On March 16, at 7pm, we are going to have our first ever membership vote! Here is the clip of me talking about it during our Vision Dinner (in the video, I say the vote will happen on March 9, but the actual vote will be March 16):
- The official resolution we will be voting on: 2021-03 Resolution to Amend By-Laws.
- Our current By-Laws.
I know that not everyone has time to watch that segment of the video, or click through and read the PDF docs, but there are some more details that I need to share with you to help you prepare for the upcoming vote, so this blog post is intended to communicate all that you need to know.
We are proposing to change section 5.5.2 of our by-laws.
Currently, it says this under Qualifications for Membership:
5.5.2 Baptism by immersion as a public testimony of salvation
We propose that line be amended to say this:
5.5.2 Baptism by immersion as a public testimony of salvation or other evidence of faith as determined by the Elders.
Simply put, this will give the elders of the church the authority to welcome into membership anyone who’s testimony and life give evidence of authentic salvation regardless of the method or timing of their baptism. Here’s the rationale in more detail.
We include baptism under the “Biblical Convictions” portion of our Statement of Faith because although it is an ordinance clearly commanded by Jesus and affirmed often in the text of the New Testament, its methods and timing are never delineated explicitly in Scripture. As a result, Christian churches though universally accepting the importance of baptism have differed for centuries regarding the proper methods and timing of baptism. As a church launched out of the Baptist tradition, we practice only one method of baptism in our fellowship, that being by full immersion in water after a person has made a full commitment to Christ. Still, we recognize that Christians with authentic faith but a different method of baptism in their past may desire to join our fellowship, and requiring of them our specific method of baptism diminishes the importance or authenticity of their spiritual journey, shows disdain for the practices of other churches, and is an unnecessary hurdle in their affiliation with us.
Furthermore, by analogy, we recognize communion as a true spiritual/symbolic expression of the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper whether we use the same kind of bread and wine, the same quantities, or in the same context as when Jesus originally instituted the ordinance. Therefore, it is only right for us to view the ordinance of baptism with the same spiritual/ symbolic perspective when it comes to methods and modes. None of our chosen practices should invalidate the practices of others except when we are adhering to explicit biblical guidance regarding those practices.
Finally, there are rare cases when a person, for medical or other reasons, is unable to be baptized by full immersion but desires to declare membership with us nonetheless.
Therefore, we feel the Elders of the church should be given the authority to welcome into membership such persons whose testimony of salvation is combined with evidence of faith regardless of their baptismal status.
How We Will Vote
According to Section 13 of our By-laws, the Elders of the church may propose an amendment to the By-Laws in a special meeting of the members (which we did at our Vision Dinner on February 6, 2021), and then, after 30 days, the members may vote in a second meeting to approve or reject the amendment. Votes require a quorum of 50% of the members to be present, and amendments require the affirmation of 66% of those members.
- On March 16 @ 7pm, we will host that second meeting digitally through Zoom. During the meeting, Jeff and Joe will each share briefly why they support this amendment, and then we will open the meeting up to a limited time of discussion so members can express their concerns and ask questions.
- Since this will be an official meeting of the members of the church, only church members will be allowed to participate in the discussion. Anyone may join the Zoom meeting as an observer, but only church members will be allowed to share their opinions or ask questions.
- In order for this meeting to qualify as an official meeting, we must reach a quorum of 50% of the total members. Traditionally, that implies members to be “present” but our By-Laws neither require nor prohibit electronic participation or proxy participation. As Joe and I have already decided to hold the meeting electronically, anyone participating electronically will be considered “present” for the purposes of the quorum. However, if you cannot participate during the meeting but want to register an absentee vote or to enable a proxy to vote on your behalf, let me know of your intent, so Joe and I can officially designate proxy/absentee ballots as valid before the meeting starts.
The Membership Issue
The biggest outlying issue for us is that since we have an annually renewing membership, and since we just went through the renewal process last month, if you haven’t filled out your membership commitment, then NOW is the time to do so!
But wait! There’s more!
For those of you who have been around a while, you know that checking the box on the commitment form is actually only the “renewal” part of our membership. If we don’t have a verified Membership Application form on file for you, then you were never accepted into membership in the first place.
So, just to be clear, only members can participate in the discussion and in the vote, only people who are members under the current version of the bylaws can vote, and only those people who have BOTH a Membership Application on file AND have renewed their commitment with a 2021 Commitment Card are considered members for the legal purposes of the church.
If you aren’t sure about your membership status, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and either Megan or I will double-check for you.