CHRISTADELPHIAN RESEARCH

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Actual Constitution of a Christadelphian Ecclesia

The following is an actual constitution of a Christadelphian church (or ecclesia).  Annexed to it is a “statement of faith” very similar to the “Birmingham Amended Statement of Faith (BASF),” a list of “doctrines to be rejected” (similar to this one in the BASF), and a formalised list of “commands of Christ” (similar to this list in the BASF).  This is very typical and it results from an arrangement suggested and adopted in the early days by most Christadelphian churches.  This form of organisation was established in a guide (usually called The Ecclesial Guide ), which contains a model constitution described as a System of Rules.

The actual constitutions of various congregations vary, but the features, procedures and names will be familiar to anyone associated for any length of time with the Christadelphians.

In practice few people actually read constitutions after they are written.  The general procedures are well established, however, by tradition and status quo, although they may not follow all the detail in this particular one.  The numbers of roles may also vary and often members will fulfil several posts concurrently, particularly in small congregations.

Constitution of The ****** Christadelphian Ecclesia


(Revised June 1980)


1.  That we are a Christadelphian Ecclesia, accepting and professing the doctrines and precepts of the "One Faith" as defined (positively and negatively) in the annexed Statement of Faith and epitome of the Commandments of Christ.

2.  That we recognise as brethren, and welcome to our fellowship all who have been immersed after their acceptance of the same doctrines and precepts and in fellowship with BIRMINGHAM CENTRAL ECCLESIA.

3.  That we meet on the morning of every first day of the week (Sunday) for Breaking of Bread, Worship of God and Exhortation; and in the evening of the smae day for the exhibition of the Truth in its invitation to the alien to become fellow heirs of the hope of the Gospel.  That we also meet on the evening of one day of the week for the Study of the Holy Oracles, or for the transaction of Ecclesial business, when same is found necessary.  That on the first week-night meeting in each quarter, we receive and consider the Reports for the preceding quarter of the Recording, Finance, and Auditing Brethren.  The times of meetings and day of weeknight meeting as agreed by the ecclesia.

4.  That we hold supplementary meetings for the Breaking of Bread as and when necessary.

5.  That we hold a Sunday School on Sunday afternoons.

6.  That the following order be observed at our Sunday meetings, viz:

Morning

1.    Singing
2.    Reading of the Scriptures, comprising two portions for the day according to the "Bible Companion"
3.   Presiding Brother to welcome visiting Brethren and Sisters
4.   Prayer
5.    Singing
6.    Exhortation (not to exceed half an hour)
7.   Brief prayer in thanksgiving for the Bread
8.   Breaking of the Bread
9.   Brief prayer in thanksgiving for the Wine
10. Drinking Wine
11. Singing
12. Collection
13. Interval for Brief Fraternal Announcemounts
14. Singing
15. Prayer

Evening

1.    Singing
2.    Reading portion of Scripture
3.    Prayer
4.    Singing
5.    Lecture
6.    Announcements
7.    Singing
8.    Prayer

7.  That no business be introduced for consideration at any Sunday meeting, except the relief of pressing cases of distress or other matters of great urgency.

8.  That at all special business meetings of the Ecclesia it shall require a majority of the members thereof to form a quorum.

9.  That all funds and property belonging to the Ecclesia shall legally vest in the Arranging Brethren as Trustees for the general body; but the Arranging Brethren shall always be subject to the Ecclesia as to the disposal of said funds and property.

10.  That all our official appointments (except that of Door Keeping Brethren) be made biennially, at the Quarterly Meeting held at the end of September of each alternate year; such meeting to be known as the Biennial Meeting.  By-elections to be held in accordance with Rules 16 and 17 hereafter.  That in any case all official appointments expire on December 31 of each Biennial year.

11.  That any Brother or Sister holding any office in the Ecclesia may be removed at any time by the vote of the majority of the whole Ecclesia.  Departure from the Truth in any of its vital elements, or behaviour unworthy of the name of Christ, shall, when proved against any brother or sister to the satisfaction of the Arranging Brethren, have the effecting of suspending such Brother or Sister from office.

12.  That the official appointments shall consist of *Recording Brother, *Assistant Recording Brother, *Finance Brother, Auditing Brother, *Arranging Brethren, *Presiding Brethren, Sunday Morning Exhorting Brethren, *Lecturing Brethren, *Weeknight Presiding Brethren, *Weeknight Speaking Brethren, *Superintendent of the Sunday School, Secretary and Treasurer of the Sunday School, *Examining Brethren, *Visiting Brethren, *Visiting Sisters, Immersing Brother, Keepers of the Table, Organists, Librarian, Secretary of the Lightbearers' League.

13. That no Brother or Sister shall be eligible for appointment to any of the offices marked * in the preceding rule for the first two years after immersion (or resumption of fellowship in case of separation), except by the unanimous consent of the Arranging Brethren.

14.  That the Recording Brother, Finance Brother and Assistant Recording Brother shall be Arranging Brethren by virtue of their offices.

15.  That the duties named in Rule 12 shall be as follows:-

a)  Recording Brother

To keep record of all the proceedings of the Ecclesia including the proceedings at the meetings of the Arranging Brethren; to receive and communicate all applications intended for the Ecclesia or for the Arranging Brethren; to conduct the correspondence of the Ecclesia; to forward periodically an Intelligence Report to the Editor of the "Christadelphian" (or other organ which may ay the time be recognised as suitable for the pupose by the Ecclesia); to keep the Ecclesia posted as to meetings to be held, or other meetings affecting it; to remind Presiding, Exhorting and Lecturing Brethren of their several appointments; and generally to keep the working machinery of the Ecclesia in order.

b)  Assistant Recording Brother

To co-operate with the Recording Brother in his duties; but more particularly to keep a record of the residences of the Brethren and Sisters; also of their attendances at Breaking of Bread Meetings, and communicate to the Visiting Brethren at a meeting to be held one week preceding the Quarterly Meeting a record of the attendances of Brethren and Sisters at the Breaking of Bread Meetings during the current quarter; to advertise in the manner determined by the Arranging Brethren the lectures delivered under the auspices of the Ecclesia.

c)  Finance Brother

To take charge of the funds of the Ecclesia and pay punctually its debts; to keep an account of monies received and paid amd report quarterly to the Ecclesia; to perform the duties of his office with the cognizance and co-operation of the Recording Brother.

d)  Auditing Brother

To examine and check at the close of each quarter the accounts of the Finance Brother and report results thereof to the Ecclesia at the Quarterly Meeting.

e)  Arranging Brethren

To constitute an Executive Committee for the general arrangement and conduct of the affairs of the Ecclesia, but to have no power to withdraw on behalf of the Ecclesia from any Brother or Sister, or any community of Brethren and Sisters.  They shall hold a meeting once a month and as much oftener as may be necessary.  The meetings of the Arranging Brethren shall be open at all times to any of the Brethren and Sisters, who shall have the fullest liberty of speech, advice or argument, in reference to any matter under consideration; but they shall have no power to vote in any decision that may be taken.  The Arranging Brethren shall have power to convene a special general meeting of the Brethren and Sisters at any time it may see, advisable to take the collective judgment of the Ecclesia on any matter.  The proceedings of the Arranging Brethren shall be reported to the Ecclesia by the Recording Brother at each quarterly meeting, for confirmation or otherwise; but the Ecclesia shall not have the power to annul any decision, engagement or proceeding of the Arranging Brethren, except by way of arresting the future operation of any such decision, engagement or proceeding, when same is reasonably possible.

f)  Presiding Brethren

To preside at the morning and evening meetings on Sundays.  To preside at the usual week night meeting in conjunction with those elected to serve as Weeknight Presiding Brethren.  To do duty weekly in alphabetical order unless otherwise mutually arranged.  Any meeting convened under paragraph 27 shall be presided over by a Brother chosen by the Arranging Brethren.

g)  Sunday Morning Exhorting Brethren

To fulfill the duties of their office, according to the table prepared by the Secretary; and to exhort the Brethren and Sisters to their instruction, upbuilding and edification in the faith once for all delivered to the Saints.

h)  Lecturing Brethren

To proclaim and expound the Truth at our Sunday Meetings in its invitation to the alien to become fellow heirs of the hope of the Gospel.

i)  Weeknight Presiding Brethren

To preside at the usual weeknight meetings except on the occasion of any weeknight meeting of a special character when the Presiding Brother for the previous Sunday shall preside.

j)  Weeknight Speaking Brethren

To speak at the weeknight meeting as appointed.

k)  Superintendent of Sunday School

To open and close School; to provide Time Table for work of School; to organise School with due regard to examination of scholars; to conduct examinations of scholars, to give attention to discipline of School and generally to keep the School working in order; to hold half-yearly meetings of Teachers, a month before expiry of each half-year ending June and December, when all shall have free opportunity to suggest for good of School.

l)  Secretary and Treasurer of Sunday School

To keep a record in suitable Register Books of the attendances of Scholars and eachers at School; to take charge of the Funds of the School, and make all the purchases and payments of the same with the cognizance of the Superintendent; to render at the half-yearly meeting of Teachers an account of all monies received and paid during the previous half-year; to make out the prize lists and give such assistance in clerical and other work as the Superintendent shall desire.  To submit Financial Report on Sunday School Funds also a report on Sunday School work for the previous year at the first Quarterly Business Meeting of the Ecclesia.

m)  Examining Brethren

To examine any candidate applying for immersion or admission with us, with a view to ascertaining whether the knowledge and belief of such candidate in the things of the Kingdom and of the Name, together with other needful qualifications, be such as to warrant immersion or admission into fellowship.  No examination shall be conducted unless there be at least two Examining Brethren present.

n)  Visiting Brethren

To visit any Brother or Sister who has been absent from the Breaking of Bread on two successive Sundays, to ascertain the cause thereof (except when a justifiable cause is known to exist, such as from absence from home, sickness, etc).  They shall also visit any Brother or Sister in sickness, affliction, or distress, with a view to administering the comfort and consolations of the Truth; and in cases of need they shall dispense the monetary aid which the Visiting Committee shall determine upon.  They shall report to the Ecclesia through the Recording Brother on Sunday mornings any information pertaining to their office, which they think the Brethren and Sisters ought to know.

o)  Visiting Sisters

To co-operate when necessary with the Visiting Brethren, but their duties shall apply more especially to Sisters requiring to be vsited under the circumstances defined in the preceding sub-rule.

p)  Immersing Brother

To perform the act of immersion to any candidate who has been found duly qualified for immersion.

q)  Keeper of the Table (Brother or Sister)

To provide Bread and Wine and all necessary requirements for the Table; to keep same in order.  The Brother to receieve from the Presiding Brother the Bread and Wine for distribution and to return same to table.

r)  Organists

To preside in turn at the organ at all meetings of the Ecclesia.  To choose suitable hymns.

s)  Doorkeeping Brethren

To attend to the doors at all meetings of the Ecclesia; to see that the doors are closed during Scripture Reading and Prayer.  To take names and Ecclesias of visitors at Breaking of Bread Meetings and hand detailed list of same to the Presiding Brother, to see to proper arrangement of chairs, desk and glasses of water.

t)  Librarian

To take charge of Ecclesial Library and submit reports to the Ecclesia annually.

u)  Secretary of the Lightbearers' League

To organise special preaching activities under the auspices of the Arranging Brethren.

16.      a)  That the mode of election to all offices of the Ecclesia (Doorkeeping brethren
excepted) shall be by ballot.  Ballot papers shall be distributed to all members of the Ecclesia.

Nominations to the above offices to be supported by five signatures.  Such nominations to be invited seven weeks before the Biennial Meeting of the Ecclesia.  nominations to close on the fourth Sunday prior to the Biennial Meeting.  Brethren and Sisters already holding office would automatically be nominated for that office unless they indicated that they did not wish to stand.

b)  By-elections shall be conducted with rule 16(a) except that nominations shall be invited as soon as vacancies have been agreed.

c)  for the purposes of the Ballot, Ecclesial Offices shall be divided into three groups which shall be as follows:

Group 1

Recording Brother
Assistant Recording Brother
Finance Brother
Sunday School Superintendent
Secretary and Treasurer of the Sunday School
Secretary of the Lightbearers' League
Auditor
Keeper of the Table
Immersing Brother
Librarian

Group 2

Presiding Brethren
Weeknight Presiding Brethren
Sunday Exhorting Brethren
Sunday Lecturing Brethren
Weeknight Speaking Brethren
Organists

Group 3

Examing Brethren
Arranging Brethren
Visiting Brethren
Visiting Sisters

For the Offices in Group 1 a minimum pf 25% of the votes cast would be required for a member to secure election.  In the event of there being two or more candidated for an office then the one polling the highest number would be duly elected.

For the Offices in Group 2 a minimum of 25% of votes cast would be required for a member to secure election.

For the Offices in Group 3 the Ecclesia shall select the numbers required to serve in each Office at a Business Meeting prior to the invitation of nominations (the date of this meeting shall be chosen by the Arranging Brethren).  A minimum of 25% of votes cast would then be required for a member to secure election.

A period of three weeks shall be allowed for the Ballot and votes shall be counted in time for the results to be read at the Biennial Meeting. 

17.  That in the event of it being deemed advisable to increase or decrease the number of Brethren and Sisters holding any office, it shall be in the power of the Ecclesia to make such addition or reduction at any Quarterly Meeting provided the Arranging Brethren shall have first by a majority consisting of two-thirds of their total number recommended same.

18.  That the Ecclesia shall fix at each Biennial meeting the number of Arranging Brethren which shall be necessary to form a quorum for the ensuing term of office.  The Ecclesia shall also at such meeting appoint (from among the newly elected Arranging Brethren) three or more brethren to preside in consecutive order at the meetings of the said Arranging Brethren for the ensuing term of office.

19.    a)  That upon receipt of an application for baptism the Recording Brother shall
announce it to the Ecclesia at the first meeting thereafter.  Arrangenments will then be made for the necessary interview, any objections to be lodged with the
Recording Brother before the interview takes place.  The result of the interview to be announced at the following Ecclesial meeting, after which, in the absence of valid objection, immersion to take place.  This rule shall not apply to applications for immersion from other places when persons come to ***** under satisfactory auspices for the purpose of being baptised.

b)  That upon receipt of an application for admission or re-admission to fellowship the Recording Brother shall announce it to the Ecclesia at the first meeting hereafter.  Any objections are to be lodged with the Recording Brother within fourteen days of the initial announcement and arrangements will then be made for appropriate interview(s) with the applicant(s).  The result of the interview(s) to be  reported to the Ecclesia as soon as possible.  In the event of a satisfactory report, admission to the Ecclesia will take effect after the said announcement.

20.  That any Brother or Sister knowing a case of sickness or want, is expected to mention the same to the Recording Brother.

21.  That no accusation, or matter of evil report against any Brother or Sister shall be listened to in public or private, until the Brother or Sister bringing or reporting the accusation shall have taken the course prescribed in Matt xvii 15-18 and any Brother or Sister refusing to take this course, while persisting in the accusation or in alienation on account of it, shall be considered and dealt with as an offender against the law of Christ.

22.  That marriage with the alien is an offence against the law of Christ.  That those who commit such offence shall be withdrawn from the Ecclesia.  And that when such offence has ocurred resumption of Fellowship shall only take place after the offence has been admitted in writing.

23.  That any Brother or Sister walking disorderly or departing from any element of the "One Faith" as held by us, shall, on proof of the fact being given to the satisfaction of the Arranging Brethren, cease to be in fellowship after announcements to the Ecclesia and a vote of withdrawal having been passed by the Ecclesia.

24.  That any Brother or Sister continuing absent from the Breaking of Bread without justifiable cause, after having been visited by the Visiting Brethren (see Rule 15, Clause 1) shall, after such lapse of time (but same not to be less than three months) as the Arranging Brethren may decide upon, be treated as a disorderly Brother or Sister, and be dealt with in accordance with the preceding rule.

25. That in the event of any Brother or Sister, who has been withdrawn from by, or is out of fellowship with another Ecclesia, applying to us for fellowship, we shall before granting such application, investigate the matter (unless justificable grounds are known beforehand to exist for such Brother or Sister being withdrawn from, or out of fellowship); but the investigation shall not take place without first asking the other Ecclesia in question to take part in it.  If the said Ecclesia shall refuse its co-operation in the investigations the investigation shall take place without its co-operation, and the result thereof shall determine whether the Brother or Sister shall be admitted into fellowship.

26.  That any Brother or Sister desiring a special general meeting of the Brethren and Sisters for any reason (except that required by Christ, in the law of Offences between Brother and Brother - see Matt xviii 15-18 - when the meeting shall be granted as a matter of course), shall hand to the Recording Brother intimation of such desire, and it shall be the duty of the Recording Brother to submit such request to the Arranging Brethren, whose province it shall be to decide whether or not such meeting shall be held..  Should the Arranging Brethren decide against holding such a meeting it shall be in the power of any five Brethren to call such a meeting by handing to the Recording Brother a requisition signed by each of them, which requisition it shall be the duty of the Recording Brothern to read to the Ecclesia at any meeting except a Sunday meeting and the meeting asked for shall be convened accordingly.

27.  That any Brother having objection to make as to the acts, proceedings, or arrangements of the Superintendent, Secretary, or Teachers of the Sunday School, shall have power of appeal to a special meeting of the Ecclesia, after having taken the matter to the Arranging Brethren.

28.  That all the Brethren and Sisters shall subscribe their names to our rules and basis of fellowship, as defined in the annexed statement of faith and epitome of the commandments of Christ.  That any Brother or Sister from another Ecclesia applying for membership of this Ecclesia shall be required to do likewise; if they cannot do so, they shall be regarded as visitors only without any vote on any of our Ecclesial business.

29.  That none of these rules with the exceptions of rules 3-6 inclusive be altered or rescinded except by a vote (taken by postal ballot, with 2/3 of the whole Ecclesia in favour) if such alteration had already been passed by a special Ecclesial Meeting at which not less than 50% of the Ecclesia were present.  A month's previous notice of intention to propose such alteration must be given to the Recording Brother who shall read some at each intervening Sunday morning.

30.  That rules 3-6 inclusive may be altered as necessary in the following manner:

i)  Any change shall firstly be agreed by a majority of 2/3 of the Arranging Brethren;

ii)  Ballot papers shall then be distributed to all members of the Ecclesia and the proposed change(s) voted upon.  Approval for the change(s) shall be indicated by a majority of the votes cast.


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