We, the members of Covenant Fellowship of Moneta, do ordain and establish the following articles, to which we voluntarily submit ourselves.
Article I: Name
The name of this church shall be Covenant Fellowship of Moneta.
Article II: Affiliation
Section 1: Headship of Christ
We acknowledge no ecclesiastical authority other than our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is Head of the church (Eph. 5:23) and Who directs the affairs of the church through elders chosen and ordained according to the precepts of holy scripture. The elders themselves at all times and in all their activities stand under the authority of holy scripture.
Section 2: Mutual Assistance
The church may and does cooperate with other like-minded churches in matters of mutual interest and concern. We may seek the assistance and counsel of other such churches in matters of special concern, but the decision of no other church or group of churches shall at any time be binding on this church.
Section 3: Formal Affiliation
When it is thought desirable to have fellowship, consultation and cooperation with other churches of like faith and order, this church may join itself to associations of churches. Upon recommendation of the elders, such affiliations may be entered by a congregational vote. Withdrawal from associations may be effected by the same procedure. Delegates to such associations, if required, shall be chosen by the elders.
Article III: Purpose
The purpose of this church is to glorify the God of the scriptures in promoting His worship, evangelizing sinners, edifying saints and promoting the expansion of His kingdom. Therefore we are committed to the proclamation of God’s perfect law and the glorious gospel of His grace throughout all the world and to the defense of “the faith once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3).
Article IV: Articles of Faith
We recognize the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the sole and final authority in matters of faith and practice. We also acknowledge the usefulness of creedal statements that specify how the Church of our Lord has understood and expressed its understanding of what Scripture teaches. In keeping with this historic practice of the Church to articulate its understanding and doctrinal commitments, we take our stand firmly in that stream of confessional formulation flowing out of the Protestant Reformation. More specifically, we take the London Baptist Confession of 1689 as the doctrinal standard with which our church officers must affirm substantial agreement. With accompanying concern to confess our faith in contemporary language sensitive to our culture, we take the Doctrinal Statement of the Gospel Coalition as the standard with which our church members must affirm substantial agreement.
Article V: Membership
Section 1: Requirements for Membership
Any person who professes repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, who manifests a life transformed by the power of Christ, who has been baptized, who expresses substantial agreement with the doctrines and aims of this church, and who is willing to submit to its government shall be eligible for membership.
Section 2: Procedures in Receiving New Members
Paragraph A: Application for Membership
A person who desires to become a member of this church shall notify the elders. The elders shall interview the applicant to determine whether that person has made a credible profession of faith in Christ, has been (or desires to be) baptized, is in substantial agreement with the doctrines of the church, and intends to give wholehearted support to its ministry and submit to its discipline. A new believer who has never been baptized and who requests to become a member of this church will, upon being interviewed and meeting all other requirements stated above, be baptized
Paragraph B: Current Members of Other Churches
If an applicant is or has been a member of another church, the elders may make an inquiry concerning the applicant’s standing in that church and his reasons for leaving before recommending the applicant for membership in this church.
Paragraph C: Induction into Membership
If the elders are satisfied that the applicant meets the requirements for membership, they shall announce the same to the congregation at a regular meeting of the church. At least two weeks shall be allowed for objections or questions to be raised by any member concerning the applicant’s manner of life or doctrine. If no objection is raised which the elders consider to be valid, the applicant will be publicly received into membership at a regular meeting of the church. If the applicant has never been baptized, he will be baptized at the time he is received into the membership. The elders may postpone the reception of a person into the membership until proper investigation can be made concerning any objections which in their judgment are sufficiently serious.
Section 3: Termination of Membership
Paragraph A: By Physical Death
Membership shall be terminated upon the death of a member.
Paragraph B: By Request
Membership shall be terminated at the request of a member in good standing. When so requested, the elders may grant to a departing member in good standing a letter recommending that person for membership into the fellowship of another church. No such letter, however, shall be given to a member who is at the time under the corrective discipline of this church. The elders may refuse to grant a letter of transfer to any church which is in their judgment disloyal to “the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints” or which does not exercise godly care over its members.
Paragraph C: By Exclusion
If a member is habitually absent from the regular meetings of the church without showing just cause, or if a member no longer professes to be a Christian, he may be excluded from the membership at the discretion of the elders. Congregational approval of such action is not required. The elders shall announce to the congregation that this person is no longer a member.
Paragraph D: By Excommunication
Membership shall be terminated when a person is excommunicated according to the procedures outlined in Article VI.
Section 4: Conduct Required of Members
Paragraph A: Attendance at Regular Meetings
Members are expected to attend all the regular meetings of the church unless providentially hindered by illness, accident, unusual working conditions or other extenuating circumstances (Heb. 10:24-25).
Paragraph B: Means of Grace
Members are expected to make use of the various other means of grace which are available to them, such as the regular daily reading of the Bible, regular private and family prayer, and a proper reverence for and observance of the Lord’s Day.
Paragraph C: Tithing and Financial Support
Members are expected to financially support the work of the Lord by systematic and proportionate giving made through the local church (Mal. 3:8-10; I Cor. 16:1-2; II Cor. 8-9).
Paragraph D: Family Life
Members are expected to obey the teachings of scripture regarding family life. Christians are free to marry whomever they choose, as long as the person is a fellow believer. As the God-appointed head of the family, the husband must rule over the household with gentleness and love, but also with wisdom and firmness (Eph. 5:25-6:4; I Tim. 3:4, 5). The wife must be in subjection to her husband in all things according to the rule of scripture (Eph. 5:22-24; I Pet. 3:1-2). The husband and wife must bring up their children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4), by setting a godly example before them, by instructing them consistently in the scriptures, and by wise and firm discipline, (Prov. 13:24; 22:6, 15; Heb. 12:7-11).
Paragraph E: Conduct in the Church
Inasmuch as the church is represented in scripture as a body having many members, each of the members having its particular function and yet having a concern for the health and protection of the whole (I Cor. 12:12-28; Eph. 4:7-16), members are expected to strive for the good of the entire body. It is the duty of all members to be kind, compassionate and forgiving to one another while consciously putting away all bitterness and anger. Each one should look not only on his own interests but also the interests of others. This love should be manifested by deeds, not just words. The members must actively seek to cultivate acquaintance with one another so that they may better be able to pray for one another; love, comfort, and encourage one another; and help one another materially as necessity may require. They must refrain from speaking ill of one another and must keep in strict confidence all matters of private concern to the church and not discuss them with persons outside of this fellowship (Heb. 12:15; Eph. 4:29-32; Phil. 2:1-5; I John 3:11-18).
Paragraph F: Evangelism
It is the duty of every Christian individually and as a member of a local church to labor for the extension of the kingdom of God both at home and to the ends of the earth. Therefore, every member of this church is expected prayerfully to recognize and to seize every opportunity to bear witness to his faith in Christ both by consistent Christian conduct and by the testimony of his lips (Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 1:8; I Pet. 3:15; Col. 4:5-6).
Paragraph G: Christian Liberty
Members are expected to render in their daily life loyal obedience to all the moral precepts established in the Word of God (Rom 8:3,4). If God has not condemned or forbidden a practice in His word, a Christian is at liberty to participate in it. The exercise of Christian liberty, however, must at all times be governed by an earnest desire to walk in the fear of God and to glorify him in all things, a loving regard for the conscience of weaker brethren, a compassion for the lost and a zealous regard for the health of one’s own soul (I Cor. 9:24-27; Gal. 5:22-23; I Pet. 2:16).
Paragraph H: Submission to Oversight
Members are expected to recognize and submit to the scriptural authority of the officers of this church (I Cor. 16:15-16; I Thess. 5:12-13; Heb. 13:7, 17).
Article VI: Church Discipline
Section 1: Formative Discipline
Every disciple of Christ must live under His discipline (His instruction and correction), which is administered to each one through the church (I Cor. 12:12-18; Rom. 12:3-18). Mutual submission to one another and to the overseers whom the Lord has set over His church (Eph. 5:21) will result in the sanctification of each member individually and of the whole body of the church collectively. There are occasions, however, when failure in the application of this formative discipline makes the application of corrective discipline necessary.
Section 2: Corrective Discipline
Paragraph A: Reasons for Corrective Discipline
Corrective discipline becomes necessary for the following reasons:
- A member is guilty of any conduct which disturbs the peace and unity of the church or damages its testimony (Tit. 3:10-11).
- A member is guilty of immoral behavior (I Cor. 5:9-11; 6:9-10; Gal. 5:16-21; I Cor. 5:3-5; Matt. 18:17).
- A member teaches or insists on holding wrong opinions which are so serious that they must be categorized as “heretical” (Gal. 1:6-9).
- A member is accused or suspected of committing sin worthy of corrective discipline but refuses to meet with the elders that the matter may be investigated.
Paragraph B: Suspension
A member may have his membership privileges suspended at the discretion of the elders for any of the reasons listed above. A suspension shall remain in force until the suspended member shows evidence of true repentance and change of conduct. The suspension or restoration of a suspended member to full privileges shall be announced at a regular meeting or business meeting of the church. A suspended member shall be treated according to the directions of II Thess. 3:6, 14-15. The elders shall seek to counsel and admonish a suspended member to bring him to true repentance and reformation.
Paragraph C: Excommunication
If a member has been suspended for any of the reasons listed above, and the member fails to respond to the counsel and admonition of the elders, he may be excommunicated. The elders shall recommend excommunication to the church at a regular meeting. Excommunication shall be enacted by a congregational vote at a business meeting of the church (Matt. 18:17; I Cor. 5:4-5). An excommunicated person shall be removed from the membership roll and shall be treated as an unbeliever.
Paragraph D: Restoration
It is the duty of the church to forgive and restore to membership those persons who give satisfactory evidence of repentance (II Cor. 2:6-8). The elders may review the status of those who have been excommunicated or suspended to judge whether the aims of the discipline have been accomplished. Upon recommendation of the elders, the congregation shall have the right to rescind an excommunication by a congregational vote. Persons whose excommunication is rescinded may be eligible for membership under the provisions of Article V.
Article VII: Officers
Section 1: General
Jesus Christ alone is Head of the church (Col. 1:18), and He governs His church through officers, men whom He appoints and who are endowed by His Spirit with the gifts and graces needed to accomplish their work. There are two offices in the church: elder (also called “pastor” or “overseer”) and deacon (Phil. 1:1; I Tim. 3:1-13). It is the duty of the church to seek and discover among its members those men to whom Christ the Lord has imparted the necessary gifts of office-bearing, and after formally recognizing them by congregational vote, to set them apart by united prayer, and then to submit to their authority.
Section 2: Elders
Paragraph A: Number and Source
The scriptures indicate that normally there should be a plurality of elders in the local church (Acts 20:17; Phil. 1:1; Tit. 1:5). However, it is recognized that, in some cases, a church may have only one elder. The church may invite men from outside the local congregation to come into its midst and serve in this capacity. Any man thus called to this office in this manner must join the church as a member.
Paragraph B: Qualifications
The qualifications for a man chosen to fill the office of elder are clearly set forth in scripture, particularly in I Tim. 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. An elder must conscientiously affirm his agreement with the Articles of Faith and the Constitution of this church. Should he at any time move from this position, he is under moral obligation to make this fact known to the church.
Paragraph C: Responsibilities
Elders are responsible for the spiritual oversight of the church “as those who will have to give an account” to God (Acts 20:28; Heb 13:17; I Pet. 5:2-3). While every elder should be “able to teach” (I Tim. 3:2), some will be more engaged in formal and public teaching, while others will be more engaged in pastoring (that is, private teaching and admonishing) and governing.
Paragraph D: Delegation
The elders may at their discretion delegate certain responsibilities to committees and individuals within the church for the orderly functioning of the church. These in turn shall be responsible to the elders. Gifted men who are not recognized as elders may engage in public preaching and teaching, provided they are godly in character, but the exercise of their gifts shall be under the direction and oversight of the elders.
Paragraph E: Compensation
It is highly desirable that at least one elder should devote his full time to the work of the ministry and the oversight of the church. The church is responsible to give adequate financial support to such men (I Cor. 9:4-11; I Tim. 5:17-18).
Paragraph F: Oversight of Elders
While elders are overseers of the local church, they are themselves members of that church. Therefore, each elder as an individual is under the oversight of his fellow elders and is subject to the same discipline as other members of the church.
Section 3: Deacons
Paragraph A: Number and Source
The number of deacons shall not be fixed. The church shall choose as many as are needed for the work to be done from among the men in the local congregation who give evidence of having the scriptural qualifications for that office.
Paragraph B: Qualifications
The qualifications for a man chosen to fulfill the office of deacon are particularly set forth in I Tim. 3:8-13. A deacon must conscientiously affirm his agreement with the Articles of Faith and the Constitution of this church. Should he at any time move from this position, he is under moral obligation to make this fact known to the church.
Paragraph C: Responsibilities
As set forth in Acts 6, deacons are responsible to administer the ordinary business, secular affairs and benevolent concerns of the church so that the elders may devote themselves without distraction to the matters of spiritual oversight (Acts 6:3-4). They must fulfill the duties of their office in cooperation with and in subjection to the elders. As part of their duties, the deacons are to submit an annual budget for the approval of the congregation.
Section 4: Appointment and Removal of Officers
Paragraph A: Nominations
Nominations to the offices of elder and deacon shall be made by the elders, or in cases where the church is without an elder, by a nominating committee selected by the deacons, or, in the absence of deacons, the congregation.
- The elders alone may nominate a candidate to either office and call a special business meeting for their consideration. In no case may a man be nominated for either office without his knowledge and prior consent.
- Prior to nominating a candidate, the elders will meet with the man and his family to confirm his willingness to undergo congregational examination and his readiness to serve in church office. He may, without prejudice, decline nomination. If the man consents, he may be nominated to the congregation for office. Nominations shall be made to the congregation at least one month in advance of voting.
Paragraph B: Election
Votes to consider a nomination for a potential officer will be held during a business meeting of the church. The candidate for office and all members of his immediate family shall leave the room while his qualifications are openly discussed by the entire congregation. Such discussions are to be conducted in the fear of God and the light of scripture. After such discussion a written ballot shall be taken and officers elected by at least a three-fourths majority.
Paragraph C: Public Installation
Following the election of an officer by the congregation, he shall be publicly installed in his office at a regular worship service by the prayer of the whole church and the laying on of the hands of the elders (Acts 6:6; I Tim. 4:14; II Tim. 1:6).
Paragraph D: Discipline and Removal of Officers
Officers are subject to the same rules of discipline as are other members of the church. They shall hold office as long as they are faithful to their calling and have the confidence of the congregation. An officer shall be removed from his office under the following circumstances:
- An officer may resign his office without prejudice if for good and valid reasons he finds he is no longer willing and able to discharge the duties of it.
- In cases where church discipline is not involved, if a majority of church officers believe that it is in the best interest of the church for an officer to be removed from office, the officers may call for a congregational vote of confidence. The vote of confidence shall be taken by written ballot during a business meeting. The officer shall be removed by a vote of two-thirds majority. In the event that an officer receives a vote of no confidence from the congregation and is removed from office, he nonetheless remains a member in the church.
- An officer under corrective discipline as outlined in Article VI, Section 2, shall be removed from his office. Though such a person may be restored to full membership, he shall not be restored to his former office. Re-appointment to office may only occur according to the procedures of Paragraphs A, B and C of this section.
Article VIII: Congregational Meetings
Section 1: Regular Meetings of the Church
The regular meetings of the church are the worship services of the Lord’s Day (Sunday).
Section 2: Business Meetings
There shall be an annual business meeting of the church for the presentation of financial reports and approval of proposed budgets. Special business meetings may be called by the officers at any time for the election of officers, and the transaction of any other business requiring a congregational vote.
Section 3: Notice of Meetings
Paragraph A: Business Meetings
Notice of each business meeting shall be given at regular meetings of the church for at least two weeks prior to the meeting. However, in the case of an emergency, a business meeting may be called on shorter notice by notifying each member in an appropriate manner of the time, place, and purpose of the meeting.
Paragraph B: Special Meetings
Meetings called by the officers to give special reports or to seek the counsel of the congregation may be called with less than two weeks’ notice, but no congregational vote may be taken or other business transacted at such meetings.
Section 3: Quorum
The members present at any properly convened congregational meeting shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.
Section 4: Maintenance of Order
One of the officers of the church shall preside at all business meetings.
Section 5: Voting
Paragraph A: Eligibility
All regular members who have reached the age of eighteen years and are in good standing in the church may vote on any question brought before the congregation.
Paragraph B: Majority Required
Except as stated elsewhere, all resolutions shall be enacted by at least a two-thirds majority of the quorum.
Article IX: By-Laws
The officers shall draft and amend from time to time such by-laws as they deem necessary for the efficient implementation of this Constitution; but no by-law which is in violation of any of the terms of this Constitution shall be valid.
Article X: Amendments
Section 1: Procedure
This Constitution may be amended by a congregational vote.
Section 2: Notification
Proposed amendments shall be distributed at least one month prior to such a congregational vote.