The following is more commonly called a “Constitution” because it sets out a basis of how a Christadelphian church (or ecclesia) can be organised and as noted is rightly described as a “system of rules.” This can be compared with an actual Constitution found elsewhere on this site.
1.—That we are a Christadelphian ecclesia.
2.—That we accept and profess the doctrines and precepts of Christ, as taught in the apostolic writings, and defined in the annexed Statement of Faith and Epitome of the Commandments of Christ.
3.—That we recognise as brethren, and welcome to our fellowship, all who have been immersed (by whomsoever) after their acceptance of the same doctrines and precepts.
4.—That we meet on the morning of every first day of the week for the breaking of bread, worship, and exhortation; and in the evening, for the exhibition of the truth in its invitation to the alien to become fellow-heirs of the hope of the Gospel; also on the evening of one day in the week for the study of the holy oracles, when the meeting is not otherwise engaged; also, that we meet once a quarter to receive and consider the reports of the serving brethren, and at special meetings as may be required: the third quarterly meeting in the year to be also the annual meeting for the appointment of serving brethren.
5.—That we mutually engage to submit to the order and arrangements preferred by the greater number.
6.—That brethren holding offices among us shall be described as “serving brethren;” and that the denomination of each particular office shall have “brother” or “brethren” associated with it (for the sake of preserving the family character of our assembly in harmony with the mind of Christ).
7.—That in the appointment of these, we shall have in view, and strive always to follow, the directions given by Paul as to the qualifications that ought to exist.
8.—That our serving brethren shall consist of seven arranging brethren, and four presiding brethren, a recording brother, a finance brother, six doorkeeping brethren, two visiting brethren, and three assistance brethren* (the function of the assistance brethren being to investigate and relieve cases of need.
*These numbers will be varies in different ecclesias, according to the size of the ecclesia, and the number of qualified brethren.
9.—That these shall be appointed for four years, except that each year a fourth part of the whole (made into one list) shall retire, first alphabetically, and afterwards in the order of their appointment.
10.—That any brother may be elected for any number of times, who has not lost the Scriptural qualifications.
11.—That the mode of election shall be by ballot, before which there must be a nomination in writing, signed by seven brethren, and handed to the Recording brother, to be read by him at the week-night meeting fourteen days before the declaration of the ballot. There shall be no canvassing for votes. Votes obtained by canvassing shall be invalid. Nomination shall not be necessary in the case of retiring brethren, whose previous service shall stand in lieu of nomination. All names nominated (together with the names of retiring brethren who have served for the previous year) shall be submitted in a printed voting form to the brethren and sisters, who shall be required to write the word “Yes,” after the names of those brethren whom they desire to be appointed. They may write “No” after any other name or names if they please; but it is not compulsory. Election to take place in the case of those having the highest number of votes. In all elections of serving brethren by vote, it shall require the voice of at least one-third of those voting before a brother be considered appointed to any office. In case of failure of election in any case from the application of this rule, or from any other cause, the brother or brethren serving during the previous year to fill the vacancy until such time as a further election be made.
12.—That the function of the arranging brethren shall be to arrange for the conduct of the meetings and decide all matters affecting the working of the ecclesia.
13.—That they meet once a month, and as much oftener as they may find necessary
14.—That all their meetings be announced to the ecclesia: and that the brethren and sisters be at liberty to attend and to take part in the deliberations that may take place, but to have no vote in the decisions that may be taken.
15.—That their decisions shall have immediate effect, but may be reversed by the ecclesia at the quarterly meeting, only, however, in so far as they affect the future.
16.—That the arranging brethren shall (by the Recording brother) read the minutes of their proceedings every three months to the brethren and sisters in quarterly meeting assembled, for confirmation or otherwise.
17.—That the Recording brother and Finance brother shall attend all the meetings of the managing brethren, and have power to vote in their decisions.
18.—That the presiding brethren shall do duty week by week in alphabetical rotation, or provide substitutes from their own number: the brother presiding on Sunday to preside at all meetings during the subsequent week: the duties of the presiding brethren to be limited to the conduct of the assemblies
19.—That the Recording brother shall (a), keep a record of all the proceedings of the ecclesia; (b), receive and communicate all applications intended for the ecclesia or the arranging brethren; (c), remind the ecclesia of meetings to be held, or other matters affecting them; and presiding brethren and speakers of their several appointments; (d), take note of all monies received by the finance brother, and sign orders as his authority for disbursement; and (e), generally keep the working machinery of the ecclesia in motion.
20.—That the Finance brother shall receive and disburse the funds accruing in any way to the ecclesia, with the co-operation and cognizance of the secretary, and report quarterly to the ecclesia for confirmation.*
*“We have a complete check on the correctness of the Treasurer's accounts. The presiding brother for the day counts the contents of the boxes and enters it, initialled, in a book kept by the Treasurer, and by the end of the quarter a brother, appointed for the purpose, audits the receipts and payments, comparing the latter with vouchers. These checks did not arise out of any necessity for them, but with a view to prevent anything wrong. They were proposed at different intervals by Treasurers while in office”-J.J.ANDREW, London.
21.—That the following order be observed at our first-day meetings:- MORNING: 1, singing; 2, reading two of the Scripture selections for the day by the Bible Companion; 3, an interval for brief fraternal announcements; 4, prayer; 5, singing; 6, exhortation (not to exceed half-an-hour); 7, breaking bread and drinking wine, after thanks by the presiding brother for each; 8, collection; 9, singing; 10, exhortation (not to exceed a quarter-of-an-hour); 11, singing; 12, prayer. EVENING—1, singing; (2) reading; (3) prayer; (4) singing; (5) lecture; (6) singing; (7) prayer.
22.—That no business be introduced for consideration at any Sunday meeting, and that the door always be closed during Scripture reading or prayer.
23.—That special meetings may be convened by the Secretary at the request of the arranging brethren; or, by the written requisition of ten brethren. At all such meetings it shall require a fourth part of the ecclesia to form a quorum.
24.—That all applications for immersion or admission must be reported to the recording brother whose duty it shall be to announce the same to the ecclesia at the first Sunday morning meeting thereafter, and to make arrangements for the preliminary examination necessary. The result of such examination to be announced on the following Sunday; after which, in the absence of objection, immersion or admission to take place. This rule not to apply to persons from a distance passing on.
25.—That in each district, a brother, chosen by the brethren residing therein, shall act as visiting brother, whose duty it shall be to communicate at least once a fortnight with brethren absent from the table, with a view to ascertain the cause of absence, and administer comfort in cases of sickness, and aid in cases of poverty. Such visiting brother to report on Sunday morning anything coming under his notice which the ecclesia ought to know. (The appointment of visiting sisters may also be found serviceable.)
26.—That four brethren be appointed to confer, in conjunction with the Recording brother, with persons applying to be immersed or admitted into the ecclesia, with a view to ascertaining if the requisite qualifications exist.
27.—That all funds and property belonging to the ecclesia shall legally vest in the arranging brethren for the time being, as trustees for the general body, to whose direction they shall at all times be subject as to the disposal thereof.
28.—That any brother holding any office in the ecclesia may be removed at any time by the vote of the majority of the whole of the ecclesia.
29.—Behaviour unworthy of the name of Christ (see 1 Timothy iii. ; Titus i.), shall, when proved against any brother, have the effect of cancelling any appointment such brother may hold, without a vote of the ecclesia; and the appointment shall in that case be treated as vacant, and steps taken to fill it accordingly.
30.—That any brother 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, without a formal vote of withdrawal, on the fact being announced to the ecclesia.
31.—That no accusation or matter of evil report against any brother shall be listened to in public or private until the brother bringing or reporting the accusation shall have taken the course prescribed in Matt. xviii. 15-18 ; and any brother refusing to take this course while persisting in his accusation, or in alienation on account of it, shall himself be considered and dealt with as an offender against the law of Christ.
32.—That absence from the established assembly of the brethren for the breaking of bread, is an offence against the law of Christ: unless the said assembly shall, by the approval of the majority thereof expressed in formal vote, reject any element of the truth of the Gospel, or shall sanction doctrines or practices inconsistent with the commandments of Christ
33 .—That none shall, even for a legitimate cause, absent themselves from the assembly without first stating, in writing, to be addressed to the Recording brother, the cause or causes of impending separation; and asking the same to be considered, with a view to their removal, at a special meeting, at which they consent to be present and take part.
34.—That no brother or sister withdrawn from by, or out of fellowship with, another ecclesia shall be received in fellowship until the case shall have been investigated, and found such as to warrant the reception of the said brother or sister; but that this investigation shall not take place without first asking the said other ecclesia to take part in the proposed investigation: that if the said other ecclesia shall refuse their cooperation in the said investigation, the matters in question shall be investigated without them; that if, on the other hand, they consent to take part in it, they shall, after the re-investigation conducted in their presence, have equal voting power with the first ecclesia, and that no decision shall be valid without the concurrence of a majority of the assembly so constituted of the two ecclesias fused together in equality of numbers; if one ecclesia exceeds the other in number, the equality to be obtained by counting off alphabetically the excess on whichever side it may be, and not allowing that excess to vote.
35.—That in case of another ecclesia, after either of these processes, receiving into their fellowship any brother or sister from whom we have withdrawn, or who may have separated from us, we shall not consider it a cause of separation from them, but shall be content to maintain our own withdrawal from the brother or sister in question. Should they, on the other hand, receive such, without re-investigation or without asking our concurrence in any re-investigation that may take place, we ourselves shall apply to the said ecclesia for re-investigation in the form defined by the last rule, and only in case of their refusal shall we consider that their action in the case has furnished a cause of separation.
36.—That marriage with the alien is an offence against the law of Christ. That those who maintain the contrary are unfit for fellowship with those who “consent to the wholesome words of the Lord Jesus.” That when offence takes place in the matter, the ecclesia shall signify their disapproval by resolution, sent to the offending brother or sister; after which the brother or sister shall only retain their place among the brethren by admitting their offence. All communications in the case to be in the form and spirit required by Rule 31.
37.—That any Sunday School established in connection with the ecclesia shall be under the official cognisance thereof—the ecclesia to elect annually a superintendent, secretary, and treasurer, who shall appoint the teachers, and in conjunction with them, manage the school in matters of detail. Any brother shall have the power of appeal to a special meeting of the ecclesia, in case of objection to the acts, proceedings, or arrangements of the superintendent and teachers.
38.—That none of the foregoing rules be altered except by the vote of a majority of the whole ecclesia; and a month’s previous notice of intention to propose such alteration must be given to the Recording brother, who shall read the same at each intervening week-night meeting.