Article ii

MEMBERSHIP

  1. Membership Candidacy

    A person shall be received as a candidate for membership in one of the following ways:
    A. by an initial Profession of Faith in and commitment to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, followed with baptism by immersion;
    B. by Believer’s Baptism: (baptism by immersion after profession of Faith);
    C. by promise of a Letter of Transfer from another church of like faith and practice; or
    D. by statement if a Letter of Transfer is unavailable.

  2. Membership Confirmation

    Candidates recommended by the Elder Body who have demonstrated a consistent commitment to the Church, have successfully completed the New Members’ Candidate Class, have received Believer’s Baptism by immersion, and have given credible testimony as to their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior, will be presented to the church body in special conference for confirmation during a New Members Covenant Ceremony. Following the candidate’s vow of commitment to the church body and the church body’s vow of commitment to the candidate, the “right hand of fellowship” will be extended, signifying the acceptance of the candidate into full membership.

  3. Forms of Membership
    A. Regular
    All who are received into the membership of this Church on the conditions set forth in this article shall be considered members in good standing until such status is changed. B. Other
    • i. Under Watchcare: A student, tourist or other person temporarily residing in the Columbia area may request to be received under Watchcare, with no letter of transfer to be requested.
    • ii. In Absentia: A person providentially hindered from attending worship services in person may request membership by any way the Church accepts a candidate for membership. 
    • iii. The membership of those received under Watchcare or m Absentia, whose relationship to this Church involves special consideration and circumstances, shall be determined in each case by a unanimous vote of the Eldership. Those received into the membership other than by regular membership shall have all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of regular members except that of voting.

  4. Termination of Membership
    A. by Letter of Transfer upon request of another church of like faith and practice;
    B. a member’s personal written request;
    C. by erasure:
    • i. upon a member’s uniting with a church of another faith and order;
    • ii. upon the death of a member; 
    • iii. upon a member being wilfully absent from the stated meetings of the Church without just cause for more than six months; or 
    • iv. upon a member having moved from the Columbia area and not able to attend the stated meetings of the Church for more than six months without the Church having received a request for Letter of Transfer; or
    D. by exclusion as an act of discipline.

  5. Membership Responsibilities and Privileges
    A. Responsibilities: It will be expected of members of this body to:
    • i. maintain a vital, intimate personal relationship with the Lord.
    • ii. appropriately respond to the authority of this Church’s God appointed leadership for their care over the spiritual health of the Church and its individual members; for their instruction in spiritual matters; and for corrective discipline, should it ever be required. 
    • iii. consistently study the Scriptures, being strengthened in the wisdom and knowledge of God, and purpose to obey the precepts and commandments of the Lord as He teaches them. 
    • iv. consistently pray for this Church, its leaders, and its ministries. 
    • v. consistently attend, presenting oneself with the corporate body before the Lord on every occasion, prepared to give and to receive in worship. 
    • vi. accept all biblical roles within one’s family, as unto the Lord, whether they be of authority or submission. 
    • vii. love, accept, pray for, serve and be an example to the other members of this body.
    B. Privileges: It shall be the privilege of every member to:
    • i. be ruled by the Word of God in everything.
    • ii. be lovingly received by the Church into its life and fellowship. 
    • iii. be under the care and discipline of faithful elders. 
    • iv. be nurtured and edified by clear teaching, by public preaching, and by personal counseling. 
    • v. be equipped for the work of the ministry. 
    • vi. receive the ordinances of our Lord. 
    • vii. when at least the age of 18 years or older, to participate in the process of the selection or removal of Church Officers, the amendment or repeal of bylaws of the Church, or any other special conference of the Church, as hereafter provided.

  6. Church Discipline
    A. Purpose of Church Discipline
    It is the God-given duty of every church member, including church staff or church officer, to participate in and subject oneself to both formative and corrective church discipline. When biblically administered, church discipline is beneficial to both the individual and the church body. Out of obedience to God, we purpose to exercise biblical discipline in order to:

    • i. maintain, and where necessary restore, full fellowship with Christ and His Church40.
    • ii. protect the purity of the Church41. 
    • iii. keep the name of the Church above reproach in the community42.

    B. Formative Discipline
    Formative Discipline is the embodiment of Col. 3:12-16, namely letting “the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…,” accompanied by public teaching and preaching of the word and the private exercise of spiritual gifts to the edification of the body. Such ministry will effect growth in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ within the body. It is acknowledged that failure of formative discipline leads to the necessity of corrective discipline.
    C. Corrective Discipline

    • i. Procedure of Discipline
      • a. Since every member of the Church is to be a minister, all members are encouraged to exhort and stimulate one another to love and good works. If a member (the restorer) has firsthand knowledge of another member (the offender) in sin43 , he should go privately to the offender and seek to restore him to fellowship with the Lord and His church.If the offender repents, the matter is over, the brother is restored. If the offender does not repent:
      • b. the restorer shall take one or two other members to again confront the offender with his sin and again seek to restore him to fellowship and obedience. If the offender repents, the matter is over, the brother is restored. If the offender does not repent, the members who went to the offender shall advise the Elders of what has transpired. If the elders are satisfied that all actions have been scripturally undertaken and that the offender is indeed in a state of unrepentant sin, then the Elders shall inform the offender of the next step. If he remains unrepentant, then:
      • c. at a special conference of the Church, the Elders shall inform the church body of the offender’s sin and refusal to repent. The entire Church shall be encouraged to go to the offender and seek to restore him.If the offender repents, the matter is over, the brother is restored. If the offender does not repent, he is informed by the Elders of the next step:
      • d. at a special conference of the Church, the Elders shall inform the church body of the offender’s continued refusal to repent. The offender’s name shall be removed from the membership roll, the offender excluded from the ordinance of Communion, and the entire Church admonished to avoid any social contact with him.  
    • ii. Procedure For ReinstatementShould a member once excluded by discipline show by his attitude and actions that he has repented of his sin and is once more seeking to live a life of obedience to Jesus Christ, upon his request, and under review of the Elder Body, he will be reinstated as a member and will be restored and welcomed back into full fellowship.