Means Baptist Church
CHURCH CONSTITUTION AND BYLAWS (CHURCH COVENANT FOUND IN CONSTITUTION)
Means Baptist Church is comprised of followers of Jesus Christ who have united under His Lordship in covenant commitment to one another and to our God. We joyfully and wholeheartedly submit to His authority as it is revealed to us in His holy, inerrant, and infallible written Word. Having carefully examined the Scriptures, we, the members of the church set forth the following articles and church covenant to which we voluntarily submit.
Having, as we trust, been brought by Divine Grace to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and to give up ourselves to Him, and having been baptized upon our profession of faith, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, we do now, relying on His gracious aid, solemnly and joyfully renew our covenant with each other. We will work and pray for the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. We will walk together in brotherly love, as becomes the members of a Christian Church; exercise an affectionate care and watchfulness over each other and faithfully admonish and entreat one another as occasion may require. We will not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, nor neglect to pray for ourselves and others. We will endeavor to bring up such as may at any time be under our care, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and by a pure and loving example to seek the salvation of our family and friends. We will rejoice at each other's happiness and endeavor with tenderness and sympathy to bear each other's burdens and sorrows. We will seek, by Divine aid, to live carefully in the world, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and remembering that, as we have been voluntarily buried by baptism and raised again from the symbolic grave, so there is on us a special obligation now to lead a new and holy life. We will work together for the continuance of a faithful evangelical ministry in this church, as we sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline, and doctrines. We will contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, and the spread of the Gospel through all nations. We will, when we move from this place, as soon as possible, unite with some other church where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God's Word. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all. Amen.
The name of this church shall be “Means Baptist Church” located at 6152 Highway 460west in Means, Kentucky 40346.
The purpose of this church is to glorify the God of the Scriptures in promoting His worship, evangelizing sinners, and edifying saints. To this end we are committed to proclaiming God’s perfect Law and His glorious Gospel of Grace in Jesus Christ throughout the world.
ARTICLES OF FAITH
We do hereby adopt as the fullest expression of our faith the Baptist Faith & Message of 2000 and 1689 London Baptist Confession. We believe that these historic documents are an excellent summary of the fundamental truths of God’s Word. We accept them, not as an authoritative rule or code of faith, but as an aid to us in controversy, a confirmation of what we believe, and as a means of growing together in grace. In these Confessions the members of our church will have a body of Divinity in small compass and by means of Scriptural proofs will be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in them (1 Peter 3:15). We believe the 66 books of the Bible to be the final authority in all matters of faith and practice.
We do hereby affirm the “Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy” (1978) and the “Nashville Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” (2017).
Jesus Christ is Lord and Head of this church. His will as expressed in the Holy Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, is the sole authority in matters of faith and practice. Means Baptist Church is a congregational church. We recognize that the authority of Christ is vested in the whole congregation (Galatians 1:8–10; Matthew 18:15–20) and that Christ has prescribed that local congregations be led by godly men, namely a Senior Pastor, who has been duly appointed to lead and oversee the church (Titus 1:5–11; 1 Timothy 1:4–5).
The church is subject to no other ecclesiastical body but is associated with churches of like faith for purposes of fellowship, consultation and cooperation. This, and any other voluntary associations with other bodies shall not infringe on the rights of this church or its membership. When it is thought desirable to have fellowship, consultation, and cooperation with local churches of like faith and order, this church may join itself to an association of churches. Such affiliations may be entered by a vote of the congregation. Withdrawal from associations may be affected by the same procedure.
Section 1: Requirements for Membership
To be considered for membership in this church, a person must be a disciple of Jesus Christ and give biblical evidence of regeneration. Such a disciple must be baptized in obedience to Christ following his or her conversion and commit wholeheartedly to follow Jesus Christ as Lord in accordance with Scripture. Each prospective member must agree to submit to the teaching of Scripture as expressed in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 and the London Baptist Confession 1689 and must promise to keep the commitments expressed in the Church Covenant. The Senior Pastor shall be responsible for determining each person’s qualification for membership.
Section 2: Membership Process
Any believer seeking membership at Means Baptist Church should communicate their desire to the Senior Pastor. Each candidate must have seriousness of intention to support wholeheartedly the total ministry of this church, and to live for Christ in accordance with our church covenant.
The Senior Pastor may recommend a candidate for membership to the congregation at any meeting of the church. The candidate may be received into membership upon acceptance of two-thirds of the members present, by formal vote or the affirmative response of “amen” to the request for membership.
Once a candidate is received into membership, he or she relinquishes their membership in other churches.
Prospective members can be received into membership by:
A. PROFESSION OF FAITH AND BAPTISM — Any person who meets the above stated requirements shall apply for membership to the Senior Pastor. Candidates will be received upon their baptism by immersion into membership of the church.
B. LETTER — Any person desiring to unite with this church, upon letter of recommendation from another evangelical church of like faith and order, shall present such letter, or a promise thereof, to the Pastor.
C. STATEMENT OF FAITH — Any person desiring to unite with this church, upon their testimony of conversion and baptism as a believer by immersion, shall apply for membership to the Pastor.
Section 3: Forms of Membership
A. REGULAR — All who are received into the membership of the church on the above mentioned conditions shall be considered members in good standing until such status is changed by one of the conditions set forth in Article V, Section 4, entitled “Termination of Membership”
B. OTHER/WATCH CARE — The membership status of invalids, shut-ins, Christian workers, and others whose relationship to the church involves special consideration and circumstances, shall be considered by the Pastor and deacon(s) on a case-by-case basis. They will then make appropriate recommendations to the church.
Section 4: Termination of Membership
A member may be removed from the membership of Means Baptist Church by:
A. DISMISSAL — At the recommendation of the Pastor and the approval of the congregation, letters of dismissal shall be granted to members who apply for them in writing, provided they are in good standing and not subject to or already under corrective discipline at the time of the application. When such letters have been granted, the membership relationship to this church shall be considered terminated.
B. EXCLUSION — If a member is habitually absent from the stated meetings of this church without just cause or is unwilling to resolve conflicts or settle differences in a Scriptural manner, or requests severance of membership, he or she may be excluded from the membership at the discretion of the Pastor, subject to the approval of the congregation. No one shall remain on the active membership role “in good standing” who has been absent from church meetings for twelve months, unless extenuating circumstances apply.
C. TRANSFER — Letters of recommendation shall be granted upon the recommendation of the elders and approval by the congregation to evangelical churches which request them, provided the member in question is in good standing and not subject to or already under discipline at the time of the application. When such letters have been granted, the relationship to this church shall be considered terminated. Letters of dismissal shall be forwarded and given only to other evangelical churches (Philemon 2).
D. EXCOMMUNICATION — It is right and in harmony with the Scriptures for the congregation, upon recommendation of the Pastor, to remove from this fellowship any person who persists in holding false or heretical doctrine; or who obviously and persistently lives inconsistently with his profession; or who lives in violation of the law or public morals; or who walks disorderly; or who persists in disturbing the unity and peace of this church (Matthew 10:15ff; 1 Corinthians 5:1ff; 2 Thessalonians 3:6,11,15; Romans 16:17).
DUTIES AND PRIVILEGES OF MEMBERSHIP
Scripture instructs Christians to live together in local churches. In order to fulfill Scriptural responsibilities in following Christ according to His will, it is incumbent on every believer to unite with other believers in submission to the lordship of Christ in a local church.
Section 1: Active Involvement
Each member is called upon to observe those privileges and duties expressed in the church covenant.
Section 2: Controversy
Any matter involving controversy within this church, within the officers, or between the congregation and the officers, if it threatens to cause dissension and injury to the welfare of the church, must be called to the attention of the Senior Pastor and deacon(s) as soon as possible by any member of the congregation aware of the situation. If the Senior Pastor (church council if needed) and deacon(s) fail to resolve the difficulty so as to allay dissension, any such matter may be taken to a Council of Appeal as prescribed in Article 3 of the By-Laws, or as is detailed in the Second London Baptist Confession of 1689 (26.15).
Section 3: Use of property
Means Baptist Church affirms the 2017 Nashville Statement pertaining to human sexuality and gender roles as composed by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Therefore, we believe marriage to be a covenant between a biological male and a biological female and the Lord. Our property and facilities may not be used for any ceremony, gathering, or event promoting or supporting anything in contradiction to the 2017 Nashville Statement. Furthermore, no elected officers or members of this church will participate in officiating or endorsing any ceremony, gathering, or event with values contrary to the Nashville Statement.
The Christian life is a life of discipleship, which means that it is to be characterized by godly discipline. This includes self-discipline which involves training oneself for godliness (1 Timothy 4:7) as well as the corporate discipline that comes through being united to a local church. Church discipline is both formative and corrective.
Section 1: Corrective Discipline
Corrective discipline is called for when any member is guilty of disorderly or divisive conduct or holding to heretical doctrine which is contrary to the church’s standard of life and doctrine as expressed in our covenant or confession which are based on the Word of God. Reasonable efforts shall be made through personal counsel and admonition to resolve difficulties, correct errors, and remove offenses before any further action is taken. Where possible all such communication should be face to face.
When individual and private counsel and admonition have failed, the matter must be brought to the attention of the elder(s), who will then shepherd the process according to the instructions of God’s Word (Matthew 5:23,24; 18:15–18). In extraordinary circumstances, at the discretion of the elder(s), a matter may be taken directly to the church, according to the apostolic instruction of 1 Corinthians 5 and Titus 3:10–11.
The goal of such discipline should be:
1. The repentance, reconciliation, and spiritual growth of the individual disciplined (Hebrews 12:1–11; Matthew 18:15–17; 1 Corinthians 5:5; Galatians 6:1);
2. The instruction in righteousness and welfare of other Christians, as an example to them (1 Corinthians 5:11; 1 Timothy 5:20; Hebrews 10:24–25);
3. The purity of the church as a whole (1 Corinthians 5:6–7; Ephesians 5:27; Revelation 21:2);
4. The good of our corporate witness to non-Christians (Matthew 5:13–16; John 13:35; Acts 5:10-14); and
5. And supremely the glory of God which is manifested when His holy character is reflected to the watching world (Deuteronomy 5:11; John 15:8; Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 2:12).
The following are elements of corrective discipline:
A. SUSPENSION — If a member has publicly sinned, but shows hopeful signs of repentance, including submission to the admonitions of church officers, then severe discipline, such as excommunication, would be improper. Nevertheless, serious offenses may not be overlooked altogether, lest God’s enemies multiply their blasphemies, lest other saints be emboldened to sin, and lest the offender is harmed by a failure to test his own soul and appreciate the gravity of his offense. Therefore, at the discretion of the elders, less severe terms may be imposed upon a member—such as public rebuke, or suspension of membership. The latter consists of a temporary suspension of the rights to attend the Lord’s Table, to serve publicly in the church or vote in congregational meetings. Those who submit to such discipline are to be wholly forgiven and received as brethren. All such actions shall be reported to the congregation.
B. EXCLUSION — If a member is habitually absent from the stated meetings of this church without just cause or is unwilling to resolve conflicts or settle differences in a Scriptural manner, or requests severance of membership, he or she may be excluded from the membership at the recommendation of the Senior Pastor and vote of the congregation. All members absent for 12 months without just cause will automatically be excluded.
C. EXCOMMUNICATION – The most serious step a church can take in corrective discipline is to remove a member because of unrepentant sin. In extraordinary situations when a member has sinned publicly, scandalously or divisively and without biblical repentance (2 Corinthians 7:8–12), the elder(s) may call upon the church to excommunicate that member immediately (1 Corinthians 5:4–5; Titus 3:10–11). In other situations that call for corrective discipline, when restoration is not secured by the processes required in Matthew 18:15–18, further steps must be taken to correct offenders. Written charges shall be given to the accused offender if he requests a hearing with the Senior Pastor. The Pastor and his selection of mature brethren shall meet with the accused, unless the person refuses to appear. After a fair and impartial hearing of all the witnesses accessible, and all facts ascertainable, the Pastor and council must form a judgment. If they believe the accused to be guilty and deserving of severe biblical discipline, they shall make a recommendation that the offender be excommunicated at a duly called congregational meeting. The congregation shall have the right to excommunicate a member by a two-thirds vote of the members present and voting. The vote will be taken by a show of hands or by standing. Excommunication always has as its end the glory of God, the purity of the body of Christ and the restoration of the offending party.
D. RESTORATION — It is the joyful duty of the church to forgive and restore to membership those persons who give satisfactory evidence of being repentant (2 Corinthians 2:6–8; 7:11). The Pastor shall meet with and seek the restoration of those who have been excluded or suspended when they (Pastor and selected brethren who oversaw the recommendation for excommunication) have judged that the aims of the discipline have been accomplished. Such action is to be reported to the church. Upon recommendation of the Pastor the congregation shall have the right to restore an excommunicated person by a majority vote of the members present and voting at a duly called members’ meeting.
Section 1: General Statement
Jesus Christ alone is the head of His church. However, as head, He has ordained that individual churches should be blessed with the spiritual rule and ministry of special office bearers. Therefore, it is the duty of the church to seek to discover from among members in good standing those men to whom Christ the Lord has imparted the necessary gifts for office bearing. The Lord’s appointment is recognized by not only the inward conviction of the individual involved, but also by the approval of the church observing the possession of those gifts and graces required, and by Scriptural definition of the office.
While it is always the desire of the congregation to come to one mind regarding those who should be appointed to serve as office bearers in the church, no less than 75% of all votes cast shall be required for the election of an officer. (See “Elections” — Article 2 of By-Laws.)
Pastors/Elders are ordained by Christ to lead in the administration of local churches, and the teaching and preaching of God’s word (Philippians 1:1; Acts 6:1–7; 14:23). Deacons are appointed to care for the temporal needs of the congregation in day to day ministry.
Section 2: The Senior Pastor
The senior pastor/elder shall be recognized by the church as particularly gifted and called to the full-time ministry of leading the congregation, and preaching and teaching. His call shall not be subject to the reaffirmation or term limitation. He shall preach on the Lord's Day, administer the ordinances of baptism and communion, oversee corporate worship, oversee all educational aspects of the church, and perform such other duties as usually pertain to that office, or as set forth in the constitution. The Senior Pastor has full authority in determining who will preach, teach, and minister publicly in any way in the meetings of the church. No one may minister publicly in any way unless invited by or approved by the Senior Pastor.
The church should joyfully submit to the elder who rules well in the word and should honor the office of Senior Pastor. The membership shall recognize no other individual as Senior Pastor, or treat them as such, other than the man who is elected to serve in this position.
In the absence or incapacity of the senior pastor the church can select an elder member or a deacon who shall assume responsibility for his duties, any of which can be delegated. If at any time the senior pastor shall make application to be released from his office, or if the congregation shall choose by a two-thirds majority vote to dismiss him, the relationship between the senior pastor and church may be terminated by the congregation in ninety days from the date of notice of intention, or in a shorter period of time, if it is mutually agreed upon.
If at any point the Senior Pastor fails to uphold the standard of sound doctrine as expressed in our confessions of faith, or he falls into grievous immorality that defames the name of Christ and brings great reproach against the church, and he fails to repent and seek restoration when lovingly confronted over his failings, then the church may call for his dismissal at a regular or special called members meeting. This meeting must be publicly announced to the membership at least one week in advance.
Section 4: Deacons
The office of deacon is described in 1 Timothy 3:8–13 and Acts 6:1–7. The church shall recognize, in accordance with the constitutional provisions on elections, men who are giving of themselves in service to the church, and who possess particular gifts of service. These members shall be received as gifts of Christ to His church and set apart as deacons. Deacons shall care for the temporal needs of members, preserve unity, attend to the assisting the Pastor as he leads them, assist in accommodations for public worship, and encourage and support those able to help others and those with gifts of administration. The deacons are, along with the leadership of the Senior Pastor, responsible for the disbursement of funds received by the church for benevolent needs.
Deacons are not considered to be in a position of leadership in Means Baptist Church, and they are not given an authoritative position over the Senior Pastor, officers, staff, or other members in the church. We believe a deacon is a humble servant who seeks to joyfully serve the membership of the church and assist in dispersing benevolent funds and gifts to people with financial or material needs. No deacon board shall be formed to oversee the ministry of this church or make decisions on behalf of this church.
Section 5: Grievances
The membership of Means Baptist Church will not view Pastors, deacons, teachers, or any other official as those to whom we deliver our grievances against other staff, members, or officers of our church. If we have an issue with another member of our church, we will seek to resolve the issue in accordance with Matthew 18:15-18, or 1st Corinthians 6:7 which reminds us that sometimes it Is best to suffer wrong, rather than bringing reproach and division to the church.
Section 1: Ministers of the Gospel & Deacons
When there is a prospective candidate for ordination to the ministry, the Pastor shall guide that person in his studies and preparation. They shall then call a council to examine the qualifications of the candidate. It shall look into the soundness of his conversion, the godliness of his walk, the soundness of his doctrine, the degree of his gifts, the extent of his training, and the blessing of God upon his labors for Christ.
If the council heartily recommends that the candidate be ordained, the church may give the recommended commission by a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting at a congregational meeting.
The Pastor, under the principles set forth in Article VII, shall have the power to exercise discipline, even to the revocation of this church’s ordination or license.
Section 2: Installation of Deacons
After the Church has affirmed and voted to elect a man to the ministry of Deacon, then the hands of the ordained officers present shall be placed on the heads of the new deacons and prayer offered in their behalf.
The work of this church is financially dependent upon the voluntary gifts of God’s people. The Senior Pastor and Deacons, in conjunction with the finance committee, shall be responsible for the orderly administration of the annual budget and all financial disbursals and receipts. Before an annual members meeting (fiscal year start/end date to be determined by the church), the Senior Pastor shall work in conjunction with the finance committee to prepare a budget that will finance the mission and ministries of the church. When this budget is approved by a vote of the congregation, it shall be considered the basis for the current liabilities. No adjustments are to be made to the budget that exceed 10% of the annual budget without the consent of the congregation.
Amendments to the Constitution may be adopted by a two-thirds majority vote of the members present and voting at a congregational or members meeting, provided that such amendments have been distributed by the officers in written form at least two weeks prior to the congregational meeting.
Section 1: Notice of Meetings
Notice of all members meetings shall be given at regular worship services on the two successive Sundays immediately prior to the meeting. In an emergency, a meeting may be called on shorter notice by making an effort to notify each member of the time, place and purpose of the congregational meeting.
Section 2: Number of Meetings
Members meetings shall be held every quarter for the reception of reports and the transaction of such other business as may properly be brought before the meeting. The adoption of a budget shall take place at the annual members meeting closest to the end of the fiscal year.
Section 3: Method of Calling Meetings
It shall be the right and responsibility of the Senior Pastor to call all congregational meetings. When special congregational meetings are called, there must be notice given to the congregation as to the purpose.
Section 4: Responsibility for Meetings
The Pastor shall arrange the details of all congregational committee and members meetings and see that all possible preparation for their successful conduct is made. All meetings of Means Baptist Church shall follow the principles godliness, kindness, and adherence to the Biblical instruction for brotherly love and cooperation. There are to be no private recordings or broadcasts of congregational committee, or membership meetings.
The Senior Pastor shall be a member for all committees/meetings.
In as much as possible, any items to be discussed at members meetings should be presented to the moderator prior to the meeting in order to best arrange and govern the meeting in an orderly fashion.
Section 5: Quorum for Transaction of Business
The voting members present at any constitutionally called members meeting shall be considered a quorum for the transaction of business.
A quorum for any committee meetings shall be 60% of their total number. Committees shall deliver a written record of their meetings to the Clerk.
Section 6: Voting Age
Any member of the church eighteen years of age or over, in good and regular standing, shall have the right to vote on any question properly brought before the congregation.
Section 1: Principles
The process for church elections shall be interpreted and carried out to fulfill the following principles: Substantial prayer, both individually and corporately, should be an integral part of the election process; Nominations should proceed only with the support of the Senior Pastor; All candidates for church office should be treated with the grace, kindness, and honesty appropriate in evaluating fellow members.
Section 2: Selection of Officers
The election of officers shall be held at a members’ meeting of the church. Names of nominees to serve as officers shall be presented by the moderator at the members’ meeting, and the election shall proceed as directed by the moderator. The moderator shall declare elected all those receiving no less than 75% of all votes cast for the office of elder or deacon; abstentions will not be considered as votes cast. The persons elected shall assume their respective offices upon election, unless another date has been specifically designated.
Section 3: Calling of the Senior Pastor
In the calling of any man to this position, the church must be given adequate opportunity to assess the preaching gifts of any potential senior pastor and, before being asked to express its judgment, must receive assurance from a Pastoral search committee elected by the church, that having interviewed the man concerned, they are in no doubt as to his wholehearted assent to the church’s confession of faith and affirmed statements. Means Baptist Church will interview, consider, and recognize only adult males over the age of 21 as candidates for Senior Pastor. Pastoral candidates must affirm our confessions of faith. When interviewing a candidate for Senior Pastor, his faithfulness to sound Biblical doctrine is our primary concern.
Section 4: Dismissal of the Senior Pastor
Dismissal of a Senior Pastor must be by 66% of the members present at a members meeting. The elder(s) and deacon(s) must make the congregation aware in advance that such a vote will be taking place. If at any time the senior pastor shall make application to be released from his office, or if the congregation shall choose by a two-thirds majority vote to dismiss him, the relationship between the senior pastor and church may be terminated by the congregation in ninety days from the date of notice of intention, or in a shorter period of time, if it is mutually agreed upon.
CLERK AND TREASURER
Section 1: Duties of the Church Clerk
The Clerk shall keep a record of all business transacted at the various meetings of the church, keep an accurate record of the membership, and carry on all necessary and related correspondence for the congregation. The Clerk shall be appointed by congregational vote.
Section 2: Duties of the Church Treasurer
The church Treasurer is to be responsible for the keeping of an accurate financial record of all funds identified with the church, reconciling monthly statements, monitoring and safeguarding church accounts, attending to any filings required by law, as well as maintaining records of individual contributions. The Treasurer shall be appointed by congregational vote. Eligible candidates to the office of Treasurer must consist of either: A member in good standing possessing abilities in financial stewardship and accounting practices, willing to voluntarily serve in this position. Or, a paid Certified Public Accountant to handle or oversee the proper discharge of all the above referenced duties.
The Treasurer shall work with and report to the Senior Pastor and Finance Committee. An assistant Treasurer may be appointed to assist in these duties and be an emergency secondary on church bank accounts.
The Finance Committee shall be comprised of the Senior Pastor, Church Treasurer, at least one deacon, and additional church members who are appointed annually by the Senior Pastor and approved by the congregation. Their duties include working with the Pastor and Treasurer to prepare and recommend to the congregation an annual budget.
In compliance with the laws of the State of Kentucky for Corporations Not for Profit, this church shall have at least 2 men to serve as trustees who carry out those duties as required by law.
At the approval of no less than 75% of the members present at a regular members meeting, the church may approve 3-7 men (two shall be deacons, if possible, and the Senior Pastor shall be considered one member) who shall comprise a church council. The Senior Pastor will select and recommend these men and serve as head of the council, and the church treasurer will assist in determining available funds and disbursing funds as emergency needs arise. The Church Council shall be installed and terminated as the Senior Pastor and/or congregation deems necessary.
The Church Council will assist the Senior Pastor in day to day business which may arise. The Church Council will govern matters that are deemed an emergency that cannot be stalled until a members meeting can be called. For example: Maintenance to uphold the high quality of the building and grounds, immediate legal matters, and emergency spiritual matters involving members or staff.
Council members must be men who faithfully attend regular worship services, faithful financial contributors to the church, as well as good stewards of what the Lord has entrusted to them. They should be knowledgeable in such things as pertain to the building and grounds (ex: heat and air, electrical issues, property maintenance, construction, etc.) In the Pastor’s absence, the council may select a member well qualified to lead. The church will support and encourage these men as respected elders in the church, and lovingly encourage them when they have made emergency decisions.
Other committees such as, but not limited to, youth committee, missions committee, hospitality committee, pastor search committee, and any other needed committee, may be approved by the church by 75% approval at any members meeting. The Senior Pastor should approve all committee prospects before voted on by the church. Committees may be formed and dissolved as needed.
AMENDMENTSAmendments to the By-Laws may be adopted by a two-thirds majority vote of the members present and voting at a congregational meeting, provided that such amendments have been distributed by the Senior Pastor and/or deacons in written form at least one week prior to a members