BYLAWS OF THE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF COTTONDALE
ARTICLE I. CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
This is a sovereign and democratic Baptist church under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The membership retains unto itself the exclusive right of self-government in all phases of the spiritual and temporal life of this church. The membership reserves the exclusive right to determine who shall be members of this church and the conditions of such membership.
Any person may offer himself/herself as candidate for membership in this church. All such candidates shall be presented to the church at any regular or special church service for membership in any of the following ways:
1. By profession of faith and by New Testament baptism by immersion.
2. By promise of a letter of recommendation from another New Testament church, and having experienced New Testament baptism by immersion.
3. By restoration upon a statement of prior conversion experience and New Testament baptism by immersion, when no letter is obtainable.
Should there be any dissent as to any candidate, such dissent shall be referred to the pastor and the deacons for investigation and the making of a recommendation to the church within thirty (30) days. A 3/4 vote of those church members present and voting shall be required to elect such candidates to membership.
B. Rights of Members
A. Every member who has reached his 15th birthday is entitled to vote at all elections and on all questions submitted to the church conference, unless otherwise provided for, and provided the member is present.
B. Every member of the church is eligible for consideration by the membership as candidates for elective or appointive offices in the church, unless otherwise specified.
C. Every member of the church may participate in the ordinances of the church as administered by the church.
C. Termination of Membership
Membership shall be terminated in the following ways: (1) death, (2) transfer to another Baptist church, (3) exclusion by action of this church, or (4) upon request or proof of membership in a church of another denomination.
It shall be a basic purpose of the church to emphasize to its members that every reasonable measure will be taken to assist any troubled member. The pastor, other members of the church staff, and deacons are available for counsel and guidance. Redemption rather than punishment should be the guideline which governs the attitude of one member toward another.
Should some serious condition exist which would cause a member to become a liability to the general welfare of the church, every reasonable measure will be taken by the pastor and by the deacons to resolve the problem. All such proceedings shall be pervaded by a spirit of Christian kindness and forbearance. But, finding that the welfare of the church will best be served by the exclusion of the member, the church may take this action by a 2/3 vote of the members present at a meeting called for this purpose with 10 days notice to the church; and the church may proceed to declare the offender to be no longer in the membership of the church.
Any person whose membership has been terminated for any condition which has made it necessary for the church to exclude him may upon his request be restored to membership by a 2/3 vote of the members present upon evidence of his repentance and reformation.
ARTICLE II. CHURCH OFFICERS
All church officers must be members of the church. The officers of the church shall be as follows: the Pastor, the Ministerial Staff, the Deacons, a Clerk, a Treasurer, a Sunday School Director, and a Vacation Bible School Director. The Trustees for the purposes of incorporation will be the Chairman, Vice Chairman, and Secretary of the Deacon Body.
A. Pastor’s Duties
The pastor shall be an ordained Southern Baptist minister, and he shall be an individual who has had a definite personal experience with Jesus Christ and has accepted Him as Savior and Lord. He shall further be an individual who has had a definite call to the Gospel Ministry and who is giving his full time and talents to the fulfillment of that call. He shall not accept a paid outside job without church approval. His deportment and personal life shall be in keeping with the highest standards of Christian character and morality, so as not to reflect discredit upon either the Lord or his ministry. He shall in no-wise be excused from any other provision set forth in this Constitution and Bylaws as to qualifications or responsibilities, but shall hold himself in strict compliance thereto.
The pastor is responsible for leading the church to function as a New Testament church. The pastor will lead the congregation, the organizations, and the church staff to perform their tasks. When present, he shall preside as moderator at all business meetings of the church.
The pastor is leader of pastoral ministries in the church. As such he works with the deacons and church staff to (1) lead the church in the achievement of its mission, (2) proclaim the gospel to believers and unbelievers, and (3) care for the church’s members and other persons in the community.
The pastor shall be an ex officio member of all committees and bodies of the church.
A pastor shall be chosen and called by the church whenever a vacancy occurs. His election shall take place at a meeting called for that purpose, of which at least one week public notice has been given.
Whenever a vacancy occurs, a Pulpit Committee of five members, nominated by the deacons and elected by vote of the church, shall seek out a suitable pastor, and their recommendation will constitute a nomination. This committee will explain to the prospective pastor about salary, sick leave, vacation, revivals, etc. The pulpit committee shall bring to the church only one nomination at a time. No pastor shall be elected and called without an affirmative vote of 85% of those members present at the special meeting of the church. The pastor, thus elected, shall serve until the relationship is terminated at his request or at the church’s request.
When the pastor desires to dissolve the pastoral relationship, a notice of at least two weeks shall be given. That resignation shall be effective at the end of the two-week period.
Should the deacons find, in the best interest of the church, that the termination of the pastor be essential, they shall recommend such action at a meeting called for that purpose, of which one week’s public notice has been given. A majority of the ballots cast shall be necessary for termination.. Except for instances of gross misconduct by the pastor, the church will compensate the pastor with two weeks severance pay. The termination shall be immediate and the compensation shall be rendered at the end of the next pay period.
An interim pastor shall be recommended to the church by the Pulpit Committee. This committee shall also recommend to the church compensation for the interim as well as for the pastor when he is called. The deacons will be responsible for the church functions that the pastor was responsible for until a pulpit committee can be officially appointed.
B. Ministerial Staff
The church shall call or employ such staff, other than the pastor, as shall be needed, upon the recommendation of the pastor and the body of deacons. Conditions of the call and termination will be the same as for the pastor in accordance with their job description. A job description will be furnished to the candidate. The church may vote to eliminate ministerial positions upon recommendation of the body of deacons, such termination being immediate and the compensation conditions being the same as for the pastor, except that the amount shall relate to the individual’s compensation.
C. Deacons’ Duties
There shall be as many deacons as the church deems wise. Deacons shall be elected upon the basis of qualifications as set forth in the New Testament (1 Timothy 3:8-13 and Acts 6:2-6) and other qualifications adopted by the church and included in the by-laws. The active deacons shall decide when additional deacons are needed and shall recommend to the church that an election be held. Nominations shall be made by the church members writing on slips of paper the recommended number of names of men that they think will make committed deacons. The nominees shall have been active members of the church for a minimum of one year. Before recommendation to the church, the pastor and deacons will interview prospects to determine if they are willing to serve. If they have not been ordained in another church, new deacons will be recommended for ordination. Following an ordination council by the pastor and other ordained individuals, election by the membership shall be announced, giving at least two weeks advance notice. This ordination council will be held at least two weeks prior to the election. To be elected, a nominee must receive an affirmative vote from at least 75% of the members voting. Under the leadership of the pastor, the deacons shall provide general leadership to the church. This leadership shall be advisory in nature rather than official. With the pastor, they shall seek the highest spiritual good of the church. They shall assist in the observance of the church ordinances and such other duties as may apply to the office of deacon. All service of the deacons shall be ministerial in nature rather than administrative. At the regular August meeting, the deacons shall elect a chairman, a vice-chairman (who is the past chairman), and a secretary to serve for one year, beginning in October. The deacons shall meet monthly or at such times deemed necessary by the pastor or chairman. A deacon may be changed to inactive status at his request, which shall be accepted at a business meeting by a simple majority vote. A deacon not requesting inactive status may be changed to inactive status by a vote of the church after counseling by the pastor and at least one active deacon, with at least a 2/3 majority vote of members present at a business meeting. In addition, a deacon shall become inactive if he moves away, and he shall not return to active status if he returns except through election as outlined above. In the absence of the pastor, the chairman of the deacons will be the moderator of all business meetings unless the church specifies differently.
The church-elected clerk shall keep in a suitable book a record of all the actions of the church, except as otherwise herein provided. He/she is responsible for keeping a register of the names of members, with dates of admission, dismission, or death, together with a record of baptisms. He/she shall issue letters of dismission voted by the church, preserve on file all communications and written official reports, and give legal notice of all meetings where such notice is necessary, as indicated in these by-laws. The church may delegate some of the clerical responsibilities to a church secretary. All church records are church property and should be filed with the clerk and in the church office.
The assistant clerk will assist the clerk in the duties of the office.
The church shall elect annually a church treasurer. He/she shall be an ex-officio member of the finance committee. It shall be the duty of the treasurer to receive, deposit, preserve, and pay out all money or things of value paid or given to the church, keeping at all times an itemized account of all receipts and disbursements. He/she shall render to the church at each regular business meeting a written itemized report of the receipts and disbursements for the preceding month. The treasurer’s report shall be audited annually by the Finance Committee.
Upon rendering the annual account at the end of each fiscal year and its acceptance and approval by the church, the records shall be delivered by the treasurer to the church clerk, who shall keep and preserve the account as a part of the permanent records of the church.
In the absence of the treasurer, the assistant treasurer will perform the treasurer’s duties. The assistant will also assist the treasurer in the duties of the office on a regular basis.
F. Sunday School Director
The Sunday School Director shall be selected by the Nominating Committee and elected by the church. He/she will beresponsible for directing the activities of the Sunday School, seeing that all Sunday School classes are staffed each Sunday, assembling lists of and reaching prospects, directing the ministry of the Sunday School, scheduling Bible study courses, and making monthly reports to the church.
G. Vacation Bible School Director
The Vacation Bible School director shall be selected by the Nominating Committee and elected by the church. The VBS director shall be responsible for selecting teachers, staff, and materials for the VBS and the daily supervision of all VBS activities. A final report to the church at the conclusion of the school will be made by the director.
ARTICLE III. COMMITTEES
A. Nominating Committee
The pastor will nominate three members to the Nominating Committee in July of each year to be elected by the church at the regular July business meeting. This committee will nominate a Sunday SchoolDirector and an Assistant Director in the regular August business meeting for election by the church, and these two will become members of the nominating committee.
The Nominating Committee shall present to the church in the regular business meeting in September a slate of nominees for officers, teachers, and committees to serve the following year. This committee will also tend to nominations that are needed because of vacancies that may occur during the year or other new committees or positions that develop.
B. Church Council
The primary function of the church council shall be to recommend to the congregation suggested objectives and church goals; to review and coordinate program plans recommended by church officers, organizations and committees; to recommend to the congregation the use of leadership, calendar time, and other resources according to program priorities; and to evaluate program achievements in terms of church goals and objectives.
The council, unless otherwise determined by vote of the church, shall have as regular members the pastor, other ministerial staff, Sunday School Director, Women’s Missionary Union Director, Chairman of Deacons, Church Clerk, Church Treasurer, and committee chairpersons.
All matters agreed upon by the council, calling for action not already provided for, shall be referred to the church for approval.
C. Stewardship Committee
A stewardship committee shall be elected by the church each year at the September business meeting and shall serve until the next September or until replaced by the church. The treasurer shall be a voting ex officio member of the Stewardship Committee, which shall consist of four (4) other members. The committee shall consult with the pastor, the deacons, and the responsible heads of departments as to their financial needs for the ensuing year. They shall then prepare a budget proposal to cover all expenses of the church.
The ushers shall be selected by the Nominating Committee and elected by the church. They will be attentive to the needs of the congregation and the pastor.
E. Cemetery Committee
The Cemetery Committee will be responsible for the sale of burial plots and the upkeep of the cemetery. They will bring a financial report to the church at all regular business meetings. All changes in cemetery policy will be presented to the church at a regular business meeting for approval.
F. Other Committees
All other committees will function at the discretion of the church.
G. Committee Officers
All committees will elect a chairperson and a secretary.
ARTICLE IV. CHURCH MEETINGS
Section 1. Regular Meetings
The Church shall meet for worship as desired and shall hold revival meetings as desired.
Section 2. Business Meetings
Regular business meetings shall be held the second Sunday of each month except when they have to be postponed for a week because of some other activity that must be held at the time of the regular business meeting. All departments will give reports at these meetings.
Special business meetings shall be called by the pastor or chairman of deacons. No special business meeting shall be considered official unless it has been announced in a regular service of the church one week prior to the special meeting and in the church bulletin stating the purpose of such meeting to all members.
The vote of a majority of the members present expresses the judgment and authority of the Church, except in the election or dismissal of the Pastor or other member when a four-fifths (4/5) vote shall be necessary, and in the change of the Church Constitution or By-Laws, when a two-thirds (2/3) vote shall be necessary. A quorum for regular business meetings shall consist of not less than fifteen (15) members unless more than $500 is to be spent. Then a quorum will consist of twenty-five (25) members. The twenty five (25) member quorum is also necessary for dismissing a member or changing the bylaws. When election or dismissal of a pastor is to be considered, a quorum shall consist of not fewer than fifty (50) members.
Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised shall be the guide for all business meetings.
ARTICLE V. AMENDMENTS
The bylaws of the First Baptist Church of Cottondale are amended by the church body at a business meeting on July 7, 2004, to include the following statement: The only marriage to be performed in the church will be between one man and one woman.
The bylaws of the First Baptist Church of Cottondale are amended by the church body at the business meeting on November 5, 2008, to include the following statement: No paid staff member may serve as a deacon to the church body.
The bylaws of the First Baptist Church of Cottondale are amended by the church body at the business meeting on November 5, 2008, changing the voting age of church members from 18 to 21 years of age.
The bylaws of the First Baptist church of Cottondale are amended by the church body at the business meeting on April 8, 2015, to include the following statement:
Statement on Marriage and Sexuality
We believe that the term "marriage" has only one meaning and that is marriage sanctioned by God which joins one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture.
We believe that God intends sexual intimacy to only occur between a man and a woman who are married to each other. We believe God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman.
We believe that any form of sexual immorality, such as adultery, fornication, homosexuality, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, pornography or any attempt to change one's sex, or disagreement with one's biological sex, is sinful and offensive to God.
We believe that in order to preserve the function and integrity of the church as the local Body of Christ, and to provide a biblical role model to the church members and the community, it is imperative that all persons employed by the church in any capacity, or who serve as volunteers, should abide by and agree to this Statement on Marriage and Sexuality and conduct themselves accordingly.
We believe that God offers redemption and restoration to all who confess and forsake their sin, seeking His mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
We believe that every person must be afforded compassion, love, kindness, respect, and dignity. Hateful and harassing behavior or attitudes directed toward any individual are to be repudiated and are not in accord with scripture nor the doctrines of the church.
Effective April 8, 2015, the policies of First Baptist Church of Cottondale, Cottondale, Florida, are in agreement with and governed by the doctrines of the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Effective January 8, 2017 the regular business meetings will be held the second Sunday of each month.