Bylaws for East Bay Trinity Chinese Church
ARTICLE 1 – NAME
The name of this organization is “East Bay Trinity Chinese Church /東灣三一華人教會”
ARITCLE 2 – MISSION
Our mission is to proclaim Christ and the Kingdom of God so that people far and near may experience the transforming power of God’s love in our Lord Jesus Christ. We will fulfill this mission by prayer and active ministries in love.
ARITCLE 3 – STATEMENT OF FAITH
3.1 The Triune God
We believe in the Triune God who eternally exists in three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – of the same divine nature with one another, co-equal in power and glory, and having the same attributes and perfections.
3.2 Salvation through Jesus Christ
Jesus, as fully God and fully man, lived a blameless life on earth and sacrificed Himself for our sins on the cross. He bore the wrath of God, died, and was resurrected before ascending to heaven as the eternal mediator between God and man. Though we are saved when we come to faith, salvation is a process whereby we may continually fail but God is faithful to forgive us as we confess our sins.
3.3 Salvation as the result of God's sovereign grace
In His love and mercy God offers us justification for our sins through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When we accept God’s salvation we are adopted into His family and become joint heirs with Christ. We want to live rejoicing in God’s grace and His unmerited favor towards us, with the conviction that we do not earn God’s love by our own efforts.
3.4 The person, presence and work of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity with the Father and the Son. He lives in all believers giving us an assurance of our salvation, convicting us of sin, and producing an increasing likeness to Christ in our characters. His presence is essential for us to worship, serve, minister and evangelize. We believe in followers of Jesus being filled with the Spirit.
3.5 The centrality of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ
In His love and grace God offers salvation to all; we need only repent and believe in the saving power of Jesus’ death and resurrection. When we do this we are justified and acquitted forever, adopted into God’s family and are assured of eternal salvation. Faith comes from hearing of God’s Word that allows us to know Him and to live a life of discipleship following and imitating our Lord.
3.6 The authority of the Bible as God's infallible word
God has revealed himself in the Bible (the Protestant Canon of 66 books) and it is His infallible Word given by the inspiration of God through human authors. It is our supreme authority for faith, life and doctrine and we want to follow Jesus’ example to believe, speak and live the Word. The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to have a true understanding of the Scriptures and He helps us to see truth increasingly clearly.
3.7 The Church is the body and the bride of Christ
We are part of the Universal Church and together with all who truly believe in the Lord Jesus we make up the Bride of Christ. We gather as a local church committed to one another and to our leaders under the Lordship of Jesus as Head of the Church, and ask our church family to be active members of the body of Christ.
3.8 The two sacraments of the Church
We believe in the two sacraments instituted by Christ for the Church: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. A sacrament is the sign and seal of God’s grace in Christ. We believe in baptism by immersion but in exceptional cases, we may practice baptism by sprinkling of water.
3.9 Marriage is a symbol of the union between Christ and His Church
Men and women are made in the image and likeness of the Triune God, to reflect His harmonious inter-personal relationships and interdependence. Marriage is between a man and a woman. Marriage between a man and a woman is symbolic of the union between Christ and His Church.
3.10 A lifestyle of love
As a community of believers, love should be our hallmark. We want to receive the love of God that is given to us, express our love for Him, and live a lifestyle of love towards other people. Jesus prayed that His followers would be united in love and we want to embody that, supporting each member of our family and being humble, forgiving and quick to apologize for our own mistakes.
3.11 The second coming of Christ
We believe in that Blessed Hope, the personal, imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
3.12 The eternal state
We believe in the bodily resurrection of all men: the saved to eternal life and joy in the presence of our Lord, and the unsaved to judgment and everlasting punishment.
ARTICLE 4 – CHURCH GOVERNMENT
Our church adopts a tripartite structure of church government: Board of Elders (EB/ 長老團） , Administrative Council（長執會）, and Congregation（會眾）, each of which has a part to play in the government of the church.
4.1 Board of Elders (EB /長老團)
Elders and pastors are overseers and spiritual leaders of the church responsible for teaching and preaching the Word of God according to Scripture, setting spiritual directions and goals, organizing ministries of the church, upholding doctrines and morals of the faith, so that every member may be built up by the Word of God in love.
The Board of Elders & Pastors is composed of elders and ordained pastors. An ordained pastor serving in EBTCC is an ex officio member (當然成員) of EB. An un-ordained pastor may attend the meetings of the Board of Elders & Pastors but has no voting right.
4.1.3 Qualifications of Elders/Pastors
Those who accept the responsibilities of elders and pastors must conform to the standards set by Scripture (1 Timothy 3:1- 7; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-4).
An ordained pastor of this church must have received a Master of Divinity degree (or equivalent) from a qualified seminary.
The Board of Elders & Pastors may select a Chairman from among themselves. The service term should last one year, after which this Elder may be re-selected or replaced by another board member.
4.1.5 Senior Pastor, Pastors
The Senior Pastor will lead the Board of Elders & Pastors and the whole church in teaching the Word of God and fulfilling the spiritual goals of the church. All Pastors and Elders shall teach according to Scripture and demonstrate Christ-like servant example, not domineering over others.
4.1.6 Decision Making
There should be no fewer than two elders in order for the Board of Elders & Pastors to make decisions as a Board. Otherwise, all ministry decisions of the church are to be deferred to the Administrative Council.
Decisions of the Board of Elders & Pastors will become effective only with the endorsement of the deacons in the Administrative Council by a simple majority vote (that is, only the deacons will vote on the decisions of the Board of Elders) .
4.1.7 Election of Elders/Pastors
Election of an elder or pastor is by:
(1) With regard to a pastor, nomination of a candidate by a Pastor Search Committee appointed by the EB.
(2)With regard to an elder, nomination of a candidate by the EB.
(3) confirmation of the candidate by a two-thirds majority vote of the entire Administrative Council, with absentee ballots included
(4) election by the congregation with a two-thirds majority vote with absentee ballots included
(5) ordination by laying on of hands by elders/pastors
4.1.8 Terms of Service
The standard term of an elder is six years. After six years, the elder should take a sabbatical leave of one year, after which he may be re-elected to another six years of eldership by a two-thirds majority vote of the Administrative Council, with absentee ballots included.
The standard term of a pastor is three years. The pastor’s service may be extended every three years by a two-thirds majority vote of the Administrative Council, with absentee ballots included. After every six years, the pastor may take a sabbatical leave of three months with full compensation.
4.1.9 Employment of Elders
If deemed necessary by the Board of Elders & Pastors and the Administrative Council for the good of the church, an elder may serve in a full-time capacity and receive compensation from the church.
The elder who intends to receive compensation and serve in a full-time capacity must receive (1) unanimous support from the Board of Elders & Pastors, (2) a two-thirds majority vote from the entire Administrative Council with absentee ballots included, and (3) a two-thirds majority vote from the congregation, with absentee ballots included.
The standard term of a full-time elder employed by the church is three years. The elder’s service may be extended every three years by a two-thirds majority vote with absentee ballots included of the Administrative Council. After every six years, the employed elder will take a sabbatical leave of three months with full compensation.
4.2. Administrative Council (長執會)
The Administrative Council fulfills the administrative functions of the church.
The Administrative Council consists of all elders, pastors and deacons of the church.
Deacons must conform to the qualifications laid down by Scripture (1 Timothy 3:8-13).
The Administrative Council is chaired by an elder elected by the Administrative Council. With less than two elders in the EB, a deacon may be elected as chairman.
The term for the chairman is two years, or it shall expire with the end of service term of the elder or deacon, whichever is less.
4.2.5 Decision making
All decisions in the Administrative Council shall be by a simple majority vote with absentee ballots included, except otherwise specified.
To reiterate again, decisions of the Board of Elders & Pastors will be effective only with the endorsement of the deacons in the Administrative Council by a simple majority vote with absentee ballots included (that is, only the deacons will vote) .
4.2.6 Election of Deacons
Election of a Deacon is by:
(1) nomination of a candidate by a committee consisted of the EB and three deacons. The committee shall solicit inputs from the congregation.
(2) confirmation of the candidate by a two-thirds majority vote of the Administrative Council, with absentee ballots included.
(3) election by the Congregation with a simple majority vote with absentee ballots included.
(4) ordination by laying on of the hands by the elders and /pastors.
4.2.7 Term of Service
The standard term of a deacon is three years. However as need arises, the term may be extended by the Administrative Council by a majority vote, but each term should not be more than six years. When the term ends, the deacon should take a sabbatical leave of one year, after which he may be re-elected by a two-thirds majority vote of the Administrative Council, with absentee ballots included.
4.2.8 Hiring of Church Staff
All hiring of other church staff other than a pastor or elder is to be discussed and decided in the Administrative Council.
4.3 The Congregation of the church
The Congregation of the church consists of baptized members of the church. The Congregation is to be led by the Board of Elders & Pastors in fulfilling the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ. At the same time, the Congregation has key roles to contribute in major decisions-making of the church: in the election of pastors, elders and deacons, in committing to buy or sell church buildings, in supporting church planting and mission projects, and in confirming the annual budget of the church.
ARTICLE 5 – CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
A member must subscribe to the bylaws of this church.
5.1.1 A Christian who is baptized in this church is considered a member.
5.1.2 A baptized Christian from another church may apply for membership in this church.
5.1.3 Only a member may be elected as an elder, deacon or trustee.
5.1.4 To be elected an elder, a member must have at least five years of membership in Christ’s church and must have engaged in active ministry in this church for more than three years.
5.1.5 To be elected a deacon, a member must have at least three years of membership in Christ’s church and must have engaged in active ministry in this church for more than two years.
5.2 Voting Rights:
Voting rights are reserved for members aged 18 or above, and attending no less than 1/4 of Sunday service of the past six months.
5.3.1 A baptized person may submit a membership application form to the Administrative Council to indicate his or her desire to join the church as a member.
5.3.2 The Administrative Council shall review the application.
5.3.3 Acceptance of a member shall be announced and welcomed in the Sunday worship service and on the church bulletin.
ARTICLE 6 – TRUSTEES
The Board of Trustees shall consist of two to four members.
Procedures for election of Trustees are the same as those for the Elders, although an elected Trustee needs no laying on hands by pastors and elders.
Trustees shall have care, custody and control of all property of the church and administer the same under such rules as may be prescribed by the Administrative Council. The Trustees shall execute all legal instruments as may be authorized by the Administrative Council. They may act as consultants to the elders and deacons on legal and financial matters related to the acquisition, sale and management of church properties.
6.4 Term of Office
The trustees may serve a term of five years and they may be re-elected by a two-thirds majority vote in the Administrative Council, with absentee ballots included.
ARTICLE 7 – CHURCH DISCIPLINE
The goal of church discipline is to restore relationship to God and the community of faith according to Scripture.
7.1 Allegations against church members and leaders
All allegations against church members or leaders (pastors, elders, deacons) on doctrinal or moral grounds must be filed to the Board of Elders & Pastors OR Administrative Council by at least two members of the church.
7.2 Ethics Committee
Once the allegation is received, the Board of Elders & Pastors OR Administrative Council shall appoint an Ethics Committee consisting of no less than five members to conduct the investigation. The Ethics Committee shall be chaired by an elder or pastor. If there is no elder or pastor available, a deacon selected from the Administrative Council may chair the Ethics Committee. Judgment of each case is to be made in the Ethics Committee by a supermajority of three-fourths vote, with absentee ballots included.
If the allegation is confirmed, efforts shall be made to help the person repent to God and correct his/her ways.
An unrepentant church member shall be excommunicated by the church through the Board of Elders & Pastors and the Administrative Council. (Matt. 18: 15-20), who together represent the church.
7.5 Removal from Office
An unrepentant elder or pastor shall be removed from office and excommunicated by the Board of Elders & Pastors and Administrative Council, who together represent the church.
ARTICLE 8 – CHURCH PROPERTY
All real estate bought or built with funds of this church shall be under the title of this church.
8.2 Selling/Change of Title/Mortgage
All selling, change of title, or mortgaging of property under the title of this church should be based on the need to expand God’s work. The above shall be approved in a Special Congregational Meeting by a two-thirds majority vote, with absentee ballots included.
In case the church becomes dissolved, any church property existing then, shall in no way be diverted for other purposes. All property shall be donated to another Christian charitable organization(s) or church(es).
ARTICLE 9 – MEETINGS
9.1 The Administrative Council
The Administrative Council shall meet at least once a month to tend to church business. Each member of the Administrative Council, regardless of how many offices he or she may hold, shall have only one vote. A member with any conflict of interest shall disclose such interest and, if judged by the Administrative Council as material, shall recuse himself or herself from voting on the business concerned.
9.2 Annual Congregational Meeting
The Annual Congregational Meeting shall be held in October of each year at the church. Written notice of said meeting shall be posted at the church at least two weeks prior to the meeting. At the Annual Congregational Meeting there will be the annual reports, confirmation of officers, adoption of the annual budget and all other businesses that may properly come before the meeting.
9.3 Mid-year Congregational Meeting
A Mid-Year Congregation Meeting shall be held in April of each year at the church to review the ongoing ministries of the church. Written notice of said meeting shall be posted at the church at least two weeks prior to the meeting.
9.4 Special Congregational Meetings
Special Congregational Meetings may be called by the Administrative Council or the written petition of more than fifty percent of the Members. The Administrative Council shall announce the Special Congregational Meeting at least seven days in advance. In case of emergency, the Administrative Council shall be responsible for notifying all members and announce the meeting during the Sunday worship service.
The quorum for Administrative Council meeting is two-thirds of all council members
The congregation Meeting must meet a quorum of 30% of the members of the church.
ARTICLE 10 – AMENDMENTS
Any member may propose changes to the Bylaws by submitting the proposal in writing to the Administrative Council for consideration. Proposed amendments approved by the Administrative Council shall be presented to the congregation at least two weeks prior to a Congregational Meeting. A proposed amendment must be approved by two-thirds of the members present, with absentee ballots included. All amendments are effective upon approval.