Since it pleased Almighty God, by His Holy Spirit, to call certain of His servants to unite here, for the worship of God and the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ; and
Whereas we, the members of Arlington Baptist Church, having searched the Scriptures under the guidance of His Spirit, have recognized the need to constitute ourselves to more closely conform to His will for the Church in this age and prepare ourselves for greater efforts in His name;
Now therefore we, the members of Arlington Baptist Church, do hereby organize ourselves in accord with the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia and adopt this Constitution as our articles of governance, to be interpreted at all times to reflect the character of and bring glory to Jesus Christ, as revealed in the Holy Bible and articulated in the standards set forth in the Statement of Faith (1853) and Covenant of this church.
Article I – Name
This body shall be organized as a church known as “Arlington Baptist Church.”
Article II – Purpose
This church exists by the grace of God, for the glory of God, which shall be the ultimate purpose in all its activities. This church glorifies God by loving Him and obeying His commands through:
Equipping the saints through Bible instruction and study;
Proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ through preaching and personal evangelism, and any other means consistent with the teachings of Holy Scripture;
Encouraging, supporting, and participating in missions work; local, domestic, and international;
Administering the ordinances of baptism and communion;
Encouraging Biblical fellowship among believers;
Serving other individuals, families, and churches by providing for physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, in the name of Jesus Christ; and
Calling fellow churches to biblical faithfulness and purity through instruction and encouragement about the nature of the local church.
Article III – Statement of Faith
The church adopts the following as its statement of faith.
1. Of the Scriptures
We believe that the Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired, and is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction (2 Tim. 3:16–17; 2 Pet. 1:21; 2 Sam. 23:2; Acts 1:16; 3:21; John 10:35; Luke 16:29–31; Psa. 119:11; Rom. 3:1–2); that it has God for its author, salvation for its end (2 Tim. 3:15; 1 Pet. 1:10–12; Acts 11:14; Rom. 1:16; Mark 16:16; John 5:38–39), and truth without any mixture of error for its matter (Prov. 30:5–6; John 17:17; Rev. 22:18–19; Rom. 3:4); that it reveals the principles by which God will judge us (Rom. 2:12; John 12:47–48; 1 Cor. 4:3–4; Luke 10:10–16; 12:47–48); and therefore is, and shall remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union (Phil. 3:16; Eph. 4:3–6; Phil. 2:1–2; 1 Cor. 1:10; 1 Pet. 4:11), and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions should be tried (1 John 4:1; Isa. 8:20; 1 Thess. 5:21; 2 Cor. 8:5; Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:6; Jude 3:5; Eph. 6:17; Psa. 119:59–60; Phil. 1:9–11).
2. Of the True God
We believe that there is one, and only one, living and true God, an infinite, intelligent Spirit, whose name is JEHOVAH, the Maker and Supreme Ruler of Heaven and earth (John 4:24; Psa. 147:5; 83:18; Heb. 3:4; Rom. 1:20; Jer. 10:10); inexpressibly glorious in holiness (Exod. 15:11; Isa. 6:3; 1 Pet. 1:15–16; Rev. 4:6–8), and worthy of all possible honor, confidence, and love (Mark 12:30; Rev. 4:11; Matt. 10:37; Jer. 2:12–13); that in the unity of the Godhead there are three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost (Matt. 28:19; John 15:26; 1 Cor. 12:4–6; 1 John 5:7); equal in every divine perfection (John 10:30; 5:17; 14:23; 17:5, 10; Acts 5:3–4; 1 Cor. 2:10–11; Phil. 2:5–6), and executing distinct but harmonious offices in the great work of redemption (Eph. 2:18; 2 Cor. 13:14; Rev. 1:4–5; comp. 2, 7).
3. Of the Fall of Man
We believe that man was created in holiness, under the law of his Maker (Gen. 1:27, 31; Eccl. 7:29; Acts 16:26; Gen. 2:16); but by voluntary transgression fell from that holy and happy state (Gen. 3:6–24; Rom. 5:12); in consequence of which all mankind are now sinners (Rom. 5:19; John 3:6; Psa. 51:5; Rom. 5:15–19; 8:7), not by constraint, but choice (Isa. 53:6; Gen. 6:12; Rom. 3:9–18); being by nature utterly void of that holiness required by the law of God, positively inclined to evil; and therefore under just condemnation to eternal ruin (Eph. 2:1–3; Rom. 1:18, 32; 2:1–16; Gal. 3:10; Matt. 20:15), without defense or excuse (Ezek. 18:19–20; Rom. 1:20; 3:19; Gal. 3:22).
4. Of the Way of Salvation
We believe that the salvation of sinners is wholly of grace (Eph. 2:5; Matt. 18:11; 1 John 4:10; 1 Cor. 3:5–7; Acts 15:11), through the mediatorial offices of the Son of God (John 3:16; 1:1–14; Heb. 4:14; 12:24); who by the appointment of the Father, freely took upon him our nature, yet without sin (Phil. 2:6–7; Heb. 2:9, 14; 2 Cor. 5:21); honored the divine law by his personal obedience (Isa. 42:21; Phil. 2:8; Gal. 4:4–5; Rom. 3:21), and by his death made a full atonement for our sins (Isa. 53:4–5; Matt. 20:28; Rom. 4:25; 3:21–26; 1 John 4:10; 2:2; 1 Cor. 15:1–3; Heb. 9:13–15); that having risen from the dead, he is now enthroned in heaven (Heb. 1:8, 3; 8:1; Col. 3:1–4); and uniting in his wonderful person the tenderest sympathies with divine perfections, he is every way qualified to be a suitable, a compassionate, and an all-sufficient Savior (Heb. 7:25; Col. 2:9; Heb. 2:18; 7:26; Psa. 89:19; Psa. 14).
5. Of Justification
We believe that the great gospel blessing which Christ (John 1:16; Eph. 3:8) secures to such as believe in him is Justification (Acts 13:39; Isa. 3:11–12; Rom. 8:1); that Justification includes the pardon of sin (Rom. 5:9; Zech. 13:1; Matt. 9:6; Acts 10:43), and the promise of eternal life on principles of righteousness (Rom. 5:17; Titus 3:5–6; 1 Pet. 3:7; 1 John 2:25; Rom. 5:21); that it is bestowed, not in consideration of any works of righteousness which we have done, but solely through faith in the Redeemer’s blood (Rom. 4:4–5; 5:21; 6:23; Phil. 3:7-9); by virtue of which faith his perfect righteousness is freely imputed to us of God (Rom. 5:19; 3:24–26; 4:23–25; 1 John 2:12); that it brings us into a state of most blessed peace and favor with God, and secures every other blessing needful for time and eternity (Rom. 5:1–3, 11; 1 Cor. 1:30–31; Matt. 6:33; 1 Tim. 4:8).
6. Of the Freeness of Salvation
We believe that the blessings of salvation are made free to all by the gospel (Isa. 55:1; Rev. 22:17; Luke 14:17); that it is the immediate duty of all to accept them by a cordial, penitent, and obedient faith (Rom. 16:26; Mark 1:15; Rom. 1:15–17); and that nothing prevents the salvation of the greatest sinner on earth but his own inherent depravity and voluntary rejection of the gospel (John 5:40; Matt. 23:37; Rom. 9:32; Prov. 1:24; Acts 13:46); which rejection involves him in an aggravated condemnation (John 3:19; Matt. 11:20; Luke 19:27; 2 Thess. 1:8).
7. Of Grace in Regeneration
We believe that, in order to be saved, sinners must be regenerated, or born again (John 3:3, 6–7; 1 Cor. 1:14; Rev. 8:7–9; 21:27); that regeneration consists in giving a holy disposition to the mind (2 Cor. 5:17; Ezek. 36:26; Deut. 30:6; Rom. 2:28–29; 5:5; 1 John 4:7); that it is effected in a manner above our comprehension by the power of the Holy Spirit, in connection with divine truth (John 3:8; 1:13; James 1:16–18; 1 Cor. 1:30; Phil. 2:13), so as to secure our voluntary obedience to the gospel (1 Pet. 1:22–25; 1 John 5:1; Eph. 4:20–24; Col. 3:9–11); and that its proper evidence appears in the holy fruits of repentance, and faith, and newness of life (Eph. 5:9; Rom. 8:9; Gal. 5:16–23; Eph. 3:14–21; Matt. 3:8–10; 7:20; 1 John 5:4, 18).
8. Of Repentance and Faith
We believe that Repentance and Faith are sacred duties, and also inseparable graces, wrought in our souls by the regenerating Spirit of God (Mark 1:15; Acts 11:18; Eph. 2:8; 1 John 5:1); whereby being deeply convinced of our guilt, danger, and helplessness, and of the way of salvation by Christ (John 16:8; Acts 2:37–38; 16:30–31), we turn to God with unfeigned contrition, confession, and supplication for mercy (Luke 18:13; 15:18–21; James 4:7–10; 2 Cor. 7:11; Rom. 10:12–13; Psa. 51); at the same time heartily receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as our Prophet, Priest, and King, and relying on him alone as the only and all-sufficient Savior (Rom. 10:9–11; Acts 3:22–23: Heb. 4:14; Psa. 2:6; Heb. 1:8; 8:25; 2 Tim. 1:12).
9. Of God’s Purpose of Grace
We believe that Election is the eternal purpose of God, according to which he graciously regenerates, sanctifies, and saves sinners (2 Tim. 1:8–9; Eph. 1:3–14; 1 Pet. 1:1–2; Rom. 11:5–6; John 15:15; 1 John 4:19; Hos. 12:9); that being perfectly consistent with the free agency of man, it comprehends all the means in connection with the end (2 Thess. 2:13–14; Acts 13:48; John 10:16; Matt. 20:16; Acts 15:14); that it is a most glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness, being infinitely free, wise, holy, and unchangeable (Exod. 33:18–19; Matt. 20:15; Eph. 1:11; Rom. 9:23–24: Jer. 31:3; Rom. 11:28–29; James 1:17–18; 2 Tim. 1:9; Rom. 11:32–36); that it utterly excludes boasting, and promotes humility, love, prayer, praise, trust in God, and active imitation of his free mercy (1 Cor. 4:7; 1:26–31; Rom. 3:27; 4:16; Col. 3:12; 1 Cor. 3:5–7; 15:10; 1 Pet. 5:10; Acts 1:24; 1 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 2:9; Luke 18:7; John 15:16; Eph. 1:16; 1 Thess. 2:12); that it encourages the use of means in the highest degree (2 Tim. 2:10; 1 Cor. 9:22; Rom. 8:28–30; John 6:37–40; 2 Pet. 1:10); that it may be ascertained by its effects in all who truly believe the gospel (1 Thess. 1:4–10); that it is the foundation of Christian assurance (Rom. 8:28–30; Isa. 42:16; Rom. 11:29); and that to ascertain it with regard to ourselves demands and deserves the utmost diligence (2 Pet. 1:10–11; Phil. 3:12; Heb. 6:11).
10. Of Sanctification
We believe that Sanctification is the process by which, according to the will of God, we are made partakers of his holiness (1 Thess. 4:3; 5:23; 2 Cor. 7:1; 13:9; Eph. 1:4); that it is a progressive work (Prov. 4:18; 2 Cor. 3:18; Heb. 6:1; 2 Pet. 1:5–8; Phil. 3:12–16); that it is begun in regeneration (John 2:29; Rom. 8:5; John 3:6; Phil. 1:9–11; Eph. 1:13–14); and that it is carried on in the hearts of believers by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, the Sealer and Comforter, in the continual use of the appointed means – especially the word of God, self-examination, self-denial, watchfulness, and prayer (Phil. 2:12–13; Eph. 4:11–12; 1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18; 2 Cor. 13:5; Luke 11:35; 9:23; Matt. 26:41; Eph. 6:18; 4:30).
11. Of the Perseverance of Saints
We believe that such only are real believers as endure unto the end (John 8:31; 1 John 2:27–28; 3:9; 5:18); that their persevering attachment to Christ is the grand mark which distinguishes them from superficial professors (1 John 2:19; John 13:18; Matt. 13:20–21; John 6:66–69; Job 17:9); that a special Providence watches over their welfare (Rom. 8:28; Matt. 6:30–33; Jer. 32:40; Psa. 121:3; 91:11–12); and they are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation (Phil. 1:6; 2:12–13; Jude 24-25; Heb. 1:14; 2 Kings 6:16; Heb. 13:5; 1 John 4:4).
12. Of the Harmony of the Law and the Gospel
We believe that the Law of God is the eternal and unchangeable rule of his moral government (Rom. 3:31; Matt. 5:17; Luke 16:17; Rom. 3:20; 4:15); that it is holy, just, and good (Rom. 7:12, 7, 14, 22; Gal. 3:21; Psa. 119); and that the inability which the Scriptures ascribe to fallen men to fulfill its precepts arises entirely from their love of sin (Rom. 8:7–8; Josh. 24:19; Jer. 13:23; John 6:44; 5:44); to deliver them from which, and to restore them through a Mediator to unfeigned obedience to the holy Law, is one great end of the gospel, and of the means of grace connected with the establishment of the visible church (Rom. 8:2, 4; 10:4; 1 Tim. 1:5; Heb. 8:10; Jude 20–21; Heb. 12:14; Matt. 16:17–18; 1 Cor. 12:28).
13. Of a Gospel Church
We believe that a visible church of Christ is a congregation of baptized believers (1 Cor. 1:1–13; Matt. 18:17; Acts 5:11; 8:1; 11:31; 1 Cor. 4:17; 14:23; 3 John 9; 1 Tim. 3:5), associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel (Acts 2:41–42; 2 Cor. 8:5; Acts 2:47; 1 Cor. 5:12–13); observing the ordinances of Christ (1 Cor. 11:2; 2 Thess. 3:6; Rom. 16:17–20; 1 Cor. 11:23; Matt. 18:15–20; 1 Cor 5:6; 2 Cor. 2:7; 1 Cor. 4:17); governed by his laws (Matt. 28:20; John 14:15; 15:12; 1 John 4:21; John 14:21; 1 Thess. 4.2; 2 John 6; Gal. 6:2; all the Epistles), and exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by his Word (Eph. 4:7; 1 Cor. 14:12; Phil. 1:27; 1 Cor. 12:14); that its only scriptural officers are Bishops, or Pastors, and Deacons (Phil. 1:1; Acts 14:23; 15:22; 1 Tim. 3; Titus 1), whose qualifications, claims, and duties are defined in the Epistles to Timothy and Titus.
14. Of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper
We believe that Christian Baptism is the immersion in water of a believer (Acts 8:36–39; Matt. 3:5–6; John 3:22–23; 4:1–2; Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 8:12; 16:32–34; 18:8), into the name of the Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost (Matt. 28:19; Acts 10:47–48; Gal. 3:27–28); to show forth, in a solemn and beautiful emblem, our faith in the crucified, buried, and risen Savior, with its effect in our death to sin and resurrection to a new life (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:20–21; Acts 22:16); that it is prerequisite to the privileges of a church relation; and to the Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:41–42; Matt. 28:19–20), in which the members of the church, by the sacred use of bread and wine, are to commemorate together the dying love of Christ (1 Cor. 11:26; Matt. 26:26–29; Mark 14:22–25; Luke 22:14–20); preceded always by solemn self-examination (1 Cor. 11:28; 5:1, 8; 10:3–32; 11:17–32; John 6:26–71).
15. Of the Christian Sabbath
We believe that the first day of the week is the Lord’s Day, or Christian Sabbath (Acts 20:7; Gen. 2:3; Col. 2:16–17; Mark 2:27; John 20:19; 1 Cor. 16:1–2); and is to be kept sacred to religious purposes (Exod. 20:8; Rev. 1:10; Psa. 118:24), by the devout observance of all the means of grace, both private (Psa. 119:15) and public (Heb. 10:24–25; Acts 11:26, 13:44; Lev. 19:30; Luke 4:16; Acts 17:2, 3; Psa. 26:8; 87:3); by preparation for that rest that remaineth for the people of God (Heb. 4:3–11).
16. Of Sexuality and Marriage
We believe that God wonderfully creates each person as immutably male or female and that these two distinct, complementary sexes together reflect the image of God (Gen. 1:26–28, 31a; 5:2; Matt. 19:4; Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10) and should never be denied or confused (Deut. 22:5; Matt. 19:4–6; 1 Cor. 11:11–12, 14–15, 14:33; Eph. 5:22–33; 1 Tim. 2:9–15, 1 Pet. 3:1–7); the language of gender reflects God’s creation of each person as male or female; gender is not an additional category of identity separable from a person’s created sex (Exod. 20:16; Prov. 12:22, 14:5; Zech. 8:16; Jer. 9:3, 5–6; Is. 5:20, 59:13; Eph 4:25; Col 3:9; Rev. 21:8, 22:15); marriage was created and instituted by God for the good of his creatures and creation (Gen. 1:26–28, 2:4–25, 9:1; Mal. 2:15) in order to display his gracious love (Isa. 54:5; Ezek. 16:6–14; Hos. 2:14–16; Eph. 5:25, 32) and to teach the world about how he would unite himself to his redeemed people through Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:31–32, Rev. 19:7–9); marriage is a single, exclusive, covenant union, intended to be life-long, entered into by one man and one woman to which God bears witness (Exod. 20:14; Deut. 5:18; Job 31:1; Mal. 2:14, Matt. 5:28, 5:31–32, 19:3–12, Mark 10:2–12; Rom. 7:2–3, 1 Cor. 7:39); such a union is the sole context for sexual intimacy and procreation (Gen. 1:28; Gen. 4:1; Exod. 20:14; Deut. 5:18; Job 31:1; Psa. 127:3; Prov. 5:8, 5:19–20; Mal. 2:15; Matt. 5:28; 1 Cor. 6:18; 7:2–9; Heb. 13:4); any form of sexual expression or desire outside of God’s good design is immoral, sinful, and offensive to God (Gen. 19:1–29, Lev. 18:1–30, 20:10–21; Deut. 5:21, 22:5; 2 Kgs. 23:7; Prov. 2:16–20, 5:15–20, 6:25, 7:5–22, 21:10; Amos 2:7; Matt. 5:27–30, 15:18–20; Mark 6:18, 7:20–23; Rom. 1:21–31, 13:13–14; 1 Cor. 5:1, 6:9–10, 7:36–38; Gal. 5:16–24; Eph. 4:17–24, 5:3–4; Col. 3:5; 1 Thess. 4:3–7; 1 Tim. 1:9–10; 2 Tim. 2:22; Jam. 1:13–15; 2 Pet. 2:14; Jude 6–7; Rev. 2:20–23, 21:8, 22:15).
17. Of Civil Government
We believe that civil government is of divine appointment, for the interests and good order of human society (Rom. 13:1–7; Deut. 16:18; 1 Sam. 23:3; Exod. 18:23; Jer. 30:21); and that magistrates are to be prayed for, conscientiously honored and obeyed (Matt. 22:21; Titus 3:1; 1 Pet. 2:13; 1 Tim. 2:1–8); except only in things opposed to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 5:29; Matt. 10:28; Dan. 3:15–18; 6:7–10; Acts 4:18–20) who is the only Lord of the conscience, and the Prince of the kings of the earth (Matt. 23:10; Rom. 14:4; Rev. 19:16; Psa. 72:11; Psa. 2; Rom. 14:9–13).
18. Of the Righteous and the Wicked
We believe that there is a radical and essential difference between the righteous and the wicked (Mal. 3:18; Prov. 12:26; Isa. 5:20; Gen. 18:23; Jer. 15:19; Acts 10:34–35; Rom. 6:16); that such only as through faith are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and sanctified by the Spirit of our God, are truly righteous in his esteem (Rom. 1:17; 7:6; 1 John 2:29; 3:7; Rom. 6:18, 22; 1 Cor. 11:32; Prov. 11:31; 1 Pet. 4:17–18); while all such as continue in impenitence and unbelief are in his sight wicked, and under the curse (1 John 5:19; Gal. 3:10; John 3:36; Isa. 57:21; Psa. 10:4; Isa 55:6–7); and this distinction holds among men both in and after death (Prov. 14:32; Luke 16:25; John 8:21–24; Prov. 10:24; Luke 12:4–5; 9:23–26; John 12:25–26; Eccl. 3:17; Matt. 7:13–14).
19. Of the World to Come
We believe that the end of the world is approaching (1 Pet. 4:7; 1 Cor. 7:29–31; Heb. 1:10–12; Matt. 24:35; 1 John 2:17; Matt. 28:20; 13:39–40; 2 Pet. 3:3–13); that at the last day Christ will descend from heaven (Acts 1:11; Rev. 1:7; Heb. 9:28; Acts 3:21; 1 Thess. 4:13–18; 5:1–11), and raise the dead from the grave to final retribution (Acts 24:15; 1 Cor. 15:12–59; Luke 14:14; Dan. 12:2; John 5:28–29; 6:40; 11:25–26; 2 Tim. 1:10; Acts 10:42); that a solemn separation will then take place (Matt. 13:49, 37–43; 24:30–31; 25:31–33); that the wicked will be adjudged to endless punishment, and the righteous to endless joy (Matt. 25:35–41; Rev. 22:11; 1 Cor. 6:9–10; Mark 9:43–48; 2 Pet. 2:9; Jude 7; Phil. 3:19; Rom. 6:32; 2 Cor. 5:10–11; John 4:36; 2 Cor. 4:18); and that this judgment will fix forever the final state of men in heaven or hell, on principles of righteousness (Rom. 3:5–6; 2 Thess. 1:6–12; Heb. 6:1–2; 1 Cor. 4:5; Acts 17:31; Rom. 2:2–16; Rev. 20:11–12; 1 John 2:28; 4:17).
Based on the New Hampshire Baptist Confession of Faith (1853).
Article IV – Church Covenant
Having, as we trust, been brought by divine grace to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and to give up ourselves to Him, and having been baptized upon our profession of faith, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, we do now, relying on His gracious aid, solemnly and joyfully renew our covenant with each other.
We will work and pray for the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Psalm 133:1; Ephesians 4:3; Philippians 2:2–3).
We will walk together in brotherly love, as becomes the members of a Christian church; exercise an affectionate care and watchfulness over each other and faithfully admonish and entreat one another as occasion may require (Romans 12:10; 15:14).
We will not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, nor neglect to pray for ourselves and others (Hebrews 10:24–25; Ephesians 6:18).
We will endeavor to bring up such as may at any time be under our care, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and by a pure and loving example to seek the salvation of our family and friends (Matthew 28:19-20; Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 1:28–29; Titus 2:7).
We will rejoice at each other’s happiness and endeavor with tenderness and sympathy to bear each other’s burdens and sorrows (Romans 12:15; Galatians 6:2).
We will seek, by Divine aid, to live carefully in the world, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and remembering that, as we have been voluntarily buried by baptism and raised again from the symbolic grave, so there is on us a special obligation now to lead a new and holy life (Matthew 28:19; Romans 6:4; Philippians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:21–22; Titus 2:11–12; 1 Peter 1:14–16).
We will work together for the continuance of a faithful evangelical ministry in this church, as we sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline, and doctrines. We will 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 (1 Corinthians 16:1–2; 2 Corinthians 8:1–3; 9:6–7; Philippians 1:27; 1 Timothy 5:17–18).
We will, when we move from this place, unite with some other church as soon as possible, where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God’s Word (Hebrews 10:25).
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all. Amen (2 Corinthians 13:14).
Article V – Membership
Section 1 – Qualifications
To qualify for membership in this church, a person must be a believer in Jesus Christ and give evidence of regeneration, have been baptized, in obedience to Christ, following his or her regeneration, and wholeheartedly believe in the Christian faith as revealed in the Bible. Each member must agree to submit to the teaching of scripture as expressed in the Statement of Faith and must promise to keep the commitments expressed in the Church Covenant. The elders shall be responsible for determining each person’s qualification for membership. In making this determination, they may rely on a person’s profession of faith, or such other evidence, as the elders deem appropriate.
Section 2 – Admission of Members
To be admitted into church membership, applicants shall be recommended by the elders for admission and accepted by vote of the members at any regular or special meeting of the members, and shall at that point relinquish their membership in other churches.
Section 3 – Duties and Privileges of Membership
In accordance with the duties enumerated in the Church Covenant, each member shall be privileged and expected to participate in and contribute to the ministry and life of the church, consistent with God’s leading and with the gifts, time, and material resources each has received from God. Only members shall be entitled to serve in the ministries of the church; non-members may serve on an ad-hoc basis with the approval of the elders. Notwithstanding, non-members may serve the church for purposes of administration and professional consultation.
Under Christ, this congregation is governed by its members. Therefore, it is the privilege and responsibility of members to attend all members’ meetings and vote on the election of officers, on decisions regarding membership status, and on such other matters as may be submitted to a vote.
Section 4 – On Church Discipline
Any member consistently neglectful of his or her duties as embodied in the Church Covenant or Constitution or guilty of conduct by which the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be dishonored, and so opposing the welfare of the church, shall be subject to the admonition of the elders and the discipline of the church, according to the instructions of our Lord in Matthew 18:15–17 and the example of scripture. Church discipline, then, should ordinarily be contemplated after individual private admonition has failed.
Church discipline can include admonition by the elders or congregation, suspension from communion for a definite period, deposition from office, and excommunication (see Matthew 18:15–17; 2 Thessalonians 3:14–15; 1 Timothy 5:19–20; 1 Corinthians 5:4–5).
The purpose of such discipline should be for the repentance, reconciliation, and spiritual growth of the individual disciplined (see Proverbs 15:5; 29:15; 1 Corinthians 4:14; Ephesians 6:4; 1 Timothy 3:4–5; Hebrews 12:1–11; Psalm 119:115; 141:5; Proverbs 17:10; 25:12; 27:5; Ecclesiastes 7:5; Matthew 7:26–27; 18:15–17; Luke 17:3; Acts 2:40; I Corinthians 5:5; Galatians 6:1–5; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14–15; 1 Timothy 1:20; Titus 1:13–14; James 1:22);
For the instruction in righteousness and good of other Christians, as an example to them (see Proverbs 13:20; Romans 15:14; 1 Corinthians 5:11; 15:33; Colossians 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:14 [note this is written to the whole church, not just to leaders]; 1 Timothy 5:20; Titus 1:11; Hebrews 10:24–25);
For the purity of the church as a whole (see 1 Corinthians 5:6–7; 2 Corinthians 13:10; Ephesians 5:27; 2 John 10; Jude 24; Revelation 21:2);
For the good of our corporate witness to non–Christians (see Proverbs 28:7; Matthew 5:13–16; John 13:35; Acts 5:1–14; Ephesians 5:11; 1 Timothy 3:7; 2 Peter 2:2; 1 John 3:10); and
Supremely for the glory of God by reflecting His holy character (see Deuteronomy 5:11; 1 Kings 11:2; 2 Chronicles 19:2; Ezra 6:21; Nehemiah 9:2; Isaiah 52:11; Ezekiel 36:20; Matthew 5:16; John 15:8; 18:17, 25; Romans 2:24; 15:5–6; 2 Corinthians 6:14–7: 1; Ephesians 1:4; 5:27; 1 Peter 2:12).
Section 5 – Termination of Membership
The church shall recognize the termination of a person’s membership following his or her death, and may do so after a person has voluntarily resigned or joined with another church. Membership may also be terminated as an act of church discipline (as defined in Section 4), at the recommendation of the elders and upon the vote of at least two-thirds of the members present at any regular or special meeting of the members.
The church shall have authority to refuse a member’s voluntary resignation or transfer of membership to another church, either for the purpose of proceeding with a process of church discipline, or for any other biblical reason.
Article VI – Worship Services and Meetings
Section 1 – Worship Meetings
Worship services shall be held each Lord's Day, and may be held at other times as the elders recommend and the church determines.
Section 2 – Members’ Meetings
In every meeting together, members shall act in that spirit of mutual trust, openness, and loving consideration which is appropriate within the body of our Lord Jesus Christ.
There shall be a regular members’ meeting at least every other month, at some time apart from a public worship service agreed upon by the membership.
An elder designated by the elders shall preside as moderator at all members’ meetings of the church. The elders shall see that the stated meetings of the church are regularly held and that required reports are submitted to the church by the responsible members.
Provided all constitutional provisions for notification have been met, a quorum shall be understood to be met by those members present. All votes shall be tallied based on the number of votes cast by members present.
A budget shall be approved by the membership at the November members’ meeting prior to the start of the fiscal year on January 1. Prior to this approval a budget for the next fiscal year shall be presented to the membership for review at the September members’ meeting.
At any regular or special members’ meeting, officers may be elected and positions filled as needed, so long as all relevant constitutional requirements have been met.
Special members’ meetings may be called as required by the elders, or at the written request, submitted to the elders, of five percent of the voting membership. The date, time, and purpose of any special meeting shall be announced at all public services of the church within two weeks preceding the meeting. In the event of a written request from the members, the elders shall call a special meeting to be held within one month of their receipt of the request.
Article VII – Officers
Section 1 – Summary
The Biblical offices in the church are elders (also referred to as pastors or bishops) and deacons. In addition, our church recognizes the administrative positions under this constitution of clerk and treasurer. All officers must be members of this church prior to assuming their responsibilities.
Section 2 – Elders
The elders shall be comprised of not less than three men who satisfy the qualifications for the office of elder set forth in I Timothy 3:1–7 and Titus 1:6–9. A majority of the active eldership shall be composed of church members who do not receive their primary remuneration from the church, and no elder shall hold the office of deacon during his tenure.
Subject to the will of the congregation, the elders shall oversee the ministry and resources of the church. In keeping with the principles set forth in Acts 6:1–6 and 1 Peter 5:1–4, the elders shall devote their time to prayer, the ministry of the Word (by teaching and encouraging sound doctrine), and shepherding God’s flock.
The church shall recognize men gifted and willing to serve in this calling, in accordance with the constitutional provisions on elections. These men shall be received as gifts of Christ to His church and set apart as elders. This recognition shall be reaffirmed by the church triennially. After an elder, other than the senior or associate pastor(s), has served two consecutive three-year terms, he may only be elected to the office of elder after at least one year.
An elder's term of office may be terminated by resignation or by dismissal. Any two members with reason to believe that an elder should be dismissed should express such concern to the elders and, if need be, to the congregation. Any such action shall be done in accordance with the instructions of our Lord in Matthew 18:15–17 and 1 Timothy 5:17–21. Any of the elders may be dismissed by a two-thirds vote of the members at any members’ meeting of the church.
The elders shall take particular responsibility to examine and instruct prospective members, examine and recommend all prospective candidates for offices and positions, oversee the work of the deacons and appointed church agents and committees, conduct worship services, administer the ordinances of baptism and communion, equip the membership for the work of the ministry, encourage sound doctrine and practice, admonish and correct error, oversee the process of church discipline, coordinate and promote the ministries of the church, and mobilize the church for world missions. The elders are further to ensure that all who minister the Word to the congregation, including outside speakers, share our fundamental convictions.
The elders may establish ministry positions or committees to assist them in fulfilling their responsibilities. The elders may also propose funding for new paid staff positions. The membership shall approve all candidates to fill the positions of senior and associate pastor. The scope and approval of job descriptions for any staff position shall reside in the hands of those with hiring authority for that position.
The elders shall have primary responsibility for the employment, supervision, and evaluation of staff members. This responsibility may, on a case-by-case basis, be delegated to another staff member. At least three (3) elders shall be chosen to also serve as directors in accordance with Article VIII, Section 2 and Article XI,
Each year the elders, after consultation with the deacons, the deaconesses, and the membership, shall present to the church an itemized budget. This budget shall be presented for discussion at a specially-called budget meeting and called up for a vote at the following members’ meeting. No money shall be solicited by or on behalf of the church or any of its ministries without the approval of the elders.
The elders shall elect a chairman of elders’ meetings and shall also elect one of their number to serve as moderator of members’ meetings.
Section 3 – The Senior Pastor
The senior pastor shall be an elder. He shall perform the duties of an elder described in Section 2, above, and shall be recognized by the church as particularly gifted and called to the full-time ministry of preaching and teaching.
His call shall not be subject to the triennial reaffirmation or to the term limitation set out in Article VII, Section 2, for elders. His call shall be defined as per Article VIII, Section 3.
He shall preach on the Lord's Day, administer the ordinances of baptism and communion, and perform such other duties as usually pertain to that office, or as set forth in the constitution.
In the absence or incapacity of the senior pastor the elders shall assume responsibility for his duties, any of which may be delegated.
Section 4 – Associate Pastors
The church may call additional pastors whose relationship to the senior pastor is that of associate.
An associate pastor shall be an elder. He shall perform the duties of an elder described in Section 2, above, and shall be recognized by the church as particularly gifted and called to the full-time ministry of preaching and teaching.
His call shall not be subject to the triennial reaffirmation or to the term limitation set out in Article VII, Section 2, for elders. His call shall be defined as per Article VIII, Section 4.
He shall assist the senior pastor in the performance of his regular duties and shall perform any other duties as usually pertain to the office of pastor, or as set forth in the constitution, or which may be specifically assigned to him by the congregation.
In the absence or incapacity of the senior pastor for defined periods of time (such as sabbatical or illness), the associate pastor(s) shall assume the responsibility for his duties under the oversight of the elders.
Section 5 – Deacons & Deaconesses
The office of deacon is described in I Timothy 3:8–13 and Acts 6:1–7. The church shall recognize, in accordance with the constitutional provisions on elections, men and women who are giving of themselves in service to the church, and who possess particular gifts of service. These members shall be received as gifts of Christ to His church and set apart as deacons and deaconesses. They shall be elected to one term lasting for a maximum of three years and may only be elected to another term after one year.
Deacons and deaconesses shall care for the temporal needs of members, attend to the accommodations for public worship, and encourage and support those able to help others and those with gifts of administration.
The deacons and deaconesses shall receive, hold, and disburse a fund for benevolence, reporting on its use to the elders at their request, and reporting to the church its total receipts and total disbursements only.
The deacons and deaconesses, with the agreement of the elders, may establish unpaid administrative positions or committees of members to assist them in fulfilling their responsibilities in the church.
Section 6 – Clerk
It shall be the duty of the clerk to record the minutes of all regular and special members’ meetings of the church, to preserve an accurate roll of the membership, and to render reports as requested by the pastor, the elders, the deacons, or the church.
The clerk shall be nominated by the elders and elected by the congregation to serve a term of one year.
In the absence or incapacity of the clerk the elders shall appoint a member to perform the duties of the church clerk.
The church clerk shall ensure that dated copies of the most recent revision of this constitution shall be available for all church members.
Section 7 – Treasurer
The treasurer, who shall not be an active elder, deacon, or paid church staff member, shall ensure that all funds and securities of the church are properly secured in such banks, financial institutions, or depositories as appropriate. The treasurer shall also be responsible for presenting regular reports of the account balances, revenues and expenses of the church at each members’ meeting. The responsibility may be delegated with the approval of the elders. The treasurer shall also ensure that full and accurate accounts of receipts and disbursements are kept in books belonging to the church, and that adequate controls are implemented to guarantee that all funds belonging to the church are appropriately handled by any officer, employee, or agent of the church. The treasurer shall render to the elders annually, or whenever they may require it, an account of all transactions as treasurer and of the financial condition of the church.
The treasurer shall be nominated by the elders and elected by the congregation to serve a term of one year.
Article VIII – Elections
Section 1 – Principles
The process for church elections shall be interpreted and carried out to fulfill the following principles:
Substantial prayer, both individually and corporately, should be an integral part of the election process;
Nominations should proceed with the support of the elders;
All candidates for church office should be treated with the grace, kindness, and honesty appropriate in evaluating fellow members;
The election process shall express that spirit of mutual trust, openness, and loving consideration that is appropriate within the body of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Section 2 – Selection of Officers
The election of officers shall be held at a members’ meeting of the church. Names of nominees to serve as elders, deacons, clerk, or treasurer shall be presented by the elders at the previous members’ meeting (provided that previous meeting occurred at least eight weeks prior) and the election shall proceed as directed by the moderator.
The elders should seek recommendations and involvement from the general membership in the nomination process. Any member with reason to believe that a nominated candidate is unqualified for an office should express such concern to the elders. Members intending to speak in opposition to a candidate should express their objection to the elders as far in advance as possible before the relevant church members’ meeting.
For the office of elder, the moderator shall declare elected all men receiving a three-fourths majority vote of the members present. For all other offices, the moderator shall declare elected all persons receiving a simple majority vote of the members present and voting; abstentions will not be considered as votes cast.
The persons elected shall assume their respective offices upon election, unless another date has been specifically designated.
Section 3 – Calling of the Senior Pastor
In the calling of any man to this position, the same basic process of calling an elder must be followed. In addition, however, the church must be given adequate opportunity to assess the preaching gifts of any potential senior pastor and, before being asked to express its judgment, must receive assurance from the elders that, having interviewed the man concerned, they are in no doubt as to his wholehearted assent to the Statement of Faith and Church Covenant. Notice of the nomination of a man to be elected to membership and called as senior pastor (which shall include, if necessary, election to membership of his wife if he is married) must be given at two Sunday morning services following the nomination, prior to the vote at a members’ meeting.
Section 4 – Calling of Associate Pastor
In the calling of any man to the position of associate pastor, the same basic process of calling an elder must be followed. In addition, however, the church must be given adequate opportunity to assess the preaching gifts of any potential associate pastor and, before being asked to express its judgment, must receive assurance from the elders that, having interviewed the man concerned, they are in no doubt as to his wholehearted assent to the Statement of Faith and Church Covenant. Notice of the nomination of a man to be called as associate pastor (which shall include, if necessary, election to membership of him and his wife if he is married) must be given at two Sunday morning services following the nomination, prior to the vote at a members’ meeting.
Article IX – Dispute Resolution
Believing that the Bible commands Christians to make every effort to live at peace and to resolve disputes with each other in private or within the Christian Church (see, e.g., Matthew 18:15–20, 1 Corinthians 6:1–8), the church shall require its members to resolve conflict among themselves according to biblically based principles, without reliance on the secular courts. Consistent with its call to peacemaking, the church shall encourage the use of biblically based principles to resolve disputes between itself and those outside the church, whether or not Christian, and whether individuals or corporate entities.
Article X – Indemnification
Section 1 – Mandatory Indemnification
If a legal claim or criminal allegation is made against a person because he or she is or was an officer, employee, or agent of the church, the church shall provide indemnification against liability and costs incurred in defending against the claim if the elders determine that the person acted (a) in good faith, (b) with the care an ordinarily prudent person in a similar position would exercise under similar circumstances, and (c) in a manner the person reasonably believed to be in the best interest of the church, and the person had no reasonable cause to believe his or her conduct was unlawful.
Section 2 – Permissive Indemnification
At the discretion of the elders, the church also may indemnify any person who acted in good faith and reasonably believed that his or her conduct was in the church’s best interest and not unlawful.
Section 3 – Procedure
If a quorum of the elders is not available for an indemnification determination because of the number of elders seeking indemnification, the requisite determination may be made by the membership or by special legal counsel appointed by the membership.
Article XI - Church Corporation
For purposes of the corporation laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia:
Section 1 – Directors
The elders shall serve as the directors of the church corporation, and the corporate powers of the church corporation shall be exercised by or under their authority. No salary or compensation shall be paid to any director in his capacity as a director, but nothing herein shall be construed to preclude any director from serving the church in any other permitted capacity and receiving reasonable compensation therefor. Moreover, directors may receive reasonable reimbursement for church-related travel and other approved expenses upon request and submission of proper written documentation
Section 2 – Officers
The officers of the church corporation shall be president, treasurer, and secretary, and may include one or more vice presidents as the directors may from time to time determine. The officers must be members of the church, and the president must also be an elder of the church. Unless otherwise determined by the directors, the senior pastor shall serve as the president, the church clerk shall serve as the secretary, and the church treasurer shall serve as the treasurer of the church corporation. In the event of a vacancy in the office of secretary or treasurer because of death, resignation, removal, disqualification, or any other reason, the directors may appoint a member of the church to serve in such office on an interim basis until such time as a successor has been nominated and elected by the church.
Section 3 – Annual Meeting of the Directors
The annual meeting of the board of directors shall be held contemporaneously with the first elders’ meeting of the fiscal year. Notice of such elders’ meeting given in accordance with the procedures established by the elders shall constitute proper notice of the annual meeting of the board of directors.
Section 4 – Annual Meeting of the Members
The annual meeting of the members shall be held contemporaneously with the first members’ meeting of the fiscal year. Notice of such members’ meeting given in accordance with the Constitution shall constitute proper notice of the annual meeting of the members.
Article XII – Amendments
This constitution (including the Statement of Faith and Church Covenant) may be amended by a two-thirds vote of the members present and voting at a members’ meeting, provided the amendment shall have been offered in writing at the previous members’ meeting, and shall have been announced from the pulpit at church services two successive Sundays prior to such vote.
The revised version of this constitution shall be made available to all church members by the church clerk.