HARVEST NEW BEGINNINGS CONSTITUTION
Whereas, the Lord instructs the local church to do all things “decently and in order” (I Cor. 14:40), this congregation sets forth the following, which will serve as the guide for the orderly conduct of the business affairs of this church.
ARTICLE I: NAME
This church was organized June 24, 1963, as the Oswego Baptist Church. The church was started as a church outreach by Claim Street Baptist of Aurora, Illinois. Initially, the church met at East View Elementary School in Oswego until a permanent church building (the former Oswego Presbyterian Church) was purchased which was located at the corner of Benton and Madison Streets. On April 22, 1992, the church was renamed as Harvest Baptist Church of Oswego, Illinois. In July, 1993, the church was relocated to its present facilities at 5315 Douglas Road in Oswego. In 2013 the church began using the name Harvest New Beginnings.
ARTICLE II: MISSION STATEMENT
Mission: Passionately make disciples who are radically devoted to Christ.
• The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20a) “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you;”
• (Luke 14:27) “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
ARTICLE III: MOTIVATION STATEMENT
Motivation: A deep love for God and a sincere love for people.
• The Great Commandment (Mark 12:29-31) “…you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength….You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
ARTICLE II: VALUES
Connect with Significance
Serve with Purpose
Evangelize the Lost
Disciple the Saved
ARTICLE V: MEMBERSHIP
Section 1: Eligibility
Any person who has accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and who has been baptized by immersion as a believer is eligible for membership at Harvest New Beginnings. Membership at Harvest involves a three-step process:
1. Informational/Educational classes: Those interested in membership or who desire to join Harvest must attend the new members’ classes. These classes are for the purpose of sharing information about the church, studying Biblical passages pertaining to commitment and service within a local church, and answering any questions that prospective members may have. Individuals under the age of 18 are exempt from attending these classes. However, everyone, including those under the age of 18, must attend the interview as outlined in #2 below.
2. Interview: The interview is for the purpose of hearing the prospective member(s) testimony of their faith in Jesus Christ and their testimony of baptism by immersion or desire/intent to be baptized. It is understood that anyone who joins “pending baptism” has the intent to follow through on their desire/commitment to be baptized at the earliest possible convenience. There will be at least one current or former deacon or current or former pastoral/director staff person present at the interview. It is intended to be a time of welcome and encouragement and gives the new member an opportunity to ask further questions regarding church membership or commitment.
3. Presentation to the Congregation: Those completing the new member classes and interview process will be formally introduced to the church and welcomed into membership. This may be done after a regularly scheduled service, a church business meeting or some other public venue as deemed appropriate. The intent is to formally welcome and encourage our new members and give praise to the Lord as we rejoice in His blessing of adding new members to our congregation.
Section 2: Responsibilities
A member of Harvest New Beginnings has the responsibility to uphold the Biblical standards of living as recorded in the Church Covenant:
• To protect and promote the unity of the church
• To support the outreach of the church
• To serve in the ministries of the church
• To uphold the testimony of the church
• To grow and mature in one’s personal walk with the Savior
Section 3: Classification
Active member: All members are considered active members in good standing unless membership has been terminated in any matter as outlined in Section 5 below.
Section 4: Privileges
All members 18 years of age or older may participate and vote in the official transactions of the business at any regularly scheduled or specially called business meetings of the church.
Section 5: Termination
Membership will be severed by any of the following:
a) By death
b) By written request from the member or by permanently relocating out of the area
c) By removal through church discipline (see Article VI: Discipline)
d) By prolonged absence without reasonable cause
Prolonged absence is demonstrated by a willful act of non-attendance and non-participation within the church rather than a specific time frame. This is not to be interpreted as those who are away from the church due to college, illness, military service, etc. It is the policy of this church to reach out to those members who have voluntarily and without cause distanced themselves from the church and have not attended services or participated in the ministries of the church. Everything possible that can reasonably be done to seek the restoration of the member shall be done prior to removal. Any termination of membership due to prolonged absence shall be the responsibility of the church Oversight Team. In effort to keep the membership roster as updated as reasonably possible, the pastoral/office staff will routinely review the membership list. Members who have distanced themselves by prolonged absence without reasonable cause will be identified. At least annually, these names will be brought to the attention of the Oversight Team for determination to remove them from the church membership roster.
If membership in the church is severed by written request from the member, by church discipline or by removal due to prolonged absence, the person may only be reinstated with the approval of the Oversight Team. In certain cases, if deemed appropriate by the Oversight Team, the person may be asked to repeat the membership process as outlined in Section 1 above.
ARTICLE VI: Discipline
The ultimate goal of church discipline is to restore fellowship and bring reconciliation before God and between the Christians involved in the dispute.
Offenses or complaints between members should be handled in accordance with the principles established in Matthew 18:15-17. Any member who feels that an offense has been committed against them or feels that conduct unbecoming for a member has occurred should:
a) First seek to talk individually with the offending believer. Many times it may be discovered that a simple misunderstanding has occurred that can easily be reconciled. If an offense has actually occurred, the parties should seek to achieve restoration.
b) If the matter remains unresolved, another meeting should occur with two or three other non-involved believers present also. It is recommended that the other non-involved people be mature believers in Jesus Christ.
c) If this fails to resolve the matter, the offense should be brought to the attention of the Oversight Team with reference to the offense involved and the steps that have been followed to try to achieve resolution and reconciliation. The matter then becomes the responsibility of the Oversight Team.
• If the offense is such that it warrants the attention of the entire church, the Oversight Team will bring the matter before the church membership in order that the church body may seek to win and reconcile the offending believer.
• If all else fails, Oversight Team will bring a motion to the church recommending a complete break in fellowship and removal from church membership. The church congregation is the final authority for removal from membership due to disciplinary action.
ARTICLE VII: Church Government
Part A: Oversight Team
Section 1: Responsibilities
The Oversight Team is responsible for the overall vision and direction of the church, that the church remains Biblically faithful, that church members are appropriately shepherded and fed through accurate Biblical teaching and that the mission of Harvest New Beginnings is being pursued. The Oversight Team, as the official governing board of the church, is responsible for any and all duties commonly performed by a “church board” and is the final authority for all matters except those which are mandated to be brought before the church membership as outlined elsewhere in this constitution (see Part D). All executive, administrative and ministerial work of the church shall be accountable to the Oversight Team. For purposes of Harvest’s faith, doctrine, practice, policy & discipline, the Oversight Team is Harvest’s final interpretive authority on the Bible’s meaning and application.
Section 2: Requirements
The church Oversight Team is composed of members from the church pastoral/director staff and members from the congregation at large. The Oversight team shall consist of at least five members. Every effort will be made to establish an equitable number of staff members and lay leaders from the congregation at large. As appropriate and deemed necessary, additional members beyond five can be added. The senior pastor and executive pastor shall be permanent members of the Oversight Team. Additionally, the Oversight Team will seek to ensure that there are more members from the congregation-at-large than from the pastoral staff. However, having the right people on this team is of foremost concern and overshadows any need to fill vacancies for the sake of establishing ratios. All members of the Oversight Team are voting members each with one vote and equal authority within the responsibilities and scope of the team. In all decisions, the Oversight Team must speak collectively as one voice.
Members of this team shall be men whose lives are marked by the following:
• CHARACTER: holiness and godliness and the qualifications as listed in I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9
• COMPETENCY: proven leadership and spiritual discernment
• COMMITMENT: a track record of faithful attendance and service to the church and people of Harvest
• CAPACITY: exhibits a high level of multiple skill sets and ability to carry the weight and responsibility that this position demands
• CHEMISTRY: an individual thinker but team player and one who promotes and strives for unity even in matters of disagreement
• CALLING: has a burden/clear calling from the Lord to use their giftedness to serve in this capacity
Section 3: Term Length
The senior pastor and executive pastor shall be permanent members of the Oversight Team as long as the qualifications are met as listed above in Section 2. Members will be added to the Oversight Team as needed. At any time, members of Harvest may suggest nominations for the Oversight Team by submitting a written recommendation to any current team member. The Oversight Team will prayerfully review all nominations. If they believe a man to be qualified and if there is a need, a member of the Oversight Team will approach him to explain the specific requirements and duties and to determine his willingness to serve in this capacity. Any new or returning members to the Oversight Team must be approved by unanimous consent of the present team. Additionally, those called to serve on the team for their initial term must be confirmed by majority written ballot of the church congregation at any scheduled or specially called congregation business meeting.
Each member (except permanent members) will commit to serve a five year term. Upon unanimous consent of the current team, the term may be renewable for an additional five years. If a member is asked to renew his term after the initial five years and he declines, he must remain off the team for one year before he may be asked to serve again. If a member serves two consecutive five year terms, he must remain off the team for one year before he may be asked to serve again.
If a member of the Oversight Team should cease to meet the requirements necessary for participation on the team, they may be removed from the team by a majority vote of the remaining team members.
Section 4: Officers
The Oversight Team shall elect its own officers consisting of a chairman, clerk and treasurer. These offices will be the offices of the church for the conducting of meetings and church business. To accommodate legal relationships outside the church, these offices also will serve in legal roles for our religious non-profit church business. The offices will be reconfirmed or changed on an annual basis or as needed.
Section 5: Meetings
The Oversight Team will hold meetings as necessary and determine the schedule for meetings. At a minimum, monthly meetings will be held.
Section 6: Accountability and Delegation
Due to the scope of responsibilities of the Oversight Team, it is imperative that they remain accountable for their actions to the church congregation. Additionally, the Oversight Team must strive to maintain open and direct communication with the deacon team, pastoral and director staff and congregation membership at large. If any major concerns arise regarding the actions or responsibilities of the Oversight Team, a special meeting with the oversight team can be called by either:
1) a majority vote of the pastoral/director church staff
2) a majority vote of the Deacon Team
3) by no less than 50 members of the congregation-at-large
In all cases a written letter shall be submitted to the Chairman of the Oversight Team stating the reason for the meeting and signatures of all those requesting the special meeting. In due time (no more than four weeks), the Chairman of the Oversight Team shall arrange for this special meeting.
The Oversight Team is permitted to delegate its authority and responsibilities as it chooses, but no such delegation will absolve it of its accountability in any matter. The Oversight Team may revoke any delegation it has made.
Section 7: Committees
The Oversight Team shall be able to create any committees deemed necessary to carry out the work and ministry of the church. Any such committees shall report directly to the Oversight Team unless directed to do otherwise. The Oversight Team shall be able to disband any committees that are no longer needed or are not functioning to promote the overall mission of Harvest New Beginnings. Ultimately, any committees established by the Oversight Team or any committees that exist within the church fall under the authority of the Oversight Team. The Oversight Team, at their discretion, may appoint one or more team members, or designated individual to attend any committee meetings within the church.
Part B: Deacon Team
Section 1: Responsibilities
The Scripture defines the role of deacons within the church as “servants”. The Deacon Team is a vital position that serves the body of the church and will work closely with the Oversight Team and staff. At times the Deacon Team will oversee ministries and at times assist with ministries under the direction of the staff. The specific duties of the Deacon Team will historically change over time as the church grows, as ministries expand, or as ministries are added or discontinued.
Section 2: Requirements
The Deacon Team is composed of church members from the congregation-at-large. Deacons are nominated and elected by the congregation as outlined in the section below. The Deacon Team shall consist of at least seven members with no maximum number limitation.
Each year, the Oversight Team, in consultation with staff and current deacons,
will evaluate the number of deacons needed for the coming year. This will be done in consideration of the number of terms that are expiring and the anticipated needs/scope of responsibilities for the forthcoming year. As appropriate and deemed necessary, additional deacons may be added.
Deacons shall be men whose lives are marked by the qualifications as listed in
I Timothy 3:8-12 and Acts 6:3.
Section 3: Term Length
Deacons shall be elected for a three-year term with a possible renewal of an additional three years.
a) The Deacon Team shall appoint a nominating committee each year consisting of three deacons.
b) Prior to the annual business meeting, members of the church shall have the opportunity to submit nominations for deacons to the nominating committee. The number of names submitted by each member shall not exceed the number of vacancies to be filled for the coming year. The nomination process shall be made available to all church members for a period of at least three weeks including four consecutive Sundays. All reasonable means will be utilized to inform members of the nomination process including announcement during regular Sunday announcements and printing in the bulletin.
c) At the close of the nomination period, the nominating committee then tabulates the nominations and notifies the Oversight Team of the nominees. The Oversight Team will determine if the nominees meet the spiritual qualifications to serve. Additionally, the Senior Pastor shall consult with all pastoral staff members and notify the Oversight Team of any reason that may disqualify a nominee from serving.
d) The nominating committee will then contact those individuals receiving the most nominations and who also meet the spiritual qualifications for deacon to inform them of the congregation’s desire to have them serve as deacon. After prayerful consideration and review of the deacon qualifications and responsibility sheet, the nominee will inform the nominating committee of their consent to serve.
e) The nominating committee shall continue to contact those receiving the most nominations and meeting the qualifications to serve until the slate for the Deacon Team is in agreement with the number of vacancies to be filled.
f) The nominating committee then prepares the ballot and the election is held at the annual business meeting as outlined in By-laws, Article 1, Section 3.
Having served a full term of three years, and with the approval of the Oversight Team, deacons may be asked to serve an additional three year term. If a deacon declines the additional term renewal, he must remain off the deacon team for a period of one year before he is eligible to be nominated to serve again. If a deacon completes two consecutive three-year terms, a period of one year shall elapse before he may again be eligible for nomination as a deacon.
Section 4: Officers
At a minimum, the Oversight Team shall appoint a chairman of the Deacon Team who will report directly to the Oversight Team. The chairman of the Deacon Team shall serve as a point person for communication with the Oversight Team and church staff. The Oversight Team in consultation with the current Deacon Team chairman shall meet at the beginning of each year to determine areas of responsibilities and any additional offices needed on the Deacon Team for the coming year. The Deacon Team chairman will discuss areas of responsibilities with the team members, and if needed, bring recommendations for any changes back to the Oversight Team.
Section 5: Meetings
The Deacon Team will hold meetings as necessary and determine its own schedule for meetings. At a minimum, quarterly meetings will be held. The chairman of the Deacon Team will preside over meetings of the Deacon Team. As possible, a member of the Oversight Team will also attend Deacon Team meetings to facilitate communication between the Oversight Team and the Deacon Team.
Section 6: Accountability
If a member of the Deacon Team should cease to meet the requirements necessary for participation on the team, they may be removed from the team by a majority vote of the Oversight Team.
Part C: Staff
As ministry needs arise and finances allow, Harvest New Beginnings will employ paid staff to assist in fulfilling the mission of the church. Often times, ministries and services are initiated at the volunteer level. But as the church grows and the scope and responsibilities of these ministries expand, it is at times no longer feasible or possible for volunteer service to meet these demands and responsibilities. All staff is hired to fulfill the specific requirements/responsibilities as written in their individual job description and should possess the spiritual character, qualifications and abilities that qualify them for their position. Any person hired to the Harvest staff is expected to abide by the personnel policies and procedures of the church.
The Oversight Team has the authority to hire and to dismiss staff as it deems appropriate or necessary to accomplish the mission and ministries of the church. The hiring of new additional staff positions must fall within the scope of budgetary guidelines. (Exception: The hire/dismissal of the senior pastor position is addressed in Article VIII: Sections 1 and 4)
Part D: Congregation:
At Harvest, we hold to a form of congregational church government. Members of Harvest who are voting members of the church specifically shall:
• Confirm all initial appointments to the Oversight Team
• Approve the annual budget
• Approve the calling of a new senior pastor
• Approve major building programs or loans/indebtedness that the church would undertake
• Nominate and elect members to the Deacon Team
• Give final approval to church discipline (as outlined in Article VI)
• Approve any changes to the church constitution
• Approve the initial appointment of missionaries supported by the church
The business affairs of the church are normally carried out at a regularly scheduled or a specially called family business meeting of the church. Practically speaking, many of the votes/approvals are “confirming votes” that support the prayer, discussion and seeking of the Lord’s will and guidance that have already taken place by members of the Oversight Team, Deacon Team, staff and committees of the church. The church congregation is expected to trust, support and encourage the church leadership and the church leadership is expected to act responsibly in a manner that is worthy of the trust, support and encouragement of the church body.
ARTICLE VIII: Pastoral Relations
Section 1: Calling of a new senior pastor
The calling of a new senior pastor shall be as follows:
a) The Oversight Team shall appoint a Pastoral Search Committee that may include representation from the Oversight Team, Deacon Team, church staff and the general congregation as deemed appropriate.
b) The Pastoral Search Committee shall be responsible for soliciting names, reviewing resumes, contacting and interviewing prospective candidates, arranging for candidates to preach at the church, setting up a question and answer session between the candidate and the congregation, and all else that is deemed appropriate to complete their responsibility. The Pastoral Search Committee shall present their recommendation to the Oversight Team for approval.
c) Upon recommendation of the Oversight Team, a candidate shall be presented to the church for vote. Approval must be by at least a two-thirds majority vote by written ballot of those present at a properly called business meeting of the church. Only one candidate at a time may be presented to the church for vote. Any candidates for senior pastor presented to the church shall be believers in and teachers of the gospel of Jesus Christ and shall meet the spiritual, personal, and family qualifications listed in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.
d) In the absence of a senior pastor, the Oversight Team shall be responsible for arranging for speakers at church services until a new senior pastor is called.
Section 2: Calling of a new associate pastor
The calling of a new associate pastor shall be as follows:
a) The Oversight Team may serve as the Pastoral Search Committee or appoint a Pastoral Search Committee when seeking any needed associate pastor positions.
b) The Pastoral Search Committee shall be responsible for soliciting names, reviewing resumes, contacting and interviewing prospective candidates, arranging for candidates to visit the church and all else that is deemed appropriate to filling the associate pastor position. The Pastoral Search Committee shall report directly to the Oversight Team.
c) Upon majority recommendation of the Oversight Team, a candidate shall be offered the position of associate pastor. Any candidates for associate pastor shall be believers in and teachers of the gospel of Jesus Christ and shall meet the spiritual, personal, and family qualifications listed in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.
Section 3: Pastoral Staff Term
All pastoral staff shall, for an indefinite term, perform all the scriptural and necessary duties of their offices per the job descriptions for which they were hired. The church Executive Pastor shall be responsible to keep an updated file of job descriptions for each pastoral position. Any changes to pastoral job descriptions must be approved by the Oversight Team.
Section 4: Pastoral Termination
Termination of a pastor shall be:
1) by resignation. If a pastor wishes to terminate his ministry with the church, he shall, if possible, give the Oversight Team at least 30 days prior notice.
2) by dismissal.
a) For the senior pastor:
• this shall require a majority recommendation of the Oversight Team and a two-thirds vote of the congregation at a meeting called for that purpose OR
• a two-thirds vote of the congregation at a meeting called for that purpose.
b) For an associate pastor:
• this shall require a majority vote of the Oversight Team
In the event of dismissal, a pastor’s salary may continue to be paid at the discretion of the Oversight Team for a determined length of time.
ARTICLE IX: Auxiliary Organizations
Section 1: Existence of Organizations
No society, organization, local chapter or branch of any parachurch ministry, or the like, shall be brought into existence within the church without the knowledge and approval of the Oversight Team.
Section 2: Leadership of Organizations
Presidents, sponsors or leaders of any such approved organizations within the church shall be members of the church. Their appointment or election must be approved by the Oversight Team.
Section 3: Reports
At the discretion and direction of the Oversight Team, all such organizations shall make reports to the Oversight Team and/or the church membership.
Section 4: Termination
The Oversight Team shall have the right to terminate and disband any such organizations within the church, especially if such organizations:
a) Take doctrinal stances that differ from Biblical teaching
b) Are no longer in harmony with the doctrinal statement of Harvest New Beginnings
c) Seek to displace the importance of the local church
d) No longer serve to support the mission, motivation and values statement of Harvest New Beginnings
ARTICLE I: Business Meetings
Section 1: Family Business Meetings
Family business meetings shall be held at the church at least twice per year preferably in January and July. The January meeting shall be designated as the annual business meeting.
Section 2: Annual Family Business Meetings
The annual family business meeting shall be held at the church in January. Business brought before the membership at the annual meeting shall include (but not be limited to) the presentation and approval of the budget, confirmation of new/first time Oversight Team members, the election of deacons, and any other reports or business deemed necessary by the Oversight Team.
Section 3: Election of Oversight Team and Deacon Team
The confirmation of new/first time Oversight Team members and the election of deacons shall be by ballot. Each church member in attendance at the annual meeting shall vote “yes” or “no” for each nominee slated on the ballot. The nominating committee (generally out-going members of the deacon team) shall be responsible for preparing, distributing, collecting and tabulating the ballots.
Section 4: Additional Family Business Meetings
Additional or special business meetings may be called at any time by the Senior Pastor, a majority vote of the Oversight Team or by written petition to the Oversight Team by any fifty (50) unrelated voting members of the church. Such petition should clearly indicate the reason for calling the special meeting. At such a petitioned meeting, the only business to be transacted shall be the business for which the meeting had been specifically called.
Section 5: General definitions and guidelines
• The fiscal year is defined to correspond to the calendar year and shall begin on January 1 and end on December 31.
• A quorum is required at all church business meetings for the transaction of business. Fifty members of voting age shall constitute a quorum.
• All business conducted shall be by simple majority vote unless specified differently by any sections of the church constitution or by-laws.
• Any scheduled or specially called family business meetings shall be posted in the bulletin and be announced as part of the regular Sunday announcements on the two consecutive Sundays prior to said meeting.
• Robert’s Rules of Order shall be followed in all business meetings.
• No absentee ballots shall be allowed in any church elections or vote.
ARTICLE II: Wages and Salaries
All wages and salaries shall be paid out of the general offering church fund. The personnel committee will review all salaries and wages at least annually. Any recommendations/changes shall be included in the annual budget. The Oversight Team holds final approval over the wage and salary administration as presented in the annual budget. Any change in salaries and wages is retroactive to January 1st of the current fiscal year upon approval of the annual budget by the church membership.
ARTICLE III: Amendments
This constitution and bylaws may be amended at any business meeting of the church by a two-thirds vote of the members present provided that both of the following provisions have been met:
(a) Such amendment has been duly considered and approved by majority vote of the Oversight Team.
(b) Notice of the intent to amend the constitution or articles, church covenant, doctrinal statement or position papers has been posted in the bulletin and announced as part of the regular Sunday announcements on the two consecutive Sundays prior to said meeting.
ARTICLE IV: Dissolution
In the case of dissolution, all assets of the church shall be dispersed in the following manner:
a) Any outstanding debts, loans, mortgages, bills and the like shall be paid first. If funds are not available to meet the outstanding debts, assets and properties will be sold to obtain the necessary funds.
b) All remaining assets, or the net proceeds thereof in the case of sale, shall be donated to not-for-profit Christian ministries or missions as determined by vote of the church membership. These ministries or missions should be in agreement with the Harvest New Beginnings
c) The Oversight Team shall have the responsibility of carrying out these procedures.
Those who support the work of this ministry with tithes, offerings and donations do so in obedience to the principles of giving established in God’s Word. As such, all such gifts become the property of this local church to be used for the Lord’s work. No one shall have the right to seek individual recompense for any gifts given.
This Constitution was approved by the membership of Harvest New Beginnings on 11/1/2015 and replaces all preceding documents.