New Hope Presbyterian Church
Constitution & By-Laws Information Meeting
March 14, 2021
The Session of the church, after two years of work and review, has proposed a new Constitution and By-Laws to the congregation. The proposed document was sent out to all active members via our church communication system known as ELI. Members were notified of an informational meeting to be held on March 14, 2021, in Room 212 at 10:30 AM, which could also be attended by Zoom, for questions and discussion.
Moderators of the meeting were Art Hunkins, currently inactive elder and former Clerk of Session, and Brad Starner, Director of Business and Finance, both of whom were on the committee to create the new document. Copies of the current governing document and the proposed were available.
Brad began the meeting with a brief history of New Hope, how we came out of the PCUSA denomination in 2008 and needed to immediately incorporate according to the State of Florida laws and regulations. The incorporating documents were based on the former church documents and PCUSA guidelines. Since then, New Hope became affiliated with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC). The new documents are based on the EPC Book of Order and many references in the new document (BOO, BOG, BOW, BOD) directly refer to that Book of Order. The EPC website www.epc.org has viewable and downloadable copies of this and many other denomination resources.
Questions asked at the meeting:
Q1: What has changed? We didn’t see the old version for comparison.
A1: Everything. The former document was so different from what was needed that revising it was not possible. A new document was created. The document sent out is what the Session is presenting for review and approval. The former document is available here today or upon request, if desired.
Q2: Why does the Session revise the document and then present it to the congregation?
A2: In the Presbyterian form of government, the congregation elects the Session members called “elders”. The elders are members who govern the church as “ruling elders”. The pastor or pastors are “teaching elders” who are not church members but are members of the Presbytery. The Senior Pastor is usually the Moderator of Session. Our Presbytery is a group of EPC churches in Florida and the Caribbean. Each church owns their own property, and each Session governs their local church. In the EPC, the Presbytery serves the local church.
Q3: Who is responsible for the church?
A3 The members elect the elders to represent the church and are responsible for the financial, property and spiritual health of the church. In Session meetings, they review and vote on all matters that affect the church.
Q4: Does the Moderator vote? What happens in a tie vote?
A4: The Moderator can vote. However, the business of the church is not run by a simple majority vote, but rather by consensus. After discussion, any issue that seems close would not go to a vote. After prayerful consideration, it would be postponed to a later meeting for more information and prayer. In most cases, the votes are unanimous. Church members may also attend the Session meetings, but only the elders are permitted to vote. The regular Stated Session meetings are on the 4th Tuesday of each month at 6 PM.
Q5: Are these new documents in accord with the tenants of the EPC.
Q6: What is a quorum of the church and when will the Constitution and By-Laws meeting be?
A6: According to the EPC, a church of our size requires attendance of 10% of the members at a congregational meeting to meet a quorum. At this time, that is about 95 members. The new by-laws, in accordance with the EPC guidelines, will include virtual (Zoom) participants in the constitution of a quorum. The Session has set a congregational meeting for Sunday, April 11th, at 10:30 AM, between the 2nd and 3rd services for the purpose of voting on the new Constitution and By-Laws.