God, Who is rich in mercy, has brought us together for our mutual benefit. Being born-again, Bible-believing Baptists, we set forth this Confession of Faith and Constitution to promote the more certain preservation and security of the principles of our faith. We intend that this body be governed in an orderly manner consistent with the teachings of the New Testament, preserving the liberties inherent in each individual member of this church and the freedom of action of this body.
The name of the organization shall be “Fellowship Baptist Church of Watertown, Wisconsin.”
The ultimate purpose of Fellowship Baptist Church is to glorify God. To accomplish this purpose, the church is committed to the work of the Great Commission; the making and maturing of disciples of Jesus Christ who are growing in Christ-likeness. For these ends, the church will diligently engage in evangelism (seeking the salvation of the lost through the preaching of the Gospel and personal witnessing), edification (strengthening believers through the preaching and teaching of God’s Word), fellowship (the mutual care of believers in the context of biblically loving relationships), and worship (extolling the greatness and goodness of God both corporately in regular public services and personally in individual spiritual service). In doing so, the church will maintain a compassionate spirit toward the unsaved at home and around the world while promoting a high moral standard in the community and society at large.
Fellowship Baptist Church is an independent, fundamental, Baptist church. As such, the church is opposed by conviction to any type of ecclesiastical compromise, alliance, or cooperation with liberalism, neo-orthodoxy, neo-evangelicalism, and charismatic renewal. Due to its independent status, the church may not join a convention or any type of hierarchal organization.Fellowship Baptist Church holds to and is characterized by certain historic Baptist principles:
a. Membership in Fellowship Baptist Church conveys a number of privileges and rights. Not only does membership provide the believer with a sense of belonging, but it gives him or her a ready means of identifying his or her beliefs and position before the world. In reality then, the testimony of the entire church supplements the testimony of the individual. Membership also provides a basic qualification for service in the church, the holding of any office, and participation in church business affairs.
b. Membership likewise involves serious responsibility and commitment to the cause and testimony of Jesus Christ. Members should therefore refrain from all forms of worldliness that detract from that testimony, give occasion for stumbling to other believers, or hinder the member’s own spiritual growth and service, John 17:15-17; I Cor. 6:12, 8:13; Col. 3:1-3; Heb. 12:1; and I John 2:15-17. Despite the occasional failure of some members to live in accordance with their high calling in Christ, the membership at large should have a testimony before God and man of living holy lives. By joining, each member consents to the necessity of avoiding worldliness, seeks to remove each manifestation of it from his own life, encourages fellow believers to live godly lives, aids in the restoration of fallen brethren, and jealously guards his or her own reputation and that of the church body.
c. Each member should gladly lend his or her wholehearted support not only to his or her own area of service and concern, but to the total church program. Only when each member fulfills his or her own special role and cooperates with the entire ministry of the church can the purpose of the church be realized.
Each candidate for membership of Fellowship Baptist Church must meet certain qualifications in order to become a member: a. Be a professing believer in the Lord Jesus Christ,b. Be able to give clear testimony of his or her salvation,c. Have been baptized by immersion subsequent to conversion, andd. Assent to the Confession of Faith and agree to abide by the Constitution and Membership Covenant.Each candidate for membership at Fellowship must give satisfactory evidence in his or her life of having been born again and must meet one of the following conditions:
a. If he or she holds membership in a church of like faith, it must be confirmed by contact with the former church that he or she is a member in good standing.
b. If he or she does not hold membership at another church, he or she must either have been baptized at Fellowship Baptist Church, or must provide evidence of baptism by immersion subsequent to conversion.Prior to becoming a member, each potential member must personally meet with the deacons for confirmation of the above qualifications and conditions. After successfully completing these requirements, he or she is recommended by the deacons to the church for approval by a majority vote.
a. Active: In order to be considered an active member of the church in good and regular standing, a member must attend at least one regularly-scheduled services quarterly and not be under church discipline. These attendance requirements do not apply to shut-ins, missionaries serving in other areas, those who spend brief periods out of state, and other exceptions which may be approved by the deacons. A member who moves from this area is expected to identify with a church of like faith and practice as soon as possible. Those who fail to make contact with the church during a one-year period following a move, may, by church action, be dropped from the church roll. Only active members who have reached their eighteenth birthday or are married have voting privileges.
b. Watch Care: This status available only to students at Maranatha Baptist Bible College who wish to retain full membership in their “home” churches. They have the same privileges and responsibilities as active members, except they may not vote, speak in church business meetings, or hold the office of pastor, deacon, or other designated offices.
c. Inactive: Failure to attend the services as stated above shall be deemed sufficient grounds for dropping of the name from active membership and placing it on the inactive roll by church action. Names shall be carried on the inactive roll for a period of six months. During this time, every effort shall be made by the pastor and deacons to re-establish the member’s fellowship with the church. If the delinquent member shows no interest during the year, the deacons may recommend to the church that the name be dropped from the church roll.
The names of those recommended by the deacons for church membership may be presented and voted on at a regular church service or any regular business meeting.
a. Each member is expected to conduct himself or herself in daily life so as to give evidence of being possessed by the Spirit of Christ and of being in agreement with the Confession of Faith and the Membership Covenant.
b. Each member should regularly attend the services of the church and participate in the giving of his or her means as the Lord may prosper.
c. Each member is expected to volunteer to serve within the limits of his or her God-given gifts and abilities.
In all matters of discipline or doctrinal heresy, this church must adhere faithfully to the teaching of our Lord in Matt. 18:15-17, and all differences between members must be settled by this rule. The deacons must see that this is enforced. In case of gross and flagrant violation of Christian conduct forbidden in Scripture, and after Christian counsel by the pastor and the deacons, the accused may, upon recommendation of the deacons and the two-thirds vote of the church, be dismissed from church membership for conduct unbecoming to a Christian. Prior to the vote of the church the accused shall be advised by letter of the pending action and given a final opportunity to repent of sin, ask for forgiveness, and be restored to fellowship.
The name of any member shall be removed from the church roll when one of the following conditions exist:
a. Active members who join a church of like faith and practice shall be granted, upon request, letters of transfer. Active members who join a church of like faith and practice without notifying Fellowship Baptist Church officially, shall, upon confirmation of membership, be removed from the membership of Fellowship Baptist Church. No church action is required, but such removals must be reported at the next regular business meeting.
b. Any member wishing to unite with a church other than the above (Section 7a) shall be granted a certificate of standing to date. No church action is required.
c. Upon death.
d. In the case of active members who request that their membership be dropped from Fellowship Baptist Church without having joined another church of like faith and practice or who have serious unresolved issues, church action is required.
e. Continuous inactivity as described under Section 3. Church action is required.
f. Dismissal as described in Section 6. In cases requiring church action, there shall first be a recommendation to the church presented by the deacons at any regular church service or any regular business meeting.
The government of Fellowship Baptist Church is vested in the body of voting members that comprise the church. This government is democratic in its operation. While the church recognizes a fraternity with other churches of like faith, it remains independent and assumes full responsibility for its actions and decisions.
Unless otherwise scheduled, the church shall meet each Sunday for worship, and at least once during the week for Bible study and prayer. The ordinance of the Lord’s Supper will be observed when feasible on the first Sunday of every month except by special arrangement of the pastor or deacons.
a. The fiscal year of the church shall close on the last day of December.
b. Quarterly business meetings shall be held on the second Sunday (as feasible) in February, May, August and November. The November meeting shall be designated the Annual Business Meeting, at which the budget for the following fiscal year shall be presented by the deacons to the church membership for approval and at which the officers for the ensuing year shall be elected.
c. Special business meetings for the business that cannot wait for a regular business meeting may be called by the pastor or the deacons. All such meetings shall be publicly announced from the pulpit on the Sunday preceding.
d. Only active members who have attained the age of eighteen years or who are married shall be entitled to the right to speak or vote at any regular, special, or annual business meeting of the church.
e. Unless otherwise specified in this constitution, Robert’s Rule of Order shall be the parliamentary guide in all matters of business.
f. All business meetings shall be opened with prayer and conducted decently and in order. Normally, the pastor shall be the presiding officer. If he is absent, or, if in the judgment of the deacons they feel another moderator should be elected, either the head deacon or another member of the church shall be nominated by the deacons and elected by the congregation as the first order of business.
g. A quorum shall consist of one-third of the active members who are of voting age and shall be required for all church business meetings. Church action shall be determined by the majority of those voting except as otherwise specified in this constitution.
h. Ballot voting shall be considered on any item of business. It may be called for by the chair or any voting member. It is the responsibility of the deacons to recommend the matter of a ballot vote when they present their recommendations to the church.
i. Tie votes in the election of church officers and deacons will be settled by a random lot (e.g., a coin toss). Tie votes in any other matter of business will be settled according to Robert’s Rules of Order.
a. The pastor shall be called at a special or regular meeting of the church, public notice of such action having been given from the pulpit two Sundays immediately preceding the date of the meeting and a favorable vote of two-thirds of the ballots cast shall be necessary for his election.
b. The pastor shall continue in office until he resigns or until his ministry is terminated at a special meeting called for that purpose in the following manner. A special meeting of the church shall be called by the deacons upon two-thirds vote of the deacons for the purpose of taking a vote of confidence. Notice of such a meeting shall be given on two successive Sundays immediately preceding the meeting. At such meeting the head deacon or someone designated by them shall state that a vote of confidence has been called for and shall proceed to take a vote by ballot. A majority vote of the active members present having reached the age of eighteen shall be necessary to give a vote of confidence, which shall mean that the ministry of the pastor shall continue. Should the vote of confidence not be sustained, it shall thereby be due notice to the pastor that his term of office shall cease immediately. The deacons shall, at their discretion, have authority to pay him for a period not to exceed two months.
c. The pastor shall give to the church at least one month’s notice of the termination of his duties. The resignation of the pastor may be submitted to the church at any regular service and a vote by the church is not necessary to make it effective.
d. The qualifications of the pastor include the following:
1. His personal and family life must conform to the principles found in I Tim. 3:1-7; Tit. 1:5-9; and I Pet. 5:1-4.
2. He must subscribe without reservation to the Confession of Faith and must support the Constitution of the church.
3. He must subscribe without reservation to the Membership Covenant and the Officers and Teachers Covenant.
4. He must be mature. He should have completed at least an undergraduate degree and be willing to pursue graduate studies.
5. He must be a heterosexual male. It is recommended that he be married. If married, neither he nor his wife have ever been divorced.
e. The duties of the pastor, in addition to those outlined in other portions of this constitution, are to:
1. Have the oversight of the total church, Acts 20:28.
2. Feed the flock of God, II Tim. 4:2; I Pet. 5:2.
3. Watch for the souls as one who must give account, Heb. 13:17.
4. Warn and teach in order that every believer may be mature in Christ Jesus, Col. 1:28.
5. Have the oversight of the total church staff.
6. Be an ex-officio member of all church committees, boards and organizations.
7. Officiate at such occasions as usually fall to the pastor of the church.
8. Supervise the administration of the ordinances.
9. Designate other men of God to supply the pulpit for special meetings or in his necessary absence, whether because of illness, vacation, other ministry, or any other reason that makes it impossible or impractical for him to conduct the ministry at that time.
10. Be subject to the approval of the deacons in the areas of frequency of absence and the extent of commitment to auxiliary or outside activities.
a. When the services of paid personnel, other than the pastor, are needed in the operation of the church, the church shall hear the recommendation of the deacons (setting forth the title of the position, the general functions to be performed, and the pay and fringe benefits) and may authorize the creation of such positions.
b. The church shall then look to the pastor to recommend to the deacons the person to be employed in the position created. Upon the approval of the deacons, the person would be employed for the position. In addition, pastoral staff appointments must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the church. The term of office shall be unlimited. The same procedure shall be followed for securing replacement in the event of a vacancy, if the pastor or deacons deem the services are needed at the time of the vacancy.
c. The services of a person employed under this policy may be terminated by the pastor. When the pastor dismisses the person, knowledge of this shall be made available to the deacons; however, the pastor is not required to state the reasons to the deacons if in his judgment the church can best be served by keeping the reason confidential.
d. All paid personnel, commonly known as the staff, are directly responsible to the pastor in the performance of their duties. Loyalty to the church and its leadership is expected. They must subscribe without reservation to the Confession of Faith and must support the Constitution of the church. Pastoral staff must subscribe without reservation to the Officers and Teachers Covenant.
e. Each staff member must understand that continuance of his or her ministry is subject to either the pastor or, in the event of a vacant pastorate, the deacons.
The church shall elect deacons to serve its members. The number of deacons shall be determined by the congregation upon recommendation by the pastor and deacons. Each deacon shall serve for a term of three years and may be re-elected for successive terms as long as the church so chooses.a. The qualifications of the deacon include the following:
1. His personal and family life conforms to the pattern found in I Tim. 3:8-13; Titus 1:5-9; and Acts 6:1-6.
2. He must be a heterosexual male. It is recommended that he be married. If married, neither he nor his wife has ever been divorced.
3. He must subscribe without reservation to the Confession of Faith and must support the constitution of the church.
4. He subscribes without reservation to the Membership Covenant and the Officers and Teachers Covenant.
5. He has reached the age of twenty-five years. He must have been a member of Fellowship Baptist Church for at least one year.
b. The general duties of the deacons include:
1. Careful and prayerful practice of the standards set forth in I Tim. 3:8-13.
2. Election from their number of a head deacon and secretary. The pastor may serve as moderator of the deacons if he desires.
3. Discharge of duties relating to membership, finance, and property (see Article VII, Sections 3c-f).
4. Co-operation with and assistance for the pastor and his staff in the performance of their duties.
5. Serving as a Nominating Committee that presents annually to the church a slate of nominees for its various offices (deacons, clerk, treasurer, Sunday school superintendent and others as needed).
6. Determination of the duties and qualifications for each appointed office of the church.
7. Serving as a Pulpit Committee when a vacancy in the pastorate occurs (see Article VIII, Section 1).
8. Recommendation for licensing or ordination of candidates for the ministry.
9. Assistance for the pastor in the preparation and distribution of the elements of the Lord’s Table and assistance in the baptismal services.
c. Duties of the deacons relating to membership shall be:
1. To interview all prospective members concerning their personal faith in Jesus Christ and to recommend to the church those whom they feel should become members of the church.
2. To provide each new candidate for membership with a copy of the church constitution.
3. To periodically examine the church roll in an effort to bring it up to date (see Article III, Section 7) and to serve the church in investigating and bringing recommendations relative to church discipline (see Article III, Section 6).
4. To assist in making members and visitors feel welcomed at each service of the church.
5. To perform a shepherding ministry for members of the church that the pastor places under his care. This care will include prayer, social contact, counseling and practical helps.
d. Duties of the deacons relating to financial affairs shall be:
1. To prepare an annual budget for presentation to the church.
2. To ensure that all church accounts are audited annually by either an outside, qualified individual or by the Audit Committee composed of church members of voting age, elected annually by the congregation at a scheduled business meeting.
3. Implementation of the financial policy of the church relative to paid personnel. Review the policy periodically as needed.
4. Counting, recording, and depositing church receipts.
5. Disbursement of the Deacon’s Fund of the church.
e. Duties relating to property shall be:
1. To supervise all legal aspects of the church.
2. To prepare recommendations regarding the insurance program of the total church operation.
3. To maintain the general oversight and care of all properties. Deacons make recommendations to the church concerning needed improvements and repairs. They are authorized to proceed with repairs within the limit of the budget.
4. To make judgments related to emergency or unanticipated and urgent issues regarding the repair, prevention, or maintenance of the facility or the welfare of church employees. When such issues are not time critical and the amount exceeds 2% of the annual budget or budgeted Contingency Fund (whichever is more), church approval is required.
5. To grant permissions for the use of the buildings in accordance with the policies of the deacons and church.
f. Selection of deacons: Deacons shall be selected from among the congregation by congregational consensus election, Acts 6. After careful and prayerful consideration of the Biblical requirements and qualifications of deacons as found in 1 Tim. 3:8-13, the voting members of the congregation will select men they believe qualify to serve in that office. The congregation will be given a ballot containing the names of all men from among them who are constitutionally eligible to serve as deacon. Voting members shall select the number of men needed to fill the open deacon positions. The selections will be compiled by the current deacons who will screen those selected to be certain that the selected man’s life is in conformity with the biblical qualifications. Those who have been selected by the congregation and screened by the deacons will be contacted in order to determine their willingness to serve. Selected deacons will be appointed and contacted in order from the highest votes received to the lowest.
g. Removal of deacons: In the event that a deacon’s life gives evidence of failure to maintain his qualifications for office or if he is negligent in his duties as a deacon, a special congregational meeting for the purpose of considering his removal from office may be called upon the recommendation of two-thirds of the other deacons. The failure of the deacon to sustain a majority vote of confidence would result in his immediate removal from office.
a. Clerk: The church shall elect a clerk who serves for three years. The clerk’s duties include:
1. Keeping an accurate record of all the proceedings of the church.
2. Keeping a record of the membership of the church showing last known address, and the date and manner of their admission and/or removal.
3. Placing in a safe place all records, papers, and documents belonging to the church which need to be preserved. Such official papers must not be removed without the knowledge and consent of the deacons.
b. Treasurer: A treasurer shall be chosen for a three-year term by the recommendation of the deacons and approval of the church. The duties of the treasurer shall be to:
1. Recommend to the deacons for their approval those to serve as financial secretaries and to supervise their work in receiving and banking monies, preparing individual records of giving at the year’s end, and handling the church bookkeeping records.
2. Be empowered to sign checks for and on behalf of the church whether for payment or deposit.
3. Render a current report at the regular deacon’s meetings, each quarterly business meeting, and the annual meeting. The reports to the church must be in writing and show the exact condition of the church finances. Each report must be filed with the church clerk as a part of the church records.
The Pastor and Deacons are authorized to create any committee deemed desirable to the furtherance of the church’s activities and are authorized to appoint individuals and assign responsibilities to the committees. Examples of temporary or permanent committees are the Building Committee, Audit Committee, Constitution Review Committee, etc.
Whenever a vacancy in the pastorate occurs, the deacons shall serve as a Pulpit Committee. While the church is without a pastor, this committee secures preachers and provides leadership in the selection process. The members of the Pulpit Committee shall select a chair. Members of the Pastoral Staff are not on the Pulpit Committee, but can and should be consulted by the deacons for advice and direction as the search process proceeds.
The deacons serve as the Nominating and Screening Committee, the responsibility of which is to present annually to the church a slate of nominees for its various elected offices (i.e. clerk, treasurer, etc.) and to screen the annual congregational selections for deacon.
Having been led by the Spirit of God to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior and having been baptized in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we do now in the presence of God, angels and this assembly, most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another as one body in Christ.We engage, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love; to strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness, and comfort; to promote its prosperity and spirituality; to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline, and doctrines; to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spreading of the Gospel through all nations.We also engage to maintain family and personal devotions; to educate our children in the Christian faith; to seek the salvation of our kindred and acquaintances; to walk circumspectly in the world; to be just in our dealings, faithful in our engagements, and exemplary in our deportment; to avoid all tattling, back-biting, and sinful anger; to abstain from the use of illicit drugs or intoxicating drinks as a beverage; and to be zealous in our efforts to advance the cause of our Savior and His reign in our lives and His influence in the world.We further engage to watch over one another in brotherly love; to remember each other in prayer; to aid each other in sickness and distress; to cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and courtesy in speech; to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation, and mindful of the instruction of our Savior to secure it without delay.We moreover engage that when we remove from this place, we will, as soon as possible, unite with some other Bible-believing church where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God’s Word.
Having been led, as we believe, by the Spirit of God, to subscribe to our Covenant of Membership, having been asked by the church to become involved in an area of service to the body, and believing that with additional responsibility there is a larger area of accountability and testimony, we do most solemnly and joyfully enter into this covenant for officers and teachers.We, therefore, pledge our complete support of the doctrines and position of Fellowship Baptist Church as outlined in the church’s constitution. We believe that officers of the church have a solemn responsibility for maintaining the church’s loyalty to the Word of God for subsequent generations. We further pledge to the leaders with whom we shall be serving an attitude of oneness in the body of Christ, recognizing that a house divided against itself cannot stand.We also pledge to be faithful to the public meetings of the church including Sunday School, morning and evening services on Sunday, and the mid-week service, unless providentially hindered. Recognizing that we teach best by our own example, we pledge to give faithfully of our income to the work of the Lord.We realize that the matter of example also involves the area of Christian liberties. It is our desire to “abstain from all appearance of evil.” In our zeal to preserve a spotless testimony for Christ, we recognize that adherence to any list of activities to avoid does not make a person spiritual; rather, only personal devotion to the written and Living Word of God can produce a holy walk through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. A transformed heart must result, however, in a life that is separate from the world system that has set itself against Christ. For the sake of testimony, we agree to abstain from activities such as the use of tobacco, the attendance at entertainment events featuring or promoting illicit sex and sin, the viewing of lewd media (printed, video, or electronic), worldly dancing, or gambling. We will dress with modesty and propriety and avoid gluttony. We submit to the controlling principle of a Spirit-filled believer’s life: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31.)We further pledge that when our ministry involves teaching, we shall make careful preparation of our lesson by study and prayer, do everything to improve our teaching ability, make an effort to lead each of our students to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, provide an environment where those who are saved may grow in grace in their knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, and endeavor to secure the faithfulness of those under our care. We moreover pledge that the church body shall be able to count on us for constructive evaluation, enthusiastic support, and demonstrated loyalty, and that should at any time we not be able to provide this, we are under obligation to relinquish our office voluntarily.
Subsidiary organizations may be established as a part of the church’s overall program when advisable. All such organizations shall be governed by this constitution and responsible to the deacons and the church. Officers must be members of the church and be approved by the deacons. This approval must be secured before they are contacted concerning their willingness to allow their name to be placed in nomination.
Fellowship Baptist Church is supported by the gifts and offerings of God’s people. All monies shall be deposited as directed by the church treasurer weekly. When church functions are held, any expenses may be defrayed by a charge, a freewill offering, or payment within the established budget of the church.
All special offerings shall be given to the person or cause that is announced before the offering is taken. Fellowship Baptist Church only takes special offerings and accepts designated gifts for individuals, organizations, or projects that agree philosophically with the position and plans of the church, and that have been approved by the pastor and deacons. Designated gifts above the amount budgeted by the church for a person or organization shall be given when so directed by the donor.
Should the need arise for the dissolution of Fellowship Baptist Church of Watertown, Inc., the same shall be accomplished in full compliance with the requirements and terms of the laws of the State of Wisconsin. The corporation’s remaining assets shall be assigned to one or more fundamental, independent, Baptist ministries, designated by the recommendation of the deacons and vote of the congregation. None of the assets shall be given to any individual.
This church may make any changes in its constitution and Articles of Faith that are necessary for an effective ministry or organization. If and when it becomes the desire of the church to make such an amendment, the following procedure shall be followed:
a. Any proposed amendment must be presented to the deacons in writing for approval before it is presented to the congregation.
b. Copies of the proposed amendment must be made available to the congregation at least two weeks prior to being voted upon.
c. The proposed amendment may be acted upon at the next regular quarterly business meeting or at a specially called business meeting.
d. A two-thirds vote of those present and voting is necessary for the enactment of the amendment.
The original constitution and Articles of Faith was adopted on May 15, 1988. This Constitution and Confession of Faith was adopted on December 2, 2007, and supersedes and cancels all other resolutions, understandings and agreements, with the exception of the Articles of Incorporation.