SOUTH VENICE BAPTIST CHURCH
For the preservation and security of the principles of our faith and to the ends that this body may be governed in an orderly manner consistent with historic Baptist principles, and for the purpose of preserving the liberties inherent in being a member of this church and the freedom of action of this body with respect to its relation to other churches of the same faith, we do declare and establish this constitution.
This body shall be known as the South Venice Baptist Church, Inc., located in Venice, Florida.
II. ARTICLES OF FAITH
The South Venice Baptist Church believes and affirms the Holy Bible as the inspired Word of God and the basis for our faith and practice. The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.
III. CHURCH COVENANT
Believing that we are led by the spirit of God to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior,
Professing our faith, and having been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
We now, in the continuing presence of God and this, His Church, joyfully covenant with one another as one body in Christ.
Aided by the Holy Spirit, we pledge to continue walking together in Christian love, striving to advance this church in knowledge, holiness, and strength,
Promoting its prosperity and spirituality, sustaining its common worship, ordinances, discipline, and doctrines,
Contributing cheerfully and regularly to support the ministry, expenses of the church, and the spread of the gospel throughout the world.
We further pledge that maintaining family and personal devotions, religiously educating our children, and seeking the salvation of our friends and neighbors will be a part of our active commitment to Jesus Christ.
Witnessing to the love of Christ for all mankind, we will be in conduct above reproach in the world, dealing justly in matters of business, faithful to our commitments, and an example in our behavior.
Avoiding all action that destroys the dignity of mankind, we will pursue all positive means of elevating mankind to our God-given created destiny as taught by the person and preaching of Jesus Christ.
We further pledge to care continually for each other in Christian love,
Remembering each other in prayer, aiding each other in sickness and crisis, cultivating Christian attitudes in our feelings and speech,
Being slow to take offense, always ready for reconciliation, and encouraged by our Savior=s love to seek it quickly.
Further, we pledge that, when distance prevents our sharing in this fellowship, we will, as soon as possible, unite with another church where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God=s Word.
IV. CHURCH VISION & MISSION STATEMENT
Our vision statement is Joyfully Sharing Christ.
As believers in Christ and through the Holy Spirit, we commit to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with all people through evangelism, outreach, and missions; to equip believers for ministries in our church, our community, and throughout the world; and to provide opportunities for worship, Bible study, discipleship, stewardship, service, and fellowship.
V. COMMITMENTS AND PRINCIPLES
Although we come from a variety of backgrounds and sometimes have diverse points of view, we share the following common commitments as a fellowship of Baptist Christians. These commitments shape who we are and help direct how we function as a church.
As Christians, we are committed to historic Baptist principles, and what binds us together is our common faith in Jesus Christ. As Baptist Christians, we share a commitment to those principles that have formed our unique Baptist heritage and beliefs. These include:
! Biblical Authority – The Bible is, under the leadership of Christ, the final authority in all matters of belief and practice because the Bible is inspired by God and bears the absolute authority of God Himself. Whatever the Bible affirms, Baptists accept as true. No human opinion or decree of any church group can override it. Even creeds and confessions of faith, which attempt to state the theology of scripture, do not carry scripture=s inherent authority. Every Christian has the freedom and right to interpret and apply scripture under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
! Autonomy of the Local Church – Christ is the recognized head of our church, not any person, group, or religious organization. While recognizing the value of associating and cooperating with other groups of Christians, we believe that every local church should be self-governing and independent from any denominational control.
! Priesthood of the Believer – Every believer is a priest of God and may enter into His presence in prayer directly through our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ. No other mediator is needed between God and His people: we all have equal access to God.
! Two Ordinances – The local church should practice two ordinances: (1) baptism of the believer by immersion in water and (2) the Lord=s Supper, or communion, commemorating His death for our sins.
! Individual Soul Liberty – Every individual has the liberty to chose what (s)he believes is right where religion is concerned: however, this liberty does not exempt one from responsibility to the Word of God or from accountability to God Himself.
! Saved, Baptized Church Membership – Local church membership is restricted to individuals who give a credible testimony of personal faith in Christ and have publicly identified themselves with Him in believer=s baptism.
! Two Offices – The Bible mandates only two offices in the church – pastor and deacon – and those exist only within the local church, not as a hierarchy outside or over the church.
! Religious Freedom – We believe in freedom of religion, freedom for religion, and freedom from religion: this means that every person should be free to practice their own religion, that no state should interfere with the practice of religion, and that no state should impose the practice of any religion on its citizens. We also believe in the separation of church and state: that God established both the church and the civil government, and that He gave each its own distinct sphere of operation. Neither should control the other, nor should there be an alliance between the two.
! The Centrality of Worship – While there are many functions of the church, one indispensable function is worship: therefore we commit ourselves to making worship thoughtful, challenging, reverent, and relevant.
! The ministry and missions – We believe that every Christian is called to be a co-laborer in the task of fulfilling Christ=s Great Commission. We are committed to Christ=s call to minister to the spiritual, physical, and social needs of individuals and communities.
! The Lifelong Preparation for Ministry and Service – We believe that God has called each of us to prepare ourselves for His service. We are committed to provide opportunities for this preparation through Bible study that is offered in an atmosphere of reverence, honesty, and openness.
We do not regard these commitments and principles as complete, having any quality of finality or infallibility. As in the past, so in the future we should hold ourselves free to revise them as may seem wise and expedient at any time.
The government of this church is vested only in members who compose it. Persons received into membership by the congregation shall constitute the membership. It is subject to the control of no other ecclesiastical body, but it recognizes and sustains the obligation of mutual counsel and cooperation which is common among Baptist churches. Insofar as it is practical, this church will cooperate with and support the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and their efforts.
We will organize, make decisions, and carry out God=s mission for our church in ways that will instill trust. We will be inclusive in spirit, language, and practice. We will honor differences of opinion. We will be faithful stewards of the financial and human resources entrusted to us. We will be thoroughly accountable for all we do. We will operate on consensus for our decision making process. This will include town hall meetings and open discussions. Consensus will be defined as 90% affirmative of those present and voting. There will be no formal vote at town hall meetings.
We will organize our church in ways that encourage flexibility, responsiveness, and accountability. We will monitor the effectiveness of our ministries and structures in light of our stated mission. We will be innovative in approaches to reaching people, and equipping them to minister effectively in a changing world.
This constitution may be amended by the affirmative vote of at least seventy-five (75) percent of the members present and voting at any regular business meeting or at any special business meeting called for that purpose; provided, however, that such amendment or change shall have been first recommended by a majority of the members present at a prior regular or special business meeting of the church, which meeting must be at least one prior to the meeting at which the amendment is considered; and provided further that in case of amendment or change, the notice of the meeting shall include, or be accompanied by, a copy of each proposed amendment or change and a copy of the Article of the Constitution for which the amendment or change is purposed.