1. Purpose: The purpose of these Rules of Decorum is to provide the procedures for the orderly handling of the administration, business and financial affairs of Little Vine Primitive Baptist Church (“the Church”).
2. Governance: The governance of the Church is pursuant to the “Congregational” standard as that term is known at law. As such:
a. Independence. The Church is an independent entity with the church Congregation as its governing authority.
b. Accountability. The Church acknowledges applicable civil laws, but is ultimately accountable to Jesus Christ, as He is represented by Scripture, and shall consider His authority to supersede all others.
c. Doctrine and Practice. The Church, in its sole discretion, shall be the final determinate of:
i. its doctrine and practice,
ii. the interpretation of applicable biblical scriptures, as well as
iii. the translation of the Bible applicable to its doctrine and practice.
d. Reservation of Constitutional Rights. As an independent religious body, the Church reserves all its rights under state and federal law, including but not limited to, its freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of association, and right of assembly.
e. Specific Rights. Pursuant to its constitutional rights, the Church reserves all its rights, including but not limited to the following discretionary aspects:
i. Membership: The Church, in its sole discretion, will determine the terms and conditions under which a person may become a member of the Congregation, remain a member, and from whom such membership may be withdrawn or withheld. Members shall be received as authorized by Scripture:
1. A member in good standing of another church of like faith and order may be received by letter from the sister church;
2. A member previously excluded from this Church may be restored to church membership if the errant member has repented of the excludable offense and has made acknowledgement agreeable to this Church;
3. A member from a sister church, which has dissolved, after satisfying this Church’s membership qualifications, may be received by statement;
4. A member from a sister church, which has gone into disorder, whether or not the person was excluded from that church, after satisfying this Church’s membership qualifications, may be received by statement;
5. Any other person may be received for church membership as a candidate for baptism upon profession of the person’s faith in the Person and work of Jesus Christ, if the Church is satisfied that suitable evidence is seen of the work of God in the person’s heart, and the person’s beliefs are consistent with the principles stated in this Church’s Articles of Faith and Rules of Decorum;
6. A presumption of innocence concerning the candidate’s lifestyle shall be given to all who present themselves for membership. If, however, it is made known unto the Church that the candidate is involved in a way of life that is contrary to Scripture, then the Church should defer reception of the candidate until such time as the Church can adequately investigate the matter and determine if things can be righted such that the Church may receive the candidate into its fellowship; and
7. The Church will not accept or retain as a member anyone who unites or practices with or in any other institution or society, secret or otherwise, which has a form of religion or worship.
ii. Conduct of Ministers: Ministers, as members of the Congregation, remain subject to the governance of the Church the same as all other members; however, fulfillment of their duties will often times require them to act on personal discretion. In such capacities, ministers also retain their individual constitutional rights in their individual sole discretion, including but not limited to, their choice to participate in weddings and funerals, and to instruct or counsel others, either publicly or privately, in accordance with the minister’s understanding of the Scriptures.
iii. Church Facilities: The Church, in its sole discretion, will determine the terms and conditions regarding the use of its facilities and property.
iv. Affiliation: While the Church remains an independent entity, it may choose to affiliate and/or fellowship with other churches of like faith and order, and may, in its sole discretion, set the parameters for such affiliation and fellowship.
v. Transfer of Assets Upon Dissolution: Should it become necessary to dissolve or discontinue this Church, the members at that time will approve the dissolution, choose by majority vote which church or churches of like faith and order will receive the Church’s assets, and then authorize the transfer of the assets. This statement meets the requirements of the Travis Central Appraisal District in order for the Church to maintain a tax-exempted status according to the Texas Property Tax Code, Section 11.20(c).
3. Officers: During one session of Conference annually the Congregation shall select a Pastor and Clerk to serve the Church for a term of one year. The Church may also set its annual preaching appointments. These decisions must be decided by a simple majority, and may be made by secret ballot.
a. Pastor. In addition to the traditional duties of a pastor prescribed by Scripture and necessary for the membership, the Pastor shall normally serve as Moderator of the Congregation while seated in Conference. In his absence, one of the available ministers who are members of this Church, or failing that, one of the available Deacons of this Church, or failing that, one of the available male members, shall act as Moderator to open the Conference session until the Congregation selects a temporary Moderator. The Church retains the authority to choose a temporary Moderator at/for any Conference session.
b. Clerk. The Clerk shall keep the minutes of each session of business which shall be read and adopted before the meeting adjourns, be the custodian of the permanent records of membership and other historical records of the Church, and shall attend to all required correspondence of the Church. When the Clerk is unavailable to record the minutes of a Conference session, the Moderator shall appoint a member to act as a temporary Clerk for that session.
c. Deacons. The Deacons of the Church shall be chosen by the Congregation to serve as the trustees of the Church, and to serve as a standing committee to execute the wishes of the Congregation with respect to its routine financial obligations, routine affairs and other duties as specially assigned. The Deacons shall meet upon the call of the Pastor or at least two Deacons. The Pastor shall moderate such meetings, and in his absence, the Deacons may select a temporary moderator. It shall be the responsibility of the Deacons to select a Treasurer who shall be the trustee of, take custody of, and maintain, the financial resources of the Church, and shall disburse such funds for the appropriate and required expenses and financial obligations of the Church as directed by the Congregation, or those to whom the Congregation has delegated such authority. The Treasurer shall provide a quarterly financial report to the Church as Reference during Conference. The Treasurer and all of the Deacons of the Church, individually, will be listed as signers on the Church’s financial account(s).
4. Conference: The affairs of the Church not delegated by the Congregation shall be addressed by the Church Congregation meeting together in Conference, as follows:
a. A regular Conference session shall be held monthly for the delivery of reports of the Deacons and officers, for such other business as may come before the Church, and for the annual selection of Church officers. Other Conference sessions may be held at times convenient, and with due notice to the Congregation. Announcement at any scheduled session or worship shall constitute due notice. Such Conference sessions may be scheduled regularly, or when called by the Pastor, any two Deacons, or one-third of the Congregation.
b. Once a year, or as often as called for by the Church, this Church’s Covenant,Articles of Faith, and Rules of Decorum will be read aloud as Reference during Conference.
c. Conference sessions shall be opened and closed by prayer.
d. Unless otherwise provided, the Conference agenda shall be:
i. Call for the Peace of the Church,
ii. Invite visiting members of like faith and order to sit in Conference,
iii. Give an opportunity for the reception of members,
iv. Attend to all reference or old business,
v. Attend to new business, and
vi. Read and approve the Conference minutes.
e. It is the duty of the Moderator to keep order, to put all motions properly brought before the Congregation, and announce the vote; and in cases of a tie may cast a deciding vote. The Moderator shall be guided first by Scripture, these Rules of Decorum, and then by traditional rules of parliamentary procedure. The Moderator shall be allowed to speak personally; however, he should call on someone to moderate if he should desire to make a motion or second.
f. It shall be the duty of each individual member and the Moderator, in all matters of the Church, to insure that all personal conduct is “in all due respect” and “in decency and in order” pursuant to Scripture. Any member desiring to speak shall either raise his/her hand, or arise and address the Moderator, and if recognized, proceed to make presentation. The proper appellation to be used by all shall be that of “Brother Moderator” and “Brother” or “Sister” as between the respective members of the Congregation, as well as with invited visitors. All speech, including motions, seconds and discussion, shall be directed to the Moderator. No one shall speak more than twice on any subject without permission of the Moderator. Members may appeal the ruling of the Moderator to the Church. No member shall leave Conference in a disorderly fashion.
g. A member in good standing may speak if duly recognized. However, a member must abstain from voting when his/her vote would be determinative on any pending action when a clear conflict of interest is recognized by the Moderator. No complaint of a private offense between members shall be brought into Conference until dealt with according to the gospel steps provided in Matthew 18:15-17. The Church may investigate any report against its members, as well as the cause of members continuing to absent themselves from meeting, and act accordingly.
h. All proposed action shall be brought before the Church by motion and second, and shall come under consideration unless withdrawn by the member who made it. Motions shall be decided by:
i. A simple majority (greater than half) vote of the members present, except for the following actions:
ii. A two-thirds majority of those present and voting is required to:
1. appeal the ruling of the Moderator,
2. decide issues of fellowship with sister churches, and
3. amend these Rules of Decorum, and then, only after notice of the same is given one month before action.
iii. A unanimous decision of those present and voting is required to:
1. accept new members,
2. grant letters of membership transfer,
3. address matters pertaining to discipline and/or exclusion of a member,
4. call for the ordination of a minister or Deacon.
5. Communion: The Church will observe the Lord’s Supper and washing of the saints’ feet, at such times designated by the Church.