OUR SHEPHERD LUTHERAN CHURCH
ARTICLE - I
The name of this Congregation shall be Our Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, Inc., Avon, Indiana.
ARTICLE - II
- The Purpose of Our Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church is
- To glorify God, our Father, in all things,
- To exalt Jesus Christ as Lord of all life, the Savior of all men - our Brother,
- To live faith-filled lives under the directing influence of the Holy Spirit.
- To accomplish this purpose, we as people of God shall
- Worship God personally ("Enter into thy closet...," Matthew 6:6) and Corporately ("For where two or three are gathered together...," Matthew 18:20),
- Grow in our knowledge of God and understanding of His will so that we may become better equipped to serve as His people through discipleship, Acts 2:42,
- Witness to the forgiving love of God in Christ by word through evangelism and through support of District and world missions, and by deed through Christian social action within the Congregation and community,
- Gather, develop and manage our resources for the praise of God and the extension of Christ's kingdom through stewardship of time, talents and treasures.
ARTICLE III - DECLARATION OF CREED
This Congregation as a body accepts without reservation the following.
- The Canonical Books of the Old and New Testaments as the verbally inspired and revealed Word of God, and the only rule and norm of faith and practice.
- All the Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church as the true and unadulterated exposition of the Word of God; to wit
- Apostles' Creed
- Nicene Creed
- Athanasian Creed
- Unaltered Augsburg Confession
- Apology of the Augsburg Confession
- Smalcald Articles
- Large Catechism of Luther
- Small Catechism of Luther
- Formula of Concord
ARTICLE IV - MEMBERSHIP
- Baptized Members
Shall be all people, children and adults, who have been baptized in the name of the Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- Communicant Members
- Are baptized,
- Declare their acceptance of, and adherence to, the Declaration of Creed, Article III, of this Constitution (Hebrews 10:23),
- Are familiar with Luther's Small Catechism and have declared their acceptance of it,
- Permit themselves to be fraternally admonished and corrected when they have erred, and who submit to the discipline of the Congregation,
- Are not members, affiliates or supporters of bodies of secret organizations e.g. lodges, which have religion ritual conflicting with the Word of God (II Cor. 6:14-16).
- Voting Members
Shall be all confirmed members who have accepted the Constitution and By-Laws.
ARTICLE V - DUTIES OF MEMBERS
It shall be the duty of every member of this Congregation
To make faithful and diligent use of the Word of God and Sacraments demonstrated by
- Regularly attending divine service, if possible,
- Partaking of the Lord's Supper regularly, if a Communicant member,
- Studying the Bible,
- Using such educational ministries as are provided by the Congregation.
- To lead a Christian life and not live in manifest works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21).
- To contribute money regularly and faithfully as God has prospered toward the building of Christ's kingdom in the Congregation and in all the world through Synod.
- To devote his/her time and talents to the extension of the kingdom of God.
- To attend congregational meetings regularly, if a voting member.
ARTICLE VI - POWERS OF THE CONGREGATION
The Congregation shall not be empowered to decide anything contrary to the Word of God or the Confessions of the Lutheran Church. ref. Article III of this Constitution.
The Congregation as a body, through the voting members, shall have the supreme power:
- To administer and manage all its external and internal affairs.
- To establish and supervise all institutions and societies within the Congregation such as the parochial school, Sunday School, youth societies, adult organizations, choir, etc.
- Matters of doctrine and conscience shall be decided by the Word of God.
- Other matters shall be decided by the voting members of the Congregation by a majority of those voting unless otherwise specified by the Constitution and By-Laws.
- Any enactment of a decision with reference to an individual, group or property, whether it proceeds from an individual or from a body within the Congregation, shall be invalid, unless authorized or sanctioned at a congregational meeting.
- Right of Calling
The right of calling pastors, Directors of Christian Education, principals, teachers, and other called workers shall be vested in the Congregation and shall never be delegated to a smaller body or individual.
- Powers of Officers
Congregational officers or committees, whether elected by the voters or appointed, shall have no authority beyond that which has been conferred upon them, by the Constitution and By-laws, and whatever power may have been delegated to them may at any time be altered or revoked by the voters.
- Removal From Office
- Any Pastor, Director of Christian Education, Principal, Teacher, other called worker, or elected position of the Congregation may be removed from office by ballot (as prescribed in the By-Laws) in a Christian and lawful manner for one of the following causes:
- Persistent adherence to false doctrine,
- Scandalous life,
- Willful neglect of official duties,
- Evident and protracted inability to perform the functions of the office.
- When the removal of the Pastor is involved, the Circuit Visitor shall be contacted. latest Missouri Synod Handbook.
- If some members feel that there is a serious division within the Congregation that cannot be resolved by the Congregation itself after persistent effort, they shall contact the Circuit Visitor.
- The Circuit Visitor shall then at his discretion contact District and/or Synodical officials for further assistance. latest Missouri Synod Handbook.
- In the event of such serious division within the Congregation that the unity of the Congregation is threatened, the Congregation relinquishes its supreme authority in all things and will rely on and abide by the decision of the Indiana District of the Missouri Synod for settlement of the conflict.
ARTICLE VII - DISCIPLINE WITHIN THE CHURCH
It shall be the duty of the Congregation to counsel an erring member in accordance with the various grades prescribed in Matthew 18:15-18, ref. By-Laws, Article I, Section B.
ARTICLE VIII - OFFICE OF PASTOR, DIRECTOR OF CHRISTIAN EDUCATION, AND TEACHER
- Pastors, Directors of Christian Education, Principals, called Teachers, and other called workers
- Offices of pastors, Directors of Christian Education, principals, called teachers, and other called workers shall be conferred upon such individuals who are members of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) or a sister synod with whom the LCMS is in in full altar and pulpit fellowship, who profess and adhere to the confessional standard set forth in Article III of this Constitution and are well qualified for their work. The District President shall be consulted regarding the calling of a Pastor.
- Pastors, Directors of Christian Education, Principals, called Teachers, and other called workers shall in the call extended to them and accepted by them be pledged to this confessional standard.
- Ministry Workers Employed By Contract
- Shall be well qualified for their work.
- Shall, at the time of their induction into office in this Congregation, be pledged to the confessional standard set forth in Article III of this Constitution.
ARTICLE IX – SYNODICAL MEMBERSHIP
In order to carry out the Lord's mission of the Church throughout the world, the Congregation shall hold membership in and support the work of The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod.
Accordingly the Congregation shall:
- At all times abide by the Constitution of the Missouri Synod,
- Send its pastors, teachers and lay delegates to the conventions and functions of the Synod,
- Contribute time, talent and money to programs sponsored by the Synod.
ARTICLE X - BOOKS AND FORMS
Only such hymns, prayers and liturgies shall be used in the service of this Congregation and in all ministerial acts as conform to the confessional standard of Article III of this Constitution. Likewise, in all classes for instruction in the Christian doctrine only such books shall be used as conform to this standard.
ARTICLE XI – OWNERSHIP OF PROPERTY
- This corporate body may receive, acquire, hold title to and manage such real estate and other property as it may need to accomplish said purpose and may sell or dispose of such real estate and other property or any part thereof.
- This corporate body shall have all the rights and powers that are granted by the laws of the State of Indiana to religious corporations.
- In case of dissension and division within the Congregation, the voting members upon a vote at a congregational meeting shall seek the advice and assistance of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
- If a separation cannot be avoided, the property of the Congregation and all benefits therewith connected shall remain with those members who continue to adhere to the confessions in the Declaration of Creed, Article III of this Constitution and who retain membership in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
Should dissolution of the Congregation ever become necessary, all property, personal and real, shall be transferred to the Indiana District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod or its successor after all indebtedness has been satisfied.
ARTICLE XII – ESTABLISHMENT OF ENDOWMENT FUND
- The purpose of the Endowment Fund is to provide a vehicle and structure for members who have the ability and desire to benefit Our Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church through charitable giving that is consistent with its mission. The fund is to further God’s kingdom through planning and the setting aside of current abundance for future use (Genesis 41:34-37, Exodus 16:4-5, Leviticus 25:20-22, 2nd Chronicles 31:2-15, Acts 4:32-35), while continuing to trust in God, not the assets of the Fund (Luke 12:15-20, Matthew 6:19-20, and 1st Timothy 6:17-19).
- The name of the fund is the Our Shepherd Lutheran Church Endowment Fund. The Fund is not a separate entity. It is a fund of the Congregation and has the same status as the Congregation’s other funds. The creation of this Fund does not preclude the establishment of a separate 501(c)(3) Foundation at some point in the future, to be incorporated for the purpose of administering the Endowment Fund, should that be the will of the Congregation.
- The Endowment Fund continues in existence until:
- The voting membership of the Congregation terminates the Fund; or
- The Congregation ceases to exist; whichever, if any, occurs first. If the Congregation ceases to exist, then the assets of the Fund shall be disposed of in the same manner as other property of the church.
- A contribution to the Congregation that is designated for the Endowment Fund becomes a part of the Fund upon acceptance of it by the Endowment Committee and earnings from the investment of assets of the Fund accrue to and become part of the Fund.
- The purpose of the Endowment Committee is to enable Our Shepherd Lutheran Church to promote funding of specific needs that support its mission and ensure its financial stability. The Endowment Committee shall consist of 5 members, one (1) of whom shall be elected by the Church Governance Board from its own membership, on an annual basis, for a one-year term; and four (4) of whom shall be elected from the Congregation, on a staggered basis, for 3-year terms, by the Congregation at the November annual meeting. Any Committee member may serve two consecutive terms, after which time they must not serve for two years before becoming eligible for service again.
- The Endowment Committee shall elect from its membership, a chairperson and recording secretary. The chairperson shall facilitate all Fund meetings. The recording secretary shall maintain complete and accurate meeting minutes and supply a copy thereof to the Church Governance Board.
- Actions of the Endowment Committee must be agreed to by at least three (3) of the voting members. The Committee shall meet at least two times per calendar year, or more frequently as deemed by it in the best interest of the Fund. The Church Governance Board shall have the authority to appoint members to the Endowment Committee to fill vacancies that occur. These interim appointments shall be until the next annual meeting of the Congregation. This includes the authority to appoint, upon establishment of the Endowment Committee, the initial five (5) members.
- The duties of the Endowment Committee are, subject to overall management by the Church Governance Board, as follows:
- To educate the Congregation about the Endowment Fund, promote it, and to solicit donations in an appropriate manner.
- To assist donors in the process of making gifts to the Fund. These gifts may include, but are not limited to, will bequests, special occasion giving, general assets contributions, memorial gifts, and/or cash contributions.
- To establish policies and procedures for accepting or rejecting proposed gifts by donors, including restricted donations.
- To report at least annually to the Congregation new gifts received, investment returns earned by the Fund, the size of the Fund, a list of all grant requests, and details of distributions from the Fund.
- To direct the Church Governance Board concerning investment and management of the Endowment Fund.
- The Endowment Committee shall establish operating guidelines with respect to how the Endowment Fund is to be used and administered. The guidelines are subject to the approval of the Church Governance Board. They will include the establishment of a specific formula for determining the amount of money that can be withdrawn from the Endowment Fund in any calendar year. The guidelines will specify the types of programs, ministries, and/or capital expenditures for which the Endowment Fund can be used. The Congregation must, by resolution adopted by 2/3 majority of those voting, authorize a distribution from the principal of the Endowment Fund that exceeds the amount identified in the operating guidelines. The operating guidelines will be made available to any Congregation member or their financial/tax advisor upon request.
- Before the annual congregational meeting to consider the church budget, a written report of the administration of the Endowment Fund during the preceding calendar year will be submitted to the voting members. The report will include a financial statement which summarizes the receipts and disbursements from the Fund and sets forth the assets of the Fund as of the last day of the calendar year.
ARTICLE XIII - AMENDING THE CONSTITUTION
- Article III of this Constitution and all such other articles or sections as pertain to Scriptural doctrine and practice shall not be altered or repealed.
- Alteration or repeal of any alterable or repealable article or section of this Constitution shall be accomplished by the following procedure:
- Copies of any proposed change shall be given to the voting members for their advance appraisal prior to a called congregational meeting.
- The proposed change shall be read at a congregational meeting, without action being taken.
- The proposed change may be adopted at the next congregational meeting.
- The minimum number of voting members that must be present at a meeting to amend or alter the Constitution or By-Laws of this Congregation shall be as established in the By-laws. A two-thirds majority of those voting shall be required for passage of the change.
- After alteration or amendment, the revised Constitution shall be submitted to the President of the District for review and for recommendation to the District Board of directors for final approval.
ARTICLE XIV – BY-LAWS
This Congregation may adopt such By-Laws as may be required for the accomplishment of its purpose according to Article II of this Constitution.
Revised May 14, 1972
Revised October 20, 1977
Revised August 30, 1987
Revised October 11, 1991
Revised November 11, 2001
Revised June 4, 2006
Revised January 6, 2008
Revised November 23, 2014