CONSTITUTION AND BYLAWS
LIBERTYVILLE COVENANT CHURCH
Adopted March 20, 1977
(A Historical Statement from the Preamble of the Constitution and Bylaws of the Evangelical Covenant Church of America as revised in 1957)
“The Evangelical Covenant Church of America has its roots in historical Christianity as it emerged in the Protestant Reformation, in the biblical instruction of the Lutheran State Church of Sweden, and in the great spiritual awakenings of the nineteenth century. These three influences have in large measure shaped its development and are to be borne in mind in seeking to understand its distinctive spirit.
“The Covenant Church adheres to the affirmations of the Protestant Reformation regarding the Holy Scriptures, the Old and the New Testament, as the Word of God and the only perfect rule for faith, doctrine, and conduct. It has traditionally valued the historic confessions of the Christian church, particularly the Apostles’ Creed, while at the same time it has emphasized the sovereignty of the Word over all creedal interpretations. It has especially cherished the pietistic restatement of the doctrine of justification by faith as basic to its dual task of evangelism and Christian nurture, the New Testament emphasis upon personal faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, the reality of a fellowship of believers which recognizes but transcends theological differences, and the belief in baptism and the Lord’s Supper as divinely ordained sacraments of the church. While the denomination has traditionally practiced the baptism of infants, in conformity with its principle of freedom it has given room to divergent views. The principle of personal freedom, so highly esteemed by the Covenant, is to be distinguished from the individualism that disregards the centrality of the Word of God and mutual responsibilities and disciplines of the spiritual community.”
This document, which is in harmony with the above preamble, is the constitution and bylaws of the Libertyville Covenant Church of Libertyville, Illinois.
The name of this church shall be the Libertyville Covenant Church of Libertyville, Illinois.
The church is a member of the Evangelical Covenant Church of America and its Central Conference and is pledged to work in harmony with the Covenant and its decisions and to support its program, policies, and institutions.
The church believes in the Holy Scriptures, the Old and the New Testament, as the Word of God and the only perfect rule for faith, doctrine, and conduct.
Section 1. The purpose of the church shall be to unite Christians in fellowship for spiritual development, for the winning of persons to Christ, and for the propagation of the gospel of Jesus Christ through Christian education, home and world mission, and the institutions conducted by the Evangelical Covenant Church of America and its local regional conferences.
Section 2. In order to achieve this purpose, the church, in the unity of the Spirit, shall use the gifts that God has given it and the means of grace which God has placed at its disposal: the Word of God, baptism, and Holy Communion.
Membership in the church is granted on application to those who through faith in God’s Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, have been born anew to a living hope, have been baptized according to the Holy Scriptures, desire to live a Christian life, and promise to support the total ministry of the church and to share its fellowship and obligations.
The officers of the church shall be a chairman, a vice-chairman, a secretary, a financial secretary, and a treasurer.
Section 1. The general administration of the church shall be vested in a body known as the Church Council. In circumstances or where law requires action(s) by “Trustees” the council shall be known as “the Board of Trustees” and the members of it as “trustees.” The council shall also serve as a diaconate to supervise the spiritual life of the church, as stated in 1 Timothy 3:8-1 3.
Section 2. The council shall consist of six (6) or more members, as specified in the bylaws, including the pastor, who shall be an ex-officio member of the council.
Section 3. The council shall organize itself including the election of church officers in a manner specified in the bylaws.
Section 1. Regular business meetings shall be held at stated intervals, but not less than semiannually. The annual business meeting shall be held as near the first of the year as feasible. At the annual meeting, written progress reports shall be submitted by the pastor and by each committee of the church. Audited financial reports shall be submitted by the treasurer for the church and each of its organizations. Members of the council for the ensuing year shall be elected by ballot.
Section 2. Members shall be informed of all congregational business meetings not less than one week prior to the meeting. Such information shall include the date, time of meeting, and an agenda of business to be transacted.
In the event of schism within the church, from which we earnestly pray God to spare us, the title of all church property, real or personal, shall remain with the group which abides by this constitution, as determined by the executive board of the Central Conference. In the event of dissolution, the property and all assets of the church shall become and be the property of the Evangelical Covenant Church of America and the Central Conference.
Amendments in harmony with this constitution and not in conflict with Covenant principles and policies may be adopted by a two-thirds vote of those present and voting in an annual meeting of the church, providing the proposed amendment was presented in written form at the preceding annual meeting. When the church receives appropriation aid from the regional conference and/or the Covenant through subsidy or loans, proposed amendments must also be approved by the regional conference board and the executive secretary of Covenant home mission.
Section 1. Admission into membership. (Dec. 4, 1994)
a) Application for membership.
A written application for membership shall be placed with the pastor or the chairman of the diaconate. Applicants should complete a course in the inquirers’ class, after which they shall appear before the diaconate to give a confession of their Christian faith, according to Article V of the constitution. When the diaconate has reviewed an application and received such testimony favorably, the application shall be submitted to the next congregational business meeting for action.
b) Transfer of membership.
Applicants from other Christian churches shall submit letters of transfer when available, to the pastor and/or the chairman of the diaconate, who shall act upon the application according to the requirements of paragraph a) of this section.
c) Reception of new members. (Dec. 4, 1994)
Applicants who are voted into the membership of the church shall be welcomed at the next service of Holy Communion and shall make public confession of their Christian faith, as outlined in The Covenant Book of Worship.
Section 2. Children of members. (Dec. 4, 1994)
Children of the members of the church and its constituency shall be nurtured under its spiritual care. When they have reached confirmation age, they shall receive special instruction by the pastor(s) in the Word of God, Christian doctrine, and the history of the church, using the confirmation material of the Covenant Church. Thereafter, upon personal manifestation of spiritual life and examination by the diaconate, they may be received into membership of the church, as outlined under Section 1, paragraph a), of this article.
[Section 3. Associate membership. (Deleted Dec. 4, 1994) ]
Section 3. Responsibility of membership. (Dec. 4, 1994)
All members shall assume the responsibilities and obligations placed on them by the Word of God and the church. They shall, through their witness by life and word, consecrated service, prayer, and financial support further the cause of Christ in the local church, regional conference, and the Covenant.
Section 4. Discipline.
a) Negligent members. (Dec. 4, 1994)
Members who willfully neglect their duties or fails to attend services of the church regularly or to contribute to its support according to their means shall be admonished by the council. If this admonition is not heeded, they shall be dealt with as erring members.
b) Erring members. (Dec. 4, 1994)
Any member known to err in doctrine or conduct shall be counseled according to the procedure outlined in Matthew 18:15-18 and Galatians 6:1. Any member having knowledge of such error shall in the spirit of Christian love seek to restore the brother or sister. If he or she does not heed this counsel, the matter shall be brought to the attention of the council, which shall in meekness and gentleness seek to restore him or her. If he or she fails to heed the counsel of the council, the error shall be brought before a congregational business meeting. Discipline shall then be administered in the spirit of Christ with due regard for the welfare of the individual as well as the church.
c) Dismissal of members.
Dismissal of a member under paragraphs a) and b) of this section must be acted on by the church, which alone has the authority. A two-thirds vote of those present and voting at a congregational business meeting is necessary for such action.
d) Forfeiture of rights. (Formerly Section 8; Dec. 4, 1994)
A member who has been properly dismissed from the church, or has withdrawn membership, has forfeited all rights and privileges of membership in the church.
e) Non-active members. (Formerly Section 10; Dec. 4, 1994)
The church council shall have the responsibility of contacting non-active members prior to each annual meeting to determine their intention with regard to membership. Further action may be taken at the annual meeting.
Section 5. Transfer of members. (Dec. 4, 1994)
Members who move to another community should soon thereafter identify themselves with the local Covenant church. If there is no Covenant church, they should identify themselves with some other evangelical Christian church. Application for transfer of membership shall be made in writing to the pastor, who shall issue the transfer to the church with which a member is uniting. Withdrawal of such membership shall be reported through the council to the next congregational business meeting, where it shall be made a matter of record.
Section 6. Removal of membership. (Dec. 4, 1994)
Request for withdrawal from membership in the church shall be made in writing to the pastor or the council. After careful consideration the council may present a recommendation for withdrawal to a congregational business meeting.
Section 7. Nonmember friends. (Formerly Section 9; 12/4/94)
Nonmember parish friends shall be enrolled by the church as a part of its total constituency. The church and its pastor shall serve them in all their spiritual needs, and they shall be encouraged to consider this as their church home. They shall be kept informed of the activities of the church.
Section 1. Qualifications. (Dec. 4, 1994)
The pastor(s) of the church shall meet the New Testament requirements of their office (I Timothy 3:2-7) and shall be members in good standing of the Covenant Ministerium and follow the Rules for the Ordained Ministry of The Evangelical Covenant Church. They shall by virtue of their call be members of the church.
Section 2. Duties. (Dec. 4, 1994)
The pastor(s) shall be devoted to the service of the church, preaching and teaching the Word of God, administering the sacraments, and faithfully giving themselves to pastoral work. They shall provide the church with an accurate record of their pastoral acts and present a written report to the congregational annual business meeting. They shall practice good administrative procedures and co-operate with the church council. They shall be ex officio members of the council and all committees of the church.
Section 4. Call. (Dec. 4, 1994)
The pastor(s) shall be called at a regular or special church business meeting, the purpose of which shall be announced two weeks in advance. The pastor(s) shall be nominated by a pastoral search committee. This committee shall be elected by a congregational business meeting. It shall be representative of the congregation and have five to nine members and shall work closely with the regional conference superintendent. The pastor(s) shall be chosen by ballot with a two-thirds vote required for a call. The call shall be for an indefinite period of time, with a minimum of six weeks notice required by the church or the pastor(s) for termination of pastoral duties.
Section 5. Charges against a pastor. (Dec. 4, 1994)
Charges against a pastor shall be submitted in writing to the church council, charging a pastor with indiscretion, immorality, doctrinal error, unethical behavior, or disloyalty to the Covenant (Matthew 18:15-18). If in the judgment of the church council there is substance to the charges, the case shall be referred to the regional conference superintendent. The superintendent shall confer with the Covenant executive secretary of the ministry. These two officers shall confer and determine the order of responsibility in pursuing the matter according to the Rules for the Ordered Ministry of The Evangelical Covenant Church regarding discipline, prior to further action by the church.
Section 1. Qualifications. (Dec. 4, 1994)
Officers of the church shall be members in good standing who are active in the support of the total ministry of the church, financially and otherwise. They shall serve both as corporate officers of the church and of the church council.
Section 2. Duties. (Dec. 4, 1994; Jan. 19, 1997)
a) Chair. (Formerly Section 1; Dec. 4, 1994)
The chair shall preside at all business meetings of the church and of the council. The chair shall take care to confer with the senior pastor in preparing the agenda for such meetings, and to utilize the counsel that the pastor may give by virtue of training, experience, and calling. The chair shall be responsible for leadership of the church services in the absence of the pastor.
b) Vice-chair. (Formerly Section 2; Dec. 4, 1994; Jan. 19, 1997)
The vice-chair shall assume the duties of the chair in his or her absence, assist in his or her duties, and undertake other tasks as assigned by the chair, the council, or the senior pastor.
c) Secretary. (Formerly Section 3; Dec. 4, 1994)
The secretary shall keep and preserve the minutes of all congregational business meetings of the church and meetings of the council, and shall conduct and preserve all official correspondence as shall be delegated. The secretary shall also be responsible for the official seal and documents of the church.
d) Financial secretary. (Formerly Section 4; Dec. 4, 1994)
The financial secretary shall receive, record, and transmit to the church treasurer all funds contributed to the church.
e) Treasurer. (Formerly Section 5; Dec. 4, 1994)
The treasurer shall be responsible for all funds committed to him or her and shall make disbursements as authorized by the church or the council. The treasurer shall also present a written report of the receipts and expenditures to each regular meeting of the council and to each congregational business meeting.
Section 3. Election and tenure. (Dec. 4, 1994; Jan. 19, 1997)
The chair, vice-chair, secretary, financial secretary, and treasurer shall be elected by the annual congregational business meeting for terms of two years, approximately one-half of which shall expire each year. They shall not be elected to serve more than two consecutive full terms.
Section 4. Vacancies. (Dec. 4, 1994)
Such vacancies as occur among the church officers may be filled by appointment of the chair, with the concurrence of the council. The appointee will serve until the next annual congregational business meeting; if an unexpired term continues beyond the date of that meeting, the position will be filled by election as under Section 3 above. Such appointive service will not disqualify a person from serving two full terms under the terms of Section 3.
Section 5. Discipline. (Dec. 4, 1994)
Should an officer neglect his or her duties or become a hindrance to the ministry of the church, that officer shall be admonished by the pastor(s) and/or the chair in a manner consistent with Article I, Section 4 of these bylaws. Should such admonition not be heeded, a vote of two-thirds of the council, with the concurrence of the senior pastor, will be sufficient to remove that person from office, the vacancy to be filled as under Section 4 above.
Section 1. Qualifications. (Dec. 4, 1994)
Members of the council shall be members in good standing who are active in the total ministry of the church, financially and otherwise.
[Section 2. Organization. (Deleted Dec. 4, 1994) ]
Section 2. Size, composition, election, and tenure. (Formerly Section 3; amended Jan. 31, 1982; Jan. 30, 1983; Feb. 7, 1993; Dec. 4, 1994; Feb. 4, 1996; Jan. 19, 1997; Feb. 8, 1998)
(a) The council shall consist of twelve (12) members, not including the pastor(s), who are ex-officio members.
(b) Those members shall include the church officers, elected in accordance with Article III, Section 3 of these bylaws, and other members, elected as the chairs of administrative committees as defined elsewhere in these bylaws. Members shall serve for terms of two years in such a manner that the terms of approximately one-half of the members shall expire each year. They shall not be elected to more than two consecutive full terms.
Section 3. Duties. (Dec. 4, 1994)
The council in its administrative responsibility in co-operation with the pastor(s) shall fulfill the functions defined by the constitution and bylaws, including the following:
a) Supervise church membership, in conjunction with the diaconate.
b) Assist the pastor(s) in nurturing the spiritual life of the church, in cooperation with the chair of the diaconate.
c) Establish administrative and program policies in conformity with the spirit of the church constitution.
d) Evaluate the total church program on a continuing basis.
e) Recommend the annual budget, as proposed by the executive committee, and review stewardship opportunities for the church.
f) Review and approve the schedule of the church activities and personnel.
g) Appoint administrative committees and church workers as defined by the bylaws and as the council may deem appropriate.
Section 4. Administrative committees. (Dec. 4, 1994)
Implementation of policies and programs established by congregational or council action may be accomplished through the following administrative committees, each of whose chairs shall be a member of the council as established under Section 2 above:
a) Diaconate. (Formerly “Worship and Service”; amended Sept. 20, 1981)
b) Outreach Committee. (Added Jan. 30, 1983)
c) Christian Formation Committee. (Formerly “Christian Education”; amended July 12, 2009)
d) Trustee Committee. (Added Jan. 31, 1982)
e) Stewardship Committee. (Added Feb. 7, 1993)
f) Fellowship Committee. (Added Feb. 4, 1996)
g) Long-Range Planning Committee. (Added Feb. 8, 1998)
The council member who serves as chair of a committee assumes responsibility for directing all congregational activities that fall within that functional category, in co-operation with the pastor(s).
Section 1. Executive committee. (Dec. 4, 1994)
The executive committee, consisting of the church chairman, the vice chairman, the secretary, and the treasurer, together with the senior pastor, shall strive to promote effective working relations and communication in the church. The committee shall have no legislative power, but shall function in an advisory capacity to the council, unless specific responsibilities shall have been assigned to it by the council or the church.
Section 2. Nominating committee. (Dec. 4, 1994)
The nominating committee shall consist of not less than three (3) members, including at least one member of the church council and one non-member of the council. These members shall be elected at a business meeting at least three (3) months prior to the annual meeting. The senior pastor shall be an ex-officio member of the committee. After being convened by the church chair, committee members shall elect their own chair and secretary. The responsibility of the committee shall include the following:
a) Prepare a ballot for the annual meeting of the congregation listing at least one qualified candidate for each office to be filled.
b) Confirm the willingness of each candidate to serve before listing his or her name on the ballot.
c) Present a complete ballot to the annual meeting of the congregation. This shall constitute completion of the committee assignment, unless it be given specific responsibilities at said annual meeting.
Section 3. Ministry committee. (Jan. 29, 1988; Dec. 9, 1994; Sept. 28, 2008)
The ministry committee shall have a target of five members, consisting of the church Chair, Vice-Chair, one member of the Deacon Committee and a target of two at-large members of the congregation selected by the council. It shall meet at least semiannually in keeping with the program and purpose of the Covenant Commission on Pastoral Relations as adopted by the Annual Meeting. The appointive members shall serve terms of two years.
Section 4. Special committees and task forces.
Special committees or task forces for specific purposes may be appointed by any duly constituted business meeting of the congregation or by the council according to need, but shall be automatically terminated at the next annual meeting unless specifically extended by said annual meeting.
Section 5. Long-range planning committee. (Feb. 8, 1998)
The long-range planning committee shall consist of not less than seven (7) members, including at least one member of the council’s executive committee who is designated by the church chair. The committee chair shall be a voting member of the council, and the senior pastor shall be an ex-officio member of the planning committee. No member shall remain on the committee for more than two years, and its designated representative from the executive committee shall serve no more than one year.
The responsibilities of the committee shall include the following:
a) Annually formulate, update, and/or revise a five-year plan for the church, presenting a report and plan to the congregation for its review and approval at the annual meeting or at a special meeting that has been called for the purpose.
b) After such approval has been obtained, annually prepare an implementation strategy for the then-current five-year plan, delievering it to the semi-annual meeting of the church for its review and concurrence.
c) Provide advice and support to the council and to the other committees of the church, which shall have the responsibility for implementation; and incorporate into each subsequent review of the five-year plan such changes as have been deemed necessary or undertaken by those other committees.
Section 1. Public services. (Dec. 4, 1994)
Public services shall be conducted regularly on Sundays and, when deemed appropriate, on weekdays for worship, the preaching and teaching of God’s Word, and prayer.
Section 2. Celebrating the sacraments. (Dec. 4, 1994)
The sacrament of Holy Communion shall be celebrated monthly or as determined by vote of the church. The sacrament of baptism shall be conducted in keeping with Covenant policies and according to the needs of the constituency.
Section 3. Congregational business meetings. (Dec. 4, 1994)
Congregational business meetings shall be held regularly and not less than semiannually, as specified in Article VIII of the constitution. Special business meetings may be called by the chair of the church in consultation with the senior pastor or by the council.
Section 4. Church council and administrative meetings. (12/4/94)
Regular meetings of the council shall be held not less than monthly. Administrative committees, special committees, and task forces shall meet not less than at a frequency specified by the council. Special meetings of the council, the executive committee, the administrative committees, and the task forces may be called by their respective chairs.
Section 5. Organizational meetings.
Meetings and activities of the organizations of the church shall be planned and conducted regularly under the direction and supervision of the council.
Section 1. Quorum. (Dec. 4, 1994)
a) Fifteen percent of the membership, but not less than ten members, present and voting at a business meeting properly called shall constitute a quorum.
b) The quorum for the council, committee, and task force meetings shall be a majority of their respective memberships.
[Section 2. Tenure. (Deleted Dec. 4, 1994) ]
Section 2. Rules of order. (Formerly Section 3; 12/4/94)
All business meetings of the church and of the boards, committees, and organizations of the church shall be conducted according to Robert’s Rules of Order.
(Amended Dec. 4, 1994)
Amendments to these bylaws not in conflict with the constitution may be adopted at any regular congregational business meeting, or at a special business meeting called for that purpose, by a two-thirds vote of the members present and voting, providing that such amendments have been presented in writing to the council and at a preceding regular congregational business meeting.