The Diocese of New England
THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN AMERICA
St. Mark of Ephesus Church, Inc.
IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
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
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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;
- a) to worship God in accordance with the Tradition of the Holy Orthodox Church, “in
spirit and in truth;” (John 4:24)
- 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)
- c) 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)
- d) 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:
- e) Have been baptized and chrismated in the Orthodox Church and consciously uphold
and profess the Orthodox Faith;
- f) 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;
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- g) 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.
- h) 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
Section 4 Revocation of Membership
Parish membership may be suspended or revoked by the Parish Priest or the Diocesan Bishop
for due cause, such as:
- a) Open rejection of the Orthodox Faith;
- b) Public and open defamation of, defiance of, or rebellion against ecclesiastical authority;
- c) Grave moral transgression; or
- d) Formal association with a non-Orthodox religious body.
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
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The Parish Meeting must be held on Parish premises or location of regular meetings as
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
- a) The approval of the annual operating budget submitted by the Parish Council (Article X) or
by a special budget committee.
- b) 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,
- c) Hearing and approving of annual or special reports by committees and parish organizations.
- d) 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;
- e) 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 Quorum for the Annual Parish Meeting and the Special Parish Meeting
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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
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 the President, 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.je
Section 11 Disagreement with Decisions
In case the Parish Priest disagrees with one or more decisions of the Annual Parish Meeting or
the Special Parish Meeting, his reasoned opinion shall be recorded in the minutes and the
matter submitted to the Bishop. So also, if an officer of the Parish Council disagrees with one or
more decisions of the Annual Parish Meeting or the Special Parish Meeting, his or her motivated
opinion shall be recorded in the minutes and the matter submitted to the Bishop. The manner in
which further dissent is recorded and possibly transmitted to the Bishop shall be dealt with by
Diocesan and Parish Bylaws and established procedures and norms.
Section 12 Authority of the OCA Statute over Parish Meeting
No Parish Meeting, either annual or special, shall take any action which is contrary to or not in
accord with the Statute. Should there be any such conflict, the Statute shall prevail. Should
there be a question whether an action of a Parish Assembly is valid or lawful under this Statute,
the issue shall be submitted to the Diocesan Authority for determination.
ARTICLE V: CLERGY
Section 1 The Rector or Priest-in-Charge
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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.
The priest will represent the parish before local civil and judicial authorities and other third
parties, either personally or through his delegate.
Section 2 Other Parish Clergy
Additional clergy may be assigned or attached to the parish by the Diocesan Bishop. Like the
Parish Priest, all parish clergy, including those in minor orders, possess the rights and exercise
the responsibilities stipulated for their order by the Sacred Canons, the Statute, and the
directives of the Holy Synod and the Diocesan Authority. These clergy cannot vacate the parish,
change their status, or seek to transfer to another parish or Diocese with the permission of the
Diocesan Bishop. These additional clergy include:
- a) An associate priest is a priest who has been appointed to the parish by the Bishop, receives
compensation from the parish, and carries out ministries within the parish as directed by
the Parish Priest in consultation with the parish council. His role in the governance of the
parish is determined by the established diocesan procedures and norms.
- b) An assigned deacon is a deacon who has been appointed by the Bishop to service within a
parish, receives compensation from the parish, and carries out ministries within the parish
as directed by the Parish Priest in consultation with the parish council. His role in the
governance of the parish is determined by the established diocesan procedures and norms.
- c) Attached clergy are priests or deacons who are canonically attached to a parish by the
Bishop without necessary compensation from the parish and without involvement in parish
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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
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 XII, Section 8, of the Statute of the Orthodox Church in America.
Section 7 Duties of Officers
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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:
- a) 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.
- b) 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
- c) 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
Section 8 Removal from the Parish Council
- a) 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.
- b) 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.
- c) 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.
- d) 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
- a) All vacancies which occur shall be filled by appointment of the rector or priest-in-charge
with confirmation by the Parish Council.
- b) Such appointees shall hold their office until the next Annual Parish Meeting.
- c) Persons appointed to fill vacancies must have all the qualifications of elected members of
the Parish Council.
Section 10 Parish Council Meetings
- a) The Parish Council shall establish a regular time for its meetings once a month; for example,
the second Monday at 7:30 pm.
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- b) 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.
- c) No regular or special meeting of the Parish Council shall be held without the knowledge and
blessing of the Parish Priest. If the Parish Priest is unable to preside over a meeting of the
Parish Council, the senior elected officer of the Parish Council shall preside with the blessing
of the Parish Priest or the Bishop. In case the office of Parish Priest is vacant, until the
appointment of the new Parish Priest, the senior elected officer of the Parish Council shall
preside, unless the Bishop or his delegate is present.
- d) The quorum for discussing and acting upon matters within the competence of the Parish
Council is a simple majority of the members.
- e) At its meetings, the Parish Council may consider only matters that are within the
competence of the council.
- f) A majority vote of those members in attendance at a meeting of the Parish Council shall
decide all issues brought before it.
- g) In case the Parish Priest disagrees with one or more decisions of the Parish Council, his
reasoned opinion shall be recorded in the minutes and the matter referred to the Diocesan
- h) 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.
- i) The minutes of the Parish Council meetings shall be signed by the rector or the priest-incharge
and the secretary or president.
- j) 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.
- k) 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
- a) The Parish corporation is the owner of all Parish property, assets and funds in trust for the
use, purpose, and benefit of the Diocese of the Orthodox Church of American. Parish
property, assets, and funds 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.
- b) In the events of a parish closure, disposition or disposal of Parish property, assets, and funds
shall be in accordance with Article XII, Section 9 of the Statute of the Orthodox Church in
Section 2 Expenditures
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- a) 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.
- b) All non-emergency expenditures from the Building Maintenance Account in excess of $1,000
will require at least two independent written bids.
- c) 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.
- d) 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.
- e) 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.
- f) Each year, the parish shall remit to the Diocesan Treasurer its minimum financial support to
the Diocese and through it to The Orthodox Church in America as determined by the AllAmerican
Council and in conformity with local civil law.
Section 3 Reserve Cash or Floors
- a) The parish and its leadership will maintain at all times a balance of at least $9,000 as a floor
within a checking account called the “Operating Account.”
- b) 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.
- c) 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 a Parish Meeting or Special Parish Meeting.
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.
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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:
- Respond to declining financial conditions as identified by the Treasurer and/or
- Review and approve expenditures from the Building Maintenance Account over
- Review and approve along with the Council any investment of parish funds
- 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
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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, January 28, 2018
Father James Robinson, Rector-in-Charge
Laura Geigle, President
Jen Paulin, Chair By-Laws Review Committee