The Constitution of Ruthfred Lutheran Church Amended: March 9, 2014
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen.
We, the undersigned members of the Ruthfred Lutheran Church, sensible of our spiritual needs and mindful of our Christian duties, in Jesus' name and with the hope of His blessing, adopt the following constitution:
Name of Incorporation
- The name and title of this congregation shall be the Ruthfred Lutheran Church, Patterson and South Park Roads, Ruthfred Acres, Bethel Park, Pennsylvania.
- This congregation is incorporated in its own name as a corporation not for profit under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
- This congregation accepts the Canonical Books of the Old and New Testaments as the inspired Word of God and the only infallible authority in all matters of faith and life, and subscribes to the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures that is laid down in the Augsburg Confession and Small Catechism of Luther.
- This congregation regards unity in doctrine and practice the necessary prerequisite for church fellowship.
The object and purpose of this congregation shall be to glorify God and to help in the extension of His kingdom among men for their salvation by promoting and disseminating the Christian religion as expressed in the doctrine and practice of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.
For the better attainment of its object and purpose, this congregation and its pastor shall hold membership in the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations. Should the congregation at any time see fit to sever this connection, this shall be effected in an orderly and Christian manner as follows: a two-thirds majority vote of all voting members present at a regularly called meeting shall be required to dissolve such church affiliation, the action to take effect, however, only after the president of the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations has been notified and a subsequent meeting of the congregation has ratified the previous action by a two-thirds majority vote.
Power of Congregation
- In all matters of Christian faith and life, the Word of God is the highest authority.
- In all matters left undecided in Holy Writ and not subject to civil laws, the congregation itself, and not any individual or group within it or the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations, shall have the right of ultimate decision.
- All schools, societies, and other organizations within the church must be organized with the consent of the congregation and labor under its control.
- All baptized children and adults in this congregation and all baptized by the pastor in this congregation shall be baptized members of the congregation.
- All adults and children who have been baptized in the name of the Triune God; who have been received into this congregation by confirmation, baptism of adults, and/or profession of faith; who by God's grace strive to remain true to their baptismal covenant and therefore, make diligent use of the means of grace; and who lead a Christian life, submit to this constitution, and support the congregation with their means and talents shall be communicant members of this congregation.
- All communicant members of this congregation shall be voting members, entitled to active participation in all congregational meetings and to vote at all elections.
The Church Council
- The pastor(s) and the following officers of the congregation shall constitute its church council: president, vice president, 6 elders, 4 deacons, 4 trustees, treasurer, financial secretary, Sunday school superintendent,recording secretary
- By virtue of his office, the pastor(s) shall be regarded as the leader(s) of this congregation and shall have the responsibility to ensure that all preaching and teaching in the congregation shall conform to Article II Section 1 of the constitution. The presidentof the congregation shall be the chairman of the church council.
- The duties of the church council shall be: to counsel and assist the pastor(s) in the spiritual oversight of the congregation, to see that all of the rules and regulations of the congregation are rightly executed, and to assure that discipline is properly exercised in all cases in which offense is given to the congregation and its members.
- A majority of the members of the church council shall constitute a quorum at its meetings.
- The church council shall have the oversight of the benevolence works of the church.
The Indoctrination of Children
- We recognize our duty to rear our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and to have them carefully and conscientiously instructed in the articles of our holy Christian faith as they are set forth in The Catechisms of Luther.
- In order that the children may be adequately taught in the faith of the church and trained in the fear and love of God, thorough instruction to prepare them for their confirmation shall be given by the pastor with all diligence and faithfulness.
- The congregation alone shall have the power to call its pastor(s). Before doing so, the officers of the congregation shall seek the advice and help of the president of the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations.
- Only such pastor(s) shall be called as is or will become a member and a rostered pastor, in good standing, of the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations.
- The pastor(s) of this congregation must preach and teach purely Lutheran doctrine, which is in full accord with the Word of God and with the Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.
- The pastor(s) shall lead a Christian life and possess the qualifications required by St. Paul in 1 Timothy 3:2-7 and Titus 1:7-9.
Legal Ownership in Case of Division
Should disagreement among the members bring about a separation in this congregation, which God forbid, all property shall revert to those who adhere to this constitution.
In order to preserve and maintain intact the doctrinal and confessional position of this congregation, to bind its pastor, likewise, to faithfulness thereto in the administration of his sacred office, and to secure and preserve the rightful possession and use of the church property unto all those of the congregation who remain faithful to this constitution, Articles II, III, IV, V, VIII, IX, X, and XI cannot be repealed or altered.
Bylaws and articles of this constitution, except those that are made unchangeable in Article XI of this constitution, may be changed or repealed, or new ones may be added, at the annual meeting of the congregation or at a special meeting of the congregation called for and approved at the annual meeting by a vote of no less than two-thirds (2/3rds) of the voting members present; provided, however, that the subject matter of said bylaws or articles (or bylaws and articles) be published to the congregation at the regular services on two Sundays preceding the annual or special meeting of the congregation at which said subject matter is to be voted upon and by mail to each voting member at least two weeks prior to said meeting.
Note: The Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, referenced in Article IX section 3, include: the Schmalcaldic Articles, the Catechisms of Luther, the Formula of Concord, and the Augsburg Confession.
The Pastoral Call
- After the congregation has elected a pastor by a majority of at least two-thirds of the votes cast, a written call, signed by the members of the church council and attested by the chairman of the meeting or the president of the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations, or both, shall be transmitted to the pastor-elect.
- By this call the pastor shall be held to teach, reprove and comfort in accordance with the confession of faith and the regulations of this congregation.
- In the call, the congregation shall bind itself, in accordance with the Word of God, to receive the pastor-elect as its pastor and spiritual advisor, to tender him Christian respect and obedience, to pray for him, and to show him all manner of good will. It shall also supply his temporal wants in such a manner that he may be able as much as possibleto devote all his time and talent to the performance of his official duties.
- The pastor of the congregation shall neither arbitrarily leave nor shall he be arbitrarily dismissed.
- If the pastor deems it advisable to accept a call to another pastorate, he shall seek to gain the consent of the congregation at a properly convened meeting.
- If the congregation deems a change of pastor advisable, the matter shall first be discussed with the pastor at a meeting of the church council. If this fails to resultin a peaceable adjustment of the situation to the satisfaction of the congregation and of the pastor, they shall consult with proper officials of the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations.
Persons who wish to be received into this congregation shall make their desire known to the pastor. Thereupon the name of such applicant shall be submitted to the church council.
- The annual congregational meeting shall be held the third Sunday of January.
- Special congregational meetings may be held at the call of the pastor or the church council, or may be called at the written request of twenty-five (25) or more communicant members of the congregation.
- Ten percent (10%) of the communicant members determined as of December 31 of the previous year shall be considered a quorum at any congregational meeting.
- The time, place, and agenda of congregational meetings shall be announced in the bulletin for one or more regular Sunday services immediately preceding the meeting and by written notice, to include emailing, the members of the congregation.
- The officers of the congregation shall be elected by a majority of the votes cast by written ballot at the annual congregation meeting. Their term of office shall be fora period of two years.
- All voting members, who meet the requirements of Section V Subsection A below and have been a member for at least 2 years and are at least 18 years of age, are eligible to hold office.
- Officers shall be nominated by the nominating committee chosen by the council. The nominating committee shall report the first Sunday in January. Candidates may be recommended in writing to the nominating committee by the first Sunday in November. Any person at present serving on church council who has served consecutively four years or more cannot be nominated for re-election.
- Members shall be elected in this manner:
- President.....every 2 years
- Vice President.....every 2 years
- Financial Secretary.....every 2 years
- Treasurer.....every 2 years
- Recording Secretary.....every 2 years
- Sunday School Superintendent.....every 2 years
- Elders.....three each year
- Deacons.....two each year
- Trustees.....two each year
Duties of Officers
- General Duties: The officers of this congregation shall give a good and Christian example to the other members of the congregation by regular participation in the church at worship and the church at study, by doing God's Word, and by frequently partaking of the Lord's Supper.
- Specific duties of officers:
- Elders: Shall be men who assist the pastor in the guidance of the congregation, in church discipline, in all worship services, in the maintenance of the pure preaching and teaching of the Word of God, and in visitation among God's people in their hour of need.
- Trustees: Shall have the oversight of the property of the congregation.
- Deacons: Shall provide ushers for all church services, shall be men charged with allexternals of worship insuring that all things are done decently and in order.
- Recording Secretary: Shall keep the minutes of the congregational and church council meetings and take care of the congregational and council correspondence.
- Financial Secretary: Shall keep a record of the envelope contributions of the congregation.
- Treasurer: Shall receive, deposit and disburse all monies of the congregation subject to the approval of the council.
- President: Shall preside over the regular and special church council meetings and the regular and special congregational meetings.
- Vice President: Shall assume the duties of the President in his absence and also chair the personnel committee.
- Sunday School Superintendent: Shall oversee the operation of the Sunday school programs.
Church Organizations & Facilities
- The Sunday school and all of its departments shall be under the supervision of the pastor and church council.
- All other organizations now existing or hereafter to be organized by this congregation shall be under the supervision of the pastor and church council.
- Any constitution adopted by such organizations must be in accord with this constitution and these bylaws.
- We believe that the term "marriage" has only one meaning and that is marriage sanctioned by God which joins one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture. The Sanctuary and premises of Ruthfred Lutheran Church may only be used for weddings and ancillary celebrations that adhere to this Biblical definition of marriage.
- All persons partaking of holy communion shall announce their presence by properly filling in a communion card. Communicants must be baptized and confirmed in the Christian faith.
- Communion services shall be led by an ordained Lutheran pastor.
- The church shall maintain an accounting system to track offerings in support of the budget and special funds. The offerings received will be paid into the church treasury. The accounting system will also provide a record of member giving.
- The congregation shall adopt a budget each year. The procedure for adopting a budget shall be as follows:
- An initial draft of a budget shall be prepared by a finance committee. The finance committee shall include the church treasurer, the financial secretary, one trustee, one elder, one deacon and three members of the congregation at large, appointed by the church council.
- The draft budget prepared by the finance committee shall be approved by the church council for submission to the congregation.
- The budget as approved by the church council shall be voted upon by the congregation at a meeting held on a Sunday in November, as designated by Church Council. Copies of the proposed budget shall be mailed (or emailed, with member's consent) to the congregation prior to the congregational budget meeting.
- During any calendar year, the church council shall not make cumulative expenditures in excess of ten percent (10%) above the total annual budget for current and building fund expenses without obtaining the prior approval of the congregation at a special meeting called for that purpose.
- All income earned on bank accounts and other assets owned by the church shall be expended solely for benevolences except for special fund accumulations whose interest church council may designate to be retained in the special fund.
- Disbursement of church funds shall be only through church accounts that are directed and supervised by church council.
- Any debt incurred must be approved at a congregational meeting except for leases of personal property not to exceed a term of 5 years.
- Members who live in open sin shall be disciplined according to Matthew 18 and Article VII Section 3 of the constitution.
- Open and impenitent transgressors, who are expelled from the congregation, lose all rights and privileges of a member except that of hearing the Word of God.
- Any member who refuses to receive holy communion at least once a year shall be placed on an inactive list prepared by the pastor and the church council.