Burning Hearts Community Church - Constitution and By-Laws

 

 Burning Hearts Community Church

 

 Constitution

  and

 By-Laws

 

Approved by the Elders, presented at the

October, 2013 Congregational Meeting and

voted upon for approval in October, 2014

 

 

 Burning Hearts Community Church

Constitution

Preamble

 

Burning Hearts Community Church (herein referred to as "Burning Hearts") is organized to spread the good news of Jesus Christ and to encourage the believer – all for the glory of God.

 

Article I – Authority

A.           Almighty God

Burning Hearts derives its ultimate authority from Almighty God, the Creator and Sustainer of the world, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as revealed in the sixty-six (66) books of the Bible, who through His eternal Son has created the church to carry His good news of salvation to the world.

 B.         Commonwealthof Pennsylvania

Burning Hearts is organized as a non-profit corporation under the Nonprofit Corporation Law of 1988 (15 Pa.C.S. Sec. 5306) of the Commonwealthof Pennsylvaniaof the United States of America.

C.         Affiliation and Cooperation

Burning Hearts is an independent congregation which is not formally associated with any particular denomination or association of churches.  However, because we believe in the universality of Christ’s church we are committed to working with and alongside all churches that unequivocally confess Jesus as Lord and teach the Bible as God’s authoritative Word.

D.          Statement of Faith

1.      The Holy Scriptures. We believe that the Bible, in its sixty-six (66) books, is our supreme written authority for faith and life (Ps.19:7-11; Acts 17:11; 2 Tim. 3:15-17).  We believe it to be “God’s Word,” meaning that it is true in what it teaches (Ps.12:6; 119:160) and can be trusted for giving us direction for life (Ps.119:105) by pointing us to Christ our Savior, the ultimate focus of all the scriptures (Jn.5:39; 5:46).

2.    God. We believe in one God (Deut.6:4; Is.45:5), Creator of all things (Gen.1:1; Col.1:16; Rev.4:11), who is eternally self-existent (Ps.90:1-2) in three equally-divine persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Mt.3:16-17; 28:19; 1Pet.1:2).  This one God is holy (Lev.11:45), loving (Jn.3:16; 1Jn.4:16), omnipotent (Job 42:1), omniscient (Ps.138:1-6; Jn.2:24-25), omnipresent (Ps.139:7-10) and good (Ps.119:68).  He is our Sovereign Lord who rules over all the affairs of mankind (Ps.103:19; Eph.1:11) and sustains all things (Heb.1:3).

3.       Mankind.  We believe that God created mankind to reflect His being and glory (Gen.1:26-27) but that sin marred our race: beginning with our first parents (Rom.5:12) and carried down to every person (Rom.3:10-12). We believe that all have sinned (Rom.3:23) and that all are, therefore, without the intervention of saving grace, doomed and damned, being by nature under God’s wrath and alienated from God (Jn.3:36; Rom.5:8-10; Eph.2:3).

4.      Jesus Christ. We believe that at just the right time (Rom.5:6; Gal.4:4), God sent His eternal Son into the world, born of the virgin Mary (Is.7:14; Lk.1:34), to save those whom God foreknew (Rom.8:29). Jesus was that incarnate Son (Phil.2:5-8) – fully God (Col.1:15) and fully man (Heb.2:17-18) – who showed us and taught us the way to live (1 Pet.2:21).  By His death and resurrection, He brings forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God to all He has chosen (Eph.1:4-8): to those who believe on His name (Jn.3:16) and confess Him as Lord and Savior (Rom.10:9-10). We believe that our salvation is rooted in the precious work of Christ on the cross (1 Pet.1:18-21; 2:24) and in His resurrection (Romans 4:25; Romans 10:9-10). Christ's work is applied to our account when we, in faith, repent of our sins and turn to Him (Acts 2:37-38; 16:31; Lk.13:5; 1 Jn.5:11-12).

5.      The Holy Spirit. We believe that God’s Holy Spirit convicts the sinner (Jn.16:8-11), reviving the spirit of all those who have been dead in their trespasses and sins (Jn.3:5-8; Eph.2:4-5), so that they might exercise the gift of faith within their being so as to be saved (Heb.11:6). Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is a great Comforter to our souls (Jn.14:16,26): assuring us of forgiveness (1 Jn.3:21-24), uniting our hearts with other believers (Rom.8:16; 1 Cor.12:13), and granting us assurance of spending eternity with God (Eph.1:13-14).

6.      The Church. We believe that God’s desire is to make His glory and truth known throughout the earth (Ps.96:3; Rom.1:20) and that the principal means of doing that is by means of the church: His called-out ones (Mt.28:18-20; 1 Pet.2:9). The church is the visible body of Christ (Jn.17:14-18; 1 Cor.12:27) of which He is the head (Eph.4:15; 5:23), left here on earth to show Christ to the world (Eph.5:1-2).  At least two sacraments or ordinances exist in church life: baptism (Mt.28:19; Rom.6:1-4) and the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor.11:23-26). Both of these are visible confessional expressions of the truths regarding Christ and His death (1 Cor.11:26) and resurrection (Rom.6:4) for sinners.

7.       Christian Living. We believe that every Christian’s personal life has some bearing on the lives of others (Josh.7): for good (Gen.39:5) or bad (1 Cor.5:6-7).  We therefore take the challenge to live a godly life seriously (Col.3:1-6). The Bible (2 Tim.3:15) and the teachings of the church through the centuries (Acts 2:42; 2 Tim.1:13) are our guides for Christian living.  We need to avoid those sins that may easily beset us (Heb.12:1). We affirm with the church historic that sexual sins (fornication, adultery, homosexuality, and abortion (1 Cor.6:9-10; Rev.22:15)) as well as social sins (racism (Phil.2:3; 1 Jn.3:15) and injustice (Is.58:6)) are indeed sins, regardless of what the world may teach.  We further affirm the teaching of scripture that marriage is only between a man and a woman (Gen.2:24).

8.       Christ’s return. We believe that just as Christ came the first time to save (Jn.3:17), He will come a second time to judge the world (Rev.19:11-16).  We believe that any and all attempts to fix a date or timeline for His return are misled (Mk.13:32; Lk.12:40; Acts 1:7).  It is better to simply live with a constant expectation of His return in a way that reflects our readiness for Him (Mt.25:13; Eph.5:15-16; Heb.10:24-25).

9.     Judgment and eternity. We believe that all of mankind will face the judgment seat of Christ (Rom.14:10: 2 Cor.5:10; Rev.20:12-15). We will, at that time, “give an account” of all that we have done in this life (2 Cor.5:10).  Grace – the saving grace of God in Christ alone – will be our only basis of finding mercy on that day (Tit.3:5). We believe that no works of righteousness that we have done will be enough to satisfy the holy justice of God (Mt.5:20; Gal.2:16), but for all who have truly placed their trust upon the merits of Christ and His finished work, there will be eternal life (Jn.3:16; 1 Jn.5:11-12; Rom.6:23).  For those who have not accepted God’s provision for forgiveness, the Bible is clear in promising just the opposite: eternal alienation from God (Dan.12:2; Mt.25:41; 2 Thes.1:8-9).

10.      Our mission. We believe that given all that has been already affirmed, the mission of the church is clear enough: to declare to the world the message of God’s love and how turning to Christ, in repentance (Acts 17:30) and faith (Acts 16:31), is absolutely critical. The “Great Commission” to go (Mt.28:18-20) is fleshed out by the “Great Commandment” to love (Jn.13:34-35), and vice versa.  We do not believe that we have been redeemed by God so as to merely enjoy life (1 Cor.9:16: Eph.5:8-16).  We have a mission: to be Christ before the world and to do what we can to see the world truly redeemed (2 Cor.5:17-20), coming under the Lordship of Jesus Christ (Phil.2:10-11).  No effort made to that end shall be considered a waste(1 Cor.15:58; 2 Tim.2:8).

Article II – Governance

 

A.       Membership

Any who profess faith in Jesus Christ, have been baptized, affirm this church’s Statement of Faith, and are at least eighteen (18) years of age may seek to formally associate with Burning Hearts by means of church membership.  This is a simple process, but one which requires, in the end, the approval of the Elders of the church.

B.       Elder Board

Under the headship of Christ over the church, God has ordained that Elders should govern the church (1 Timothy 5:17).  To that end, godly men who meet the requirements of 1 Timothy 3, have the desire, are able to give the time necessary, and are affirmed in their role as teachers and examples to the church, shall be deemed Elders: shepherds over the flock. A vote of affirmation for each elder will be made by the membership each year.

C.      Officers

Due to its organizational status as approved by the Commonwealthof Pennsylvania, Burning Hearts shall also have signatory officers. The Pastor (Senior Pastor) shall serve as President. A treasurer and secretary shall be designated by the Elders. The Elders may also grant other church members limited signatory authority.

D.      Senior Pastor

The Pastor of the church is that one affirmed to be the spiritual leader, chief elder, and president of Burning Hearts. Upon the hiring of additional pastoral staff or the formation of daughter churches, his title shall change to Senior Pastor.

A.      Diaconate

A Diaconate, composed of male (deacons) and female (deaconesses) church members, shall be formed so as to assist the Elders. Members of this group shall be proposed by the Elders and affirmed by the congregation on an annual basis.

B.      Finance Review Committee

A Finance Review Committee of at least two church members shall be formed each year, so as to make an annual review of the church’s financial records and practices. No church employee, Elder, Treasurer or Finance Committee member may serve on this committee.

C.     Trustees

The Trustees are those who will oversee the church’s physical property. At least three church members, proposed by the Elders and affirmed annually by the congregation, shall serve on this committee.

Article III– Property

A.     Property Rights

Burning Hearts has the power to receive, either by gift or by purchase, and to hold such real, personal or mixed property as is authorized by the laws of Pennsylvania, as is deemed necessary for the business of the church.  It also has the power to dispose of such as it deems best. All property is held in the name of BurningHeartsCommunityChurch.

B.     Finances

Burning Hearts shall be supported primarily through the offerings of those led by the Holy Spirit to contribute.  Regular, systematic and proportional giving to the Lord’s work is considered to be a Christian responsibility and privilege.  The fiscal year of Burning Hearts is from January 1 through December 31. All donors will be sent a statement of the entire year's donations in January of the following year. Non-cash contributions will be acknowledged by letter of appreciation, but with no cash value being assigned to the gift.

C.    Use of Property

Burning Hearts' property, both personal and real, shall not be used for, nor may its employees participate in any rights, rituals, or ceremonies that are not permissible by God or in conflict with our Statement of Faith.

D.    Division of Property

In the event that Burning Hearts should ever face an unplanned division, the physical property of the church shall remain with those whom the Elders decide have most closely adhered to this Constitution.

E.    Dissolution of Burning Hearts

In the event that Burning Hearts should ever dissolve, all rights, title and interest in Burning Hearts’ physical property shall be sold or otherwise disposed of by the Trustees of Burning Hearts with the proceeds to be distributed to one or more nonprofit Christian organizations.

 

Article IV – Provisions for By-Laws

Burning Hearts shall make such By-Laws to this Constitution as necessary, for the management of its affairs.  By-Laws, amendments and revisions must be presented in writing to the members at least two weeks prior to the Membership Business Meeting at which they are to be considered. Written ballots are required and at least seventy-five (75) percent of the ballots cast are required to adopt, amend or revise the By-Laws.

 

Article V – Amendments to the Constitution

Amendments and revisions to this Constitution can be made only at a Membership Business Meeting. All amendments and revisions must be presented at the previous annual Membership Business Meeting, thus giving church members one year to consider the proposed changes before they actually vote.  Written ballots are required and at least seventy-five (75) percent of the ballots cast are required to amend or revise this Constitution.