As part of our ongoing celebration of the 175th anniversary celebration as a church body, we have been delving into the historical records. The church minutes have noted the coming and going of pastors, the disciplinary actions taken within the body, and ongoing business of keeping a church organization functional. Some of the most revealing parts of our records comes from the occasional updating & adoption of Constitutions, Rules of Decorum, and Church Covenants.
Below I've copied what our church adopted in 1869. Read through it. Take note of how the church saw its duty to be responsible to & for one another before her Lord. In our age of individualism and corporate distrust, we would do well to look to the past to see if perhaps our forefathers better understood what it means for the church to be one body of one Spirit serving together in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Look also at "Article II. Powers" noting the restrictions the body places upon herself in acknowledging the church's rightful submission to the authority of Christ as Lawgiver. Even in her judicial responsibilities, she is submissive solely to the Word of God.
Saturday, January 9, 1869
The church met at 4 o’clock p.m. Reading, singing and prayer by the moderator.
1st The minutes of the last regular and subsequent called meetings read and on motion adopted.
2nd The report of the committee on Constitutions, Articles of Faith, and Rules of Decorum was called for, submitted, received, (Committee discharged), amended and adopted as follows:
Constitution & Rules of Decorum
of the First Baptist Church
Article I. Name
This church shall be known as the First Baptist Church of Christ, Palmyra, MO
Article II. Powers
This church in her ecclesiastical capacity has no legislative power, only Executive and Judicial. Christ is her Lawgiver and the New Testament her Rule of faith and practice; and the enactments of this Constitution and these rules of decorum are founded upon the upon the New Testament, or pertain only to the church in her business capacity.
Article III. Articles of Faith
1. We believe in one only true and living God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and there three are one.
2. The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the word of God, and the only Rule of Faith and Practice.
3. That by nature we are fallen and depraved creatures.
4. That regneration, justification, sanctification, and salvation are only by the life, death , resurrection, ascension, and intercession of the Lord Jesus Christ and the operation of the Holy Spirit.
5. That all the saints will finally persevere from grace to glory.
6. That believers baptism is only immersion, and is necessary to the receiving of the Lord’s Supper.
7. That the salvation of the righteous and the punishment of the wicked will be eternal.
8. That no minister has the right to administer the ordinances, until he legally comes under the imposition of hands.
9. That it is our duty to be tender one toward another, and study generally the happiness of God’s people at large, and endeavor to promote the honor and glory of God.
10. We believe in election by grace given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.
11. That it is our duty to commune with orderly Baptists only.
12. That each church has a right to keep up its own government as it may seem best.
Article IV. Covenant
As we trust we have been brought by divine grace to embrace the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the influence of his Spirit to give ourselves up to him, so we do now solemnly covenant with each other, that God enabling us, we will walk together in brotherly love; that we will exercise a Christian care and watchfulness over each other, and faithfully warn, rebuke, and admonish one another, as the care shall require.
That we will not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, nor omit the great duty of prayer,
both for ourselves and for others; that we will participate in each other’s joys, and endeavor with tenderness and sympathy to bear each other’s burdens and sorrows; that we will earnestly endeavor to bring up such as may be under our care in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; that we will seek divine aid to enable us to walk circumspectly and watchfully in the world, denying ungodliness and every worldly lust; that we will strive together for the support of faithful evangelical ministry among us; that we will endeavor by example and effort to win souls to Christ; and through life amidst evil report and good report, seek to live to the glory of Him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.