In order to conduct the affairs of this church in a fitting and proper way, we its members, in submission to Christ the Lord of the Church, set forth from Scripture His principles of government and apply them by Christian prudence. We voluntarily submit ourselves to these principles and applications, willing to be led into greater knowledge of his truth.
(John 14:15; 1 Corinthians 14:40)
Article I – Name and Date of Establishment
The name of this church will be Grace Trinity Community Church.
Grace Trinity Community Church, Guelph, Ontario, was founded on May 6th 2001 after six months of prayer. In this document, Grace Trinity Community Church will generally be referred to as “the Church” or “this Church.”
Article II – Purpose
The sole purpose of this Church is to glorify God who is revealed in his holy Scriptures as the only true and living God, who made the world and all things. While this Lord of heaven and earth has revealed himself in creation and by the living Word, who is the Lord Jesus Christ, the chief revelation of God is to be found in the written Word, the holy Bible. In order to glorify the almighty God, we exist to promote His worship, to evangelize sinners by the proclamation of the gospel, to edify the saints by the faithful ministry of the Word of God, to formally train spiritual leaders in Reformed theology, to plant churches and to reach out through missionary endeavours across Canada and globally.
(1 Corinthians 10:31; Ephesians 1:12, 3:21; Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Tim. 2:2)
Article III – Core Vision & Values/Articles of Faith
Our Core Vision and Values:
1. We are a Christ-centred Worshipping Community
2. We are a Bible- based Community
3. We are a Gospel-driven Community
4. We are a Vision-burdened Community
5. We are a Contemporary Community with Historic Beliefs
6. We are a Compassionate Community
7. We are a Caring Community
8. We are a Committed Community
9. We are a Community for the Church and Unchurched
10. We are a Spiritual Community within the wider Community
11. We are a Community planning to plant Communities
12. We are an Internationally-minded Community
13. We are a Community committed to theological training
Articles of Faith
The church accepts the Holy Scriptures as the only supreme and complete authority in all matters of doctrine and practice. We also recognize that certain Confessions of Faith can be helpful in expressing those things we believe.
The following is the Church’s basic statement of faith to which every member must subscribe without reservation:
1. The Bible
We believe the Bible – the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments, to be the complete Word of God: as originally written, they were verbally inspired by the Spirit of God, and therefore entirely free from error. The Bible is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice.
2 Pet. 1:20-21; 2 Tim. 3:16; Rom 15:4; I Th. 2:13; I Tim. 4:13
We believe in one God, creator of all; holy, sovereign, eternal; perfect in all his ways; existing in three distinct, equal persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Gen 1:1; Is. 6:3; Rom 11:36; Jn 1:1,14, Jn 14:9-11
We believe in the full deity and humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ; in His eternal existence with the Father in preincarnated glory; in His virgin birth, sinless life, substitutionary death, bodily resurrection, triumphant ascension, mediatorial ministry and personal return.
Jn 1:1,14; Heb 4:14-15; Luk 1:35-37; Rom 5:6-10; I Co. 15:3-8; Heb 9:26-28
4. The Holy Spirit
We believe in the full deity and personality of the Holy Spirit, who convicts of sin, regenerates, sanctifies, illuminates, comforts and indwells those who believe in Jesus Christ.
Jn 14:15-17, Jon 16:7-11; Jn 3:5-8; Rom 8:9; I Co. 6:19-20
We believe that Satan exists as an evil personality, the originator of sin, the archenemy of God and man.
Mt. 4:1-11; Gen 3:1-4; Job 1:6; 2 Co. 11:14; Rev 12:9
We believe that Adam and Eve were divinely created in the image of God: that they sinned, becoming guilty before God, and plunging the whole human race into sin: that the human race is now depraved in all their faculties: they cannot please God of themselves, and can only be saved by the grace of God.
Gen 1:27, Gen 3:1-24 ; Ro. 3:9-18; Ep. 2:8-9
We believe that salvation is by the grace of God, through faith and not by works: that by the appointment of the Father, Christ suffered a substitutionary death for sinners: that salvation is by faith alone in the all sufficient sacrifice and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ: and that those whom the Father saves shall be divinely preserved and finally perfected in the image of the Lord.
Ep. 2:8-9; Ac. 2:23-24; Ro. 5: 1-2, 18-19, 8:30, 37-39; Jn 10:25-30
8. Holiness of life
We believe that those whom the Father has saved will show that their faith is genuine by walking in obedience to the commands of the Lord: that although perfection is not attainable in this life, the desire of the believer is to be conformed increasingly to the likeness of Christ.
Ep. 1:4; I Co. 1:2; He. 12:14; I Pt.1:14-16, 2:9-12; Re. 1:5-6
9. Future things
We believe in the personal, bodily and glorious return of the Lord Jesus Christ: in the bodily resurrection of the righteous and the wicked: in the judgment of all: in the eternal blessedness of the redeemed, and in the eternal conscious punishment of the wicked.
Mt. 24:1-51; 1Th. 4:13-17; Re. 20: 11-15, Re. 21:1-8
10. The local church
We believe the church is a company of believers, baptized by immersion, called out from the world, separated unto the Lord Jesus Christ, voluntarily associated for the ministry of the Word of God, the mutual edification of its members, the propagation of the faith and the observance of the ordinances. We believe it is a sovereign, independent body, exercising its own divinely appointed gifts, precepts and privileges under the lordship of Christ the Head of the church. We believe that its officers are pastors (elders) and deacons. We also believe there is great benefit in fellowship with other churches of like beliefs.
Mt. 28:18-20; Ac. 2:41-47; 1Co.11:23-26; Ep. 4:1-3, 11-16; 1Tim. 3:1-13; 1 Pt.2:9
We believe that there are only two ordinances for the church regularly observed in the New Testament. They are commanded by the Lord, but have no efficacy in themselves.
• Baptism, which is the immersion of a believer in water, whereby he or she obeys Christ’s command and sets forth his or her identification with Christ in his death, burial and resurrection.
Mt. 28:18-20; Ac. 2:37-39; Ro. 6:1-4
• The Lord’s Supper, which is a unique nourishing of the believer by faith, as well as a memorial wherein believers partake of bread and wine symbolizing the Lord’s body and shed blood, proclaiming his death until he comes.
Jn.6:28-36; Mk. 14:22-24 ; I Co.11:17-34
12. The Lord’s day
We believe that the first day of the week is the Lord’s day, given by the Lord specially for public worship. It is the believer’s privilege and duty to attend the regular meetings of the church on that day.
Lu. 24:1; Ac. 20:7; 1Co. 16:2; He. 10:24-25
13. Church and state
We believe that civil government is of divine appointment, for the benefit of society. We believe that leaders, lawmakers and those who enforce the laws are to be prayed for and conscientiously honoured and obeyed, except in any matter opposed to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only Lord of the conscience and the King of all earthly rulers. We believe that every person has the right to practice and propagate their beliefs.
Ex.22:28; Mt. 12:13-17; Ac. 23:5; Ro. 13:1-7; I Tim. 2:1-4
14. Cultural Mandate
We are a community concerned about our world and we embrace the cultural mandate seeking to bring through Christ light, salt,and wholeness to a darkened world.
Ge. 1:26-28; Mt. 28:19-20
15. The Solas of the Reformation
We believe in the 5 SOLAS of the Reformation: The Scriptures, being the only source of divine revelation (Sola Scriptura), teach us that salvation is by Grace Alone (Sola Gratia), through Faith Alone (Sola Fide), in Christ Alone (Solus Christus), to the Glory of God Alone (Soli Deo Gloria).
2 Tim. 3:14-17; Ep. 2:8-9; Ro. 10:1-4; He. 9:11-15, 23-28; 1 Co. 10:31
More complete statements of the doctrines believed and taught by the Church are found in the historic Baptist Confessions known as the First London Confession (1644), and the Second London Confession (1689). Elders and deacons must fully subscribe to at least one of these confessions.
Article IV – Covenant
This covenant will be recited publicly by those becoming members of the Church. Those already members will recite it with them to remind everyone of the privileges and obligations of membership:
Having been led by the Spirit of God to receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour, and upon profession of our repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; having been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, we promise therefore, by the help of the Holy Spirit, to walk with one another in Christian love; to strive for the advancement and well-being of this Church, in knowledge, holiness and comfort; to sustain true biblical worship, observing its ordinances, discipline and doctrines as they are revealed in the Word of God; to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the Church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the gospel throughout all nations.
We promise to maintain the sacredness of marriage, a God ordained institution, which according to the Bible is the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.
We also promise to endeavour to maintain family and private devotions; to instruct our children biblically; to seek the salvation of our families and acquaintances; to be zealous in our efforts to advance the kingdom of our Saviour; to walk circumspectly in the world; to be just in our dealings, faithful in our relationships and exemplary in our conduct.
We further promise to watch over each other in brotherly love; to pray for one another; to help each other in sickness and distress; to cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling, and courtesy in speech; to be slow to take offence, but always ready for reconciliation, and mindful of the commandments of our Saviour, to secure it without delay.
We also understand that if we are overtaken in any fault, we will be subject to biblical discipline which seeks our restoration.
We also promise that when we move from this community we will, as soon as possible, unite with some other church of like faith and practice, where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God’s Word.
Article V – Membership
Section 1 – Requirements for Membership
To become a member of the Church, candidates must be a minimum of sixteen-years of age, profess repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. They are to be baptized by immersion as believers. They must give unreserved agreement to the basic Statement of Faith. We recognize that some from different church backgrounds may not fully understand all the doctrines that are set forth in our Confessions, but there must at least be a teachable spirit.
Membership is also open to those baptized, in an evangelical church, as believers through sprinkling or any other mode, in the name of the “Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” on the understanding and agreement that in doctrine and practice Grace Trinity Community Church upholds believers baptism by immersion.
A. Confession of Faith – Any person who meets the above requirements may make verbal request for membership to an elder. The elder(s) shall meet with the applicant, who shall then be examined as to his or her Christian experience, doctrinal beliefs, oneness in vision, and serious intention to support wholeheartedly the ministry of this church.
B. By Letter – Any person desiring to unite with this Church having a letter of recommendation from another evangelical church, shall present such a letter to the elder(s) and then be examined as above (A).
C. By Baptism – Any person desiring to unite with this Church upon water baptism shall be examined by the elder(s) as above (A).
Section 2 – Procedure for Receiving Members
When the elder(s) are satisfied that the applicant(s) has met the requirements for membership, they shall announce to the congregation on two successive Sundays that the said applicant(s) has applied for membership. The congregation shall then be urged to pray for the applicant, and invited to make any pertinent comments relevant to the application. If there are no written valid objections to the candidate’s membership, the elder(s) shall then present the applicant’s name to the congregation at a duly called business meeting. The applicant(s) shall then give his/her testimony to the church or if preferred written by the applicant(s) and then read by another. The Church will then vote on the reception of the candidate, a two-thirds majority of the members present being required. Once approval from the church has been obtained the applicant(s) will be offered the right hand of fellowship at the Communion Table.
Please Note: Adherents are those who regularly attend GTCC, who desire to identify with us, and who come under pastoral ministry, but are not members.
Section 3 – Termination of Membership
A. By Letter – Letters of recommendation shall be granted when another church requests them, provided those concerned are members in good standing. When such letters have been granted, formal membership with this Church shall cease. Conscious of our responsibility for the spiritual welfare of our members, letters of recommendation shall be forwarded only to other evangelical churches.
B. By Exclusion – If a member is absent from the regular meetings of this church without just cause, for a period of three months, or requests severance of membership, he or she may be removed from membership only after all attempts to restore have failed, at the recommendation of the elder(s), subject to the approval of the congregation.
C. By Excommunication – It is right and in harmony with the Scriptures for the congregation, upon recommendation of the elder(s), after numerous attempts of restoration have failed, to exclude from this fellowship any person who persists in holding false doctrines; or who obviously and persistently lives inconsistently with their Christian profession; or who walks disorderly; or who persists in disturbing the unity and peace of this Church. (Matthew 18:15-17; Romans 16:17; 1 Corinthians 5; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 11-15; Titus 3:10)
D. Restoration – Restoration is always the object of discipline. It is the duty of the Church to forgive and joyfully restore to membership those persons who give satisfactory evidence of true repentance. When there is such evidence, the elder(s) shall recommend to the congregation the restoration of any person who has been either excluded or excommunicated. A two-thirds majority of the members present, voting at a duly called congregational meeting, shall be sufficient for restoration.
Article VI – The Ordinances
We believe that there are two ordinances that Christians are directed to observe, namely baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
Section 1 – Baptism
Baptism has no saving merit, but following conversion, baptism is the next step in the obedience of faith, showing to the world that the believer is now identified with Christ in his death, burial and resurrection. Following the direction of the Scriptures we practice baptism of believers by immersion, and admit into membership those who have testified of their faith in the waters of baptism. Any person who professes faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and whose life gives tangible evidence that this is the case, should be baptized. Anyone desiring baptism should make this known to one of the elders. The elder(s) will then meet with the applicant to examine him or her regarding his or her Christian experience and understanding of the meaning of baptism.
Section 2 – The Lord’s Supper
Whereas baptism is to be observed once, and is a sign of identification with Christ, and a testimony to the newness of life, the Lord’s Supper is declarative and commemorative, and is to be repeatedly observed as a victorious memorial to His victory over Satan, sin and death through His sacrificed body and shed blood. Only those who truly love the Lord Jesus Christ and are walking in fellowship with Him may attend the Lord’s Table.
Article VII – Church Officers
Section 1 – General Statement
Jesus Christ alone is the Head of His church. However, as Head, He has ordained that individual churches should be blessed with the spiritual oversight of office bearers. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the Church to seek to discover those to whom the Lord Jesus Christ has given the necessary gifts to serve. With the approval of the congregation these should be formally and prayerfully set apart to serve in the Church. The Lord Jesus Christ has ordained that there be two kinds of special officers in the local Church, namely elders and deacons.
Section 2 – Elders
A. Elders are men who are responsible for the spiritual care of the Church, the loving oversight of the souls of the members and the implementation of Church discipline as those who must give an account to God for this responsibility. They shall exercise the oversight of the Church in its ministries and functions.
B. All elders must meet the Biblical requirements set forth in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.
C. All elders must carry out their duties as guided by the Scriptures in such passages as Acts 20:17-20, 17ff; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Hebrews 13:17.
D. Among the elders, are those whom we call pastors. These are set apart for prayer and the study of the Word of God. If at all possible, these should have their material needs provided by the Church so they may give themselves fully to this crucial task.
E. Anyone called to the office of elder must conscientiously affirm his full agreement with the Vision Statement, Confession(s) of Faith and By-laws of this Church. Should he at any time move from this position, he is under spiritual and moral obligation to make this known to the Church.
Section 3 – Deacons
A. Deacons shall be responsible for the benevolent concerns and business affairs of the Church. They will carry out these duties to relieve the elders of these things as far as possible, so that the elders may give themselves without distraction to their spiritual duties. The deacons will carry out their duties under the oversight of the elders, and will be responsible to them. Deaconesses may also be appointed. They will work with the deacons in visitation and benevolent activities involving women.
B. All deacons and deaconesses must meet the Biblical requirements of Scripture set forth in 1Timothy 3: 8-14.
C. The number of deacons/deaconesses will depend on the needs of the congregation and the number of people who meet the spiritual qualifications for the office.
D. Deacons/deaconesses must also subscribe fully to the Vision Statement, Confession(s) of Faith and By-laws of the Church.
E. Should there at any time be no elders in the Church, the deacons will assume temporary oversight of the Church.
Section 4 – Appointment of Officers
A. The appointment of elders and deacons/deaconesses is the responsibility of the Church as led by the Holy Spirit. The Lord’s will is recognized both by the inner conviction of the individuals involved, and by the approval of the Church as it observes those who possess the gifts and graces required by the Scriptures.
B. The selection of officers is so important that it should always be preceded by prayer and the serious consideration of the requirements of Scripture, and qualifications of the people being considered for office.
C. All potential officers, with the exception of the pastor, must have been active members of the Church for a period of at least one year before being nominated for office.
D. Nomination sheets shall be sent to all Church members at least six weeks before the date of an election. The members shall submit nominations for all offices to the elders at least four weeks before the elections. The nomination papers must be signed by the nominees indicating their willingness to stand for the office for which they are nominated. The elders will review the nominations to determine their suitability for office. Nominations will be posted two Sundays before the elections. Should there be only one existing elder, the deacons will serve him in the process of receiving and reviewing nominations.
E. Voting will be by secret ballot. For those unable to attend the meeting, ballots will be available for people to vote ahead of time.
F. A suitable place must be available for the depositing of ballots. These ballots will be opened and counted at the same time as those cast in the meeting. At least two scrutineers will be elected at the Church meeting to count the ballots. While unanimity in voting is desirable and should be prayerfully sought, a 75% majority must be obtained for a nominee to be elected to office.
G. Since the Church should endeavour to recognize all those whom the Holy Spirit has endowed with the requisite graces, gifts and sanctified desires, the number of elders and deacons/deaconesses shall not be fixed, but shall depend on the size of the congregation and the number of suitable candidates available.
H. Elders and deacons/deaconesses shall serve for a three-year term but will be eligible for re-election. As far as possible the terms should be staggered. The three-year term will not apply to a full time pastor.
I. Following the election of new officers, a portion of a regular Sunday service will be set aside to recognize formally the appointments, and to commit them to the Lord in prayer publicly.
J. Pastors will be chosen by the congregation upon recommendation of the elders. Should there be only one elder, the deacons will act with him in recommending a pastor. The selection of a pastor will be voted on at a special meeting called for that purpose. This meeting will be announced publicly at both services on at least two Sundays before the event. As with all officers, a unanimous vote will be prayerfully sought, but at least 75% approval must be received before the calling of a pastor.
Section 5 – Removal from Office
The pastor, elder(s) or deacon/deaconess may be removed from office by a two-thirds majority vote of the Church, on the basis of failure to uphold Section 2 or 3 after attempts of restoration have failed. Members will be informed ahead of time in writing of the intention of such a vote.
Section 6 – Appointment of other positions in the Church
A. All positions in the church that involve a teaching ministry or that relate to teaching ministries, for example, the Christian education team leader, worship team leader, Missions team leader shall be recommended by the elders.
B. All those directly involved with church finances must be recommended jointly by the elders and deacons.
C. The board of trustees shall consist of three members elected by the congregation, and shall hold the office until circumstances shall require replacement. The trustees shall be called upon to perform whatever legal and business transactions are particularly designated to them by the laws of the province. In this discharge of their duties they shall act only at the direction of the church board and of the congregation.
D. Associate Pastors: Should the church develop its ministries to require expertise in certain areas, as for example a study centre, a recommendation from the elders must be approved by the church before appointment to the position of Associate Pastor(s) takes place. The Associate Pastor(s) may be a volunteer or employed and will be directly responsible to the elders in all matters relating to the church.
Article VIII – Finances
A. This Church depends entirely on the prayer, personal services, and free will offering of God’s people. Before the annual business meeting, the Church board (elders/deacons) will prepare a budget of the proposed expenditures for the coming year. Once the budget is approved by a two-thirds vote of the congregation, it will be the basis for the utilization of Church funds.
B. The fiscal year will coincide with the calendar year.
Article IX – Business Meetings
A. Business meetings will be held at least twice a year. The first business meeting of the new year will be considered the annual business meeting, at which time reports covering the past year will be presented by the various departments of the Church. Also at this meeting the budget for the coming year will be presented to the Church by the deacons for approval.
B. Special business meetings may be called at the discretion of the Church board (elders/deacons) as required.
C. Notice of business meetings will be given to the Church on two consecutive Sundays immediately preceding such meeting. In case of an emergency, the elders may call a meeting at shorter notice provided each member is notified (by mail, telephone, or personal contact) of the time, place and purpose of the meeting.
D. At least one-half of the membership must be present for the transaction of business at business meetings. If the elders consider an issue to be of great importance, they may request a referendum vote.
E. Any member of the Church eighteen years of age and over has the right to vote on any question brought before the congregation.
Article X – Financial Assistance Plan
Due to the increase in requests for the financial assistance from the community, and also a desire to be faithful to Scripture in the handling of the gifts God has entrusted to us, the Church has set the following guidelines for the distribution of funds:
1. Finances will be used primarily to help members and regular adherents of our Church who are experiencing financial hardship and difficulties due to unforeseen or unpreventable circumstances.
2. According to the commands of Scripture and by the gifts God has entrusted to us, we will seek to care also for the orphans and widows, those being the most needy in society.
3. Those who are helped by the Church must demonstrate a willingness to seek legitimate means to provide for themselves and their families.
4. The distribution of funds will be decided by the mutual consent of at least two deacons/deaconesses. The annual benevolent amount will be determined by the church and replenished only with church approval. This figure will be reviewed periodically.
5. As a general rule, money will not be given directly to the person; rather all expenses will be paid for directly by the Church. That will particularly apply to those outside the Church.
Article XI – Dissolution of the Church and its Properties
In the event of the dissolution of the Church, the remaining funds and assets shall be used first to dispose of all church-related liabilities, and any remaining assets shall be donated to another ministry of precious like faith and practice as designated by the Church upon the majority approval of the congregation, and administered by the trustees.
The Church board (elders or deacons) must not encumber, transfer, sell or purchase any real estate for the Church unless authorized by a two-thirds vote at a duly called business meeting.
Article XII – Amendments
The By-laws may be amended with the approval of the elder/deacon boards and by a two-thirds majority vote of the Church membership. All proposed amendments must be submitted to the elder/deacon board in writing and if approved presented to the Church membership for vote. Such amendments must be submitted to the Church membership one month prior to the meeting by public and written announcements. This should take place at the annual business meeting.