ACRES OF HOPE CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP
Constitution & Bylaws
Adopted November 18th, 2011;
Updated September 20, 2015
Article I: Identity
Article II: Mission
Article III: Statement of Faith
Article IV: Ministry strategy
Article V: Membership
Article VI: Government
Article VII: Officers
Article VIII: Bylaws
Article IX: Amendments
Article X: Dissolution
Bylaw 1: Church Membership
Bylaw 2: Elders
Bylaw 3: Senior Pastor
Bylaw 4: Pastoral Staff
Bylaw 5: Deacons
Bylaw 6: Volunteer Ministry Staff
Bylaw 7: Organizational Matters
ARTICLE I: IDENTITY
The name of this church is Acres of Hope Christian Fellowship. The church is located in North Haverhill, in Grafton County, New Hampshire, with a mailing address of PO Box 353, North Haverhill, NH. This corporation is organized exclusively for religious purposes within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Acres of Hope Christian Fellowship is an independent nondenominational church.
ARTICLE II: MISSION
The mission of Acres of Hope Christian Fellowship is to help people find Christ and grow in Him.
ARTICLE III: STATEMENT OF FAITH
The doctrinal beliefs of Acres of Hope Christian Fellowship will be attached to this document.
ARTICLE IV: MINISTRY STRATEGY
The core purposes of Acres of Hope Christian Fellowship are:
- To love God, and to love others (Matthew 22:37-40).
- To serve and to minister to others in Christian love (Matthew 25:34-40).
- To obey the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20).
Acres of Hope Christian Fellowship will continually develop and evaluate its ministry on the basis of a specific ministry strategy and in keeping with core values and objectives. These strategies, values, and objectives may evolve as time progresses, but they are to be kept before the church congregation as a priority.
ARTICLE V: MEMBERSHIP
Anyone is welcome to attend and participate. Any person professing faith in Jesus Christ, and agreeing with the Statement of Faith, as well as the Constitution and Bylaws, of Acres of Hope Christian Fellowship may apply for Membership. Following a prayerful review of the application, the Governing Board will take a vote of Membership at the next business meeting. Upon a majority vote, the applicant will be granted the full rights and responsibilities of Membership.
ARTICLE VI: GOVERNMENT
Ultimate authority lies in Christ as the head of the church and in the Scripture as the basis for all faith and practice. This church shall remain free and self-governing. The government is vested in its Membership and administered by its Officers. In function, final authority shall reside in the Membership. They shall approve and/or affirm Biblically qualified leadership, to carry out Christ’s purposes.
ARTICLE VII: OFFICERS
The Officers of this church shall be the Pastor(s), Elders, and other Officers as deemed necessary by the local church.
ARTICLE VIII: BYLAWS
A supplement to this constitution known as the Bylaws shall embody the stated qualifications for church leaders and Officers. The Bylaws shall also include Officers’ duties, provisions for appointment of additional leaders, conditions for Membership, method by which Members are received, along with other rules and regulations for church activities as needed.
ARTICLE IX: AMENDMENTS
Amendments to this constitution may be made at any business meeting when said proposed Amendments have been presented to the Membership in writing and posted for at least one month prior to the business meeting. A two-thirds majority of all active Members in good standing is required for passage.
ARTICLE X: DISSOLUTION
The term of existence of this corporation shall be permanent without a specific term of existence. The property of the corporation is irrevocably dedicated to religious or charitable purposes, and upon dissolution of the organization, all assets and/or properties will be distributed to a Christian ministry or organization as to be determined by a majority vote of the Governing Board. In the absence of an appropriate Christian recipient, the Governing Board may elect to disperse assets and/or properties to a non-profit organization compatible with Christian beliefs.
BYLAW #1 – CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
While freely extending its fellowship to all individuals, AHCF desires to uphold the Scriptural principle of joining with a local body. AHCF will therefore establish and maintain a list of individuals considered Members. Only Members will be allowed to vote in official business meetings and to serve in the capacity of Elder. Anyone is welcome to attend and participate.
Any person professing faith in Jesus Christ, and agreeing with the Statement of Faith and Constitution of Acres of Hope Christian Fellowship may apply for Membership.
All people 18 and over who meet the above qualifications and who desire to be a participating Member of Acres of Hope Christian Fellowship will be asked to complete the current procedure for joining with the AHCF body. This procedure will be designed by the Elder Board to build the church and seek to assure that all Members know, understand, and accept the church’s Statement of Faith and philosophy of ministry. The procedure will include a course of instruction, a potential interview with a church leader, and after approval by the Elders and Governing Board, an official welcome into the Acres of Hope family.
Honorary Members – Regular attendees who demonstrate a commitment to Acres of Hope Christian Fellowship, but who are cognitively unable to fully understand and consent to the Membership requirements may be recognized by the Elder Board and Governing Board as Honorary Members, and given full Membership benefits, with the exception of voting. Additionally, Honorary Membership may be conferred upon those who are in covenant relationship with ACHF, but who are unable to attend for legitimate reasons, including: college students, military personnel, shut-ins, missionaries, or others who are legitimately unable to regularly attend services.
Inactive Members – The Elder Board will periodically review the Roll of Members. If a Member is found to be no longer abiding by the current Membership standards, and efforts by the Elder Board to restore unity of purpose and relationship are unsuccessful, the Elder Board may recommend a change to the Member’s status to Inactive to the Governing Board. Upon placement on Inactive status, the Member’s voting privilege will be suspended, pending further action by either party.
Members may be removed from the Membership Roll by request of the Member, by prolonged inaction under Inactive status, or by death of the Member.
BYLAW #2 – ELDERS
Acres of Hope Christian Fellowship will be led following what we believe to be the Biblical pattern for church government which calls for a plurality of Elders (Acts 14:23; Acts 20:17; Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:5).
Role/Duties of Elders:
Elders will be depended upon to provide leadership and protection for the church, to teach and exhort, to refute those who contradict truth, to administer church discipline as necessary, and to pray for the sick. The Elder Board will select an individual to serve as Elder chairperson who will assist in establishing the Elder Board’s agenda, appoint meeting chair people as necessary, and regularly meet with the Senior Pastor to evaluate ministry progress. All Elders may serve as Officers and trustees of the corporation. The Elder chairperson will serve as the president of the corporation in legal matters and be considered the moderator of the church.
Before being affirmed as an Elder, individuals must meet the qualifications set down in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 and be a Member in good standing of Acres of Hope Christian Fellowship.
The Elder Board will function with a minimum of three Elders, including the Senior Pastor. The Senior Pastor will seek the counsel of the Elder Board, and will prayerfully appoint Elders.
An Elder may resign from the Elder Board by giving written notice to the Elder Board. An Elder may be asked to resign from the Elder Board should the other Elders determine that an Elder is disqualified in some way. An involuntary removal of an Elder may only occur with a majority consent vote from the church Membership. Elders may resign or be removed at any time. In keeping with the Biblical model outlined in 1 Timothy 5:19-20, no accusation against an Elder shall be entertained unless it is confirmed by two or more witnesses.
BYLAW #3 – SENIOR PASTOR
The Elder given the responsibility of spiritual leader of the church and who has the main teaching and vision casting responsibilities is designated as the Senior Pastor.
Role/Duties of the Senior Pastor:
The Senior Pastor is an Elder and thus shares in the duties of the Elder Board. The Senior Pastor is responsible to lead the staff, and to lead the Elders in the area of casting an appropriate vision and direction for the church. As the primary teacher, the Senior Pastor is to teach the Word of God by declaration and example.
Senior Pastor Qualifications:
The Senior Pastor must meet the Elder qualifications of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, be appropriately trained, and evidence gifts and a calling in keeping with the mission and philosophy of the church.
Senior Pastor Selection:
In the event of a vacancy, the Elders shall be responsible to share in the ministries and duties of the position of Senior Pastor, and to prayerfully and diligently conduct a search for qualified candidates to fill the position. Once the Elders have selected a candidate, that candidate shall be presented to the Membership for mutual examination and for affirmation by a two-thirds majority vote of all active Members.
The Senior Pastor will serve indefinitely. The relationship may be terminated upon sixty days written notice by either party or by mutual consent. The Senior Pastor may be asked to resign by the Elder Board should they determine that the Pastor is disqualified in some way. An involuntary removal of the Senior Pastor, however, may only occur with majority consent from the active Membership.
BYLAW #4 – PASTORAL STAFF
The Elders will approve job descriptions and goals for all Pastoral Staff Members (ie. Associate Pastor, Worship Leader) in conjunction with the Senior Pastor. Support staff will be selected by the Senior Pastor or by designated individual.
Pastoral staff qualifications:
All Pastoral Staff Members will be required to meet Elder qualifications regardless of their specific area of ministry.
Pastoral staff selection:
The Senior Pastor shall recommend the best available candidates to the Elder Board for review and selection.
Pastoral staff removal:
Any Pastoral Staff Member not part of the Elder Board may be asked to resign by the Elder Board should they determine that the Pastoral Staff Member is disqualified in some way, and is unwilling to submit to attempts at restoration of unity and relationship.
BYLAW #5 – DEACONS
The office of Deacon is not a mandated position, but is at the discretion of the Elder Board, as needed.
Role/Duties of the Deacon:
Deacons will be depended upon to assist the Senior Pastor and the Elder Board in the benevolence and helps ministries of the church.
Before being affirmed as an Deacon, individuals must meet the qualifications set down in 1 Timothy 3 and be a Member in good standing of Acres of Hope Christian Fellowship.
The Elder Board is directly responsible for prayerfully selecting and appointing Deacons.
Deacons will serve without a specific term and be evaluated regularly by the Elders, and may be removed by the Elders if they consider it necessary.
BYLAW #6 – VOLUNTEER MINISTRY STAFF
Leadership of ministry areas within Acres of Hope will be selected by the Elder Board or their designate that is responsible for the ministry area. All leaders are responsible directly to the Elder Board. Leaders will be expected to exhibit evidence of a maturing commitment to Christ and to lead and serve in a biblical manner. Leaders will serve without a specific term and be evaluated regularly by the Elders, and may be removed by the Elders if they consider it necessary.
BYLAW #7 – ORGANIZATIONAL MATTERS
A. Governing Board
The corporate and legal business of the church shall be conducted by a Governing Board minimally consisting of the Senior Pastor, the Elder Board chairperson, a Treasurer, as well as Corporate Officers to be elected by the congregation at the Annual Meeting, including a Clerk, Secretary, and at least two Members-at-Large. Elected Officers will be expected to meet the qualifications of church overseers as defined in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.
The primary duty of the Clerk is to record and disseminate church business meetings minutes, and to maintain the organization upkeep of all official church-related documents.
The primary duty of the Secretary is to assist with handling church correspondence and communications, as well as to assist the Senior Pastor and Elder Board with secretarial, clerical and office management duties that are needed for the efficient operation of the church.
The primary duty of the Member-at-Large is to actively represent the congregation to the Governing Board.
Should any of the Corporate Offices become vacant, the Governing Board shall be authorized to appoint an interim replacement for the duration of the term.
B. Annual Meeting:
An annual meeting shall be held within 60 days of the end of the church fiscal year to conduct business regarding election of Corporate Officers, the setting of goals, the budget, and other pertinent matters determined by the Elder Board and/or the Governing Board. The annual budget, and the acquisition and disposal of property must be approved by majority consent of the Members. For all Membership meetings, a quorum shall consist of a majority of the active Membership of the church (except for matters of church property as noted below). All church meetings are open to anyone involved in the church ministry. Only active Members will be allowed to vote.
C. Special Church Meetings:
The Elder Board and/or Governing Board shall call special Membership meetings as needed and shall inform the church through written notice and announcement during at least two services prior to the meeting. The agenda for said meeting will be presented in advance, and no other business may be conducted. A quorum shall consist of active Members attending a duly called meeting. A three-quarters majority of those present will be required for the passage of any motion.
D. Fiscal Matters:
The Elder Board shall appoint a Treasurer who shall be responsible to manage church funds in a responsible, confidential, God honoring manner. The church fiscal year shall run from July 1 to June 30. The church books shall be reviewed annually by individuals appointed by the Elder Board.
E. Rules for Church Property:
Purchase or disposal of significant church property (land, buildings, real estate and purchases requiring a contract) must be authorized by a seventy-five percent (75%) affirmative vote. Two-thirds of the active Members of the congregation present shall constitute a quorum at such meeting. Only Members of legal voting age can vote.
F. Revisions of Constitution and Bylaws:
Should it become necessary to revise this document in any way, the Elders and Governing Board shall present the suggested revisions to the church Membership for ratification by a two-thirds majority vote of all active Members present at a duly called annual or special Membership meeting. All proposed revisions must be posted for Membership examination and prayerful consideration a minimum of two Sundays prior to this Membership meeting.
(Note: minor revisions not affecting change in the theology, ministry philosophy or overall structure and government shall be made at the discretion of the Elders [i.e. grammar, clarification of ideas considered to be confusing, added Scriptural support, etc.]).