Trinity Lutheran Church
Since in every Christian congregation, according to the injunction of Holy Scripture – 1 Cor. 14:40;
Colossians 2:5 – all things should be done “decently and in order” – therefore, we, the undersigned, have
drafted this constitution and By-Laws according to which the affairs of this body are to be ruled and
Article I Name
The name of the congregation when first established was: “The German Evangelical Lutheran Trinity
Church of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession of the City of Memphis, State of Tennessee.” And was, in
this name, granted a charter by Act of the Legislature of this State on December 2, 1859. During the course of the years, by common consent, the name has been abbreviated to that of Trinity Lutheran Church, of Memphis, Tennessee.
Article II Purpose
The purpose of the congregation shall be to:
- Preach and teach the Word of God with a view to bring people to faith in Christ.
- Establish and strengthen the faith of its members by further religious instruction and the administration of the sacraments.
- Develop and marshal the talents of individual Christians for the benefit of God’s kingdom at large.
- Further the church life of its members by fostering fellowship and works of charity.
- Increase our distinctive Lutheran witness in the Memphis area by cooperating with other Lutherans.
- Cooperate with other Christians in our community whenever possible, within the framework of our confessional stance.
Article III Confessions
This congregation acknowledges and accepts all the canonical books of the Old and New Testiments as the revealed Word of God, verbally inspired, and acknowledges and accepts all the Confessional writings of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, contained in the Book of Concord of the Year 1580, to be the true and genuine exposition of the doctrines of the Bible. These confessional Writing are the three Ecumenical Creeds (Apostle’s, Nicene, and Athanasian), the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles, Luther’s Large and Small Catechisms, and the Formula of Concord.
Article IV Membership
The membership of the congregation shall include –
A. Baptized Members – All members who have been baptized, including children who have not yet confirmed their baptismal vows. Baptized members are expected –
- Attend Sunday School and divine services regularly.
- Receive instruction to prepare for communicant membership.
- Communicant Members – Communicant members are those who have been instructed in the Christian Faith, have become acquainted with the Lutheran Confession, especially Luther’s Small
Catechism, and confessed their adherence to the faith in the rite of confirmation. Communicant members are expected to –
- Attend divine services regularly. (John 8:47; Heb. 10:25)
- Lead Christian lives and not live in manifest works of the flesh. (Gal. 5:19-21)
- Partake in the Lord’s Supper frequently. (1 Cor. 11:23-29)
- Contribute regularly and faithfully as God has prospered them, for the building of Christ’s Kingdom in this congregation and throughout the World. (1 Cor. 16:2; Matt. 28:19-20)
- Devote their time and talents to the extension of our Savior’s Kingdom. (1 Cor. 12)
- Accept fraternal admonition when they have erred) (Matt. 18)
- Refrain from membership or affiliation with secret societies or other organization whose principles and teachings are in conflict with the Word of God.
- Voting Members – All confirmed members who have reached their eighteenth birthday and have signed the Constitution as prescribed in the By-Laws (I A 3). As a voter he/she shall –
- Attend meetings regularly. (1 Cor. 4:2)
- Willing to serve and assume assigned responsibilities. (Luke 19:11 ff)
- Souls – The congregation as such always shall remain keenly aware of its responsibility not only to its baptized members, but all to the many souls brought under its influence.
Article V Right of Suffrage
Suffrage, or the right to vote, is granted to voting members only. (Cf IV C)
Article VI Powers of the Congregation
- General – The congregation as a body, through the VOTERS’ ASSEMBLY, shall have the power to:
- Call or dismiss pastors.
- Elect officers.
- Approve annual budget.
- Authorize major additions or changes to property.
- Incur long-term debt.
- Establish relationships with other congregations, church bodies or councils.
- Amend the Constitution and By-Laws.
The congregation as a body, through the CHURCH COUNCIL, shall have power to administer and
manage all of its internal and external affairs not specifically reserved to the voting members, as
hereinabove set forth. The establishment and conduct of all institutions and societies within the
congregation shall at all times be subject to the approval and supervision of the Church Council.
The Voters and the Church Council, however, shall not be empowered to decide anything contrary to the
Word of God and the Confessions of the Lutheran Church (Article III), and any such decision shall be
null and void.
The congregation will elect Elders as prescribed by the By-Laws to assist the Pastor in all matters pertaining to the spiritual welfare of the congregation and in the cultivation of a spirit of peace, love and harmony among the members of the congregation.
- Powers of Officers – Congregational Officers elected by the Voters’ Assembly, shall have no authority beyond that which has been conferred upon them, and whatever power may have been delegated to them may at any time be altered or revoked by the Voter’s Assembly.
- Removal from Office – Any Officers, pastor or teacher may be removed from office by the voters, by a 2/3 vote, in Christian and lawful order (Matt. 18), for any of the following reasons: Personal adherence to false doctrine; Scandalous life; Inability to perform his official duties or willful neglect of them.
- Excommunication – Any member who conducts himself in an un-Christian manner shall be admonished according to Matthew 18:15-17. If, after due admonition, he refuses to repent and amend his sinful life, he shall be excommunicated by 2/3 vote of the Voters’ Assembly. (Matt. 18:18-20)
- Power to amend this Constitution and establish By-Laws –
- The voters may adopt such By-Laws as may be required for the accomplishment of its purpose.
- Amendments may be made to this Constitution at a regular meeting of the Voters, provided –
- They do not conflict with the provisions laid down in Article III.
- That the proposed amendment(s) has been submitted in writing at the previous regular meeting of the Voters.
- That an affirmative vote of 2/3 majority of the voting membership present at the Voters’ Assembly is receive.
Article VII Office of the Pastor or Teacher
The office of the Pastor and/or Teacher of the congregation may be conferred only upon such a person who has completed the course of training as prescribed by the By-Laws, and who publicly, before the congregation, according to the ceremonies prescribed shall declare his sincere belief in, and willing adherence to our Confessional Standard. (Article III)
The Pastor of the congregation shall serve the church by providing spiritual leadership, pastoral care, administrative oversight and organizational direction to the congregation, with a broad program of worship, music, preaching, teaching and fellowship.
Article VIII Officers
The elected officers of the congregation shall be:
Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, and Financial Secretary.
These and other officers, committees, or boards shall be elected or appoint in the manner and for the
term(s) prescribed in the By-Laws. Because of the high responsibility and holy obligations of Church
Officers, 1 Timothy 3:1-13 should be kept in mind in their selection.
Article IX Doctrinal Literature
Only such hymns, prayers, and liturgies shall be used in the public services of the congregation, and in all ministerial acts, as conform to the confessional standards of Article III. Likewise, in all classes for instruction in Christian doctrine only such books shall be used as conform to these standards.
Article X Synodical Affiliation
- This congregation is a member of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.
- The pastor and such lay delegates as may be requested shall represent the congregation, and shall attend the synodical meetings.
- The pastor and congregation shall fulfill their responsibilities to Synod by faithful attendance to conventions, generous support, and in any other way possible.
Article XI Property Rights
If this church should ever separate or dissolve because of doctrinal difference or for any other reasons – which we pray God may graciously prevent – the property of this congregation and all benefits connected with it shall remain with and belong to those members who shall faithfully abide by the true Lutheran doctrine and practice as confessed and acknowledged in Article III of this constitution.
Constitution of Trinity Lutheran Church – Memphis, TN – Revised February 2011