Graceland Church Constitution & Bylaws


Having been led, as we believe, by the Spirit of God, to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, and on the profession of our faith, having been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, we do now in the presence of God, and one another, most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another as one in Christ. By God’s grace and under His command, we commit to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.


This body shall be known as the Graceland Southern Baptist Church of New Albany, Indiana and shall be presented in name as the elder board deems appropriate. This church may offer cooperation with the Southeast Association of Baptists, the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana, and the Southern Baptist Convention. In addition, this church shall offer ecumenical fellowship and cooperation to other churches as the Holy Spirit leads.



The Scriptures: The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, inerrant and infallible in content and application, being the only sufficient, certain and authoritative rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience. (2 Timothy 3:16; Romans 1:21 Peter 4:11)


The Trinity: God is revealed to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, each with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence or being. (2 Corinthians 13:14; Matthew 4:16-17Mark 1:9-11Luke 3:21-23)


God: There is but one God, the Maker, Preserver and Ruler of all things, having in and of Himself all perfections, and being infinite in them all; and to Him, all creatures owe the highest love, reverence and obedience. (Genesis 1:1John 1:1-2Deuteronomy 6:4)



Jesus Christ: Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, is the divinely appointed mediator between God and man. He was born of a virgin having taken upon Himself human nature, yet without sin, He perfectly fulfilled the law, suffered and died upon the cross for the salvation of sinners. He was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended to His Father, at whose right hand He ever liveth to make intercession for His people and will return in body for His Church. He is the only Mediator, the Prophet, Priest, and King of the Church and Sovereign of the Universe. (John 3:16Isaiah 53Isaiah 9:6-7Acts 1:8-11Matthew 28:19-20)



The Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit is the third member of the Trinity. He reveals God in this present world. At salvation, He indwells the believer, setting God’s presence on him (Ephesians 1:13-14), empowering him to live Christ-like (Romans 8:9-11). He subsequently and continuously fills the believer, empowering him as a witness of Christ’s life and ministry 2 as the believer actively submits to His presence and will (Acts 1:8Acts 4:31Ephesians 5:18). The Holy Spirit presently ministers through all His gifts and power which is made available to every believer (Acts 1:8Acts 2:38Acts 1:5) manifesting the gifts as described and noted in Romans 12:6-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, which He demonstrates through individual members of Christ’s body for its strengthening and increase. To refuse the ministry and message of the Holy Spirit that Jesus Christ is Lord is to refuse salvation and thus commit the unpardonable sin (Mark 3:28-291 John 4:1-3).


The Fall of Man: God originally created man in His own image, and free from sin: but through the temptation of Satan, he transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original holiness and righteousness: whereby his posterity inherit a nature wholly opposed to God and His law, are under condemnation, and as soon as they are capable of moral action, become actual transgressors. (Genesis 3:6-714-19)


Salvation: Salvation is a change of heart, wrought by the Holy Spirit through repentance by faith in Christ Jesus resulting in the full acquittal of the sinner from all sins and sanctifying him by God’s Word and the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. (Romans 4, 5 & 8; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:4-10; 2 Peter 3:9)


The Church: The Lord Jesus is the Head of the Church, which is composed of all His true disciples, and in Him is invested supremely all power for her government. According to His commandments, Christians are to associate themselves into local bodies; and to each of these He hath given need for authority for administering that order, disciplines and worship which He hath appointed. The regular officers of a church are Elders, Pastors / Teachers, Deacons, Prophets and Apostles. (Ephesians 1:22Ephesians 2:9-11, 21; Ephesians 4:10-16Colossians 1:18)


Baptism: Baptism is an ordinance of the Lord Jesus, obligatory upon every believer, wherein he is immersed in water in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, as a sign of his fellowship with the death and resurrection of Christ, of remission of sins, the circumcision of the old nature, and of his giving himself up to God, to live and to walk in newness of life. (Matthew 28:19-20Mark 16:15-16Acts 10:46-48Ephesians 4:5Galatians 3:27-28)


The Lord’s Supper: The Lord’s Supper is an ordinance of Jesus Christ, to be administered with the elements of bread and fruit of the vine and to be observed by His church. It is in no sense a sacrifice, but is designed to commemorate His death until He returns, to confirm the faith and other graces of Christians and to be a bond, pledge, and renewal of their communion with Him, and of their church fellowship. (Matthew 26:26-29Luke 22:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-34; John 6:26-58)


The Resurrection of the Dead: The bodies of men after death return to dust, but their spirits return immediately to God – the righteous to rest with Him; the wicked, to be reserved under darkness to the judgement. At the last day, the bodies of all the dead, both just and unjust, will be raised. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58)


The Second Coming: The Lord Jesus Christ will return and set up His kingdom to rule in all creation. (Matthew 24:27-31Mark 13:24-27Luke 21:25-28)


The Judgement: God hath appointed a day, wherein He will judge the world by Jesus Christ, when everyone shall receive according to his deeds; the wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment; the righteous, into everlasting life. (1 Corinthians 2:9-15; Romans 14;10; Luke 16:19-31Matthew 25:31-46)


Worldly Associations: Believers in Jesus Christ are called out of the world to be separated unto God for His glory. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ need no other affiliation in this world to give them direction for life. The follower of Jesus does not enter into any relationship that binds him to another in disobedience to God’s Word. Membership in secret societies requiring oath-taking and/or following teaching contrary to Scripture are to be shunned by the members and leaders of the Body of Christ.


Marriage: According to the Scriptures, marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime. (Genesis 2:23-25) It is God’s unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His Church. (Ephesians 5:24-26) God provides through marriage the framework for intimate companionship between one man and one woman, the channel of sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race.


SECTION 1. The Chief Shepherd

The Lord Jesus is the Chief Shepherd of this congregation.

It is before Him that all other leadership must bow (Ephesians 1:22-23Matthew 23:8-11; 1 Peter 5:4).

He communicates His will for the church through His Word, the Bible.

He gives additional guidance by means of the specific leading of the Holy Spirit who indwells the heart of each believer.

He also shepherds the flock through the elders of the church to whom He has given specific gifts.

SECTION 2. Elders


In its operation the church will be governed by a group of godly men called Elders. These shall be men in whose lives the working of the Holy Spirit is evident, who have given a worthy witness of the authority of Christ in their lives and who have met the qualifications given in the Scriptures. Authority for the day-to-day ministry matters will reside in the hands of the elders whether in full-time compensated service or otherwise.


The qualifications of elders are spelled out in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9.


To become an elder, the person being considered for such position must, in this order:

  • Meet all of the qualifications given in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9,
  • Be approved by the General Council of Elders,
  • Serve as a provisional elder for a minimum of three months and not more than twelve,
  • Receive an unanimous vote of the existing elders and
  • Be presented to the body for affirmation through the time of provisional serving.

Provisional Elders: The provisional period is for the purpose of testing the man being considered for eldership for Biblical qualification, for his ability to govern and for harmony of vision with the General Council of Elders. The elder shall accompany and share in the ministry of elder yet shall not have voting rights during the provisional status. The provisional status shall not exceed 12 months and if he is not affirmed by that time, he shall not become an elder.

Removal of Elders: Any elder may be dismissed by an 80% vote of the General Council of Elders. Such decision does not have to be presented to the congregation for ratification. Such a decision of the General Council of Elders must be announced to the congregation without necessarily revealing the reason.

Elder Meeting: The time and place of all meetings of the elders shall be set by the elders. Time for prayer and fasting shall be provided prior to major decisions. A meeting shall require a 60% quorum. Unanimity should be sought diligently and should be expected to be reached on substantially all votes taken by elders. In those rare exceptions where unanimity is not reached, an 80% majority of those elders present shall be required to pass any item.

Removal of Elders: Any elder may be dismissed by an 80% vote of the General Council of Elders. Such decision does not have to be presented to the congregation for ratification. Such a decision of the General Council of Elders must be announced to the congregation without necessarily revealing the reason.

Communication: The elders shall on a regular basis make a written or oral report to the congregation of actions taken.


The totality of elders shall constitute the General Council of Elders (hereafter referred to as Elders) who are commissioned to govern the church under the Chief Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Peter 5:4). The Elders shall prayerfully seek unanimous agreement in all matters since it is believed the Holy Spirit guides with a oneness of mind (Acts 15:1-29Philippians 2:1-2). (In matters of compensation or discipline of an elder, the elder in question shall abstain from voting.)

  • The Senior Pastor acts as the Chairman of the Elders. In case of his inability to attend or to execute his duty as chairman, he will appoint a substitute from among the Elders.
  • The Senior Pastor is given the right, if he chooses, to appoint a chairman of the Elders so that he may be relieved of administrative duties and engage in the study and the proclamation of the Word of God without administrative encumbrances. In such cases, the thus appointed chairman of the Elders is responsible for keeping the Senior Pastor informed of all that transpires.
  • The appointed chairman of the Elders, if that is the decision of the Senior Pastor, must be accepted by the Elders.
  • In the absence of a chairman, selection of an acting chairman may be established by unanimous endorsement of the elder board.
  • New elders or the substitution of existing elders shall be sought by the Elders who will appoint a representative(s) to serve with the chairman as an elder nominations council. Selection and receiving of a new elder shall be accomplished by unanimous endorsement by the elder board.
  • The staff of the church may act as elders, if so appointed, and will be of equal authority with non-paid elders and employment will be a matter of separate and distinct consideration.
  • Accountability. The Elders is a self-disciplining body with members accountable to one another (Matt. 18:15-20; I Tim. 5:19-20). Each elder is under the oversight of the Elders and subject to both formative and corrective discipline as are all members of the church.
  • Tenure of Service. No limit is placed upon the time that an elder may serve. Once an elder is appointed, he shall remain on the board as long as he and the board deem it tenable.
  • In the event there is no one filling the Senior Pastor’s Chairmanship of the Elders, the Elders shall appoint from their own board one who can serve in that capacity for as long as needed.


The Elders shall be responsible for fulfilment of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9 

  • Shepherd his family and nurturing each in the ways of the Lord.
  • Exercise a general superintendence over the church, the flock of God (Acts 20:28John 21:15-17).
  • Show forth a consistent study and teaching of the Word of God in exhortation and admonishment to believers (1 Timothy 5:17; 3:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:12; Titus 1:9).
  • Being good managers or stewards over their God-given ministry and mission of the church (Titus 1:7).
  • Give diligent prayer, evangelism, labor, caring leadership, and guided counsel in the Word (1 Thessalonians 5:12; Romans 12:9; 1 Timothy 3:4-5; 5:17; Hebrews 13:7).
  • Exercise pastoral care and hospitality that includes overseeing and caring for the body. (James 5:14; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8).


The Elders will oversee the various ministries of the church through relational and accountable structures. The structure of all ministries, the commitments and involvement of the church in ministries, the vision of ministries and the cessation of any ministries and the direction for the church shall always be under the supervision of the Elders.

SECTION 3. Church / Pastors & Staff


The qualifications of the pastors are those given in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. They must be spiritually qualified to lead the church as under shepherds of God, to preach, to train and to provide leadership to carry out the spirit and letter of the New Testament and Constitution and Bylaws. The pastor (or pastors / staff) must become a member of the church. (Ephesians 4:11-16)


Responsibilities: He shall oversee the casting of the vision for the church, the preaching of the Word, pastoring of the elders and general shepherding of the church.

Calling of a Senior Pastor: Guidance shall be sought from apostolic leaders of the church body by the search committee of the Elders. Presentations of candidates should be made to the Elders. With unanimous agreement the candidate should be presented to the church family. Upon review and testing, the candidate shall be presented to the church body for affirmation.

  • The Elders shall issue a general call of fasting and prayer to the church body.
  • A search committee shall be established by the Elders.
  • The search committee shall seek recommendations from apostolic leaders, the Elders and church family.
  • The candidate(s) shall be presented to the Elders.
  • With unanimous agreement, the candidate shall be presented to the church family, in whole or in part.
  • Upon review and testing, the selected candidate shall be presented to the church body for affirmation.

Pastoral Areas of Ministry:

  • Selection of Pastors: The Senior Pastor or Administrative Pastor shall search and select the personnel needed, present them to the Elders for approval.
  • For each pastor or supportive staff a complete job description shall be presented with the church organizational chart identifying the supervisor and areas of responsibility
  • Discipline of a pastor: The process of discipline of a pastor shall be individually governed by the Elders. Guidance, restoration and help shall pattern according to Article V of this constitution. The honor a pastor receives is balanced by the severity of discipline that same pastor receives. (1 Timothy 5:17-20)


General Statement: Deacons are those who rendered service in the local church. As distinct officers in the local church they are referred to in the plural as servants (diakonoi, Acts 6:3; Philippians 1:1) and are mentioned in addition to elders in I Timothy 3:8-13. The government of the local church rests upon the elders (I Timothy 4:14; Hebrews 13:17) while the deacons give needed assistance in the various ministries of the local body of believers as extensions of the pastors and elders (Acts 6).

Responsibilities of Deacon: The deacons shall assist the elders and staff in the mission and work of the ministry and serve in the various needs of the church.

New deacons may be nominated from any part of the body (Acts 6:3) where upon the appointment to service as a deacon will be accomplished by the affirmation of the Deacon Board, the Elder Board and the ordination before the congregation.

Removal of Deacon: A deacon may be removed from duty for dereliction of duty or by personal request or by moral failure.


SECTION 1. The Membership of the Church shall be


  • Professed Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior
  • Experienced believers baptism
  • Expressed publicly God’s leadership in uniting with the local body in membership
  • Accepted the church articles of faith
  • Satisfied the membership requirements as directed by the Elders


General Statement: Deacons are those who rendered service in the local church. As distinct officers in the local church they are referred to in the plural as servants (diakonoi, Acts 6:3; Philippians 1:1) and are mentioned in addition to elders in I Timothy 3:8-13. The government of the local church rests upon the elders (I Timothy 4:14; Hebrews 13:17) while the deacons give needed assistance in the various ministries of the local body of believers as extensions of the pastors and elders (Acts 6).

Responsibilities of Deacon: The deacons shall assist the elders and staff in the mission and work of the ministry and serve in the various needs of the church.

New deacons may be nominated from any part of the body (Acts 6:3) where upon the appointment to service as a deacon will be accomplished by the affirmation of the Deacon Board, the Elder Board and the ordination before the congregation.

Removal of Deacon: A deacon may be removed from duty for dereliction of duty or by personal request or by moral failure.

SECTION 2. Responsibilities of a Member


  • Each member is responsible before God as a believer-priest to assist in determining the will of Christ for his or her own individual life and this local assembly under Christ.
  • Each member must be involved in giving feedback to the church concerning personal needs and in sharing insights in areas where God’s will must be known for the church.
  • He must be able to submit himself to the Lord in prayer so that he learns to discern the voice of the Chief Shepherd (Lord Jesus) as He leads the flock.
  • In general, each member will be responsible, as God enables him, to do his part in the “work of service” (Ephesians 4:12; 1 Peter 4:10-11).
    • Regular participation in the life and the services of the church
    • Following the Biblical directive of contribution of financial support (tithes and offerings) as the Lord may prosper him or her (Hebrews 10:24; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 8:3-5).
  • If a recommendation from any member for the improvement of the whole body is offered, it should be addressed to an elder.


Responsibilities: Under the leadership of the Elders the membership is responsible to participate as one within the body:

  • Affirming or changing of the constitution and bylaws
  • Calling or appointing of Elders and / or Senior Pastor
  • Acquisition or disposition of church property
  • Approval of and adjustment of the annual budget

Congregational Affirmation: The Elders shall seek counsel from members of the congregation as they are prayerfully considering courses of action. Affirmation may be sought by:

  • Individual ballot
  • Voice or hand count
  • Giving a period of time to express concern to elder the following considerations shall always be presented to the congregation for affirmation:
    • The call of a Senior Pastor
    • A building program that would increase the church indebtedness by more than 10%
  • Amendments and Bylaws of the Constitution
  • Requesting members to come forward in the worship service if the congregational affirmation for any item presented is less than 90%, the elders shall reconsider their decision before proceeding. The elders shall not be required to present the item to the congregation for another vote but shall report the action taken. If the vote on any item is less than 67% affirmative, the elders shall not implement the action.

Called Congregation Meetings: These meetings can be called by either the Senior Pastor or a majority of the Elders. Any member who wishes to call a meeting is directed to meet with the elders and show cause for such a meeting. The majority vote of the Elders will determine the direction.

The time and purpose of all meetings shall be announced and included in the bulletin given to the congregation in a Sunday morning worship service. This presentation shall be given at least one week before said meeting is held. The announcement shall also be included in existing church media if it is timely to do so.

The elders shall appoint the person who shall preside over the meeting. The results of the ballots, either affirmative or negative, shall be publicized timely. The number of yes or no votes and other details need not be published, but those details shall be available to any member who wishes to know them.

SECTION 3. Removal from Membership

Transfer of Letter: Any member in good standing may request that a letter of membership be transferred to another fellowship. No letter will be granted to a member who is under the corrective discipline of this church or to a member who seeks to transfer to a church which, based on the judgement of the elders, is not loyal to “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3).

Non-Letter Transfer: Any member who unites with another church without a letter will be dropped from the membership.

Personal Request: Any member who requests that his/her name be dropped from the membership roll shall be dismissed after due admonition and counsel from the elders.

Physical Death: When a members dies his/her name shall be removed from the active membership roll.

Church Discipline: Under Article V, Section 2B.

SECTION 4. Reapplication to Membership

If a former member chooses to apply for membership he/she may do so following the procedures in Section I of this article. In cases of corrective discipline the procedures for restoration found in Article V, Section 3 will be followed.


SECTION 1. Formative Discipline

Every disciple (learner, follower, disciplined one) of the Lord Jesus Christ is to walk under the discipline of the Lord Jesus and His Word (His instruction, direction, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness, 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Mutual submission to one another in the fear of Christ (Ephesians 5:21) is a part of that discipline.

Along with that, God has called the church to submission (1 Peter 5:5) and obedience (Hebrews 13:17) to the elders He has placed over His church. This formative discipline is part of the holy walk He has commanded for each believer and for the church as a whole.

God readily supplies His grace to those who are submissive and obedient to Him and His Word and He resists those who proudly resist His leadership (1 Peter 5:5; James 4:6). This is a part of His work in both formative and corrective discipline within His church.

SECTION 2. Corrective Discipline

General Statement: When a member of this church fails in an area requiring formative discipline it may be necessary for the elders and this church body to apply corrective discipline as instructed by God in His Word.

All corrective church discipline will be concentrated in the Elders and they will determine whether a matter is to be brought before the church body for action. Individually members are responsible to admonish and hold accountable one another as Matthew 18:15-17 instructs.

Examples from the Scriptures involving discipline are:

  • Unwillingness to become reconciled to an offended brother (Matthew 18:15-17)
  • Unwillingness to engage in work (2 Thessalonians 3:6-15)
  • Divisiveness in the church (Romans 16:17-18; Titus 3:9-10)
  • Sexual immorality, heterosexual participation in sensual activity or copulation outside of marriage (Mark 7:20-23) or homosexual involvement (Romans 1:27), drunkenness, use of illegal drugs or addiction to prescription drugs (1 Corinthians 5:1-13)
  • False teaching (1 Timothy 1:20; 2 Timothy 2:17-18)

Members of the church are expected to conduct their lives in accordance with Biblical standards of holiness as they grow to become more like Christ. When a member knowingly ignores the direct commands and prohibitions of Scripture, he shall be dealt with according to the principles of discipline and restoration found in such passages as (Matthew 18:15-17; Galatians 6:1-2; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; 2 Corinthians 7:10; Matthew 7:1-5).

Withdrawal of Fellowship: When a member continues to knowingly ignore the command or prohibitions of Scripture in daily walk or teaching so that his/her life and/or erroneous teaching continues to hinder the peace of the church or its testimony, the elders may recommend the withdrawal of fellowship and termination of membership of the offending member. This shall be done following the guidelines given in Matthew 18:17; 1 Corinthians 5:3-5,13; and 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15. One thus cut off from the fellowship of the church shall be treated as a non-member until they give evidence of true repentance. This response to the offending member includes loving admonition, prayer, and a call to repentance and obedience.

When a member’s actions lead to the regrettable obligation of terminating that person from membership, this will be based on the unanimous agreement of the Elders.

SECTION 3. Restoration to Church Membership

The goal of all discipline is a holy walk under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and obedience to His Word. The right to exclude persons or the withdrawal of fellowship is in harmony with the teachings of the Word of God (Matthew 18:15-17; 1 Corinthians 5; 2 Thessalonians 3:6) and is balanced by the call to restore such persons who have given satisfactory evidence of repentance (2 Corinthians 2:6-8; 7:9-11). When a person gives such evidence to the Elders they shall recommend that the person be led in restoration to full fellowship in this church.


The Elders shall direct credible accountability of all monies received and the disbursements thereof. Auditing and reviews may be called for as deemed necessary with a full audit occurring a minimum of every three (3) years and in-house audits conducted yearly.

Members shall have full access to church records of expenditures and may examine said records by making an appointment with the financial office. Members are encouraged to help establish the yearly budget with each area of ministry by participating in the annual budget meeting.


No member of the Elders, or Deacons, or any other church member, has any individual right to any part of the property of the church. On the other hand, no member of the church, Elders, or Deacons, or any administrative committee may be held responsible for the corporate obligations of the church.


The Elders shall draft and amend such bylaws as are necessary for the implementation of this Constitution.

  • No bylaw in violation of the terms of this Constitution shall be valid.
  • Notice of any proposed bylaw or amendments must be made in writing at least four (4) weeks prior to the date of the consensus vote of the membership. During that period any member may express their conviction concerning the proposed amendment by submitting a written statement to the Chairman of the Elders for consideration.
  • Any amendment to this Constitution must be based upon the unanimous recommendation of the Elders and the affirmative consensus of the voting membership.