CONSTITUTION AND RULES OF PROCEDURE OF
BLANTYRE COMMUNITY CHURCH
TO THE GLORY OF GOD
Blantyre Community Church (hereinafter referred to as ‘this Church’) hereby adopts the following as its Constitution and Procedure.
The aims of and objectives of this Church shall be to provide for the worship of God, in terms of the faith and doctrine laid down in the faith and doctrine sections of the Constitution of REACH South Africa.
This Church shall, in terms of secular law, be a Voluntary Association with full legal personality, with perpetual succession and the power to hold property in its own name, distinct from its members, and capable of being sued and suing in its name.
The affairs of this Church shall be regulated and controlled by a Council (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Council’) and constituted as hereinafter provided. The default would be for the Senior Pastor to serve as the Chairman of the Council and provide leadership as to the working and direction of the church, unless the Pastor and the Council decides otherwise.
There shall be kept a record of the members of this Church which will be available for review by any member of this Church. A member shall be a person who applies to the Council for membership on the relevant signed forms and who has been admitted as such.
Members need to fulfil the following requirements. He/she:
a) has been baptised and has made a personal confession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ;
b) displays a commitment to live by his/her profession of faith;
c) has accepted and continues to accept the Statement of Faith of this Church and agrees to abide by both the Constitution of this Church, and the Constitution of any overarching body, as long as they are a member of this Church;
d) is not a member of any other local church in Malawi;
e) is over 18 years of age, for voting rights only;
f) is now and has been a regular attendee for at least four months, for voting rights only;
g) The Council may delete the name of a member from the membership record if, after attempting to give notice to such member of its intention to do so, it is satisfied that the member concerned no longer qualifies to be a member by not meeting the above requirements (a-f).
6.1 A general Meeting of members shall be held once in every year, as specified by the Council. Such Meeting shall be called the Annual Church Meeting and shall be chaired by the Senior Pastor or his nominee. A quorum shall be 1/2 of the Membership Roll. Failing a quorum, the meeting shall be adjourned for not more than thirty days to a date determined by the Church Council. At that meeting, those present shall form a quorum. Notice of the Annual Church Meeting shall be given on at least two consecutive Sundays prior to the date of such Meeting and at least fourteen days in advance of the meeting.
6.2 A person shall be entitled to vote at any Church Meeting, or be eligible for holding office and/or be a member of any body or council constituted by this Constitution only if he/she is a voting member of this Church.
6.3 Nominations for all Church office–bearers and Council members can be made or seconded only by members of this Church. Both nominations and acceptances must be made in writing to a member of the Council at least one week prior to the Church Meeting.
6.4 All nominations are to be approved by a Nominations Committee consisting of the Senior Pastor and other members selected by the Church Council.
6.5 Any person attending this Church may attend any Annual or Special Church Meeting. Only members of this Church may take part in the proceedings unless they have the permission of the Chairman or a majority of the voting members on the church membership record.
6.6 Business of the Annual Church Meeting shall be;
a) to elect members of the Council;
b) receiving, considering and adopting – or taking such action as may be deemed advisable – on the Annual Financial Statement of Accounts and other reports for the last year;
c) any other matter placed on the agenda by the Council or which has been given by any member at least one week before the meeting.
6.7 The agenda shall be circulated to the members at least one week prior to an Annual Church Meeting.
6.8 All voting at a Church Meeting, except for the selection of Council members and the People’s Warden, shall be by a show of hands unless a ballot is requested by any two members of the Church. A confidence (secret) ballot shall in all cases take place where each elected member of the Council and the People’s Warden shall be required to obtain 75% of the votes of those present in order to qualify for the election as a Council member.
6.9 Special Church Meetings may be held from time to time if requested in writing by at least 1/2 of the members of the Church, by the Senior Pastor or by the at least 1/2 of the Council members and shall be convened in the same manner as it described in 6.1.
COMPOSITION OF THE COUNCIL
The Council of this Church shall consist of:
a) The Senior Pastor and any other elders on the staff team;
b) Any Church Wardens (maximum of two). If there is a Pastor’s Warden, he will be an automatic member and the People’s Warden shall be elected by the congregation;
c) A maximum of four other Council members elected by the Annual Church Meeting of this Council;
d) A Treasurer and Secretary, who shall be appointed by the Council. Should the Treasurer and/or the Secretary not be present, another Council member may fill that role for that meeting. Should the Secretary or the Treasurer not be a Council Member that person shall not be entitled to vote at Council meetings. The Treasurer shall be empowered to sign cheques and other documents relating to finance. Two signatures shall be required, one of which shall normally be the Treasurer. Council as required will appoint other signing officers;
e) A member of the Council may hold more than one office;
f) The Senior Pastor or his nominee shall be the Chairman to preside at meetings of the Council. If there is no Senior Pastor, or nominee, an acting Chairman shall be elected by the Council from among their members at each meeting. The Chairman shall have a casting vote.
DECLARATION OF LOYALTY BY OFFICE BEARERS
Before entering upon his/her duties, each Council member shall solemnly assent to his/his name to the declaration of loyalty to Christ and this Church, by publicly stating the below:
“I………………….., solemnly promise to adhere to the Constitution, Rules and Procedures of Blantyre Community Church. I hold to the absolute truth and authority of the Bible. I further solemnly promise to work for the peace and purity of the Church, its Clergy, Council and Congregations. I shall endeavour to be regular in attendance at services, Bible studies and prayer meetings and to set the highest possible standard of Christian witness at all times, the Lord being my helper.”
PERIOD OF OFFICE
The period of office shall be as follows:
Elected Members – the period of office shall be from the date of the Annual Church Meeting upon which they have been elected to the date of Annual Church Meeting two years later, after which time they are eligible for re-election. Approximately one half of the elected members of the Council shall be elected for such a term at each Annual Church Meeting.
Appointed Members – the period of office shall expire at the next Annual Church Meeting. Any vacancy in the membership of the Council occurring between two successive Annual Church Meetings may be filled by the Council co-opting a member on to the Council until the next Annual Church Meeting.
The two Church Wardens shall be elected as follows:
a) The “People’s Warden” may be elected by members of the congregation (other than the Clergy) at the Annual Church Meeting. A vacancy in the office of People’s Warden occurring during the year of office may be filled by the Council for the remainder of the period;
b) The “Pastor’s Warden” shall be nominated to that office by the Senior Pastor and shall be automatically elected. If the Church has no Senior Pastor, the Warden may continue in the office until the next Church Meeting at which the new Senior Pastor is present.
DUTIES OF THE CHURCH WARDENS
The Church Wardens shall serve as any Council members in administrative responsibilities. The People’s Warden shall be regularly available to members of this Church who would wish a specific issue to be discussed or to be considered. The Pastor’s Warden shall meet regularly with the Senior Pastor in order to offer encouragement, counsel and accountability. The suggested frequency is once per month.
DUTIES OF THE COUNCIL
The Council shall be responsible for the efficient administration of the affairs of this Church and shall:
a) Have power to appoint Pastors, Evangelists, Women’s Workers, Youth Workers, and other ministers to the congregation; to enter into contracts with the persons so appointed relative to his/her tenure of office; and to accept resignations or to terminate such appointments. The appointment of pastors or termination of their employment will be subject to the approval of any overarching body;
b) Rule on the interpretation of this Constitution and Rules of Procedure;
c) Cause proper minutes and records of its proceedings and all other meetings of members and of all transactions of this Church to be kept;
d) To ensure the provision of the facilities and requisites for meetings and to acquire and maintain property, movable and/or immovable;
e) Authorise all expenditure and payments;
f) Have authority to open or cause to be opened current banking accounts or saving accounts and to operate on such accounts, to raise or borrow money from time to time by means of an overdraft or loans against security or in any other way as the Council may deem fit; documents and cheques to be signed by two persons;
g) Have authority to invest, lend, put out to interest, place on deposit, advance or otherwise deal with monies not immediately required to meet current charges upon this Church and in the entire discretion of the Council from time to time, to realise, vary, reinvest, or otherwise deal with any such investments and securities, provided that none of the powers contained herein may be exercised unless authorised by a resolution of the Council passed by a majority of 75% of those present and entitled to vote at a proper meeting of the Council;
h) Purchase, sell, mortgage or alienate immovable property as directed by section 17.
i) To prepare or cause to be prepared a Financial Statement, audited by a qualified auditor covering the full calendar year ending on 31st December and present such at the Annual Church Meeting;
j) Provide for the keeping and regular revision of the Membership Record.
k) To set up and establish standing and/or ad hoc committees and sub-committees and to delegate to such committees any of its powers.
MEETINGS OF THE COUNCIL
a) Ordinary Meetings shall be held at least every two months as far as circumstances permit. An agenda for each ordinary Meeting of the Council shall be prepared and distributed to Council members, at the least, a day prior to the meeting;
b) The Chair of the Council shall include on the agenda such items as any Council member may request him/her to include; preferably such request should be in writing/email;
c) The quorum for Ordinary and Special Meetings of the Council shall be at least 50% of Council members;
d) A motion duly seconded for adjournment of a meeting must immediately be put to the vote without further discussion;
e) If any member of the Council absent themselves for three consecutive Ordinary Meetings of the Council without leave or explanation, his/her seat may, at the discretion of the Council, be declared vacant, and another member co-opted by the Council;
f) To encourage unity in the church, it should be possible to reach unanimity. It is better to defer a contentious matter for prayer to a later meeting before resorting to a vote, in which case a simple majority will decide the issue.
SPECIAL COUNCIL MEETINGS
14.1 A Special Council Meeting of this Church may be called by the Senior Pastor, Church Wardens or by three members of Council by means of a resolution in writing/email to the Secretary of the Council or in his/her absence the Senior Pastor or either of the Church Wardens, stating the purpose of the Meeting. The recipient of the requisition shall in consultation with the Senior Pastor or Council Chairman decide a place, date and time of meeting and immediately advise the members of the Council in writing accordingly, informing them also of the purpose of the Meeting;
14.2 Should there not be a quorum at the first Meeting, the members present shall adjourn the Meeting to a date not less than seven days ahead and members not present shall be advised immediately by the Secretary of the Council. At the rearranged Meeting those present shall form a quorum.
15.1 Allegations of heresy or misconduct against the Senior Pastor or any office bearer of this Church shall be referred to the Council for decision and action. The Council may appoint a special committee to investigate such allegations or complaints. The committee shall, after its investigations have been completed, report its findings on the matter in question to the Council. Any action then to be taken by the Council on the matter in question shall require a resolution passed by 75% of those members present at a Special Meeting called for that purpose;
15.2 Any members of the Church may refer any formal complaint which he/she wishes to make against any other member or body of this Church, whether clerical or lay. This complaint may be made to a member of the Council, who may bring that issue to the attention of the Council by Ordinary or Special meeting. The matter may be dealt with by the Council or by a duly selected disciplinary committee including the Senior Pastor. If the Council/committee finds after inquiry that complaint is well founded, its members shall admonish and reason with the offender/offenders in a spirit of love and charity. If the matter is settled with the offender/s with a sincere change of mind, views and action, the Council/committee shall report the inquiry and results to both the complainant and the Council, after which the matter shall be treated as closed. If the offender/offenders refuse to appear before the Council/committee or decline to accept the Committee’s admonitions and remain in the same mind or action, the Committee shall report the inquiry and its results to the Council who shall take such action consistent with the Constitution and Rules and Procedures as it may decide, including discontinuation of church membership, provided that the complainant and/or defendants shall have the right to appeal to a Church Meeting against the decision of the Council. In the case of illegal activity, the council reserves the right to notify civil authorities;
15.3 Should the defendant to a complaint be a member of the Council, he/she shall recuse him/herself.
RIGHT OF APPEAL
If a member is not satisfied with any decision of the Church Council concerning themselves, that person may ask any overarching body to mediate or arbitrate.
No immovable property shall be purchased, sold or bonded unless 75% of those present and entitled to vote at the Church Meetings vote in favour of the purchase, sale or bonding. All movable property of this Church shall be registered in the name of Blantyre Community Church, or its appropriate legal entity.
CONTROL OF SUBSIDIARY BODIES
Sunday Schools, Clinics, Clubs, Fellowships and all other bodies formed to further this Church’s spiritual work shall be subject to the following provisions:
a) The Senior Pastor, or his nominee, shall ex officio, be a member of any controlling Committee and may exercise control over such Organisations and request a statement of the financial position at any time from such Organisations.
b) In the event of there being no Senior Pastor, or in his absence, the Pastor’s Warden shall fulfil this role.
AMENDMENTS TO THIS CONSTITUTION
Amendments to this Constitution may only be made by an Annual or Special Church Meeting, provided that:
19.1 Such amendments have been approved by the Council;
19.2 Notice of such Church Meeting setting forth the purpose of such Meeting, has been given at the services of this Church on three consecutive Sundays before such Meeting.
19.3 No amendments which are in any way contrary to any overarching constitution shall be permissible.
19.4 An open meeting must be held between four and six weeks prior to the Church meeting where the proposed amendments are tabled, discussed and, if necessary, revised by the Council.
19.5 Proposed amendments and any counter proposals to these amendments shall be set out in writing, in full in the agenda of the Church Meeting.
19.6 At the Church meeting they shall be voted on without counter proposals or amendments being permitted from the floor.
19.7 Amendments shall only be adopted if seventy-five percent of the members present vote in favour of such amendments
19.8 Amendments shall be effective immediately they are adopted.
ADOPTION OF THIS CONSTITUTION
This Constitution was adopted on 25th November 2013 by the Council.