Core Beliefs + Constitution

ARTICLE I – NAME
ARTICLE II – PURPOSE
ARTICLE III – DECLARATION OF FAITH AND COVENANT
ARTICLE IV – CHURCH COVENANT
ARTICLE V – MEMBERSHIP
ARTICLE VI – OFFICERS
ARTICLE VII – PASTOR AND PASTORAL STAFF
ARTICLE VIII – BOARDS AND COMMITTEES
ARTICLE IX – MEETINGS
ARTICLE X – AUXILIARY ORGANIZATIONS
ARTICLE XI – AMENDMENTS


ARTICLE I – NAME

This church shall be called the First Baptist Church of Freeport, Illinois, and is independent and self-governing, not affiliated with any other organization.



ARTICLE II – PURPOSE

The purpose of this church shall be to carry out as fully as possible the purpose of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has made the Church to be His earthly Body; to witness for Him in our community and to the fullest possible extent throughout the whole world; to observe His ordinances; and to seek to build up His people in all spiritual grace.



ARTICLE III – DECLARATION OF FAITH AND COVENANT

1. We accept and declare the Holy Scriptures to be our only authority in faith and practice. 2. We accept the following truths as basic for fellowship and practice:

    a. The Holy Scripture: We believe both the Old and New Testaments to be the verbal, plenary, inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God, and our authoritative guide to faith and practice. The Bible is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving faith, knowledge, and obedience. (II Timothy 3:16-17; II Peter 1:20-21)
    b. The Godhead: We believe in but one living and true God, existing in three persons – The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, eternal in being, identical in nature, equal in power and glory, and having the same attributes and perfections. ( Matthew 28:18-19; ll Corinthians 13:14; I Peter 1:2; Titus 2:13; Acts 5:3-4; I John 5:7; Galatians 4:6)
    c. The person and Work of Christ: We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, became man, being conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. This was done in order that He might reveal God and redeem sinful man. We believe that He purchased our redemption through His death on the cross, His blood being the purchase price, and that redemption was secured forever by His literal resurrection from the dead. (John 1:1, 3, 14, 18; Luke 1:35; Romans 3:24-25, 4:25; Matthew 1:21-23; Hebrews 9:26-28; John 3:16) We further believe that our Lord Jesus Christ is now in heaven, alive and exalted at the right hand of God; where, as the High Priest for His people, He fulfills the ministry of Representative, Intercessor and Advocate. Jesus Christ is Head and Savior of His Church (Mark 16:19; Hebrew 9:24, 7:25; I John 2:1-2; Ephesians 1:22-23; Isaiah 42:1; 1 Peter 1:19-20; Acts 3:22)
    d. The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit: We believe that the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, though omnipresent from all eternity, took up His abode in the world in a special sense on the day of Pentecost, according to the divine promise, and now indwells every believer; and by His baptism unites every believer to Christ in one body, and as the indwelling One, is the source of all power and acceptable worship and service. We believe that the Holy Spirit’s ministry to the world is one of conviction respecting sin, righteousness, and judgment. (Acts 2:1-4; I Corinthians 3:16, 6:19; Romans 8:9; I Corinthians 12:12-13; John 14:16-17, 16:7-11) We believe that the presence and fullness of the Holy Spirit in the lives of genuine believers are evidenced by the fruits of the Holy Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23.
    e. The Total Depravity of Man: We believe that man was created in the image of God; that he disobeyed God in Adam and thereby incurred spiritual death, which is separation from God, and also physical death as a consequence; and that all the Adamic race are born in sin and are sinners by nature and practice. We believe that man is totally unable, within himself, to retrieve his former condition. (Genesis 1:26-27; 2:17; 3:6-7; Ephesians 2:1, 4:18-19; Romans 5:12, 3:10; Jeremiah 17:9)
    f. Salvation: We believe that salvation is the gift of God, by the grace of God, and received by personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation is by grace through faith alone. Any good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith, and by them believers manifest their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the gospel, and glorify God (Ephesians 2:8-10; John 1:11-13; Romans 6:22-23, 10:9-10, Titus 3:2-5).
    g. The Eternal Security of the Believer: We believe that true believers are preserved by God and are kept saved forever. True believers will persevere to the end. (John:10:27-30, Jude:24-25, Philippians:1:6)
    h. The Church: We believe that the universal Church is a spiritual organism composed of all born-again persons of this present age (since the forming of the Church at Pentecost) and as such is both the body and the bride of Christ. (Ephesians 1:22-23, 5:25-27; Revelation 19:7-10) We believe the local church is to be supported by the tithes and offerings of His people. (I Corinthians 9:6-14) It is through the church that we are to give our tithes and offerings as God has prospered us. (I Corinthians16:1-2). God has given us all that we have and tells us to give back to Him what already belongs to Him. (Malachi 3:8-10) Giving is the measure of our heart’s attitude, our obedience, and our love for Him. (II Corinthians 8:7-8; 9:6-7) We believe that the church (local), made up of baptized believers, has the absolute right of self-government, free from the interference of any ecclesiastical hierarchy of individuals or organizations; and that the one and the only one to whom we are responsible is Christ our Lord. It is scriptural for local churches to cooperate in contending for the faith and proclaiming the Gospel; however, each local church has the privilege of deciding how and to what extent they will cooperate. (Matthew 16:16-18; Revelation 1:4-5; Acts 20:17-28)
    i. The Christian Life: We believe that it is the prime responsibility of every person who has been regenerated by the Holy Spirit (John 3:5; Titus 3:5) to yield daily to Him his desires and will, that He may produce spiritual fruit of character in the life of the believer (Romans 6:11-13, 8:14; Galatians 5:17,22, 23) and thus fulfill the divine purpose in predestination, molding the believer to the likeness of Christ (Romans 8:29; II Corinthians 3:18) and to the glory of God. (I Peter 2:9; Ephesians 1:4-6) We believe that all the saved should live in such a manner as not to bring reproach upon their Savior; they should be separated from all religious apostasy, and all worldly and sinful pleasures, practices, and associations as commanded by the Word of God (II Timothy 3:1-5; I John 2:17-18; II Corinthians 6:14, 7:1) We believe that it is a chief responsibility and privilege of all who are saved to witness of their Savior to as many others as possible, seeking to win the lost to Him. Evangelism should be a priority for every member of Christ’s Church (Acts 1:8; II Corinthians 5:14-20; John 15:16, 17:18)
    j. The personality of Satan: We believe in the literal personality of Satan who is the open and declared enemy of the Godhead and all believers (Job 1:6-7; I Peter 5:8) and is destined to the judgment of eternal damnation in the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:10)
    k. The Return of Jesus Christ: We believe in the imminent, personal return of the Lord Jesus Christ for His own, and His subsequent premillenial return to the earth to set up His Kingdom. (Acts 15:16-17; Acts 1:9-11; Revelation 20)
    l. The Eternal State: We believe that at death the spirits and souls of those who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation pass immediately into His presence, and there remain in conscious bliss until the resurrection of the body at His coming, whereupon soul and body will be reunited to enjoy the glories of heaven forever. We believe also that the souls of those who have rejected Jesus Christ as Savior remain after death in a conscious misery until the final judgment of the Great White Throne, when soul and body shall be cast into the lake of fire to be punished with an everlasting banishment from the presence of the Lord forever. (II Corinthians 5:6-8; Luke 16:19-26; II Thessalonians 1:8-9; Revelation 20:11-15)
    m. Church Ordinances: We believe that water baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the only ordinances of the church and that they are a scriptural means for testimony of the Church in this age. We believe that baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit setting forth the believer’s identification with the Lord in His death, burial, and resurrection. Baptism is an outward sign of inward faith and repentance (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 2:41, 8:36-38; Romans 6:1-5) We believe that the Lord’s Supper is a commemoration of His death until He comes again and is to be practiced by all believers. Communion is a memorial of that one offering up of Himself by Himself upon the cross, once for all (Luke 22:17-19; I Corinthians 11:23-26; Hebrews 9: 25-28)



ARTICLE IV – CHURCH COVENANT

We accept the following truths as a covenant which binds us together as a church. We covenant to live our lives according to New Testament principles and guidelines.

Having been led by the Spirit of God, to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior; and on the profession of our faith, having been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; we do now in the presence of God and this assembly, most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another, as one body in Christ. We engage, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love; to strive for the advancement of this church, in knowledge, holiness and comfort; to promote its prosperity and spirituality; to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline and doctrines; to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the Gospel through all nations. We also engage to maintain family and personal devotions; to evangelize and disciple our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord; to seek the salvation of our friends and our neighbors; to walk carefully in the world; to be just in our dealings, faithful in our engagements, exemplary in our behavior and to be zealous in our efforts to advance the kingdom of our Savior. We will seek, by God’s grace, to live carefully in the world, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and remembering that, as we have been voluntarily buried by baptism and raised again from the symbolic grave, so there is on us a special obligation now to lead a new and holy life.

We further engage to watch over one another in brotherly love; to remember each other in prayer; to aid each other in sickness and in sorrow; to cultivate Christian compassion and courtesy in speech; to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation, and mindful of the rules of our Savior, to secure it without delay. We moreover engage that, when we leave this church fellowship, we will as soon as possible unite with some other church where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God’s Word.



ARTICLE V – MEMBERSHIP

Section 1. RECEPTION OF MEMBERS INTO THIS CHURCH SHALL BE:

    a. By baptism. Such persons as confess Jesus Christ to be their Savior and Lord, and have been baptized by immersion.
    b. By letter. Those who present letters of transfer and recommendation from other like-minded churches.
    c. By experience. Those who have once been members of like-minded churches and have no regular letters of dismission may be received by vote of the church upon recommendation from the Board of Deacons.
    d. All candidates should attend a membership class which will consider the doctrines listed above.
    e. All candidates shall appear before the Board of Deacons to give personal testimony to faith in Christ, baptism, agreement to the doctrinal statement of the church, and the spirit of the church covenant.

Section 2. DISMISSION FROM THIS CHURCH (except A) SHALL BE BY VOTE OF THE CONGREGATION:

    a. by death
    b. by letter. A letter of transfer will be given to any member who desires to unite with another like-minded church.
    c. By erasure. Any member who disregards his covenant after all the steps outlined in Matthew 18 restoration process have been patiently exhausted is considered “a member under discipline”. Any person, by their own request, may have their name erased from the roll so long as they are not currently going through the Matthew 18 process. Any member uniting with any other church, not requesting a letter, will have their name erased from the roll.

Section 3. INACTIVE MEMBERSHIP

    a. Any member who is absent from the church without manifesting covenant faithfulness by attendance, service, communication and contribution may be placed on the Inactive Roll by the board of deacons. Such persons should be notified of their status. Persons carried on the Inactive Roll shall not be counted as active members and shall have no right of membership. Inactive members may have their names placed on the Active Roll, upon recommendation of the deacons, and by vote of the congregation when interest in the church is manifested through renewed covenant commitment.



ARTICLE VI – OFFICERS

GENERAL:
1. All officers of this church and its auxiliary organizations shall be members of this church.
2. The officers of this church shall consist of the Senior Pastor, Clerk, Financial Secretary, Chairman of Deacons, and the Chairman of Trustees.

    Section 1. SENIOR PASTOR (Ref. Article VII, Section 1)
    Section 2. CHURCH CLERK

      The Church Clerk shall keep a correct and permanent record of all the business meetings of the church, and maintain a register of members in which shall be noted such changes as may occur. The Clerk shall enter upon the records of the church current events in the life of the church that are likely to be of historical value, thus making the church records a continuous story of the history of the church. The Clerk shall be elected annually and no one shall be disqualified for re-election because having previously held the office. The Church Clerk shall give a report to the church at the annual and semi-annual meetings.
    Section 3. FINANCIAL SECRETARY

      The Financial Secretary shall receive all funds given to the church for expenses through the regular channels and in special offerings. The Financial Secretary shall keep a complete record of individual contributions through envelopes and checks. All monies should be counted by the Financial Secretary and at least one other church member (who is not a family member) and shall be deposited weekly. The Financial Secretary shall send a yearly financial statement to all contributing members showing their individual financial contributions and they shall make annual and semi-annual reports to the church.
    Section 4. MISSION FUND TREASURER (Ref. ARTICLE VIII, Section 4c)
    Section 5. CHAIRMAN BOARD OF DEACONS (Ref. ARTICLE VIII, General)
    Section 6. CHAIRMAN BOARD OF TRUSTEES (Ref. ARTICLE VIII, General)



ARTICLE VII – PASTOR AND PASTORAL STAFF

Section 1. SENIOR PASTOR

    a. The Senior Pastor shall have charge of the church in all things spiritual, preach and teach the Word of God, administer the ordinances, watch over, guide, and advance the religious interests of the people. He shall be a member of the church. He shall be an ex-officio member of all boards and committees. The Pastor must continue to meet the biblical qualifications as outlined in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9.
    b. His pastoral relationship with the church may be dissolved upon two months notice given by either the church to the Pastor or the Pastor to the church. The senior pastor shall give notice in writing to the church of his intention to terminate his service as senior pastor at least sixty days in advance. The church may, by a majority vote upon recommendation from the deacons, at a called business meeting, declare the pulpit vacant. The church shall give sixty days notice as to the effective date of such termination of the senior pastor’s service. However, upon mutual agreement between senior pastor and church, the length of time of notice required may be altered.
    c. The Call of the Pastor shall take place at a meeting called for that purpose, notice of which shall have been given from the pulpit on two successive Sundays. A vote by ballot of three-fourths of the members present and voting shall be necessary to constitute a call.
    d. The Senior Pastor will moderate all business meetings of the church. In his absence or at his discretion the chairman of the Board of Deacons becomes moderator.

Section 2. PASTORAL STAFF

    a. Qualifications and responsibilities of the Pastoral Staff will be determined by the Pastor and the Board of Deacons. Qualifications shall always be in harmony with the New Testament standards.
    b. The Call of the Pastoral Staff shall be the same as Article VII, Section 1c.
    c. The Pastoral Staff shall be directly responsible to the Senior Pastor and Board of Deacons.
    d. The call may be terminated at any time by a thirty (30) day written notice by either the Pastoral Staff member or the Board of Deacons.



ARTICLE VIII – BOARDS AND COMMITTEES

GENERAL:

    1. The Chairman of all boards and committees shall continue in office until their successors are elected.
    2. Any board member who fails to perform his responsibilities as a member may have his office declared vacant by majority vote of the Board of Deacons.
    3. A majority of the boards shall be a quorum.
    4. Ex-officio members of boards will have all privileges as elected members.
    5. No person shall serve on more than one board at a time (except the Senior Pastor per Article VII, Section 1a).

Section 1. BOARD OF DEACONS

    a. The number of deacons shall be determined by the size of the church membership and the particular needs of the congregation. Deacons shall meet all the Biblical qualifications as outlined in 1 Timothy 3:8-13.
    b. Terms shall last 4 years.
    c. Any qualified deacon (1 Timothy 3:8-13) who desires to serve additional term(s) must go through the entire nomination process again before serving an additional term.
    d. It shall be the duty of the deacons to distribute the elements of the Lord’s Supper; to receive and disburse the Fellowship fund offerings there taken; to assist the Pastors in matters of discipline, the examination of candidates, and the ordinance of baptism; to engage in visitation; to appoint an usher chairman and approve all ushers; and in general to counsel, cooperate with, and aid the Pastor in the spiritual interests of the church.
    e. They shall determine for what purposes, other than the regular religious and social gatherings of the church, the buildings may be used.
    f. The Board of Deacons shall receive monthly the minutes of each other board. They shall appoint three of their members to the Church Budget Committee.
    g. The board, along with the Pastor, shall have the authority to restrain the action of any board until a vote of the congregation may be taken on the matter.
    h. The board shall decide on all financial matters relating to special meetings and the payment of pulpit supply.
    i. The board, along with the Pastor, shall approve the appointment of Music and Secretarial Staff, Sunday School Staff, Youth Leaders and any other position of ministry within the church. They shall supervise the activities and curriculum and materials of these individuals and groups.
    j. All matters that are to be presented before the church body shall be first presented to the Board of Deacons for consideration and recommendation.

Section 2. BOARD OF TRUSTEES

    a. The number of trustees shall be determined by the size and the particular needs of the congregation.
    b. Terms shall last 3 years.
    c. The trustees shall have charge of the church property, keeping the same insured and in repair, and approve the purchase of all necessary supplies and equipment. They shall monthly hear a financial report and act on all bills presented. They shall employ a custodian if sufficient funds are available to do so.
    d. They shall have no power, except as specially conferred by the church, to mortgage or sell the property; nor to incur any indebtedness. All expenditures must receive prior approval of the trustees except those individuals authorized by the trustees may make expenditures within budgetary limit not to exceed $750. Expenditures from a budget category shall have the approval of the individual held responsible for said category. Any expenditure exceeding the Annual Budget allotment must be authorized by the church by either a specific approval or a budget revision.
    e. They shall appoint annually three of their members to the Church Budget Committee.

Section 3. BOARD OF DEACONESSES

    a. The number of deaconesses shall be determined by the size and the particular needs of the congregation.
    b. Deaconesses must meet the biblical qualifications as laid out in 1 Timothy 3:11.
    c. Terms shall last 3 years.
    d. They shall cooperate with the Pastors and the deacons in the spiritual interests of the church, in the care of the sick and needy, especially among women and children; they shall be the custodians of the baptismal robes and assist at baptisms; they shall be responsible for the preparation of the Lord’s Supper and the care of all the communion ware. They shall be actively engaged in the calling program of the church.
    e. They shall annually appoint a Baptismal Committee, a Communion Committee and a Hospitality Committee.

      1) The Baptismal Committee shall consist of an appropriate number of deaconesses and shall be responsible for the care of the baptismal robes and assist female baptismal candidates.
      2) The Communion Committee shall consist of an appropriate number of deaconesses and shall be responsible for the preparation of the Lord’s Supper.
      3) The Hospitality Committee shall consist of an appropriate number of deaconesses and be responsible for the lodging and meals of guest speakers.
    f. They shall annually appoint individuals to the following ministries of the church.

      1) Persons responsible for floral arrangements.
      2) Persons responsible for social events.
      3) Persons responsible for CD distribution.
      4) Persons who assist in our church sponsored care ministries.

Section 4. BOARD OF MISSIONS

    a. The number of Missions Board members shall be determined by the size and the particular needs of the congregation.
    b. Terms shall last 3 years.
    c. The Mission Fund Treasurer shall be appointed by the Board of Deacons and shall be an ex-officio member of the Board of Missions. The Mission Fund Treasurer shall receive special mission offerings and shall disperse the same as directed by the Board of Missions and make a monthly report to the Board of Missions and Annual and Semi-annual reports to the church.
    d. The Board shall, with the Pastor, have general supervision of the missionary program of the church and have authority to expend funds as approved in the Annual Budget. They shall recommend to the congregation any mission project and any changes in our annual budget that impact our missionaries.
    e. They shall only recommend candidates to the church for support who have agreed unreservedly to the doctrinal statement of the church.
    f. The Church shall commit 15% of the annual church offering to financially support gospel outreach ministries and missionaries at home and around the world.

Section 5. PULPIT COMMITTEE

Whenever a vacancy shall occur in the pastorate, the Board of Deacons shall become a Pulpit Committee which, as soon as possible, shall recommend to the church the name of some Biblically qualified minister to fill such vacancy.

Section 6. BUDGET COMMITTEE

    a. The church Budget Committee shall be composed of the Senior Pastor, Financial Secretary and three members appointed by the Board of Trustees and three members appointed by the Board of Deacons. It shall be the duty of this committee to recommend to the congregation a proposed budget of anticipated receipts and expenditures covering all the regular work of the church for the coming year
    b. The budget committee shall appoint a representative who will present the annual budget to the congregation.

Section 7. AUDITING COMMITTEE

It shall be the duty of the Board of Deacons to appoint annually on Auditing Committee to audit the books of the General Treasurer (or Office Administrator), and the Mission Board Treasurer and to make a written report of same to the church.

Section 8. NOMINATING COMMITTEE

    a. The Nominating Committee shall be the Board of Deacons. The board should give the congregation ample opportunities to make recommendations of Biblically qualified (1 Timothy 3:1-12) and willing persons for the various vacant positions.
    b. Their duty shall be to recommend persons to fill vacancies as they may arise throughout the year and to recommend candidates for the offices of the church at the next annual meeting.



ARTICLE IX – MEETINGS
Section 1. DEVOTIONAL MEETINGS

    a. The church shall meet regularly each Lord’s Day for worship, fellowship, and the preaching of God’s Word.
    b. The church shall meet for the regular observation of the Lord’s Supper.
    c. The church shall be committed to prayer (individually and corporately).

Section 2. BUSINESS MEETING

    a. Church Year. The fiscal year of the church shall begin on the first day of January and closed on the last day of December.
    b. Quorum. At regular or special business meetings of the church, forty (40) members of the active membership over sixteen (16) years of age shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business. All questions shall be decided by a majority vote, except in cases otherwise designated.
    c. Rules of Order. All questions of Parliamentary law shall be decided by Robert’s Rules of Order (Note Article III, Section 2a).
    d. Annual Business Meeting. It shall be held by the final week in January for the purpose of receiving the annual reports of individual officers, boards, and committees of the church, and its auxiliary organizations, the appointment of officers and the election of board members and the transaction of such other business as is proper to come before this meeting.
    e. Church Budget Meeting. It shall be held by the third Sunday in November for the purpose of voting on the annual church budget.

Section 3. SPECIAL BUSINESS MEETINGS

Special meetings will generally occur after being announced by leadership at two successive Sunday morning services. In circumstances which pose a unique and immediate concern to the spiritual health of the fellowship, the deacons may authorize a meeting with one week’s notice.



ARTICLE X – AUXILIARY ORGANIZATIONS

Section 1. OFFICERS

    The officers of all adult and young people’s auxiliary organizations shall be members of the church, elected by their respective organizations.

Section 2. CONSTITUTIONS

    The constitutions of auxiliary organizations shall be drawn so as not to conflict with the constitution of this church and be approved by the Board of Deacons.

Section 3. MEETINGS

    Meetings of auxiliary organizations shall be held at such times as will not conflict with the regular meetings of the church and shall be under the guidance of the Board of Deacons.

ARTICLE XI – AMENDMENTS

This constitution may be amended at any regular or called business meeting of the church by a three-fourths vote of those present and voting, provided a quorum is present and voting, and that notice of such amendment, stating the proposed change, shall have been given from the pulpit on two successive Sundays.


Constitution revised November 17th, 2008;January 18th, 2009; and again on January 14th, 2012.