FIRST CHINESE BAPTIST CHURCH, LOS ANGELES
CONSTITUTION AND BY-LAWS
Adopted at the Sixth Annual Meeting, December 7, 1958 Amended at the Nineteenth Annual Meeting, September 12, 1971
Amended at the Twenty-Sixth Annual Meeting, August 13, 1978 Amended at the Twenty-Ninth Annual Meeting, August 9, 1981
Amended at the Fortieth Annual Meeting, August 9, 1992 Amended at the Forty-Fifth Annual Meeting, August 10, 1997 Amended at the Fifty-Second Annual Meeting, August 8, 2004 Amended at the Fifty-Fourth Annual Meeting, August 13, 2006 Amended at the Fifty-Fifth Annual Meeting, August 12, 2007
Amended on July 10, 2011
Amended at the Sixtieth Annual Meeting, August 19, 2012 Amended on May 15, 2016
Amended at the Sixty-Fifth Annual Meeting, August 20, 2017 Amended at the Sixty-Eighth Annual Meeting, August 16, 2020
We, the members of First Chinese Baptist Church, Los Angeles, accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, and the Holy Bible as the full and sufficient rule of our faith and practice; holding to the doctrines thereof, as stated in Section III of this Constitution, and the Church Covenant, do bind ourselves together as a body of baptized believers in Jesus Christ. We hereby adopt the following as our Constitution and By-Laws.
As of April 28, 1960, under the laws of the State of California, this church is duly incorporated under the name of “First Chinese Baptist Church, Los Angeles” (FCBCLA), which henceforth will be referred to in the Constitution and By-Laws as “the Church.”
III. STATEMENT OF FAITH
The Bible itself, as the inspired and infallible Word of God that speaks with final authority concerning truth, morality, and the proper conduct of mankind, is the sole and final source of all that we believe. For purposes of determining doctrine, practice, policy, and discipline, the pastors of the Executive Council compose the body that has final interpretive authority on the meaning and application of the Bible for the Church.
The Church stands on a foundation of beliefs based on the Bible. These beliefs include:
We believe that the original writings of the Bible are inspired by God without error of any kind, and is totally true and trustworthy. The sixty-six books of the Bible are the complete written revelation of God to man, given that believers may be adequately equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:20-21).
b. The Triune God
We believe in the one living and true God, eternally existing in perfect unity as three equally and fully divine Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each member of the Godhead, while executing distinct but complementary roles in redemptive history, has precisely the same nature, attributes, and being, and is equally worthy of the same glory and honor and obedience (Deut. 6:4; Matt. 28:19-30; Jn. 1:1-4).
c. God the Father
We believe that God the Father orders and disposes all things according to the purposes of His grace (Ps. 145:8-9, 1 Cor. 8:6). He is the creator of all things (Acts 17:24). He is sovereign over heaven and earth (2 Chron. 20:6). His fatherhood involves both His designation within the Trinity and His relationship with mankind (Lk. 2:49). God is Father in truth to those who become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ (Jn. 1:12). He is fatherly in His attitude toward all men (Eph. 4:6).
d. God the Son—Jesus Christ
Cor. 15:4). He ascended in bodily form to the Father in heaven and will return again to receive those who have believed in Him (Jn. 14:2-3).
e. God the Spirit
We believe that the Holy Spirit dwells in each believer and effects a positive change of heart, mind and life. Every Christian has been baptized with the Holy Spirit upon conversion (1 Cor. 12:13). While there is only one baptism of the Spirit, there may be many fillings of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18). The Holy Spirit distributes spiritual gifts to each believer according to His will for the common good (1 Cor. 12:7), sanctifies believers for obedience to Christ and glorifies the Father through them (Jn. 16:7-11; Gal. 5:22-23; 1 Pet. 1:2).
We believe that Adam, the ancestor of mankind, was originally created in the image of God, fell through sin, and as a consequence of his sin, lost relationship with God. We believe that this spiritual death has been transmitted to the entire human race of man, the Man Christ Jesus alone being excepted (Gen. 1:26; 3:6; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 3:23; Eph. 2:1–3; Heb. 4:15). g. Salvation
We believe that salvation for mankind is by God’s grace alone through faith. It is the free gift of God, neither merited nor secured in part or in whole by any virtue or work of man, but received only by personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom all true believers have the gift of eternal life, sonship in the family of God, deliverance and security from all condemnation, every spiritual resource needed for life and godliness. Apart from Christ, there is no possible salvation (Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; Jn. 1:12; Rom. 8:1; Acts 4:12). h. Church
We believe that the local church is an assembly of born-again believers coming together for the purpose of worship and mutual edification (Acts 2:42-47; 1 Cor. 12:12-27). The mission of the church is to carry out the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20) and the Great Commandment (Matt. 22:37-40). i. Ordinances of Baptism & the Communion/Lord’s Supper
Baptism and Lord’s Supper are the two ordinances to be observed in church life. Water baptism is an external sign of an accomplished internal reality (Rom. 6:3-4). All believers are to be baptized by immersion (Matt. 28:19-20; Mk. 1:10; Acts 2:38). The Lord’s Supper is the Christ-ordained means in which we remember His death for our salvation (1 Cor. 11:24-25).
to an eternal life in God’s Kingdom when Jesus Christ returns physically (1 Cor. 15:51-54; 1 Thess. 4:13-17). Every person without Christ stands guilty as a sinner (Rom. 3:23), is judged before His Great White Throne, and throughout eternity exists in a state of conscious, unutterable, and endless torment (Rev. 20:11-15). Every believer will be judged before Christ’s Judgment Seat (2 Cor. 5:10) and enter into the presence of God in the eternal kingdom of the new heaven and the new earth (Rev. 21:1-5).
k. Sexuality and Marriage
We believe that God wonderfully and immutably creates each person as male or female. These two distinct, complementary genders together reflect the image and nature of God (Gen. 1:26-27). Rejection of one’s biological sex is a rejection of the image of God within that person.
We believe that the term “marriage” has only one meaning: the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture (Gen. 2:18-25). We believe that God intends sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other (1 Cor. 6:18; 7:2-5; Heb. 13:4). We believe that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman.
We believe that any form of sexual immorality (including adultery, fornication, homosexual behavior, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, and use of pornography) is sinful and offensive to God (Mt. 15:18-20; 1 Cor. 6:9-10). We believe that God offers redemption and restoration to all who confess and forsake their sin, seeking His mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ (Acts 3:19-21; Rom. 10:9-10; 1 Cor. 6:9-11).
We believe that every person must be afforded compassion, love, kindness, respect, and dignity (Mk. 12:28-31; Lk. 6:31). Hateful and harassing behavior or attitudes directed toward any individual are to be repudiated and are not in accord with Scripture nor the doctrines of the Church.
The Statement of Faith does not exhaust the extent of our faith. We believe that in order to preserve the integrity and function of the Church as the local Body of Christ, and to provide a biblical role model to the community, it is required that all persons employed by the Church in any capacity, or who serve as volunteers, or are members of this church, agree to and abide by the Statement of Faith. (Mt. 5:16; Phil. 2:14-16; 1 Thess. 5:22).
We believe we have been led by the Spirit of God to enter into this church covenant. We have received the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior. We have professed our faith having been baptized by immersion into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. In the presence of God and this assembly we do now most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another, as one body in Christ.
We commit, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love; to strive for the advancement of the Church in Biblical knowledge, holiness and fellowship; to promote its growth and spirituality; to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline, and doctrines; to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the spread of the Gospel to all nations, the expenses of the Church, and the relief of the poor in our midst.
We further commit to watch over one another in brotherly love; to remember each other in prayer; to aid each other in sickness and distress; to cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and courtesy in speech; to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation, and mindful of the teachings of our Savior to acquire it without delay.
We moreover commit that if we leave the Church we will, 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.
a. The Church acknowledges Jesus Christ as its only Lord, and receives the Bible as its supreme guide in matters of Faith, Order, and Discipline.
b. As a Southern Baptist church, the Church is an autonomous, self-governing body.
c. The government of the Church shall be vested in the body of church members who compose it, and whose majority vote is final except where otherwise ordered by this Constitution and By-Laws.
d. Church matters that require voting shall be decided at Church Members Meetings or at other meetings, as allowed by the Constitution and By-Laws. All active members shall have the right to vote on matters concerning the Church.
VI. COLLABORATION WITH OTHER CHURCHES/ORGANIZATIONS
b. The Church shall voluntarily collaborate in missionary and other benevolent endeavors through the Southern Baptist Convention and its various entities. VII. MEMBERSHIP
a. The pre-requisite for church membership is salvation by grace through repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
b. Church members are those who testify to their salvation, are accepted into membership, and are baptized by immersion.
c. Baptism by immersion without repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ is not considered to be acceptable by the Church.
d. All church members shall agree in belief and conduct to abide by and uphold the Constitution and By-Laws of the Church.
VIII. CHURCH LEADERSHIP
a. The Church shall be led by the Senior Pastor, Lead Pastors, Pastoral Staff, Executive Council, Deacons, Church Officers and Corporate Officers, Ministry Leaders and the Church Administrator.
b. All church leaders must be active members of the Church.
c. All church leaders shall agree in belief and conduct to abide by and uphold the Constitution and By-Laws of the Church.
a. The membership of this Church shall be composed of individuals who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and agree in belief and conduct to abide by and uphold its Constitution and By-Laws, and who offer evidence, by their confession and their conduct, that they are striving to live in accord with their affirmations and this Constitution and By-Laws, and are actively pursuing and continuing in a vital fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ. The membership of the Church shall have authority in matters of church governance.
b. A person may apply for membership to the Church after regular worship service attendance for no less than six months. All applicants for membership shall attend Membership Class and shall publicly (within the Church) testify to their faith and salvation. Applicants shall be presented to the church members for acceptance by voting upon recommendation by delegated authority of the Church.
c. The Church shall consider by discussion and vote the acceptance of applicants joining church through baptism by immersion. Applicants shall be those saved by grace through repentance toward God and by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and have never been baptized by immersion. Those accepted shall be baptized by immersion by delegated authority of the Church.
d. For transfer of membership into the Church, the applicant’s baptism by immersion and the Faith and Order of his/her church must be considered acceptable by delegated authority of the Church. Re-baptism will not be required for transfer of membership. The Church shall not accept a transfer applicant from any church not of like Faith and Order, even though the applicant may have been baptized by immersion.
f. A member may be transferred out by letter of recommendation to the fellowship of another church of like Faith and Order; such letter of recommendation is issued only upon approval of the Church.
g. Dual membership (i.e. holding memberships of the Church and another church) shall be discouraged and shall be considered only in special circumstances. Those intending to hold dual membership must obtain approval from the Senior Pastor prior to taking steps stated in Section Ib. h. An active church member shall consistently attend worship service in this
church. Church members who are unable to consistently attend worship service should inform any pastors or deacons and convey their needs. Besides attending worship service church members are encouraged to actively participate in other church activities such as Sunday School/Bible study, prayer meeting, and fellowship gathering.
i. An inactive member is one absent from worship services of the Church without just cause for any 12 consecutive weeks and who fails to communicate with the Church concerning his/her absence. An inactive member shall forfeit all voting rights. Inactive members desiring to be reinstated on the active membership roll may do so upon consistent worship attendance for 12 consecutive weeks and upon approval by the Senior Pastor and Deacons. At this time, voting rights will be re-established. If worship absence without just cause is continued for one year after repeated contacts by a Pastor, Minister or Deacon, the Church may vote to drop his/her church membership because of non-attendance. The dropped member desiring to re-instate his/her membership will have to re-apply but re-baptism will not be required.
II. CHURCH LEADERSHIP
a. Senior Pastor, Lead Pastors and Pastoral Staff
consisting of the Senior Pastor and the Lead Pastors, has final interpretive authority on the meaning and application of the Bible for the Church. The pastoral staff are spiritual leaders and shall lead by example as disciples of Christ in preaching, prayer, teaching, evangelism, caring, discipling, and edifying congregations to follow Biblical principles. The Pastoral Staff, consisting of the Pastors and Ministers, shall be supervised by the Senior Pastor .
b. Executive Council
The Executive Council is the chief administrative and financial oversight body of the church and has fiduciary and legal responsibilities as mandated by the State Law. The authority of the Executive Council shall be granted by the Corporation code and the members of the Church. Members of the Church, if deemed necessary, can remove any or all Council Members and elect new Council Members. The Executive Council shall have authority and
responsibilities as follows:
1. To hold the legal authority, liability and responsibility for and act as the Board of Directors of FCBCLA.
2 To ensure that FCBCLA acts in compliance with governing laws, regulations, the Constitution and Bylaws, including but not limited to the Missions and Visions Statement.
3 To affirm and endorse FCBCLA vision and strategic plan prepared by the Senior Pastor and his staff and to evaluate and monitor the progress towards fulfilling the FCBCLA vision and strategic plan.
4. To perform additional duties as described in the FCBCLA Organization Manual.
5. To hold the Senior Pastor accountable in the following areas: personal character; obedience to the Bible; example as a godly servant; spiritual and professional growth and development; responsibilities as defined in the Senior Pastor’s job description. The Executive Council may, at its own discretion, bring in outside consultants to assist in the evaluation of the Senior Pastor and the overall church health.
The Executive Council shall consist of minimum seven members which includes the Senior Pastor (ex-officio), the two Lead Pastors (ex-officio), Deacon Chair (ex-officio), and three spiritually mature church members preferably with
Pastor, Lead Pastors and the Deacon Chairman shall be ex-officio members of the council. All other elected Executive Council members shall serve staggered, three-year terms with minimum one year off between consecutive terms.
The Executive Council members shall be nominated by an Executive Council Nomination Committee. The Executive Council Nomination Committee is to be made up of the Senior Pastor, Deacon Chair, Church Administrator, one
Nomination Committee representative and one non-ex-officio Executive Council member. The Executive Council Nomination Committee shall prepare a list of candidates for posting a minimum of six weeks prior to the date set for the Annual Members Meeting. The Executive Council chairman shall be nominated and elected by the Executive Council members annually. To avoid the conflict of interest, the Senior Pastor will not be the Executive Council chairman.
The Executive Council shall meet monthly as a minimum. Meeting minutes shall be kept and every month a summary report on decisions made and matters discussed by the council shall be communicated to the Pastors/Ministers and Deacons and to the membership at members’ meeting. The council can also call special meetings with all church leaders, including officers and ministry leaders, to communicate the council’s recommendations on major issues.
A minimum of five Executive Council members shall be required to hold a meeting. A minimum of four votes shall be required to pass any motions by the Executive Council. In special situations, the chairman of the council can arrange voting by remote virtual meetings. The chairman of the council shall have no veto power.
The Executive Council shall consist of the Senior Pastor, Deacon Chairman, and other representative members from the Pastors and Deacons.
The Senior Pastor is assisted by the Executive Council in decisions on church-wide issues, policies, and ministry planning.
For purposes of determining doctrine, practice, policy, and discipline, the pastors of the Executive Council compose the body that has final interpretive authority on the meaning and application of the Bible for the Church.
The Deacons on the Executive Council are delegated by church members to give constructive feedback to the Senior Pastor regarding his job performance and to hold him to personal character and pastoral standards.
Senior Pastor returns or a replacement is found by the search committee formed by the remaining Executive Council and approved by the Church. This interim position should not be held by any one pastor for more than five consecutive years.
The Deacons shall be recognized and honored as God’s servants of the Church and assistants of the Senior Pastor, Lead Pastors and the Pastoral Staff. They shall promote the general welfare of the Church and be zealous to guard the unity of the membership and harmony in fellowship, always seeking the leading and blessing of the Holy Spirit in such efforts. Deacons shall coordinate, promote and collaborate among different congregations, ministries, and church committees. Deacons may serve as counsel to both the pastors and to the church. However, deacons are not officers of the corporation and shall neither have nor exercise any authority that is not expressly vested in them by the church.
Deacons shall be elected by the Church initially as Deacon Candidates. During this initial period of testing, the Deacon Candidates are expected to exercise the same leadership roles and maintain the same spiritual and character standards as Deacons. During the testing period the service shall be renewed annually.
The Church shall consider and elect the Deacon Candidates for ordination after the period of testing. The candidates for deacon ordination must have clear callings from God and shall be confirmed by an Ordination Council interview. There is no expiration to deacon ordination; however, service may be renewed yearly by the Church.
d. Church Officers and Corporate Officers
The Church Officers support the church through various administrative and ministry driven functions. Among the Church Officers the Senior Pastor, Treasurer, and Trustees Chair compose the Corporate Officers.
The Church Officers and Corporate Officers shall be nominated by the Nomination Committee. Candidates for election to church offices must be active members of the Church and are recognized to have served faithfully in church prior to their nomination. Pastoral Staff and Deacons can be elected to serve as officers.
e. Ministry Leaders
f. Church Administrator
The Church Administrator supervises the support staff which consists of the secretarial and office, technical, and maintenance staff.
g. Organizational Manual
An FCBCLA Organization Manual shall be maintained by the Executive Council. It shall be updated according to the needs of the Church with majority approval by church members. Changes to the manual shall be announced to the church in writing prior to implementation. The manual describes the organization structure of the Church and duties and governance of Deacons, Executive Council, Business Board, Corporate and Church Officers and Ministry Leaders and shall be made available to all church members upon request.
III. CHURCH DISCIPLINE
a. Disciplinary action will be considered for those members whose belief and/or conduct show an inability to abide by and uphold the Constitution and By-laws of the Church. The discipline process will be done in accordance with Matthew 18:15-17. The goal of disciplinary action is to work towards restoration with genuine repentance and reconciliation through teaching, correction and counseling.
b. Disciplinary action will be led by the Pastors of the Executive Council.
c. If the member has shown no sign of genuine repentance after being counseled and disciplined, the member may be removed from membership and fellowship by the Church. Removal will require a ¾ majority vote of those present at the Church Members Meeting.
d. The Church may restore membership to a previously excluded member, at his/her request. Restoration of membership shall require ¾ majority vote of those present at the Church Members Meeting.
e. Membership removal or restoration will be conducted in accordance with the process described in “FCBCLA Procedure for Church Discipline.”
IV. CHURCH MEMBERS MEETINGS
governing deliberate bodies, as given in Robert's Rules of Order (latest revised edition). All motions should be presented in writing when requested. b. The moderator of the Church Members Meeting may announce at the start of
the meeting that inactive members shall not participate in voting.
c. Church members must be present at meetings to participate in voting on church matters. Voting by proxy is not permitted.
d. The Church Members Meeting shall be held on Sunday in the months of August, November, February, and May. The August meeting shall be the Annual Church Members Meeting.
e. During the Annual Church Members Meeting, Deacons, Church Officers, and Corporate Officers shall be elected to serve in the next church year, generally starting in August or September.
f. A special Church Members Meeting may be called by the Senior Pastor or the Deacons in the Executive Council, provided that announcement has been made one week in advance, as to time and purpose of the meeting.
g. The Executive Council may authorize virtual members meetings and select a technology which permits both in-person and remote attendance provided that in-person meetings shall always be preferred. Virtual meetings shall not replace in-person meetings unless such meetings are prohibited by law or deemed unsafe.
V. CHURCH ORDINANCES
a. The ordinances of the Church are the Lord’s Supper and baptism by immersion.
b. The Lord's Supper shall be observed each month.
AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION AND BY-LAWS
The Constitution and By-laws may be amended at the annual, regular or special Church Members Meeting of the Church by a 3/4 majority vote of those present, if such amendment is not subversive to, or in violation of the spirit and purpose of this Constitution and By-laws. The Constitution and By-laws may be amended no more than twice within a church year. The proposed changes shall be posted at the church one month in advance. Summary announcements of the proposed changes will be made at all worship services on the four consecutive weeks immediately preceding the vote. It is the responsibility of the Senior Pastor to initiate the steps to announce and post the amendments. The approved amendment shall be filed with the Trustees.
1. The verb “shall” in the Constitution and Bylaws means the action is required. 2. The verb “may” in the Constitution and Bylaws means the action is optional.
3. The verb “should” in the Constitution and Bylaws means the action is recommended. 4. “Like Faith and Order” – When a church is described as like Faith and Order it