St. Mark Of Ephesus
Updated By-Laws 2015

St. Mark of Ephesus Orthodox Church - Kingston By-Laws

The Diocese of New England

THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN AMERICA

St. Mark of Ephesus Church, Inc.

Parish By-Laws

 

IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.  AMEN

 

Preamble

 

St. Mark of Ephesus Church, Inc., located in the town of Kingston, Massachusetts, is a parish of the Diocese of New England, a territorial unit of the Orthodox Church in America, which is the local autocephalous Orthodox Church, belonging to the world-wide federation of Orthodox Churches.  The Primate of the Orthodox Church in America is the Archbishop of Washington and Metropolitan of All America and Canada.

The Parish is governed by the Tradition, that is, the whole body of teaching and practice of the One Holy Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church.  The Tradition is expressed, first of all in Holy Scripture, and also in the Canons of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, the Canons of the Provincial Councils, the Canons and writings of the holy Fathers and Doctors of the Church, in the liturgical life of the Church, and in the Statute of the Orthodox Church in America.

These By-laws consist of the eleven Articles that follow this preamble.

 

ARTICLE I Name

The name of this Parish is St. Mark of Ephesus Church, Inc., and will be referred to in these By-laws as the Parish.

 

ARTICLE II Purpose

Section 1              The purpose for which the Parish exists is to maintain a local Orthodox Christian community under the authority and protection of the ruling bishop of the diocese of New England;

  1. to worship God in accordance with the Tradition of the Holy Orthodox Church, “in spirit and in truth;” (John 4:24)
  2. b) to preserve, protect, defend and propagate the Holy Orthodox Faith; The Apostle Jude exhorts us to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (v.3) The Parish must be zealous in carrying out the Lord’s commandment to make disciples of all peoples. (Matthew 28:19-20)
  • to provide charitable aid to the poor and Christian education for its members; “give alms of such things as ye have.” (Luke 11:41) “Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto they brother, to thy poor, and to the needy, in thy land.” (Deuteronomy 15:11)  “Increase in the knowledge of God.” (Colossians 1:10)
  • and to build and maintain churches, chapels, schools, and such other religious, educational, and benevolent institutions as may be expedient.

Section 2              The languages of worship in the Parish shall be those that meet the needs of the membership, so that the people may understand.  As St. Paul says: “How shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say ‘Amen’ at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? … I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.” (I Corinthians 14:16-19)

Section 3              The Parish must strive to maintain an apostolic zeal and a missionary spirit to draw new souls to the Orthodox Faith, in accordance with its purposes as enumerated in Section I of this Article, thus carrying out the Lord’s commandment to make disciples of all peoples.  The Parish, likewise, must be ever ready to accept into its fellowship all persons who desire to follow the Orthodox way, that is, become members of the Orthodox Church and to live in accordance with her teachings.  This the Parish must do, following the example of the Apostolic Church, which “added daily to the Church such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:47)

 

Article II Membership

Section 1              Definition

                Members of the Parish are those persons who:

  1. Have been baptized and chrismated in the Orthodox Church and consciously uphold and profess the Orthodox Faith;
  2. Are regular communicants, that is, participants in the Holy Mysteries of Confession and Communion. The term ‘regular communicants’ means those who partake of the Holy Mysteries frequently, ideally weekly, and no one can be a member of the Parish if he fails to comply with this obligation once a year;
  3. Fulfill the financial obligations established by the Parish. All members of the Parish are urged to make a yearly commitment for financial support to the Parish in the form of a pledge, the ideal of which is the tithe of his income.
  4. And declare their intention to be members.

Section 2              Purposes of Membership – Privileges and Obligations of Members.

Following the Tradition of the Church, the purpose of membership in the Parish is to seek the knowledge of God and union with Him through Jesus Christ by the grace of the Holy Spirit and to express that unity with God in Christ in all religious, moral, family, and social activities.  Generally, this expression consists of an enlightened obedience to the teachings of the Orthodox Faith, and is manifested in regular attendance at the divine services of the Parish, in frequent reception of the Holy Gifts of the Body and Blood of Christ, in care for the Parish property and buildings, in regular contributions in fulfillment of the financial commitment, and in doing all that is possible to promote the Christian spirit of love, unity and brotherly concern among the members of the Parish.

Section 3              New Members

Any person desiring to become a member of the Parish, and who is baptized and chrismated in the Orthodox Church, must present himself to the rector or priest-in-charge, who will inform him of the life and activities of the Parish.  When that person shall have received the Holy Mysteries of Confession and Communion, he may then declare his intention to become a member of the Parish (The Parish should provide a form for a written declaration.).  He will then be received as a member.  The pastor and the parish secretary will enter his name in the list of members.

 

ARTICLE IV The Parish Meeting

Section 1              Authority

The Parish Meeting is the highest legislative, judicial, and administrative authority of the Parish as a corporation.  All (as in Article III, Section 1) who have been members of the Parish for a period of six months and are at least eighteen years old shall be termed voting members and may attend and vote at the Parish Meeting.

Section 2              Place of the Parish Meeting

The Parish Meeting must be held on Parish premises or location of regular meetings as practicable.

Section 3              Periodicity of the Parish Meeting

The Parish Meeting is held annually, on a determined Sunday of the year, following the celebration of the Divine Liturgy as practicable.

Section 4              Notice of the Parish Meeting

Notice of the annual Parish Meeting shall be given by the rector or Priest-in-charge from the ambon at the Divine Liturgy on three consecutive Sundays preceding the date of the meetings if practicable.  Notice must also be made at least once in written form, in a special circular or in the parish bulletin, mailed to all voting members of the Parish (see Section I, Article IV).

Section 5              Competence of the Parish Meeting

Matters pertaining to the life of the Parish that may be discussed and acted upon at the Parish meeting include:

  1. The approval of the annual operating budget submitted by the Parish Council (Article X) or by a special budget committee.
  2. The election of the Parish Council members, the lay delegate to the Diocesan Assembly, and the lay delegate to the All-American Council, if the latter is to be convened in that, current, year.
  3. Hearing and approving of annual or special reports by committees and parish organizations.
  4. Decisions on matters concerning the purchase, improvement or sale of real property, investment of Parish funds (other than in savings accounts), and the use of Parish funds for loans for any purpose;
  5. Proposal or resolutions to the Diocesan Assembly, these, if any, to be submitted to the bishop six months prior to the date of the Assembly.

Section 6              Special Parish Meeting

In addition to the annual Parish Meeting, Special Parish Meetings may be convoked by the bishop, the rector or priest-in-charge, or by the Parish Council, and the Finance Committee, with the approval of the rector or priest-in-charge.  Voting members of the Parish may petition the rector and the Parish Council to convoke a Special Parish Meeting, such petition requiring the signatures of two thirds of the total number of members.

Special Parish Meetings are called to discuss and act upon specific matters, and no other matter may be discussed at such meetings.

The matters to be discussed and acted upon are to be announced when notice of the Special Meeting is given.  Regulations regarding the notice of a Special Parish Meeting are the same as those in Section 4 of this Article.

Section 7              The Quorum for the Annual Parish Meeting and the Special Parish Meeting

The quorum for the annual Parish Meeting shall be no less than 50% of the number of voting members of the Parish. 

The quorum for a Special Parish Meeting shall be no less than 33% of the voting membership of the Parish.

In the absence of a quorum at the annual Parish Meeting or at a Special Parish Meeting, said meeting shall be adjourned and reconvened on the same day of the following week, and at this, adjourned, meeting no quorum shall be necessary for a lawful meeting.

Section 8              Voting

A simple majority vote by those voting members in attendance at the Parish Meeting, Annual or Special, shall be decisive on all matters within the competence of the meeting.

Section 9              Presiding Officer

The rector or the priest-in-charge is the presiding officer of the Parish Meeting, Annual or Special.  The President may also chair parts of the meeting sessions, in accordance with a prior agreement reached between him and the rector and the Parish Council.

Section 10           Confirmation of Minutes

A copy of the minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting or of a Special Parish Meeting, signed by the rector or priest-in-charge and the President shall be sent to the bishop, through the district dean, for confirmation.  All decisions and resolutions in those minutes become effective upon receipt of such confirmation.

 

ARTICLE V The Rector or Priest-in-Charge

The rector or priest-in-charge of the Parish holds his office by virtue of his appointment by the diocesan bishop.  The rector or priest-in-charge cannot leave the Parish without permission of the diocesan bishop.

All matters concerning his salary, his housing, and his benefits are to be agreed upon between the district dean and the priest and the Parish Council prior to his appointment.

By virtue of the Apostolic Succession abiding in the Church, which the priest shares through his ordination, it is his primary responsibility to preach and teach the doctrine of the Holy Orthodox Church, preside over the celebration of the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments) and divine services in accordance with the Tradition of the Church, and to ensure that the life of the Parish as a whole is guided and directed toward spiritual and not secular ends.

Since the priest must answer to God for the lives and the salvation of those who are entrusted to his pastoral care (Hebrews 13:17), nothing in the Parish can be initiated without his approval and blessing, neither must he do anything pertaining to the life of the Parish without the knowledge of the Parish Council and the parishioners, (pastoral matters of a private or personal nature between spiritual father and his spiritual child or children are excluded), so that always there may be unity, mutual trust, cooperation and love.  In the event of a disagreement between the priest and the parishioners or the Parish Council, the matter shall be referred to this district dean.

 

ARTICLE VI The Parish Council

Section 1              Composition

The Parish Council is composed of five (5), seven (7), or nine (9) persons, according to the needs of the Parish, elected at the annual Parish Meeting.

Section 2              Officers

The officers are president, vice president, treasurer, assistant treasurer, secretary, and assistant secretary.  The remaining members are designated members-at-large.

Section 3              Term of Office

                The term of office for all council members is one year.

Section 4              Eligibility

A voting member of the Parish who has been a member for one year is eligible for election to the Parish Council.  The Parish Council will elect as its three principle officers, that is, President, Treasurer, and Secretary, from among those members who have been members of the parish council for at least two years.  In addition to the technical qualifications of one-year membership in the Parish, the Parish Meeting must elect to the Parish Council only those members of the Parish who are zealous for the Orthodox Faith, who are regular communicants at the Eucharist, who are active in the Parish, who are willing to work for the improvement, both spiritual and temporal, of the Parish, who are not contentious and rebellious against the authority of the Church, and who are not motivated to seek office out of pride, but only out of a strong desire to work for the Lord and the building up of His Church.  Specifically, no one who fulfills only the minimum requirement of receiving the sacraments, who is known to be rebellious against the Church, the Diocese, the bishop, the rector or the priest-in-charge, who promotes divisions and factions among the membership, and who is not regular in his attendance at the church’s services, should ever be elected to a position of leadership in the Parish.

Wives of clergymen assigned or attached to the Parish, widows excepted, are not eligible for membership in the Parish Council.

Section 5              Installation

Each year the newly-elected members of the Parish Council must be duly installed in the church following the Divine Liturgy in the presence of the assembly of the faithful by the rector or priest-in-charge.  They must prepare themselves spiritually for their duties through the Holy Mysteries of Confession and Communion before their installation.  The installation cannot be administered until their election has been confirmed by the diocesan bishop.  The new council shall assume its duties immediately upon being installed.

Section 6              Competence of the Parish Council

                See Article X, Section 7, of the Statute of the Orthodox Church in America.

Section 7              Duties of Officers

Although local circumstances may require a redistributing of the duties of the officers of the Parish Council, in general, the scheme given below is to be followed:

  1. The president presides at meetings of the council in the absence of the rector or of the priest-in-charge or at any time by mutual agreement. The president shall aid the priest in preparing the agenda for the council meetings.  The president is to be the ex-officio chairman of such committees as the priest and/or the council may appoint.
  2. The secretary is to keep accurate minutes of all meetings of the council, to prepare and distribute copies of the minutes to the priest and other members of the council within two (2) weeks following the meeting, and to correspond as directed by the priest and/or president.
  3. The treasurer is to maintain an accurate record of all monies received and disbursed, as well as pending accounts, to disburse monies as approved by the Parish Meeting and the Parish Council, to be in charge of filing proper tax forms and financial reports as required, to deposit all monies in the approved bank(s) weekly, to prepare monthly financial reports to the Parish Council, and to prepare the annual financial report for presentation to the annual Parish Meeting.

Section 8              Removal from the Parish Council

  1. All Parish Council members must continue to fulfill the qualifications for membership in the Parish Council during their entire tenure of office. Failure to retain membership as described in Article III, Section 1, will bring automatic dismissal from the council.
  2. All Parish Council members are expected to attend all council meetings during their tenure of office, and to fulfill the duties of their office. The absence of any council member for three consecutive meetings, or the failure of any officer to fulfill his duties may render him subject to dismissal.
  3. Any council member who, during his tenure of office, engages in divisive or rebellious activities, who endeavors to create factions, or brings disharmony to or disturbs the peace of the Parish, is subject to dismissal.
  4. Although the rector or the priest-in-charge initiates all dismissal procedures, the diocesan bishop, through the district dean, may intervene in cases in which a council member becomes subject to dismissal for the causes stated in a, b, or c, of this section of Article VI.

Section 9              Vacancies

  1. All vacancies which occur shall be filled by appointment of the rector or priest-in-charge with confirmation by the Parish Council.
  2. Such appointees shall hold their office until the next Annual Parish Meeting.
  3. Persons appointed to fill vacancies must have all the qualifications of elected members of the Parish Council.

Section 10           Parish Council Meetings

  1. The Parish Council shall establish a regular time for its meetings once a month; for example, the second Monday at 7:30 pm.
  2. The presiding officer of the council meeting is the rector or the priest-in-charge, but another member of the council, usually the president, may chair sections of a given meeting.
  3. The quorum for discussing and acting upon matters within the competence of the Parish Council is a simple majority of the members.
  4. At its meetings, the Parish Council may consider only matters that are within the competence of the council.
  5. A majority vote of those members in attendance at a meeting of the Parish Council shall decide all issues brought before it.
  6. In the absence of the rector or the priest-in-charge, all decisions of the council must be submitted to him for confirmation before becoming effective.
  7. The minutes of the Parish Council meetings shall be signed by the rector or the priest-in-charge and the secretary or president.
  8. Original copies of the minutes are the property of the Parish and shall be filed by the rector or the priest-in-charge in the Parish archives.
  9. Parish Council meetings are open to all voting members of the Parish. Only members of the council may vote, but any voting member of the Parish may speak on an issue, if he is recognized by the chairman.  At its discretion, the Parish Council may hold a closed meeting, that is, one restricted to council members.

ARTICLE VII Real and Liquid Property of the Parish

Section 1              Ownership

  1. The Parish corporation is the sole owner of all Parish property, assets and funds, and these are administered by the Parish Council in accordance with decisions made by the Parish Meeting and with the Statute of the Orthodox Church in America. Note: No decision of the Parish Meeting with regard to the property shall be contrary to or in conflict with the provisions of the Statute of the Orthodox Church in America in this respect.
  2. Disposition or disposal of Parish property shall be as follows: All sacred and untouchable items shall be surrendered to the Diocesan Bishop. All funds and monies realized for the sale of properties shall be held in trust by the Diocese for a period of five (5) years in the event the Parish is revitalized.  After five years, funds and monies shall be turned over to the Diocesan Department of Missions.

Section 2              Expenditures

  1. All expenditures of the Parish shall be made by check, except those made through ‘petty cash.’ All expenditures made through petty cash must be accompanied by vouchers.
  2. All non-emergency expenditures from the Building Maintenance Account in excess of $1,000 will require at least two independent written bids.
  3. All work done on the building must be performed by licensed contractors and a copy of valid insurance must be obtained from them before any work is started.
  4. All money that is directed to be donated to the Building Maintenance Account or money donated for purposes of improving, repairing, or adding to the building and/or its fixtures (including iconography, paint, etc.) will be deposited directly into the Building Maintenance Account and withdrawn only for the purposes of improving, repairing, or adding to the building and/or its fixtures (including iconography, paint, etc.). Any requests by the donor for how the money is to be spent will be honored and a written list of these “earmarked” funds will be attached to any report (including the Treasurer Reports) that identifies a balance in the Building Maintenance Account.  Any transfer from this account to any other account will require a vote of the Special Parish Meeting.
  5. All investments of any church funds must be approved by an official vote of the Parish Council and the Finance Committee. All investments must be fully guaranteed by a government agency or similar entity.  A report of all investments made must be posted and maintained in the narthex of the church within ten days of any investment.

Section 3              Reserve Cash or Floors

  1. The parish and its leadership will maintain at all times a balance of at least $5,600 as a floor within a separate checking account called the “Building Maintenance Account.” Only funds related to the Real Estate and its improvements may be deposited in and withdrawn from this account.  The minimum of $5,600 may be used only for emergency repairs and only require an official vote of the Parish Council and the Finance Committee; expenditures not affecting will require the vote of the Finance Committee.
  2. A separate savings-style account will be maintained at all times to be used only for an emergency reserve cash supply for operations. A minimum floor of $8,500 or three months expenses (whichever is more) will be maintained at all times.  Expenditures from this floor must be approved by vote at Special Parish Meeting.
  3. All revenue received by the parish shall be directed to the Operating Account so as to maintain a balance of at least $9,000 at all times.

 

ARTICLE VIII Official Signatures

Section 1              All official documents for the Orthodox Church in America, the Diocese and the ‘Metrical Record’ of the Parish shall be signed by the rector or the priest-in-charge.  In cases in which additional signatures are required, the president, the secretary, or the treasurer may sign the document in question.

Section 2              All civil (legal) documents shall be signed by the rector or the priest-in-charge and such other officers as may be required by the voting membership of the Parish or by law.

Section 3              All expenditures made by check shall be signed as designated by the Parish Council.

Section 4              The Parish corporation seal shall be affixed to all documents requiring the same.  Entrusted to the care of the rector or the priest-in-charge, the corporation seal is the property of the Parish.  In the event of the transfer of the rector or the priest-in-charge, the seal is temporarily entrusted to the warden, who shall deliver it to the new priest, as soon as the latter is assigned and in residence.

 

ARTICLE IX Parish Auditor(s)

Section 1              A minimum of one (1) and no more than three (3) voting members of the Parish shall be elected at the annual Parish Meeting to hold office for one year.

Section 2              The auditor(s) shall audit the accounts of the Parish, inspect the vouchers for disbursements from petty cash, verify bank balances and securities, and generally investigate the financial administration of the Parish.  The auditor(s) must audit the records at least one time a year and present a report of their findings to the annual Parish Meeting.

 

ARTICLE X  The Finance Committee

Section 1              Membership on the Finance Committee is limited to 3 or 5 member in good standing of the community who have been members of the community for at least two years, and who have experience in financial affairs for businesses, and is by vote of the Parish Meeting, subject to approval of the Priest-in-Charge.  Term of membership will run from Annual Parish Meeting to Annual Parish Meeting.

Section 2              The Finance Committee will meet periodically through the year and be available for emergency meetings and perform the following:

  1. Respond to declining financial conditions as identified by the Treasurer and/or Parish Council.
  2. Review and approve expenditures from the Building Maintenance Account over $1,000.
  3. Review and approve along with the Council any investment of parish funds
  4. Meet once yearly with the President, Treasurer, Secretary, and rector-in-charge to prepare a budget and to share ideas

 

ARTICLE XI Amendments and Additional Regulations

Section 1              Amendments

                These By-laws may be amended at Parish Meetings (Article IV) by affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members present and voting.  Such amendments must be presented to the diocesan bishop for his approval before they become effective.

Section 2              Additional Regulations

                In matters not covered by these By-laws, the Parish Meeting may enact legislation applicable to the particular situation of the Parish.  Such additional legislation must be presented to the diocesan bishop for his approval before it becomes effective.

 

Submitted for approval at Annual Parish Meeting, TBA Fall 2015

Signature_________________________________________               Date__________________
                Father James Robinson, Rector-in-Charge

 

Signature_________________________________________               Date__________________
                Laura Geigle, President

 

Signature_________________________________________               Date__________________
                Jen Paulin, Secretary and Chair By-Laws Review Committee

 

Signature_________________________________________               Date__________________
                Maria Mojica, Member-at-Large

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