Bethesda Evangelical Church recognises the supreme leadership of the Lord Jesus Christ over His Church, believes in His presence and undertakes to manage its affairs according to the Word of God under the guidance of The Holy Spirit. 

1. Purpose

 The purpose of Bethesda Evangelical Church is to honour and worship the Lord Jesus Christ by:-

  • Proclaiming  God’s good news of forgiveness and new life through the Lord Jesus
  • Promoting faithful Christian living
  • Preserving pure Christian truth by teaching the Bible
  • Providing for God’s people.

 2. Authority

 The day-to-day running of the Church is governed by a group of Elders and compliance with legal requirements is overseen by a Board of Trustees.

 3. Membership

 All members of the church will be baptised believers in regular fellowship with the church, in agreement with the Doctrinal Statement and willing to submit to the teaching and government of the church.

 In the first instance, applicants for membership should familiarise themselves with our booklet:  ‘Baptism and Church Membership’, before applying to one of the Elders.  Once an application for membership has been received, two leaders, one of whom will be an Elder, will arrange to discuss membership with each applicant and the church will accept applicants into membership on the recommendation of the Elders.

 All ministry leaders and those engaged in teaching roles will be from within the membership of the church, exceptions being appointed by the Eldership, E.g. visiting speakers. 

 Where applicants for church membership are less than 16 years of age, parental approval will be sought. 

 3a. Non-active members

 In the following situations, members may be considered as 'non-active' for Members' Business meetings, and shall not be expected to attend, who

  • are unable to attend by reason of age, infirmity or distance
  • are serving the Lord overseas
  • have moved away from the district, but who have not yet relinquished their membership
  • are under the discipline of the church.

 4. Team Leadership

 The church may, as finance permits, appoint and recognise a full-time team, comprising Teaching Elders / Pastors, and other appointments such as Youth Pastor, and Care Ministry Workers.  Accountable to the Elders, the financial implications of such appointments must be approved by the Trustees.

 Having appointed full or part-time paid staff, the church will be responsible for providing adequate financial support as it is able. 

4a. Principal Teaching Elder(s) / Pastor(s)

The appointment of a Pastor must be confirmed by at least 90% of the church membership present at a meeting called for that purpose, and the financial implications of such an appointment must be approved by the Trustees.

The Pastor(s) will be responsible for the preaching/teaching ministry and share with the Elders in serving, caring and pastoral oversight.

No meeting will be called by the Elders to discuss termination of the services of the Pastor(s) or of any other full or part-time paid worker without the individual(s) concerned being invited to be present.

4b. Appointment of Elders and Deacons

Elders and Deacons must fulfil the requirements of 1 Timothy Chapter 3 and Titus Chapter 1.  The appointment of Elders and Deacons will be by a show of hands of church members to confirm the recommendation of the current Eldership.

 All church leaders will agree with the Doctrinal Statement and Constitution.

4c. Elders

Elders will be men appointed upon the unanimous recommendation of the current Eldership.  After a period of consultation (at least four weeks), the membership will be asked to confirm the recommendation by a show of hands.   Once appointed, an Elder is accountable to the other Elders and the church members.

It is hoped that the vote of the church members in such matters will always be unanimous, but if unanimity is not realised, then a 75% majority of those members present shall be required for the election of an Elder.

Elders of the church are to remain in office only as long as they are able to fulfil their duties and in any case every three years the church shall reconfirm (or express the withdrawal of) its confidence in each of its Elders at a meeting of Church Members in the manner designated above.  An Elder may, however, resign his office without prejudice if for good and valid reasons he finds he is no longer able to discharge the duties required. 

In recognition that the task of Eldership is significant and may be undertaken while bearing family and work related responsibilities, we understand that individual Elders may need to be relieved of some of the responsibilities of Eldership for periods of time.  Such sabbatical times will be arranged through mutual consent of the Elders. 

Elders will be responsible for the spiritual oversight of the church, that is, keeping watch over its affairs, and ensuring that all members receive Bible teaching, spiritual help and counsel (Acts 20:28-31).   

4d. Deacons

Deacons will be men and women nominated in writing by any two members of the church, with the nominee’s consent.  Such nominations will be agreed and recommended as suitable by the existing church Elders, and church members will be asked to approve the Elders’ recommendation.

It is hoped that the vote of church members in such matters will be unanimous, but if unanimity is not realised, then a 75% majority of those members present shall be required for the appointment of a Deacon. 

In the New Testament, the position of deacon seems designed to help avert crises (Acts 6) by functioning as helpers to the Elders.  Hence, Deacons will be responsible for the practical affairs of the church, freeing the Elders to focus on Bible ministry, prayer, pastoral care and church strategy. 

Deacons will remain in office for a period of 3 years.  The confirmation of Deacons in office for a further three-year period will be by a show of hands.

Any termination of a leader's spiritual service will only be at the recommendation of the Elders, and will be made if their life is inconsistent with their Christian profession, or they cease to agree with the Doctrinal Statement of the church.

5. Church Business Meetings

Church Business Meetings will be called by the Elders as required, giving at least two Sundays’ notice to the church membership.   A Pastor or Elder will act as Chairman at the meetings.

For all meetings of the church, at least 51% of the active church membership will form a quorum.

Members are invited to raise matters for the attention of the Elders at any time either in writing or verbally.  Any matter raised for the first time at a church meeting may be deferred for consideration first by the church Elders.

All the business of the church will be minuted and treated in the strictest confidence, unless otherwise declared.

A majority of the church meeting is required to confirm any recommendation of the church Elders and no provision is made for voting by proxy.

6. Church Finance

The source of church income will be by way of direct free will offerings, in accordance with scriptural principles, e.g.:   1 Chronicles 29: 3-9, 14; Malachi 3: 8-10;   Matthew 21: 12-13;  1 Corinthians 16: 1-2; 2 Corinthians 9: 6-8   

The accounts are to be audited in compliance with current legislation

7. Church Discipline

The purpose of church discipline is to effect a return to Biblical standards of conduct and doctrine in a member who errs (Galatians 6:1), to maintain purity in the local church (1 Corinthians 5:6) and to deter sin (1 Timothy 5:20).  So, while the church recognises every believer to be weak and prone to wander and fall into sin, it has the right and duty to exercise loving, corrective discipline with a view to restoration.

Matters of personal offence should be settled between members according to the procedure laid down by the Lord in Matthew 18:15-17.

Church discipline is to be exercised by the Elders and may take three forms according to the seriousness of the offence: -

  1. Warning and pastoral encouragement. (2 Timothy 2: 24-25)
  2. Suspension from membership.  (2 Thessalonians 3: 6-15)
  3. Exclusion from membership. (Romans 16: 17; 2 Thessalonians 3: 6, 14; Titus 3:10) 

 Members under suspension may hold no responsibility in the church and are excluded from participating at the Lord’s Table or any church meeting. Such a member will be encouraged to attend the preaching services.  Where there is satisfactory evidence of repentance, the member will be restored on the recommendation of the Elders.

If there is no evidence of repentance following every effort of restoration, the church will be asked by the Elders to remove such a member from the membership roll. 

The church should pray for the repentance and restoration of those under discipline.

8. Ordinances

The ordinance of Believers’ Baptism by immersion will be observed as and when required.  Those wishing to be baptised need to understand the meaning and purpose of baptism, and will be encouraged to familiarise themselves with our booklet:  ‘A Guide to Baptism and Church Membership.’  

Those seeking to be baptised will be encouraged to become members of the church following their baptism.  In the case of those who are less than 16 years of age, parental consent will be sought with respect to both baptism and church membership.   

Baptism will be administered at the discretion of the elders.

The ordinance of the Lord’s Supper will be observed regularly.  All believers in the Lord Jesus Christ who live a consistent Christian life may take part in the Lord’s Supper.

9. Constitution

Alterations or additions to this Constitution may only be made if agreed by a 75% majority of members present.  A period of one month’s notice must be given for any proposed alteration. 

10. General Matters

 All members of the Board of Trustees must be people in good standing with the Church, and in any case, at least 3 members of the Board of Trustees must also be members of the Church.  

 Nothing in this Church Constitution is understood to conflict with the aims and objectives of the church as described in the Trust Deed.  On the contrary, this constitution is designed to ensure we conduct all our affairs to the standards of godliness required by the Trust Deed.