First Congregational Church of Rockport, MA
Bylaws of
The First Congregational Church
of Rockport, Massachusetts Inc.
Revised: January 2016

Article I – Name
The name of this church shall be “The First Congregational Church of Rockport, Massachusetts Inc.”

Article II – Purpose
The avowed purpose of this church shall be to worship God, to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to celebrate the sacraments; to realize Christian fellowship and unity within this church and the Church Universal; to render loving service toward all people; and to strive for righteousness, justice, and peace.

Article III – Polity
Section 1. This church shall be a part of the United Church of Christ, and it shall sustain that relationship to the United Church of Christ described in those portions of the constitution and bylaws of the United Church of Christ adopted July 4, 1961, or as amended, relating to local churches.

Section 2. The government of this church is vested in its members who exercise the right of control in all its affairs, subject, however, to the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts relating to ecclesiastical corporations.

Article IV – Faith and Covenant
Faith: This church acknowledges as its sole head, Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Savior. It acknowledges as brothers and sisters in Christ all who share in this confession. It looks to the Word of God in the Scriptures, and to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, to foster its creative and redemptive work in the world. It claims as its own the faith of the historic Church expressed in the ancient creeds and reclaimed in the basic insights of the Protestant reformers. It affirms the responsibility of the Church in each generation to make this faith its own. In accordance with the teaching of our Lord and the practice prevailing among Protestant Christians, it recognizes two sacraments: Baptism and the Lord's Supper, or Holy Communion.

One expression of this faith is:

STATEMENT OF FAITH

We believe in you, O God, Eternal Spirit, God of our Savior Jesus Christ, and our God, and to your deeds we testify:

You call the worlds into being, create persons in your own image, and set before each on the ways of life and death.

You seek in holy love to save all people from aimlessness and sin.

You judge people and nations by your righteous will declared through prophets and apostles.

In Jesus Christ, the man of Nazareth, our crucified and risen Savior, you have come to us and shared our common lot, conquering sin and death and reconciling the world to yourself.

You bestow upon us your Holy Spirit, creating and renewing the church of Jesus Christ, binding in covenant faithful people of all ages, tongues, and races.

You call us into your church, to accept the cost of joy of discipleship, to be your servants in the service of others, to proclaim the gospel to all the world and resist the powers of evil, to share in Christ's baptism and eat at his table, to join him in his passion and victory.

You promise to all who trust you forgiveness of sins and fullness of grace, courage in the struggle for justice and peace, your presence in trial and rejoicing, and eternal life in your realm which has no end.

Blessing and honor, glory and power be unto you. Amen.

Article V – Membership
Section 1. Classes of Membership. There shall be two classes of members: active and inactive.

A. Active Members. The Active Members of this church shall be those persons who have been received by the church and who have given assent to the covenant of the Church.

Associate members are Active Members whose routine living circumstances compel them to live seasonally in communities at such great distances apart from each other that a formal connection with a separate Church in each of those distant communities is appropriate and desirable. Associate Members shall enjoy all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of other Active Members.

(1) Reception. Persons having conversed with the Pastor about the meaning of Church Membership, and commended by him/her to the Diaconate, shall be received at a communion service or at some other time as appointed by the church.

Any who are unable to attend in public may, upon recommendation of the Diaconate, be received in absentia. Members may be received in any one of the following ways:
(a) by confession of faith and baptism, if not previously baptized.
(b) by presentation of a satisfactory letter of transfer from another church.
(c) on reaffirmation of faith, if a letter is not available.
Associate members are received through reaffirmation of faith.

(2) Termination. The continuance of membership shall be subject to the principles and usage of the United Church of Christ, and especially as follows:

Any active member who desires a letter of transfer and recommendation to another church is entitled to receive it upon request. This letter shall be valid as a recommendation for one year only from its date, unless renewed, and this restriction shall be stated in the letter. The right to vote shall be suspended when a letter is granted, and membership shall terminate upon notice of acceptance into another church or at the end of one year, if inquiry fails to give ground for renewal. General letters addressed to no particular church shall not be granted.

If a member desires to join a religious body with which this church is not in fellowship; or which would not receive its letter, the church shall, upon request, issue the member a certificate of standing, and membership shall terminate upon receipt of notice that said member has been received into the body to which the certificate was given, or at the expiration of one year from the date of such certificate.

If, because of change of faith or belief, a member in regular standing asks in writing to be released from covenant obligations, the church shall endeavor patiently to secure the member's continuance in its fellowship. Failing in such effort, the church shall grant the request and terminate such membership and so notify the person in writing.

An associate member is not eligible to receive a letter of transfer or certificate of standing.

B. Inactive Members. Inactive members of the church shall be those members whose addresses have been long unknown or who for a period of two years, in spite of kindly approaches, have not communicated with the church or contributed to its support. Such members may be transferred, by action of the Diaconate, to an inactive list. Persons whose membership has been transferred to the inactive list may, upon evidence of renewed interest, be restored to the active list by the Diaconate.

Section 2. Responsibilities. Members are expected to faithfully live the Christian life; to attend regularly the services of the church; to contribute through pledging and/or service to its support and its missions; to share in its organizational work and to seek diligently the spiritual welfare of all people. These expectations/responsibilities should be taken seriously.

Article VI – Religious Services
Section 1. Worship.

A. Services of worship shall be held at given hours each Sunday, except when temporarily suspended by vote of the church.

B. The sacrament of the Lord's Supper shall be celebrated on the first Sunday of each month, except at other times as the minister or the Diaconate may decide.

C. Baptism shall be administered at such times as the minister or the Diaconate may appoint.

Section 2. Education. This church shall support a church school. It shall be the purpose of the church school to lead its members into an increasing experience of fellowship with God and in the development of a character which shall be genuinely and consistently Christian in all human relationships. It will endeavor to develop interest in the Church and increasing desire and ability to participate in its life and work.

Section 3. Other services for worship, inspiration, prayer, study, and fellowship may be held as determined by the church.

Article VII – Business Meetings
Section 1. The Annual Meeting. The Annual Meeting shall be held late in January, on a date determined at the preceding Annual Meeting, to elect officers and committee members and to transact any other business that may legally come before it. Extraordinary business should be posted with or included in the call a minimum of three weeks in advance of the date of the meeting. The report of all officers, boards, standing committees, special committees, and auxiliary organizations shall be made in writing, and a copy shall be filed with the clerk on or before January First, except those of the treasurer of the church and the treasurer of mission funds, which shall be due January 15. The reports may then be prepared in printed form for the meeting.

Section 2. Special Meetings. Special church meetings shall be called by the clerk upon the direction of the minister, the Church Cabinet, the Diaconate, or upon written request of five adult members. The nature of the business shall be stated in the call, which shall be posted at least three weeks in advance of the date of the meeting. Adequate note of such meetings shall be sent to the membership.

Section 3. Quorum. Twenty percent of the active membership shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business at the Annual Meeting or any special meeting.

Article VIII – Officers, Assistants, and Duties
Section 1. Officers and Assistants.

The officers shall consist of a minister, a clerk, a treasurer, a treasurer of missions fund, an historian, and a moderator. There shall be an assistant treasurer.

An officer who has been designated as supervisor of a paid member of the church staff shall, with the guidance of the Personnel Committee, develop a functional job description for the staff member and conduct an annual performance review of the staff member.

Section 2. All officers and assistants, except the minister, shall be elected by ballot at the Annual Meeting and shall hold office for two years, or until the successors are elected and qualified.

Section 3. Any vacancies shall be filled by the Nominating Committee with the approval of the Church Cabinet. Replacement officers and assistants shall serve the remainder of their predecessors' unfulfilled terms. Other officers, assistants, and committees may be elected or appointed as the Church Cabinet shall determine.

Section 4. Minister.

A. Selection. The selection of a minister rests entirely with the church members who shall make a choice by a two-thirds vote of the members present at a special meeting called for that purpose. The minister shall be elected for an indefinite period and may be removed from office by the church or may dissolve the relationship voluntarily. In order to terminate this relationship, two months' written notice stating such intention shall be given by either party, unless shorter notice is mutually agreed upon.

B. The Call to the Minister. In the call, the terms of the relationship shall be stated, including the agreement of the church to participate in the Annuity Plan of the United Church of Christ, the Conference Group Health Insurance Program, and other terms agreed between the candidate and the Pastoral Committee. The minister, the church, the Association, and the Conference executive each shall receive a copy of the call. When a minister accepts a call to this church, the church and s/he shall join in requesting that the Association arrange for a service of installation or recognition.

A report of this service shall be signed by the proper officer of the Association and by the Conference executive, and copies shall be sent to the secretary of the United Church of Christ and to the Council for Church and Ministry.

C. Duties. The minister shall be in charge of the spiritual welfare of the church with the assistance of the Diaconate and shall seek to enlist persons as followers of Jesus Christ, lead worship, and preach the Gospel. The minister shall administer the sacraments and be in charge of all services of public worship, and administer the activities of the church in cooperation with the various boards and committees. The minister shall be ex-officio on and an advisory member of all boards and committees.

D. When the Church is Without a Minister. When a relationship with a minister has been terminated, the Church Cabinet shall make all necessary arrangements to fill the interim vacancy and appoint a Pastoral Committee, which shall be approved by a vote of the church at a Business Meeting. It shall be the responsibility of the Pastoral Committee to seek a candidate for the office of minister. The Pastoral Committee shall present to the church the name of the candidate it recommends to fill the vacancy. Nominations to the pastoral office must lie over one week before action can be taken on them. A favorable vote by a majority of the church members present and voting at a Business Meeting constitutes a call.

E. An associate or assistant minister may be chosen in the same manner as the minister was chosen. The duties of an associate or assistant minister shall be defined by the minister and the Diaconate.

Section 5. Clerk.

The clerk shall cast one ballot for the Officers and Committee Members as nominated by the Nominating Committee. The clerk shall keep a faithful record of the proceedings of the church. S/He shall keep a register with addresses of the members and modes of their reception and removal. S/He shall keep a record of all baptisms, marriages, and funerals performed in the church or parsonage and, when performed in any other place, by a pastor representing this church. S/He shall issue letters of transfer, notifying the churches to which they are addressed, preserve on file all communications and written official reports, give legal notices of all meetings when such notices are necessary, conduct all correspondence so far as this is not otherwise provided for, and perform such other duties as are prescribed by law.

Section 6. Treasurer. The treasurer shall oversee all receivables, payables, and payroll.

The treasurer shall hold all money and keep suitable books of accounts. S/He shall ensure that all monies are deposited in such banking institutions as shall be approved by the Board of Trustees. S/He shall make monthly written financial reports in detail of receipts and disbursements as directed by the Board of Trustees. At each Annual Meeting of the church, the treasurer shall report in detail the financial condition of the church, including all its invested funds. If so required by the Board of Trustees, s/he shall furnish a bond.

The treasurer shall be assisted by the assistant treasurer and may appoint additional assistants. The treasurer may appoint paid employees of the church as assistants with the approval of the employees' supervisors. The treasurer shall delegate the following duties to assistants to ensure proper financial control:

A. Receivables. A treasurer's assistant shall be responsible for receivables, collecting all monies due to the church on pledges and free will offerings, and shall prepare statements of the nature and purpose of the collection for the treasurer and treasurer of mission funds.

B. Payables. A treasurer's assistant shall be responsible for payables, receiving all requests for payment and preparing checks for signature in payment of same.

C. Payroll. A treasurer's assistant shall be responsible for payroll, preparing paychecks and withholding taxes.

Checks shall be signed by the Trustees as provided in Article X, Section 3.

The treasurer shall delegate the routine handling of receivables and payables to different assistants to ensure proper financial control.

Section 7. Assistant Treasurer. The assistant treasurer shall assist the treasurer. The assistant treasurer shall assume responsibility for duties delegated by the treasurer to ensure proper financial control. The assistant treasurer shall serve as treasurer pro tem when the treasurer is not available

Section 8. Treasurer of Mission Funds. The treasurer of mission funds shall receive from the treasurer a statement of the nature and purpose of the collection made. The treasurer of mission funds shall be an ex officio member of the Outreach Committee and shall make an annual report, in detail, to the Church.

Section 9. Moderator. The Moderator shall preside at the Annual Meeting, at Church Cabinet meetings, and at all other meetings of the church in its corporate capacity. If, for any reason, the moderator is unable to serve at any meeting, a moderator pro temp may be elected.

Section 10. Historian. The historian shall serve also as archivist. As archivist, s/he shall collect and arrange non-current records of the church and see to their preservation and safe storage. As historian, s/he shall be kept informed about the themes and topics central to, or illustrated by, the church's records, and shall work cooperatively with the minister and the clerk to make and preserve accurate, informative records. The historian also shall provide an annual report of the state of the records and the care being given them.

Article IX – Church Cabinet
Section 1. Organization. The Church Cabinet shall be composed of the following: the minister, the moderator (who shall be chairperson), the clerk of the church, the treasurer, the treasurer of mission funds, the historian, and a representative of each organization, committee, and board within the church.

Section 2. Duties. The Church Cabinet shall coordinate the work of the church, its committees and boards. It shall be the policy-making body of the church and shall be responsible for resolving issues brought before it by the committees. The Church Cabinet shall designate one officer or committee as supervisor for each paid member of the church staff.

Article X – Boards and Committees
Section 1A. The Boards and Committees shall be: a Diaconate, a Board of Trustees, a Christian Outreach Committee, a Christian Education Committee, a Music Committee, a Personnel Committee, a Board of Ushers, a Flower Committee, a Nominating Committee, a Stewardship Committee, a Pastor-Parish Relations Committee, a Membership Committee, and whatever other committees may be appointed or elected. All Committee Meetings except those of the Personnel Committee and Pastor-Parish Relations Committee are considered as open meetings to Church Members. Committees may conduct teleconferences and videoconferences provided that minutes are recorded and that such meetings comply with the open meeting provisions of these bylaws. If a meeting has no physical presence at the church, a means by which Church Members can participate shall be made available, and any necessary telephone number, web address, or other connection information shall be publicized. Committees may hold discussions by email and vote by email provided that the matter is either uncomplicated or has previously been discussed in a meeting and that all committee members approve. The chair shall preserve all email messages that represent votes, and the results of email votes shall be entered into the minutes of the subsequent meeting.

Section 1B. A committee that has been designated as supervisor of a paid member of the church staff shall, with the guidance of the Personnel Committee, develop a functional job description for the staff member and conduct an annual performance review of the staff member.

Section 1C. Any vacancies shall be filled by the Nominating Committee with the approval of the Church Cabinet. Replacement committee members shall serve until the subsequent Annual Meeting. The Nominating Committee shall then nominate a candidate to serve the remainder of the unfulfilled term. No member of a committee other than the Board of Ushers and the Flower Committee shall be eligible for reelection for one year after having served two consecutive full terms.

Section 2. Diaconate

A. Organization. The Diaconate shall consist of eight members, all of whom must be church members. Four members shall be elected at each Annual Meeting of the church to serve a two-year term. The Diaconate may also appoint one youth for a term of one or two years. The Board shall organize by the election of a chairperson and a secretary.

B. Duties. It shall be the duty of the Diaconate to cooperate with the minister in ministering to the spiritual needs of the church and the community. The members of the Diaconate shall prepare and assist in the administration of the sacraments. The entire board shall assist in caring for the poor, the sick, the sorrowing, the uninvolved, and the stranger. They shall have sole jurisdiction over the Living Memorial Fund.

They may propose applicants for membership to the church and assist the minister by sharing with prospective members their hopes and expectations in becoming members of this church. They shall join with the minister in support of those who wish to take this step. They shall consult with the clerk and make an annual check of the church membership roll and report any revisions to the church at the annual meeting.

The Diaconate shall develop and maintain a functional job description of the Pastor's duties and responsibilities. The Diaconate shall undertake annually an evaluation of the pastor and the ministry of the church.

One member shall represent the Diaconate on the Church Cabinet.

Section 3. Board of Trustees.

A. Organization. The Board of Trustees shall consist of seven members, five of whom must be church members. Two or three members of the board shall be elected by the church at each Annual Meeting to serve a three-year term. The Board of Trustees may also appoint one youth for a term of one or two years. The Board of Trustees shall organize by the election of a chairperson and a secretary.

B. Duties. The financial affairs of the church, other than mission funds and the Living Memorial Fund, shall be vested in the Board of Trustees. They shall have the care and custody of the property of the church as a sacred trust, whether real or personal, in accordance with the provisions of the Articles of Incorporation and these bylaws. The Trustees shall recommend to each Annual Meeting of the church a budget for the ensuing year. The Trustees shall oversee the church investments.

The Trustees shall develop a written policy for the approval of payments. All orders upon the treasurer for the payment of bills, salaries, current expenses, or otherwise, must be approved by the Trustees in conformance with that policy.

All bequests to the church, whether so specified or not, shall be held as invested funds until otherwise voted by the church.

The Trustees shall have no power to buy, sell, mortgage, lease, or transfer any real property without specific authority by vote of the church.

The Trustees shall oversee the preparation of annual Financial Statements in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). This compilation of the financial statements shall be performed by either an internal expert such as the Treasurer, or a third party Certified Public Accountant, at the discretion of the Trustees. A review of internal controls shall be performed by a Certified Public Accountant each time the Treasurer is replaced, or every 3 years, whichever comes first.

One member shall represent the Trustees on the Church Cabinet.

Section 4. Christian Outreach Committee

A. Organization. The Christian Outreach Committee shall consist of at least seven members, two or three of whom shall be elected at each Annual Meeting of the church to serve a three-year term. The others by virtue of their office shall be: the minister and the treasurer of mission funds. The Christian Outreach Committee may also appoint one youth for a term of one or two years. The committee shall organize by the selection of a chair and a secretary and shall hold meetings regularly, the aim being to secure representation on this board of all people naturally concerned with missions.

B. Duties. The committee shall have charge and supervision of all incomes received from any source for missions. It shall be its duty to suggest the annual budget for wider missions and to oversee all matters of apportionment of funds for missions.

[Wider missions is understood to mean the work of the church in all parts of the world, apart from the local church program, namely in the Massachusetts Conference, the nation, and the world – both denominationally and interdenominationally.] Subject to any direction the church may give, it shall direct the distribution of mission funds. It shall promote missionary interest and systematic giving to Our Christian World Mission. It shall seek to inculcate the ideals of Christian stewardship.

The committee shall have the function to study certain social problems in the light of the Christian faith, to keep the church informed about said problems, and, where deemed necessary, to present a program of action.

Recognizing that Christian stewardship is a practice of systematic and proportionate giving of time, abilities, and material possessions, based on the conviction that these are a trust from God; the committee shall make a study of the Church congregation and shall encourage actual commitments of time, talents, and money from each and all whose name appears on our membership roll.

One member shall represent the Christian Outreach Committee on the Church Cabinet.

Section 5. Christian Education Committee

A. Organization. The Christian Education Committee shall consist of six members, two of whom shall be elected at each Annual Meeting of the church to serve a three-year term. The Christian Education Committee may also appoint one youth for a term of one or two years.

B. Duties. The Christian Education Committee shall plan, coordinate, and implement all Christian education programs and activities for children and adults of the church and shall perform an annual review of the Christian Education Coordinator.

One member shall represent the Christian Education Committee on the Church Cabinet.

Section 6. Music Committee

A. Organization. The Music Committee shall consist of six members, two of whom shall be elected at each Annual Meeting of the church to serve a three-year term. The Music Committee may also appoint one youth for a term of one or two years.

B. Duties. The Music Committee shall oversee the church music program. In conjunction with the music director, the minister, and the Board of Trustees, the Music Committee will approve the use of the sanctuary by outside music groups upon application. The Music Committee, in conjunction with the minister, is responsible for hiring an organist/choir director and any other personnel involved with the church music when a vacancy occurs.

A yearly budget for the music program shall be submitted to the Board of Trustees. Regular meetings shall be held to coordinate all church music activities.

One member shall represent the Music Committee on the Church Cabinet.

Section 7. Personnel Committee

A. Organization. The Personnel Committee shall consist of at least four members, one or two of whom shall be elected at each Annual Meeting of the church to a three-year term. The committee shall organize by selection of a chair and shall meet at least twice a year with the Minister and staff members, and at other times as necessary. The committee is given discretionary authority to maintain the confidentiality of its discussions guided by the policies and procedures of the United Church of Christ and applicable legal entities.

B. Duties. The Personnel Committee shall support and advise staff members, without a supervisory role. The committee may act as mediator in situations of conflict between or among staff members other than the minister, other committees, and other members of the congregation, if asked to do so by any party. The committee shall oversee the church's compliance with employment and tax laws and recognized compensation guidelines and act as a resource on employment issues to other committees who are responsible for overseeing staff members. The Personnel Committee shall guide officers and committees that supervise paid members of the church staff in developing functional job descriptions and conducting annual performance reviews for the staff members.

One member shall represent the Personnel Committee on the Church Cabinet.

Section 8. Board of Ushers

A. Organization: The Board of Ushers shall consist of twelve members who shall be elected at each Annual Meeting of the church to serve a one-year term. The Board of Ushers shall meet at least once per year and shall organize by the election of a chairperson.

B. Duties: The Board of Ushers shall have charge of ushering at all religious services of the church. The board shall coordinate with the minister and with the Diaconate in the conduct of services. The board shall be responsible for counting all monies offered at worship services and conveying them to the treasurer's assistant who is responsible for receivables.

Section 9. The Flower Committee

A. Organization. The Flower Committee shall consist of twelve members, four to be elected each year for a term of three years. One member shall serve as chair and shall be responsible for ordering flowers for Christmas and Easter as well as one of the twelve months.

B. Duties. The committee shall see that flowers are provided and arranged for the chancel at the Sunday morning services and at any other service at which it would be appropriate to have flowers. One member shall represent the committee on the Church Cabinet.

Section 10. The Nominating Committee

A. Organization. The Nominating Committee shall consist of six members appointed by the Church Cabinet for a term of one year. These members shall be one representative each from the Diaconate, the Board of Trustees, the Christian Outreach Committee, the Music Committee, the Christian Education Committee, and the Stewardship Committee.

B. Duties. This committee shall present to the annual meeting of the church a list of candidates for the offices and committees of the church and the name of a chair for the Old Sloop Fair. These nominations shall be published in the church calendar on the Sunday preceding the annual meeting. Additional nominations may be made from the floor at the annual meeting. It also shall be the function of the Nominating Committee, in conjunction with the Church Cabinet, to fill vacancies in church offices and committees occurring between annual meetings.

Section 11. Stewardship Committee

A. Organization. The stewardship committee shall consist of at least five members, one or two of whom shall be elected at each Annual Meeting of the church to serve a three-year term. The Stewardship Committee may also appoint one youth for a term of one or two years.

B. Duties. It shall be the function of this committee to conduct the annual Christian stewardship program to raise necessary funds for the operation of the church and for its mission.

Section 12. Pastor-Parish Relations Committee

A. Organization. A Pastor-Parish Relations Committee shall consist of four members, nominated by the minister and the Nominating Committee, one or two of whom shall be elected at each Annual Meeting of the church to serve a three-year term. The committee is given discretionary authority to maintain the confidentiality of its discussions guided by the policies and procedures of the United Church of Christ and applicable legal entities.

B. Duties. The mission of the Pastor-Parish Relations Committee is to support and maintain the relationship between the Pastor and members of the congregation by fostering open and honest communication and mutual responsiveness to the needs of both in their shared ministries. As an advisory group to the congregation and the Pastor, the committee shares ideas, hopes, expectations, and concerns and interprets roles, functions and needs.

The committee will act as facilitators to resolve conflict involving the minister, offering caring and constructive feedback.

Section 13. Membership Committee

A. Organization. The Membership Committee shall consist of six members, all of whom must be members of the congregation. Three members shall be elected at each Annual Meeting of the church to serve a two-year term. The Committee shall organize by the election of a chairperson and a recording secretary.

B. Duties. The Membership Committee will seek to attract new people to the church and will oversee publicity for the church. The Membership Committee will invite people to consider entering into the Covenant of Membership and create opportunities for prospective new members to discern the meaning of membership. The Membership Committee will seek to deepen and maintain the involvement of the members of the congregation. The Membership Committee will work with the Diaconate and other church groups to enhance a welcoming vision within the life of the congregation to support church growth and vitality.

One member shall represent the committee on the Church Cabinet.

Article XI – Fiscal Year
The fiscal year shall be the calendar year.

Article XII – Bylaw Review
These bylaws shall be reviewed by a special committee, appointed by the Church Cabinet, at least every 5 years.

Article XIII – Amendments
These bylaws may be amended at an annual meeting or at any special meeting called for that purpose by a three-fourths vote of the church members present and voting.