New Life Constitution

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Constitution for
New Life
Lutheran Church
3521 E. Orange St.
Pearland, Texas 77581
281.485.1818
www.newlifelutheran.com
Congregation Constitution of New Life Lutheran Church
Version 1.0 9/15/05 Page 2
Table of Contents
PREAMBLE ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 3
Chapter 1. NAME AND INCORPORATION ……………………………………………………………………………….. 3
Chapter 2. CONFESSION OF FAITH………………………………………………………………………………………… 3
Chapter 3. NATURE OF THE CHURCH ……………………………………………………………………………………. 4
Chapter 4. STATEMENT OF PURPOSE……………………………………………………………………………………. 4
Chapter 5. POWERS OF THE CONGREGATION ………………………………………………………………………. 5
Chapter 6. CHURCH AFFILIATION ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 6
Chapter 7. PROPERTY OWNERSHIP ………………………………………………………………………………………. 7
Chapter 8. MEMBERSHIP……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 8
Chapter 9. THE PASTOR ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 9
Chapter 10. CONGREGATION MEETING…………………………………………………………………………………. 12
Chapter 11. OFFICERS …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 12
Chapter 12. CONGREGATION COUNCIL…………………………………………………………………………………. 13
Chapter 13. CONGREGATION COMMITTEES ………………………………………………………………………….. 15
Chapter 14. ORGANIZATIONS WITHIN THE CONGREGATION…………………………………………………. 16
Chapter 15. DISCIPLINE OF MEMBERS AND ADJUDICATION …………………………………………………. 16
Chapter 16. BYLAWS……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 17
Chapter 17. AMENDMENTS…………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 17
Chapter 18. CONTINUING RESOLUTIONS ………………………………………………………………………………. 18
Chapter 19. INDEMNIFICATION ………………………………………………………………………………………………. 18
Chapter 20. PARISH AUTHORIZATION……………………………………………………………………………………. 18
BYLAWS…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 19
Part I COMMUNION PARTICIPATION…………………………………………………………………………………. 19
Part II CONFLICTING LOYALTIES……………………………………………………………………………………….. 19
Part III MEMBERSHIP …………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 19
Part IV MEETINGS OF THE CONGREGATION………………………………………………………………………. 20
Part V OFFICERS AND BOARDS…………………………………………………………………………………………. 21
Part VI PARISH RECORDS ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 22
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PREAMBLE
We, baptized members of the Church of Christ, responding in faith to the call of the Holy Spirit through the
Gospel, desiring to unite together to preach the Word, administer the sacraments, and carry out God’s mission,
do hereby adopt this constitution and solemnly pledge ourselves to be governed by its provisions. In the name
of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Chapter 1. NAME AND INCORPORATION
1.01. The name of this congregation shall be New Life Lutheran Church of Pearland, Texas.
1.02. For the purpose of this constitution and the accompanying bylaws, the congregation of New
Life Lutheran Church of Pearland, Texas is hereinafter designated as “this congregation.”
1.03. This congregation shall be incorporated under the laws of the State of Texas, as a non-profit
corporation.
Chapter 2. CONFESSION OF FAITH
2.01. This congregation confesses the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
2.02. This congregation confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and the Gospel as the power of
God for the salvation of all who believe.
(a) Jesus Christ is the Word of God incarnate, through whom everything was made and
through whose life, death, and resurrection God fashions a new creation,
(b) The proclamation of God’s message to us as both Law and Gospel is the Word of God,
revealing judgment and mercy through word and deed, beginning with the Word in creation,
continuing in the history of Israel, and centering in all its fullness in the person and work of
Jesus Christ.
(c) The canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the written Word of God.
Inspired by God’s Spirit speaking through their authors, they record and announce God’s
revelation centering in Jesus Christ. Through them God’s Spirit speaks to us to create and
sustain Christian faith and fellowship for service in the world.
2.03. This congregation accepts the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the
inspired Word of God and the authoritative source and norm of its proclamation, faith, and life.
2.04. This congregation accepts the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds as true declarations
of the faith of this congregation.
2.05. This congregation accepts the Unaltered Augsburg Confession as a true witness to the Gospel,
acknowledging as one with it in faith and doctrine all churches that likewise accept the
teachings of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession.
2.06. This congregation accepts the other confessional writings in the Book of Concord, namely, the
Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles and the Treatise, the Small
Catechism, the Large Catechism, and the Formula of Concord, as further valid interpretations
of the faith of the Church.
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2.07. This congregation confesses the Gospel, recorded in the Holy Scriptures and confessed in the
ecumenical creeds and Lutheran confessional writings, as the power of God to create and
sustain the Church for God’s mission in the world.
Chapter 3. NATURE OF THE CHURCH
3.01. All power in the Church belongs to our Lord Jesus Christ, its head. All actions of this
congregation are to be carried out under his rule and authority.
3.02. The Church exists both as an inclusive fellowship and as local congregations gathered for
worship and Christian service. Congregations find their fulfillment in the universal community of
the Church, and the universal Church exists in and through congregations. This Church,
therefore, derives its character and powers both from the sanction and representation of its
congregations and from its inherent nature as an expression of the broader fellowship of the
faithful. In length, it acknowledges itself to be in the historic continuity of the communion of
saints; in breadth, it expresses the fellowship of believers and congregations in our day.
Chapter 4. STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
4.01. The Church is a people created by God in Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, called and
sent to bear witness to God’s creative, redeeming, and sanctifying activity in the world.
4.02. To participate in God’s mission, this congregation as a part of the Church shall:
(a). Worship God in proclamation of the Word and administration of the sacraments and
through lives of prayer, praise, thanksgiving, witness, and service.
(b). Proclaim God’s saving Gospel of justification by grace for Christ’s sake through faith alone,
according to the apostolic witness in the Holy Scripture, preserving and transmitting the
Gospel faithfully to future generations.
(c). Carry out Christ’s Great Commission by reaching out to all people to bring them to faith in
Christ and by doing all ministry with a global awareness consistent with the understanding
of God as Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier of all.
(d). Serve in response to God’s love to meet human needs, caring for the sick and the aged,
advocating dignity and justice for all people, working for peace and reconciliation among
the nations, and standing with the poor and powerless, and committing itself to their needs.
(e). Nurture its members in the Word of God so as to grow in faith and hope and love, to see
daily life as the primary setting for the exercise of their Christian calling, and to use the gifts
of the Spirit for their life together and for their calling in the world.
(f). Manifest the unity given to the people of God by living together in the love of Christ and by
joining with other Christians in prayer and action to express and preserve the unity which
the Spirit gives.
4.03. To fulfill these purposes, this congregation shall:
(a). Provide services of worship at which the Word of God is preached and the sacraments are
administered.
(b). Provide pastoral care and assist all members to participate in this ministry.
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(c). Challenge, equip, and support all members in carrying out their calling in their daily lives
and in their congregation.
(d). Teach the Word of God.
(e). Witness to the reconciling Word of God in Christ, reaching out to all people.
(f) Respond to human need, work for justice and peace, care for the sick and the suffering,
and participate responsibly in society.
(g). Motivate its members to provide financial support for the congregation’s ministry and the
ministry of other parts of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
(h). Foster and participate in interdependent relationships with other congregations, the synod,
and the Churchwide organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
(i). Foster and participate in ecumenical relationships consistent with Churchwide policy.
4.04. This congregation shall develop an organizational structure to be described in the bylaws. The
Congregation Council shall prepare descriptions of the responsibilities of each committee, task
force, or other organizational group and shall review their actions.
4.05. This congregation shall, from time to time, adopt a mission statement that will provide specific
direction for its programs.
Chapter 5. POWERS OF THE CONGREGATION
5.01. The powers of this congregation are those necessary to fulfill its purpose.
5.02. The powers of this congregation are vested in the Congregation Meeting called and conducted
as provided in this constitution and bylaws.
5.03. Only such authority as is delegated to the Congregation Council or other organizational units in
this congregation’s governing documents is recognized. All remaining authority is retained by
the congregation. This congregation is authorized to:
(a). call a pastor;
(b). terminate the call of a pastor;
(c). call or terminate the call of associates in ministry, deaconesses, and diaconal ministers in
conformity with the applicable policy of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America;
(d). approve the annual budget;
(e). acquire real and personal property by gift, devise, purchase, or other lawful means;
(f). hold title to and use its property for any and all activities consistent with its purpose;
(g). sell, mortgage, lease, transfer, or otherwise dispose of its property by any lawful means;
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(h). elect its Congregation Council and require the members of the council to carry out their
duties in accordance with the constitution, bylaws and continuing resolutions; and
(i). terminate its relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America as provided in
Chapter 6.
5.04. This Congregation Council shall choose from among the voting members laypersons to serve
as voting members of the Synod Assembly as well as persons to represent it at meetings of
any conference, cluster, coalition, or other area subdivision of which it is a member. The
number of persons to be elected by the Congregation Council and other qualifications shall be
as prescribed in guidelines established by the Texas Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Chapter 6. CHURCH AFFILIATION
6.01. This congregation shall be an interdependent part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America or its successor, and of the Texas Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America. This congregation is subject to the discipline of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America.
6.02. This congregation accepts the Confession of Faith and agrees to the Purposes of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and shall act in accordance with them.
6.03. This congregation acknowledges its relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America in which:
(a). This congregation agrees to be responsible for its life as a Christian community.
(b). This congregation pledges its financial support and participation in the life and mission of
the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
(c). This congregation agrees to call pastoral leadership from the clergy roster of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in accordance with its call procedures except in
special circumstances and with the approval of the bishop of the synod.
(d). This congregation agrees to consider associates in ministry, deaconesses, and diaconal
ministers for call to other staff positions in the congregation according to the procedures of
the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
(e). This congregation agrees to file this constitution and any subsequent changes to this
constitution with the synod for review to ascertain that all of its provisions are in agreement
with the constitution and bylaws of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and with
the constitution of the synod.
6.04. Affiliation with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America may be terminated as follows:
(a). This congregation takes action to dissolve. Or (b). This congregation ceases to exist.
(c). This congregation is removed from membership in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America according to the procedures for discipline of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America.
(d). This congregation follows the procedures outlined in 6.05.
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6.05. This congregation may terminate its relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America by the following procedure:
(a). A resolution indicating the desire of this congregation to terminate its relationship must be
adopted at a legally called and conducted special meeting of this congregation by a twothirds majority of the voting members present.
(b). The secretary of this congregation shall submit a copy of the resolution to the synodical
bishop and shall mail a copy of the resolution to voting members of this congregation. This
notice shall be submitted within 10 days after the resolution has been adopted.
(c). The bishop of the synod shall consult with this congregation during a period of at least 90
days.
(d). If this congregation, after consultation, still desires to terminate its relationship, such action
may be taken at a legally called and conducted special meeting by a two-thirds majority of
the voting members present, at which meeting the bishop of the synod or an authorized
representative shall be present. Notice of the meeting shall be mailed to all voting members
at least 10 days in advance of the meeting.
(e). A certified copy of the resolution to terminate its relationship shall be sent to the synodical
bishop, at which time the relationship between this congregation and the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America shall be terminated.
(f). Notice of termination shall be forwarded by the synodical bishop to the secretary of this
church and published in the periodical of this church.
(g). Since this congregation was a member of the Lutheran Church in America, it shall be
required, in addition to the foregoing provisions in 6.05., to receive synodical approval
before terminating its membership in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
6.06. If this congregation considers relocation, it shall confer with the bishop of the synod in which it
is territorially located before any steps are taken leading to such action. The approval of the
Synod Council shall be received before any such action is effected.
Chapter 7. PROPERTY OWNERSHIP
7.01. If this congregation ceases to exist, title to undisposed property shall pass to the Texas
Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
7.02. If this congregation is removed from membership in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America according to its procedure for discipline, title to property shall continue to reside in this
congregation.
7.03. If a two-thirds majority of the voting members of this congregation present at a legally called
and conducted special meeting of this congregation vote to transfer to another Lutheran church
body, title to property shall continue to reside in this congregation. Before this congregation
takes action to transfer to another Lutheran church body, it shall consult with representatives of
the Texas Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod.
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7.04. If a two-thirds majority of the voting members of this congregation present at a legally called
and conducted special meeting of this congregation vote to become independent or relate to a
non-Lutheran church body, title to property of this congregation shall continue to reside in this
congregation only with the consent of the Synod Council. The Synod Council, after consultation
with this congregation by the established synodical process, may give approval to the request
to become independent or to relate to a non-Lutheran church body, in which case title shall
remain with the majority of this congregation. If the Synod Council fails to give such approval,
title shall remain with those members who desire to continue as a congregation of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Chapter 8. MEMBERSHIP
8.01. Members of this congregation shall be those baptized persons on the roll of this congregation
at the time that this constitution is adopted and those who are admitted thereafter and who
have declared and maintain their membership in accordance with the provisions of this
constitution and its bylaws.
8.02. Members shall be classified as follows:
(a). Baptized members are those persons who have been received by the Sacrament of Holy
Baptism in this congregation, or, having been previously baptized in the name of the Triune
God, have been received by certificate of transfer from other Lutheran congregations or by
affirmation of faith.
(b). Confirmed members are baptized persons who have been confirmed in this congregation,
those who have been received by adult baptism or by transfer as confirmed members from
other Lutheran congregations, or baptized persons received by affirmation of faith.
(c). Voting members are confirmed members. Such confirmed members, during the current or
preceding calendar year, shall have communed in this congregation and shall have made a
contribution of record to this congregation.
(d). Associate members are persons holding membership in other Christian congregations
who wish to retain such membership but desire to participate in the life and mission of this
congregation, or persons who wish to retain a relationship with this congregation while
being members of other congregations. They have all the privileges and duties of
membership except voting rights and eligibility for elected offices or membership on the
Congregation Council of this congregation.
8.03. All applications for confirmed membership shall be submitted to and shall require the approval
of the Congregation Council.
8.04. It shall be the privilege and duty of members of this congregation to:
(a). make regular use of the means of grace, both Word and sacraments;
(b). live a Christian life in accordance with the Word of God and the teachings of the Lutheran
church; and
(c). support the work of this congregation, the synod, and the Churchwide organization of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America through contributions of their time, abilities, and
financial support as biblical stewards.
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8.05. Membership in this congregation shall be terminated by any of the following:
(a). death;
(b). resignation;
(c). transfer or release;
(d). disciplinary action by the Congregation Council; or
(e). removal from the roll due to inactivity as defined in the bylaws.
Persons removed from the roster shall be provided with continuing pastoral concern.
Chapter 9. THE PASTOR
9.01. Authority to call a pastor shall be in this congregation by at least a two-thirds majority ballot
vote of members present and voting at a meeting legally called for that purpose. Before a call is
issued, the officers, or a committee elected by the Congregation Council to recommend the
call, shall seek the advice and help of the bishop of the synod.
9.02. Only a member of the clergy roster of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America or a
candidate for the roster of ordained ministers who has been recommended for this
congregation by the synodical bishop may be called as a pastor of this congregation.
9.03. Consistent with the faith and practice of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,
(a). Every ordained minister shall:
(1) preach the Word;
(2) administer the sacraments;
(3) conduct public worship;
(4) provide pastoral care; and
(5) speak publicly to the world in solidarity with the poor and oppressed, calling for justice
and proclaiming God’s love for the world.
(b). Each ordained minister with a congregational call shall, within this congregation:
(1) offer instruction, confirm, marry, visit the sick and distressed, and bury the dead;
(2) shall be an advisory member of all committees of the congregation;
(3) supervise all schools and organizations of this congregation;
(4) install regularly elected members of the Congregation Council; and
(5) with the council, administer discipline.
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(c). Every pastor shall:
(1) strive to extend the Kingdom of God in the community, in the nation, and abroad;
(2) seek out and encourage qualified persons to prepare for the ministry of the Gospel;
(3) impart knowledge of this church and its wider ministry through distribution of its
periodicals and other publications; and
(4) endeavor to increase the support given by this congregation to the work of the
Churchwide organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and of
the Texas Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod of the ELCA.
9.04. The specific duties of the pastor, compensation, and other matters pertaining to the service of
the pastor shall be included in a letter of call, and attested by the bishop of the synod.
9.05. (a). The call of a congregation, when accepted by a pastor, shall constitute a continuing mutual
relationship and commitment, which, except in the case of the death of the pastor, shall be
terminated only following consultation with the synodical bishop and for the following reasons:
(1) mutual agreement to terminate the call or the completion of a call for a specific term;
(2) resignation of the pastor, which shall become effective, unless otherwise agreed, 30
days after the date on which it was submitted;
(3) inability to conduct the pastoral office effectively in the congregation in view of local
conditions, without reflection on the competence or the moral and spiritual character of
the pastor;
(4) the physical or mental incapacity of the pastor;
(5) disqualification of the pastor through discipline on grounds of doctrine, morality, or
continued neglect of duty;
(6) the dissolution of the congregation; or
(7) suspension of the congregation as a result of discipline proceedings.
(b). When allegations of physical or mental incapacity of the pastor or ineffective conduct of the
pastoral office have come to the attention of the bishop of the synod, the bishop in his or
her sole discretion may, or when such allegations have been brought to the synod’s
attention by an official recital of allegations by the Congregation Council or by a petition
signed by at least one-third of the voting members of this congregation, the bishop shall
investigate such conditions personally in company with a committee of two ordained
ministers and one layperson.
(c). In case of alleged physical or mental incapacity, competent medical testimony shall be
obtained. When such disability is evident, the bishop of the synod with the advice of the
committee shall declare the pastorate vacant. Upon the restoration of a disabled pastor to
health, the bishop of the synod shall take steps to enable the pastor to resume the ministry,
either in the congregation last served or in another field of labor.
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(d). In the case of alleged local difficulties that imperil the effective functioning of this
congregation, all concerned persons shall be heard, after which the bishop of the synod
together with the committee described in 9.05.b. shall decide on the course of action to be
recommended to the pastor and this congregation. If they agree to carry out such
recommendations, no further action shall be taken by the synod. If either party fails to
assent, this congregation may dismiss the pastor at a legally called meeting after
consultation with the bishop, either
(a) by a two-thirds majority vote of the voting members present and voting where the
bishop and the committee did not recommend termination of the call, or
(b) by a simple majority vote of the voting members present and voting where the bishop
and the committee recommended termination of the call.
(e). If, in the course of proceedings described in 9.05.d., the committee concludes that there
may be grounds for disciplinary action, the committee shall make recommendations
concerning disciplinary action to the synodical bishop who may bring charges, in
accordance with the provisions of the constitution and bylaws of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America and the constitution of this synod.
(f). If, following the appointment of the committee described in 9.05.b. or d., it should become
apparent that the pastoral office cannot be conducted effectively in the congregation being
served by the ordained minister due to local conditions, the bishop of the synod may
temporarily suspend the pastor from service in the congregation without prejudice and with
pay provided through a joint synodical and Churchwide fund and with housing provided by
the congregation.
9.06. At a time of pastoral vacancy, an interim pastor shall be appointed by the bishop of the synod
with the consent of this congregation or the Congregation Council.
9.07. During the period of service, an interim pastor shall have the rights and duties in this
congregation of a regularly called pastor and may delegate the same in part to a supply pastor
with the consent of the bishop of the synod and this congregation or Congregation Council. The
interim pastor and any ordained pastor providing assistance shall refrain from exerting
influence in the selection of a pastor.
9.08. This congregation shall make satisfactory settlement of all financial obligations to a former
pastor before calling a successor. A pastor shall make satisfactory settlement of all financial
obligations to this congregation.
9.09. When a pastor is called to serve in company with another pastor or pastors, the privileges and
responsibilities of each pastor shall be specified in documents to accompany the call and to be
drafted in consultation involving the pastors, the Congregation Council, and the bishop of the
synod. As occasion requires, the documents may be revised through a similar consultation.
9.10. With the approval of the bishop of the synod, this congregation may depart from 9.05.a. and
call a pastor for a specific term. Details of such calls shall be in writing setting forth the purpose
and conditions involved. Prior to the completion of a term, the bishop or a designated
representative of the bishop shall meet with the pastor and representatives of this congregation
for a review of the call. Such a call may also be terminated before its expiration in accordance
with the provisions of 9.05.a.
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9.11. The pastor of this congregation:
(a). shall keep accurate parochial records of all baptisms, confirmations, marriages, burials,
communicants, members received, members dismissed, or members excluded from the
congregation;
(b). shall submit a summary of such statistics annually to the synod; and
(c). shall become a member of this congregation upon receipt and acceptance of the letter of
call. In a parish of multiple congregations, membership will be in one of the congregations.
9.12. The pastor(s) shall submit a report of his or her ministry to the bishop of the synod at least 90
days prior to each regular meeting of the Synod Assembly.
9.13. Ecumenical pastoral ministry
Under special circumstances, subject to the approval of the synodical bishop and the
concurrence of this congregation, an ordained minister of a church body with which the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America officially has established a relationship of full
communion may serve temporarily under contract as pastor of this congregation.
Chapter 10. CONGREGATION MEETING
10.01. The annual meeting of this congregation shall be held at a time specified in the bylaws.
10.02. A special Congregation Meeting may be called by the pastor, the Congregation Council, or the
president of this congregation, and shall be called by the president of the congregation upon
the written request of 16 voting members. The call for each special meeting shall specify the
purpose for which it is to be held and no other business shall be transacted.
10.03. Notice of all meetings of this congregation shall be given at the services of worship on the
preceding two consecutive Sundays and by mail to all members at least 10 days in advance of
the date of the meeting. The posting of such notice in the regular mail, with the regular postage
affixed or paid, sent to the last known address of such members shall be sufficient.
10.04. 10% of voting members shall constitute a quorum.
10.05. Voting by proxy or by absentee ballot shall not be permitted.
10.06. All actions by this congregation shall be by majority vote except as otherwise provided in this
constitution.
10.07. Robert’s Rules of Order, latest edition, shall govern parliamentary procedure of all meetings of
this congregation.
Chapter 11. OFFICERS
11.01. The officers of this congregation shall be a president, vice president and secretary,
(a). Duties of the officers shall be specified in the bylaws.
(b). The officers shall be voting members of this congregation.
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11.02. The Congregation Council shall elect its officers from its own membership and they shall be the
officers of this congregation. The Congregational Council shall also elect a Treasurer who need
not be a member of the Council. The officers shall be elected by written ballot and shall serve
for one year. The term shall begin in January and end when new officers are elected.
11.03. No officer shall hold more than one office at a time. No elected officer shall be eligible to serve
more than two consecutive terms in the same office.
Chapter 12. CONGREGATION COUNCIL
12.01. The voting membership of the Congregation Council shall consist of not more than twelve (12)
members of this congregation plus two confirmed youth representatives. The pastor(s) and
youth representative(s) shall be advisory members of the Congregational Council by virtue of
their office, but without vote. Any voting member of this congregation may be elected, subject
only to the limitation on the length of continuous service permitted in that office. A member’s
place on the Congregation Council shall be declared vacant if the member:
(a) ceases to be a voting member of this congregation, or
(b) is absent from four successive regular meetings of the Congregation Council without
cause.
Consistent with the laws of the state in which this congregation is incorporated, the
congregation may adopt procedures for the removal of a member of the Congregation Council
in other circumstances.
12.02. The members of the Congregation Council except the pastor(s) shall be elected by written
ballot to serve for 2 years or until their successors are elected. Such members shall be eligible
to serve no more than two full terms consecutively.
The members of the Congregation Council except the pastor(s) shall be elected annually at a
legally called meeting of this congregation. Newly elected Congregation Council members shall
assume office on the 1st day of January following their election.
12.03. Should a member’s place on the Congregation Council be declared vacant, the Congregation
Council shall elect, by majority vote, a successor until the next annual meeting. Individuals who
have served less than one-half of a regular term shall be eligible for nomination and possible
election to a full term.
12.04. The Congregation Council shall have general oversight of the life and activities of this
congregation, and in particular its worship life, to the end that everything be done in accordance
with the Word of God and the faith and practice of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
The duties of the Congregation Council shall include the following:
(a). To lead this congregation in stating its mission, to do long-range planning, to set goals and
priorities, and to evaluate its activities in light of its mission and goals.
(b). To seek to involve all members of this congregation in worship, learning, witness, service,
and support.
(c). To oversee and provide for the administration of this congregation to enable it to fulfill its
functions and perform its mission.
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(d). To maintain supportive relationships with the pastor(s) and staff and help them annually to
evaluate the fulfillment of their calling or employment.
(e). To be examples individually and corporately of the style of life and ministry expected of all
baptized persons.
(f). To promote a congregational climate of peace and goodwill, and, as differences and
conflicts arise, to endeavor to foster mutual understanding.
(g). To arrange for pastoral service during the sickness or absence of the pastor.
(h). To emphasize partnership with the synod and Churchwide organization of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America as well as cooperation with other congregations, both
Lutheran and non-Lutheran, subject to established policies of the synod and the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
(i). To recommend and encourage the use of program resources produced or approved by the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
(j). To seek out and encourage qualified persons to prepare for the ministry of the Gospel.
12.05. The Congregation Council shall be responsible for the financial and property matters of this
congregation.
(a). The Congregation Council shall be the board of directors of this congregation, and as such
shall be responsible for maintaining and protecting its property and the management of its
business and fiscal affairs. It shall have the powers and be subject to the obligations that
pertain to such boards under the laws of the State of Texas, except as otherwise provided
herein.
(b). The Congregation Council shall not have the authority to buy, sell, or encumber real
property unless specifically authorized to do so by a meeting of the congregation.
(c). The Congregation Council may enter into contracts of up to $ 7,500 for items not included
in the budget.
(d). The Congregation Council shall prepare an annual budget for adoption by this
congregation, shall supervise the expenditure of funds in accordance therewith following its
adoption, and may incur obligations of more than $7,500 in excess of the anticipated
receipts only after approval by a Congregation Meeting. The budget shall include this
congregation’s full indicated share in support of the wider ministry being carried on in
partnership with the synod and Churchwide organization.
(e). The Congregation Council shall ascertain that the financial affairs of this congregation are
being conducted efficiently, giving particular attention to the prompt payment of all
obligations and to the regular forwarding of benevolence monies to the synodical treasurer.
(f). The Congregation Council shall be responsible for this congregation’s investments and its
total insurance program.
12.06. The Congregation Council shall see that the provisions of this constitution, its bylaws, and the
continuing resolutions are carried out.
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12.07. The Congregation Council shall provide for an annual review of the membership roster.
12.08. The Congregation Council shall be responsible for the employment of the salaried lay workers
of this congregation. The congregation council shall also work in cooperation with the pastor(s)
in the supervision of the salaried lay workers of this congregation.
12.09. The Congregation Council shall submit a comprehensive report to this congregation at the
annual meeting.
12.10. The Congregation Council shall normally meet once a month. Special meetings may be called
by the pastor or the president, and shall be called by the president at the request of at least
one-half of its members. Notice of each special meeting shall be given to all who are entitled to
be present.
12.11. A quorum for the transaction of business shall consist of a majority of the members of the
Congregation Council, including the pastor or interim pastor, except when the pastor or interim
pastor requests or consents to be absent and has given prior approval to the agenda for a
particular regular or special meeting, which shall be the only business considered at that
meeting. Chronic or repeated absence of the pastor or interim pastor who has refused approval
of the agenda of a subsequent regular or special meeting shall not preclude action by the
Congregation Council, following consultation with the synodical bishop.
Chapter 13. CONGREGATION COMMITTEES
13.01. The officers of this congregation and the pastor shall constitute the Executive Committee.
13.02. A Nominating Committee of six voting members of this congregation, two of whom, if possible,
shall be outgoing members of the Congregation Council, shall be appointed by the
Congregation Council for a term of one year.
13.03. An Audit Committee of three voting members shall be appointed by the Congregation Council.
Audit Committee members shall not be members of the Congregation Council. Term of office
shall be one year.
13.04. A Mutual Ministry Committee, consisting of six members (in the absence of a mutual ministry
committee, the duties shall be fulfilled by the executive committee), shall be appointed jointly by
the president and the rostered leaders. Term of office shall be two years, with three members
to be appointed each successive year. Committee members will hold no other office in the
congregation during their term.
13.05. When a pastoral vacancy occurs, a Call Committee of six voting members shall be elected by
the Congregation Council. Term of office will terminate upon installation of the newly called
pastor.
13.06. Other committees of this congregation may be formed, as the need arises, by decision of the
Congregation Council.
13.07. Duties of committees of this congregation shall be specified in the bylaws (continuing
resolutions).
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Chapter 14. ORGANIZATIONS WITHIN THE CONGREGATION
14.01. All organizations within this congregation shall exist to aid it in ministering to the members of
this congregation and to all persons who can be reached with the Gospel of Christ. As
outgrowths and expressions of this congregation’s life, the organizations are subject to its
oversight and direction. This congregation at its meeting shall receive reports concerning their
membership, work, and finances.
14.02. Special interest groups, other than those of the official organizations of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America, may be organized only after authorization has been given by the
Congregation Council.
Chapter 15. DISCIPLINE OF MEMBERS AND ADJUDICATION
15.01. Denial of the Christian faith as described in this constitution, conduct grossly unbecoming a
member of the Church of Christ, or persistent trouble-making in this congregation are sufficient
cause for discipline of a member. Prior to disciplinary action, reconciliation will be attempted
following Matthew 18:15-17, proceeding through these successive steps:
(a) private admonition by the pastor,
(b) admonition by the pastor in the presence of two or three witnesses, and
(c) citation to appear before the Congregation Council.
If for any reason, the pastor is unable to administer the admonitions required by a. and b.
hereof, the president or vice president shall administer such admonitions.
15.02. The process for discipline of a member of this congregation shall be governed as prescribed by
the chapter on discipline in the Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. A member charged with the offense shall appear
before the Congregation Council after having received a written notice, at least ten days prior to
the meeting, specifying the exact charges that have been made against the member. If the
member charged with the offense fails to appear at the scheduled hearing, the Congregation
Council may proceed with the hearing and may pass judgment in the members absence.
15.03. Members of the Congregation Council who participate in the preparation of the written charges
or who present evidence or testimony in the hearing before the Congregation Council are
disqualified from voting upon the question of the guilt of the accused member. Should the
allegations be sustained by a two-thirds majority vote of the members of the Congregation
Council who are not disqualified but who are present and voting, and renewed admonition
prove ineffectual, the council shall impose one of the following disciplinary actions:
(a). censure before the council or congregation;
(b). suspension from membership for a definite period of time; or
(c). exclusion from membership in this congregation.
Disciplinary actions b. and c. shall be delivered to the member in writing.
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15.04. The member against whom disciplinary action has been taken by the Congregation Council
shall have the right to appeal the decision to the Synod Council. Such right may not be
abridged and the decision of the Synod Council shall be final.
15.05. Disciplinary actions may be reconsidered and revoked by the Congregation Council upon
receipt of a) evidence that injustice has been done or b) evidence of repentance and
amendment.
15.06. For disciplinary actions in this congregation, “due process” shall be observed as specified in
20.41.03. in the Constitution, Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America.
15.07. No member of a congregation shall be subject to discipline for offenses that the Congregation
Council has previously heard and decided, unless so ordered by the Synod Council after an
appeal.
15.08. Adjudication
When there is disagreement among factions within this congregation on a substantive issue
that cannot be resolved by the parties, members of this congregation shall have access to the
synodical bishop for consultation after informing the chair of the Congregation Council of their
intent. If the consultation fails to resolve the issue(s), the Consultation Committee of the synod
shall consider the matter. If the Consultation Committee of the synod shall fail to resolve the
issue(s), the matter shall be referred to the Synod Council, whose decision shall be final.
Chapter 16. BYLAWS
16.01. This congregation may adopt bylaws. No bylaw may conflict with this constitution.
16.02. Bylaws may be adopted or amended at any legally called meeting of this congregation with a
quorum present by a majority vote of those voting members present and voting.
16.03. Changes to the bylaws may be proposed by any voting member provided, however, that such
additions or amendments be submitted in writing to the Congregation Council at least 60 days
before a regular or special Congregation Meeting called for that purpose and that the
Congregation Council notify the members of the proposal with its recommendations at least 30
days in advance of the Congregation Meeting.
16.04. Approved changes to the bylaws shall be sent by the secretary of this congregation to the
synod.
Chapter 17. AMENDMENTS
17.01. Amendments to this constitution may be proposed by at least sixteen (16) voting members or
by the Congregation Council. Proposals must be filed in writing with the Congregation Council
60 days before formal consideration by this congregation at its regular or special meeting called
for that purpose. The Congregation Council shall notify the members of the proposal with the
council’s recommendations at least 30 days in advance of the meeting.
17.02. A proposed amendment to this constitution shall:
(a). be approved at a legally called meeting according to this constitution by a majority vote of
those present and voting;
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(b). be ratified without change at the next annual meeting by a two-thirds majority vote of those
present and voting; and
(c). have the effective date included in the resolution and noted in the constitution.
17.03. Any amendments to this constitution shall be sent by the secretary of this congregation to the
synod. The amendment shall become effective within 120 days from the date of the receipt of
the notice by the synod unless the synod informs this congregation that the amendment is in
conflict with the constitution and bylaws of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America or the
constitution of the Texas Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod of the ELCA.
17.04. Whenever the Model Constitution for Congregations is amended by the Churchwide Assembly,
this constitution may be amended to reflect any such amendment by a simple majority vote at
any subsequent meeting of this congregation without presentation at a prior meeting of this
congregation, provided that the Congregation Council has submitted by mail notice to the
congregation of such an amendment or amendments at least 30 days prior to the meeting.
Following the adoption of an amendment, the secretary of this congregation shall submit a copy
thereof to the synod, consistent with 17.03.
Chapter 18. CONTINUING RESOLUTIONS
18.01. The Congregation Council may enact continuing resolutions. Such continuing resolutions may
not conflict with the constitution or bylaws of this congregation.
18.02. Continuing resolutions shall be enacted or amended by a two-thirds vote of all voting members
of the Congregation Council.
Chapter 19. INDEMNIFICATION
19.01. Consistent with the provisions of the laws under which this congregation is incorporated, this
congregation may adopt provisions providing indemnification for each person who, by reason of
the fact that such person is or was a Congregation Council member, officer, employee, agent,
or other member of any committee of this congregation, was or is threatened to be made a
party to any threatened, pending, or completed civil, criminal, administrative, arbitration, or
investigative proceeding.
Chapter 20. PARISH AUTHORIZATION
[* Required provisions when congregation is part of a parish]
20.01. This congregation may unite in partnership with one or more other congregations recognized by
the synod named in 6.01. to form a parish. Except as provided in 20.02. and 20.03., a written
agreement, developed in consultation with the synod and approved by the voting members of
each congregation participating in the parish, shall specify the powers and responsibilities that
have been delegated to a Parish Council.
20.02. Whenever a letter of call is being recommended for extension to an ordained minister of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America or a candidate for the roster of ordained ministers who
has been recommended to this congregation by the synodical bishop to serve the
congregations of a parish, such letter of call shall be first approved by a two-thirds vote at
congregational meetings of each of the congregations forming the parish. If any congregation of
the parish should fail to approve extending this call, the other congregation(s) in the same
parish shall have the right to terminate the parish arrangement.
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20.03. Any one of the congregations of a parish may terminate the call of a pastor as provided in
S14.13.d. of the synodical constitution of the synod named in 6.01. In such case, the other
congregation(s) in the same parish shall have the right to terminate the parish arrangement.
BYLAWS
Part I COMMUNION PARTICIPATION
A. Participation in Holy Communion shall be open to individuals who accept the Lutheran teaching
in regard to Holy Communion.
B. Holy Communion requires sincere repentance, faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, and an earnest
desire to amend one’s sinful life, as well as acceptance of the scriptural teaching of the Real
Presence of Christ with His body and blood in the Sacrament. Such registration forms or oral
announcements shall be used as will make prospective participants aware of these
requirements.
C. Records of participation in Holy Communion shall be maintained. If a member of another
congregation communes, notice shall be sent to their pastor upon request.
Part II CONFLICTING LOYALTIES
A. While the buildings of the congregation shall be open to all people to share in its worship,
instruction, pastoral care and fellowship, the congregation rejects all fellowship with
organizations, secret or open, which are avowedly religious or which practice forms of religion
without confessing faith in the Triune God and in Jesus Christ as the eternal Son of God
incarnate to be our Savior from sin, and which this teach salvation by works.
B. Ceremonies of lodges or other such organizations shall not be permitted in the buildings or
premises of the congregation; nor shall its pastor(s) or lay assistant(s) take part in any such
ceremonies wherever they are conducted.
Part III MEMBERSHIP
(Chapter 8 of constitution)
A. Baptized Members:
1. A child, upon receiving baptism, shall become a baptized member of the congregation;
unless for good reason he/she is to be a baptized member of another congregation, in
which case his/her membership shall be transferred to that congregation.
2. A confirmed member in good standing desiring to change their membership to another
Lutheran congregation shall, upon request, receive a Letter of Transfer.
3. An unbaptized adult who has received instruction and has given evidence of an adequate
understanding and acceptance of the teachings of the Word of God as confessed by the
Lutheran Church, shall upon confession of faith and Baptism, become a baptized member
of the congregation. A baptized member of the congregation shall be a confirmed member
through the Rite of Confirmation.
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B. Confirmed Members
1. An applicant for membership who presents a Letter of Transfer, which certifies that they are
a confirmed member in good standing of a Lutheran congregation shall become a
confirmed member of the congregation upon approval of the Congregation Council. The
acceptance of the applicant shall be reported to the congregation.
2. An applicant for membership who presents evidence of confirmation in a Lutheran
congregation, but does not have a Letter of Transfer, shall be admitted to confirmed
membership when they affirm their faith.
C. Voting Members:
The Congregation Council shall determine the roster of voting members of the congregation in
accordance with the provisions of this constitution.
D. Discontinuance of Membership:
1. The congregation shall, through its membership rolls, place a member in transitional status
when they move from the ministry area of this congregation.
2. A confirmed member in good standing desiring to change their membership to another
Lutheran congregation shall, upon request, receive a Letter of Transfer.
3. A child, neither of whose parents or guardians is a member of the congregation, may be
removed from the roster of baptized members if they fail to participate in the life and
worship of the congregation.
Part IV MEETINGS OF THE CONGREGATION
A. The Annual Meeting of the Congregation shall be held on the third Sunday in January. The
Annual Meeting shall receive reports from all the organizations of the congregation. Such
reports, including a financial statement, shall be submitted in writing not less than ten (10) days
before such meeting.
B. The Semi-annual Meeting shall be for the purpose of electing members to the Congregation
Council shall be held on the last Sunday in September.
a. candidates will be submitted by the nominating committee.
b. additional nominations may be made from the floor.
C. The current rosters of voting, confirmed and baptized members shall be available at each
meeting of the congregation.
D. The Congregation Council shall fill vacancies on the nominating committee.
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Part V OFFICERS AND BOARDS
(Chapters 11 and 12 of the Constitution)
A. Duties and Responsibilities of the Congregation Council:
1. Review annually the salaries of the pastor(s) and other paid staff and make adjustments
from time to time within the limits of the budget approved by the congregation.
2. Receive reports monthly from the treasurer to ascertain that the expenditures are within the
budget approved by the congregation. Any expenditure in excess of the total voted budget
must be approved by the congregation.
3. Assure itself that the treasurer and others who have access to the funds of the
congregation are adequately bonded.
4. Exercise discipline in accordance with the provisions of this constitution and its bylaws.
B. Duties of Officers:
1. The president shall preside at meetings of the Congregation Council and of the
congregation.
2. The vice-president shall preside at the meetings of the Congregation Council and of the
congregation in the absence of the president.
3. The secretary shall keep the minutes of the meetings of the Congregation Council and of
the congregation meetings and shall have custody of the archives of the congregation.
4. The treasurer shall have custody of all funds of the congregation. The treasurer shall
receive and disburse such funds in accordance with the decisions of the congregation or
Congregation Council.
5. The financial secretary shall maintain records of all contributions and make monthly reports
to the Congregation Council and to members as required by the Council.
C. Structure of Ministry Teams:
1. As an extension of the Congregational Council ministry teams shall be established and
exist to aid in fulfilling the congregation’s purpose in the community. These ministry teams
shall have one (1) or two (2) representatives on the Congregational Council to serve as
liaison and each ministry team shall select its own membership.
2. The Congregational Council shall develop a statement of scope and suggested guideline of
duties for each ministry team. Each ministry team is encouraged to update, change and
modify these guidelines as appropriate, with Congregational Council approval. The
following is a minimum list of ministry teams.
a. Worship Team b. Evangelism Team c. Learning Team
d. Fellowship Team e. Discipleship Team e. Stewardship Team
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3. Other ministry teams and task forces will be established as the Congregational Council
deems necessary, to assist in meeting the needs within the community.
Part VI PARISH RECORDS
A. The records of the congregation shall be and remain the property of the congregation. The
pastor shall be responsible for the maintenance of the records. Upon termination of service to
the congregation, records will be brought up to date prior to his/her departure. The records
shall consist of:
1. The roster of baptized, confirmed and voting members.
2. The ministerial acts performed by the pastor.
3. The minutes and reports of the synod and the Handbook of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America.
4. The minutes of the meetings of the Congregational Council, for which the secretary of the
congregation shall be responsible.
5. The financial records of the congregation, for which the treasurer of the congregation shall
be responsible.
B. The pastor shall report to the secretary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America such
statistics as may be requested and shall annually report to the congregation a summary of his
ministerial acts.