Bylaws of the Congregation of Altavista Presbyterian Church
Adopted September 8, 2019
Statement of Purpose
In response to the call of God through Christ, the mission of Altavista Presbyterian Church of Altavista, Virginia, is to serve the Lord and proclaim the gospel through studying the Bible, regularly worshipping together, nurturing, respecting, valuing, and loving each other as children of God, faithfully witnessing to ourselves and others, and serving our community and the world.
Relation to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
The Altavista Presbyterian Church is a member church of the Presbytery of the Peaks in the Synod of the Mid-Atlantic of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Governance of the Church
This church shall be governed in accordance with the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Consistent with that constitution, these bylaws shall provide specific guidance for this church. Robert’s Rules of Order (Newly Revised) shall be used for parliamentary guidance in all business of the congregation.
Meetings of the Church
There shall ordinarily be two meetings of the congregation in the church building each year. The first meeting (referred to as the Annual Meeting in the Book of Order) shall be held in March, at which the following business shall be presented:
Report of a slate of nominations from the Nominating Committee
Election of a class of four active elders
Election of a youth elder, if one is nominated
Annual business meeting of the legal corporation
The second meeting of the congregation shall be held in November, at which the following business shall be presented:
Review of the adequacy of the compensation of the pastor
Presentation of the budget for the next fiscal year as approved by the session
Election of active church members to a new Nominating Committee
Special meetings of the congregation may be called by the session. Such calls shall clearly state the purpose of such special meeting, and business shall be restricted to that which is specified in the call.
Notice of Meetings
Public notice of the meetings of the congregation shall be given in printed and verbal form on at least two consecutive Sundays prior to the meeting. When the meeting is called for the purpose of electing a pastor, the notice shall be given in printed and verbal form at least ten days in advance, which shall include two successive Sundays.
The pastor shall moderate all meetings of the congregation. When the church is without a pastor, the moderator appointed by the presbytery shall preside. If it is impractical for the pastor or the moderator of the session appointed by the presbytery to preside, he or she shall invite, with the concurrence of the session, another minister member of the presbytery to preside. When this is not expedient, and when the pastor or the moderator concur, a member of the session may be invited to preside.
The clerk of session shall serve as secretary for all meetings of the congregation. If the clerk is not present or unable to serve, the congregation shall elect a secretary.
Minutes of the Meetings
The minutes of the meeting recorded by the secretary shall be attested by the moderator and the secretary, and approved by the session at its subsequent stated meeting, then posted on the bulletin board outside the church office.
Quorum for Meetings
The quorum of a meeting of the congregation shall be the moderator, the secretary, and ten percent (10%) of the active members. The secretary shall determine that a quorum is present. Only active members may vote, regardless of age. Voting by proxy will not be permitted.
In accordance with the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the congregation shall cause a corporation to be formed and maintained. Any corporate business shall ordinarily be conducted at the annual meeting of the congregation in March.
By virtue of their office, active elders serving on the session shall serve as trustees (directors) of the corporation. Powers of the corporation shall be those indicated in the current Book of Order.
The congregation shall form a Nominating Committee in the following manner:
The Nominating Committee shall be elected by the congregation at the annual November meeting.
There shall be a minimum of three members.
At least one member of the Committee shall be an elder serving on session, designated by the session, and who shall serve as moderator of the committee.
A majority of those persons on the Committee who are eligible to vote shall consist of active members of the congregation not currently serving on session. The session shall regularly determine appropriate means for receiving nominations for members of the committee, recognizing that nominations from the floor shall always be allowed during the congregational meeting when the Nominating Committee is elected.
Members of the committee shall be elected annually, and no member shall serve more than three consecutive years.
The pastor shall be a member ex officio of the committee and without vote.
The Nominating Committee shall at the March meeting bring to the congregation nominations only for the number of positions to be filled.
During the election of active elders, the floor shall be open for any additional nominations.
The congregation shall elect eight (8) elders divided into two equal classes, one class of whom shall be elected each year at the annual meeting in March. No elder shall serve for consecutive terms, either full or partial, aggregating more than six years. An elder having served a total of six years shall be ineligible for re-election to the session for a period of at least one year.
The congregation may elect up to two (2) “youth elders” to serve on the session for a one (1) year term accumulating up to two consecutive terms. A “youth elder” must be an active member of the congregation; must be a middle school or high school student; and will have a voice and vote on all session decisions except for matters that come before the trustees, in which they will have voice but no vote. Youth elders will serve as representatives for the youth of the church and shall be elected in the same manner as active elders.
The session, ordinarily at its May stated meeting, shall elect a ruling elder to serve as clerk and shall form such committees as necessary to carry out the work and worship of the congregation. At that same meeting of the session, a treasurer shall be elected annually.
Meetings of the session shall be conducted in accordance with the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Manual of Administrative Operations adopted by the session of this congregation.
Vacancies on the session may be filled at a special meeting of the congregation or at one of the two annual meetings, at the determination of the session.
Categories of Membership
In accordance with the Book of Order, this congregation shall maintain four rolls of membership: baptized members, active members, inactive members, and affiliate members.
A baptized member of a particular church is a person who has received the Sacrament of Baptism and who has been enrolled as a baptized member by the session but who has not made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Such baptized members are entitled to the pastoral care and instruction of the church, and to participation in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.
An active member of a particular church is a person who has made a profession of faith in Christ, has been baptized, has been received into membership of the church, has voluntarily submitted to the government of this church, and participates in the church’s work and worship. An active member is entitled to all the rights and privileges of the church, including the right to participate in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, to present children for baptism, to take part in meetings of the congregation, to vote, and to hold office.
An inactive member of a particular church is one who does not participate in the church’s work and worship. An inactive member is entitled to all the rights and privileges of an active member except the right to speak in the meetings of the congregation and to vote and hold office.
An affiliate member of a particular church is an active member of another church of this denomination or of another denomination or Christian body, who has temporarily moved from the community where the church of active membership is situated, has presented a certificate of good standing from the appropriate governing body of that church, and has been received by the session as an affiliate member. An affiliate member is entitled to all the rights and privileges of an active member except the right to vote and hold office.
Expectations of Members
[This section quotes directly from the current Book of Order.] Membership in the Church of Jesus Christ is a joy and a privilege. It is also a commitment to participate in Christ’s mission. A faithful member bears witness to God’s love and grace and promises to be involved responsibly in the ministry of Christ’s Church. Such involvement includes: proclaiming the good news in word and deed, taking part in the common life and worship of a congregation, lifting one another up in prayer, mutual concern, and active support, studying Scripture and the issues of Christian faith and life, supporting the ministry of the church through the giving of money, time, and talents, demonstrating a new quality of life within and through the church, responding to God’s activity in the world through service to others, living responsibly in the personal, family, vocational, political, cultural, and social relationships of life, working in the world for peace, justice, freedom, and human fulfillment, participating in the governing responsibilities of the church, and reviewing and evaluating regularly the integrity of one’s membership, and considering ways in which one’s participation in the worship and service of the church may be increased and made more meaningful.
These bylaws may be amended subject to the Articles of Incorporation, the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) by a two-thirds vote of the voters present at a congregational meeting, provided that the proposed changes have been distributed at the same time as the call of the meeting.
Life Together in the Community of Faith: Standards of Ethical Conduct for Members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Life Together in the Community of Faith:
Standards of Ethical Conduct for Members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
As a member of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), in obedience to Jesus Christ, I accept Christ's call to be involved responsibly in the ministry of the church, confirm that Jesus Christ is the pattern for my life and ministry and, relying on God's grace, commit myself to the following standards of ethical conduct.
I will conduct my life in a manner that is faithful to the gospel and consistent with my membership in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Therefore I will:
Practice the disciplines of study, prayer, reflection, worship, stewardship, and service;
Be honest and truthful in my relationships with others;
Be faithful, keeping the covenants I make and honoring marriage vows;
Treat all persons with equal respect and concern as beloved children of God;
Maintain a healthy balance among the responsibilities of my life's work and church membership, my commitments to family and other primary relationships, and my need for spiritual, physical, emotional, and intellectual renewal;
Refrain from abusive, addictive, or exploitative behavior and seek help to overcome such behavior if it occurs;
Refrain from gossip and abusive speech; and
Maintain an attitude of repentance, humility, and forgiveness responsive to God's reconciling will.
I will conduct myself within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) so that nothing need be hidden from sisters and brothers in Christ. Therefore I will:
Bear witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ with courage, speaking the truth in love;
Honor the sacred trust of relationships within the covenant community and observe appropriate boundaries;
Be judicious in the exercise of the power and privileges of positions of responsibility I hold;
Avoid conflicts of interest that might compromise my witness and relationships within the community of faith;
Refrain from exploiting relationships within the community of faith for personal gain or gratification, including sexual harassment and misconduct as defined by Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) policy;
Respect the privacy of individuals and not divulge information obtained in confidence without express permission unless an individual is a danger to self or others;
Recognize the limits of my own gifts and training, and refer persons and tasks to others as appropriate;
Claim only those qualifications actually attained, give appropriate credit to others where due and observe copyrights;
Accept the discipline of the church.
I will participate as a partner with others in the ministry and mission of the Church universal. Therefore I will:
Participate in the mission and governance of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and work for the unity of the holy catholic church;
Show respect and provide encouragement for sisters and brothers in Christ;
Recruit church members responsibly, respect existing congregational relationships and refrain from exploiting persons in vulnerable situations; and
Cooperate with those working in the world for justice, compassion, and peace, including partners in ministry of other faith traditions.
Main Office Monday - Thursday 9:30 AM - 2:30 PM
Pastor Monday-Thursday 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM and by appointment