Christ Our Refuge Fellowship
ARTICLE I: Name
The name of this church is Christ Our Refuge Fellowship.
ARTICLE II: Purpose
Christ Our Refuge Fellowship exists to promote the truth, glory, and beauty of the triune God, using the means and methods of the Holy Scriptures including: biblical preaching, worship, evangelizing the lost, fellowship, attending to the needs of the poor and the needy, edifying one another, and providing a robust defense of the faith to individuals and in the market place of ideas.
ARTICLE III: Membership
Section 1 – Qualifications
As many as profess repentance towards God and faith in the redemption and atonement of the life, death, resurrection, and Lordship of Jesus Christ as the only and necessary means of salvation, as revealed in Holy Scripture, and whose manner, conduct and speech bear some evidence of the saving grace of God, are welcome to inquire for membership.
Prospective members must accept and be willing to fellowship and minster within the Mission Statement, Statement of Faith, and Fellowship Commitment of this church, as set forth in those instruments.
Prospective members must be baptized in accordance with the Ordinance of Baptism revealed in Holy Scripture, as detailed in the Statement of Faith of this church. Prospective members who were previously baptized in the aforementioned manner shall not be required to undergo baptism a second time.
Section 2 – Receiving New Members
A church Elder will meet with the prospective member, at the request of the prospective member, to determine whether the qualifications for membership have been satisfied.
The Elders will recommend prospective members who do meet those qualifications to the congregation at any ministry meeting or regular worship service without special notice. The prospective member will have the opportunity to share his or her testimony, and to commit to fellowship and covenant with the existing membership, who shall likewise commit to the new member.
Section 3 – Dismissal of Membership
Members who unite with another church shall by virtue of that act terminate their membership with Christ Our Refuge Fellowship.
Members who relocate from the area will be encouraged to commit to another local church of like faith in the geographic area to which they move.
Section 4 – Church Discipline
Members in serious violation of biblical instruction, the Statement of Faith, and the Fellowship Commitment of this church, shall invite that process of church discipline, intervention, and correction needful to the full restoration of that person to God, individual(s), and/or the general congregation.
Issues relating to personal offense should first be dealt with in a mature, biblically sound manner between the concerned parties and only those parties. If those individuals cannot resolve that matter, other witnesses should be involved to assist in the reconciliation and/or repentance process. If the matter remains unresolved despite those best efforts, one or more Elders should intervene to bring about resolution, repentance, and reconciliation, when at all possible. If the matter still remains unresolved, the Elders shall entreat the wise counsel the congregation. If one or more members in the offense resist those best efforts, the Elders shall instruct the congregation to consider that person(s) out of fellowship, having forfeited membership, until such a time as genuine repentance towards God and a genuine desire to re-commit to the congregation is made. The goal of this process is the spiritual well-being of the person(s) involved, as well as the congregation.
Sin issues beyond matters of personal offense are a serious concern to the entire church body. These issues will likewise be dealt with in a biblically sound manner. If a member is involved in ongoing unrepentant and/or serious sin, Elders and/or others confirmed among the membership as spiritually mature will seek to convince the sinning member of the specific biblical violation of moral, ethical conduct he or she is practicing. Those who refuse those good efforts and refuse to repent of their actions willfully compromise their commitment to the local church at Christ Our Refuge Fellowship and will be subject to suspension of membership benefits including temporary revocation of voting privileges. If those best efforts to bring about the necessary change in the member’s conduct are still resisted by the offending member, the Elders shall instruct the congregation to consider that person(s) out of fellowship, having forfeited membership, until such a time as genuine repentance towards God and a genuine desire to re-commit to the congregation is made. The goal of this process is the spiritual well-being of the person(s) involved, as well as the congregation.
ARTICLE IV: Church Government
Section 1 – Officers
There are two church offices: Elder and Deacon (Elder and Pastor are interchangeable terms for the same office).
Elders are men and are charged with the shepherding, oversight, and rule of the assembly, and devote themselves to the ministry of the Word and prayer to those ends.
Qualified men expressing a desire to serve the church in the office of Elder are recommended to the assembly by unanimous consent of the Elders. The Elders will announce the names of those men to the assembly at least one month prior to any election to that office, at any regularly scheduled gathering, or at any special meeting called by the Elders for purposes of that announcement. Qualified men for the office of Elder will be elected by ¾ vote of the voting membership. Elders retain that church office for as long as they are willing, able, and qualified. Elders may be removed from office by ¾ vote of the membership.
Deacons are responsible for administering the benevolent concerns, ordinary business, and secular affairs of the church, so that the Elders may devote themselves without distraction to the biblical priorities of their office. Qualified men for the office of Deacon are recommended to the assembly by unanimous consent of the Elders, and are elected by ¾ vote of the voting membership. Deacons retain that church office for as long as they are willing, able, and qualified. Deacons may be removed from office by ¾ vote of the membership.
Election of officers is to be conducted by paper ballot, by members only.
The church is responsible for giving adequate financial compensation, according to its ability and according to the evidence of a man's gift, especially, but not exclusively, to those Elders who labor in the Word.
Section 2 – Diaconal Assistants
As needed, the church may elect godly men and women of the congregation to assist the Deacons in the administration of the benevolent concerns, ordinary business, and secular affairs of the church.
Diaconal Assistant is not a New Testament office, and as such, those assistants are not installed in the manner of Elder and Deacon, but are elected by simple majority of the voting membership.
Diaconal Assistants include but are not limited to a) Secretary, b) Treasurer.
Article V: Congregational Business Meetings
Section 1 – General Statement
There shall be three categories of meetings under these by-laws. These are
The annual business meeting. These meetings shall be for the purpose of receiving reports from the Elders, Deacons, and any church ministries from which a report is requested by the Elders, and for the transaction of other business, which may include the initial election of Elders, Deacons, and Diaconal Assistants.
Other business meetings requiring congregational votes. These meetings may include but are not limited to the initial election of Elders, Deacons, and Diaconal Assistants, matters involving the purchase and sale of church properties, and certain matters of church discipline, as set forth in the Fellowship Commitment of the church.
Meetings called for purposes not requiring a congregational vote. These meetings may include but are not limited to meetings for the hearing of special reports or seeking the counsel of the congregation; meetings called to announce certain actions of the Elders not requiring congregational votes; meetings called on an emergency basis to advise the congregation of serious matters of concern, in advance of a meeting requiring a congregational vote; and meetings called for the purpose of instructing the congregation in rules of conduct so that everything is done decently and in order in our life together.
Section 2 – Notice of Meetings
No less than ten days' notice shall be given of the annual business meeting and other business meetings requiring congregational votes. Notice shall include posting a written notice of the meeting and verbally announcing the meeting to the congregation.
Meetings called for purposes not requiring a congregational vote may be called on shorter notice.
Section 3 – Quorum
The regular members present at any properly convened congregational business meeting shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business, etc.
Section 4 – Agenda
The Elders and Deacons of the church will set the agenda for all business meetings. Members may submit items for consideration at least five days prior to the day of the scheduled meeting.
Section 5 – Chairmanship
As a general rule, one of the Elders shall preside at congregational business meetings. In the case of their absence or inability to serve, or due to the nature of the business being considered, the Elders may appoint another officer to preside, or the church may appoint a chairman in the absence of Elders.
Section 6 – Voting
We reject the necessity of following Roberts Rules of Order or similar man-made standards of parliamentary procedure.
All members over the age of 18 and in good standing may vote on any question properly brought before the congregation. Unanimity of heart and mind shall at all times be sought and prayed for (Acts 6:5), but when unanimity is not realized, not less than a ¾ majority of the members present and voting shall be required to make any resolution valid.
Exception: election of Diaconal Assistants requires a simple majority vote (see above, Article IV, Section 2, 2).
Section 7 – Closed Meetings
Church meetings are private matters involving the business of the household of God. For this reason, attendance at church meetings will be limited to members of Christ Our Refuge Fellowship. Guests may be permitted to attend by specific action of the church at the convening of a meeting.
Article VI: Dissolution
In the event that Christ Our Refuge Fellowship must dissolve, all assets will be used to pay any outstanding debts incurred by the church. All remaining funds and assets will be distributed equitably among the missionaries (domestic or foreign) and/or ministries supported by the church at the time of dissolution. Under no circumstances shall any member or officer of Christ Our Refuge Fellowship profit from the dissolution of this assembly.
Article VII: Amendments
Section 1 – Approval
These by-laws may be amended by a ¾ majority of the members present and voting at a duly convened business meeting of the congregation.
Section 2 – Notice
No proposed amendment may be voted on which has not been distributed to the congregation in written form at least one month prior to such a meeting. Also, during that period and separate from the meeting at which a vote will be taken, there must be at least one meeting at which the Elders shall present the biblical reasons for the proposed amendment and entertain appropriate questions.