Grace OPC Bylaws

As amended April 15, 2023

I. Preface

In order to propagate and maintain the Christian faith and worship, as they are set forth in the Holy Scriptures and defined in the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Grace Orthodox Presbyterian Church determines to be governed by the Book of Church Order of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, by the Bylaws of the Presbytery of Michigan and Ontario of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and by the following Bylaws:

II. Election of Officers

A. Nominations for candidates for the offices of ruling elder and deacon will be taken during a four-week-long nomination period normally once per year. The session will announce the nomination period on at least two consecutive Lord’s days prior to the proposed nomination period. The session shall announce the names of those men whom it has approved to enter a period of training for church office on the second Lord’s day following the close of the nomination period. These men shall then be trained and certified by the session, to be presented to the congregation for election at its regular annual meeting or another meeting called for that purpose. They shall be elected by majority vote of those present.

B. Ruling elders and deacons will be elected for lifetime service (barring providential hindrance).

III. Meetings of the Congregation

A. The annual congregational meeting will normally be held in the fourth week of January.

B. Other meetings may be called by the session. The session shall call a meeting when petitioned to do so by one-fourth of the congregation.

C. One third of the voting members of the congregation will constitute a quorum at a congregational meeting.

D. Public notice of all meetings of the congregation must be given on two consecutive Lord’s days prior to the meeting, or with written notice being mailed to all members at least ten days in advance of the meeting.

IV. Meetings of the Corporation

A. The annual meeting of the corporation will be held at the same time as the congregational meeting.

B. Members of the corporation shall be the pastor and the communicant members of this church who are in good and regular standing and at least eighteen years of age. Members of the congregation who wish not to be part of the corporation must state their desire in writing to the session.

C. One third of the members of the corporation will constitute a quorum at a corporation meeting.

D. The Board of Trustees shall consist of at least three people nominated by the session and elected by the corporation to serve a term of three years (cf. Form of Government 31.3).

V. Board of Trustees

A. The Trustees shall act for the Corporation in all matters pertaining to affairs of property and other temporal matters.

B. The Board of Trustees is responsible for all the financial decisions regarding the maintenance and care of the physical property belonging to the church. This includes the church building(s), inside and out, and the grounds outside.

C. The Board of Trustees shall submit to session estimated expenses for all planned repairs and renovations. The estimate shall be submitted to session sufficiently prior to repairs and renovations commencing and monies disbursed to allow session the opportunity to veto the planned action.

D. The Board of Trustees shall normally meet at least once per quarter at a time and place agreeable to all Trustees.

E. A majority of the Trustees shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business at any meeting of the Board of Trustees.

F. The Board of Trustees shall keep a record of its proceedings and submit a copy of its minutes to the session.

VI. The Budget

Session will adopt the budget, normally by the end of January, for presentation at the annual congregational meeting.

VII. Biblical Counseling

A. All Christians struggle with sin and the effect that it has on our lives and our relationships (see Rom. 3:23; 7:7–25). Whenever a Christian is unable to overcome sinful attitudes or behaviors through private efforts, God commands that he should seek assistance from other members, and especially from the pastor and elders, who have the responsibility of providing pastoral counseling and oversight (see Rom. 15:14; Gal. 6:1–2; Col. 3:16; 2 Tim. 3:16–4:2; Heb. 10:24–25; 13:17; Jas. 5:16). Therefore, this church encourages and enjoins its members to make confession to and seek counsel from each other and especially from our pastoral counselors.

B. We believe that the Bible provides thorough guidance and instruction for faith and life. Therefore, our counseling shall be based on scriptural principles rather than those of secular psychology or psychiatry. Neither the pastoral nor the lay counselors of this church are trained or licensed as psychotherapists or mental health professionals, nor should they be expected to follow the methods of such specialists.

C. Although some members of this church work in professional fields outside the church, when serving as pastoral or lay counselors within the church they do not provide the same kind of professional advice and services that they do when they are hired in their professional capacities. Therefore, members who have significant legal, financial, medical, or other technical questions should seek advice from independent professionals. Our pastoral and lay counselors shall be available to cooperate with such advisors and help members to consider their advice in the light of relevant scriptural principles.

VIII. Confidentiality

A. The Bible teaches that Christians should carefully guard any personal and private information that others reveal to them. Protecting confidences is a sign of Christian love and respect (see Matt. 7:12). It also discourages harmful gossip (Prov. 16:28, 26:20), invites confession (see Prov. 11:13, 28:13; Jas. 5:16), and encourages people to seek needed counseling (see Prov. 20:19; Rom. 15:14). Since these goals are essential to the ministry of the gospel and the work of this church, all members are expected to refrain from gossip and to respect the confidences of others. In particular, our pastor and elders shall carefully protect all information that they receive through pastoral counseling, subject to the following guidelines.

B. Although confidentiality is to be respected as much as possible, there are times when it is appropriate to reveal certain information to others. In particular, when the pastors and elders of this church believe it is biblically necessary, they may disclose confidential information to appropriate people in the following circumstances:

  1. When a pastor or elder is uncertain of how to counsel a person about a particular problem and needs to seek advice from other pastors or elders in this church or, if the person attends another church, from the pastors or elders of that church (see Prov. 11:14, 13:10, 15:22, 19:20, 20:18; Matt. 18:15–17).

  2. When the person who disclosed the information, or any other person, is in imminent danger of serious harm unless others intervene (see Prov. 24:11–12), or when required by law to report suspected child abuse.

  3. When a person refuses to repent of sin and it becomes necessary to institute disciplinary proceedings in accordance with OPC Book of Discipline VI.B.

C. Scripture commands that confidential information be shared with others only when a problem cannot be resolved through the efforts of a small group of people within the church (Matt. 18:15–17). Therefore, except as provided above, a pastor or elder may not disclose confidential information to anyone outside this church without the approval of session or the session of the person who originally disclosed the information.

IX. Amendments

These Bylaws may be amended, in whole or in part, by a vote of two-thirds of the voting members present at a congregational meeting, provided that notice of the proposed amendment(s) be given in writing to the clerk of the session and announced at least two weeks prior to the meeting.