Section D - Rules & Regulations

The Church Constitution

Please see our full constitution below.

Section A: Name and Purpose

  1. The church is known as Trinity Grace Church. “Trinity” because the chief purpose of this local church is to worship the triune God in Spirit and in Truth. “Grace” because this church exists to proclaim to all people the unmerited kindness of God to sinners through the Lord Jesus Christ. “Church” because we are committed to the edification and encouragement of our fellow brothers and sisters in love.

Section B: Basis of Faith

  1. The full inspiration of the Holy Scriptures: their authority and sufficiency as not only containing, but being in themselves, the Word of God; the reliability of the New Testament in its testimony to the character and authorship of the Old Testament; and the need of the teaching of the Holy Spirit to a true and spiritual understanding of the whole.

  2. The unity of the Godhead and the divine co-equality of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; the sovereignty of God in creation, providence, and redemption.

  3. The total depravity of human nature in consequence of the Fall, and the necessity for regeneration.

  4. The true and proper Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ; His virgin birth, His real and perfect manhood, the authority of His teaching, and the infallibility of all His utterances, His work of atonement for sinners of mankind by His substitutionary sufferings and death, His bodily resurrection and His ascension into Heaven; and His present priestly intercession for His people at the right hand of the Father.

  5. The justification of the sinner solely by faith in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

  6. The necessity of the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration, conversion, and sanctification; also in ministry and worship.

  7. The universal Church, the body of which Christ is the Head, embracing all the redeemed, called by God through the Gospel, born of the Spirit and justified by faith; the local Church, comprising such believers as the expression of the universal Church; and fellowship between such churches, manifesting the unity of the body of Christ.

  8. The ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper as being instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ, but not in Baptism as conveying regenerating grace, nor in the Lord’s Supper as being a sacrifice for sin nor involving any change in the substance of the bread and wine.

  9. The personal return of the Lord Jesus Christ in glory.

  10. The resurrection of the body: the judgement of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ, with eternal blessedness of the righteous and the eternal punishment of the wicked.


Section C: Principles for Charity purposes

A summary of the legal constitution and how it relates to this working constitution is found in appendix 6.

Section D: Rules and Regulations

  1. Church Membership

  2. Biblical Basis for Church Membership

    According to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) there is an inseparable connection between making disciples, baptizing them and teaching them. The apostles implemented this commission by gathering baptized believers into local churches teaching them all that Christ had commanded (Acts 2:38-42, Acts 20:20-21, I Corinthians 4:17). With the uncertain exception of the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:37-38), the New Testament records nothing of believing men and women who were not members of local churches. All believers are required by Christ to observe the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:19 and I Corinthians 11:23-25), which is clearly a local church ordinance (I Corinthians 11:17-18, 33-34; cp I Corinthians 1:1-2). It follows that all Christians ought to belong to a visible local church to partake biblically of the Lord’s Supper.

  3. Qualifications for Church Membership

    A person wishing to be a member of the Church must give a credible profession of faith in Christ and: manifest a holiness of life appropriate to their spiritual maturity, be in full accord with our basis of faith (see section B), meet the Church’s requirement for baptism by immersion (see 2.1), be accepted as a member at a Church Members’ Meeting, acknowledge the responsibilities of a church member (see 1.4 and Appendices 1&2) , abide by the decisions of the Church Members’ Meeting, and be committed to serving Christ within the Church and beyond.

  4. Application Procedure

    Those desiring to join the Church, including those who held membership in their previous Church, shall make application to the elders. The elders will then appoint two visitors who will interview the applicant and report to the Church Members’ Meeting. The candidate, if elected, will be a member of Trinity Grace Church from that date, and will receive the “right hand of fellowship” at the next communion service.

  5. Members’ Responsibilities

    Members are expected to: be loyal in attending the services and meetings of the Church, especially submitting themselves to the ministry of God’s word (see appendix 3), contribute to the support of the local Church and of missionary endeavours as the Lord prospers them (see appendix 2), be united with and manifest practical Christian love towards their fellow believers in the fellowship (see appendix 1), take part in Church activities utilising all the gifts which God has bestowed on them, and with God’s help to live lives that are regulated by the teaching and inspired by the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, ever remembering that the Church is Christ’s body in the world of our day.


  6. Younger Members

    Membership of the Church in the New Testament is not on the basis of age, but rather on the basis of a credible profession of faith in Christ. The elders will therefore consider applications for baptism and membership from young people in consultation with parents, mentors (see below), Sunday school teachers, and Youth leaders. However, it is accepted that there is greater difficulty in determining the genuineness of the profession of those who are young, especially if they have been raised in Christian homes where such profession is welcomed and encouraged. Therefore, any applications from those under the age of 18 years will be given greater consideration, and a period of delay may be appropriate. Any members under the age of 16 will be considered “Non-voting members.” At the age of 16 they shall, without further procedure, become eligible to vote in the Church Members’ Meetings. The Church is very concerned that all our children are encouraged to play a full part in the worship and service of the fellowship from the earliest age. Every child / young person shall therefore be assigned a mentor, with the agreement of the parents. The mentor (who must be a mature member in good standing) shall take special responsibility to pray for, support, teach, nurture and encourage their protégé. The mentor will relinquish his / her responsibility only when the young person has attained spiritual maturity, in discussion with parents and elders.

  7. The Discipline Of Church Members

    The Church may discipline members whose standards of conduct fall short of those laid down for Christians in the New Testament. As a spiritual society, the Church may impose only spiritual discipline, the primary aim of which is the restoration of the offender. The matter shall not be brought before a Church Members’ Meeting until private attempts have been made to bring about repentance (see Matthew 18:15-20). The spirit of love outlined in Appendix 1 must characterize all such discipline. Examples of conduct justifying disciplinary action are: uncharitable conduct towards others, immorality, schism, heresy, unwillingness to submit to the legitimate authority of the Church, and consistent failure to attend the Lord’s Supper, without good cause.

  8. Termination of Church Membership

    Membership of this local Church may be terminated in one of three ways: Transfer of membership to another like-minded gospel church, with a letter of commendation where appropriate. Although the Church prefers not to recognise “resignation” from membership by professing believers since this is not a biblical concept, it is accepted that this is legal option. In such cases, every attempt will be made to explain why another and more biblical way forward would be preferable. Following a course of church discipline as outlined in 1.6, the elders may propose that a member be put out of the Church. This shall be done only in love, and with the support of the Church Members’ Meeting.

  9. Church Ordinances

    This Church recognises only two ordinances as instituted by Christ for His Church, namely Baptism and the Lord’s Supper

  10. Baptism

    Baptism is a public profession and pledge of union with Christ in his death, burial and resurrection. The ordinance shall be administered to all who wish to be obedient to the command of Christ, and who desire to become members of the Church of Christ. Candidates for baptism must have become believers in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, and must be baptised by total immersion, except in cases of ill-health or infirmity, where a more appropriate mode of baptism will be acceptable. Since church membership is normally expected to follow immediately after baptism, applicants for baptism shall be treated in the same manner as applicants for membership according to 1.2 to 1.4 above.

  11. The Lord’s Supper

    a) The Lord’s Supper is an ordinance of the New Testament, the principles of which are that: a particular local church (1 Corinthians 1:2), on the Lord’s Day (1 Corinthians 11:25-26, Acts 20:7), together eats a ceremonial meal (1 Corinthians 11:20-22, 33-34), consisting of bread and wine (1 Corinthians 11:23-26), distributed to all by Christ’s servants (1 Corinthians 11:24), in which that gathered church symbolises its spiritual nourishment by Christ’s body and blood (1 Corinthians 10:16-17, 11:24-25), and proclaims the death of Christ and his atonement for sin (1 Corinthians 11:26).

    b) This ordinance shall be observed normally once per month.

    c) The Lord’s Table shall be open to: Members of this Church. Members of other gospel churches in good standing. Any others whom the elders welcome to the table, on behalf of the Church, in the light of special circumstances

  12. Church Officers

  13. Introduction and General Qualifications

    The Church recognises two spiritual offices within the Church: elders and deacons, and one legal body: the Church Council. All officers of the Church must be in full agreement with the Church’s basis of faith (see section B) and the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith. They must also exemplify the Christian character outlined in the appendices to this working Constitution.

  14. Elders

    a) The task of elders is to serve the Church through oversight and teaching. They are responsible for: overseeing the conduct of public worship; the administration of the ordinances of believers’ baptism and the Lord’s Supper; preserving purity of doctrine and the maintenance of discipline among members; supervising all meetings and organisations connected with the Church, including the oversight of those responsible for any other ministries of the Church.

    b) Elders shall therefore be those fitted for the work of the spiritual care and oversight of the Church.

    c) They shall normally be called by the existing elders, with the approval of the Church Members’ Meeting.

    d) They must fulfill the qualifications laid down in I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.

    e) While all elders are equal in office and authority, it is both wise and biblical to recognize at least one man and set him aside to labour in the word and doctrine. Those thus set apart within the eldership may be referred to as “pastor”.

    f) If the pastor is leaving the Church for any reason, every effort must be made to have another appropriately gifted elder set aside to labour in the word and doctrine. The resignation of any elder must be approved by the Church Members’ Meeting.

    g) Should an elder be guilty of conduct that brings reproach upon his office, the matter shall be brought to the attention of the other elders. If it can be resolved within the eldership, it shall be, but if not, it must be brought to the Church Members’ Meeting and may lead to his removal from office.

    h) Normally, there shall be at least three elders. Where the number falls below two, the Church Council shall assume the elders’ responsibilities, with the existing elder acting as chairman. In such circumstances, the appointment of at least one other elder shall become a priority.

  15. Deacons

    a) The task of deacons is to relieve the elders of involvement in the material affairs of the Church so that their distinctive ministries of prayer and the ministry of the word are not neglected. The duties of deacons, while spiritual in nature, include the general administration of the Church and the practical care of the members. They have a special responsibility to maintain the unity and harmony of the membership.

    b) Deacons shall be appointed by the Church Members’ Meeting, normally on the recommendation of the elders, to fulfil specific duties. Any candidate for the diaconate must have been in membership for at least six months.

    c) They must fulfil the qualifications laid down in I Timothy 3:8-13.

    d) They shall remain in office as long as they fulfil their stated duties. If they are unable to continue in office, they will discuss the handing over of their duties to other brethren with the elders. Resignations from the diaconate must be approved by the elders and the Church Members’ Meeting.

    e) Should a deacon be guilty of conduct that brings reproach upon his office, the matter shall be brought to the attention of the elders. If it can be resolved by the elders it shall be, but if not, it must be brought to the Church Members’ Meeting and may lead to his removal from office.

  16. Church Council

    a) The Church Council shall normally comprise of the elders and deacons in office. They shall be considered in law as the managing trustees of the Church as a Charity.

    b) As such, the Church Council shall be responsible for ensuring that all aspects of Charity law are complied with by the Church, especially in relation to financial affairs, the use of the church building, and adherence to the Church’s legal Constitution in all its dealings.

    c) In particular, the Church Council will present audited financial accounts to the Church Members’ Meeting annually. Copies of these accounts shall be available to any member of the Church at their request.

    d) The Church Council shall operate a child safeguarding policy and shall ensure that activities involving children and vulnerable adults are carried out in accordance with that policy. Each person overseeing church activities involving children or vulnerable adults and every charity trustee shall provide to the Church Council a current Disclosure and Barring Service certificate, or other such official equivalent.

    e) There must be a minimum of three such trustees. Therefore, should the number of elders and deacons combined be fewer than three, under the direction of the remaining trustees, the Church Members’ Meeting shall appoint other trustees to bring the number of the Church Council to at least three. They shall continue in office until further elders and / or deacons are appointed, at which time they will resign with the approval of the Church Members’ Meeting.

  17. Church Members’ Meetings

  18. The Purpose of Church Members’ Meetings

    The government of the Church shall be in the hands of the Church members, under the Lordship of Christ, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the direction of the Holy Scriptures, and the counsel of the elders.

  19. Convening Church Members’ Meetings

    Church Members’ Meetings shall take place at least twice a year, and as often as is required to fulfil their calling as outlined in 4.1. All members of the Church shall do everything within their power to attend. At least two weeks’ notice in the regular Lord’s Day meetings of the Church is required for ANY Church Members’ Meeting.

  20. Determining The Quorum

    Two thirds of the total membership shall form a quorum; the next lowest whole number in the case of unequal division.

  21. Non-voting Members

    If it becomes clear that a member is unable to attend Church Members’ Meetings on a regular basis due to unavoidable circumstances such as long term illness, study leave at university, temporary job relocation etc., then upon agreement between the elders and the member a “Non-Voting-Membership” form will be signed by both parties. The church meeting will adjust the number of voting members so that they are not counted when calculating the quorum. If they are able to attend a church meeting (e.g. home from university) they will be entitled to vote and the quorum will be adjusted to include them.

  22. Special Resolutions

    a) Special Resolutions are necessary: in respect of the appointment, discipline or resignation of Church Officers or managing trustees; for amendments to this working Constitution (see below); in giving instructions to the holding trustees in respect of proposed alterations to, or the sale of any trust property; for the dissolution of the Church; and for the removal of any or all the holding trustees.

    b) The content of any Special Resolution must be made known to all Church Members at least two weeks prior to the meeting. It will be carried if passed by not less than two thirds of the members present and voting.

    c) Amendments to this working Constitution may be made only at a Special Church Meeting called for this purpose and notice of the proposed alteration must have been given at a previous Church Members’ Meeting. Amendments fail unless they get acceptance from two thirds of the members present.

    d) A Church Members’ Meeting may be called at the discretion of a majority of the Church Council or at the written request of at least six members.

  23. The Conduct of Church Members’ Meetings

    a) Worship, including prayer and the reading of Scripture, shall be a key feature of the Church Members’ Meeting. The discussion of any matters affecting the life and activities of the Church shall be set in this context with the intention that, so far as possible, practical issues are not perceived as being separate from the spiritual aspects of the Church.

    b) Normally the meeting shall be chaired by the pastor on behalf of the elders, and an agenda given to all members at least one week in advance.

    c) The Church Members’ Meeting shall discuss no controversial or important matter unless the elders have previously considered it.

    d) Proceedings at Church Members’ Meetings must be kept confidential unless the elders authorize their disclosure.

  24. Voting

    a) One vote is allocated to each member who is present and, except in the case of Special Resolutions (see 4.5 above), an Ordinary Resolution shall be carried if supported by a simple majority of members present and voting.

    b) Votes shall be taken by ballot if requested by any of the admitted members; this may be before or after the show of hands.

    c) Where a vote is appropriate, the minutes shall simply record if the resolution was passed. No record of the number or proportion of the votes will be kept.

    d) In the case of a tied vote the Chairman will have a casting vote in an Ordinary Resolution.

  25. Minutes

    a) The business conducted at Church Members’ Meetings and, in particular, any decisions of the members shall be recorded in the minutes for future reference.

    b) The minutes shall be written or printed and filed in a book or binder set aside for this purpose using materials of sufficient quality to ensure that they survive for many years and shall be kept in a safe place.

    c) The Church Members at a Church Members’ Meeting shall approve each set of minutes. They shall have the opportunity to review the minutes and to correct any errors of fact before a formal vote on the approval of the minutes is taken. If the minutes are approved, the Chairman shall confirm the members’ acceptance of the minutes by signing and dating them as a correct record of the preceding meeting.

    d) The signed minutes shall be conclusive evidence of the decisions taken at the church members’ meeting to which they relate.

Section E: Appendices

  1. Biblical Directions For Christian Fellowship

    As members of Trinity Grace Church, Ramsbottom, we covenant together to seek to treat one another as the Lord Jesus Christ has treated us in His great grace and mercy. To that end we are committed to: 1. Love one another as Christ has loved us – John 13:34-35 and I Peter 1:22. 2. Be kindly affectionate to one another – Romans 12:10. 3. Prefer one another in honour – Romans 12:10. 4. Have oneness of mind – Romans 12:16 and Philippians 2:1-4. 5. Edify one another – Romans 14:19 and Ephesians 4:16. 6. Receive one another – Romans 15:7 and Philemon:12-17. 7. Admonish one another – Romans 15:14 and II Thessalonians 3:15. 8. Care for one another – I Corinthians 12:25. 9. Serve one another – Mark 10:42-45 and John 13:14. 10. Bear one another’s burdens – Galatians 6:2. 11. Be forbearing to each other – Ephesians 4:2 and Colossians 3:12&13. 12. Be kind to each other – Ephesians 4:32 and I Corinthians 13:4. 13. Submit to each other – Ephesians 5:21 and I Peter 5:5. 14. Esteem others better than ourselves – Philippians 2:3. 15. Forgive one another – Mark 11:25 and Colossians 3:13. 16. Abound in love to each other – I Thessalonians 3:12. 17. Comfort one another – I Thessalonians 4:18 and 5:11. 18. Consider one another – Hebrews 10:24. 19. Confess faults to each other – James 5:16. 20. Pray for each other – James 5:16 and Romans 15:30. 21. Be hospitable to one another – I Peter 4:9 and Romans 12:13. 22. Refrain from judging one another – Romans 14:13. 23. Restore one another if fallen – Galatians 6:1.

  2. Christian Giving

    From the time of our Lord’s ascension until His return He has entrusted to His people the management on earth of the affairs of His kingdom. It is therefore essential that every Christian should realise his responsibility as one of Christ’s stewards in the use that he makes of his possessions and income. The gifts of the Lord’s people are required for: 1. The support of the church at home. Paul wrote, “If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?” and “Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.” I Corinthians 9:11&14. 2. The needs of our missionaries. We are “debtors both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise”, and “God… has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” Romans 1:14 and II Corinthians 5:19. 3. The necessities of the brethren. “Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.” “For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God.” Acts 2:44&45 and II Corinthians 9:12. It is written, “Bring an offering and come into His courts”, and so a collection is taken on the Lord’s Day as a part of our worship. In this way we seek to provide for the preaching of the gospel at home and abroad, and to fulfil the obligations of Christian love and brotherhood. “Freely you have received; freely give.” Psalm 96:8 and Matthew 10:8. If every believer would act upon the injunction, “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper,” there would be no lack of means for all necessities, and giving would be a constant delight. We are called upon to honour God with our substance, whether it be little or much. I Corinthians 16:2. The following scriptures direct us in our giving: 1. Individual. Exodus 25:2 and II Corinthians 9:7. 2. Systematic. I Corinthians 16:2. 3. According to our means. II Corinthians 8:12-15 and I Timothy 6:17&18. 4. Willing and free. Exodus 35:5,21,22,29 and II Corinthians 9:6-11. 5. With an eye to the Lord and our indebtedness to Him. Malachi 3:8-10 and II Corinthians 8:9. 6. With thankfulness for spiritual blessings. I Corinthians 9:7-14 and Philippians 4:10-19. 7. With faith in God who notes and blesses what we give, be it little or much. I Chronicles 29:13-17 and Mark 12:41-44.

  3. Making The Most Of The Sermon

    We will make every effort to listen profitably to the preaching of God’s word, for His glory by: Recognising the biblical priority of preaching. Attending as often as possible the meetings where God’s word is proclaimed. Praying for the preacher in his preparation and proclamation. Praying that the hearers of the sermon may be changed by its message. Having an expectant, humble and God-fearing attitude as we come to listen to a sermon. Dealing with any hindrances and distractions to properly hearing the word of God. Seeking the truth of God’s word from every sermon that is heard. Ensuring, with the help of God’s Holy Spirit, that what is preached is practiced.

  4. Church and charity status

    As a Church we benefit from the charity status that we enjoy. There are financial benefits, as well as wise safeguards that the charity commission will expect a charity such as our’s to uphold. As long as these benefits are enjoyed without any interference in the spiritual matters of the Church, then our status as a charity should remain in place. However, if charity law becomes such, that it seeks to interfere with the spiritual governance of the Church, then our position as a charity needs to be reconsidered. The church is governed by Christ, who is her head. He has outlined how we should worship, act and order matters within the Church. Our allegiance is to Him first and foremost, and we must do His bidding. Therefore, if anything comes to light from charity law to challenge this, then the Church council must meet to prayerfully and biblically discuss the matter, seeking the mind of Christ concerning the plan of action. They will then bring the resulting recommendations to the Church in a member’s meeting.

  5. Marriage and Sexuality

    Marriage – the Members of the Church agreed in adopting this working constitution that in the understanding and application of part A in the Basis of Faith, the teaching of the Bible is that marriage is between one man and one woman for life (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:4-6, Ephesians 5:31-33) and that all sexual practices outside of marriage between a man and a woman, are sinful and wrong. This includes same sex practices (Romans 1:24-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11) regardless of whether or not same sex marriage is permitted by the laws of England and Wales. The Bible also teaches that we must not be actively or passively complicit in sin (1 Corinthians 6:18-20; Ephesians 5:8-16; 1 Timothy 5:22) and that faith without works is dead (James 2:17). It is therefore part of our doctrine that in relation to any activities of this Church we must in no way condone, promote, assist or encourage same sex practices. Notwithstanding this, it is our sincere desire that those involved in such practices, should know the grace of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ alone.

  6. Principles for charity purposes

    1.1 The Church is legally established as a “charitable unincorporated association” under a legal Constitution dated ……………….. 200.., which contains the main legal provisions governing the Church, its purpose and Basis of Faith, its powers and the use of any property owned by the Church. For ease of reference the Basis of Faith is also set out here in Section C. Under the Legal Constitution, the people with the responsibility for the general control and management of the administration of the church are known as the Managing Trustees and the Legal Constitution sets out that the Managing Trustees will be the people who are appointed as Church Officers in accordance with this working constitution. The identity of the Managing Trustees is set out in these Rules at clause 2.6. The Legal Constitution also refers to a holding trustee or holding trustees whose responsibility is to hold property for the Church.

    1.2 The Legal Constitution contains provision for the meetings of the Managing Trustees. These provisions are the minimum requirements for their meetings. They stipulate the following:­

    1.2.1 There shall be not fewer than 3 Managing Trustees.

    1.2.2 The Chairman of their meetings shall be appointed by the Managing Trustees and shall have a casting vote.

    1.2.3 They shall meet not less than 4 times a year.

    1.2.4 A quorum shall consist of at least one half of the Managing Trustees or 3 Managing Trustees, whichever is greater.

    1.2.5 Written minutes of their meetings shall be maintained.

    1.2.6 Any Managing Trustee may be remunerated from Church funds provided those paid (either directly or indirectly via a connected person) are not more than a minority of the number of Managing Trustees, but they must not be present in the Managing Trustees’ meetings whenever their salary or financial benefits are discussed.

    1.2.7 Special provisions relating to payments to be made to persons defined by law as “connected persons” to any one of the Managing Trustees.

    1.2.8 Subject to 1.2.6 above no Managing Trustee shall receive any financial benefit from the Church funds, other than the re-imbursement of expenses incurred in carrying out his duties as an employee or paid office holder or re-imbursement of costs of the purchase of goods or services supplied to or for the Church.

    1.2.9 Legal rules calling for the disqualification of Managing Trustees.

    1.3 The Legal Constitution also contains provisions for its amendment.

    1.4 This working constitution sets out the practices of the Church and its method of internal governance, none of which are contrary to any of the provisions of the Legal Constitution referred to in 1.1 above.