if it is deemed to not be in the best interest of the individual or of Grace Community Church.
Generally, assistance from the Storehouse Fund is intended to cover an individual’s or family’s basic needs. Normally, these needs are defined as:
- 1. Lodging (including utilities)
- 2. Food
- 3. Clothing
- 4. Medical treatment (May include medications)
- 5. Transportation
Needs that may not be met by the Storehouse Fund include:
- 1. Business investments, business debts or anything that brings financial profit to the individual or family
- 2. Paying off credit cards. Exceptions can be made when an individual has had to use a credit card in a crisis or emergency (e.g., hospitalization, death, etc.)
- 3. Needs of individuals who are wanted by the law or for paying fines as a result of breaking the law
- 4. Housing for unmarried couples
- 5. Legal fees arising from criminal behavior
- 6. Gambling debts
- 7. Penalties relating to late payments or irresponsible actions
- 8. School tuition or fees
Funding of the Storehouse Fund
By agreement of the membership of Grace, the Storehouse Fund will be funded through the church's annual budgeting process. The elders – with the input and approval of the members – will determine a minimum level at which the Fund should be maintained. If the balance drops below that level, funds will be transferred from the General Fund into the Storehouse Fund each month at the level that has been jointly determined, and voted on, by the members until the balance once again reaches the appropriate, predetermined level.
Administration of the Storehouse Fund
The Storehouse Fund will be jointly administered by the deacons and elders of Grace Community Church. Thus, all decisions made regarding the fund will be at the discretion of the deacons and elders.
Storehouse Fund Guidelines
When receiving a request, deacons and/or elders will:
- 1. Maintain all information in a discreet, confidential, and private matter.
- 2. Determine – during and after the situation – if spiritual and/or financial counsel and training is needed.
- 3. Clearly state that a monetary gift does not require reimbursement.
- 4. Ensure that to the extent possible, and at the discretion of the deacon(s) and/or elder(s) involved, all disbursements from the Storehouse Fund shall be made directly to the party or entity to whom payment is due and not in the form of cash given directly to the individual or family requesting assistance (e.g., if assistance with rent or a mortgage payment is needed, payment shall be made directly to the individual or family’s landlord or mortgage holder).
- 5. Ensure that adequate records are kept regarding the amount, and type, of assistance as well as to whom, and for whom, the assistance is given.
Assistance from the Storehouse Fund is intended to be a one-time gift. In unusual circumstances, the elders and deacons may decide to help more than one time. However, under no circumstance is a gift from the Storehouse Fund to be considered a loan. No gift is required to be repaid, either in part or in full, in money or in labor.
Those requesting assistance must also be willing to receive financial, family, or emotional counseling. The elders and deacons will not provide help to anyone who, in their estimation, will have negative or irresponsible behavior reinforced by financial help.
Those requesting assistance must we willing to give the elders and deacons permission to follow up on any of the information provided. The elders and deacons will be sensitive to confidential issues.
All elders and deacons are allowed to receive benevolence requests. And each of the elders and deacons are authorized to evaluate, and respond to, such requests on their own provided the request does not exceed $250. If the request exceeds $250, it must be approved by the elders. The maximum assistance that can be given through the Storehouse Fund is $500.
All benevolence requests are to be documented using the “Storehouse Request Form”. The form serves as a record of contact and resolution and is completed by the deacon(s) or elder(s) receiving the request. The deacon or elder must identify the specific request and need for benevolence.
Procedure for Disbursement of Storehouse Funds
If a member of Grace Community Church desires to receive assistance from the Storehouse Fund, the request should be made directly to a Deacon or Elder of Grace Community Church.
Provided the request does not exceed $250, the Deacon or Elder will evaluate, and make a decision regarding, the request for assistance. The Deacon or Elder may seek advice and input from other Deacons or Elders, but it is not mandatory.
If approved, the Deacon or Elder will obtain the necessary funds from the Church Treasurer/Clerk. To the extent possible, and at the discretion of the Deacon(s) and/or Elder(s) involved, all disbursements from the Storehouse Fund shall be made directly to the party or entity to whom payment is due and not in the form of cash given directly to the individual or family requesting assistance (e.g., if assistance with rent or a mortgage payment is needed, payment shall be made directly to the individual or family’s landlord or mortgage holder).
If the request exceeds $250, it must be brought to the Elders and approved by a majority of the Elders. If approved, the Elders will delegate either one of their number or one of the Deacons to disburse the funds in accordance with the above protocol.
Grace Community Church Response Plan
We at Grace Community Church want to do everything possible to protect the children who are entrusted to our care. We view the children who attend our church as a sacred and precious
trust given to us by their parents.
for Allegations of Sexual Abuse
Against a Minor at Church (or Church-Related Function)
When it comes to protecting children from sexual abuse, this protection begins with excellent preventative policies. These preventative policies are contained in other documents and will not be repeated here.
This document is meant to delineate our response plan if it is reported that any form of sexual abuse against a minor occurs while that child is at church or a church-related activity.
This response plan is intended to cover the “initial stages” of response and not the totality of care needed. “Initial stages” are here defined as:
- 1. The minor reporting abuse has been heard in a loving and comprehensive manner.
- 2. The minor reporting abuse and parent(s) have been connected with the needed resources for their personal care.
- 3. Necessary reports have been made to the Department of Social Services (DSS), law enforcement or both, in the county where the minor resides.
- 4. The person accused of abuse has been heard in a caring, respectful, and thorough manner.
- 5. The church elders have the information necessary to oversee the care for the victim and the victim’s family, as well as discipline and care for the perpetrator, and the general care of the congregation.
As this plan will make clear, all accusations of sexual abuse will be handled by the Elders of Grace Community Church. With regard to the situations in view in this plan, the responsibilities of the Elders will include:
- 1. One or more elders meeting the minor reporting abuse and the parents in a safe place to verify the allegation being made.
- 2. Advising the family of the minor reporting abuse of their needed medical and counseling resources.
- 3. If the allegation is potentially viable (defined below), reporting to law enforcement or DSS in the county where the minor resides.
- 4. Meeting with the accused perpetrator of abuse and hearing his/her version of what did and did not happen.
- 5. Communicating to the alleged perpetrator (1) what legal steps have been or will be taken, and (2) what the expectations of him/her from the church are until the matter is resolved. A written agreement will be signed by all parties, or note of the refusal to sign will be documented.
- 6. Providing pastoral care, discipline, and modifications to church policies if necessary.
- 7. Overseeing pastoral care after the initial stages of response.
This response plan will address two contingencies for which sexual abuse can be reported:
- 1. Sexual abuse by an adult against a minor (represents approx. 60% of sexual abuse reports in a church context).
- 2. Sexual abuse by a minor against a minor (represents approx. 40% of sexual abuse reports in a church context).
Adult to Minor Abuse ReportResponse in First 24-48 Hours:
Caring for the Victim & Family
Once an accusation of sexual abuse has been reported to a staff member or volunteer, this information will be communicated to the Elders who would then contact the family of the minor (if they were not the initial reporting persons) to offer initial emotional support and to inform them of the process of care (as defined below). If the allegation is against one of the Elders, then the accusation would be reported to the other Elders who would fulfill the same functions.
The Elder who has received the accusation would then contact the remaining Elders to inform them of the accusation, provide what background he knows (including a list of all classes and children’s event at which the accused perpetrator has served as leader), and to provide them with the contact information of the family.
A report may be made to the appropriate legal authorities before contacting the remaining Elders if there is imminent danger to the reporting child or any other children.
One of the Elders would then contact the family of the minor to arrange the details for the initial meeting.
One of the Elders will meet with the child and parents. The presence of other Elders can be determined based upon availability and what creates the most comfortable environment for the child.
The purpose of this meeting is not investigative in nature. This meeting should be used to affirm the child, and to confirm the viability of the incident that took place.
It is after this meeting that the Elders should assess if a DSS report needs to be made (if the parents have not already done so). The information retrieved during the interview should be discussed amongst the entire group of Elders and the decision whether a report is necessary made by the entire group.
REPORT IF: The accusation is potentially viable; meaning the accusation is of an action that qualifies as sexual abuse and it could be true. If possible, confirm where it happened. The interview would politely stop there. The only other question that should be asked is, “Do you know if this happened to anyone else?” If yes, then ask who, but do not press for time and location only take the name.
DO NOT REPORT ONLY IF: (1) The allegation violates the laws of physics (i.e., the accused was in Australia not in the church as alleged). (2) The reports turn out not to be sexual abuse (i.e., “My friend made fun of me in the bathroom when I wet my pants.”)
Immediately after this conversation the interviewing Elder needs to document what was shared (using the attached Sexual Abuse Allegation Response Form) so that accurate information can be shared with DSS and to allow for effective church follow up in ministering to other children/families affected or modification of church policies.
These notes should be debriefed with the other Elders in a joint meeting within 48 hours of the interview. The notes will be kept on file at the church. The purpose of this meeting is to ensure the elders can effectively help the victim and the victim's family, effectively fulfill their responsibilities towards the accused perpetrator and review the preventative policies of the church.
After meeting with the child and parent(s), the interviewing Elder (and other Elders if present for the interview) should also inform the parents of what next steps will be taken and how they should proceed.
- · If a DSS report will be filed and what to expect from that.
- · Recommend any medical follow up that would assist the legal process and personal recovery of the child.
- · Reassure them that the alleged perpetrator will no longer be allowed to serve in any children or youth ministries and will not be allowed to attend any church event without supervision.
- · Provide a recommendation for child and/or family counseling appropriate for the situation.
Response Hours 48 – 96
(Unless Advised to Contrary by DSS or Law Enforcement):
Caring for the Alleged Perpetrator
The reporting of a sexual abuse accusation is a legal matter and not an ecclesiastical matter. For this reason, a legal report may be filed without first talking to the alleged perpetrator. Even if the alleged perpetrator denies the action took place, it is not the role of the church to determine what happened before honoring the laws of the state of Tennessee which clearly state that:
“Any person...having knowledge of or called upon to render aid to any child who is suffering from or has sustained any wound, injury, disability, or physical or mental condition which is of such a nature as to reasonably indicate that it has been caused by brutality, abuse or neglect or which on the basis of available information reasonably appears to have been caused by brutality, abuse or neglect, shall report such harm immediately, by telephone or otherwise,...". (TCA Section 37-1-403(a))
“Any person who knows or has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been sexually abused shall report such knowledge or suspicion to the department.” (TCA Section 37-1-605(a))
While reporting allegations of abuse is not an ecclesiastical matter, caring for the alleged perpetrator is. Therefore, after an Elder (or Elders) has interviewed the victim, assessed if there is reason to consider the allegation potentially viable, reported to DSS (if needed), and summarized the allegation to the other Elders, the Elders will visit the alleged perpetrator.
This visit may be delayed if DSS or law enforcement believes that this involvement would interfere with their processes.
The purpose of this visit is to:
- 1. Inform the alleged perpetrator of the allegation that has been made.
- 2. Allow for a time of confession (if guilty and willing to admit it).
- 3. Inform the alleged perpetrator of the legal steps that have been taken.
- 4. Inform the alleged perpetrator of the restrictions that will be placed upon him/her until the matter is rectified. Have the alleged perpetrator sign the agreed upon plan
(see below document).
- · No involvement or physical presence in the children or youth ministries areas will be allowed.
- · No attempt should be made to: (1) determine who the alleged victim is or (2) contact that minor/family.
- Begin the process of pastoral care.
- · If confession is made, then providing the name of a counselor who will be recognized as an expert during the legal process and is trained to work with perpetrators of sexual abuse against a child. This counseling would not be done by a Grace staff member or counselor affiliated with the church in order to prevent a conflict of interest.
- · If confession is not made but his/her response is civil, then maintain support during the legal process. If the legal process concludes that nothing happened, then recommendation by the Elders of the best source of counseling for the trauma of the process would be advisable.
- · If confession is not made and his/her response is uncivil, then reiterate that the restrictions are expected to be followed and that the church does want to be supportive during this time.
During this time the church will contact our insurance provider to inform them of the current liability risk and an outside attorney in order to receive specific advisement about liability concerns specific to the details of the current situation.
Minor to Minor Abuse ReportResponse in First 24-48 Hours:
Caring for the Victim & Family
The response plan in the first 24 hours is the same as in the case of adult to minor abuse.
Response Hours 48-96:
Caring for the Alleged Perpetrator
In the case of minor to minor sexual abuse it should be assumed that the perpetrator may also be a victim of sexual abuse. This will influence the tone and follow up of this meeting. Due to the nature of this conversation, the parents may be defensive and less cooperative in an effort to protect their child from legal consequences and possibly to protect the adult abuser (if known) involved in the situation.
One of the Elders will first place a phone call to the minor / accused perpetrator’s parents and inform them of the accusation that has been made (but not the name of the victim) and request to meet with the parents and child (alleged perpetrator). If the parents refuse this meeting, the parents should be informed that regardless of their choice a report will be made to DSS. If the report is filed at this time their child would enter the investigative process as a perpetrator. However, if the interview reveals that another adult has abused their child then their child would enter the investigation process as a victim. It should also be emphasized to the parents that the purpose of the Elders is to ensure the safety of all the children at Grace Community Church and that uncooperativeness likely places many children at risk.
At this meeting, the same attempts should be made to make the child feel safe as were made in the interview with the victim. This is both to honor the child and to facilitate the child being comfortable sharing awkward information. In this interview questions should be direct enough to reveal that the Elders (which can again be represented by a single member in the interview) has specific information (i.e., “Have you ever touched another child’s private parts while in the bathroom at AWANA and told him this was a fun game you learned?”).
The Elders should be careful not to make promises they cannot keep (i.e., “If you are honest with us, you will not get in any trouble.”), but rather make honest statements, (i.e., “We are here to find out what happened so that we can get everyone the help that they need. If you are honest with us, then this process will be much easier on everyone.”).
In the course of this interview there are key points of information that need to be sought:
- · What happened?
- · What other children were involved in the abuse?
- · Where did you learn this kind of behavior? Children do not just “make up” sexually abuse behaviors. Did someone treat you this way? Have you seen videos where people act this way?
The interviewing Elder should again take notes on these conversations to allow for follow up with other church children/families affected by abuse. If names are given that are not involved with Grace Community Church (i.e., abuse that occurred at the YMCA, school, a camp setting, etc…), then those names should be reported to DSS or law enforcement as well.
At the end of this meeting, the Elder should provide the family with the same information they provided after the meeting with the victim’s family.
- · If a DSS report will be filed and what to expect from that.
- · Recommend any medical follow up that would assist the process and recovery.
- · That the alleged perpetrator (child and family) will no longer be allowed to participate in any children or youth ministries.
- · Provide a recommendation for child and/or family counseling appropriate for the situation. This counseling would not be provided by a Grace staff member or counselor affiliated with the church in order to prevent a conflict of interest.
ConclusionThe allegation of sexual abuse creates a difficult and intense time of ministry. Often the web of those affected can extend through several families. Our goal in this policy is to lovingly care for those who have experienced abuse, help them break the silence that compounds the damage of this experience, and point them towards the best available resources to begin healing from this experience.
We want to cooperate with the civil authorities fully in this process and, thereby, allow them to fulfill the role which God has ordained for them. In doing so, the church minimizes our liability concerns.
We also want to love those who have committed sexual abuse against a minor enough to confront them on this practice. The recidivism rate of this activity is exceedingly high. If we did nothing, more and more children would be hurt.
Ultimately, we want to be prepared to model the Gospel well by confronting sin and comforting suffering in the face of one of the more traumatic experiences in our culture that is endured by some of the weakest and most innocent members of our society.
Counsel in Carrying Out This ProcessWhen a report is made of any potential sexual abuse case, the statement below should be made to the person giving the report. This statement should be included in the policy section of any ministry manual related to children or youth and any FAQ manual at the information desks around the church.
How to respond if someone reports an allegation of sexual abuse against a minor?
Reply:“Thank you for having the courage and integrity to come forward with this information. We have a policy and protocol in place to allow us to care for these kinds of situations. What you have said will be reported to our Elders who will ensure that the appropriate legal authorities will be notified. The Elders will contact you and ask that you put what you have seen and/or heard in writing so that it can be a part of their report file. We ask that until they notify you of the legal steps that need to be taken, that you not share this information with anyone other than legal authorities who may inquire about the case. You have done a good thing that allows us to ensure that the children in our care are safe and protected. Thank you.”
Action Step:Record the name, phone number, mailing address, and e-mail address of the person giving the report. Send this information directly to one of the Elders. It is the responsibility of the Elder who receives this information to inform the necessary parties and initiate the response protocols of the church.
When calling the parents (of the victim) it is important for the Elder to remember:
The parents are also experiencing a crisis and are ill-prepared to know what to do next. This conversation should also be seen as ministering to the parent who rightfully feels angry, hurt, afraid, and let down by his/her church.
Begin by stating that your primary purpose is to ensure the safety of their child and any other children who may have been involved. In order to do this you are asking for the opportunity to:
- · Learn if a report has already been made to DSS.
- · Talk with their child to learn (a) what happened and (b) if anyone other children were affected so that all necessary safety and care measures can be taken by the church.
- · Seek to ensure that all appropriate counseling, medical, and educational resources are known to the family as a means of caring for, and benefiting, both the child and the family during this time.
Indicate that you would like to arrange this meeting as soon as possible in order to ensure that any reporting that needs to be done is accomplished in a timely manner to ensure the safety of any other children who may be affected.
In arranging the details for this meeting (with the victim and the victim's family) the following considerations should be remembered to minimize the traumatic affects upon the minor from telling his/her story again:
The purpose of this meeting is not investigative in nature. This meeting should be used to affirm the child, and to confirm the viability of the incident that took place.
Building rapport with the child is key. Strategies to build rapport are to meet in a child friendly confidential place like the child’s home, observe the toys you see, talk with them about the things they like to do, if the child is school age ask them about school, friends, summer activities, etc.
After the Elder feels sufficient rapport has been built, a transitioning sentence should be used like:
“I am glad you and your parents have let me come to your home today, I have enjoyed meeting you and getting to know you. One of the reasons I wanted to come is because (name the adult person who reported the incident) told me something that you told him/her. I want to let you know you are not in trouble, and you have done nothing wrong. But, I want to make sure you get whatever care you need if something like this has happened. I heard (and then repeat what was reported.)”
At this point, giving the child significant time to respond and waiting is key. Remember you are asking a child to talk about a sexual experience. It is difficult for adults, and it is definitely difficult for children who can’t understand what happened to them.
The purpose of the first 24-48 hour response is to ensure the child and family that their church cares and takes these matters seriously. If a child has been harmed we want them to receive care quickly and for the necessary legal steps to be taken promptly. How a church responds in a crisis like this will go a long ways towards determining whether these individuals will feel safe in and trust a church again.
Elders involved in this process should read chapter nine “What About the Spouse & Family” (pages 93-112) from Restoring the Fallen: A Team Approach to Caring, Confronting & Reconciling by Earl and Sandy Wilson, Paul and Virginia Friesen, and Larry and Nancy Paulson. This chapter does an excellent job of talking through key points of caring for the spouse and family after a major moral failure. While the book is written in response to the disruption caused by the adultery of a parent, it does a good job of describing how to care for a family in a time of crisis.
Aftercare Responsibilities (in the case of adult to minor abuse):
There are three areas that should be assessed and/or defined.
First, determine whether there were other victims who have not reported their abuse. On average a child molester will have 50-100 victims before getting caught. The process of determining if there are other victims will begin from examining the list of classes taught by the alleged perpetrator and any names provided while interviewing the victim.
If specific names are given by the victim, then the Elders would call the parents of that child and ask to meet about an important matter. Once the details of the situation have been debriefed with the parents (without mentioning the alleged perpetrator’s name), then with the parent’s permission an interview would be conducted with the child about his/her experience at church. This interview would be similar to the one conducted with the victim described above.
In the classes taught by the alleged perpetrator (if he/she was a teacher), the Elders would have a meeting with the parents in the class to give overview of what happened without mentioning names, give helpful ideas of how to talk to their child, and explaining the response plan of the church.
The Elders (as substitute teachers) would also teach a lesson in each class affected on “Good Church Leaders” describing what is right and acceptable for a church leader to do. In this the Elders would give examples of the kind of activities described by the alleged victim (i.e., shouldn’t take you the bathroom alone). As a part of this class, one Elder would play a game with the children, allowing the other two Elders to interview the children individually about their experience with church leaders.
Second, determine what to say to the church body. The Elders would need to decide what needed to be communicated to the church body at large or segments of the church body. This information should be communicated to involved staff, victim’s family, and alleged perpetrator’s family before anything is made public.
It should be expected that some awareness will leak into the congregation. Therefore, a statement should be prepared and made available to any involved staff even if it is decided that no statement is made to the entire church body. The spirit of this communication is that the congregation should hear only truth while showing evidence of caring for the victim, the alleged perpetrator, and the congregation (many who will have their own abuse histories).
Third, prepare a statement if these events become part of the public media. An individual should be designated by the Elders to speak on behalf of the church to the media. All staff should be advised to direct any media inquiry to the designated person.
This statement should include the following key points:
- · We value children and have had the best preventative child protection policies we could find.
- · There are times when moral evil evades the best policies and this grieves us greatly.
- · No attempt has been made to hide or cover up what has happened. We are cooperating fully with the legal process, but want to protect the privacy of those involved.
- · We applaud the courage of anyone, especially a child, who speaks out after abuse.
- · We are seeking to love and serve the families affected at this time and would invite everyone to pray for those involved in this process.
Aftercare Responsibilities (in the case of minor to minor abuse): The aftercare responsibilities are the same as in the case of adult to minor abuse, with the exception that the class lesson would be on “Good Church Friends.”
SEXUAL ABUSE ALLEGATION REPORT FORM(Meeting With Alleged Victim)
Name of the Child:
Name of the Parents:
City, State, Zip:
Home Phone Number:
Work Phone Number:
Cell Phone Number:
If parents are separated or divorced, what is contact information for parent not attending Grace:
Person to whom allegation was made:
Date allegation was made: ___/ ___ / ___
* * * Have the person the allegation was made to write a summary and attach to this document.
Person to whom allegation was made reported to:
Date report was made: ___/ ___ / ___
Date Elders were notified: ____/ _____ / _____
Date Elders attempted to contact family: ____/ _____ / _____
Date Elder (or Elders) met with family: ____/ _____ / _____
Outcome from meeting with family:
Recommendations to family:
Will DSS or law enforcement be called? Yes No
If yes, date and time they were called: ____/ _____ / _____
Name of the person spoken with ___________________, & report number given _________________
If parents contacted DSS, or law enforcement give the date, their report number and name of the person they spoke with.
SEXUAL ABUSE ALLEGATION REPORT FORM(Meeting With Alleged Perpetrator)
Name of Alleged Perpetrator:
City, State, Zip:
Home Phone Number:
Work Phone Number:
Cell Phone Number:
Meeting Date: ____/ _____ / _____
Time Meeting Began:
Time Meeting Ended:
Explanation of what has been learned without victims name (summarize key points made):
Response from Abuser:
* * * If willing, have them write their version and attach
Expectations/Restrictions on Alleged Abuser:
- No involvement or physical presence in the children or youth ministries or areas will be allowed.
- Asked to attend a different campus from the alleged victim and to have supervision when present.
- No attempt should be made to: (1) determine who the alleged victim is or (2) contact that minor/family.
Recommendations/Follow-up Aftercare Plan:
I (print name) _________________________________ understand and agree to cooperate with the investigation and restrictions as outlined above.
Signature: ___________________________________________ Date: _____ / _____ / _____
* * * * * If the alleged perpetrator is unwilling to cooperate with the investigation or restrictions outlined above, the elders conducting this interview should indicate this refusal by checking the area and signing the spaces below.
_____ Individual refused to comply with process
Elder Name: ______________________________ Elder Signature: ____________________________
Elder Name: ______________________________ Elder Signature: ____________________________
Elder Name: ______________________________ Elder Signature: ____________________________
Elder Name: ______________________________ Elder Signature: ____________________________
Medical and Counseling ResourcesChristian Counselors
List Name and Contact Information Of Christian Counselors in the Area
What to expect when a case is reported to DSS or CPS:First, Child Protective Services (CPS) will access if the report meets the statutory criteria for child abuse or neglect.
Then, CPS will investigate to ascertain if the maltreatment can be substantiated. This involves interviewing the child if he is old enough to respond to questions, even if he had already been interviewed by another first responder. CPS will also contact the family and others who may have additional information about the incident.
CPS classifies its findings in one of two categories — substantiated or unsubstantiated. A substantiated finding means that there is sufficient evidence to prove that an incident of abuse or neglect occurred.
While gathering information, CPS may order a CME (Child Medical Examination) report to gather more evidence. The CME provider will conduct a forensic evaluation including: a physical medical examination of the child, an interview with the child, and an interview with a non-offending adult (typically a parent). These interviews may be video-taped in effort to keep the child from having to testify in court, should the abuse be substantiated. The findings are relayed to CPS.
A finding of unsubstantiated means that there is insufficient evidence to conclude that a child was abused or neglected, but it does not always mean that maltreatment did not occur.
The CPS assessment will evaluate not only past events, but future safety. They will seek to determine if the child is safe in the home (or the setting in which the abuse occurred) and, if not, what the least intrusive interventions are to ensure the child’s safety.
Finally, CPS determines if there is a risk of maltreatment occurring in the future. If a risk of abuse or neglect exists, CPS must offer or provide services to reduce the risk.
Statement of FaithI. THE SCRIPTURES
The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God's revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us; and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.
There is one and only one living and true God. He is an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being, the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe. God is infinite in holiness and all other perfections. God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things – past, present, and future – including the future decisions of His free creatures. To Him we owe the highest love, reverence, and obedience. The eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.
God as Father reigns with providential care over His universe, His creatures, and human history according to the purposes of His grace. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving, and all wise. God is Father in truth to those who become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ.
GOD THE SON
Christ is the eternal Son of God. In His incarnation as Jesus Christ He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. Jesus perfectly revealed and did the will of God, taking upon Himself human nature with its demands and necessities and identifying Himself completely with mankind yet without sin. He honored the divine law by His personal obedience, and in His substitutionary death on the cross He atoned for the sin of all who will believe. He was raised from the dead with a glorified body and appeared to His disciples as the person who was with them before His crucifixion. He ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God where He is the One Mediator – fully God, fully man – in whose Person is effected the reconciliation between God and man. He will return in power and glory to judge the world and to consummate His redemptive mission. He now dwells in all believers as the living and ever present Lord.
GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, fully divine. He inspired holy men of old to write the Scriptures. Through illumination He enables men to understand truth. He exalts Christ. He convicts men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He calls men to the Savior, and effects regeneration. He cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and bestows the spiritual gifts by which they serve God through His church. He seals the believer unto the day of final redemption. His presence in the Christian is the guarantee that God will bring the believer into the fullness of the stature of Christ. He enlightens and empowers the believer and the church in worship, evangelism, and service.
Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God's creation. In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby all born from Adam inherit an utterly sinful nature. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God. The sanctity of human life is evident in the fact that God created man in His own image; therefore, every person of every race and age (from conception to death) possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.
Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is applied to all who repent of their sins and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.
JUSTIFICATION Justification is God's gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. It includes the pardon of sin and the promise of eternal life, which are not bestowed, because of any righteous works which the believer has done but solely through faith by which Christ’s perfect righteousness is freely imputed to the believer by God. Justification brings the believer into a relationship of peace and favor with God.
SANCTIFICATION Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God's purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person's life.
GLORIFICATION Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed. At the point of glorification, being achieved only after this life, the believer will be perfectly righteous, like his Lord. Thus, he will dwell with his Creator and Lord for all eternity.
V. GOD’S PURPOSE OF GRACE
Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God's sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility. All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. Those who profess faith but do not persevere, thereby show themselves to be unregenerate.
VI. THE CHURCH
A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Its scriptural officers are elders and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of elder is limited to men as qualified by Scripture. The New Testament speaks also of the church as the Body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.
VII. BAPTISM AND THE LORD’S SUPPER
Christian baptism, being the believer’s profession of faith, is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer's faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior, the believer's cleansing from sin and death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is to be done in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership. Because of the nature of its symbolism, we believe the immersion of believers to be the best mode of baptism, and immersion will therefore be the teaching and practice of the church. A believer baptized by another mode may be received into membership if in his or her conscience that baptism was a valid profession of faith in the crucified, buried, and risen Savior, done in obedience to the command to be baptized.
The Lord's Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread and the cup, remember the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming.
VIII. LAST THINGS
God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.
Church CovenantHaving been brought by the grace of God to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, having been baptized in the Name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit,and believing that Christ has led us to become a part of this fellowship, we now choose to renew our covenant with one another.
As members of a Christian Church …
We will work and pray for unity among the members of this body, choosing to love one another even as we love ourselves.
We will walk together in brotherly love, exercise affectionate care for one another, and faithfully encourage and exhort one another as occasion may require.
We will seek to fellowship with our brothers and sisters, and we will not neglect to pray for ourselves and one another.
We will strive to bring up our children and any under our care in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and by a pure and loving example to seek the salvation of our family and friends.
We will rejoice at one another’s happiness and, by tenderness and sympathy, bear one another’s burdens and sorrows.
We will seek, by His grace, to live in a manner striving for holiness in the world, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts.
We will constantly renew our minds to the truth that by being born again by His grace and brought into His Kingdom and being voluntarily baptized and identified with His Church, we are to lead a new and holy life glorifying our Father in heaven.
We will submit ourselves to the discipline of this Church as a testimony of our desire to always walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. And for our brothers and sisters, we will seek their spiritual advancement as dearly as our own.
We will uphold and defend the doctrines of the faith against all who would come against them and, consequently, against the Word of God.
We will contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the relief of the poor and those in need, and the spread of the Gospel throughout all the nations.
We will serve one another, using the gifts God has granted us in His sovereignty and grace. And in doing so, we will strive always to rely on the power of His Holy Spirit that all glory may be given to Him.
We will, if the Spirit leads us to move from this place, unite with some other church as soon as possible, keeping ourselves under the oversight and discipline of the church. At such a time we will continue to carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God’s Word.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all. Amen.
Mission StatementWe exist to glorify God by exalting Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, as we hold fast to the truth, build up the body of Christ, and proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth.
I. We exist to glorify God...
• This is the case with creation (Psalm 19:1-14; Romans 1:19-20).
• This was the case with Pharaoh (Romans 9:17).
• This was the case with Israel (Isaiah 42:8, 43:25, 44:23, 48:11, 49:3; Jeremiah 13:11; Ezekiel 20:9, 14; 1 Samuel 12:22).
• This was the case with David (Psalm 23:3, 31:3).
• This was and is the case with Jesus (John 12:27-28).
• This was the case with Herod (Acts 12:23).
• This was and is the case with the Church (Ephesians 1:6,12,14; Romans 15:8-9; 2 Thessalonians 1:10).
• This is the goal for all things (Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14; Psalm 86:8-10; Revelation 15:3-4).
II. ...by exalting Jesus Christ...
The creation of this world was through and for Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:16).
God's words in the Old Testament are meant to point us to Jesus Christ (Luke 24:27, 44-45; John 5:39, 46).
Jesus ultimately glorified God by being glorified himself (John 13:31-32; John 17:1).
It was and is God's will to exalt Christ as the glorified Lord (Acts 2:36; Romans 14:9).
The only way to glorifyGod is to follow Jesus Christ (John 5:22-23).
God is most glorified when Jesus Christ is most exalted (2 Corinthians 4:4-6; Philippians 2:9-11).
The goal of all things is that Jesus Christ be Lord over everything (i.e., have everything subject to him) before turning this absolute kingdom over to the Father so that God might be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:22-28).
III. ...through the power of the Holy Spirit, ...
It is the Holy Spirit who gives us new, salvation life at conversion (John 3:5-8, 6:63, 7:37-39; 2 Corinthians 3:6; 1 John 4:13).
It is the Holy Spirit who empowered the apostles to speak the gospel (Acts 1:8).
It is the Holy Spirit who empowers us with spiritual gifts for ministering the body and glorifying God (1 Corinthians 12:4-11).
It is the Holy Spirit who enables and brings about sanctification (Romans 8:5-11; Galatians 5:22-23; 2 Thessalonians 2:13).
It is the Holy Spirit who guides into truth (John 14:26, 16:13; 1 Corinthians 2:6-16; 1 John 2:27).
IV. ... as we hold fast to the truth, ...
Paul saw the truth of the gospel as worthy of being fought for (Galatians 1:6-10).
We are instructed to hold fast our confession (Hebrews 4:14, 10:23), and our confession is a declaration of faith in the gospel.
Paul pictures the Church as the pillar and buttress of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15).
The leaders of the Church are supposed to be able to teach sound doctrine and rebuke those who contradict it (Titus 1:9). This means it is part of the Church's task to ensure that the truth is not compromised.
V. ... build up the body of Christ, ...
It is God's will for us to be holy (Romans 6:4-6; Ephesians 2:10).
God will, in time, make us -- every one of us -- perfectly holy (Romans 8:29-30; Philippians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
It is our responsibility to pursue holiness diligently (Colossians 3:5-10, 12-17; 1 Peter 1:14-16).
It is each Christian's responsibility to seek the holiness of other brothers and sisters in the body.
Spiritual gifts are for the good of others (1 Corinthians 12:7,14-26, 14:12; Romans 12:3-8).
Believers themselves are given by Christ for the purpose of building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:7-14).
We are to seek specifically to do good to the household of faith (Galatians 6:10).
We bear responsibility to help brothers and sisters in Christ persevere to the end (Hebrews 3:12-14; Hebrews 12:12-16).
It is each Christian's responsibility to seek to meet the physical needs of other brothers and sisters in the body.
The early church held things in common in order to meet genuine needs (Acts 4:32-35). This was their example in general (Acts 11:29).
We are commanded to contribute to the needs of the saints (Romans 12:13).
Helping believers with physical need is evidence of our faith (James 2:14-17; 1 John 3:17).
VI. ... and proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth.
• No one is accepted by God except through believing in, and following, Jesus (John 3:35-36; John 14:6).
• No one can believe except through hearing the word of God (Romans 10:13-15).
As Christians, it is our responsibility to proclaim the gospel.
• It is a direct command from Jesus that we go and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).
• It is assumed by Jesus that because we have the Holy Spirit, we will tell others about him (Acts 1:6-8).
• We are ambassadors for Christ. That is, we are the means by which God is reconciling the world to himself (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).
As Christians, we should seek to meet the physical needs of others as a means of demonstrating to them the love of Christ (Luke 6:32-36).
Philip, Lisa, Stephen, and Jonathan
Chad, Debi, Jonas, Jude, Amos, Lily (not pictured), Ginny (not pictured)
Ryan, Genessa, Ada, and Toby
Alex, Cathy, Jeremiah, Lydia, and Anna
ConstitutionAdopted by the membership on
The Fifth of December, in the year of our Lord 2010,
Constitution of Grace Community Church, Martin, TN
Last amended the Ninth of December, in the year of our Lord 2018.
In order to conduct and handle the affairs and property of Grace Community Church of Martin, TN, Inc. we, the members of said incorporated church, in business meeting duly called and held have adopted the following constitution:
PreambleSince it pleased Almighty God, by His Holy Spirit, to call certain of His servants to unite here in 2009 under the name Grace Community Church of Martin, TN, for the worship of God and the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and He has sustained and prospered this work to the present day;
Now therefore we, the members of Grace Community Church, do hereby organize ourselves in accord with the Tennessee Nonprofit Corporation Act and adopt this Constitution as our articles of governance, to be interpreted at all times to reflect the character of and bring glory to Jesus Christ, as revealed in the Holy Bible and articulated in the standards set forth in the Statement of Faith and Covenant of this church.
SECTION 1. PRINCIPAL OFFICE
The principal office of the church corporation shall be located at 400 Main Street, Martin ,TN in Weakley County, Tennessee.
SECTION 2. CHANGE OF ADDRESS
The Board of Directors may change the church corporation's principal office by amendment of these bylaws.
SECTION 3. OTHER OFFICES
The church corporation may also have offices at such other places, within Tennessee, as the board of directors may designate.
This church exists by the grace of God, for the glory of God, which shall be the ultimate purpose in all its activities.
SECTION 1. IRC SECTION 501(C)(3) PURPOSES
This church corporation is organized exclusively as a religious corporation for one or more of the purposes as specified in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, including, for such purposes, charitable, religious and educational activities and the making of distributions to organizations that qualify as exempt organizations under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
SECTION 2. SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES AND PURPOSES
This church glorifies God by loving Him and obeying His commands through:
- ·Worshipping Him;
- ·Equipping the saints through Bible instruction and study;
- ·Proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ through preaching and personal evangelism, and any other means consistent with the teachings of Holy Scripture;
- ·Encouraging, supporting, and participating in missions work, local, domestic, and international;
- ·Administering the ordinances of baptism and communion;
- ·Encouraging Biblical fellowship among believers;
- ·Serving other individuals, families, and churches by providing for physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, in the name of Jesus Christ;
- ·and Calling fellow churches to biblical faithfulness and purity through instruction and encouragement about the nature of the local church.
SECTION 1. QUALIFICATIONS
To qualify for membership in this church, a person must be a believer in Jesus Christ who gives evidence of regeneration, who has been baptized, in obedience to Christ, following his or her regeneration, and who wholeheartedly believes in the Christian faith as revealed in the Bible.
Each member must agree to submit to the teaching of scripture as expressed in the Statement of Faith and must promise to keep the commitments expressed in the Church Covenant.
The elders shall be responsible for determining each person’s qualification for membership.
In making this determination, they may rely on a person’s profession of faith, or such other evidence, as the elders deem appropriate.
SECTION 2. ADMISSION OF MEMBERS
To be admitted into church membership, applicants shall be recommended by the elders for admission and accepted by vote of the members at any regular or special meeting of the members, and shall at that point relinquish their membership in other churches.
SECTION 3. DUTIES AND PRIVILEGES OF MEMBERSHIP
In accord with the duties enumerated in the Church Covenant, each member shall be privileged and expected to participate in and contribute to the ministry and life of the church, consistent with God’s leading and with the gifts, time, and material resources each has received from God.
Only those shall be entitled to serve in the ministries of the church who are members of this congregation; non-members may serve on an ad-hoc basis with the approval of the elders. Notwithstanding, non-members may serve the church for purposes of administration and professional consultation.
Under Christ this congregation is governed by its members. Therefore, it is the privilege and responsibility of members to attend all members’ meetings and vote on the election of officers, on decisions regarding membership status, and on such other matters as may be submitted to a vote.
If temporal need arises, all members of the church shall have access to the fund designated Storehouse Fund – under the discretion and oversight of the elders and deacons and in accordance with the temporal assistance guidelines of the church.
SECTION 4. ASSOCIATE MEMBERSHIP
Students and others temporarily residing in the Martin, TN area who are members of an evangelical church may apply for associate membership.
Qualifications are identical to those for full membership as set out above, except that home church membership must be retained. A letter of commendation will be sought from the applicant’s home church.
Duties and privileges of associate members are the same as for other members except that:
(b) while they will be encouraged to participate in members’ meetings they will not be eligible to stand for any office or to vote.
Associate membership will normally terminate immediately upon the ending of the period of temporary residence in the Martin, TN area.
SECTION 5. MEMBERSHIP FOR MINORS
Children of members and others under the age of 18 may apply for membership in the church.
Qualifications are identical to those listed above: credible profession of faith in Jesus Christ, obedience to Christ in baptism after regeneration, and belief in the Christian faith as revealed in the Bible.
As with other members, these must agree to submit to the teaching of scripture as expressed in the Statement of Faith and must promise to keep the commitments expressed in the Church Covenant.
As with other members, the elders shall be responsible for determining each person's qualification for membership – though, in the case of minors, this will be done, if possible, in close conjunction and cooperation with the applicant's parent(s) or legal guardian(s).
Duties and privileges of these members are the same as for other members except that:
- while they will be encouraged to participate in members’ meetings they will not be eligible to stand for any office or to vote.
SECTION 6. TERMINATION OF MEMBERSHIP
Any member of this church who fails to adhere to the doctrine, rules, principles, and practices set forth herein shall forfeit his membership in said body, and any and all claim, use, or possession of this church's property of any kind.
This church shall terminate membership as follows:
- (1) Upon the death of the member.
- (2) By letter of recommendation. Only members in good standing shall be entitled to a letter of dismission. Members shall be considered in good standing until charges are brought and sustained by the church.
- (3) Letters shall be granted to churches with which this church is in fellowship, and not to individuals. Letters shall be valid for only six months from date unless renewed, and this restriction shall be stated in the letter.
- (4) It shall be the duty of all members moving to another community to request letters as soon as possible.
- (5) This church may terminate membership of persons who are not attending for the space of six months, or for the same space of time not habitually worshiping with the church, or for the same space of time not contributing to the church; except absences or nonparticipation due to severe and prolonged ill health, extended travel, military service or other circumstances brought to the attention of the church which would reasonably reflect genuine inability rather than unwillingness to attend, worship or support the church.
- (6) This church may terminate membership, through church discipline, of persons who become an offense to the church and to its good name by reason of immoral or unchristian conduct, or by persistent breaks of their covenant vows, or non-support of the church, or by flagrant and unrepentant disobedience to scriptural dictates, but only after due notice and hearing, and after faithful efforts have been made to bring such members to repentance and reform.
Any member consistently neglectful of his or her duties or guilty of conduct by which the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be dishonored, and so opposing the welfare of the church, shall be subject to the admonition of the elders and the discipline of the church, according to the instructions of our Lord in Matthew 18:15–17 and the example of scripture. Church discipline, then, should ordinarily be contemplated after individual private admonition has failed. Church discipline can include admonition by the elders or congregation, suspension from communion for a definite period, deposition from office, and excommunication (see Matthew 18:15–17; 2 Thessalonians 3:14–15; 1 Timothy 5:19–20; 1 Corinthians 5:4–5).
The purpose of such discipline should be: for the repentance, reconciliation, and spiritual growth of the individual disciplined (see Proverbs 15:5; 29:15; I Corinthians 4:14; Ephesians 6:4; I Timothy 3:4–5; Hebrews 12:1–11; Psalm 119:115; 141:5; Proverbs 17:10; 25:12; 27:5; Ecclesiastes 7:5; Matthew 7:26–27; 18:15–17; Luke 17:3; Acts 2:40; I Corinthians 5:5; Galatians 6:1–5; II Thessalonians 3:6, 14–15; I Timothy 1:20; Titus 1:13–14; James 1:22); for the instruction in righteousness and good of other Christians, as an example to them (see Proverbs 13:20; Romans 15:14; I Corinthians 5:11; 15:33; Colossians 3:16; I Thessalonians 5:14 [note this is written to the whole church, not just to leaders]; I Timothy 5:20; Titus 1:11; Hebrews 10:24–25); for the purity of the church as a whole (see I Corinthians 5:6–7; II Corinthians 13:10; Ephesians 5:27; II John 10; Jude 24; Revelation 21:2); for the good of our corporate witness to non–Christians (see Proverbs 28:7; Matthew 5:13–16; John 13:35; Acts 5:1–14; Ephesians 5:11; I Timothy 3:7; II Peter 2:2; I John 3:10); and Supremely for the glory of God by reflecting His holy character (see Deuteronomy 5:11; I Kings 11:2; II Chronicles 19:2; Ezra 6:21; Nehemiah 9:2; Isaiah 52:11; Ezekiel 36:20; Matthew 5:16; John 15:8; 18:17, 25; Romans 2:24; 15:5–6; 2 Corinthians 6:14–7: 1; Ephesians 1:4; 5:27; I Peter 2:12).
- (7) The membership of no person shall be terminated (except by letter) at the meeting when the recommendation for such action is made.
- (8) All requests for termination of membership or action looking thereto shall first be considered by the church leadership, who shall make recommendations to the church.
For purposes of compliance with the nonprofit corporation laws of the state of Tennessee, the Elders and Deacons together shall serve as the Board of Directors of the corporation.
SECTION 1. NUMBER
The church corporation shall have at least 3 directors and collectively they shall be known as the Board of Directors.
SECTION 2. QUALIFICATIONS
Since the Elders and Deacons shall be serving as the directors of the corporation, the qualifications for directors shall be, respectively, the Biblical qualifications for elders as given in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9 and the Biblical qualifications for deacons as given in 1 Timothy 3:8-13.
SECTION 3. NUMBER, ELECTION, TERMS OF SERVICE
The size of the board of directors may be increased at the discretion of said board if it is determined that the size of the church warrants the addition of further directors.
Election of new directors shall be carried out according to Article 6, Section 2 of this Constitution.
SECTION 4. POWERS
Subject to the provisions of the laws of this state and any limitations in the Charter of Incorporation and these bylaws, the legal and administrative activities and affairs of this church corporation shall be conducted and all corporate powers shall be exercised by or under the direction of the Board of Directors.
SECTION 5. QUORUM FOR MEETINGS OF DIRECTORS
A quorum shall consist of a majority of the members of the Board of Directors. Except as otherwise provided under the Charter, these bylaws, or provisions of Tennessee law, no business shall be considered by the board at any meeting at which the required quorum is not present, and the only motion which the Chair shall entertain at such meeting is a motion to adjourn.
SECTION 6. MAJORITY ACTION AS BOARD ACTION
Every act or decision done or made by a majority of the directors present at a meeting duly held at which a quorum is present is the act of the Board of Directors, unless the Charter, these bylaws, or provisions of Tennessee law require a greater percentage or different voting rules for approval of a matter by the board.
SECTION 7. CONDUCT OF MEETINGS
Meetings of the Board of Directors shall be presided over by the Chairperson of the Board, or, if no such person has been so designated or, in his or her absence, the President or, in his or her absence, by the Vice President or, in the absence of each of these persons, by a Chairperson chosen by a majority of the directors present at the meeting.
The Secretary shall act as secretary of all meetings of the board, provided that, in his or her absence, the presiding officer shall appoint another person to act as Secretary of the Meeting.
Meetings shall be governed by Robert's Rules of Order, insofar as such rules are not inconsistent with or in conflict with the Charter, these bylaws, or with Tennessee law.
SECTION 8. VACANCIES
Vacancies on the Board of Directors shall exist (1) on the death, resignation or removal of any director, and (2) whenever the number of authorized directors is increased.
Any director may resign effective upon giving written notice to the Chairperson of the Board, the President, the Secretary, or the Board of Directors, unless the notice specifies a later time for the effectiveness of such resignation. No director may resign if the church corporation would then be left without a duly elected director or directors in charge of its affairs.
If a vacancy leaves the corporation with less than 3 directors, the remaining directors will recommend – and with the approval of a majority vote of the members of the Church as described in Article 6, Section 2, appoint – a non-elder to temporarily fill the vacancy on the board of directors only (i.e., not serving in a position described in Article V). In such a case, the non-elder will still need to meet the same qualifications as the other directors with the exception of the qualification of being “able to teach” in 1 Timothy 3:2. And his membership on the Board of Directors shall be terminated upon the permanent filling of the vacancy which he occupied.
The remaining Directors shall seek to fill the vacancy within three months. If the vacancy cannot be filled within three months, the Directors shall instead provide an explanation to the Church regarding the reasons the position remains vacant as well as the current state of the search. This shall continue each quarter thereafter until the vacancy is filled.
SECTION 9. NONLIABILITY OF DIRECTORS
The directors shall not be personally liable for the debts, liabilities, or other obligations of the church corporation.
SECTION 10. INDEMNIFICATION BY CHURCH CORPORATION OF DIRECTORS AND OFFICERS
The directors and officers of the church corporation shall be indemnified by the church corporation to the fullest extent permissible under the laws of Tennessee.
SECTION 11. INSURANCE FOR CORPORATE AGENTS
Except as may be otherwise provided under provisions of law, the Board of Directors may adopt a resolution authorizing the purchase and maintenance of insurance on behalf of any agent of the church corporation (including a director, officer, employee or other agent of the church corporation) against liabilities asserted against or incurred by the agent in such capacity or arising out of the agent's status as such, whether or not the church corporation would have the power to indemnify the agent against such liability under the Charter, these bylaws or Tennessee law.
SECTION 1. WORSHIP MEETINGS
Worship services shall be held each Lord's Day, and may be held throughout the week as the church determines.
SECTION 2. MEMBERS' MEETINGS
In every meeting together, members shall act in that spirit of mutual trust, openness, and loving consideration which is appropriate within the body of our Lord Jesus Christ.
There shall be regular members’ meeting as necessary, at some time apart from a public worship service as determined by the elders.
An elder designated by the elders shall preside as moderator at all members’ meetings of the church.
The elders shall see that the stated meetings of the church are regularly held and that required reports are submitted to the church by the responsible members.
Provided all constitutional provisions for notification have been met, a quorum shall be understood to be met by those members present at a duly called members' meeting.
All votes shall be tallied based on the number of votes cast by members present.
A budget shall be approved by the membership at a members’ meeting not more than three months after the start of the fiscal year. Prior to this approval and subject to the elders’ discretion, expenditures may continue at the prior year’s level.
At any regular or special members’ meeting, officers may be elected and positions filled as needed, so long as all relevant constitutional requirements have been met.
Special members’ meetings may be called as required by the elders, or at the written request, submitted to the elders, of five percent of the voting membership. The date, time, and purpose of any special meeting shall be announced at all public services of the church within two weeks preceding the meeting. In the event of a written request from the members, the elders shall call a special meeting to be held within one month of their receipt of the request.
Such members as are in full and regular standing, and do not hold letters of dismission, and such only, may act and vote in the transactions of the church.
SECTION 1. SUMMARY
The Biblical offices in the church are elders and deacons. In addition, our church recognizes the administrative positions under this constitution of clerk and treasurer. All officers must be members of this church prior to assuming their responsibilities.
SECTION 2. ELDERS
The elders shall be comprised of not less than three men who satisfy the qualifications for the office of elder set forth in I Timothy 3:1–7 and Titus 1:6–9.
A majority of the active eldership shall be composed of church members who are not full-time employees of the church, and no elder shall hold the office of deacon during his tenure.
Subject to the will of the congregation, the elders shall oversee the ministry and resources of the church. In keeping with the principles set forth in Acts 6:1–6 and I Peter 5:1–4, the elders shall devote their time to prayer, the ministry of the Word (by teaching and encouraging sound doctrine), and shepherding God’s flock.
The church shall recognize men gifted and willing to serve in this calling, in accordance with the constitutional provisions on elections. These men shall be received as gifts of Christ to His church and set apart as elders.
Any two members with reason to believe that an elder should be dismissed should express such concern to the elders and, if need be, to the congregation. Any such action shall be done in accordance with the instructions of our Lord in Matthew 18:15–17 and I Timothy 5:17–21. Any of the elders may be dismissed by a two-thirds vote of the members at any members’ meeting of the church.
The elders shall take particular responsibility to examine and instruct prospective members, examine and recommend all prospective candidates for offices and positions, oversee the work of the deacons and appointed church agents and committees, conduct worship services, administer the ordinances of baptism and communion, equip the membership for the work of the ministry, encourage sound doctrine and practice, admonish and correct error, oversee the process of church discipline, coordinate and promote the ministries of the church, and mobilize the church for world missions.
The elders are further to ensure that all who minister the Word to the congregation, including outside speakers, share our fundamental convictions.
The elders may establish ministry positions or committees to assist them in fulfilling their responsibilities. The elders may also propose funding for new paid staff positions. The scope and approval of job descriptions for any staff position shall reside in the hands of those with hiring authority for that position.
The elders shall have primary responsibility for the employment, supervision, and evaluation of staff members. This responsibility may, on a case-by-case basis, be delegated to another staff member.
Each year the elders, after consultation with the deacons, and the membership, shall present to the church an itemized budget. This budget shall be presented at least one month before it is to be voted on in order to allow proper time for discussion and then called up for a vote at a properly-called members’ meeting.
No money shall be solicited by or on behalf of the church or any of its ministries without the approval of the elders.
The elders shall elect a chairman of elders’ meetings and shall also elect one of their number to serve as moderator of members’ meetings. For purposes of compliance with the nonprofit corporation laws of the state of Tennessee, the elders shall serve as the board of directors of the corporation and shall elect one of their number to serve as the president of the corporation.
SECTION 3. DEACONS
The deacons shall be men who satisfy the qualifications for the office of deacon is described in I Timothy 3: 8–13 and Acts 6: 1–7.
The church shall recognize, in accordance with the constitutional provisions on elections, men who are giving of themselves in service to the church, and who possess particular gifts of service. These members shall be received as gifts of Christ to His church and set apart as deacons.
Deacons shall care for the temporal needs of members--using the funds collected and designated as Storehouse Fund if necessary. Deacons shall also attend to the accommodations for public worship, and encourage and support those able to help others and those with gifts of administration.
The deacons, with the agreement of the elders, shall receive, hold, and disburse a fund for benevolence, reporting on its use to the elders at their request, and reporting to the church its total receipts and total disbursements only, if such a fund is deemed necessary by a majority vote of the members of the church.
The deacons, with the agreement of the elders, may establish unpaid administrative positions or committees of members to assist them in fulfilling their responsibilities in the church.
SECTION 4. CLERK
It shall be the duty of the clerk to record the minutes of all regular and special members’ meetings of the church, to preserve an accurate roll of the membership, and to render reports as requested by the pastor, the elders, the deacons, or the church.
In the absence or incapacity of the clerk the elders shall appoint a member to perform the duties of the church clerk.
The church clerk shall ensure that dated copies of the most recent revision of this constitution shall be available for all church members.
For purposes of compliance with the nonprofit corporation laws of the state of Tennessee, the clerk shall serve as the secretary of the corporation.
SECTION 5. TREASURER
The treasurer, who shall not be an active elder, deacon, or paid church staff member, shall ensure that all funds and securities of the church are properly secured in such banks, financial institutions, or depositories as appropriate.
The treasurer shall also be responsible for providing regular reports of the account balances, revenues and expenses of the church at each members’ meeting. The responsibility may be delegated with the approval of the elders.
The treasurer shall also ensure that full and accurate accounts of receipts and disbursements are kept in books belonging to the church, and that adequate controls are implemented to guarantee that all funds belonging to the church are appropriately handled by any officer, employee, or agent of the church.
The treasurer shall render to the elders annually, or whenever they may require it, an account of all transactions as treasurer and of the financial condition of the church.
SECTION 1. PRINCIPLES
The process for church elections shall be interpreted and carried out according to the following principles:
Nominations should proceed with the support of the elders;
All candidates for church office should be treated with the grace, kindness, and honesty appropriate in evaluating fellow members;
The election process shall express that spirit of mutual trust, openness, and loving consideration that is appropriate within the body of our Lord Jesus Christ.
SECTION 2. SELECTION OF OFFICERS
The election of officers shall be held at a members’ meeting of the church.
Names of nominees to serve as elders, deacons, clerk, or treasurer shall be presented by the elders at least one month in advance, and the election shall proceed as directed by the moderator.
Any member with reason to believe that a nominated candidate is unqualified for an office should express such concern to the elders. Members intending to speak in opposition to a candidate should express their objection to the elders as far in advance as possible before the relevant church members’ meeting.
The moderator shall declare elected all men receiving a 75% majority of all votes cast for the office of elder.
For all other offices, the moderator shall declare elected all persons receiving a simple majority of all votes cast; abstentions will not be considered as votes cast.
The persons elected shall assume their respective offices upon election, unless another date has been specifically designated.
SECTION 1. MANDATORY INDEMNIFICATION
If a legal claim or criminal allegation is made against a person because he or she is or was an officer, employee, or agent of the church, the church shall provide indemnification against liability and costs incurred in defending against the claim if the elders determine that the person acted (a) in good faith, (b) with the care an ordinarily prudent person in a similar position would exercise under similar circumstances, and (c) in a manner the person reasonably believed to be in the best interest of the church, and the person had no reasonable cause to believe his or her conduct was unlawful.
SECTION 2. PERMISSIVE INDEMNIFICATION
At the discretion of the elders, the church also may indemnify any person who acted in good faith and reasonably believed that his or her conduct was in the church’s best interest and not unlawful.
SECTION 3. PROCEDURE
If a quorum of the elders is not available for an indemnification determination because of the number of elders seeking indemnification, the requisite determination may be made by the membership or by special legal counsel appointed by the membership.
SECTION 1. EXECUTION OF INSTRUMENTS
EXECUTION OF INSTRUMENTS, DEPOSITS AND FUNDS
The Board of Directors, except as otherwise provided in these bylaws, may by resolution authorize any officer or agent of the church corporation to enter into any contract or execute and deliver any instrument in the name of and on behalf of the church corporation, and such authority may be general or confined to specific instances. Unless authorized, no officer, agent, or employee shall have any power or authority to bind the church corporation by any contract or legal obligation or to make it liable for any purpose or in any amount.
SECTION 2. CHECKS AND NOTES
Except as otherwise specifically determined by resolution of the Board of Directors, or as otherwise required by law, checks, drafts, promissory notes, orders for the payment of money, and other evidence of indebtedness of the church corporation shall be signed by the Treasurer and countersigned by a member of the Board of Directors (i.e. an Elder) of the church corporation.
SECTION 3. DEPOSITS
All funds of the church corporation shall be deposited regularly and promptly to the church corporation's account in such banks or other financial institutions as the Board of Directors may select.
SECTION 4. GIFTS
The Board of Directors may accept on behalf of the church corporation any contribution, gift, bequest, or devise for the nonprofit purposes of this church corporation.
SECTION 1. MAINTENANCE OF CORPORATE RECORDS
CORPORATE RECORDS AND REPORTS
The church corporation shall keep [at its principal office, or other designated location]:
(b) Adequate and correct books and records of account, including accounts of its properties, assets, liabilities, receipts, disbursements, etc.;
(c) A record of its members, if any, indicating their names and addresses;
(d) A copy of the church corporation's Charter and bylaws as amended to date, which shall be open to inspection by the members of the church corporation at all reasonable times.
SECTION 2. DIRECTORS' INSPECTION RIGHTS
Every director shall have the absolute right at any reasonable time to inspect and copy all books, records and documents of every kind and to inspect the physical properties of the church corporation and shall have such other rights to inspect the books, records and properties of this church corporation as may be required under the Charter, other provisions of these bylaws, and provisions of law.
SECTION 3. MEMBERS' INSPECTION RIGHTS
Each and every member shall have the following inspection rights, for a purpose reasonably related to such person's interest as a member:
Members shall have such other rights to inspect the books, records and properties of this church corporation as may be required under the Charter, other provisions of these bylaws, and provisions of law.
SECTION 4. RIGHT TO COPY AND MAKE EXTRACTS
Any inspection under the provisions of this Article may be made in person and the right to inspection shall include the right to copy and make extracts.
SECTION 5. PERIODIC REPORT
The board shall cause any annual or periodic report required under law to be prepared and delivered to an office of this state or to the members, if any, of this church corporation, to be so prepared and delivered within the time limits set by law.
Believing that the Bible commands Christians to make every effort to live at peace and to resolve disputes with each other in private or within the Christian Church (see, e.g., Matthew 18: 15–20, I Corinthians 6: 1–8), the church shall require its members to resolve conflict among themselves according to biblically based principles, without reliance on the secular courts.
Consistent with its call to peacemaking, the church shall encourage the use of biblically based principles to resolve disputes between itself and those outside the church, whether Christian or pagan and whether individuals or corporate entities.
SECTION 1. LIMITATIONS ON ACTIVITIES
IRC 501(C)(3) TAX EXEMPTION PROVISIONS
Notwithstanding any other provisions of these bylaws, this church corporation shall not carry on any activities not permitted to be carried on by a church corporation exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
SECTION 2. PROHIBITION AGAINST PRIVATE INUREMENT
No part of the net earnings of this church corporation shall inure to the benefit of, or be distributable to, its members, directors or trustees, officers, or other private persons, except that the church corporation shall be authorized and empowered to pay reasonable compensation for services rendered and to make payments and distributions in furtherance of the purposes of this church corporation.
SECTION 3. DISTRIBUTION OF ASSETS
Upon the dissolution of this church corporation and the dissolution of this church [ministry, etc.], its assets remaining after payment of all debts and liabilities of this church corporation shall be distributed for one or more exempt purposes within the meaning of Section 510(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Such distribution shall be made in accordance with the corporate charter and any applicable provisions of the state law.
The Statement of Faith and Church Covenant may be amended by a three-quarters vote of the members present and voting at a members’ meeting, provided the amendment shall have been offered in writing at the previous members’ meeting, and shall have been announced from the pulpit at church services two successive Sundays prior to such vote. This constitution may be
amended by a three-fourths vote of the members present and voting at a members’ meeting, provided the amendment shall have been offered in writing at the previous members’ meeting, and shall have been announced from the pulpit at church services two successive Sundays prior to such vote. The revised version of this constitution shall be made available to all church members by the church clerk.
If there is any conflict between the provisions of these bylaws and the Charter of this church corporation, the provisions of the Charter shall govern.
CONSTRUCTION AND TERMS
Should any of the provisions or portions of these bylaws be held unenforceable or invalid for any reason, the remaining provisions and portions of these bylaws shall be unaffected by such holding.
All references in these bylaws to the Articles of Incorporation or to the Charter shall be to the Corporate Charter, or other founding document of this church corporation, filed with an office of this state and used to establish the legal existence of this church corporation.
All references in these bylaws to a section or sections of the Internal Revenue Code shall be to such sections of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 as amended from time to time, or to corresponding provisions of any future federal tax code.