Pastor Chris Peponis 5335 Clemons Road    East Ridge, TN. 37412     Phone: 423-894-8080 The Friend  tha t is  closer tha n a  b ro ther.
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Where we stand at Fellowship Baptist: Our Constitution

CHURCH CONSTITUTION

Preamble


So that things may be done decently and in order in accordance with the accepted tenets of other churches of like faith, and that we may more readily help each other in our Christian service, we declare and establish this constitution to which we voluntarily submit ourselves.



ARTICLE 1

NAME AND PURPOSE


SECTION 1 – This congregation of believers shall be known as the

FELLOWSHIP BAPTIST CHURCH


SECTION 2 – This congregation is organized as a church exclusively for charitable, religious and educational purposes within the meaning of Section 501 ©3 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (or the corresponding provision of an future United States Revenue Law), including, but not limited to, for such purposes, the establishing and maintaining of religious worship, the building, maintaining and operation of churches, parsonages, schools, chapels, radio stations, television stations, rescue missions, print shops, daycare centers, camps, nursing homes, cemeteries, and any other ministries that the church may be led of God to establish.


SECTION 3 – The church shall also ordain and license qualified men to the gospel ministry; evangelize the unsaved by the proclaiming of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ; educate believers in a manner consistent with the requirements of Holy Scripture, both in Sunday and weekday schools of Christian education; maintain missionary activities in the United States and any foreign country; and engage in any other ministry that the church may decide; from time to time to pursue in obedience to the will of God.



ARTICLE II

STATEMENT OF FAITH AND COVENANT


SECTION 1 – STATEMENT OF FAITH


(A)  The Holy Scriptures

We believe the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the verbally and plenary inspired Word of God.  The scriptures are inerrant, infallible, God-breathed, and therefore are the final authority for faith and practice.  The sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments are the complete and divine revelation of God to man.  The scriptures shall be interpreted according to their normal grammatical-historical meaning.  The King James Version of the Bible shall be the official translation used by the church.  (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21)



(B)   Dispensationalism


We believe that the scriptures interpreted in their natural, literal sense reveal divinely determined dispensations or rules of life, which define man’s responsibilities in successive stages.  These dispensations are not ways of salvation, but rather are divinely ordered stewardships by which God directs man according to His purpose.  Three of these dispensations – the age of law, the age of the church and the age of the kingdom – are the subjects of detailed revelation in scripture.  (Genesis 1:28; 1 Corinthians 9:17; 2 Corinthians 3:9-18; Galatians 3:13-25; Ephesians 1:20; 3:2-10; Colossians 1:24-25, 27; Revelation 20:2-6)


(C)  The Godhead


We believe in one Triune God, eternally existing in three persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Each co-eternal in being, co-identical in nature, co-equal in power and glory and having the same attributes and perfections.  (Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; John 14:10, 26)


(D)  The Person and Work of Christ


1. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, became man without ceasing to be God, having been conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, in order that He might reveal God and redeem sinful men.  (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6; Luke 1:35; John 1:1-2, 14; 2 Corinthians 5:19-21; Galatians 4:4-5; Philippians 2:5-8)


2. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ accomplished our redemption through His death on the cross as a representative, vicarious, substitutionary sacrifice; and that our justification is made sure by His literal, physical resurrection from the dead.  (Acts 2:18-36; Romans 3:24-25; 1 Peter 2:24; Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:3-5)


3. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ ascended to heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God where, as our High Priest, He fulfills the ministry of Representative, Intercessor and Advocate.  (Acts 1:9-10; Hebrews 9:24, 7:25; Romans 8:34; 1 John 2:1-2)


(E)  The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit


1. We believe that the Holy Spirit is a Person who convicts the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment; and that He is the supernatural agent in regeneration, baptizing all believers into the body of Christ, indwelling and sealing them unto the day of redemption.  (John 16:8-11; Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 12:12-14; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Ephesians 1:13-14)


2. We believe that He is the divine teacher who assists believers to understand and appropriate the scriptures and that it is the privilege and duty of all saved to be filled with the Spirit.  (Ephesians 1:17-18, 5:18; 1 John 2:20,27)


3. We believe that God is sovereign in the bestowal of spiritual gifts to every believer.  God uniquely uses evangelists, pastors and teachers to equip believers in the assembly in order that they can do the work of the ministry.  (Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 28; Ephesians 4:7-12)


4. We believe that the sign gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as speaking in tongues and the gift of healing, were temporary.  We believe that speaking in tongues was never the common or necessary sign of the baptism or filling of the Holy Spirit and the ultimate deliverance of the body from sickness or death awaits the consummation of our salvation in the resurrection, though God frequently chooses to answer the prayers of believers for physical healing.

(1 Corinthians 1:22, 13:8, 14:21-22)


(F)  The Total Depravity of Man


We believe that man was created in the image and likeness of God, but that in Adam’s sin the human race fell, inherited a sinful nature, and became alienated from God; and that man is totally depraved and, of himself, utterly unable to remedy his lost condition.  (Genesis 1:26-27; Romans 3:22-23, 5:12, 6:23; Ephesians 2:1-3, 4:17-19)





(G)  Salvation


We believe that salvation is the gift of God brought to man by grace and received by personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ whose precious blood was shed on Calvary for the forgiveness of our sins.  (John 1:12; Ephesians 1:7, 2:8-10; 1 Peter 1:18-19)


(H)  The Eternal Security and Assurance of Believers


1. We believe that all redeemed, once saved, are kept by God’s power and are thus secure in Christ forever.  (John 6:37-40, 10:27-30; Romans 8:1, 38-39; 1 Corinthians 1:4-8; 1 Peter 1:4-5)


2. We believe that it is the privilege of believers to rejoice in the assurance of their salvation through the testimony of God’s Word which, however, clearly forbids the use of Christian liberty as an occasion to the flesh.  (Romans 13:13-14; Galatians 5:13; Titus 2:11-15)


(I)  The Church


1. We believe that the local church, which is the body and the espoused bride of Christ, is solely made up of born-again persons.  (1 Corinthians 12:12-14; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 1:22-23, 5:25-27)


2. We believe that the establishment and continuance of local churches is clearly taught and defined in the New Testament scriptures.  (Acts 14:27, 20:17, 28-32; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-11)


3. We believe in the autonomy of the local church free of any external authority or control.  (Acts 13:1-4, 15:19-21, 20:28; Romans 16:1,4; 1 Corinthians 3:9, 16, 5:4-7, 13; 1 Peter 5:1-4)


4. We recognize water baptism and the Lord’s Supper as the scriptural ordinances of obedience for the church in this age.  (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 2:41-42, 18:18; 1 Corinthians 11:23-16)


(J)  Separation


We believe that all the saved should live in such a manner as not to bring reproach upon their Saviour and Lord; and that separation from all religious apostasy, all worldly and


sinful pleasures, practices and associations is commanded of God.    (Romans 12:1-2, 14:13; 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; 1 John 2:15-17; 2 John 9-11)


(K)  The Second Advent of Christ


We believe in that “blessed hope”, the personal, imminent return of Christ Who will rapture His Church prior to the seven year Tribulation period.  At the end of the Tribulation, Christ will personally and visibly return with His saints to establish His earthly Messianic Kingdom which was promised to the nation of Israel.  (Psalms 89:3-4; Daniel 2:31-45; Zechariah 14:4-11; 1 Thessalonians 1:10, 4:13-18; Titus 2:13; Revelation 3:10, 19:11-16, 20:1-6)


(L)  The Eternal State


1. We believe in the bodily resurrection of all men, the saved to eternal life, and the unsaved to judgment and everlasting punishment.  (Matthew 25:46; John 5:5:28-29, 11:25-26; Revelation 20:5-6, 12-13)


2. We believe that the souls of the redeemed are, at death, absent from the body and present with the Lord, where in conscious bliss they await the first resurrection, when spirit, soul and body are reunited to be glorified forever with the Lord.  (Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 5:8; Philemon 1:23, 3:21; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Revelation 20:4-6)


3. We believe that the souls of unbelievers remain, after death, in conscious punishment and torment until the second resurrection, when with soul and body reunited, they shall appear at the Great White Throne Judgment and shall be cast forever into the Lake of Fire, not to be annihilated, but to suffer everlasting conscious punishment and torment.  (Matthew 25:41-46; Mark 9:43-48; Luke 16:19-26; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9, Jude 1:6-7; Revelation 20:11-15)



(M)  The Personality of Satan


We believe that Satan is a being, the author of sin and the cause of the fall of man; that he is the open and declared enemy of God and man, and that he shall be eternally punished in the Lake of Fire.

(Job 1:6-7; Isaiah 14:12-17; Matthew 4:2-11, 25:41; Revelation 20:10)



(N)  Missions


We believe that God has given the church a great commission to proclaim the gospel to all nations so that there might be a great multitude from every nation, tribe, ethnic group and language group who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.  As ambassadors of Christ we must use all available means to go to the foreign nations and not wait for them to come to us.  (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:46-68; John 20:21; Acts 1: 8; 2 Corinthians 5:20)


(O)  Giving


We believe that every Christian, as a steward of that portion of God’s wealth entrusted to him, is obligated to support his local church financially.  We believe that God has established a tithe as a basis for giving but that every Christian should also give other offerings sacrificially and cheerfully to the support of the church, the relief of those in need and the spread of the gospel.  (Genesis 14:20; Proverbs 3:9-10; Acts 4:34-37; 1 Corinthians 16:2; 2 Corinthians 9:6-7; Galatians 6:6; Ephesians 4:28; 1 Timothy 5:17-18; 1 John 3:17)




CHURCH COVENANT


Having been led, as we believe, by the Spirit of God, to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour, and on the profession of our faith, having been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, we do now in the presence of God, angels 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 secret devotions; to religiously educate our children; to seek the salvation of our kindred and acquaintances; to walk circumspectly in the world; to be just in our dealings, faithful in our engagements and exemplary in our


deportment; to avoid all tattling, backbiting and excessive anger; to abstain from the sale and use of intoxicating drinks as a beverage and to be zealous in our efforts to advance the kingdom of our Saviour.


We further engage to watch over one another in brotherly love; to remember each other in prayer; to aid each other in sickness and distress; to cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and courtesy in speech; to be slow to take offense but always ready for reconciliation, and mindful of the rules of our Saviour, to secure it without delay.


We moreover engage that, when we remove from this place, we will as soon as possible unite with some other church where we can carry on the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God’s law.



ARTICLE III

GOVERNMENT


SECTION 1 – This church shall be governed by the majority vote of the congregation of members present and voting; is not a legislative body but administrative only; and recognizes and/or acknowledges no earthly ecclesiastical tribunal higher than herself.


SECTION 2 – The New Testament is this church’s only and sole all-sufficient authority and rule of faith and practice.


ARTICLE IV

MEMBERSHIP


SECTION 1 – Persons desiring to do so may become members of this church in the following manner:


A. By baptism


B. By letter from another Baptist church of like faith and doctrine, provided said person shall have been scripturally baptized on the authority of a local New Testament church.


C. In the case of disciplined members, by restoration when same has been requested.  Request for restoration can be made to the church when an attitude of repentance is expressed.


D. By statement, showing beliefs to be the same as those of the church – provided the church of which he or she was a member shall have gone out of existence, or applicant is unable to obtain a letter of transfer of membership for reasons other than exclusion and/or withdrawal of fellowship resulting from disciplinary action.


SECTION 2 – Persons desiring to terminate membership may also do so in the following manner:


A. Upon the death of the member.


B. Upon issuance of a church letter of dismissal and/or recommendation for membership to another Baptistic church.


C. Upon a member joining a church of another faith.


D. Upon withdrawal of fellowship by the church from a member as provided for by the Holy scriptures, and more particularly Matthew 18:15-17 and 1 Corinthians 5 and disregard for the Church Covenant and Articles of Faith.


SECTION 3 – Non-resident members are those who live too far removed from the Chattanooga area to maintain active membership but who prefer, for a valid reason, to remain as members, who communicate with the church by informing the clerk as to their current address and making an offering at least once a year.  Such members shall continue to enjoy the right to vote in any church administration meeting they personally attend.


SECTION 4 – Inactive members are those who do not classify as non-resident members, who without reasonable excuse, do not attend any of the regular services of the church for a period of two months; and all non-resident members who do not communicate with the church for a period of one year may be placed on an inactive roll.  Inactive members hold no voting privileges.  Any members on the inactive list shall automatically become active members upon their resumption of regular attendance and financial support.



ARTICLE V

OFFICERS

SECTION 1 – The term of service for all offices and positions in the church, except the pastor, shall be one year, at the expiration of which they may be reelected or reappointed.


SECTION 2 – PASTOR


A.  His call to the church.


1. A pastor will be called by the church at a meeting called by three-fourths vote of the active members present and voting.  The pastor shall continue in this office until his service is terminated by his death or resignation.  The office of pastor can also be declared vacant upon three fourths vote of the church due to an immoral lifestyle or failure to preach and/or practice the Bible as the inspired, inerrant and infallible Word of God.  There must be at least a two service notice for any church administration meeting called for the purpose of dismissing the pastor.


2. The pastor of the church may resign his position at any time by notifying the church membership at any regular worship service of his intention to resign.  No reason need be given.  He is free to arrange for his departure on any date of his choice but not to exceed a period of 45 days following his notification to the church.


3. When a vacancy exists in the office of pastor, the deacons shall assemble at the earliest opportunity and form themselves into a pulpit committee.  It shall be the committee’s responsibility to select and question prospective candidates.  Upon a majority vote, the pulpit committee shall arrange for the candidate to present himself to the church membership as a congregation.  The candidate will be voted on the Sunday evening after services whether or not to call him as pastor when there has been a two service notice given of the pulpit committee’s recommendation.


4. The pastor’s compensation shall be reviewed annually by the board of deacons and bring any resulting recommendations to the church for approval.




B.  His responsibility to the church.


1. The pastor is to be the spiritual leader of the church as well as the principal managing officer of the church, its integrated educational institutions and its auxiliaries.  According to scripture, the pastor is to have rule over the church and must give account to God for the way he leads.  (Hebrews 13:17)


2. The pastor, with the counsel and advice of the deacons, shall have full power and authority to employ such employees as are necessary to carry on the work of the church.  Any associate pastor or assistant pastor shall be under the supervision of the pastor, who alone sets the salaries for all employees.


3. It shall be the duty of the pastor to preach to the church, to administer or cause to be administered, the ordinances of the church and to act as moderator at the meetings.


SECTION 3 – Deacons


A. The first deacons were men appointed in New Testament times by the apostles to take care of a need in the daily ministration of the church.  They were to assist the apostles so that the apostles would have more time for prayer and ministry of the Word (Acts 6:1-7).  The word deacon means servant; therefore, the duty of the deacon is to be a servant or assistant to the pastor and the church in whatever capacity the pastor sees that will benefit the church.


B. The qualifications for deacons are found in Acts 6:1-7 and 1 Timothy 3:8-13.  The deacons must support the Church Covenant, Statement of Faith and commit himself to keeping unity in the church.


C. The deacons shall be elected from among members of the church.  The number of deacons shall be determined by the pastor.  Candidates for the office of deacon will be recommended by the pastor to the existing deacons.  The existing deacons, along with the pastor, will always act as the nominating committee for new deacons.  After prayerful consideration, the nominating committee then votes on the names to be submitted to a church membership vote.  Thereafter, the nominating committee presents to the membership its recommendations to fill the office of deacon at a church administration meeting of the church membership.




D. On behalf of the church and without additional church action, the deacons may accept the resignation of any deacon, and may drop from its membership any deacon who is absent from the services without an excuse deemed valid by the deacons and the pastor, or disqualifies himself from the office of deacon.



SECTION 4 – Trustees


A.  The board of deacons shall constitute the board of trustees.  The board of trustees shall exercise only the following specific powers:


1. Since the office of a trustee is necessitated by civil customs and requirements, no duties are prescribed for them in the New Testament.


2. The trustees are charged by the church with the responsibility for holding and maintaining all physical properties.  


3. They shall represent the church in all necessary legal matters, but shall in no wise incur any debt or obligation or dispose of any physical property without approval of the church by vote in business session, either called or stated.


4. They shall, when necessary, make emergency repairs in order to continue the services of the church.


SECTION 5 – Clerk


It shall be the duty of the clerk to keep an accurate record of the proceedings of the church and to be present at all church administration meetings.  Is shall be his/her duty to work at the front of the sanctuary obtaining full reports from those that respond to the invitation.


SECTION 6 – Treasurer


It shall be the duty of the treasurer to give an accurate account of the finances received through the offerings with the assistance needed.  This account should be available upon request to the membership of the church.  All funds contributed shall be dispersed as directed by the pastor of the church.


ARTICLE VI

MEETINGS

SECTION 1 – Meetings for worship.


A.  Unless otherwise determined by the pastor, the church shall meet each Sunday for public worship both morning and evening and at least once during the week for Bible study and prayer.  Except when circumstances forbid it, the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper shall be observed at least quarterly.


B.  Meetings for church administration.


1. An annual church administration meeting will be held as deemed necessary.


2. The pastor may call business meetings as required.


3. The pastor shall preside at all meetings when business is transacted except in instances when the pastor is incapacitated, or the church is without a pastor, or the pastor has announced his resignation, in which instance the chairman of the board of deacons shall preside.  The pastor shall also be chairman of all committees appointed  or elected to transact any business for, or pertaining to, the church.



AMENDMENTS

ARTICLE 11, SECTION 1

STATEMENT OF FAITH


(P)  Marriage


We believe that marriage is a sacred institution established by God between a man and a woman.  Genesis 1:26-28, 2:18-25, Matthew 19:3-9.  Marriage is not the union of two men or two women, in fact, the union of two men or two women is an abomination to God.  (Romans 1:22-32)


ARTICLE IV, SECTION 1

MEMBERSHIP


(E)  In cases of people engaged in immoral or illegal practices such as adultery, fornication, homosexuality, child molestation, drunkenness, drug abuse and other unforeseen immoral behavior, they will not be considered for membership unless there is a repentant heart and a change in their behavior.  (1 Corinthians 5:1-13, 6:9-11 and 15-20)

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