Constitution and By-Laws

 

The following are the Constitution and By-Laws which have been negotiated and approved by Bishop Peggy Johnson of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church and the Rev. Dr. Russell Mitman of the Pennsylvania Southeast Conference of the United Church of Christ and approved by the Congregation. 

Constitution of Chestnut Hill United Church


Adopted December 9, 2009, name change added April 4, 2010



ARTICLE I   NAME 

The name of this congregation shall be “Chestnut Hill United Church,” a federation of the United Methodist and the United Church of Christ denominations, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  This congregation was originally formed as the Wesley Methodist Episcopal Chapel and has been known in the past 40 years as the Chestnut Hill United Methodist Church.  On December 9, 2010, this congregation voted to enter into a covenant relationship with the United Church of Christ and pursue a path toward becoming a federated congregation affiliated with both the United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ. 


ARTICLE II   PURPOSE   

The avowed purpose of this congregation shall be to worship God, to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to celebrate the sacraments; to provide a local expression of the ecumenical church; to realize Christian fellowship and unity within this congregation and the Church Universal; to render loving service toward humankind; and to strive for righteousness, justice and peace.


ARTICLE III   POLITY  

1)This church shall be a part of the United Methodist Church, and it shall sustain that relationship to the United Methodist Church described in those portions of The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church relating to local churches.


2)This church shall be a part of the United Church of Christ, and it shall sustain that relationship to the United Church of Christ described in those portions of the Constitution and By-Laws of the United Church of Christ, adopted July 4, 1961 and as subsequently amended, relating to local churches.


3)The government of this church is vested in its members, who exercise the right of control in all its affairs, subject, however, to the laws of the State of Pennsylvania relating to churches and in accordance with The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church and the Constitution of the United Church of Christ.


4)This congregation shall elect from the congregation all appropriate delegates to the respective United Methodist and United Church of Christ annual conferences. These delegates and alternates shall receive the minutes of the Council meetings.


5)The mandatory connectional funds of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church and the Challenge Goal of the United Church of Christ will be honored.


6)In all of its actions, the Council of Chestnut Hill United Church is subject to examination by and is accountable to the respective judicatories of each denomination.


7)The church will uphold the Discipline of the United Methodist Church and the Constitution and By-laws of the United Church of Christ. 


ARTICLE IV   INCORPORATION

1)The church may in its corporate name sue or be sued, acquire by purchase, gift, devise, bequest or otherwise and own, hold, invest, reinvest or dispose of property both real and personal for such work as the church may undertake and may purchase, own, receive, hold, manage, care for and transfer, rent, lease, mortgage or otherwise encumber, sell, assign, transfer and convey such property for the general purpose of the church; it may receive and hold in trust both real and personal property and invest and reinvest the same and make any contracts for promoting the objectives and purposes of the church, subject to the provisions of The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church.


2)The church's real and personal property is owned solely by the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church and is held in trust in accordance with the provisions of, and for the purposes set forth in, The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church. 


3)Upon dissolution of the church, the following shall be observed:

a)All real and personal property shall be transferred to the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church.

b)The holdings of the John Walt Trust, in keeping with the terms of said Trust, shall be transferred to the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church in keeping with the mandate of the Trust.


ARTICLE V   SACRAMENTS

Baptism and Holy Communion shall be the two recognized sacraments.


ARTICLE VI   BY-LAWS 

1)This congregation will have By-Laws which will cover all matters not specifically set forth in this Constitution. By-Laws shall not conflict with this Constitution and shall be in accordance with the requirements of the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church.


2)In case of conflict between the denominations, the Church Council, in dialogue with representatives of the judicatory leaders, will seek to resolve the conflict as it relates to the life of the congregation.


ARTICLE VII   AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION

1)Amendments to this Constitution may be initiated by a petition signed by at least ten percent of the Church members or by a two-thirds vote of the Church Council.


2)A printed distribution of the proposed changes to this Constitution shall be made to each church member not less than ten days prior to the duly called meeting of the congregation.


3)This Constitution may be amended by two-thirds vote of the members present at two consecutively and duly called congregational meetings and shall become effective with the approval of the District Superintendent of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church.


4)No amendments may be in conflict of the provisions of the Book of the Discipline of the United Methodist Church and the Constitution of the United Church of Christ in effect at the time the proposed amendment is voted on.  



The above and foregoing Constitution was duly adopted at a Congregational meeting held on the December 9, 2009.

By-Laws of Chestnut Hill United Church


Adopted on December 9, 2009, Name change added on April 4, 2010



ARTICLE I   MEMBERSHIP

1)The congregation consists of all members and associate members of the Chestnut Hill United Church. The congregation has the right and duty of oversight over the programs and activities of the church.


2)All members of Chestnut Hill United Church shall be members of the United Methodist Church or The United Church of Christ.  Members will be asked to designate whether they wish to belong to the United Methodist Church or the United Church of Christ.  Membership vows shall meet the standards and prescriptions of the respective denomination.


3)A person who is a member of another congregation or other religious affiliation and who desires to maintain that relationship while also participating in our fellowship may become an “Associate Member.”  Associate members rights shall coincide with those designated in The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church.


4)The Church Council is charged with keeping membership roles of the church.  The annual church meeting may make recommendations to the Church Council regarding the membership rolls.


5)A single roll of membership shall be maintained, but each constituent denomination shall receive, for statistical purposes, the number of persons self-designated as belonging to that denomination.


6)All members, in good standing and otherwise qualified, shall be eligible for membership and office in higher judicatories of the participating denominations.


ARTICLE II   GOVERNMENT

1)An annual meeting shall be held in cooperation with the authorities of the two judicatories and shall be co-chaired by the congregation’s lay leader, the United Methodist District Superintendent or her/his designee, and a representative of the Pennsylvania Southeast Conference or the Philadelphia Association of the United Church of Christ. 

a)At the meeting, the congregation shall receive reports of the Pastor/s, Church Council, officers or bodies, according to either judicatory; receive and consider the proposed budget; adopting a budget for the year at the annual meeting; and receive nominations for office. The congregation shall also conduct such other business as may properly come before it.

b)Nominations for elective office may be presented from the floor, subject to the consent of the nominee.  The congregational meeting shall then vote on the nominations presented.

c)All members of Chestnut Hill United Church are entitled to vote at a congregational meeting.


2)The vote of a simple majority of members present at the meeting shall be the action of the church, except where a larger majority is required by other provisions of this Constitution or By-Laws.


3)A quorum shall consist of the members present.  


4)Special meetings of the congregation may be called at the initiative of the Church Council, official denominational representatives of the United Church of Christ or the United Methodist Church, a pastor, or the Trustees.  At special meetings only those agenda items may be considered that were identified in the official call to the meeting.  All meetings must be announced publicly and in writing at least two weeks prior to the meeting. 


5)With the exception of Staff-Parish Relations or meetings approved by two-thirds vote of the body and announced in advance, all committee meetings are open to the whole church. 


ARTICLE III   CHURCH STRUCTURE

1)Trustees

a)The property of Chestnut Hill United Church shall be managed by a body of nine persons, called The Trustees, to be elected by the annual church meeting.  The Trustees are empowered to execute all matters of property for the church, and are limited only in this power by the restrictions placed on them by The Discipline of the United Methodist Church. The trustees shall adhere to the provisions of the Book of Discipline concerning the use and transfer of the property owned and held in trust for the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual Conference.

b)A quorum of the Trustees shall consist of five members or half of the existing membership, whichever is less. 


2)Church Council

a)The Chestnut Hill United Church shall be governed in matters of policy and program by a representative body known as the “Church Council.”   Election to this Council shall occur at the annual church meeting.  The Council shall have the same powers and responsibilities of the Administrative Council of the United Methodist Church and follow the constitution and by-laws of the United Church of Christ.

b)A chairperson and vice chairperson shall be elected for the Council at each annual meeting. 

c)The Council is to consist of between seven and twenty members, the exact number to be determined by the Council itself.

d)The Council may be composed of chairs of church committees as well as members-at-large.

e)The voting members of the Council shall consist of the elected lay persons.  No paid clergy of the congregation shall have vote on this Council.  All paid clergy of the congregation shall have voice in the Council meetings.

f)A quorum of the Council shall consist of seven people or half the elected members, whichever is less.

g)The Council has power to convene and dismiss church committees according to its vote.  The Council shall establish committees as it deems necessary for the governance of the congregation.

h)Officers (All officers shall be members of the Congregation).

i)Lay Leader: The Lay Leader shall be elected annually by the congregation. The Lay Leader shall be sensitive to the needs of the congregation, especially those who are sick, bereaved, distressed and isolated. The Lay Leader shall be the sensitive sounding board for the congregation at large and the Church Council. The Lay Leader shall be co-chair of congregational meetings along with the United Methodist District Superintendent and a representative of the Pennsylvania Southeast Conference or Philadelphia Association of the United Church of Christ.

ii)Church Council Chair: The Church Council chair shall be elected annually by the congregation.  The chair shall preside over council meetings and shall assume the responsibilities as chief executive officer when so required by law.

iii)Secretary: The secretary shall be elected annually by the congregation. The secretary shall take and report minutes of meetings of Council and the congregation. The secretary shall act as corporate secretary for all legal purposes.

iv)Financial Secretary: The financial secretary shall:

(1)Receive and record in a classified form all monies coming to the church and insure that deposits of such monies into one or more accounts established for such purpose(s) are made;

(2)Keep an accurate record for each individual contributor; and

(3)Report regularly to the Church Council.

v)Treasurer: The treasurer shall be elected annually by the congregation and shall serve as custodian of all bank accounts. The treasurer shall be responsible for overseeing the paying of all bills as directed by the Church Council and present a regular written report to the Finance Committee and the Church Council.

vi)Additional permanent officers of the church must be approved by a vote of a congregational meeting.

i)In an emergency, an executive committee of the Lay Leader, Council Chair, Trustees Chair, Staff-Parish Relations Chair and Pastor/s may meet on behalf of the Council. The results of such meeting shall be reported to the next regular meeting of the Council and shall be effective unless rejected by a majority of the Council. This executive committee may not take any actions beyond those specifically given it by a vote of the Church Council.

j)The Council shall receive reports from the Financial Secretary, Treasurer, committees and others. It shall serve as a coordinating body for programs and policies of the church. The Council shall review and approve an annual budget to present to the Congregation for approval.

k)The Council shall initiate, recommend and implement policy and is accountable for all of its decisions to the congregation. The agenda of the Council shall be open to any issue any member may wish to put forward.


3)Remaining Committees.  All committees shall report regularly to the Council and the congregation. The committees shall present annually to the Finance Committee a budget of their anticipated expenses for the coming year.

a)Nominating Committee

i)A Nominating Committee shall be elected at the annual church meeting. 

ii)The highest ranking pastor on staff shall be the chairperson of the Nominating Committee.  If there is a co-pastorate, both co-pastors will serve as co-chairs.

iii)The Nominating Committee is to present to the annual church meeting a complete slate of officers for church governance.  If persons need to be elected for any church office between annual meetings, the Church Council shall have the power to elect persons presented by the Nominating Committee.

b)Staff-Parish Relations Committee

i)The Staff-Parish Relations Committee is to be elected by the annual church meeting.  The committee shall consist of between four and ten persons, to be determined by the Church Council.

ii)No member of the committee shall be either paid church staff or a relative of any pastor of the church.

iii)This committee shall fulfill the role of Staff-Parish Relations Committee as given in the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church while adhering to the Constitution and By-laws of the United Church of Christ.

iv)It shall meet periodically with denominational representatives and/or the pastor/s at the request of either, or at the request of the chair of the committee. It shall deal with professional personnel and staff, salaries, travel expenses, vacations, education and housing matters. It shall notify the pastor/s of all meetings. It shall discuss with the pastor/s the needs and wishes of the congregation.

v)It shall make and receive recommendations on improving pastor-parish relations.

vi)If the Staff-Parish Relations Committee recommends a change in pastoral leadership, it shall meet with the Church Council and pastor/s in executive session to discuss the recommendation prior to forwarding the recommendation to the denominations.  The Church Council shall then submit its recommendation, either concurring or disagreeing, with the Staff-Parish Relations Committee’s recommendation, to the denominations.

c)Pastor Selection Committee:  The Pastor Selection Committee would be named by the Church Council, in consultation with the Staff-Parish Relations Committee. The Pastor Selection Committee would choose its own chair.  It would follow the process outlined in the Pastoral Selection section below.

d)Finance Committee:  The Finance Committee is responsible for financial oversight of the operating budget and regularly reviews all church financial assets.  After receiving budget recommendations from all responsible boards and committees, it shall prepare the annual budget to present to the Council and to the congregation. The proposed budget will first be presented to the Council for approval and then presented to a duly called congregational meeting for final approval.

e)Other Committees:  Other Committees, small groups and task forces shall be named or discharged by vote of Council.



ARTICLE IV   PASTORAL STAFF

1)Standing

a)Any Pastor serving this congregation shall have ordained ministerial standing in the United Church of Christ or the United Methodist Church or ordained ministerial partner standing in accordance with the Constitution and By-Laws of the United Church of Christ or the Discipline of the United Methodist Church. 

b)No pastor shall be granted dual standing upon appointment to this congregation.  Any Licensed and/or Commissioned Minister shall have standing in accordance with the Constitution and By-Laws of the United Church of Christ and any policies of the Philadelphia Association and/or Pennsylvania Southeast Conference of the United Church of Christ.


2)Authorization and Discipline

a)The authorization and discipline of Pastors and Licensed and Commissioned Ministers of this church shall be accomplished by the procedures and carried out by the duly-authorized bodies of the judicatory to which the individual pastor/s belong.

b)The pastors of this congregation must relate to both sets of polities but is only accountable to their denomination.


3)Pastoral Vacancy

a)Pastoral changes can be initiated in any one of the three following ways:

i)By the congregation through the Staff-Parish Relations Committee.  In the cases, as designated in Article IV.3.d.i., when pastoral selection is done within the United Methodist appointment system, the Staff-Parish Relations Committee shall act in accordance with the procedures set forth in the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church and only insofar as such a process is permitted. 

ii)By desire of the pastor expressed to the Staff-Parish Relations Committee.  In the cases, as designated in Article IV.3.d.i., when pastoral selection is done within the United Methodist appointment system, the Staff-Parish Relations Committee shall act in accordance with the procedures set forth in the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church and only insofar as such a process is permitted.  

iii)By the denominational representatives expressed to the Staff-Parish Relations Committee.

b)In order to terminate the relationship of a United Church of Christ pastor, 60 days notice shall be given by either party in according with the procedures of the United Church of Christ, the Association, and Pennsylvania Southeast Conference.  The termination shall be by action of the Staff-Parish Relations Committee, and notice of such termination shall be given by the chair of  that committee to the Conference Minister and to the Association for appropriate action.

c)Termination  of the relationship of a United Methodist pastor may only occur through the action of the residing bishop of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church.

d)Pastoral Selection

i)The process of appointment/selection of a pastor will alternate between the United Church of Christ search and call system and the United Methodist pastoral appointment system.

(1)In the event of a United Methodist appointment, the new pastor will be appointed by the judicatories of the United Methodist Church.

(2)In the event of a United Church of Christ appointment, the following process would be observed:

(a)After notice of a pastoral vacancy, the Staff-Parish Relations Committee shall notify the Pennsylvania Southeast Conference of the United Church of Christ.

(b)Thereafter, the Council, in consultation with the Staff-Parish Relations Committee, shall name a Search Committee composed of not fewer than nine, nor more than thirteen, members of the congregation. Due consideration shall be given to the constituent denominations, the Council and Staff-Parish Committee, groups active in congregational life and those who will uphold the confidentiality and integrity of the selection process.

(c)The Search Committee at its first meeting shall select its Chair, who shall preside at meetings and liaison with the Council and congregation. The Chair may designate another to preside or liaison in the absence of the Chair. A quorum shall consist of half of the members of the Committee.

(d)The Committee shall first perform a congregation assessment, and from that assessment create a profile of the congregation of Chestnut Hill United Church. 

(e)The congregational profile shall then be submitted to the United Church of Christ. 

(f)The Search Committee shall work in cooperation with the Conference to identify appropriate candidates.

(g)The Search Committee shall then follow United Church of Christ protocol for interviewing and when possible, observing candidates.

(h)The Search Committee shall thereafter, by three-fourths vote, recommend a candidate to the congregation as pastor. Thereafter, the congregation shall meet, discuss and vote upon the selected candidate. The Chair of the Committee shall preside. A three-fourths vote of members present shall approve the candidate and cause the congregation to call that candidate to become pastor of Chestnut Hill United Church.

(3)Installation and dismissal of pastors shall involve not only the congregation but also the judicatories of the United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ.

(4)In the case of a United Church of Christ pastor, a contract shall be executed between the Church and the pastor delineating conditions of employment, including job description, salary and benefits, performance, and conditions of termination.  The Church Council must approve this contract after its preparation by the Pastor Selection Committee and consultation with the Staff-Parish Relations Committee.  In the case of a United Methodist pastor, the conditions of the pastor’s employment shall be governed by The Book of Discipline and the Bishop of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference.

ii)The church and denominational authorities shall have the option—especially in the  cases at the end of a long pastoral tenure and of traumatic circumstances of the congregation—to select an interim pastor.  This selection shall not count as one of the alternating selections between the United Church of Christ and United Methodist Church systems.  The selection of an interim pastor shall be done in joint process among the Bishop of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church, the officials of the Pennsylvania Southeast Conference of the United Church of Christ, and a pastoral Search Committee as described in Article !V.3.d.i.2.b.


4)Pastoral Pension and Health Benefits

a)The pastor's health and pension benefits would be paid into the denomination in which the pastor is ordained.


5)Supervision

a)All supervision of ministerial and non-ministerial staff shall be provided by the Staff-Parish Relations Committee.

i)In the case of a United Church of Christ pastor, pastoral responsibilities shall be determined by the Council and reviewed annually in consultation with the Staff-Parish Relations Committee.

ii)In the case of a United Methodist pastor, pastoral responsibilities shall be determined by the United Methodist Discipline. 

b)Concerning any United Methodist pastor, the rights of the Bishop of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church are fully guaranteed.  A United Methodist pastor of The Chestnut Hill United Church does not have the right to remove her/himself from the duty to follow the United Methodist itinerancy.

c)Concerning any United Church of Christ pastor, the pastor is required to uphold the Constitution and By-laws of the United Church of Christ and abide by the policies and procedures of the Pennsylvania Southeast Conference and the Philadelphia Association.

d)The pastors of Chestnut Hill United Church shall be full and responsible members of their respective denominations judicatories as outlined by the regulations and guidelines of each judicatory.


ARTICLE V   POTENTIAL CANDIDATES FOR MINISTRY

Members of this congregation desiring to prepare for the ordained ministry may seek ordination from either the United Church of Christ or the United Methodist Church.


1)A person desiring to prepare for the ordained ministry in the United Church of Christ applies to be received as a Student in Care of Association.  Application is made to the Association through the pastor and the congregation of the Chestnut Hill United Church.

a)The Committees on the Ministry of the Pennsylvania Southeast Conference and the Philadelphia Association would cooperate in examining the applicant, determining fitness for ministry and if found to be qualified, the student would be received into the care of the Association. 

b)The student would then follow the processes set out by the Philadelphia Association and the Pennsylvania Southeast Conference of the United Church of Christ for preparation, examination and ordination.


2)A person desiring to prepare for the ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church must  follow the respective requirements of The  Book of Discipline of the United Methodist  Church and the Board of Ministry of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference.


ARTICLE VI   RULES OF ORDER

Robert’s Rules of Order shall be the parliamentary authority for all matters of procedure not specifically covered in this Constitution or in the By-Laws.


ARTICLE VI I   THE FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

1)The Chestnut Hill United Church may be dissolved by a two-thirds vote of two congregational meetings held not less than two months apart and not more than one year apart, subject to the concurrence of the immediate judicatories.


2)The relationship with one of the denominations may be dissolved in the following manner:

a)The property rights of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church may not be violated.

b)Such a plan must be approved by the congregation by a two-thirds majority vote and with the agreement of the judicatories involved.

c)The actual dissolution shall take place at a meeting of the congregation with representatives of both denominations.


ARTICLE VIII   AMENDMENTS 

The By-Laws may be amended in the following manner:

1)A motion may be made at any congregational meeting stated for that purpose;


2)A majority vote of those members present is required to pass such a motion;


3)The exact same motion must be passed by a majority of members present at a subsequent congregational meeting not less than two months after the vote and not more than one year after the vote.


4)Such amendments shall become effective with the approval of the District Superintendent of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church.


5)Notwithstanding the foregoing, no amendment may be made to these bylaws which violates the United Methodist Book of Discipline in effect at the time the proposed amendment is presented for a vote.



The above and foregoing By-Laws were duly adopted at a Congregational meeting held on December 9, 2009.