Current Bylaws of Four Oaks Community Church
BYLAWS OF FOUR OAKS COMMUNITY CHURCH
A NONPROFIT CORPORATION WITH MEMBERS
These amended and restated bylaws (the “Bylaws”) govern the affairs of the Four Oaks Community Church, a Florida religious nonprofit corporation organized under the laws of the State of Florida.
ARTICLE I: NAME
The name of this church shall be FOUR OAKS COMMUNITY CHURCH, hereinafter referred to as “the Church,” or “Four Oaks” organized under the Florida Not-for-Profit Corporation Act (the “Code”) with a principal place of business in Tallahassee, Florida. The Full Council of Elders (the “FCE”), of the Church shall have full power and authority to change any office from one location to another, either in Florida or elsewhere. The Church shall comply with the requirements of the Code and maintain a registered office and registered agent in Florida. The registered office may be, but need not be, identical with Church’s principal office in Florida. The FCE may change the registered office and the registered agent as provided in the Code.
ARTICLE II: THE CIVIL AND ECCLESIASTICAL GOVERNMENT
The government of the Church is established and headed by Jesus Christ, who governs the affairs of His church through His Word. The Church is first and foremost an ecclesiastical body of believers, the supreme governing document of which is the Bible. The church is secondarily a civil corporation, the governance of which is established by its Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws. The Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, however, are subordinate to the Bible and must be interpreted in light of the scriptures.
ARTICLE III: FOUNDATION, OBJECT, AND PRIORITIES OF MINISTRY
The foundation of the Church is the Lord Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 3:11), and its code of guidance in all its affairs is the Word of God. The Church affirms its faith that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of Almighty God (Mark 13:31).
The object of the Church shall be to worship God according to the teaching of His Word, to practice the precepts and examples of the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ as set forth in the New Testament, to sustain its ordinances and doctrines and to preach and propagate among all peoples the Gospel of Salvation which is by personal faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
The priorities of ministry of the Church flow from the vision of God's glory revealed in Jesus Christ. We exist to savor this vision in worship (John 4:23), strengthen the vision in nurture and education (I Corinthians 14:26; II Peter 3:18), and spread the vision in evangelism, missions, and loving deeds (I Peter 2:9; 3:15; Matthew 28:18-20; 5:16).
ARTICLE IV: DOCTRINAL STATEMENTS OF FAITH
The Statement of Faith of the Church Members is as follows:
I. The Triune God. We believe in one God, eternally existing in three equally divine Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who know, love, and glorify one another. This one true and living God is infinitely perfect both in his love and in his holiness. He is the Creator of all things, visible and invisible, and is therefore worthy to receive all glory and adoration. Immortal and eternal, he perfectly and exhaustively knows the end from the beginning, sustains and sovereignly rules over all things, and providentially brings about his eternal good purposes to redeem a people for himself and restore his fallen creation, to the praise of his glorious grace.
II. Revelation. God has graciously disclosed his existence and power in the created order, and has supremely revealed himself to fallen human beings in the person of his Son, the incarnate Word. Moreover, this God is a speaking God who by his Spirit has graciously disclosed himself in human words: we believe that God has inspired the words preserved in the Scriptures, the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments, which are both record and means of his saving work in the world. These writings alone constitute the verbally inspired Word of God, which is utterly authoritative and without error in the original writings, complete in its revelation of his will for salvation, sufficient for all that God requires us to believe and do, and final in its authority over every domain of knowledge to which it speaks. We confess that both our finitude and our sinfulness preclude the possibility of knowing God’s truth exhaustively, but we affirm that, enlightened by the Spirit of God, we can know God’s revealed truth truly. The Bible is to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it teaches; obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; and trusted, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises. As God’s people hear, believe, and do the Word, they are equipped as disciples of Christ and witnesses to the gospel.
III. Creation of Humanity. We believe that God created human beings, male and female, in his own image. Adam and Eve belonged to the created order that God himself declared to be very good, serving as God’s agents to care for, manage, and govern creation, living in holy and devoted fellowship with their Maker. Men and women, equally made in the image of God, enjoy equal access to God by faith in Christ Jesus and are both called to move beyond passive self-indulgence to significant private and public engagement in family, church, and civic life. Adam and Eve were made to complement each other in a one-flesh union that establishes the only holy pattern of sexual relations for men and women, such that marriage ultimately serves as a type of the union between Christ and his church. In God’s wise purposes, men and women are not simply interchangeable, but rather they complement each other in mutually enriching ways. God ordains that they assume distinctive roles which reflect the loving relationship between Christ and the church, the husband exercising headship in a way that displays the caring, sacrificial love of Christ, and the wife submitting to her husband in a way that models the love of the church for her Lord. In the ministry of the church, both men and women are encouraged to serve Christ and to be developed to their full potential in the manifold ministries of the people of God. The distinctive leadership role within the church given to qualified men is grounded in creation, fall, and redemption and must not be sidelined by appeals to cultural developments. Gender is a fundamental given of human existence, with maleness and femaleness being congruent with human embodiment and being an unchangeable, stable, and consistent characteristic of each image bearer established by God’s creational intent. To his image bearers, God gave the mandate to build society through procreation and vocation. This means that most people will be married, though God also calls some to singleness (without loss or diminution of personhood, dignity, or contributive capability). Heterosexual monogamous marriage is God’s design for men and women called to covenant together in matrimony. Homosexual behavior, same-sex attraction, and gender identity confusion are a result of the fall to be redeemed through the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit.
IV. The Fall. We believe that Adam, made in the image of God, distorted that image and forfeited his original blessedness—for himself and all his progeny—by falling into sin through Satan’s temptation. As a result, all human beings are alienated from God, corrupted in every aspect of their being (e.g., physically, mentally, volitionally, emotionally, spiritually) and condemned finally and irrevocably to death—apart from God’s own gracious intervention. The supreme need of all human beings is to be reconciled to the God under whose just and holy wrath we stand; the only hope of all human beings is the undeserved love of this same God, who alone can rescue us and restore us to himself.
V. The Plan of God. We believe that from all eternity God determined in grace to save a great multitude of guilty sinners from every tribe and language and people and nation, and to this end foreknew them and chose them. We believe that God justifies and sanctifies those who by grace have faith in Jesus, and that he will one day glorify them—all to the praise of his glorious grace. In love God commands and implores all people to repent and believe, having set his saving love on those he has chosen and having ordained Christ to be their Redeemer.
VI. The Gospel. We believe that the gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ—God’s very wisdom. Utter folly to the world, even though it is the power of God to those who are being saved, this good news is Christological, centering on the cross and resurrection: the gospel is not proclaimed if Christ is not proclaimed, and the authentic Christ has not been proclaimed if his death and resurrection are not central (the message is: “Christ died for our sins . . . [and] was raised”). This good news is biblical (his death and resurrection are according to the Scriptures), theological and salvific (Christ died for our sins, to reconcile us to God), historical (if the saving events did not happen, our faith is worthless, we are still in our sins, and we are to be pitied more than all others), apostolic (the message was entrusted to and transmitted by the apostles, who were witnesses of these saving events), and intensely personal (where it is received, believed, and held firmly, individual persons are saved).
VII. The Redemption of Christ. We believe that, moved by love and in obedience to his Father, the eternal Son became human: the Word became flesh, fully God and fully human being, one Person in two natures. The man Jesus, the promised Messiah of Israel, was conceived through the miraculous agency of the Holy Spirit, and was born of the virgin Mary. He perfectly obeyed his heavenly Father, lived a sinless life, performed miraculous signs, was crucified under Pontius Pilate, arose bodily from the dead on the third day, and ascended into heaven. As the mediatorial King, he is seated at the right hand of God the Father, exercising in heaven and on earth all of God’s sovereignty, and is our High Priest and righteous Advocate. We believe that by his incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension, Jesus Christ acted as our representative and substitute. He did this so that in him we might become the righteousness of God: on the cross he canceled sin, propitiated God, and, by bearing the full penalty of our sins, reconciled to God all those who believe. By his resurrection Christ Jesus was vindicated by his Father, broke the power of death and defeated Satan who once had power over it, and brought everlasting life to all his people; by his ascension he has been forever exalted as Lord and has prepared a place for us to be with him. We believe that salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved. Because God chose the lowly things of this world, the despised things, the things that are not, to nullify the things that are, no human being can ever boast before him—Christ Jesus has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.
VIII. The Justification of Sinners. We believe that Christ, by his obedience and death, fully discharged the debt of all those who are justified. By his sacrifice, he bore in our stead the punishment due us for our sins, making a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God’s justice on our behalf. By his perfect obedience he satisfied the just demands of God on our behalf, since by faith alone that perfect obedience is credited to all who trust in Christ alone for their acceptance with God. Inasmuch as Christ was given by the Father for us, and his obedience and punishment were accepted in place of our own, freely and not for anything in us, this justification is solely of free grace, in order that both the exact justice and the rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners. We believe that a zeal for personal and public obedience flows from this free justification.
IX. The Power of the Holy Spirit. We believe that this salvation, attested in all Scripture and secured by Jesus Christ, is applied to his people by the Holy Spirit. Sent by the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ, and, as the other Paraclete, is present with and in believers. He convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, and by his powerful and mysterious work regenerates spiritually dead sinners, awakening them to repentance and faith, and in him they are baptized into union with the Lord Jesus, such that they are justified before God by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. By the Spirit's agency, believers are renewed, sanctified, and adopted into God's family; they participate in the divine nature and receive his sovereignly distributed gifts. The Holy Spirit is himself the down payment of the promised inheritance, and in this age indwells, guides, instructs, equips, revives, and empowers believers for Christ-like living and service.
X. The Kingdom of God. We believe that those who have been saved by the grace of God through union with Christ by faith and through regeneration by the Holy Spirit enter the kingdom of God and delight in the blessings of the new covenant: the forgiveness of sins, the inward transformation that awakens a desire to glorify, trust, and obey God, and the prospect of the glory yet to be revealed. Good works constitute indispensable evidence of saving grace. Living as salt in a world that is decaying and light in a world that is dark, believers should neither withdraw into seclusion from the world, nor become indistinguishable from it: rather, we are to do good to the city, for all the glory and honor of the nations is to be offered up to the living God. Recognizing whose created order this is, and because we are citizens of God’s kingdom, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, doing good to all, especially to those who belong to the household of God. The kingdom of God, already present but not fully realized, is the exercise of God’s sovereignty in the world toward the eventual redemption of all creation. The kingdom of God is an invasive power that plunders Satan’s dark kingdom and regenerates and renovates through repentance and faith the lives of individuals rescued from that kingdom. It therefore inevitably establishes a new community of human life together under God.
XI. God’s New People. We believe that God’s new covenant people have already come to the heavenly Jerusalem; they are already seated with Christ in the heavenlies. This universal church is manifest in local churches of which Christ is the only Head; thus each “local church” is, in fact, the church, the household of God, the assembly of the living God, and the pillar and foundation of the truth. The church is the body of Christ, the apple of his eye, graven on his hands, and he has pledged himself to her forever. The church is distinguished by her gospel message, her sacred ordinances, her discipline, her great mission, and, above all, by her love for God, and by her members’ love for one another and for the world. Crucially, this gospel we cherish has both personal and corporate dimensions, neither of which may properly be overlooked. Christ Jesus is our peace: he has not only brought about peace with God, but also peace between alienated peoples. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both Jew and Gentile to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. The church serves as a sign of God’s future new world when its members live for the service of one another and their neighbors, rather than for self-focus. The church is the corporate dwelling place of God’s Spirit, and the continuing witness to God in the world.
XII. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We believe that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordained by the Lord Jesus himself. The former is connected with entrance into the new covenant community, the latter with ongoing covenant renewal. Together they are simultaneously God’s pledge to us, divinely ordained means of grace, our public vows of submission to the once crucified and now resurrected Christ, and anticipations of his return and of the consummation of all things.
XIII. The Restoration of All Things. We believe in the personal, glorious, and bodily return of our Lord Jesus Christ with his holy angels, when he will exercise his role as final Judge, and his kingdom will be consummated. We believe in the bodily resurrection of both the just and the unjust—the unjust to judgment and eternal conscious punishment in hell, as our Lord himself taught, and the just to eternal blessedness in the presence of him who sits on the throne and of the Lamb, in the new heaven and the new earth, the home of righteousness. On that day the church will be presented faultless before God by the obedience, suffering and triumph of Christ, all sin purged and its wretched effects forever banished. God will be all in all and his people will be enthralled by the immediacy of his ineffable holiness, and everything will be to the praise of his glorious grace.
ARTICLE V: NONPROFIT PURPOSES
The Church is formed for any lawful purpose or purposes not expressly prohibited under Title XXXVI, Chapter 617 of the Code, including any purpose described by Section 617.0301 of the Code. The Church is organized and shall be operated exclusively for religious, charitable, and educational purposes within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Church’s purposes also include the limited participation of the Church in any other activities, including taxable activities, but only to the extent the activities would be permitted by a tax-exempt organization. More particularly, but without limitation, the purposes of this Church are:
A. To promote the Christian religion by any appropriate form of expression, within any available medium, and in any location, through the Church’s combined or separate formation, of a corporation, ministry, charity, school, or charitable institution, without limitation.
B. To treasure, grow, and go in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
C. To license and/or ordain, employ, and discharge ordained ministers of the Gospel, and others, to conduct and carry on divine services at the place(s) of worship of the Church, and elsewhere.
D. To collect and disburse any and all necessary funds for the maintenance of said Church and the accomplishment of its purpose within the State of Florida and elsewhere.
E. To make distributions to organizations that qualify as exempt organizations under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.
F. This Church is also organized to: promote, encourage, and foster any other similar religious, charitable, and educational activities; accept, hold, invest, reinvest and administer any gifts, legacies, bequests, devises, funds, and property of any sort or nature, and to use, expend, or donate the income or principal thereof for, and to devote the same to, the foregoing purposes of the Church; and do any and all lawful acts and things which may be necessary, useful, suitable, or proper for the furtherance of accomplishment of the purposes of the Church. Provided, however, no act may be performed which would violate Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.
ARTICLE VI: POWERS AND RESTRICTIONS
Except as otherwise provided in these Bylaws and the Articles of Incorporation, and to carry out the above-stated purposes, the Church shall have all those powers set forth in the Code, as it now exists or as it may hereafter be amended. Moreover, the Church shall have all implied powers necessary and proper to carry out its express powers. The powers of the Church to promote the purposes set out above are limited and restricted in the following manner:
A. The Church shall not pay dividends and no part of the net earnings of the Church shall inure to the benefit of or be distributable to its organizers, officers, or other private persons, except that the Church shall be authorized and empowered to make payments and distributions (including reasonable compensation for services rendered to or for the Church) in furtherance of its purposes as set forth in these Bylaws. No substantial part of the activities of the Church shall be the carrying on of propaganda, or otherwise attempting to influence legislation, and the Church shall not participate in, or intervene in (including the publication or distribution of statements) any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office. Notwithstanding any other provisions of these Bylaws, the Church shall not carry on any other activities not permitted to be carried on by: (i) a corporation exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or corresponding provisions of any subsequent federal tax laws; or (ii) a corporation, contributions to which are deductible under Section 170(c)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or corresponding provisions of any subsequent federal tax laws.
B. In the event this Church is in any one (1) year a “private foundation” as defined by Section 509(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or corresponding provisions of any subsequent federal tax laws, it shall be required to distribute its income for such taxable year at such time and in such manner as not to subject the foundation to taxation under Section 4942 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or corresponding provisions of any subsequent federal tax laws, and further shall be prohibited from: (i) any act of “self-dealing” as defined in Section 4941(d) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or corresponding provisions of any subsequent federal tax laws; (ii) retaining any “excess business holdings” as defined by Section 4943(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or corresponding provisions of any subsequent federal tax laws; (iii) making any investments in such manner as to subject the foundation to taxation under Section 4944 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or corresponding provisions any subsequent federal tax laws; or (iv) making a taxable expenditures as defined in Section 4945(d) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or corresponding provisions of any subsequent federal tax laws.
C. The Church shall not accept any gift or grant if the gift or grant contains major conditions which would restrict or violate any of the Church’s religious, charitable, or educational purposes or if the gift or grant would require serving a private as opposed to a public interest.
ARTICLE VII: CHURCH GOVERNANCE
The highest level of human leadership of Four Oaks Church shall be vested in a governing team of qualified male elders, hereinafter referred to as the Full Council of Elders (the “FCE”), which is responsible for teaching, leading, praying, and shepherding. The Council shall be composed of both vocational (paid by the church) and non-vocational (unpaid by the church) elders who follow the leading of Jesus, who is the chief Shepherd of Four Oaks (1 Peter 5:1–4). Because the terms “elder” and “pastor” are used interchangeably in Scripture, they will be used similarly in these Bylaws.
A. Qualifications. To be considered as an elder, a man must have been called by God into leadership (Acts 20:28), exhibit exemplary Christian character, demonstrate the requisite competencies of pastoral ministry, and display unity with the other elders, per the qualifications of Scripture.
1. Calling: An elder possesses a godly ambition to serve in the office of elder. This aspiration comes from the Holy Spirit, who establishes leaders in the church (Acts 20:28). This internal sense of divine calling must be confirmed by the elders and members of Four Oaks.
2. Character: An elder exhibits the character qualities as detailed in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. These qualities include being above reproach, a mature Christian, a faithful husband (if married) and a faithful father (if he has children), temperate, self-controlled, without addictions, respectable and respected by others, and gentle and kind rather than contentious. While still sinful and needing to repent of sin when his life does not manifest these qualities, an elder must exhibit these characteristics in increasing measure.
3. Competencies: An elder demonstrates the requisite competencies for this office, including the ability to teach (cherishes sound doctrine for himself, is able to communicate sound doctrine to others, and is able to refute false doctrine), lead (carry out governing responsibilities), pray (for all church matters, especially for the sick), and shepherd (exercise church discipline, protect the members, and provide stellar examples of faithfulness and obedience for members to follow).
4. Chemistry: An elder displays good chemistry with his fellow elders so that they are united in theological vision, core values, philosophy of ministry, and brotherhood.
B. Elder Selection. An elder is elected as follows: assessment of calling, character, competencies, and chemistry; successful completion of the elder training process; approval by the Congregational Elders and by the FCE; affirmation by a majority vote of the members at the local congregation with a quorum of at least forty percent (40%) of the members voting; installation as an elder at the local congregation. In the case of hiring an elder from outside of Four Oaks, the investigation, interviews, and due diligence carried out by the elders doing the hiring constitutes the above process. Upon his hiring, the candidate is installed as an elder.
C. Elder Service. Upon selection, all Elders serve as Congregational Elders (CE) at a particular local congregation, and also are seated members of the FCE. Vocational Elders serve as long as they are employed by the church in the role of pastor. Non-vocational Elders are selected by the members of their local congregation to serve three-year terms, and are affirmed annually. A Non-vocational Elder completing a three-year term may be approved by the members to one or more subsequent three-year terms, provided he has engaged in a process of evaluation and assessment at the end of each term. The process of evaluation and assessment shall be as specified by the FCE. Sabbaticals for various reasons may be granted for a season, during which the elder is inactive and does not vote. Resignation from the office of elder must be preceded by a letter of resignation, accepted upon receipt by the FCE. At all times the FCE must maintain a minimum of three seated non-vocational elders.
An elder shall be removed from office by a majority vote of the FCE (one hundred percent (100%) quorum) in the following instances (an illustrative, not exhaustive, list): moral impropriety; doctrinal error; bringing reproach upon the name of Christ and/or Four Oaks; incompetency; disunity with the rest of the elders; and any other failure that would fall under the category of actions that demand church discipline as determined by the FCE. A task force established by the FCE shall investigate a credible charge against an elder, and shall follow the investigative process outlined in the Operational Standards Policy.
D. Governance. The FCE may structure and organize itself however it deems necessary for the sake of simplicity, clarity of communication, and efficiency of organization, according to the needs of Four Oaks and the size of the FCE. Any such restructuring must preserve the plurality of elders and the calling, character, competencies, and chemistry requirements for elders articulated above. Unless otherwise specified in these Bylaws, for decisions on all matters coming before the FCE for a vote, a simple majority vote with a voting quorum of sixty percent (60%) of the elders shall be required, with non-vocational elders comprising no less than a sixty percent (60%) majority of those elders voting. In the event that the ratio of Non-Vocational Elders falls below a sixty percent (60%) majority, the remaining elders may vote to suspend this provision, after which point they will inform the members of the church. Where a specified vote greater than a simple majority is required in these Bylaws, or consent of the FCE is required in these Bylaws and no voting quorum is specified, the voting quorum shall be seventy-five percent (75%). Meetings of the FCE will be held in accordance with the procedures set forth in the Operational Standards Policy.
To promote efficient handling of its matters, the FCE may appoint various councils and committees from within its membership, the staff, and from the church at large. These councils and committees shall perform tasks solely in accordance with the duties and with powers specifically delegated by the FCE.
All councils and committees shall exist for the period specified by the FCE and serve under its authority.
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ARTICLE VIII: CHURCH OFFICERS
The FCE shall designate the following state-required officers:
(1) a President, who is also the Chairman of the FCE and a Vocational Elder; (2) a Vice President, who is Vice-Chairman of the FCE and a Vocational Elder; (3) a Secretary of the Church from the active Church membership; and (4) a Treasurer of the Church from the active Church membership.
The FCE may also choose other officers and agents as it deems necessary. Any number of offices may be held by the same person, except that the office of president and secretary may not be held by the same person. All officers are to function in alignment with the Statement of Faith, Core Values, and Mission Statement of this church.
A. President. The office of President is filled by a Vocational Elder. The President shall be the presiding officer for Four Oaks Community Church and shall, subject to the provisions of these Bylaws, (1) have general and active management of the affairs of the Church and have general supervision of its officers, agents and employees; (2) preside as Chairman at all meetings of the FCE; and (3) perform those other duties incident to the office of President and as from time to time may be assigned to him by the FCE. The President’s term is indefinite but shall terminate upon his cessation as a vocational elder unless otherwise terminated. The president may be removed by a vote of the FCE in accordance with the process set forth in the Operational Standards document.
B. Vice-President. The office of Vice-President is filled by another Vocational Elder of Four Oaks Community Church. In the absence of the President, the Vice-President shall preside in all the duties of his office as enumerated above. The Vice-President’s term is indefinite but shall terminate upon his cessation as a vocational elder unless otherwise terminated. The Vice-President may be removed by a majority vote of the FCE.
C. Treasurer. The Treasurer shall be either a male or female member of the Church in good standing who is reasonably knowledgeable of the basic accounting and financial transactions and reports required for the orderly, legal and prudent operation of the Church. The primary responsibilities of the Treasurer shall be to oversee and report disbursements of the Church in an orderly, accountable manner, and to perform other financial and accounting duties as established by the FCE. The Treasurer shall be elected annually by a vote of the FCE, , and may be renewed for one or more subsequent terms at the discretion of the FCE. The Treasurer may be removed by a majority vote of the FCE.
D. Secretary/Comptroller. The Secretary/Comptroller shall be either a male or female member of the Church in good standing who is reasonably knowledgeable of the basic accounting and financial transactions and reports required for the orderly, legal and prudent operation of the Church. The primary responsibility of the Secretary/Comptroller shall be to oversee and report receipts of the Church in an orderly, accountable manner, and to provide supporters with necessary documentation for tax purposes. The Secretary/Comptroller shall maintain confidential contribution records and shall provide information identifying specific amounts contributed by specific persons only to the FCE, unless otherwise specifically approved by the FCE. The Secretary/Comptroller shall keep a true and accurate record of all meetings of the Church and the FCE. He/she may personally fulfill the duties or delegate as agreed to by the FCE. The Secretary shall be custodian of all legal documents and shall be authorized to sign all official and legal documents, to conduct church correspondence where required, and to perform any other functions as are customary or as may be directed by the FCE. The Secretary/Comptroller shall also perform other financial and accounting duties as established by the FCE. The Secretary/Comptroller shall be elected annually by a vote of the FCE, and may be renewed for one or more subsequent terms at the discretion of the FCE. The Secretary/Comptroller may be removed by a majority vote of the FCE.
E. Removal/Resignation of Officers. Removal of officers for good and sufficient cause shall be by action of the FCE, and reported to the congregations. No officer shall be removed from office until the FCE is satisfied that sufficient efforts have been made to assist that officer in correcting the underlying cause, except in the case of gross moral, civil or criminal misconduct, in which case removal by the FCE will be immediate.
Resignations of officers shall be in writing to the President, effective on the date specified in the resignation or as determined by the FCE. (The resignation of the President shall be in writing to the FCE.)
ARTICLE IX: LICENSURE AND ORDINATION
A. Licensure. Any male member who in the judgment of the FCE fulfills the requirements of an elder and is called of God to the vocational work of sacerdotal ministry through a process established and overseen by the elders may be granted permission for licensing according to the regulations of the State of Florida. Licensing shall be ongoing until cancelled by the FCE.
B. Ordination. The Church shall have authority to ordain any of its members who give evidence of divine call to vocational ministry. Ordination is considered to be for life, unless there is good cause to terminate an ordination.
ARTICLE X: CHURCH MEMBERSHIP
Membership of the Church shall be open to all persons who confess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior, who demonstrate regeneration by a life consistent with their profession and with the views of faith, doctrine and practice of the Church, who have been baptized and who are received into membership according to the policy established by the FCE in the Operational Standards document. Membership is expressed through belonging to both Four Oaks as a whole, and to a local congregation. Members must be at least eighteen (18) years of age, unless otherwise approved by the Congregational Elders. Standards and responsibilities of membership are defined by the elders in the Operational Standards Policy.
ARTICLE XI: MEETINGS OF CHURCH MEMBERS
A. Members shall meet regularly with their congregation for the purpose of worship, fellowship, and mutual encouragement. The ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper shall be observed on a regular basis. The annual meeting of the Church shall be no later than the end of the month of May in the given year. Special Membership Meetings may be called at any time at the request of the Congregational Elders.
B. Those admitted to church membership do not constitute a legislative body, nor do they constitute corporate members, and they cannot vote, pass resolutions binding upon Four Oaks, nor shall they have any equity in the real property of Four Oaks, or rights to vote on its disposal, except any vote specifically provided in these Bylaws, the Articles of Incorporation, or as specifically provided by the FCE. Said property of Four Oaks is dedicated to religious and charitable purposes as outlined in the Articles of Incorporation. Member voting shall occur in the following instances:
1. Affirmation of the annual congregational budget and significant increases to the budget arising from increased ministry needs or significant reallocation of funds which exceed ten percent (10%) of the existing annual budget (see Article XII of these Bylaws).
2. Affirmation of their local congregation’s elder candidates for installation locally.
3. Purchase of land and real estate in excess of $1,000,000.00 by the local congregation.
4. Amendments to these Bylaws.
Unless otherwise specified in these Bylaws, all matters subject to a vote of the members shall be decided by a majority of a congregation’s members voting, where a quorum of forty percent (40%) of the congregation’s members vote.
C. Meetings to Reorganize Church Government. The sole action which may be initiated by the members shall be to suspend the FCE, temporarily assume authority, and reorganize the Church if the members of the Church across all congregations deem the government of the Church to be ineffective and unresponsive to the Church body. In this circumstance, authorizing a resolution to reorganize shall require approval by a three-fourths (3/4) majority of the members present and voting, provided that notice of the meeting and copies of the resolution signed by one-third (1/3) of the members are distributed by mail to all members at least four (4) weeks in advance and that a voting quorum of at least sixty percent (60%) of the members are present at the meeting.
ARTICLE XII: CHURCH DISCIPLINE
The threefold purpose of church discipline is to glorify God by maintaining purity in the local church, to edify believers by deterring sin, and to promote the spiritual welfare of the offending believer by calling him or her to return to a biblical standard of doctrine and conduct.
A. Members Subject to Church Discipline. The Church reserves the right and responsibility to exercise discipline and to terminate the membership of its members in accordance with Scripture’s teaching. Members of the Church who espouse doctrines opposed by the Church or who engage in conduct that violates Scripture, as determined by the FCE, may be subject to church discipline. Each potential case of discipline shall be weighed on its own merits and dealt with according to the process and principles established in the book of Matthew, chapter 18, and governed by the process defined by the elders in the Operational Standards Policy.
B. Confidentiality. Members of the Church are not guaranteed confidentiality regarding issues of church discipline, and agree that by submitting themselves to the authority of the Church, issues of a sensitive or personal nature may be made known to others. This includes, but is not limited to, notification of the authorities if a crime has been committed or if a threat of endangerment to others exists. Threats to others that may not involve physical danger or that may involve immoral behaviors may also be made known to others. These threats or immoral behaviors include instances of unrepentant sin remaining after the process of Matthew 18 has been followed.
C. Dismissal of Members from the Church. Members of the Church may be dismissed from the Church membership by vote of the FCE if there is unrepentant sin. The dismissal of a church member may be made known to all church members.
D. Reinstatement of Dismissed Members. A person dismissed from the Church for disciplinary reasons may be reinstated to membership by approval of the FCE if the person’s repentance is accepted as genuine by the FCE.
E. Right of Appeal.
Each member of the Church agrees that there shall be no right to appeal to any federal, state or municipal court or any governmental entity because of a discipline process or dismissal. A member who is under discipline by the Church, as defined in the previous paragraphs, forfeits and waives the right of resignation in good standing from the Church.
F. Presence on Premises of the Church.
Separate and apart from the process of church discipline, and at the discretion and approval of the FCE a member who receives written notification from the FCE may not be present upon Church premises or at Church activities for such a period of time as is deemed necessary for the safety and well-being of others. Such required absence may, but need not, be concurrent with church discipline of that person. Willful failure to obey the notification from the FCE shall be grounds for dismissal from the Church.
G. Failure to Maintain Member Commitments.
Separate and apart from the process of church discipline, and at the discretion and approval of the FCE, members who have not maintained the commitments of church membership as specified in these Bylaws and in the Operational Standards document for a period of six months or longer may be dismissed as a member of the Church and may be asked to no longer attend the Church.
ARTICLE XIII: FISCAL YEAR
The fiscal year of Four Oaks shall be July 1st – June 30th.
ARTICLE XIV: BUDGET
On an annual basis, the Congregational Elders must submit a budget to the members of that congregation for approval (see Article IV of these Bylaws). During the course of the fiscal year, the elders may need to make amendments to the approved budget. The following are guidelines for making such amendments:
A. Adjustment to accommodate giving growth: The elders may increase the budget if giving exceeds the amount estimated in the annual budget. The elders may make such amendments and member approval is not required.
B. Adjustment to accommodate ministry needs: The elders may increase the budget for expanding the scope of ministry up to ten percent (10%) of the originally approved annual budget. Increases in excess of ten percent (10%) to the annual budget must be approved by majority vote of the members.
C. Reallocation of the budget: The budget may be amended by reallocating funds from one primary fund to another (e.g., transferring staffing dollars to missions funds) by the elders up to ten percent (10%) of the annual budget. Reallocation of funds that result in a change of greater than ten percent (10%) must be approved by majority vote of the members.
ARTICLE XV: MUTUAL INTEREST
A. Behavior. The behavior of anyone in fellowship with Four Oaks is of common interest to the FCE and members (Galatians 6:1). Further, Four Oaks requires every elder, staff member, and church member to adhere to a lifestyle that is consistent with the doctrines of Four Oaks as taught in the Bible.
B. Right to refuse service. Therefore, Four Oaks reserves the right to refuse service to any individual, whether member or not, that is not submitting their lifestyle to this scriptural mode of conduct. This refusal would include services, benefits, and any use of Church assets.
ARTICLE XVI: INDEMNIFICATION
A. Power to Indemnify. Four Oaks has the power to indemnify (including the power to advance expenses to) its elders, officers, employees, and agents made a party to a proceeding, provided, however, that no such indemnity shall indemnify any such elder, officer, employee, or agent from or on account of:
1. Acts or omissions of such elder, officer, employee, or agent finally adjudged to be intentional misconduct or a knowing violation of law.
2. Conduct of the elder, officer, employee, or agent finally adjudged to be in violation of Florida law.
3. Any transaction with respect to which it was finally adjudged that such elder, officer, employee, or agent personally received a benefit in money, property, or services to which such person was not legally entitled.
B. Insurance. Four Oaks may purchase and maintain insurance, at its expense, to protect itself and any elder, officer, employee, or agent or any person who, while as an elder, officer, employee or agent of Four Oaks, is or was a director, officer, partner, trustee, employee or agent of another corporation, partnership, joint venture, trust, employee benefit plan or other enterprise against any expense, liability or loss, whether or not Four Oaks would have the power to indemnify such person against such expense, liability or loss under the Code, as amended.
C. Repeal or Modification. Any repeal or modification of this Article XVI shall not adversely affect any right of any person existing at the time of such repeal or modification.
D. Severability. If any provision of this Article XVI or any application thereof shall be invalid, unenforceable, or contrary to applicable law, the remainder of this Article, or the application of such provision to persons or circumstances other than those as to which it is held invalid, unenforceable or contrary to applicable law, shall not be affected thereby and shall continue in full force and effect.
ARTICLE XVII: AMENDMENTS
These Bylaws may be amended upon recommendation of the FCE and approval by a two-thirds (2/3) majority of the members across all congregations voting with a forty percent (40%) voting quorum.
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ARTICLE XVIII: BOOKS AND RECORDS
Four Oaks shall keep correct and complete books and records of account as follows:
1. Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws shall be kept indefinitely.
2. Lists of members, elders, and officers shall be kept current.
3. Minutes shall be kept for a minimum of three (3) years.
4. Complete financial books, records of account, and legal documents shall be maintained for such a length of time as deemed appropriate by the FCE.
Records shall be available to be inspected by any active member for reasonable purposes at any reasonable time. Requests to view records must be made to the FCE who, in their sole judgment, are empowered to determine whether the request is made for a reasonable purpose and therefore approved.
ARTICLE XIX: TRANSACTIONS OF THE CORPORATION
A. Contracts and Legal Instruments. Subject to the Church’s conflict of interest policy, the FCE may authorize an individual officer or agent of the Church to enter into a contract or execute and deliver any instrument in the name of and on behalf of the Church. This authority may be limited to a specific contract or instrument, or it may extend to any number and type of possible contracts and instruments.
B. Deposits. All funds of the Church shall be deposited to the credit of the Church in banks, trust companies, or other depositories that the FCE selects.
C. Gifts. The FCE may accept on behalf of the Church any contribution, gift, bequest, or devise for the general purposes or any special purpose of the Church including, but not limited to, gifts of money, annuity arrangements, securities, and other tangible and intangible personal property, real property, and interest therein. The FCE may make gifts and give charitable contributions that are not prohibited by these Bylaws, the Articles of Incorporation, state law, or any requirements for maintaining the Church’s federal and state tax status.
D. Ownership and Distribution of Property.
1. The Church shall hold, own, and enjoy its own personal and real property, without any right of reversion to another entity, except as provided in these Bylaws.
2. “Dissolution” means the complete disbanding of the Church so that it no longer functions as a congregation or as a corporate entity. Upon the dissolution of the Church, its property shall be applied and distributed as follows: (a) all liabilities and obligations of the Church shall be paid and discharged, or adequate provision shall be made therefore; (b) assets held by the Church upon condition requiring return, transfer, or conveyance, which condition occurs by reason of the dissolution, shall be returned, transferred, or conveyed in accordance with such requirements; (c) assets received and not held upon a condition requiring return, transfer, or conveyance by reason of the dissolution, shall be transferred or conveyed to one (1) or more domestic or foreign corporations, societies, or organizations that qualify as exempt organizations under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (or the corresponding provision of any future United States Internal Revenue law), and are engaged in activities substantially similar to those of the Church; this distribution shall be done pursuant to a plan adopted by the FCE; and (d) any assets not otherwise disposed of shall be disposed of by a court of competent jurisdiction of the county in which the principle office of the Church is then located, for such purposes and to such organizations as said court shall determine, provided such organizations are in agreement with the Church’s Statement of Faith and basic form of government.
3. Real Property Acquired by Church. Title to real property of the Church shall be in the name of the Church. Real property may be purchased in the name of or on behalf of the Church with the affirmative vote of the FCE. Real property of the Church may be sold, mortgaged, conveyed, transferred, or otherwise disbursed with the affirmative vote of the FCE.
4. Approval of Purchases by FCE. The purchases of fixed assets in excess of $10,000.00 shall be subject to the prior approval of the FCE.
5. Real Property Acquired by Local Congregation. A local congregation may purchase real property subject to the conditions as provided in in Article XI of these Bylaws.
ARTICLE XX: EMERGENCY POWERS AND BYLAWS
An “emergency” exists for the purposes of this Article XX if a quorum of the FCE cannot readily be obtained because of some catastrophic event. In the event of an emergency, the FCE may: (i) modify lines of succession to accommodate the incapacity of any FCE member, officer, employee or agent; and (ii) relocate the principle office, designate alternative principle offices or regional office, or authorize officers to do so. During an emergency, notice of a meeting of the FCE only needs to be given to those FCE members for whom such notice is practicable. The form of such notice may also include notice by publication or radio. One or more officers of the Church present at a meeting of the FCE may be deemed FCE members for the meeting, as necessary to achieve a quorum. Corporate action taken in good faith during an emergency binds the Church and may not be the basis for imposing liability on any FCE Member, officer, employee or agent of the Church on the ground that the action was not authorized. The FCE may also adopt emergency bylaws, subject to amendments or repeal by the FCE, which may include provisions necessary for managing the Church during an emergency including: (i) procedures for calling a meeting of the FCE; (ii) quorum requirements for the meeting; and (iii) designation of additional or substitute FCE members. The emergency bylaws shall remain in effect during the emergency and not after the emergency ends.