Old Town Wesley Church
Tuesday, February 27, 2024
As ambassadors of Jesus Christ we go into our community and the world to bring people into God's Kingdom.
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Constitution and Articles of Faith

 

Affirmed: 7/19/2023

 

 

Article I. Name

 

The name of this Church corporation shall be: Old Town Wesley Church

 

Article II.  Incorporation and Mission

 

This Church is incorporated under the laws of the State of Mississippi under Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation and shall be independent of any external control.

 

Mission Statement

 

As ambassadors of Jesus Christ, we go into our community

and the world to bring people into God’s Kingdom

 

Apostles Creed

We believe in God the Father Almighty Creator of heaven and earth and in

Jesus Christ, His Only Son, our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

Born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried.

 

The third day, He rose from the dead; ascended into heaven and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

 

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.

Amen.

 

Article III. Purpose

 

The purpose of this Church shall be;

 

1.   To establish and maintain a place of worship.

 

2.   In accordance with the Bylaws of Old Town Wesley Chapel of Ridgeland have the right to own, hold in trust, use or otherwise possess, sell, convey, mortgage, lease, or otherwise dispose of such property, real or chattel, as may be needed for prosecution of its work.

 

3.   In response to the Great Commandment (Matt 22:37-40) and the Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20) we believe that God has called us to intentionally make disciples, it is our purpose to reach the unchurched and help them to grow and become committed disciples of Jesus Christ.

 

A committed disciple is one who exemplifies faithfulness to Christ in these areas of their lives: (1) living a consistent holy life according to the Scriptures; (2) supporting the Church with their attendance, prayers, and tithes; (3) and is actively involved in some area of ministry within the Church.

 

To accomplish our purpose, we will focus our worship, preaching, teaching, fellowship, programs, Committee meetings, and activities toward motivating, training, and deploying people in such a way as the unchurched will be reached and they will grow to become committed disciples of Jesus Christ.

 

Article IV. Members

 

Section 1. Reception of Members

 

Persons desiring to become members of the Church shall make the fact known to the Pastor. Persons may join the Church either through a Profession of Faith or a Letter of Transfer from another Church. Before a person is admitted into Church membership, the Pastor shall inquire into their spiritual condition and acquaint the candidate with the standards for Church membership.  All current active members of the First United Methodist Church, Ridgeland Mississippi, shall automatically become members of Old Town Wesley Chapel of Ridgeland upon disaffiliation from the United Methodist Church Mississippi Conference.

 

Section 2. Standards of Church Membership

 

(a)   A public profession of Faith.

 

(b)   A commitment to support the Church with one’s attendance, prayers, and tithes.

 

(c)   A commitment to become actively involved in a ministry of this Church.

 

Section 3. Membership Roll

 

(a)   "Active Resident Members" are the members who have attended a morning worship service within the past six months. A member who is restricted from attending a worship service because of health or the health of a family member may report to the Church through letter or offering and retain their "Active Resident Member" status.

 

(b)   "Nonresident Members" are the members who do not live within a reasonable driving distance of the Church yet they want to maintain their membership with this Church.

 

(c)   "Inactive Resident Members" are the members who have not attended a worship service in six or more months. The Pastor and Church members shall visit these members and attempt to restore these members to the fellowship of the Church prior to placing them on the "Inactive Resident Member" roll.

 

Section 4. Church Discipline

 

(a)   Any member who has been on the "Inactive Resident Member" roll for two years may be removed from the Church roll by action at the Annual Church Conference.   The Pastor shall attempt to restore this member to fellowship prior to the vote.

 

(b)   Radical departure from the tenets of faith held by this Church shall be considered sufficient grounds upon which such persons may be disqualified as a Church member.

 

(c)   Violation of rules in accordance with either the Bylaws of Old Town Wesley Chapel or This Constitution and Articles of Faith by any member or Director may at the discretion of 65% majority of the Official board result in removal from any/all committee and/or organizational office assignments.  In cases where the offense is not egregious or repeated, the Official Board may provide an Official Warning to the offending member in lieu of removal from their respective position.

 

                   Section 5. Legal Voting Age

 

The legal voting membership of the Church shall consist of all persons 16 years of age and older who are in good standing, and whose names appear on the Church roster as "active resident members".

 

                        Article V. Meetings

 

Section 1. Regular Church Services

 

The time and place of the regular Church services shall be determined by the Official Board in conjunction with the Pastor and in accordance with the Bylaws of Old Town Wesley Church.

 

Section 2. Business Meetings

 

(a)  The Official Board will hold regular announced meetings at least but not limited to quarterly to transact the business of the Church. Committee Chairpersons shall report their Committee activities to the Board. All Church members are invited and encouraged to attend these meetings as referred to in The Bylaws of Old Town Wesley Church.  A quorum for the meeting will consist of nine (9) voting members of the Official Board.

   

Section 3. Called Meetings

 

Meetings of the Official Board may be called by the Chairperson or Vice Chairperson of the Board or a simple Majority of the Official Board, in accordance with the Bylaws of Old Town Wesley Church.

 

Called Congregational Meetings may be called by the Lay Leader, a simple majority of the Board, or by written petition of 25% of the "active resident members". The Church membership shall be given a two-week (14-day) notice from the pulpit. Called Congregational Meetings shall be held a minimum of two weeks after the first notice at a time deemed to be most convenient to the majority of the congregation.  An agenda for the meeting is to be supplied at the time of the announcement.

 

Article VI. Officers

Section 1. Official Board

The Official Board (“the Board”) shall consist of the following positions each with its respective Administrative Council Position as fulfilled by the same member:

 

                Council                                                       Respective Official

                Position                                                          Board Position

 

       Administrative Council Chairperson                             Chairperson of the Board

              Lay Leader                                            Vice Chairperson of the Board       

               Secretary                                                              Secretary

Finance Committee Chairperson                                           Director

               Treasurer                                                              Treasurer

                  Pastor                                                                  Director

Board of Trustees Chairperson                                              Director

      Five Trustee Positions                                                     Directors

           Staff and Ministry Committee Chairperson                                     Director

                         Various Standing Committees Chairpersons                                    Directors

 

 

To be eligible to serve on the Board, a person must be an Active Resident Member in good standing and meet the qualifications of the Standards of Church Membership (Article IV. Members Section 2. Standards of Church Membership) and meet the criteria established in the Bylaws of Old Town Wesley Chapel of Ridgeland. The Official Board constitutes the full and complete leadership of the Church. There are no Directors or groups of Directors who have any more or less authority than another and no group or Committee may be created with authority that exceeds the authority vested in the Official Board. The Chairperson of any board or Committee is a servant leader elected at the discretion of the Board or a Committee and may be rotated at the discretion of the Board or Committee but shall not exceed a term of one year in the position of Chairperson. Members of the Official Board may serve on other temporary Committees such as nominations Committee but may only serve as Chairperson on one Committee at a time and whose voting eligibility on the Official Board counts as one (1) regardless of other Committee assignments or representations. Members who are in this position do retain voting privileges on the respective Committees to which they are assigned in accordance with the rules of that Committee.

 

Section 2. Standing Committees

 

The Standing Committees shall be Evangelism, Nurture Missions, Education, Staff and Ministry, Wesley Chapel. Committees may be combined to expedite the ministry of the Church and shall meet the criteria established in the Bylaws of Old Town Wesley Church.  Members on these committees typically serve for a one-year term.

 

Standing committees may be added or eliminated at the discretion of the Pastor and a 65% majority of the Official Board.

 

Section 3. Trustees

 

There shall be five elected Trustee positions. A Trustee shall serve a four-year term. Terms shall be staggered so that one Trustee is elected each year. The Trustees shall elect a chairperson to represent the Trustees at all meetings of the Church and must rotate chairperson at least annually.  The role of the chairperson is to represent the decisions of the trustees and may only vote on matters of the trustees when a vote is required to break a tie.

  

Article VII. Duties of Official Board and Standing Committees

Section 1. Official Board

The Official Board shall serve as the general administrative agency of the Church. It shall receive all reports from the Standing Committees, Church Organizations, and the Committees of the Board in accordance with the Bylaws of Old Town Wesley Church of Ridgeland.

 

The Board shall organize such Committees as are necessary to carry out the work of the Church. Vacancies on the Board not within the normal election cycle may be filled on an interim basis through nomination and majority vote of and by the board.  Duration of the interim position will expire upon original expiration of individual of whom the constituent is replacing.

 

The minutes of the Official Board shall be kept by the Church Secretary and made available to congregation members as requested.

 

 

Section 2. Standing Committees

 

The Committee on Evangelism shall: Develop a concern for Evangelism on the part of the entire membership of the Church; develop and promote a continuing, year-round program of Evangelism; prepare the Evangelism annual budget for submission to the Committee on Finance;  promote attendance to public worship services; promote a spirit of fellowship through friendly calls on the membership, general social functions and fellowship dinners, with emphasis in the various organization of the Church; induct new members into the life of the Church; to maintain contact with non-resident members of the Church; visit the sick and shut-ins, and provide for a Week of Evangelism at least once during the Church year.

 

The Committee on Nurture Missions shall: Develop a concern for Missionary Work particularly locally and within our community supporting both those who are members and unable to regularly attend services and functions as well as outreach missions; to seek out, develop and promote a continuing year-round missionary program; coordinate with the Women's and Men’s Organizations on proposed projects; establish a continuing visitation program for prospective Members of the Church; to diligently seek out missionary projects worthy of the support of the Church; and prepare the Nurture Missions annual budget for submission to the Committee on Finance.

 

The Committee on Education shall: Supervise and administer the Sunday School and Nursery Programs, including the election and training of Sunday School Teachers; prepare the Education annual budget for submission to the Committee on Finance; promote a program of leadership education; supervise special classes; assist teachers with their needs; supervise all youth activities and provide a Nursery Program.

 

The Committee on Finance shall consist of a minimum of five members (including the Pastor, Treasurer, Secretary) shall: Oversee and monitor all financial transactions of the Church; ensure the accuracy of monthly, quarterly and annual financial reporting; oversee creation of other financial reports as requested by the Board; monitor and advise Board relative to the financial health of the Church and provide updates relative to the Church budget to the Board and congregation; oversee annual financial audits, reviews and/or compilations as deemed necessary by the Board; oversee and monitor the establishment, use and training for all financial systems used by the Church and ensure that Federal and state laws and requirements and GAAP principles are followed.

  

The Committee on Staff and Ministry shall consist of a minimum of five members including the Lay Leader. The Chairperson shall be elected by the members of the Committee, with the pastor as an ex-officio member. The Committee on Staff and Ministry shall serve as the primary candidate search Committee to locate staffing candidates and support short-term and long-term staffing needs. Its role is to balance the needs of the congregation with the needs of staffing and provide recommendations for pay and benefits and administer Human Resource related oversight while working with the pastor and staff to further the efforts of the Church.

 

Other Standing Committees may be added at the discretion of the Pastor and the Official Board and a 2/3rds majority vote by the Official Board.

 

 

 

 

Section 3. Non-Standing Committees

 

The Committee on Nominations shall consist of a minimum of five (5) members elected via nominations at an annual called Church Conference. The Chairperson shall be elected by the other members of the Committee with the pastor also being a member of the Committee. The Committee on Nominations shall bring before the congregation, at the next Annual called Church Conference, nominations for all following officers:

 

Administrative Council Chairperson – One (1) year term

Church Lay Leader – One (1) year term

Church Treasurer – One (1) year term

Members of the Committee on Evangelism – One (1) year term

Members of the Committee on Nurture Missions –  One (1) year term

Members of the Committee on Education – One (1) year term

All Trustee Positions – Four (4) year term (rotating)

Other candidates as necessary to fill Standing Committee positions. – One (1) year or less term

 

While this Committee will remain intact for a full year, it will only be called upon when vacancies become present for other committees and/or Director positions.  The Chairperson of this Committee will not have a vote on the Official Board and this committee may consist of Members/Directors who serve in other capacities on the Official Board.

 

The Committee shall diligently and discreetly seek to inquire of those good, natural and acquired abilities to transact the temporal business of the Church and shall meet on call of the Chairperson at such times as necessary to complete work prior to assigned time frames.   

 

Section 4. Trustees

 

The Trustees shall be the custodians of all Church property; shall see that the property is well maintained and in good repair; plan the property needs of the congregation; and to prepare a budget for submission to the Committee on Finance for capital improvements and recommended on-going maintenance. The trustees will be responsible for representation of the Church with outside organizations for the purposes of funding (loans), property insurance and claims, permits, licensing, property purchases, rentals and sales and other needs of the Church relating to the physical and legal properties. The Trustees shall oversee work to be performed in accordance with the budget approved by the Official Board and limited discretionary spending with an amount as approved by the board for emergency repairs/needs.

 

Section 5. Lay Leader

 

The Lay Leader shall serve as the lay representative at any meeting in which this Church is invited to participate and in the absence of the Pastor, he/she shall assume his duties. He/She shall chair called Congregational Meetings and serve as Vice Chairperson on the Official Board.  The Lay Leader will also serve as the conduit for communication of the Official Board to the congregation at large.

 

 

 

  

Section 6. Administrative Chairperson of the Board

 

The Administrative Chairperson of the Board shall preside over regular or any other called meetings of the Official Board. In the absence of the Lay Leader, he/she shall assume his duties.

 

Section 7. Church Secretary

 

The Church Secretary, as a staff position, shall: Record and submit minutes from previous meetings for approval of the Official Board, and all called Church Meetings; maintain all administrative record keeping and handle most day-to-day administrative activities of the Church; be a resource to the Pastor by establishing and supporting the pastor’s unforeseen daily needs, scheduling uses of the facilities and leading communication efforts through bulletins, email and other means as necessary; maintain the official membership rolls of the Church; assist the pastor with personal daily and weekly scheduling as necessary; and work with the Finance Committee Chair by providing financial information and reporting in accordance with its needs.

 

Note:

 Orange blocks denote voting members of the Official Board.

 

 

 


 

Article VIII. Pastor

Section 1. Duties

The Pastor shall be the chief administrator of the day to day activities of the Church: shall see that a permanent record is kept, which reflects the name, date, and manner of reception and disposal of every member belonging to this Church and a record of all the baptisms and marriages within the bounds of its constituents; shall be diligent in caring for the spiritual needs of the members; shall be the general supervisor of all the activities of the Church, and shall be an ex-officio member of all boards and Committees; and shall perform all those duties which properly belong to the Scriptural role of the Pastor.

 

Section 2. Call

 

When the office of Pastor becomes vacant the Committee on Staff and Ministry shall: Recommend the formation of a Search Committee; arrange for the pulpit to be supplied with staff and suitable interim arrangements; and recommend prospective candidates to the Official Board. The Official Board will recommend the term of office prior to the congregation extending a call. Upon recommendation from Staff and Ministry Committee, the Official Board will provide guidance to the Nominations Committee for the formation of a Search Committee. The search Committee will report back to the Official Board with recommendations on suitable candidates. The Search Committee will work with the Staff and Ministry Committee to develop the necessary compensation and benefits package and present them to the Official Board for approval prior to extending an offer to any pastoral candidates. Once an offer has been approved by the Official Board, the Chairperson of the Search Committee will present the offer to the pastoral candidate and report responses back to the Staff and Ministry Committee and the Official Board.

 

The Final selection of a pastor will go before a congregational vote after the Official Board makes its selection.

 

Section 3. Termination or Resignation

 

(a)   The Pastor shall provide the congregation at least a 30-day notice prior to resignation. After a resignation the Board has the right to terminate all pastoral duties within that 30-day notice as deemed necessary and through majority vote of the Official Board.

 

(b)  A Pastor may be terminated with the recommendation from the Committee on Staff and Ministry followed by an 65% vote of the entire official board for the following reasons:

Preaching doctrine contrary to the Church's Articles of Faith

Refusal to pay his debts.

Failure to carry out stated Pastoral duties.

 

                      

 

 

 

Article IX. Parliamentary Procedure

 

                       Section 1.

 

Robert’s Rules of Order - Revised shall be the Parliamentary Authority for meetings of this Church.

 

Section 2. Meeting Duration and Content.

 

As effective stewards of God’s resources, it is the responsibility of the chairperson to maintain a meeting time of one (1) hour or less. Content of meetings shall be organized in such a fashion as to complete necessary decisions within that time frame. Additional or separate meetings may be necessary to address more lengthy discussion matters.

 

Meeting minutes are to be kept detailing the following agenda items and are to be distributed to all meeting members within one week of the meeting’s completion. The Church Secretary is to retain minutes from all the various meetings and meeting chairpersons are responsible for providing minutes to meetings in which the Secretary is not present. The Secretary shall report to the Official Board meetings for which minutes have not been provided by the chairperson.

 

1.      Call to order and Prayer

2.      Date of Meeting

3.      Reading of minutes and approval from previous meeting (Secretary)

4.      Reports from various chairpersons/ (members if not an Official Board meeting)

5.      Review of unfinished (in-process) business from previous meetings

6.      New business discussion and assignment of tasks with dates for completion

7.      Announcements

8.      Planned date for next meeting.

9.      Adjournment closing prayer.

 

Meeting minutes are to be stored in an accessible location and audited annually by the Administrative Council Chairperson. Minutes are to be archived annually but readily accessible and retained for a period of no less than five years.

 

Article X. Association

 

                       Section 1. Independence.

 

This Church is Independent of any recognized denomination and may not enter into any agreements which encumber Church property ownership or other binding fiduciary agreements with other organizations without a vote requiring three fourths (75%) of Active Resident Members over the age of 18 years who have been members for one or more years. Notification of this meeting shall be made via regular communication from the pulpit a minimum of four Sundays in advance; via Church news bulletin a minimum of four issues in advance; distributed electronically via email; and announced on the Church website and social media pages four Sundays in advance. Attendance at the meeting is required to vote. Absentee voting will not be allowed. Allowances must be made for members who meet the above qualifications but are unable to attend in physical presence on the date in question of said vote. The allowances for attendance may include digital or electronic applications.

 

Section 2 Other.

 

Non-binding associations, agreements or temporary contracts, leases or loans with payment terms of five (5) years or less may be approved at the discretion and voting by the Official Board and do not require a Church vote as described herein.

 

Article XI. Amendments to the Church Constitution

 

Section 1.

 

Amendments to the Church Constitution and the Articles of Faith must be submitted in writing to the Official Board at least 30 days prior to the monthly Board meeting and require a 2/3 majority vote by the Official Board and follow with a 2/3 majority in favor by the Active Resident Members (over the age of 18 and having been an Active Resident Member in excess of one) at a called Church Conference for ratification.

 

 

Articles of Faith

 

 

Article 1—Of Faith in the Holy Trinity

There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body or parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, the maker and preserver of all things, both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there are three persons of one substance, power, and eternity—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

 

Article 2—Of the Word, or Son of God, Who Was Made Very Man

The Son, who is the Word of the Father, the very and eternal God, of one substance with the Father, took man's nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin; so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one person, never to be divided; whereof is one Christ, very God and very Man, who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of men.

 

 

Article 3—Of the Resurrection of Christ

Christ did truly rise again from the dead, and took again his body, with all things appertaining to the perfection of man's nature, wherewith he ascended into heaven, and there sitteth until he returns to judge all men at the last day.

 

Article 4—Of the Holy Ghost

The Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one substance, majesty, and glory with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God.

 

Article 5—Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation

The Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man that it should be believed as an article of faith or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the Holy Scripture, we do understand those canonical books of the Old and New Testament of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church. The names of the canonical books are:

 

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, The First Book of Samuel, The Second Book of Samuel, The First Book of Kings, The Second Book of Kings, The First Book of Chronicles, The Second Book of Chronicles, The Book of Ezra, The Book of Nehemiah, The Book of Esther, The Book of Job, The Psalms, The Proverbs, Ecclesiastes or the Preacher, Cantica or Songs of Solomon, Four Prophets the Greater, Twelve Prophets the Less.

 

All the books of the New Testament, as they are commonly received, we do receive and account canonical.

 

Article 6—Of the Old Testament

The Old Testament is not contrary to the New; for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man, being both God and Man. Wherefore they are not to be heard who feign that the old fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the law given from God by Moses as touching ceremonies and rites doth not bind Christians, nor ought the civil precepts thereof of necessity be received in any commonwealth; yet notwithstanding, no Christian whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments which are called moral.

 

Article 7—Of Original or Birth Sin

Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk), but it is the corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and of his own nature inclined to evil, and that continually.

 

 

Article 8—Of Free Will

The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and works, to faith, and calling upon God; wherefore we have no power to do good works, pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will.

 

Article 9—Of the Justification of Man

We are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by faith, only, is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort.

 

Article 10—Of Good Works

Although good works, which are the fruits of faith, and follow justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of God's judgment; yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and spring out of a true and lively faith, insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known as a tree is discerned by its fruit.

 

Article 11—Of Works of Supererogation

Voluntary works—besides, over and above God's commandments—which they call works of supererogation, cannot be taught without arrogancy and impiety. For by them men do declare that they do not only render unto God as much as they are bound to do, but that they do more for his sake than of bounden duty is required; whereas Christ saith plainly: When you have done all that is commanded you, say, we are unprofitable servants.

 

Article 12—Of Sin After Justification

Not every sin willingly Committeed after justification is the sin against the Holy Ghost, and unpardonable. Wherefore, the grant of repentance is not to be denied to such as fall into sin after justification. After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace given, and fall into sin, and, by the grace of God, rise again and amend our lives. And therefore, they are to be condemned by those who say they can no more sin as long as they live here; or deny the place of forgiveness to such as truly repent.

 

Article 13—Of the Church

The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men in which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments duly administered according to Christ's ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.

 

Article 14—Of Purgatory

The Romish doctrine concerning purgatory, pardon, worshiping, and adoration, as well of images as of relics, and also invocation of saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warrant of Scripture, but repugnant to the Word of God.

 

Article 15—Of Speaking in the Congregation in Such a Tongue as the People Understand

It is a thing plainly repugnant to the Word of God, and the custom of the primitive Church, to have public prayer in the Church, or to minister the Sacraments, in a tongue not understood by the people.

 

Article 16—Of the Sacraments

Sacraments ordained of Christ are not only badges or tokens of Christian men's profession, but rather they are certain signs of grace, and God's good will toward us, by which he doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm, our faith in him.

 

There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel; that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord.

 

Those five commonly called sacraments, that is to say, confirmation, penance, orders, matrimony, and extreme unction, are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel; being such as have partly grown out of the corrupt following of the apostles, and partly are states of life allowed in the Scriptures, but yet have not the like nature of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, because they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God.

 

The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon, or to be carried about; but that we should duly use them. And in such only as worthily receive the same, they have a wholesome effect or operation; but they that receive them unworthily, purchase to themselves condemnation, as St. Paul saith.

 

Article 17—Of Baptism

Baptism is not only a sign of profession and mark of difference whereby Christians are distinguished from others that are not baptized; but it is also a sign of regeneration or the new birth. The Baptism of young children is to be retained in the Church.

 

Article 18—Of the Lord's Supper

The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves one to another, but rather is a sacrament of our redemption by Christ's death; insomuch that, to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith receive the same, the bread which we break is a partaking of the body of Christ; and likewise the cup of blessing is a partaking of the blood of Christ.

 

Transubstantiation, or the change of the substance of bread and wine in the Supper of our Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ, but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.

 

The body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the Supper, only after a heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is faith. The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshiped.

 

Article 19—Of Both Kinds

The cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the lay people; for both the parts of the Lord's Supper, by Christ's ordinance and commandment, ought to be administered to all Christians alike.

 

Article 20—Of the One Oblation of Christ, Finished upon the Cross

The offering of Christ, once made, is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifice of masses, in the which it is commonly said that the priest doth offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, is a blasphemous fable and dangerous deceit.

 

Article 21—Of the Marriage of Ministers

The ministers of Christ are not commanded by God's law either to vow the estate of single life, or to abstain from marriage; therefore, it is lawful for them, as for all other Christians, to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve best to godliness.

 

Article 22—Of the Rites and Ceremonies of Churches

It is not necessary that rites and ceremonies should in all places be the same, or exactly alike; for they have been always different and may be changed according to the diversity of countries, times, and men's manners, so that nothing be ordained against God's Word. Whosoever, through his private judgment, willingly and purposely doth openly break the rites and ceremonies of the Church to which he belongs, which are not repugnant to the Word of God, and are ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly, that others may fear to do the like, as one that offendeth against the common order of the Church, and woundeth the consciences of weak brethren.

 

 

 

Article 23—Of the Rulers of the United States of America

The President, the Congress, the general assemblies, the governors, and the councils of state, as the delegates of the people, are the rulers of the United States of America, according to the division of power made to them by the Constitution of the United States and by the constitutions of their respective states. And the said states are a sovereign and independent nation and ought not to be subject to any foreign jurisdiction.

 

Article 24—Of Christian Men's Goods

The riches and goods of Christians are not common as touching the right, title, and possession of the same, as some do falsely boast. Notwithstanding, every man ought, of such things as he possesseth, liberally to give alms to the poor, according to his ability.

 

Article 25—Of a Christian Man's Oath

As we confess that vain and rash swearing is forbidden Christian men by our Lord Jesus Christ and James his apostle, so we judge that the Christian religion doth not prohibit, but that a man may swear when the magistrate requireth, in a cause of faith and charity, so it be done according to the prophet's teaching, in justice, judgment, and truth.

 

Article 26—Of Sanctification

Sanctification is that renewal of our fallen nature by the Holy Ghost, received through faith in Jesus Christ, whose blood of atonement cleanseth from all sin; whereby we are not only delivered from the guilt of sin, but are washed from its pollution, saved from its power, and are enabled, through grace, to love God with all our hearts and to walk in his holy commandments blameless.

 

Article 27—Of the Duty of Christians to the Civil Authority

It is the duty of all Christians, and especially of all Christian ministers, to observe and obey the laws and commands of the governing or supreme authority of the country of which they are citizens or subjects or in which they reside, and to use all laudable means to encourage and enjoin obedience to the powers that be.

 

Article 28—Of Christian Marriage

Christian Marriage is the covenantal union before God of one natural-born man and one natural-born woman to live together as one-flesh husband and wife.