How We Are Governed
This document took effect immediately after the congregation overwhelmingly approved it on Sunday, October 27, 2019
Article I. Preamble
This constitution supersedes any other policy of the church, written or oral, and shall be used as the guide in all church matters affecting Sylvania Church.
We declare and establish this constitution to preserve and secure the principles of our faith, and to govern the body in an orderly manner. This constitution will preserve the liberties of each individual church member and the freedom of action of this body in its relation to other churches. This constitution is to be read and applied in a manner consistent with biblical principles. A copy of this constitution is available to each member upon request.
ARTICLE II. NAME AND LOCATION OF OFFICES
The name of this Church is SYLVANIA CHURCH. It is a Texas non-profit religious church with principal offices in Smith County, in the state of Texas.
The Board of Directors established in the Certificate of Formation, as amended from time to time, is granted full power and authority to change said principal office from one location to another. The Board of Directors is the Board of Elders of the Church and shall hereinafter be called the Board of Elders. Each active member of the Board of Elders shall be vested with the authority as “Trustee,” except the Senior Pastor, as that office is necessary to carry out the corporate functions of the church.
ARTICLE III. PURPOSE
This church is an autonomous religious entity and is not organized for the private gain of any person. It is organized under the Texas Business Organizations Code exclusively for Christian purposes. This church elects to be governed by all of the provisions of the Texas Business Organizations Code, except as otherwise described herein. A further description of the church’s purposes includes, but is not limited to, the following: to operate as a Christian church or churches and perform all of the functions of a church including, without limitation, the conduct of Christian worship, the ordaining, licensing, and commissioning of ministers, Elders, and Deacons; the administration of the ordinances of baptism and communion; and to establish and operate Christian services, activities, and operations; and to cultivate, promote, promulgate, and extend the teachings and precepts of Christianity.
ARTICLE IV. CONFESSION OF FAITH
Sylvania Church holds to and teaches historic, orthodox, reformed Christian doctrine.
Specifically, we believe:
1. Of the Scriptures
We believe that the Holy Bible was written by men who were divinely inspired, and is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction; that God is its author, that salvation is its end, and that it is inerrant. We believe that it reveals the principles by which God will judge us, and therefore it is, and always shall be, the center of Christian unity, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions should be tried. 2 Tim. 3:15-17; Prov. 30:5-6; Rom. 2:12; Phil. 3:16; 1 John 4:1.
2. Of the True God
3. Of Man
4. Of the Way of Salvation
5. Of Justification
6. Of Regeneration & Election
7. Of Repentance & Faith
8. Of Sanctification
9. Of Perseverance of the Saints
10. Of the Saving Effectiveness of Christ's Death
11. Of a Gospel Church
12. Of Baptism & the Lord's Supper
13. Of the World to Come
6:1-2; 1 Cor. 4:5; Acts 17:311; Rom. 2:2-16; Rev. 20:11-12; 1 John 2:28; 1 John 4:17; 2 Peter 3:11-12.
ARTICLE V. THE CHURCH’S COMMISSION
The commission of this Church is to glorify God in everything we do. We worship God. We preach and teach the saving grace of God revealed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. By the Holy Spirit and the preaching of His Word, we make disciples, or followers, of Jesus. We support the church with our time, talents, and offerings. We strive to preach, teach, and live the whole counsel of God, and by so doing, to be “the light of the world.” In this way, we will witness Jesus Christ to our families, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and to all people throughout the world, as we are led and enabled by the Spirit of God.
ARTICLE VI. WORSHIP SERVICES
Section 1: Services
Section 2: Attendance
ARTICLE VII. MEMBERSHIP
Section 1: Application for Membership and Covenant
(A) Persons may become members of the church by applying for membership with the Board of Elders. To be received into membership, applicants must give a credible profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; provide testimony of a Scriptural baptism following their conversion; give credible evidence of a life consistent with being a disciple of Jesus Christ; and be willing to enter solemn covenant with the church. Applicants are recommended for membership to the congregation upon being evaluated by one or more of the members of the Board of Elders. By joining and uniting with the Church, members declare their willingness and commitment to submit to the authority and discipline of the congregation and follow the leadership of the Board of Elders of Sylvania Church. Heb. 13:17.
(B) Members may be removed from membership by their resignation from membership, or by having their membership revoked. Should a member resign while under the process of church discipline, the Board of Elders may, at their discretion, yet proceed with church discipline proceedings, including excommunication.
Section 2: Responsibilities and Privileges of the Membership
Membership in this Church shall not vest in any member any proprietary rights in the Church, but shall only entitle the member, if age 18 or over, to vote as set forth in this Constitution, on the following matters:
(1) The acceptance of members;
(2) The annual budget and any amendments thereto;
(3) The sale, purchase, or encumbrance of real-estate;
(4) The incurring of indebtedness;
(5) The creation or dissolution of any new ministerial position;
(6) The hiring of any candidate for a ministerial position;
(7) The appointing of Elders, Deacons, the Senior Pastor, and any Interim Pastor;
(8) The removal of an Elder, including the Senior Pastor, or Deacon;
(9) The final charge of removing members by the process of excommunication by way of church discipline;
(10) The amending of this Constitution.
Any vote on the items listed in this section requires approval of three-fourths of the votes cast, and must be done by ballot form, except for the acceptance of new members and the approval of the annual budget. The acceptance of new members and the annual budget shall be done by an open show of hands. Members may vote absentee. Where ballot-voting is required, any absentee vote must be received prior to any vote held where absentee vote is permitted.
Section 3: Notice of Meetings
Section 4: Quorum
At all properly called meetings, those members present shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.
ARTICLE VIII. DISCIPLINE
Section 1: Definition
evidence of the credibility of that profession by conduct and belief. Membership is not salvation, but only the assessment by the church that, among other things, a person’s life and doctrine is consistent with a profession of faith in Christ. At any time that a member’s life, choices, or doctrine become obviously contradictory to his profession; and the member refuses to repent of the action or belief causing this contradiction; his membership may be revoked under the process of discipline.
Section 2: Method of Discipline
ARTICLE IX. CHURCH OFFICERS
Section 1: General Statement
Any man ordained an Elder by the church shall maintain the honor due an elder, even when that individual is not an active Elder on the Board of Elders. The authority of the Elders shall rest in a Board of Elders as described herein below. Deacons may have their responsibilities shaped by the Board of Elders. Deacons ordained by the church shall maintain the honor of their role even when not active.
In the event that the church is too small to maintain both offices, one Board will function as both Elders and Deacons until such time that qualified Deacons are recognized. Acts 6:1, et seq.; Titus 1:5.
In the event that the church no longer has qualified officers, the membership may invite another like-minded congregation to oversee the church until such time that qualified officers are raised up.
Section 2: Elders
A. Plurality & Parity
While every Elder should be “apt to teach,” some will be more engaged in formal and public teaching while others will be more engaged in pastoring (that is, private teaching and admonishing) and governing. 1 Tim. 5:17a. The gifts of each man will be considered by the Board of Elders in assigning responsibilities.
It shall be the duty of the Elders to be diligent and faithful in attendance at meetings of the Board of Elders, and the regular services of the church. They shall make suggestions regarding the pulpit ministry and encourage the one preaching in the work of the Lord.
F. Removal of an elder
Any accusation brought against an Elder must be brought by at least two witnesses; otherwise, it cannot be heard. 1 Tim. 5:19. The witnesses must bring their accusation to the Board of Elders, with the Elder in question being present. The accused Elder may not moderate, chair, or vote at such a meeting. An Elder may be removed from the Eldership by the following process:
Step 1: A majority of the Board of Elders eligible to vote on the matter determines that the accused Elder is: (a) continuing in unrepentant sin; (b) no longer fully and strictly subscribes to the church’s Confession; or (c) is otherwise Biblically unqualified. The accused Elder may not vote on this issue. If the Board of Elders makes such a determination, it will notify the Elder in writing of its vote and its reasoning.
Step 2: The Board of Elders shall then appoint a meeting at which the church membership will vote regarding the removal of the accused Elder from office in accordance with this Constitution. If the cause of his removal is continuing, unrepentant sin, the offending Elder will also be excommunicated or removed from membership of the Church by this same vote.
ARTICLE X. BOARD OF ELDERS
SECTION 1: ELIGIBILITY
SECTION 2: RESPONSIBILITIES
SECTION 3: MEMBERSHIP & DISCIPLINE
SECTION 4: TEACHING & PREACHING
SECTION 5: ADMINISTRATION OF BAPTISM & THE LORD'S SUPPER
SECTION 6: BUSINESS AFFAIRS
SECTION 7: MISCELLANEOUS DUTIES
SECTION 8: MEETINGS
A. CALLING OF MEETINGS
B. PLACE OF MEETINGS
Unless otherwise provided in this Constitution, any meeting may be held at any place which has been designated in the notice of the meeting.
C. SPECIAL MEETINGS
Special meetings may be called at any time by majority decision of the Board of Elders.
D. NOTICE OF MEETINGS
G. ACTION WITHOUT MEETING
SECTION 9: TERM
Effective October 31st, 2022, the term of office on the Board of Elders shall be three years. However, the Elder serving as senior pastor is a permanent member of the Board of Elders.
SECTION 10: SELECTION
In the event the congregation selects more new Elders than there are openings on the Board of Elders, the Board of Elders may expand the number of the Board of Elders if they believe it appropriate, with approval of three-fourths of the congregation. Any newly-elected Elders desiring to serve on the Board of Elders shall do so as soon as practicable.
ARTICLE XI. AMENDMENT PROCESS
This Constitution may be amended from time to time in the following manner: Any Member may submit to the Board of Elders a proposed amendment to the Constitution. This may be done in any reasonable manner. The Board of Elders, at their next meeting, shall discuss the proposed amendment. If the Board of Elders determines that the proposed amendment is worthy of consideration, then it shall appoint a committee to review the proposed amendment and make a recommendation to the Board of Elders. Such committee shall be appointed within ninety (90) days of the Board of Elders determining the proposed amendment is worthy of consideration. The appointed committee will have one hundred twenty (120) days from the date of its formation to report back to the Board of Elders with a recommendation as to whether the proposed amendment should be adopted. If the Board of Elders approves the proposed amendment, it shall submit the proposed amendment to the congregation for a vote within ninety (90) days of receiving the committee’s report.