The Journal reprints entire constitution of United Church of God
Constitution of the United Church Of God, an International Association
God the Father calls whom He chooses and leads them to submit to Jesus Christ. Those individuals who accept that calling and who receive the Holy Spirit comprise the Church of God. God the Father has made known to the Church, his family through Jesus Christ, His intention and purpose for the creation. We do therefore establish this Constitution so that we might, as obedient children, yield to Him and see His will for the creation fulfilled.
1.0 ARTICLE 1: MISSION STATEMENT
The mission of the Church of God is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God in all the world, make disciples in all nations and care for those disciples.
2.0 ARTICLE 2: FUNDAMENTAL BELIEFS
The following are statements regarding the fundamental beliefs of the United Church of God, an International Association. This article is not intended to be a comprehensive statement of the beliefs of the Church. Questions about doctrine and belief will be addressed by a process adopted by the Council of Elders (Council) and approved by the General Conference of Elders (General Conference).
2.1.1 We believe in one God, the Father, eternally existing, who is a Spirit, a personal Being of supreme intelligence, knowledge, love, justice, power and authority. He, through Jesus Christ, is the Creator of the heavens and the earth and all that is in them. He is the Source of life and the One for whom human life exists. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who is the Word and has eternally existed. We believe that He is the Messiah, the Christ, the divine Son of the living God, conceived of the Holy Spirit, born in the human flesh of the virgin Mary. We believe that it is by Him that God created all things and that without Him was not anything made that was made. We believe in the Holy Spirit, as the Spirit of God and of Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the power of God and the Spirit of life eternal.
2.1.2 We believe that Scripture, both the Old and the New Testament, is God's revelation, and His complete, expressed will to humanity. Scripture is inspired in thought and word, infallible in the original writings, is the supreme and final authority in faith and in life, and is the foundation of all truth.
2.1.3 We believe that Satan is a spirit being who is the adversary of God and the children of God. Satan has been given dominion over the world for a specific period of time. Satan has deceived humanity into rejecting God and His law. Satan has ruled by deception with the aid of a host of demons who are rebellious angels, spirit beings, who followed Satan in his rebellion.
2.1.4 We believe that humanity was created in the image of God with the potential to become children of God, partakers of the divine nature. God formed humanity of flesh, which is material substance. Human beings live by the breath of life, are mortal, subject to corruption and decay, without eternal life, except as the gift of God under God's terms and conditions as expressed in the Bible. We believe that God placed before Adam and Eve the choice of eternal life through obedience to God, or death through sin. Adam and Eve yielded to temptation and disobeyed God. As a result, sin entered the world, and through sin, death. Death now reigns over all humanity because all have sinned.
2.1.5 We believe that sin is the transgression of the law. The law is spiritual, perfect, holy, just and good. The law defines God's love and is based upon the two great principles of love toward God and love toward neighbor, and is immutable and binding. The Ten Commandments are the ten points of God's law of love. We believe that breaking any one point of the law brings upon a person the penalty of sin. We believe that this fundamental spiritual law reveals the only way to true life and the only possible way of happiness, peace and joy. All unhappiness, misery, anguish and woe have come from transgressing God's law.
2.1.6 We believe God so loved this world of helpless sinners that He gave His only begotten Son, who, though in all points tempted as we are, lived without sin in the human flesh. That Son, Jesus Christ, died as a sacrifice for the sins of humanity. His life, because He is the Creator of all humanity, is of greater value than the sum total of all human life. His death is, therefore, sufficient to pay the penalty for every human being's sins. In paying this penalty He has made it possible, according to God's plan, for each person and humanity as a whole to have their sins forgiven and to be released from the death penalty.
2.1.7 We believe that the Father raised Jesus Christ from the dead after His body lay three days and three nights in the grave, thus making immortality possible for mortal man. He thereafter ascended into heaven, where He now sits at the right hand of God the Father as our High Priest and Advocate.
2.1.8 We believe that all who truly repent of their sins in full surrender and willing obedience to God, and who by faith accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, have their sins forgiven by an act of divine grace. Such individuals are justified, pardoned from the penalty of sin, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, which literally abides within them and supplies the divine love that alone can fulfill the law and produce righteousness. They are baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ, which is the true Church of God. We believe in a true change in life and attitude. Only those who have the indwelling presence of and are being led by the Holy Spirit are Christ's.
2.1.9 We believe in the ordinance of water baptism by immersion following repentance. Through the laying on of hands, with prayer, the believer receives the Holy Spirit and becomes a part of the spiritual body of Jesus Christ.
2.1.10 We believe that the seventh day of the week is the Sabbath of the Lord our God. On this day we are commanded to rest from our labors and worship God, following the teachings and example of Jesus, the apostles and the New Testament Church.
2.1.11 We believe in observing the New Testament Passover on the night of the 14th of Abib, the anniversary of the death of our Savior.
2.1.12 We believe in the commanded observance of the seven annual Holy Days given to ancient Israel by God and kept by Jesus Christ, the apostles and the New Testament Church. These Holy Days reveal God's plan of salvation.
2.1.13 We believe that those meats that are designated "unclean" by God in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 are not to be eaten.
2.1.14 We believe that Christians are forbidden by the commandments of God from taking human life, directly or indirectly, and that bearing arms is contrary to this fundamental belief. Therefore, we believe that Christians should not voluntarily become engaged in military service. If they are involuntarily engaged in military service, we believe they should refuse conscientiously to bear arms and, to the extent possible, to refuse to come under military authority.
2.1.15 We believe in God's enduring righteousness. That righteousness is demonstrated by God's faithfulness in fulfilling all of the promises He made to the father of the faithful, Abraham. As promised, God multiplied Abraham's lineal descendants so that Abraham literally became the "father" of many nations. We believe that God, as promised, materially prospered Abraham's lineal descendants Isaac and Jacob (whose name He later changed to Israel). We believe that God, through Abraham's Seed, Jesus Christ, is making salvation available to all humanity regardless of their physical lineage. Salvation is not therefore a right of birth. It is freely open to all whom God calls, and those who are regarded as descendants of Abraham are those of the faith, heirs according to the promises. We believe that the knowledge that God has fulfilled and continues to fulfill the physical promises made to Abraham and his children, and is fulfilling the spiritual promise through Jesus Christ, is critical to understanding the message of the prophets and its application to the world in which we live.
2.1.16 We believe God's purpose for mankind is to prepare those whom He calls, and who elect through a life of overcoming sin, developing righteous character, and growing in grace and knowledge, to possess the Kingdom and to become kings and priests reigning with Christ on this earth after His return. We believe that the reason for mankind's existence is literally to be born as spirit beings into the family of God.
2.1.17 We believe that the Church is that body of believers who have received, and are being led by, the Holy Spirit. The true Church of God is a spiritual organism. Its biblical name is "The Church of God." We believe that the mission of the Church is to preach the gospel (good news) of the coming Kingdom of God to all nations as a witness, and to help reconcile to God such people as are now being called. We believe that it is also the mission of the Church of God to strengthen, edify and nurture the children of God in the love and admonition of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2.1.18 We believe in tithing as a way of honoring God with our substance and as a means of serving Him in the preaching of the gospel, the care of the Church, attending the festivals and helping the needy.
2.1.19 We believe that the only hope of eternal life for mortal humans lies in the resurrection through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We believe that at the return of Jesus Christ a resurrection to spirit life will take place for all who have been God's faithful servants. We believe that after Jesus Christ has ruled on this earth for 1,000 years, there will be a resurrection to physical life of the vast majority of all people who have ever lived. We believe that after these people have had an opportunity to live a physical life, if they become converted, they too will receive eternal life. We also believe that those who reject God's offer of salvation will reap eternal death.
2.1.20 We believe in the personal, visible, premillennial return of the Lord Jesus Christ to rule the nations on earth as King of kings and to continue His priestly office as Lord of lords. At that time, He will sit upon the throne of David. During His thousand-year reign upon the earth, He will restore all things and establish the Kingdom of God forever.
3.0 ARTICLE 3: THE CHURCH
3.1 PURPOSE FOR THE CHURCH
God's purpose for His Church is to prepare those willing to live His way of righteousness and self-control to function as His instruments in the administration of salvation to humanity, and to demonstrate His wisdom to His spiritual creation.
3.2 FUNCTIONS WITHIN THE CHURCH
There is one body, the Church, which is a spiritual organism. The Church has many members, to each of whom God has bestowed a measure of faith through the Holy Spirit. Through that Spirit, our Father has made us one in the body of Christ, and, individually, members one of another. He has given us gifts that differ according to His will and has entrusted His Spirit to each of us so that we might exercise those gifts with humility, gentleness and patience in submission, first to Jesus Christ, and then to one another. By the establishment of this Constitution, we acknowledge the truth of Scripture that all members have a different function within the Church, and that it is our Father who determines each member's function within the Church.
3.2.1 God's Purpose for Diverse Functions Within His Church
The purpose for the various functions established within God's Church is to equip each member to perform the work of service: first to the Church and when the Church has the opportunity, to all humanity. The proper working of each individual member in accordance with his or her function causes the Church to grow.
3.2.2 Administrations Within the Church
We acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Lord, the Apostle of our faith and the Head of the Church. We acknowledge that God, in order to fulfill His mission and purpose for His Church, has appointed some to carry the gospel to the world, some to pastor local congregations, some to teach, some to help, and some to administer. To the end that all members may exercise the grace given to them by God as He has willed, the following administrations within the Church are hereby established:
126.96.36.199 National Councils
A council or board that is established to meet the requirements for legal recognition of the United Church of God, an International Association or serve the administrative needs of the Church in nations other than the United States of America, are national councils. The national councils shall conduct themselves in accordance with the scripture, this Constitution, their local bylaws, the rules of association and applicable law.
188.8.131.52 The Local Congregation
An assembly of members, wherever located, pastored by a minister recognized by the United Church of God, an International Association (United Church of God ), and governed by the United Church of God 's published rules of association, shall constitute a local congregation of the United Church of God, an International Association. Each local congregation is guided and shepherded by a pastor, assisted by elders, deacons and deaconesses. A congregation may establish one or more local advisory councils to assist the ministry in serving the needs of the local congregation, the Church as a whole and, as they have the opportunity, their local community. The local congregation also works in conjunction with the Council of Elders, the home office and the national councils to administer the established policies and procedures of the United Church of God .
184.108.40.206 General Conference of Elders
Every ordained minister in good standing of the United Church of God, an International Association (United Church of God ), is an elder of the United Church of God and is a member of the General Conference of Elders. The general assembly of all such elders is the "General Conference of Elders." God has established the office of elder to provide care and oversight to the congregations. Thus, the General Conference of Elders is responsible to God to ensure that His people are served and their needs attended to. The General Conference of Elders shall, with prayer and fasting, set apart from among themselves, a Council of Elders consisting of twelve (12) elders. The General Conference of Elders shall have such other specific duties and responsibilities as are enumerated in Article 4 of this Constitution. The General Conference shall conduct itself in accordance with Scripture, this Constitution, the duly adopted corporate bylaws, the rules of association of the United Church of God and applicable law.
220.127.116.11 Council of Elders
The Council of Elders (Council) is established to provide oversight and guidance within the Church for the service and care of local congregations, the preaching of the gospel and the administration of God's tithes and offerings. In accordance with the directive of the General Conference at its inaugural meeting held in Indianapolis, Indiana, from April 30, to May 2, 1995, the Council of Elders incorporated the United Church of God, an International Association (United Church of God ), for the purpose of executing the Church's responsibilities. Therefore, the Council is the duly appointed corporate board for the Church and is equivalent to a board of directors. As such, it shall have such other specific duties and responsibilities as are enumerated in the United Church of God corporate bylaws. The Council of Elders shall conduct itself in accordance with Scripture, this Constitution, the duly adopted corporate bylaws, the rules of association of the United Church of God and applicable law.
18.104.22.168 Home Office and Management Team
The Home Office and Management Team are established by the Council of Elders (Council) to serve the Church by administering the policies adopted and approved by the General Conference of Elders and the Council. The Management Team and Home Office staff are selected, approved and directed by the Council.
4.0 ARTICLE 4: GENERAL CONFERENCE OF ELDERS
4.1 DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
The General Conference of Elders (General Conference) hereby recognizes its responsibility:
(1) To approve changes in the doctrine of the Church.
(2) To ratify the annual strategic plan, operating plan and a balanced budget that pertains to those plans.
(3) To nominate and elect the Council of Elders, with prayer and fasting.
(4) To approve all amendments to the Articles of Incorporation.
(5) To approve any amendments to this Constitution and the duly approved bylaws of the Corporation or to repeal this Constitution and the duly approved bylaws.
(6) To approve all official relationships with other religious organizations.
(7) To ratify the rules of Association.
4.2 MANAGEMENT WITHIN THE CHURCH: DELEGATION OF AUTHORITY
The General Conference of Elders (General Conference), after prayer and fasting, shall set apart from among its members a Council of Elders (Council) and entrust them with the responsibility and authority to establish policy, to enable management to implement that policy, and to provide direction and oversight to ensure the proper management of the day-to-day affairs of the Corporation, the United Church of God, an International Association. In addition, the Council shall propose for approval by the General Conference, the annual strategic plan, the annual operating plan and an annual balanced budget for the Church.
4.3 QUALIFICATION AND APPOINTMENT TO THE GENERAL CONFERENCE
Any ordained minister of the United Church of God in good standing is an elder and is a member of the General Conference of Elders. The general assembly of all such elders is the "General Conference of Elders" (General Conference). The corporate secretary shall verify the credentials of all elders and shall, upon such verification, cause their names to be recorded in the corporate record.
4.3.1 Good Standing
An elder is in good standing if he is and remains a member and minister of the United Church of God, an International Association, is of good reputation and above reproach in his community, and continues to meet the scriptural qualifications for the ministry as outlined in 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1 and other scriptures. Whether an elder continues to meet these requirements shall be determined by the Council based upon such biblical standards and principles.
4.3.2 Corporate Secretary and Treasurer
In the event that the corporate secretary or the corporate treasurer are not elders and thus not members of the General Conference, they shall, notwithstanding, in the course of their duties attend meetings of the General Conference. They shall not be entitled to ballot unless they have in the interim been ordained as ministers in the United Church of God, an International Association.
4.4 RIGHTS OF ELDERS
Members of the General Conference shall have the right to ballot with respect to those matters enumerated in this Article at section 4.1, and with respect to any other matter where balloting by the General Conference is required.
4.5 EXPULSION, TERMINATION OR SUSPENSION OF MEMBERSHIP
Membership in the General Conference may be suspended or terminated, or an elder may be expelled by the Council, based upon biblical standards and principles. An elder whose membership has been suspended or terminated, or who has been expelled, may exercise no rights under this article or the duly approved bylaws of the Corporation except as provided in 4.5.2 below.
4.5.1 Causes of Expulsion, Termination or Suspension
Any elder who fails to meet the scriptural qualifications of a minister based on biblical standards, shall be expelled from the General Conference. An elder who is expelled from the General Conference is immediately precluded from performing any ministerial duties in any congregation of the United Church of God, an International Association. An elder's membership is terminated upon his death or upon his resignation from the ministry or resignation from the membership of the Church. An elder may, based on scriptural teaching, be suspended for misconduct.
22.214.171.124 Council of Elders Determination
A Council of Elders determination that a member of the General Conference is disqualified and must be removed from the General Conference or suspended, is always based on biblical and spiritual criteria, is within the sole discretion of the Council, and is conclusive except for such review as is provided for below.
4.5.2 Right of Appeal
Within twenty-one (21) days of the date that notification of suspension or expulsion is sent, an elder who is expelled from the General Conference, or suspended, may appeal according to a procedure adopted by the Council and approved by the General Conference. Based on biblical and spiritual criteria, the decision of the General Conference to uphold a suspension or a judgment that a member of the General Conference is disqualified and must be removed, is within the sole discretion of the General Conference and is conclusive. During the twenty-one (21) day period within which an appeal may be initiated, and during the entire period for which the determination by the General Conference of a timely appeal is still pending, the elder bringing the appeal shall retain the right to ballot for the nomination, election and removal of Council members. The elder appealing shall, however, be relieved of all ministerial duties during such periods.
An elder may resign from the General Conference at any time. Despite such resignation, an elder may continue to perform the duties of an elder within the local congregation unless removed for scriptural reasons. An elder who has resigned may not exercise any rights of membership under this article or the bylaws.
4.6 TRANSFER OF MEMBERSHIP RIGHTS
No elder of the General Conference may transfer or assign his right to ballot or any right arising from membership in the Conference. All rights of membership in the Conference cease upon the elder's death. All rights of membership in the Conference conferred to an elder by the California Nonprofit Corporations Code shall cease upon the dissolution of the Corporation.
4.7 MEETINGS OF THE GENERAL CONFERENCE
The time, place, manner of calling and conduct of meetings shall be provided for in the duly approved bylaws of the Corporation.
4.8 ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENT FOR THE GENERAL CONFERENCE
Elders in the employ of the Church are required to attend the annual meeting of the General Conference. An employed elder who fails to attend the annual meeting of the General Conference is excluded from balloting at that meeting. Employed elders absent for good cause as determined by the Council, and nonemployed elders, may submit their ballots by any means permitted in the duly approved bylaws of the Corporation.
5.0 ARTICLE 5: GOVERNANCE
5.1 AMENDMENT OF GOVERNING DOCUMENTS
The Council of Elders shall propose to the General Conference a procedure whereby matters of governance within the Church can be brought before both the General Conference and the Council for consideration with respect to whether the Church's or the Corporation's governing documents require amendment. That procedure must be approved by simple majority of the General Conference and must provide a means of gathering input from the local congregations.
5.1.1 Proposed Amendments to Governing Documents
Proposed amendments to the governing documents of the Church and the Corporation shall require the approval of the General Conference as it is constituted at the time the meeting is held to consider such an issue as follows:
(1) An amendment to any article of this Constitution shall require a two-thirds (2/3) majority, except the article respecting the Fundamental Beliefs of the Church, which may not be amended by less than a three-fourths (3/4) majority.
(2) An amendment to the Articles of Incorporation or the corporate bylaws shall require a two-thirds (2/3) majority.
(3) The dissolution of the Corporation or the repeal of the corporate bylaws shall require a two-thirds (2/3) majority.
(4) The repeal of this Constitution shall require a three-fourths (3/4) majority.
5.2 PARLIAMENTARY RULES FOR THE GENERAL CONFERENCE
The Council of Elders shall propose rules to be approved by a simple majority of the General Conference, which rules shall govern the conduct of all meetings.
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