By-Laws of the First Congregational Church of
Amended May, 2011
Article I - Name
This Church (founded in 1730 in what was then the town of Arundel) shall be called the First Congregational Church of Kennebunkport, Maine.
Article II - Purpose
The purpose of this Church shall be to bind together the followers of Jesus Christ for the worship of God and to make God’s will dominant in their lives, individually and collectively, especially as that will is set forth in the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We seek democratic life and organization, simplicity and vitality of faith, intellectual freedom to follow the dictates of conscience enlightened by the Holy Spirit, educational quality, evangelistic purpose, missionary zeal to include Christian outreach to the community, both local and worldwide for believers and non-believers alike, social passion, nonsectarian fellowship, and unselfish devotion to the kingdom of God.
Article III - Polity
Section 1. Divine Guidance. This Church acknowledges Jesus Christ as its head, and finds in the Holy Scriptures, interpreted bythe Divine Spirit through reason, faith, and conscience, its guidance in matters of faith and discipline.
Section 2. Government. The government of this Church is vested in its members, who exercise the right of control in all its affairs, subject in legal matters to the articles of incorporation granted by the Secretary of the State of Maine. The Church, in the conduct of all its business, being an incorporated body, is subject to Chapter 20, Maine Revised Statutes, Sections 24 to 32. All meetings will be conducted in conformance with Robert’s Rules of Order.
Section 3. Affiliation. While this Church is amenable to no ecclesiastical judicatory, it is affiliated with the York Association of the Maine Conference of the United Church of Christ, accepting the obligations of mutual counsel, comity, and cooperation implied by that membership, and pledging itself to share in the common aims and work of that body.
Article IV - Membership
Section 1. General -- Becoming a Member.
Any person may become a member of this Church by profession of faith.
Any member of any other Christian church may become a member of this Church by letter of transfer or by reaffirmation of faith. A person may become a member by joining with the congregation in reading the Covenant at a scheduled Church service. New or prospective members shall first meet with the Pastor and a representative of the Board of Deacons to become acquainted with the by-laws and the programs of this Church. In an unusual circumstance, such as prolonged illness, a person who is unable to appear at a Church service may be admitted to membership in absentia. Members, after attaining membership, are expected, to the best of their ability, to attend the regular services of worship, to contribute financially to the support of the Church and its benevolences, to participate in its life and work, and to manifest their faith in their daily living.
There shall be two classes of membership: Parish Members and Covenant Members:
[Section 2.] Covenant Members. Any person may become a Covenant member who, in the judgment of the Board of Deacons, has given evidence of living in complete devotion to Jesus Christ, and upon a majority vote of the members present at any scheduled Church meeting
[Section 3.] . Parish Members. Any person who participates in the activities of this Church, and who, because of the temporary nature of their expected residence in the community, wishes to retain membership in other Christian churches (for example: a student eighteen years of age or more or any other person as described above), may become a Parish Member. Parish Members shall have the same rights and responsibilities as Covenant Members except as modified elsewhere in these By-Laws.
Section 4. Inactive Members. A member who has not responded to any communication from this Church for two consecutive years may, by vote of the Board of Deacons, be placed on an inactive list and shall then not have the right to vote or hold office. An inactive member may be reinstated as a member upon making a written request to the Board of Deacons. The Diaconate shall convey any such placement on the inactive list or reinstatement to the Pastor, the Treasurer and the Clerk.
Section 5. Termination of Membership. Any Covenant Member of this Church may terminate membership by sending a written resignation to the Board of Deacons. A Covenant Member desiring to leave this Church and join another may request a letter of transfer from the Board of Deacons. Parish Member membership shall automatically terminate upon departure from the Church community, and they shall not be issued letters of transfer. Any person who has been on the inactive list for three years or fails to adhere to the membership duties as defined in Section 1 may have their membership terminated by action of the Board of Deacons. The Diaconate shall convey any such termination to the Pastor, the Treasurer and the Clerk.
Article V - The Pastor and Assistant/Associate Pastor(s)
Section 1. Pastoral Search Committee. When a vacancy occurs on the Pastoral staff, the Board of Deacons shall nominate a Pastoral search committee of seven members to seek a replacement. The Deacons will prepare a list of search committee nominees representing a reasonable cross section of the Church, all of whom are Covenant Members of the First Congregational Church of Kennebunkport, Maine. Any Covenant Member of the Church is eligible for nomination to the search committee. The Board of Deacons shall call a meeting of the Church to present its list of nominees and to elect a search committee. The names of the nominees shall appear in the call to the meeting. Any member of the Church may submit to this meeting any additional name or names with the additional nominee’s written consent.
When the list of nominees has been completed, the members present shall be provided with ballots on which each may vote for not more than seven nominees. The nominees receiving the highest numbers of votes shall be elected to the committee, which shall choose its own presiding officer and adopt its own rules of operation. When the committee is seeking an Assistant/Associate Pastor, the Pastor shall be an ex officio member of the committee.
The Search Committee shall be responsible to and shall periodically report to the Board of Deacons, which in turn recognizes the need for the committee to maintain the confidentiality of both the candidate(s) and the committee. The duties and powers of the search committee may be terminated at the discretion of the Church. In the event that a committee member is no longer able to continue active participation on the committee, the Diaconate may appoint a new member to fill the vacancy created.
When the Search Committee has selected a candidate for the position of Pastor or Assistant/Associate Pastor, it shall introduce the candidate to the congregation and at a special meeting propose that the candidate be called to serve the Church. A two-thirds favorable vote by secret ballot of the members present at the meeting shall be necessary to call the candidate.
Section 2. Interim Pastor. When there is a need to appoint an Interim Pastor, the Board of Deacons shall serve as the Search Committee. When the Board of Deacons has selected a candidate for the position of Interim Pastor, it shall confirm the candidate’s call by a two-thirds vote of the congregation present at a special meeting.. An Interim Pastor may retain membership in his/her home church.
Section 3. Installation/Membership. A Pastor, having accepted the call, shall seek Covenant Membership in this Church.
Section 4. Pastoral Leadership. The Pastor shall be charged with the spiritual welfare of the Church. The Pastor shall preach the gospel of Christ, oversee all services of public worship, administer the sacraments, administer the activities of the Church in cooperation with the various boards and committees, administer the day-to-day activities of the staff, and serve as an ex officio member of the Church Council and of all boards and committees.
Section 5. Assistant/Associate Pastor(s). Upon recommendation of the Officers of the Church, the Congregation may authorize one or more positions of the Assistant or Associate Pastor by a two-thirds vote of those present and voting at a meeting in which this item appears in the call. Assistant or Associate Pastors shall be called in accordance with the provisions of Article VI, Section 1. Each such Pastor shall stand in the same pastoral relation to the Church as the Pastor, but the Pastor, with the advice of the Diaconate and in consultation with the other Pastor(s), shall be responsible for determining the division of their duties, and for giving such counsel and guidance as the Pastor may deem appropriate. Assistant and Associate Pastor(s) shall be ex officio members of such committees as may seem appropriate, except the Pastoral Relations Committee.
Section 6. Termination. Any Pastor who wishes to resign shall give 60 days written notice. The Congregation may request the resignation of a Pastor at any time by a two-thirds vote of the members present at a special meeting called for that purpose, with the expectation that the resignation will be effective within 90 days. In the case of loss of Pastoral standing on the part of a Pastor, dismissal will be effective immediately, but the salary and benefits may, at the discretion of the congregation, be continued for up to ninety days..
Section 7. Pastoral Relations Committee. The Pastoral Relations Committee shall have three members elected by the Church for three-year terms, one member to be elected each year. Upon completion of a full term, a Committee member shall not be eligible for election to the same Committee until one year has elapsed. The Committee shall select a Chair. They shall act as the Pastor’s advisor, serving as a liaison team between the Pastor and the congregation, the purpose of which would be to facilitate a positive, creative relationship between the Pastor, staff, and members of the Church family, addressing any issues that may arise that would impact the effectiveness of their ministry. The Committee shall maintain confidentiality whenever appropriate. The Committee is the primary vehicle for Church Members to air any concerns or complaints about the Pastor in a constructive and anonymous manner. The Committee is also responsible for gathering input for the Pastor’s annual review, and shall deal with all personnel matters concerning the Pastor, including annual salary, benefits, and expense recommendations which shall be submitted to the duly constituted Finance Committee prior to the Annual Budget Meeting
Article VI. - Officers and Delegates
Section 1. General. The officers of the Church shall be the Pastor, the Moderator (chair), the Assistant Moderator, the Treasurer, the Clerk, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and the Chairman of the Board of Deacons. If an officer wishes to resign, the officer shall send a written notice to the Chair.
Section 2. – The Pastor. The Pastor shall perform the duties usually attached to this office and as described in Article V.
Section 3. – The Moderator. The Moderator shall be elected for a term of one year, and may be reelected. He/she shall normally have served at least one (1) year as Assistant Moderator. If this is not possible, a Moderator shall be elected by the membership. The Moderator shall be diligent to see that all requirements of the Articles of Incorporation, these bylaws, job descriptions and other official instructions are followed. The Moderator shall report violations not otherwise corrected to the appropriate officer for action. The Moderator shall actively participate in the life and mission of the Church. The Moderator shall have general oversight of the congregation, boards, committees and all other Church activities. The Moderator, in cooperation with the Pastor and the boards, shall have the responsibility of advocating a sense of direction for the congregation. The Moderator shall make every effort to ensure that conflicts within the Church are resolved.
The Moderator shall preside over all Congregational Meetings and the Annual Meeting and shall serve as leader for Church retreats, budget workshops and other Congregation meetings. In the absence of the Moderator, the Vice Moderator shall preside and, if both are absent, the Pastor shall preside. The Moderator is an ex-officio member of all Church boards and committees, may attend any meeting, may vote to break a tie, and shall act as liaison between boards, committees and the Pastor. The Moderator shall establish an annual Nominating Committee and shall serve as a member of such committee.
The Moderator shall present all actions that require a vote to the Congregation. The Moderator is responsible for updating the Congregation at the monthly Church Council meetings and shall produce a written report for the Clerk. The Moderator shall produce the Church’s Annual Report
Section 4. - The Assistant Moderator. The Assistant Moderator shall be elected for a term of one year, and may be reelected. He/she shall normally then be nominated to be Moderator at the end of the Moderator’s term. The Assistant Moderator shall chair the Nominating Committee, and shall preside at meetings in the absence of the Moderator. Should a vacancy occur during the Moderator’s term of office, the Assistant Moderator shall fill the remainder of said term. The Church Congregation may fill the position of Assistant Moderator for the balance of the term.
Section 5. – The Clerk.
The Clerk shall be elected by the
Church to a three-year term and may be reelected. The Clerk
shall be a Covenant member of the Church Council and shall act
as its secretary, shall call all meetings, shall keep a faithful record of
all meetings, posting the Congregational Meeting ]minutes on a Church
bulletin board within ten days following each meeting. The Clerk shall
establish quorums at these meetings, know the bylaws, and ensure that the
meetings are conducted in accordance with the bylaws. The Clerk shall be
responsible for ensuring the safekeeping of all Church deeds, insurance
policies, and all other legal documents, which shall be physically
maintained at the Church or in a safe deposit box.
The Clerk shall keep the roll of the Church membership, as provided by the Board of Deacons, a record of baptisms and marriages, shall conduct correspondence and letters of gratitude for gifts received, shall perform such other duties as usually pertain to the office of clerk of an assembly, and shall make an annual report.
As Clerk of an incorporated body, the incumbent must be sworn into office by a justice of the peace or notary public after each election to office.
An Assistant Clerk may be elected by the Church to a three year term, may be reelected, and must be sworn into office by a justice of the peace or notary public after each election to office.
Section 6. – The Treasurer. The Treasurer shall be elected by the Church for a one year term and may be reelected. He/she is responsible for managing the cash flow of the Church and supervising the Assistant Treasurer.
As an ex officio member of the Trustees, the Treasurer attends all Trustee meetings and receives financial approvals from the Trustees. He/she produces a written annual report for the Clerk, a written monthly report to the Trustees and Church Council.
The Treasurer receives an accounting of all funds from the Assistant Treasurer and collects and accounts for all other funds coming into the Church, giving receipts for all funds received. The Treasurer deposits funds to appropriate accounts; will establish all accounts necessary to manage the Church’s funds, including restricted, savings, checking and money market accounts.
Section 7. – The Assistant Treasurer. The Assistant Treasurer shall be elected by the Church for a one year term and may be reelected. The Assistant Treasurer assists the Treasurer and serves in the Treasurer’s absence. The Assistant Treasurer, assisted by selected members of the Diaconate, shall count the weekly offering and make timely deposits. The Assistant Treasurer shall provide a written statement of pledge status to any pledging member so requesting.
Section 8. – The Stewardship Committee. The Stewardship Committee shall consist of six members. Two members shall be elected by the Church each year for a three-year term. Members of this committee must be a Covenant Member of the Church. Upon completion of a full term, a member shall not be eligible for election to the same Committee until one year has elapsed. The Stewardship Committee shall work to bring awareness to the Congregation of the need for long-term and consistent financial support. The Committee appoints a Chair and sets annual goals for its performance. It is responsible for designing the annual Stewardship Sunday program, communicating to the Congregation the need and process for pledging and monitoring total receipts versus pledges. Specific details of member giving are confidential and managed by the Assistant Treasurer.
Section 9. – Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees shall have six members elected by the Church for three-year terms, two members to be elected each year. The Board of Trustees shall appoint a Chair and Vice-Chair, who will act as Chair in the Chair’s absence. Upon completion of a full three-year term, a Board member shall not be eligible for election to the same Board until one year has elapsed. All Board members must be Covenant Members of the Church.
Trustees are responsible for the care and management of the revenues of the Church and its real and personal property, both directly and through standing committees if assigned; they shall administer all the business affairs of the Church as the Church shall direct, or as may seem wise in their own best judgment, in the absence of specific direction by the Church. Trustees negotiate all contracts for services such as insurance, fuel, plowing and grounds maintenance, etc. The Trustees are responsible for engaging and discharging for cause (except for the Pastor, who is called by the Congregation) all Church paid personnel and all agreements for hiring are the responsibility of the Trustees.. Trustees exercise oversight on disposition of all financial gifts to the Church (unless otherwise indicated by the giver) and all recommendations for spending general Church funds must be approved by the Trustees. The Treasurer, as an ex officio member of the Trustees is available to help the Trustees understand the financial impact of Trustee decisions. Trustees shall make a report to the Church at its annual meeting and as called for at other times.
Section 10. – Board of Deacons. The Board of Deacons shall have six members elected by the Church for three-year terms, two members to be elected each year. Upon completion of a full three-year term, a member shall not be eligible for election to the same Board until one year has elapsed. All Board members must be Covenant Members of the Church.
The Board of Deacons, by reason of members’ spiritual maturity, shall assist the Pastor in the pastoral care of the Church, the appearance of the Sanctuary, weekly greetings, collections, welfare of the needy, etc. The Board of Deacons shall provide for the maintenance of public worship and advise the Pastor on its conduct; shall prepare and serve the Lord’s Supper, and shall assist in the enlistment and welcoming of new members,
The Board of Deacons shall determine membership status, shall keep a register, with addresses, of the members of the Church, segregated into Covenant Members, Parish Members, inactive members and terminations, with dates and modes of their reception and removal. The Board of Deacons shall issue letters of transfer. In the absence of the Pastor, they shall serve as a supply committee.
Permanent Diaconate. Each Deacon, at the completion of his/her term, shall be enrolled in the Permanent Diaconate, and shall continue as a member thereof as long as he/she shall be a member of the Church. Members of the Permanent Diaconate may be called upon to assist the Board of Deacons in the performance of its duties.
Section 11. – Lay Visitors. Lay Visitors are volunteers who, under the supervision of the Pastor, coordinate visits to Church members in need of support. They shall be elected by the Church for a one year term and may be reelected.
Section 12. – Outreach Committee. The Outreach Committee shall consist of six members. Two shall be elected by the Church each year for a three-year term and may be reelected. The Pastor shall serve as an additional permanent member of the Committee. The Outreach Committee shall appoint a Chair. It is responsible for interfacing with our local community, our broader Church community and for mission work that the Committee decides is appropriate. It shall establish goals and establish outreach programs to support these goals, distributing all outreach funds and materials collected.
Key Woman. The Key Woman shall be elected by the Church for a one year term and may be reelected. The Key Woman shall become a member of the Church Community Outreach Society Board of Directors and attend its monthly meetings. The Society itself manages the County Food Pantry, Fuel Assistance and Snacks for School Children programs. As a volunteer, the Key Woman decides upon the extent of her own involvement. The Key Woman gathers and delivers to Christ Church all food products collected at our Church for Holiday Food Baskets. Attendance at UCC Conference is optional, but attendance at Ladies’ Society is encouraged. The Key Woman shall provide a monthly update to the Congregation and shall produce a written report for the Clerk and the Church’s Annual Report to the membership.
Section 13. - Board of Christian Education. The Board of Christian Education shall consist of six members. Two members shall be elected by the Church each year for a three-year term and may be reelected. The Board of Christian Education shall be responsible for educational programs for all ages, shall maintain the Church library, and shall encourage stewardship education. The Board may appoint a Christian Education Director who shall supervise Church school operations and shall be an ex officio member of the Board with voice and vote. The Christian Education Director is responsible for designing, with assistance and guidance from the Pastor and the Christian Education Committee, the Church’s Sunday school program, for building awareness of missions for adults and children and reaching out to other groups to share interests in work on more community based projects.
Section 14. – Conference Delegates. Conference delegates shall be elected by the Church for a one year term and may be reelected. They are responsible for attending meetings of the York Association of the Maine Conference of the UCC and other appropriate UCC conferences and meetings and for reporting proceedings to the Pastor and Church family.
Section 15. - Ladies’ Society. The Ladies’ Society is a voluntary group made up entirely of female Church members. It elects a President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer annually. The Society manages an assortment of functions for both social and fundraising purposes, with funds raised going to support the Church’s annual budget.
Section 16. – Member(s) at Large. The Member(s) at Large is a person or persons available to fill any committee vacancy if necessary. He/She shall be elected by the Church for a one year term and may be reelected.
Section 17. – Organizations or Committees.
Members of the Congregation may form auxiliary organizations, fellowship
groups, or clubs as they desire, under the general supervision of the
Article VII. - Elections and Meetings.
Section 1. – Voting. Only Covenant and Parish members have the right to vote in any Congregational Meeting of the Church.
Section 2. Elections. The Pastor shall be elected by a two-thirds majority vote by ballot. All others shall be elected by a majority vote, or by ballot if requested by five or more members present.
Section 3.. - Meetings.
The Congregation may meet once per month as the Church Council with the primary purpose of updating the members of activities of officers, committees and boards. The Congregation may give feedback and make recommendations to appropriate members, committees and boards. The Annual Meeting of the Church shall be held during the month of January, or as the officers of the Church may direct. Special meetings may be called by the Trustees for business purposes or by the Pastor or officers of the Church for other purposes or by a written request signed by three or more members of the Church. The Clerk shall post notice for such meetings seven days before the time of the meeting and they shall be announced from the pulpit on the previous Sunday. Meetings for the purpose of electing Delegates to conventions or receiving new members or granting letters of dismissal or for other similar purposes, however, may be called by the Pastor from the pulpit at any regular Church meeting.
Article VIII. - Quorum.
Eleven members shall constitute a quorum of any Church Meeting.
Article IX. - Dissolution of the Church
The Church and its property shall be forever devoted to religious purposes. In the event of the dissolution of the Church, its property and assets shall become vested in, and its functions as trustee, if any, administered by such Church or other organization which is organized and operated exclusively for religious or charitable purposes which the membership of the Church shall designate at a meeting called before the said dissolution, or, in the absence of such determination, as the Superior Court of the County of York shall determine.
Article X. - Amendments.
These By-Laws may be enacted and amended by a two-thirds vote of the members present and voting at any meeting of the Church called in accordance with Article VII, provided the text of the proposed amendment shall have been published in the call.