6. BELONGING TO THE CHURCH
6.1 The responsibilities of membership normally include:
- attending worship and participating in Church Activities;
- personal prayer and Bible study;
- participation at the Communion of the Lord‟s Supper as a privilege and a priority;
- helping the Church whenever possible by using gifts and abilities to advance the Purpose of the church through its Activities;
- attending and participating in Church Members’ Meetings;
- giving regular financial support to the Church in proportion to personal resources and circumstances;
- upholding Christian values.
6.2 If there are differences that lead to difficulties between members of the Church (and it is recognised that these will sometimes arise) each member should try to resolve the situation with gentleness and humility following Christian and Biblical principles. It may be necessary for another wise and experienced member of this Church (or if invited a member of a neighbouring Church or representative of the Association) to act as mediator or friend to those seeking to achieve reconciliation.
7. JOINING AND BECOMING A CHURCH MEMBER
7.1 Baptism by immersion upon personal profession of faith is the normal mode of entry into the membership of a Baptist church.
7.2 The church shall apply the following Baptismal qualification for Church Membership. Open membership so that persons seeking membership who have not been baptised in the manner described in the Union’s Declaration of Principle may at the discretion of the Church Members’ Meeting be accepted for full membership based on their own public profession of faith.
7.3 Church Membership is open to those who:
- accept the Beliefs of the Church;
- meet the Church’s qualification on Baptism;
- commit themselves to serving Christ within the Church and beyond;
- abide by the decisions of the Church Members’ Meeting;
- acknowledge their responsibilities as Church Members;
- have their membership application accepted by the Church Members’ Meeting.
7.4 A person wishing to become a Church Member shall apply in a manner determined by the Church Members’ Meeting.
7.5 The Church Members’ Meeting will consider and vote on the application for membership and if accepted the new member will normally be welcomed publicly.
In May 2019 it was agreed that the method of being a church members is to approach a Deacon or be approached by a Deacon; to assent to the covenant in conversation with two or more Deacons; to make application at the church Members’ meeting; and to be welcomed into membership on the next agreed Sunday.
It was further agreed in May 2019 that the method by which anyone ceases to be a church member is either due to death or due to resignation. Resignation will be verbally, as in a leaving Service, or in writing. Resignation may arise from moving away, attending a different church or wanting not to be in covenant, the last of which may arise following the signing of the covenant at the AGM.
8. THE MEMBERSHIP LIST
8.1 A list of the current Church Members shall be maintained by the Charity Trustees incorporating routine changes because of additions or deletions arising through death, transfer to another church, resignation, or a resolution by Church Members’ Meeting.
8.2 Routine changes to the membership list shall be reported at the next convenient Church Members’ Meeting.
8.3 In order to keep the membership list up to date the membership list shall be reviewed at least once every three years when the Church Members’ Meeting may resolve to make any appropriate deletions.
8.4 At any time, in exceptional circumstances where the conduct of a Member is considered to be contrary to the Purpose and Beliefs of the Church and/or disruptive to the relationships between Members then the Charity Trustees may recommend to a Church Members’ Meeting that the membership of that person be reviewed. The Church Members may, after considering the facts, terminate the membership of that person. The Church Member shall be allowed to hear what is said at the Church Members’ Meeting, to correct any errors of fact and offer any explanation of the circumstances or reasons for their actions before withdrawing from the meeting so that the Church Members’ Meeting may prayerfully and carefully consider whether they should resolve to remove that person‟s name from the list of Members.
9. CHURCH MEMBERS’ MEETINGS
9.1 Church Members shall meet together in a Church Members’ Meeting under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and under the Lordship of Christ to discern the mind of God in the affairs of the Church.
9.2 The Church Members’ Meeting shall have reserved authority in the appointment and removal of a Minister, the appointment and removal of Charity Trustees, decisions related to church property including (without limitation) any purchase, sale, lease, mortgage, or redevelopment of property, the administration of the membership list, and the closure of the Church.
9.3 Any decisions taken under 9.2 in relation to property must comply with the requirements of statute law and any specific property trusts under which the land and buildings are used and occupied by the church.
10. ORDINARY AND SPECIAL CHURCH MEMBERS’ MEETINGS
10.1 There are two types of formal Church Members’ Meetings, Ordinary Church Members’ Meetings and Special Church Members’ Meetings.
10.2 Ordinary Church Members’ Meetings shall be held at regular intervals on not less than four occasions in any calendar year and shall be an opportunity to consider and review routine matters associated with the life of the Church including issues related to church membership, the appointment of the Charity Trustees, the approval of the budget, with opportunities for considering proposals from the Charity Trustees or other Church Members for the development of the Church and the advancement of its Purpose through its Activities.
10.3 One Ordinary Church Members’ Meeting each year shall include the Annual Church Members’ Meeting for the Church Members to receive annual accounts and reports, to appoint Auditors or Independent Examiners, and to consider proposals for the strategy and vision of the church in the coming year, with other appropriate matters.
10.4 A Special Church Members’ Meeting shall be convened when necessary to consider the appointment or dismissal of a minister, or the dismissal of a Charity Trustee, matters relating to the purchase, sale, lease, mortgage or redevelopment of church property, the closure of the church, or matters considered by the Charity Trustees to be of sufficient importance to require the calling of a Special Members’ Meeting.
11. CALLING CHURCH MEMBERS’ MEETINGS
11.1 Church Members’ Meetings shall be convened by the Charity Trustees so as to be convenient for as many Church Members as is reasonable.
11.2 An Ordinary Church Members’ Meeting shall be properly convened if as a minimum requirement the date, time and place for the meeting are publicised at the worship service or services on the previous Sunday (or other regular weekly meeting time when the Church gathers together) with an indication (if possible) of the matters to be considered.
11.3 A Special Church Members’ Meeting shall be properly convened if as a minimum requirement the date, time and place for the meeting are publicised, with as full an indication of the matters to be considered as possible, at the public worship service or services on the two previous Sundays (or other regular weekly meeting time when the Church gathers together).
11.4 Additional meetings whether Special or Ordinary shall be convened by the Charity Trustees as necessary but they shall have specific responsibility to convene a Special Church Members’ Meeting as soon as possible upon the receipt of a written request for a meeting signed by at least one tenth of the church membership or twelve Church Members, whichever is the less.
11.5 Members, invited guests, and, if publicly invited, those who normally attend church events may attend a Church Members’ Meeting but only Members may vote.
12. THE CONDUCT OF CHURCH MEMBERS’ MEETINGS
12.1 Worship including prayer and the reading of Scripture shall be a key feature of the Church Members’ Meeting. The discussion of any matters affecting the life and activities of the Church shall be set in this context with the intention that, so far as possible, practical issues are not perceived as being separate from the spiritual aspects of the Church.
12.2 A quorum of 20% of the total number of Church Members shall apply to Church Members’ Meetings and 33% of the total number of Church Members shall apply to Special Church Meetings.
12.3 The Church Members’ Meeting shall appoint a person (who may or may not be a Minister of the church) to chair the Church Members’ Meetings.
12.4 A resolution passed at either an Ordinary Church Members’ Meeting or a Special Church Members’ Meeting shall not be rescinded within one year, unless notice of the resolution for rescission is given at the Church Members’ Meeting prior to that at which there is to be a vote on the resolution to rescind.
13.1 Members shall, so far as possible, seek consensus on all matters considered at a Church Members’ Meeting.
13.2 For matters requiring a decision a vote shall be taken and the outcome of the vote recorded as the resolution of the Members.
13.3 Each Member shall have one vote which they may use at the Church Members’ Meeting after hearing about the issues and any comments or questions raised by other Members in advance of the vote.
13.4 No proxy votes shall be allowed and no postal votes shall be valid save that the Church Members’ Meeting may authorise postal voting for the election of individuals to roles or responsibilities within the church (except for decisions relating to a Minister) where the names of those nominated are known in advance of the meeting. The process for collecting and counting postal votes shall be determined by the Church Members’ Meeting.
13.5 If any matter requires a decision affecting or involving individuals and any embarrassment might arise by a public vote then a secret ballot shall be held if requested and agreed by the Church Members’ Meeting.
13.6 If a secret ballot is to be held two persons will be appointed as scrutineers to the ballot to count the votes. The person chairing the Church Members’ Meeting shall announce the outcome without necessarily revealing the numbers of votes.
13.7 Except for the Appointment of Charity Trustees referred to in clause 15.12 a resolution at an Ordinary Church Members’ Meeting shall be carried if supported by a majority of the Members present, entitled to vote and voting.
13.8 If there is an equality of votes on any matter at an Ordinary Church Members’ Meeting the resolution will be considered rejected and the matter shall be referred back to the submitter for review and if appropriate resubmission to a subsequent meeting for consideration.
13.9 A resolution at a Special Church Members’ Meeting shall be carried if supported by at least two thirds of the Members present, entitled to vote and voting.
13.10 The Church Members’ Meeting or Charity Trustees may want a higher measure of support for a particular resolution but a higher proportion of votes for a resolution shall not override the arrangements in clauses 13.7 or 13.9 unless, before the vote is taken, the Church Members’ Meeting passes a further or enabling resolution referring to that particular resolution and specifying the proportion of votes necessary to pass it.
13.11 Although Members of any age may attend and participate in a Church Members’ Meeting the minimum age for voting will be determined by the Church Members’ Meeting.
14.1 The business conducted at Church Members’ Meetings and, in particular, any decisions of the Members shall be recorded in the Minutes for future reference.
14.2 The Minutes shall be written or printed and filed in a book or binder set aside for this purpose using materials of sufficient quality to ensure that they survive for many years and shall be kept in a safe place.
14.3 Each set of Minutes shall be approved by the Church Members attending the next Church Members’ Meeting. They shall have the opportunity to review the Minutes and to correct any errors of fact before a formal vote on the approval of the Minutes is taken. If the Minutes are approved the person chairing the Church Members’ Meeting shall confirm the Members’ acceptance of the Minutes by signing and dating them as a correct record of the preceding meeting. 32
14.4 The signed Minutes shall be conclusive evidence of the decisions taken at the Church Members’ Meeting to which they relate.