Universalist General Convention Model Church Constitution
From the Manual of the Universalist General Convention: Charter, Constitution, and By-Laws, Laws of Fellowship, Government and Discipline, and Forms Recommended for Adoption by Subordinate Organizations. (New York: Universalist General Convention, 1891.)
Believing that the Church is a means of promoting Christian culture and consecration and the development of spiritual life, we hereby associate ourselves as a Christian Church in connection with the Universalist Parish in [ ] and adopt for our government the following
1. The officers of this Church shall be a Moderator, a Clerk, a Treasurer and [ ] Deacons. The Minister to the Parish with which this Church is connected shall be the Pastor of the Church.
2. The Moderator and the Treasurer shall be elected annually. The Deacons shall hold office during good behavior.
1. Expressed assent to the Profession of Faith adopted by the Universalist General Convention, [sic] shall be essential to membership in this Church.
2. Any person desiring to become a member must apply to the Pastor and Deacons, who shall, if they approve, lay the same before the Church, at its next meeting, when the applicant may be admitted by the vote of the Church. He shall subsequently be publicly recognized by the Pastor, upon his assent to the Profession of Faith and Covenant of the Church. In case of the illness of the candidate the recognition may be private.
3. Any member may withdraw from the Church by written notice to the Clerk, who shall communicate the fact to the Church at its next meeting. If a letter of commendation is desired, it may be given in such a form as the Church may approve; or in case of reasonable objection such letter may be withheld.
1. The Annual Meeting of this Church shall be on the [ ] day of [ ].
2. Regular meeting shall be held on the [ ] preceding each Communion Sunday.
3. Special meetings may be appointed at any time, at the request of three members.
4. Due announcement of all meetings shall be made from the pulpit, or by personal or written notice to the members.
1. The Communion of the Lord’s Supper shall be observed on the [ ] Sunday of [ ].
2. At every such service, all lovers of the Saviour who may feel it to be either a duty or a privilege to do so shall be invited to participate.
1. All complaints against members shall be made to the Deacons, who shall be guided in the performance of their duty by the Gospel rule as recorded in Matthew xviii. 15-17.
2. The Deacons shall inquire into all charges, hearing both parties, and having power to acquit or condemn the accused. In the case of condemnation the judgment may be temporary or final suspension.
3. If any member feels aggrieved by either the acquittal or condemnation of an accused party, he may appeal to the Church; who shall choose by ballot, and by a majority of the whole number voting, without open nomination, a Committee of Appeal. Such Committee shall retry the case, and its decision shall be final.
4. If it should be manifestly improper for either Deacon to act in any investigation, the Church may appoint a substitute for such case.
CHILDREN AND THE SUNDAY SCHOOL.
1. This Church regards it as the duty of all Christians to present their children for baptism or dedication, and to train them up in a consciousness of their Christian obligations; and expects that at a suitable age, those thus baptized or dedicated in connection with it, will become candidates for confirmation in their Church relations.
2. The second Sunday in June shall be observed as Children’s Sunday, as recommended by the General Convention.
3. The members of this Church shall foster the Sunday School of the Parish by personal membership or by labor on its behalf.
DUTIES OF OFFICERS.
1. Of the Moderator. - He shall preside at all meetings of the Church; appoint all Committees, unless otherwise ordered, and perform all other duties belonging to his office. In his absence, a Moderator pro tem. shall be appointed.
2. Of the Clerk. - He shall keep a record of all the meetings and proceedings of the Church, subject to its control, and a list of the names and residences of the members; notify all officers and members of their election; take charge of all books and papers belonging to the Church; in connection with the Clerk of the Parish, see that reports concerning the Church and Parish required by the laws of the General Convention are annually and seasonably made; notify all meetings of the Church; report at the annual meeting the addition, decease, withdrawal or dismission of members, and perform any other duties pertaining to his office.
3. Of the Treasurer. - He shall have charge of all the funds of the Church, paying them out only on an order from the Pastor and one of the Deacons, or from two of the Deacons, specifying the purpose to which the money is to be applied; and, at each annual meeting, he shall make a full statement of his accounts.
4. Of the Deacons. - They shall assist the Pastor in the administration of the ordinances and in the general supervision of the affairs of the Church; act as a Committee of Inquiry on all propositions for membership; serve as a Committee of Discipline of the Church, visit and administer to the wants of necessitous members of the Church and Congregation; and have authority, with the Pastor, to draw on the Treasurer for means to relieve the distressed, and for incidental expenses.
A Book or Registrar shall be provided, in which shall be recorded all baptisms, dedications, marriages, funerals, Church admissions, etc. performed or attended by the Pastor.
These By-Laws may be altered or amended by a vote of two-thirds of the members present at any regular meeting of the Church, provided the said alteration or amendment shall have been proposed in writing one month previous.
PROFESSION OF FAITH.
Art. I. We believe that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament contain a revelation of the character of God, and of the duty, interest and final destination of mankind.
Art. II. We believe that there is one God, whose nature is Love, revealed in one Lord Jesus Christ, by one Holy Spirit of Grace, who will finally restore the whole family of mankind to holiness and happiness.
Art. III. We believe that holiness and true happiness are inseparably connected, and that believers ought to be careful to maintain order and practice good works; for these things are good and profitable unto men.
Cherishing these truths, we covenant and promise that we will, by the study of the Scriptures, by prayer, and other available helps to Christian culture, earnestly endeavor to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, walking with the Church in love and helpfulness.