Terms of Offices
Members at Large
6 - 7
THE BROOKFIELD CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST CONSTITUTION AND BY-LAWS
NAME AND HERITAGE
The name of this church is “Brookfield Congregational Church”, hereby referred to as Brookfield Congregational Church, located in the town of Brookfield, Massachusetts. It is affiliated with the United Church of Christ, Massachusetts conference of United Church of Christ and the Central Association.
It was organized in 1827 as the Evangelical Religious Society of Brookfield. In 1956, the Society merged with the Congregational Christian Church as Brookfield Congregational Church. In 1962 the Brookfield Congregational Church became affiliated with The United Church of Christ and was later incorporated under the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on February 13, 1978.
The purpose of this church is to proclaim Jesus Christ and his Gospel to all mankind; to celebrate the sacraments, to build a Christian fellowship in the community through worship, religious education and Christian service; to labor for the progress of knowledge, the promotion of justice, the reign of peace; and as a human family in cooperation with all Christian churches.
This church is Congregational in form and fellowship. The government of the Church is vested in its members and is not subject to any Ecclesiastical control but is subject to the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
FAITH AND MISSION
This church acknowledges as its sole Head, Jesus Christ, the son of God and
Savior of all people. It acknowledges as brothers and sisters in Christ all who share in this confession. It looks to the word of God in the Scriptures, and to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, to promote its creative and redemptive work in the world. It claims as its own the faith of the historic Church expressed in the ancient creeds and reclaimed in the basic insights of the Protestant Reformers. It affirms the responsibility of the Church in each generation to make this faith its own. In accordance with the teaching of our Lord and the practice prevailing among Evangelical Christians, it recognizes two Sacraments; Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion.
The mission of our church is to provide a vision of hope that will strengthen our faith and commitment to teaching and sharing “The Good News” through stewardship and humility. We are committed to a loving, trusting and nurturing environment that, in serving God, will respond to the needs of the community and beyond.
- Membership in this church shall be open to any person who has been baptized, has been confirmed, has made a public confession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, or has provided a letter of transfer from another denomination. Prospective members must be recommended by the pastor following a period of instruction and review of the responsibilities of membership after which affirmation by a majority vote of the Diaconate is required.
- Members shall pledge themselves to attend and participate in the regular worship of the church and celebration of the Lord’s supper; to live the Christian life; to share in the life and the work of the church, to contribute to its support and benevolences; and to seek diligently the spiritual welfare of the membership and the community.
- Any member upon request, may be provided a letter of transfer. If wishing to join another fellowship, a certificate of membership will be provided.
- A member whose address is unknown for a period of two (2) years, has not attended the church’s worship service or contributed to its support, may, by recommendation of the Diaconate and vote of the council, be removedfrom the membership roll and placed on an inactive list. If after the expiration of a year the relationship remains unchanged, the name may be dropped from the inactive list by a further vote of the council.
- If a member continues to breach covenant vows and the Diaconate provide notice and attempted reconciliation, a due hearing with church council is offered with faithful efforts for amends have been made in accordance with the law of Christ, censure, suspension or termination of membership will be exercised.
- Associate Members: all those who contribute regularly to the support of the church may request to become an associate member. They may hold any office, except that of Deacon, and may vote an all financial questions.
CALLING AND DUTIES OF PASTOR AND OTHER STAFF
Section 1: PASTOR
- Pastoral Call: a pastoral candidate (either ordained or prepared for ordination) is called to the position at an official meeting of the church for which notice for a vote to extend a call has been given. The candidate is called to an indefinite term by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of those present and voting. When a vacancy occurs in the pastorate, the council recommends to the church a committee of seven (7) members whose duty it shall be, with the cooperation of denominational officials, to make a survey of available candidates, to settle upon the one whom in their judgment should be called to the pastorate; to introduce the candidate to the church; and, to propose at an official church meeting that a call be extended to the candidate. He/ she should have standing in the United Church of Christ or have privilege of call.
- Authorization: a candidate who accepts a call to this church is to become at the first opportunity a member of the church. The new pastor and the church together with the Association will arrange for a service of installation.
- Termination: while the term of the pastor is indefinite, the church may at any time by a majority vote at a meeting called for the purpose, terminate the services of the pastor with three (3) months’ notice of intention to leave the pastorate (unless otherwise negotiated with the council). In the case of loss of ministerial standing on the part of the pastor, or in the case of unethical conduct, relation may cease at once. Any formal charge of
unethical conduct made against the pastor will be processed under the guidance of the Central Association.
- Responsibilities: the pastor is concerned and cares about the guidance and nurture of those who are banded together as a declared congregation of Christians. The pastor normally serves in the following roles: preaching and teaching; leading in worship and administering the rites and ordinances sacraments of the church; caring for people in need; providing pastoral counseling; overseeing the whole work of the church; and relating to community, denominational, and ecumenical settings. The pastor is an ex-officio member, without vote, of the council and serves as an advisor to all boards and committees. The pastor will participate in fellowship with the Central Association of the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ.
Section 2: Other Staff
- Other staff are contracted by the council after receipt both of a recommendation from the board to which they will be functionally related, and a statement of approval of job compensation guidelines from the Board of Trustees. A position description outlining responsibilities, expectations and accountability are considered a part of their contracts. Financial compensation is normally authorized by the church through its budget process.
DUTIES OF OFFICERS AND CHURCH BOARDS
Section 1: Officers
- A moderator shall preside at each business meeting and shall be a member of the council.
- A clerk shall keep a complete record of the transactions at all business meetings of the church; keep a register of membership, with dates of admission and dismissal or death, together with a record of baptisms, and shall issue all necessary notices and church letters and give legal notice of all business meetings of the church.
- A treasurer shall keep a record of the finances of the Church, keeping an accurate account of all receipts and dispursements, for both expenses and benevolences.” In addition, all financial transactions must be made under the direction of the Council, including in-house transferring of funds.” (Amendment No.2)Change to the format of the current Monthly Report, (presented to the Council following the close of each month’s business) has been made which includes a Profit and Loss statement, focusing on the actual Operating Account, i.e., beginning check book balance, income received, expenses dispursed, and ending check book balance. Current balance(s) and activities of the Money Market, Capital Campaign, and investments are to be reported separately.
A standardized procedure for Boards to request funds was implemented. Reference needs to be made to the budgeted line item associated with the expense. Upon approval of Council, the Treasurer determines if funds are available in the Treasury and if an available balance remains in the budgeted line item of the Board requesting funds. (Amendment No. 2)
- Assistant Treasurer shall receive, count and deposit all funds, of which a record is provided to the treasurer; and, in the absence of the treasurer assumes the responsibility of that office.
- An Auditor shall review annually (also upon replacement of the treasurer) the financial records of the church to assure that accounts are in balance and that the system is adequate to the church’s needs. The Auditor’s report will be published in the Annual Report.
- A Historian shall monitor the organization, preservation, and updating of the church’s historical records and share with the congregation interesting items through an Annual Report and occasional articles in the church’s newsletter.
- Delegates to the United Church of Christ Conference and the Central Association.
Section 2: Term of Office
- A Nominating Committee, appointed by the Trustees, shall post or announce the slate of officers at least two (2) weeks prior to the election. The officers shall be elected at the annual meeting, and shall hold office, unless otherwise stated, for one (1) year, or until their successors shall be elected.
Section 3: Council
- The council consists of a chairperson, three (3) members at large, the pastor (without vote), the clerk (secretary of council), a representative from each board, treasurer, assistant treasurer and moderator, and a representative from any auxiliary group of the church as defined under Other Organizations (see article 8)
- The council meets at least once a month, or on a schedule of its own choosing. Special meetings may be called as necessary. A quorum consists of seven (7) regular and ex-officio members. The council may appoint, as necessary, to one (1) year terms, individuals or subcommittees to carry out particular functions of the council and/or task groups, and/or ad-hoc committees to carry out special projects related to the work of the church or council, but which are not related to the work of the boards. They are accountable to the council.
- The church council serves as the coordinating and executive body of the church and oversees the church office operation. It plans the agendas for the business meetings of the church; coordinates and oversees church evaluation and planning; provides for communication, publicity, and public relations; mediates unresolved conflicts; maintains pastoral relations; recommends to the church during a vacancy in the pastorate the hiring of an interim pastor, the appointment of an ad-hoc interim steering committee of five (5) members, and the appointment of an ad-hoc search committee of twelve (12) members; and, negotiates contracts with all candidates for employment. The council may authorize any extraordinary expense above a budgeted amount, not to exceed $2500 if funds are available, without a meeting of the church.
Section 4: Members-at-Large
- Members of the church elected by the church and installed in their office. If necessary, they may assume leadership in the various boards or committees of the council.
Section 5: Boards
- Each board shall consist of no more than nine (9) members who be elected for a three (3) year term as necessary, and any officer (s) designated as ex- officio elsewhere in the By-laws. The pastor serves as an advisor to the boards. (Amendment No. 4)
- Each board shall meet monthly on an schedule established by the council. More frequent meeting may be called as necessary. A quorum consists of four (4) regular members. A board may appoint, as necessary, individuals or subcommittees to carry out particular functions of the board, and/or task group or ad-hoc committees to carry out special projects related to the work of the board. They are accountable to the appointing committee.
- Each board shall assess the needs of the congregation and community in the area of its concern; plan programs and activities responsive to those needs and the church's goals and objectives in its area of function; develop strategies to implement these programs and the criteria by which to evaluate them; determine financial needs and make budget recommendations; provides resources and training to assure the effectiveness of persons and programs; recommends to the council needed staff positions and a candidate to fill it; oversees the work of staff members who are accountable to it; and, interpret the work of the board to the church.
- Diaconate: oversees and supports the worship and spiritual life of the church: plans and/or promotes programs that encourage spiritual development; assists in planning worship services and in the preparation and administration of the ordinances/sacraments; provides for music, flowers, worship supplies, and worship aides (greeters, ushers, lectors, child care coordinators, etc.); and, procures pulpit and pastoral supply during pastoral absences; provides opportunities for strengthening fellowship within the church and recruits after-worship fellowship hour hosts; coordinates hospitality for church receptions and social functions for which child care is necessary; organizes and maintains a ministry of pastoral visitation; encourages and coordinates programs related to evangelism and church growth; organizes and promotes activities that encourage relationship with the unchurched and that help to incorporate new members into the life of the church; welcomes newcomers and develops a program for follow-up contact; organizes and maintains a prayer chain; provids training for new members (including confirmation) in the meaning and significance of the church and church membership; encourages the participation of inactive members; and annually recommends revision of membership rolls.
- Board of Christian Life: “Promotes family life and guides the educational ministry of the church: determines and implements policy; coordinates the programs and the work of various educational groups (e.g., church school, youth ministry, adult studies, camps and conferences, and seasonal religious ceremonies, etc.); recruits teachers and leaders and offers them training and support; provides, promotes, maintains and supervises a library of educational resources including the use of audio-visual materials. The position of Superintendent of Sunday School reports to and is a part of the Christian Life Board. (Amendment No. 1)
- Board of Mission and Outreach: gives guidance and oversight to the church’s mission in the community and the world: provides for the means of mission education, interpretation, and implementation; provides for financial support for mission through special offerings and fund raising projects; allocates un-designated mission funds; promotes understanding and action related contemporary social, economic and political issues in the pursuit of justice and peace; encourages community ministries; fosters denominational, ecumenical and inter-faith relationships; and appoints representatives of the church to other local agency or community groups.
- Board of Trustees: provides for the care, maintenance and improvement of the church property, buildings, and equipment; oversees finances including preparation of the annual church budget, monitoring of its operation, management of unbudgeted expenses up to $250 without council approval, and handling of loans and invested funds; determines policy for the use of the facility and equipment; maintains necessary insurance coverage; provides for stewardship education and interpretation; plans and conducts an annual appeal for funds in support of the budget; establishes or maintains a church endowment policy; solicits, selects, accepts and maintains records of memorial and designated gifts; oversees the periodic review of the church’s mission statement, organizational structure, and By-laws. (Amendment No.2)
Auxiliary Groups: All groups or organizations with a relationship to this church and accepted by this church as auxiliary groups (e.g., Helping Hands, Way to Go) are regarded as integral parts of the church. Each such group is encouraged to appoint one of its members, who is a member of the church, to serve as ex-officio member of the council.
SERVICES AND MEETINGS
Section 1: Worship and Sacraments
- Services of Worship are held at given hours each Sunday and at such other times as the church, upon recommendation of the pastor and the Diaconate, may deem necessary.
- The Sacrament of Baptism is celebrated in congregational worship at times agreed upon by the person or the parent (s) of the person to be baptized, the pastor, and the Diaconate; however, in extraordinary circumstances the board, upon recommendation of the pastor, may authorize a service of baptism in a private setting provided at least one member of the board is present to represent the congregation.
- The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is celebrated on the first Sunday of each month, on Maundy Thursday, on world-Wide communion Sunday, and/ or at such other times as the church, upon recommendation of the pastor and the Diaconate, may deem desirable.
Section 2: Business Meetings
- The Annual Meeting of the church is held at a date in January with the date, time, and place to be determined by the council to:
- receive the published and/or supplemental reports of officers, the council, boards, and other church components setting forth accounts of their activities over the past year;
- adopt an annual budget;
- elect officers, board members, and council members-at- large; and
- transact any other business to come before it. (Amendment No. 3)
- Special Meetings of the church are called by the church clerk upon written request of the council or any ten (10) members. The nature of the business to be transacted is to be stated in the call, and no other business may be conducted.
- Notices of Church Business Meetings are to be posted at least one (1) week before the meeting, and is to be read at the morning worship on the Sunday prior to the meeting. A quorum for transaction of business is 20% of the total active membership of the church reported in the church’s last Annual Report. In the absence of a quorum the motions and/or issues in the call will be referred to the Council for action or for the rescheduling of the church meeting with notice of the same to be posted one (1) week prior to the meeting and read at the morning worship on the Sunday before the meeting. Members present at a called meeting for which a quorum is not present may discuss the motions or issues in the notice and take an unofficial vote on them as a way of expressing their opinions. In such a case a record of the number present and the numerical results of any votes taken should be provided to the council for its consideration in deciding appropriate action in response to the automatic referral.
- “Robert’s Rules of Order” is the authority for all matters of procedure, including voting, except as otherwise established in these By-laws or in the church’s “Policies and Procedures Manual”.
- The Fiscal Year of the church begins on January 1. Budgets are to be submitted by each board no later than September 30 to the Board of Trustees for review and preparation of the annual church budget.
- Special Procedures: An orientation meeting for all council and board members is to be planned and conducted under the sponsorship of the Diaconate within two (2) weeks of the church’s annual meeting. All meetings of the church except those related to matters of discipline of church members of those sensitive to situations related to the pastoral conduct or performance will be open for observation by any church member. All meetings will be opened with prayer.
Section 1: Authorization
- All elective positions, the council and four boards (Diaconate, Christian Life, Mission & Outreach and Trustees) are permanent structural components for which eligibility, terms of office, constitution, procedures, and general responsibilities are defined in the By-laws. They can be modified or changed only by amendment to these By-laws.
- All other components are non-permanent and may consist of:
- staff positions (e.g. church secretary or organist) to which persons are contracted by the council on the recommendation of the functionally affiliated boards to which they will be primarily accountable;
- appointive positions (e.g., investment advisor or librarian) and subcommittees (e.g., music subcommittee or visitation subcommittee) to which persons are appointed by the council or by the board by which they are authorized and to which they are accountable (subcommittees will normally consist of three (3) members;
- task groups or ad-hoc committees (e.g., nominating committee, pledge campaign group or pastoral search committee) to which persons are authorized and to which they are accountable (task groups or ad-hoc committees will normally consist of 3-7 persons).
- Membership Status: A regular member has voice and vote, assumes full membership responsibility, and is accountable to the chair or group leader; Ex-officio Member has voice and vote (unless otherwise noted) and is a member by virtue of holding a particular office. The ex-officio member is not expected to assume additional responsibilities beyond those related to the office from which he/she derives ex-officio membership; Co-opted Members serving in an appointive or staff position are designated for purposes of communication, coordination, or decision making related to the position to which he/she has been appointed as defined by the level of participation of that member.
Section 2: Elections
All persons serving in elective positions are elected at the annual meeting of
the church for the following terms: officers and council members-at-large, one
(1) year; board members, three (3) years; all are eligible for re-election, since there are no tenure restrictions. Installation will be during a regular service of worship at a later date. The moderator, clerk, treasurer, assistant treasurer, board chairpersons, and council members-at-large must be members of the church. All “officers” as defined in the By-laws must be of majority age (18 years). The clerk must be a legal resident of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. No person may serve concurrently as a member of more than one board. Vacancies are filled by action of the Council upon recommendation of the board chairperson. All persons elected serve through the Annual Meeting at which their term expires.
Section 3: Appointments
All persons appointed to functional committees or subcommittees by the church, council, or boards are appointed after the annual meeting to one (1) year terms and are eligible for re-appointment. All persons appointed to project positions, task groups, or ad-hoc committee membership by the church, council, or boards serve until the task for which they were appointed is completed.
Theses By-laws may be amended by a two-third’s (2/3) vote of the members present and voting at any duly called business meeting of the church, provided that the amendment or the subject of the amendment has been published in the notice of the meeting, and that the text of the amendment has been posted, copies of which have been mailed to members at least two (2) weeks prior to the meeting in which it is to be acted upon.
The church may, in its corporate name, take any action relating to any legal contract or document with approval of the church members for the general purposes of the church. Documents or contracts must be signed by the council chairperson, the clerk, and/or treasurer in their official capacity as an officer of the corporation.
Upon dissolution of the church, its assets and all property and interests which it shall posses, including any bequest, gift or grant contained in any will or other instrument, made before or after such dissolution, shall be transferred to the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ.
Amendment No. 1 to the Constitution and By-Laws of
The Brookfield Congregational Church, United Church of Christ
Article 7, Section 5.E: Board of Christian Life: "Promotes family life and guides the ed- ucational ministry of the church: determines and implements policy; coordinates the pro- grams and the work of various educational groups (e.g., church school, youth ministry, adult studies, camps and conferences," amend to include: 'and seasonal religious ceremo- nies etc. );' "recruits teachers and leaders and offers them training and support; provides, promotes, maintains" amend to include: 'and supervises a library of educational re- sources including the use of audio-visual materials. The position of Superintendent of Sunday School reports to and is a part of the Christian Life Board.'
Amended Article 7 Section 5.E to read as follows: Board of Christian Life"Promotes family life and guides the educational ministry of the church: determines and implements policy; coordinates the programs and the work of various educational groups (e.g., church school, youth ministry, adult studies, camps and conferences, and seasonal religious cere- monies etc.); recruits teachers and leaders and offers them training and support; provides, promotes, maintains and supervises a library of educational resources including the use of audio-visual materials. The position of Superintendent of Sunday School reports to and is a part of the Christian Life Board."
APPROVED: 2010 Annual Meeting on February 7, 2010
Amendment No. 2 to the Constitution and By-Laws of
The Brookfield Congregational Church, United Church of Christ
That a warrant listing all items requiring disbursement from the Treasury be presented to the Council for approval prior to the expense being disbursed. Exception to the formal pro- cess would be that of an emergency situation requiring immediate attention or repair to the Church property at which time the Treasurer would contact Council members to in- form them of the emergency and the need for funds.
Change to the following By-Laws, Article 7, Section 1. C: "A Treasurer shall keep a record of the finances of the Church, keeping an accurate account of all receipts and disburse- ments, for both expenses and benevolences." change to include: 'in addition, all finan- cial transactions must be made under the direction of the Council, including in-house transferring of funds.'
Change to the following By-Laws, Article 7, Section 4. G. Board of Trustees: "provides for the care, maintenance and improvement of church property, buildings, and equipment; oversees finances including preparation of the annual church budget, monitoring of its operation, management of unbudgeted expenses up to $1,500 without council approval," change to read 'up to $250 without council approval,'
Change to the format of the current Monthly Report, (presented to the Council following the close of each month's business), with a Profit and Loss Statement, focusing on the actual Operating Account, i.e., beginning check book balance, income received, expenses dis- bursed, and ending check book balance. Current balance(s) and activities of the Money Market, Capital Campaign, and investments are to be reported separately.
A standardized procedure for Boards to request funds, reference needs to be made to the budgeted line item associated with the expense. Upon approval of Council, the Treasurer determines if funds are available in the Treasury and if an available balance remains in the budgeted line item of the Board requesting funds.
APPROVED: 2014 Annual Meeting on February 9, 2014
Amendment No 3 to the Constitution and By-Laws of
The Brookfield Congregational Church, United Church of Christ
Change to the following By-Laws, Article 9, Section 2: Business Meetings, A:
"The Annual meeting of the church is held early in February with the date, time, and place to be determined by the council to: (1) receive the published and/or supplemental reports of officers, the council boards, and other church components setting forth accounts of their activities over the past year, (2) adopt an annual budget; (3) elect officers, board members, and council members-at-large, and (4) transact any other business to come before it."
Amend to change 'early in February' to a 'date in January' with the date, time, and place to be determined by the council to: (1) receive the published and/or supplemental reports of officers, the council boards, and other church components setting forth accounts of their activities over the past year, (2) adopt an annual budget; (3) elect officers, board members, and council members-at-large, and (4) transact any other business to come before it."
APPROVED: Special Meeting on October 25, 2015
Amendment No. 4 to the Constitution and By-Laws of
The Brookfield Congregational Church, United Church of Christ
Change to the following By-Laws: Article 7, Section 5: Boards A "Each board shall consist of no more than seven (7) members who will be elected for a 3 year term as necessary, and any officer(s) designated as ex-officio elsewhere in the By-laws. The pastor serves as an advisor to the boards."
Amend to change 'seven (7) members' to 'nine (9) members'
"Each board shall consist of no more than nine (9) members who will be elected for a 3 year term as necessary, and any officer(s) designated as ex-officio elsewhere in the By- laws. The pastor serves as an advisor to the boards."
APPROVED: Special Meeting on April 23, 2017