GENERAL LUTHERAN CHURCH, INC.
God forbid that I should limit the time of acquiring faith to the present life. In the depth of the Divine mercy, there may be an opportunity to win it in the future
Martin Luther, 1522

  
Constitution and Bylaws of the General Lutheran Church, Inc.
Adopted October 31, 2017

PREAMBLE

We declare and establish this Constitution and these Bylaws to preserve and perpetuate the principles of our common Lutheran faith and to govern this body in an orderly and Biblical manner. These Bylaws will seek to preserve the liberties of each individual member and the freedom of action of this body to accomplish its God-given purpose.

ARTICLE 1. NAME

The legal name of this organization shall be the General Lutheran Church, Inc. founded March 9, 2014, and incorporated in the State of Indiana on October 26, 2017.

ARTICLE 2. PURPOSE

To stand for Christ-centered, morally sound, Biblical Christianity which consists of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and the Christian faith of the Apostles as expressed and interpreted in the Lutheran Confessions contained in the Book of Concord consisting of the following Symbolic Writings: The Apostles’ Creed, The Nicene Creed, The Athanasian Creed, The Unaltered Augsburg Confession, The Apology of the Augsburg Confession, The Smalcald Articles, The Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, Luther's Small Catechism, Luther's Large Catechism, and The Formula of Concord (Epitome and Solid Declaration).

ARTICLE 3. FINANCIAL POLICY

The General Lutheran Church, Inc., has no salaried employees or cash assets. Therefore, all positions within the National Leadership are voluntary and the General Lutheran Church, Inc., disburses no monies nor solicits or accepts monetary donations or contributions. All ministers are self-supporting unless serving congregations that make provisions for financial support. General Lutheran missionaries are also self-supporting and raise their own means of support.

ARTICLE 4. STATEMENT OF FAITH

General Lutherans have no ecclesiastically binding creed. The following Principles, based on The Lutheran Confessions and other writings of Martin Luther, while not to be used as a test of Christian cooperation and unity in the overall body of Christ, are adopted as a testimony of faith and of the spirit in which General Lutherans interpret the Holy Scriptures. We believe in

1. Belief in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. -- John 1:18
2. Belief that Jesus Christ is the Lord and Savior of all. -- First Corinthians 15:22
3. Belief that the Bible is a sufficient guide for faith and practice. -- Matthew 4:4
4. Belief in two Sacraments: Holy Baptism and Holy Communion. -- Mark 22:14-20
5. Belief in universal reconciliation. - - 1 Timothy 4:10
6. Belief in chastisement for sin. -- Colossians 3:25
7. Belief there is a wideness in God's mercy. -- Ephesians 2:4-7

Each congregation and minister of the General Lutheran Church, Inc., is free to interpret and apply the principles of the Lutheran Confessions as each is led by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Church supports the right and duty of private judgment in the interpretation of the Scriptures.

ARTICLE 5. SACRAMENTS

The General Lutheran Church, Inc., practices two Sacraments, Holy Communion, also referred to as the Sacrament of the Altar, the Lord's Supper, the Lord's Table, Breaking of the Bread, and the Blessed Sacrament; and Baptism. Communion will not be denied anyone who wishes to receive the elements. The preferred words when distributing the bread is "The Bread of Life." The preferred words when distributing the wine is "The Goodness of the Lord" or "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good." Each congregation will determine the mode of baptism. The Rite of Baptism will not be denied any adult or child who desires baptism. Infants may be baptized. 

ARTICLE 6. MEMBERSHIP

QUALIFICATIONS FOR MEMBERSHIP

Membership shall consist of persons in agreement the Statement of Faith and who will abide by the Constitution and Bylaws of the General Lutheran Church, Inc.

MEMBERS COVENANT OF CONDUCT

The fundamental principles of the General Lutheran Church, Inc. are based on Matthew 7:12: Therefore, you should treat people in the same way that you want people to treat you; this is the Law and the Prophets.  Therefore, every member is expected to

  • Maintain high ethical and moral values in all dealings, personally and professionally.
  • Respect one another's differences in religious beliefs, including the differences in doctrine, style, and personality of other Christians as they follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.
  • Only speak in edifying ways regarding others, including Christian ministers, ministries, and the Body of Christ at large.
  • Treat all with whom they come into contact as they would like to be treated.

ARTICLE 7. GOVERNMENT AND OFFICERS

As a "free church" denomination, our churches are congregationally-governed and the only role the National Leadership has is that of advising and recommending with one exception: Holy Ordination.

The officers of the General Lutheran Church, who comprise the National Leadership, are as follows:
General Minister: The General Minister is the Presiding Officer, Executive Administrator, and Spiritual Leader of the General Lutheran Church, Inc.

The General Minister, who serves in perpetuity, is invested with the responsibility of ensuring the purpose and mission of the General Lutheran Church, Inc. is carried out and that the Statement of Faith and the general principles of the Christian Faith are adhered to. His responsibility includes overseeing and regulating issues related to the administrative, legislative, ministerial, evangelistic, educational, missionary, benevolent and other interests of the General Lutheran Church, Inc. Upon the resignation, incapacitation, or death of the General Minister, unless someone else is appointed by the General Minister, the National Pastor assumes that role.

National Pastor: The National Pastor, appointed by the General Minister, serves to assist, advise, and counsel the General Minister. The National Pastor has no decision-making powers. All final decisions regarding the General Lutheran Church, Inc. regarding polity and procedure belong exclusively to the General Minister. 

International Coordinator: The International Coordinator, appointed by the General Minister with advice and counsel from the National Pastor, is responsible for screening all foreign ordination applicants. Additionally, this officer will check and verify the candidate's academic records, ordination papers, background checks, character references, and any all other pertinent information relative to credentialing in the General Lutheran Church, Inc. This officer will also make recommendations to the candidate if he or she lacks any qualifying requirements. Upon reviewing all documents and if the reference and background checks are acceptable, this officer will make his or her recommendation for ordination to the General Minister and National Pastor.

The Recording Clerk: The Recording Clerk, appointed by the General Minister with advice and counsel from the National Pastor, is responsible for keeping all Church records and taking detailed notes of all meetings of the Church and filing the yearly incorporation papers with the Indiana Secretary of State.

The National Leadership exercises no control or authority over individual congregations or pastors and only serve in an advisory capacity. The National Leadership will assist its pastors in crisis situations or by request. The National Leadership shall, in a crisis, assist a congregation towards resolution.

ARTICLE 8. THE MINISTRY

The General Lutheran Church, Inc. believes in the “priesthood of all believers” and recognizes that God calls all members of the church to be ministers and witnesses to the Gospel in their lives and in society. It also recognizes that God calls some to be missionaries, evangelists, shepherds, overseers, pastors, and teachers, as servants to prepare His people for service to others and for the building up of the Body of Christ.

Ordination by the General Lutheran Church, Inc., the rite whereby one so-called is recognized and authorized to perform those ministerial duties under the auspice of the General Lutheran Church, Inc.

Requirements for ordination are as follows:

  • Must be at least 24 years old.
  • Must submit an application, letters of reference, copy of background check, copies of academic transcripts, and any other pertinent data the candidate believes is relevant to the application process.
  • Must be thoroughly familiar with the Lutheran Confessions as expressed and presented in the Book of Concord.
  • Must hold a degree in ministry, Bible, or theology from an institution of higher learning approved by the Credentials Committee. The preferred degree is the masters. An alternate course of study will be recommended if the candidate lacks the required degree.
  • The candidate must submit to a comprehensive background check and a clinical mental health evaluation based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V) at their own expense. The Credentials Committee will accept results from checks no older than six months.
  • Ordained ministers from other denominational bodies will be received upon simple transfer providing the candidate’s ordaining body’s requirements are like those of the General Lutheran Church.

All non-Lutheran ordained ministers who want to be rostered in the General Lutheran Church must take a course in Lutheran history and the Lutheran Confessions prior to being placed on the clergy roster.

All General Lutheran Church ministers must sign a statement committing to the practice of sexual ethics.

All ordinations will take place in Lutheran congregation in a laying-on-of-hands ceremony. The National Leadership will accept an ordination ceremony held at another setting providing the ceremony is officiated by an ordained Lutheran minister. The ceremony must be documented.

Certificates of ordination will be issued by the Credentials Committee of the National Leadership.

The General Lutheran Church, Inc., does not assume any legal responsibility for its ministers. Neither the General Lutheran Church nor the individual minister is an agent for or of the other. However, each minister is answerable to the General Leadership and does come under the oversight of the General Minister and the National Pastor. If an investigation finds serious violations of Christian ethics, morals, and values have indeed been committed, certain sanctions can and may be applied up to and including removal and/or revocation of credentials.

ARTICLE 9. AMENDMENTS

Members of the General Lutheran Church, Inc. may propose amendments to this Constitution and Bylaws. Such proposed amendments shall be submitted to the General Minister and National Pastor who make the final determination of whether to adopt the proposed changes. 

ARTICLE 10. MEETINGS

Due to its governmental structure and financial policy (Article Three), The General Lutheran Church, Inc., shall hold business meetings as needed at the call of the General Leadership. A quorum shall consist of the General Minister and the National Pastor or the International Coordinator or the Recording Clerk and one other member. Roberts Rules of Order shall be followed and the General Minister shall have the power to accept, reject, approve, or disapprove all items on the agenda. The General Minister shall have the power to make executive decisions between called meetings. Special meetings can be called by three members of the General Lutheran Church upon petition to the General Leadership.

ARTICLE 11. DISSOLUTION

The General Lutheran Church, Inc. does not own property, solicit nor disburse funds, and does not have a treasurer, bank account, or any other assets on hand. Therefore, upon dissolution, the cooperation will simply cease to exist with no assets on hand to disburse.



  
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An Indiana Incorporated Denominational Ministry