Church Constitution

PREAMBLE

We declare and adopt this Constitution (updated May 2021) for the preservation and security of the principles of our faith and that this body may be governed in an orderly manner. This Constitution will set forth the responsibilities of each member of this church and the freedom of action of this body in its relation to other churches.

ARTICLE I: NAME, PURPOSE, INCORPORATION, AND GOVERNMENT

SECTION 1: NAME

This church shall be known as the Southern Oaks Baptist Church of Brazos County, Texas, Inc., having been incorporated per the filing of the articles of incorporation with the Texas Secretary of State on October 29, 1987.

SECTION 2: PURPOSE

The purpose of this body of baptized believers in Jesus Christ is to fulfill the following basic missions:

I. EVANGELISM

To obey the command of Christ to evangelize the world by confronting those in our sphere of influence with their need of Christ as Savior and by supporting worldwide missions.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28: 18-20)

II. FELLOWSHIP

To provide a spiritual climate in which the body of Christ is joined in His strength and a spirit of unity.

Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. (Philippians 2:2)

III. COMMITMENT

To encourage each member to submit to the Lordship of Christ and to faithfully exercise this responsibility as a member of the body.

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him. (Colossians 2:6)

So we, who are many, are one body in Christ and individually members one of another … Be devoted to one another in brotherly love … So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God. (Romans 12:5, 10; 14:12)

IV. DISCIPLESHIP

To encourage each member to become a disciplined follower of Christ and to develop a vision of spiritual multiplication.

That you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Col. 1:10)

V. EDUCATION

To provide a Bible-centered study program in which each individual is challenged to apply scriptural principles to all of life.

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16)

VI. SERVICE

To assist each member in discovering and using his/her spiritual gifting for the edifying of the church.

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (1 Peter 4:10)

VII. SPIRITUAL REPRODUCTION

To lead each member to a commitment to faithfully witness and to ensure that each new convert is personally trained to become a disciple-maker.

And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2)

SECTION 3: CHURCH GOVERNMENT

The government of this church is vested in the body of believers who compose it (Romans 12:4-8). It is subject to the control of no other ecclesiastical body (Colossians 1:18). It does, however, recognize the need for mutual fellowship and cooperation with other churches of like faith and practices (Galatians 6:2). This church will cooperate with and support the local association and state convention affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, as long as such association does not violate scriptural principles.

ARTICLE II: DOCTRINE

A. The Scriptures

We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God and without error or defect in the original manuscripts and in all that it affirms. We believe that the Scriptures as we now have them contain all that is necessary for salvation and a life ordered toward Christian maturity. (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21; Acts 18:28; Romans 15:4)

We believe that God spoke in His written Word by a process of dual authorship. The Holy Spirit so superintended the human authors that, through their individual personalities and different styles of writing, they composed and recorded God’s Word to man without error in the whole or the part. (2 Peter 1:20–21; Matthew 5:18; 2 Timothy 3:16).

We believe that the process of special revelation has ceased and that, consequently, any gifts that are, or can be construed to be revelatory of this nature have ceased. The canon of Scripture is closed, and being such those gifts or aspects of gifts that were used to speak forth and bring Scripture into being have fulfilled their purpose and are no longer in operation today. The Scripture is the final authority in matters of faith and practice. (Jude 3, Rev 22:18-19)

B. The Godhead

We believe that the Godhead eternally exists in three persons — the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit — and that these persons are one God who are equal in every divine perfection and execute distinct but harmonious offices. (Matthew 28:18-19; 2 Corinthians 13:14)

C. God the Father

We believe that God the Father orders and accomplishes all things according to His own purpose and grace (Psalm 145:8-9; 1 Corinthians 8:6). As the only absolute and omnipotent Ruler in the universe, He is sovereign in creation, providence, and redemption (Psalm 103:19; Romans 11:36). His fatherhood involves both His designation within the Trinity and His relationship with mankind. As Creator, He is Father to all humanity (Ephesians 4:6), but He is spiritual Father only to believers (Romans 8:14; 2 Corinthians 6:18). He has decreed for His own glory all things that come to pass (Ephesians 1:11). He continually upholds, directs, and governs all creatures and events (1 Chronicles 29:11). He has graciously chosen from eternity past those whom He would have as His own (Ephesians 1:4-6). He saves from sin all who come to Him through Jesus Christ. He adopts as His own all those who come to Him, and He becomes, through adoption, Father to His own (John 1:12; Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:5; Hebrews 12:5-9).

D. God the Son

We believe that Jesus Christ is the pre-existent and eternal Son of God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made (John 1:3). We believe He became man in order to reveal God and redeem man (Job 19:25; Galatians 4:5, Titus 2:14). He was supernaturally conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. In His person, we believe the Lord Jesus combined forever full and undiminished deity with true and perfect humanity to become the God-Man. We believe that Christ the Redeemer died on the Cross as a substitute for sinful man, was buried, arose bodily from the tomb, ascended into Heaven where He ministers on behalf of the saints, and someday will come again to save His own and judge the unsaved. (John 1:18; 8:58; Matthew 1:23; Colossians 1:15-17; 1 Timothy 1:15; 3:16)

E. God the Holy Spirit

We believe that the Holy Spirit is a divine Person, equal with God the Father and God the Son and of the same nature. He was active in the creation. He convicts of sin, righteousness, and judgment. He bears witness to the truth of the Gospel in preaching and testimony. He is the agent in the new birth. He seals, guides, teaches, witnesses, sanctifies, and helps the believer (Genesis 1:1–3; Matthew 28:19; John 14:16–17, 26; 16:8–11; Hebrews 9:14). The Holy Spirit gives gifts to the Church through which the members serve God, one another, and the world. We believe that even though God can and does work in miraculous ways today, some of the Church’s gifts were temporary and are no longer given today. For example, some revelatory gifts such as word of knowledge, tongues, and prophecy were critical when the Church was without the written New Testament. Other foundational gifts, such as healing and raising from the dead, were used to confirm and validate the ministry of the apostles as the authentic founders of the Church. (Hebrews 2:1–4; Acts 2:22; Mark 16:14–18; Matthew 10:8; 1 Corinthians 13:8)

F. Angels

We believe that God created an innumerable company of sinless spirit beings. Although they are a higher order of creation than humanity, they were created to worship God and serve Him for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation. (Luke 2:9– 14; Hebrews 1:6–7, 14; 2:6–7; Revelation 5:11–14; 19:10; 22:9)

G. Fallen Angels and Satan

We believe that Satan is a created angel and the author of sin. He incurred the judgment of God by rebelling against his Creator, by taking numerous angels with him in his fall, and by introducing sin into the human race by his temptation of Eve. He is the open and declared enemy of God and mankind. He is the prince of this world, who was defeated through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and he will be eternally punished in the lake of fire. (Genesis 3:1–15; Isaiah 14:12–17; Ezekiel 28:11–19; Matthew 4:1–11; 25:41; 2 Corinthians 4:3–4; Revelation 12:1–14; 20:10)

H. The Creation and Fall of Man

We believe that the Triune God, according to His sovereign will and for His own glory, created the heavens and the earth, by His spoken word, without the use of pre-existent material. The existence of all things is the result of the direct, immediate, creative acts of the triune God over six literal days (Genesis 1). Adam and Eve were created by a direct work of God, and thus humanity—body and soul/spirit—has an existence distinct from Him and yet always dependent on Him. (Genesis 2:4; Proverbs 16:4; Acts 17:24; Colossians 1:17). Humans did not evolve from previously existing forms of life. The entire human race descended from the historical Adam and Eve, the first parents of the entire human race (Genesis 1-2; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17). We believe that man was created in the image and the likeness of God, that he fell through sin, and consequently became depraved. We believe that total depravity does not mean that a person is as wicked as he/she could be, but that the sin nature passed to him/her from the fall (original sin) corrupted everyone to the core of one’s being and results in having both the inclination to sin and the inability to not sin. This total depravity has been transmitted to the entire human race, except for the God-Man Christ Jesus. (Genesis 1:26; 2:17; Romans 3:10-19; Ephesians 2:1-3)

I. The Way of Salvation

We believe that salvation from the penalty and power of sin is provided only through the blood of Jesus Christ which He shed on the Cross when He was made sin for us and died in our place. There is nothing man can do, we believe, to attain this salvation through good works, moral achievement, or religious status. We believe the one and only condition for salvation is personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as one’s substitute for and Savior from sin. We believe that repentance is a change of mind and purpose toward God prompted by the Holy Spirit, and that true repentance is inseparably related to true faith. At the time of salvation, we believe a person is spiritually regenerated, his/her sins are forgiven, God’s righteousness is imputed to him/her, and he/she is declared righteous in the sight of God. This salvation, we believe, is complete and a present possession of all believers which remains theirs forever. All who have trusted Christ as Savior are kept secure and will never lose their salvation. (Luke 13:1-3; 15:7; John 1:12; 3:16; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-9; 4:32; 1 Peter 1:18-19; 2:24; Titus 3:5; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 2:4; 5:1; 8:38-39)

We believe that election is the act of God by which, before the foundation of the world, He chose in Christ those whom He graciously regenerates, saves, and sanctifies (Romans 8:28–30; Ephesians 1:4–11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 2:10; Titus 3:4–7; 1 Peter 1:1–2). Sovereign election does not contradict nor negate the responsibility of men and women to repent and trust Christ as Savior and Lord. (Ezekiel 18:23, 32; 33:11; John 3:18–19, 36; 5:40; Romans 9:22–23; 10:9–13; 2 Thessalonians 2:10–12; Revelation 22:17)

J. The Church and Her Ordinances

We believe that the Church is a unique organism composed of individuals who have placed their faith in Christ as Savior. The Church began, we believe, on the day of Pentecost and will continue its distinct purpose until the Rapture. We believe that the Church exists in both a universal aspect, as the Body of Christ, and a local assembly of believers. The local church, we believe, exists to worship God, disciple believers, and evangelize the lost. The two ordinances of the church are water baptism, which we practice by immersion, and the Lord’s Supper, which we believe to be a memorial of Christ’s death and is open to all believers after self-examination. (1 Corinthians 11:23-28; 12:12-27; John 17:20-23; Ephesians 4:7-13; Colossians 3:12-15; 4:16; Matthew 16:16-18; 28:19-20; Acts 2:1-4,42-47; 18:7-8; Luke 22:19-20; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17)

K. Israel

We believe that God sovereignly selected Israel as His eternal covenant people. Israel is distinct from and will not be replaced by the Church. The people of Israel are now dispersed because of disobedience and rejection of their Messiah, Jesus Christ, but will be regathered in the land of Israel during the Tribulation. According to God’s grace and His eternal covenant with the Jewish nation, God will prepare their hearts in repentance for the second coming of Christ. (Genesis 13:14–17; Ezekiel 37; Romans 11:1–32)

L. The Resurrection

We believe in the bodily resurrection of both the saved and the lost — they that are saved unto the resurrection of eternal life, and they that are lost unto the resurrection of eternal damnation. (1 Corinthians 15; John 5:28-29)

M. The Blessed Hope

We believe in the personal and premillennial and imminent coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and that this “Blessed Hope” has a vital bearing on the personal life and service of the believer. (John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; Philippians 3:20; I Thessalonians 4:13-18; Titus 2:11-14)

N. The Rapture and Tribulation

We believe in the imminent, pretribulational, premillennial return of Christ for His Church. At that moment, the dead in Christ shall be raised in glorified bodies, and the living in Christ shall be given glorified bodies without tasting death. All believers shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air before the tribulation, the seventieth week of Daniel. (Daniel 9:25–27; Matthew 24:29–31; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17; Revelation 20:1–4, 6)

O. The Millennial Kingdom and Subsequent Events

We believe at the end of the tribulation Christ will return physically to earth to render judgment and inaugurate the one thousand year millennial kingdom. Christ will establish Himself as King, sitting on the throne of David in Jerusalem, as the nation of Israel is saved and restored to their land. The millennium will be a time of peace, joy, righteousness, obedience, holiness, truth, and fullness of the Holy Spirit. Satan will be bound during this time but released at the end when he leads a rebellion against Christ, only to be defeated and judged. As the millennium concludes, the unsaved dead of all ages are resurrected and judged at the great white throne. Following this, God will create new heavens and a new earth. (Psalms 24; Isaiah 9:3-7; 11:1-10; 32; 35; 61:7-10; 65; 66; Daniel 12:2-3; Joel 2:28-29; Micah 4:1-4; Zechariah 12:10-14; 14:4-21; Matthew 25:31-46; Luke 1:32-33; Romans 11:25-27; 1 Corinthians 15:22-28; Revelation 19:11-21; 20-22)

P. Heaven and Hell

We believe that there is a radical and essential difference between those who are saved and those who are lost. Only those who are justified by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and sanctified by the Spirit of our God are saved in God’s sight. All who continue in unrepentant sin and unbelief are lost in God’s sight and under His abiding wrath. This distinction will remain eternally: there is everlasting joy in heaven for the saved and everlasting conscious suffering in the lake of fire for the lost. (Genesis 18:23; Malachi 3:18; Matthew 25:46; John 8:21; Romans 6:17–18, 23; 7:6; 1 John 5:19)

Q. Sanctity of Human Life

We believe that God is the author of life and death. The direct taking of innocent human life is a moral evil, regardless of intention. Life is a gift of God and must be respected from fertilization to natural death. As with any sin, scriptural teaching is never to be separated from love, forgiveness, patience, and care for each soul. (Job 3:16; Psalms 51:5; 139:14–16; Isaiah 49:1, 5; Jeremiah 1:5; 20:15–18; Luke 1:44;  Exodus 20:13; 23:7; Matthew 5:21; Acts 17:28)

R.Marriage

Under the God-given establishment of marriage in Scripture, the Lord brought to the male, Adam, one female, Eve, so that together they would be united in covenant commitment for a lifetime. The marriage between a Christian man and a Christian woman uniquely reveals the union between Christ and His Church. Southern Oaks Baptist Church, being under the authority of God and Scripture, will only marry a born male to a born female. (Genesis 1:26-28, 2:15-25; 2 Corinthians 6:14; Ephesians 5:22-33)

S. Human Sexuality

We believe that sexual activity outside of a marriage between one man and one woman is sin. Any form of homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality, transgenderism, bestiality, incest, pedophilia, fornication, adultery, pornography and other deviations are sinful perversions of God’s gift of sex. God has created us male and female, and He desires that we find joy and contentment in His design. (Genesis 2:24; Genesis 19:5, 13; Genesis 26:8–9; Leviticus 18:1–30; Romans 1: 26–29; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:9; 1Thessalonians 4:1–8; Hebrews 13:4)

T. Gender Relationships

We believe that men and women are spiritually equal in position before God and that God has ordained distinct and separate functions for men and women in the home and the church. The husband is the head of his household, serving as a shepherd/leader in the home. Likewise, men are to hold the offices of authority in the church. Accordingly, only men are eligible for licensure and ordination by the church and qualified to exercise their authority by leading mixed adult worship services and mixed adult Christian education classes. (Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:18; 1 Timothy 2:8–15; 3:4–5, 12)

U. Family Relationships

We believe that God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. The husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the Church. The wife is to submit herself to the scriptural leadership of her husband as the Church submits to the headship of Christ. Children are a heritage from the Lord, and parents are responsible to oversee their children’s spiritual and moral instruction, which includes a consistent lifestyle example and appropriate discipline, including scriptural corporal correction. (Genesis 1:26–28; Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 6:4–9; Psalms 127:3–5; Proverbs 19:18; 22:15; 23:13–14; Mark. 10:6–12; 1 Corinthians 7:1–16; Ephesians 5:21–33; 6:1–4, Colossians 3:18–21; Hebrews 13:4; 1 Peter 3:1–7)

V. Divorce and Remarriage

We believe that God disapproves of and forbids divorce and intends marriage to last until the death of a spouse. Divorce and remarriage is regarded as adultery except on the grounds of fornication and spousal abandonment by an unbeliever. Divorce is also permissible to end civil unions or legal marriages which violate Scriptural marriage as defined above (such as polygamous or homosexual unions). However, marriage to an unbeliever is not solely a legitimate ground for divorce. (Malachi 2:14–17; Matthew 19:3–12; Romans 7:1–3; 1 Corinthians 7:15; 1 Timothy 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6)

W. Christian Love

We believe that we should demonstrate love for others, not only toward fellow believers, but also toward those who are not believers, those who oppose us, and those who engage in sinful actions. We are to deal with those who oppose us graciously, gently, patiently, prayerfully, and humbly. God forbids the stirring up of strife, the taking of revenge, or the threat of or use of violence as a means of resolving personal conflict or obtaining personal justice. Although God commands us to abhor sinful actions, we are to love and pray for any person who engages in such sinful actions. (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 5:44–48; Luke 6:31; John 13:34–35; Romans 12:9–10; 17–21; 13:8–10; Philippians 2:2–4; 2 Timothy 2:24–26; Titus 3:2; 1 John 3:17–18)

X. Lawsuits between Believers

We believe that scripture prohibits members from bringing civil lawsuits against other members of our assembly or the church to resolve personal disputes. (1 Corinthians 6:1–8; Ephesians 4:31–32)

ARTICLE III: MEMBERSHIP

SECTION 1: GENERAL

The membership of Southern Oaks Baptist Church under the Lordship of Jesus Christ retains unto itself the sovereign and exclusive right of self-government as given by Scripture in all phases of the spiritual and temporal life of this church (Matthew 18:15–20; Romans 12:4–8; Titus 1:5–9; 1 Peter 5:1–5). The membership reserves the exclusive right as given by Scripture to determine who shall be members of this church and the conditions of such membership (Acts 2:47; Matthew 18:15–20).

SECTION 2: DEFINITION

A member of Southern Oaks Baptist Church is one who:

  • confesses Jesus Christ to be his/her personal Savior and Lord,
  • accepts the statement of beliefs outlined in this Constitution as the teaching and practice of this fellowship and agrees to not promote contrary beliefs,
  • has been affirmed by the voting membership of the church,
  • supports the leadership of the church,
  • and has been scripturally baptized by immersion.

SECTION 3: CANDIDACY

Any person may apply as a candidate for membership in this church. All such candidates shall be presented to the church at any regular church service in any of the following ways:

By profession of faith and for baptism
By transfer of a letter of recommendation from another Baptist church
By statement of prior conversion experience and scriptural immersion when no letter is obtainable

SECTION 4: ACCEPTANCE PROCEDURE

The procedure for receiving new members shall be as follows:

  • The applicant shall complete and submit the Application for Church Membership, which shall be reviewed by the Elders.
  • A follow-up interview may be held with an elder or multiple elders.
  • The applicant shall read or cause to be read the Constitution of this church and shall accept it as the teaching and practice of this fellowship.
  • An announcement shall be made of the candidacy to the church, allowing the church a period of at least two weeks to bring any scriptural objections to the Elders. Should there be any dissent as to any candidate, the Elders will make an investigation and provide a recommendation to the church within 30 days.
  • The Elders shall recommend candidates to the church for membership. Affirmation by the voting membership present shall be requested.

SECTION 5: MEMBER ORIENTATION

All voting members of this church are expected to participate in orientation procedures established by the Elders.

SECTION 6: DUTIES

Members are to be faithful in all duties essential to the Christian life, to regularly attend the services of this church, to give regularly for its support and cause, and to share in its organized work. (1 Corinthians 9:7; 12:18, 24-37; 14:12; 16:2; Romans 12:5; 1 John 3:17; James 1:23; 2:18; Hebrews 10:25; Titus 3:8, 14: Ephesians 6:6)

SECTION 7: PRIVILEGES

Every active member of the church who is 16 years of age or older is entitled to vote at all elections and on all questions submitted to the church in conference, provided the member is present.

Every active member of the church who is scripturally qualified is eligible for consideration by the membership as a candidate for elective or appointive office or committee. (Romans 12:6; 14:1; 15:1-5; Galatians 6:14; 1 Corinthians 8:12; 9:12-27; 10:23-24; Philippians 2:3-4; 3:7-9)

SECTION 8: TYPES OF MEMBERSHIP

Due to a variety of circumstances and situations, the following types of membership are recognized by the church:
a. Active member: One who attends regularly the meetings of this church, and who contributes and participates in the work of this church according to New Testament teachings.

b. Inactive member: Names remaining on the inactive member list for more than six months may be removed from the church rolls. This is done by a simple action of the Elders (or duly appointed Committee of the Elders, at the sole discretion of the Elders) after at least a single effort to contact the individual involved has been made.

c. Permanent inactive member: Consists of those who are permanently ill, retired or moved to a community where no church of like precious faith exists, and who faithfully support the church with their tithes or one who through no circumstances of their own cannot faithfully attend the house of God. Each case shall be individually determined by the Elders (or duly appointed Committee of the Elders, at the sole discretion of the Elders) and approved by them.

d. Associate member: Students and others temporarily residing in the Bryan/College Station area who are members of an evangelical church may apply for associate membership. All those under a “watch-care” program will be considered associate members. Qualifications are identical to those for full membership as set out above, except that home church membership must be retained. A letter of commendation will be sought from the applicant’s home church.

Duties and privileges of associate members are the same as for other members except that:

  • When absent from the Bryan/College Station area for extended periods they are released from the responsibility to attend our church services.
  • While they will be encouraged to participate and serve on committees, teams, and various ministries of the church they will not be eligible to vote in a duly called meeting of the members.

Termination of associate membership as a disciplinary measure will be as it is for other members, except that the Elders shall also notify the pastor or elders of the home church of that termination. Associate membership will normally expire immediately upon the ending of the period of temporary residence in the Bryan/College Station area.

SECTION 9: TERMINATION OF MEMBERSHIP

Membership shall be terminated in the following ways:

  • Death of the member
  • Transfer to another Baptist church
  • Exclusion through church discipline related to conduct or absenteeism (see Article 3, Section 10)
  • Deletion upon request or proof of membership in a church of another denomination.

No member may withdraw his/her membership during the process of church discipline of that member, as outlined in Article 3, Section 10.

SECTION 10: DISCIPLINE

It shall be the practice of this church to emphasize to its members that every reasonable measure shall be taken to assist any troubled member. The attitude of members toward one another shall be guided by a concern for redemption rather than punishment. Should unrepentant sin be found in the life of a member, the Elders shall take every reasonable measure to resolve the problem in accord with Matthew 18. That failing, exclusion through church discipline may be warranted.

Discipline Related to Conduct:

Should a member become an offense to the church and the church’s good name by reasons of immoral or un-Christian conduct, the church may terminate his/her membership, but only after due notice and hearing, and after faithful efforts have been made to bring such member to repentance and amendment (1 Corinthians 5).

An individual’s membership shall not be terminated at the same meeting in which the recommendation for such action is made.

All requests for termination of membership shall be presented to the Elders. A recommendation for termination of members not in good standing must come from the Elders.

All terminations of exclusion must be by vote of the church.

Any person whose membership has been terminated for any offense or reason may be restored to membership by vote of the church upon evidence of his/her repentance and reformation, or upon satisfactory explanation. This restoration shall be by recommendation of the Elders.

Discipline Related to Absenteeism:

It shall be the duty of the Elders to examine the membership rolls periodically. Any member who has been absent from the services of the church for a period of one year or longer, and who fails to give a satisfactory reason for such absence, may be removed from the membership rolls of the church. Members who are habitually absent from the services of the church for two consecutive quarters without a satisfactory explanation may be placed on the inactive members list by the Elders. Continued habitual inactivity may lead to an enforcement of exclusion if such inactivity exceeds one year.

Article IV. Church Leadership

SECTION 1: POWERS AND LIMITATIONS OF THE ELDERS

Subject to the limitations of the Articles of Incorporation and this Constitution and pertinent restrictions of the Texas Non-Profit Corporation Act, all the activities and affairs of the church shall be exercised by or under the direction of the Elders, who are responsible for shepherding and having oversight of the flock. Without prejudice to such general powers, but subject to these same limitations, it is hereby expressly declared that the Elders shall have the following powers in addition to the other powers enumerated by this Constitution:

  • To select and remove all the officers, agents, pastors, staff, council members, committee members, and employees of the church; prescribe such duties for them consistent with the Scriptures, with law, with the Articles of Incorporation, or with this Constitution; and fix the terms of their offices and their compensation.
  • To make such disbursements from the funds and properties of the church as are required to fulfill the purposes of this church as are more fully set out in the Articles of Incorporation and this constitution, thereof and generally to conduct, manage, and control the activities and affairs of the church and to make such rules and regulations consistent with the Scriptures, with law, with the Articles of Incorporation, or with this Constitution, as they may deem best.
  • To adopt, make and use a corporate seal, and to alter the form of such seal from time to time as they may deem best.
  • To establish policies and practices for the church consistent with the purposes of this church.
  • To assist the Pastor-Teacher in the administration of the ordinances of Baptism and Communion.
  • To carry on a business and apply any such profit that results from the business activity in which it may legally engage.

In addition to the limitations of the Articles of Incorporation and this Constitution and pertinent restrictions of the Texas Non-Profit Corporation Act, it is hereby expressly declared that the Elders shall not have the following powers to effect the following without a 2/3 majority vote of those members present at a properly called meeting of the church:

  • Adopt, amend, or repeal the Articles of Incorporation or the Constitution of this church.
  • To borrow money and incur indebtedness for the church and to cause to be executed and delivered, in the church’s name, promissory notes, bonds, debentures, deeds of trust, mortgages, pledges, hypothecations, or other evidences of debt and securities.
  • Bypass the constitutional process to add additional elders without affirmation or add/remove church members.

SECTION 2: NOMINATION, SELECTION, AND TENURE OF THE ELDERS

Recommendations to fill the office of Elder shall take place every year or under the Elders discretion. The process shall be as follows:

  • Every year, during the final quarter, responsibilities and qualifications for Eldership will be provided to the congregation for review, study, and prayer.
  • After review of qualifications and responsibilities, members will be encouraged to submit to the Elders the names of members whose lives and gifts are consistent with their being considered for nomination to the role and task of elder.
  • The existing elders will contact and interview all nominees to determine each nominee’s qualifications according to the guidelines given by Scripture (section 5 of this article). Elders may require a minimum number of nominations to be considered a nominee (not to exceed three nominations from three separate family units).
  • After prayer and consideration of the nominee’s qualifications, the Elders will present to the congregation an approved list of men that are qualified to be added to the board of Elders.
  • The membership will have three weeks to review the list of nominees and submit in writing any biblical objections, if any, as to why they think the nominee should not be added to the Elders.
  • After three weeks or after all objections have been handled, the qualified nominee(s) will be presented to the congregation for affirmation at the annual meeting of the church members.
  • At this meeting, the nominee(s) shall be presented to the members to affirm the decision of the elders. If the nominee(s) is affirmed by a 2/3 majority of the voting membership present, the newly elected elder(s) shall assume office immediately.
  • We believe that the Scriptures affirm that the anointing of the Spirit (Acts 20:28) and the empowering (Romans 12:8) are for life. Therefore, as long as an elder is and remains qualified per sections 5, 6, 7 & 8 of this article, is physically capable, and faithful in his service, he shall continue to serve the church as an elder.

SECTION 3: QUALIFICATIONS OF THE ELDERS

Each member of the Elders must be an active member of this church and possess the qualifications described in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9. He shall be:

  • Blameless as a steward of God; above reproach (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6-7)
    • Husband of one wife; a one-woman man (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6)
    • Temperate, sober, vigilant (1 Timothy 3:2)
    • Sober-minded, prudent (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8)
    • Of good behavior; orderly, respectable (1 Timothy 3:2)
    • Given to hospitality, including the love of strangers (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8)
    • Apt to teach; able to teach; he can exhort believers and refute false teaching (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:9)
    • Not given to wine (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7)
    • Not violent; not pugnacious (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7)
    • Patient, moderate, forbearing, gentle (1 Timothy 3:3)
    • Not a brawler; uncontentious; not soon angry or quick-tempered (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7)
    • Not covetous; not a lover of money; not greedy of base gain (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7)
    • Rules well his own house; his children are faithful, not accused of rebellion to God (1 Timothy 3:4; Titus 1:7)
    • Not a novice; not a new convert (1 Timothy 3:6)
    • Has a good report or reputation with outsiders (1 Timothy 3:7)
    • Not self-willed (Titus 1:7)
  • A lover of good men and things (Titus 1:8)
  • Just, fair (Titus 1:8)
  • Holy, devout (Titus 1:8)
  • Self-controlled (Titus 1:8)

SECTION 4: EVALUATING CONTINUED QUALIFICATIONS OF THE ELDERS

For purposes of this article, disqualified shall mean a failure to meet any qualification as outlined in Section Three of this article. Unqualified shall refer to an individual who has not been disqualified but for whatever reason lacks the readiness, willingness, ability, or time necessary to carry out the duties of an elder.

The purpose of this section is to outline the process to ensure that only qualified elders continue to hold office. This process takes place on three levels as described below:

a. Self-Evaluation – It is the responsibility of each elder to continually be evaluating his life and doctrine per Section Five of this article as well as the whole counsel of Scripture and shall remove himself from office if his self-evaluation reveals disqualification or unqualification as described in Section Six of this article.

b. Elder Evaluation – Each year, during the final quarter, the Elders shall assemble for a peer evaluation to determine continued qualification for each elder. The evaluation shall proceed as follows:

  1. The elder under review is to leave the assembly of elders so that discussion can take place in his absence.
  1. The remaining elders are to quietly review the qualifications outlined in Section Five of this article.
  1. After a period of silent review and prayer, the remaining elders are to discuss any areas of concern they may have with the elder under evaluation. However, no elder may bring up an area of concern if the concern has not been personally brought to the attention of the elder under evaluation per Matthew 18:15-18.
  1. After the discussion period, the elder under review is to be brought back into the assembly.
  1. The elder under review shall be asked to comment on his self-evaluation. Only after the discussions regarding the self-evaluation are completed can other discussions begin.
  1. Once all discussions have been completed, a determination by the remaining elders is to be made regarding the ongoing qualification of the elder under review.
  1. If the elder under review is determined to be qualified, the remaining elders shall commission him by the laying on of hands and prayer for another year of service and publicly make this known to the church at an appropriate time.
  1. If the elder is determined to be unqualified or disqualified, he is to remove himself or be removed from office according to Sections Eight and/or Nine of this article whichever is appropriate.

c. Church-wide Evaluation – It is the responsibility of every member to continually be evaluating elders per Section Five of this article. Furthermore, it is the responsibility of every church member to lovingly confront any elder exhibiting blatant violations of the same. This confrontation shall follow pertinent Scripture including Matthew 18:15-18 and 1 Timothy 5:19. Only after 2 or 3 witnesses have confronted the erring elder to no avail shall the matter be brought to the attention of the other elders.

SECTION 5: REMOVAL OF AN ELDER

Any elder may be removed from office at any regular or special meeting of the Elders if he is found to be physically or mentally incapacitated or spiritually unqualified (according to pertinent Scripture, including 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9), after a thorough corroborating investigation by the elders (or a duly appointed committee of the Elders, at the sole discretion of the Elders), in accord with the procedures prescribed by pertinent Scripture, including Matthew 18:15-18 and 1 Timothy 5:19. When an elder is removed because of sin that is deemed sufficient to disqualify him from shepherding, and if he refuses to repent from that sin, the removal shall be accompanied by a public rebuke, and notice shall be made before the church and the congregation thereof at a regularly-scheduled worship service as prescribed in 1 Timothy 5:20.

SECTION 6: MEETINGS OF THE ELDERS

Notwithstanding anything to the contrary provided in this Constitution, any meeting (whether regular, special or adjourned) of the Elders of the church may be held at any place within or without the State of Texas.

Regular meetings of the Elders shall be held at least monthly. Regular meetings shall be open to church members.

Special meetings of the Elders may be called at any time by order of the Chairman or Vice-Chairman or the Secretary or by a quorum of the members of the Elders.

Special meetings of the Elders, except in the case of emergency, shall be held upon four days notice by first-class mail or a forty-eight-hour notice given personally or by telephone or other similar means of communication or made by oral announcement at a regularly scheduled worship service before such meeting.

Except as otherwise provided herein, a majority of the Elders currently serving shall constitute a quorum except when a vacancy or vacancies prevents such majority, whereupon a majority of the elders in office shall constitute a quorum, provided such majority shall constitute either one-third of the authorized number of elders or at least two Elders, whichever is larger, or unless the authorized number of elders is only one. A majority of the elders present, whether or not a quorum is present, may adjourn any meeting to another time and place. Whenever the matter to be considered concerns calling or dismissing a pastor, or buying or selling real estate, a quorum shall consist of not less than two-thirds of the members of the Elders.

Elders may participate in a meeting remotely by use of telephone, video conferencing software or similar technologies, so long as all members participating in such meetings can meaningfully communicate with one another.

A majority of the Elders present, whether or not a quorum is present, may adjourn any elders’ meeting to another time and place. Notice of the time and place of holding an adjourned meeting need not be given to absent elders if the time and place be fixed at the meeting adjourned, except as provided in the next sentence. If the meeting is adjourned for more than forty-eight (48) hours, a notice of any adjournment to another time or place shall be given before the time of the adjourned meeting to the elders who were not present at the time of the adjournment.

Any action required or permitted to be taken by the Elders may be taken without a meeting if all Elders shall individually or collectively consent in writing to a duly prepared resolution to such action. Such consent or consents shall have the same effect as a unanimous vote of the Elders and shall be documented by attaching the signed resolution with the minutes of proceedings of the Elders.

SECTION 7: RIGHTS OF INSPECTION, FEES, AND COMPENSATION OF THE ELDERS

Every elder shall have the absolute right at any reasonable time to inspect and copy all books, records, and documents of every kind and to inspect the physical properties of the church, for a purpose reasonably related to such person’s interest as an elder.

Elders (as such) shall not receive any stated or fixed salary for their services, however, nothing herein contained shall be construed to preclude any elders from serving the church in any other capacity and receiving compensation. Any person receiving compensation directly or indirectly from Southern Oaks Baptist Church shall not be in a position to determine the nature or amount of said compensation.

SECTION 8: OTHER COUNCILS, COMMITTEES, MINISTRY TEAMS, AND OFFICES

To promote efficient handling of church matters, the Elders may appoint various councils, committees, ministry teams, and/or offices from within its membership, the staff, and the church at large. These councils, committees, ministry teams, and/or offices shall perform tasks pertaining to their duties and with powers specifically delegated by the Elders. The general functions of these councils, committees, ministry teams, and/or offices are as follows:

  • To bring considered recommendations to the Elders concerning ministries.
  • To provide a wider base of counsel and assistance to the Elders having the oversight responsibilities of specific ministries.

All councils, committees, ministry teams, and/or offices shall exist for the period specified by the Elders.

SECTION 9: DEACONS

The deacons shall consist of members possessing the qualifications described in 1 Timothy 3:8-13 and shall be nominated by members of the church. Every year, during the final quarter, qualifications for Deacon will be provided to the congregation for review, study, and prayer. After review of qualifications and responsibilities, members will be encouraged to submit to the elders the names of members whose lives and gifts are consistent with their being considered for nomination to the role and task of deacon. The Elders will contact and interview all nominees to determine each nominee’s qualifications according to the guidelines given by Scripture. After prayer and consideration of the nominee’s qualifications, the Elders will present to the congregation an approved list of men that are qualified to serve as a deacon at the annual meeting.

The deacons shall serve for a term of one (1) year. After each year of service, the deacons shall be evaluated in the same manner as for Elders, as outlined in Article IV, Section Four. The deacons shall assist the Elders in the shepherding of the saints, assist the Pastor-Teacher at Communion and baptismal services, aid in the general spiritual care of the church, and perform other duties as assigned by the Elders. According to 1 Timothy 3:8-13, deacons shall be:

  • a man of dignity,
  • not double-tongued,
  • not addicted to much wine,
  • not fond of sordid gain,
  • holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience,
  • tested first and proven blameless,
  • the husband of one wife,
  • managing their children and their own households well.

The Elders may request that the congregation nominate deacons for a particular service that is needed. The Elders may ask for the nomination during the final quarter or at any time as needed. If the elders request a nomination outside of the defined period, the process of review and affirmation will be consistent with the length of the standard nomination period.

SECTION 10: THE PASTOR-TEACHER

The Pastor-Teacher shall be selected by the Elders and confirmed by the members of the church at its annual meeting or a special business meeting, and such confirmation shall be by a three-fourths (3/4) majority of all the votes cast. He shall remain in office for an indefinite time subject to the following reservations: The Elders reserve the right to dismiss the Pastor-Teacher upon giving him one month’s written notice of their intention to dismiss. The Pastor-Teacher must give one month’s notice if he intends to resign. The time limit of a Pastor-Teacher’s resignation or dismissal is subject to a lesser time if both the Pastor-Teacher and the church by mutual agreement provide otherwise.

The Pastor-Teacher shall be an ex officio member of all councils, committees, and ministry teams, and he shall be responsible to the Elders. The Pastor-Teacher shall arrange for and conduct all public and regular services of the church and shall be responsible for general oversight of the spiritual welfare of the church. In the absence of the Pastor-Teacher, the Elders (or a duly appointed Committee of the Elders at the sole discretion of the Elders), shall be responsible to arrange for and conduct the public and regular services of the church.

SECTION 11: OFFICERS OF THE CORPORATION AS REGISTERED WITH THE STATE OF TEXAS

The officers of the Corporation shall be a Chairman, a Vice-Chairman, a Secretary, and a Treasurer. The Pastor-Teacher shall hold the office of Chairman. The Corporation may also have, at the discretion of the Elders, other officers as may be appointed in accordance with the provisions of this article. These officers must be members of the church and be in full agreement with the constitution and doctrinal statement. Also, no member shall be eligible to hold one of these offices unless he has reached the age of 21. New officers shall assume responsibilities upon taking office.

Under the provisions of Article 1396-2.15 of the Texas Non-Profit Corporation Act, the authorized number of directors of the church shall not be less than three (3). It is therefore desirable that there be no less than three (3) elders serving as directors. However, if there are not three qualified elders as described in section five of this article then two (2) elders shall be sufficient. In such a case, a temporary director shall be appointed to serve the corporate needs of the church under the provisions of the Texas Non-Profit Corporation Act.

The officers of the Corporation shall be chosen annually by and shall serve at, the pleasure of the Elders. Each officer shall hold his office until he shall resign, be removed, or become otherwise disqualified to serve, or until his successor shall be elected and qualified.

The Elders may appoint, and may empower the Chairman to appoint, such other officers as the business of the Corporation may require, each of whom shall hold office for such period, have such authority, and perform such duties as are provided in the Constitution or as the Elders may from time to time determine.

Any officer may be removed upon disqualification and removal as an elder per Article IV, Section Five of this Constitution. Under the applicable provisions of the Texas Non-Profit Corporation Act, any officer may resign at any time without prejudice to the rights, if any, of the Corporation under any contract to which the officer is a party, by giving written notice to the Elders, or the Chairman, or the Secretary of the Corporation. Any such resignation shall take effect at the date of the receipt of such notice or at any later time specified therein; and, unless otherwise specified therein, the acceptance of such resignation shall not be necessary to make it effective.

A vacancy in any office because of death, resignation, removal, disqualification, or any other cause shall be filled in the manner prescribed in this Constitution for regular election or appointment to such office, provided that such vacancies shall be filled as they occur and not on an annual basis.

In the case of absence or inability to act of any officer of the Corporation and of any person herein authorized to act in his place, the Elders may from time to time delegate the powers or duties of such officer to any other officer or another person whom the Elders may select.

The Chairman shall be the President of the Corporation and shall, subject to the control of the Elders, have general supervision, direction, and control of the activities and officers of the Corporation. He shall preside (or designate an alternative to preside) at all meetings of the Elders, which are to be conducted according to the scriptural principles such as outlined in Philippians 2:2-8. He shall be an ex officio member of all the standing committees, if any, and shall have powers and duties as may be prescribed by the Elders or the Constitution.

In the absence or disability of the Chairman, the Vice-Chairman shall perform all the duties of the Chairman, and when so acting shall have all the powers of, and be subject to all the restrictions upon, the Chairman. The Vice-Chairman shall have such other powers and perform such other duties as from time to time may be prescribed for him by the Elders or the Constitution.

The Secretary shall keep, or cause to be kept, a book of minutes at the principal office or such other place as the Elders may order, of all meetings of the members, the Elders and their committees, with the time and place of holding, whether regular or special, and if special, how authorized, the notice thereof given, the names of those present at the meetings, the Elders and committees’ meetings, and the proceedings thereof. The Secretary shall keep, or cause to be kept, at the principal office in the State of Texas the original and a copy of the Corporation’s Articles and Constitution, as amended to date. The Secretary shall give, or cause to be given, a notice of all meetings of the Elders and any committees thereof required by this Constitution or by law to be given, shall keep the seal of the Corporation in safe custody, and shall have such other powers and perform such other duties as prescribed by the Elders. The Secretary shall keep, or cause to be kept at the principal office of the Corporation, a church membership register, or a duplicated membership register, showing the names of the members and their addresses.

The Treasurer shall ensure the stewardship of the physical and financial resources of the Corporation, “taking precaution that no one should discredit us in our administration… for we have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men” (2 Corinthians 8:20-21). He shall select “men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (Acts 6:3) to implement and accomplish this responsibility. The Treasurer shall ensure that all financial activities and transactions are consistent with the pertinent Articles of this Constitution as well as pertinent sections of the Texas Non-Profit Corporation Act. The Treasurer shall keep and maintain, or cause to be kept and maintained, adequate and correct accounts of the properties and business transactions of the Corporation. The books of account shall at all reasonable times be open to inspection by any elder as required by the Texas Non-Profit Corporation Act. The Treasurer shall deposit, or cause to be deposited, all monies and other valuables in the name and to the credit of the Corporation with such depositories as may be designated by the Elders. He shall disburse, or cause to be disbursed, the funds of the Corporation as may be ordered by the Elders, shall render, or cause to be rendered, to the Chairman and the Elders, whenever they request it, an account of all the transactions and the financial condition of the Corporation, and shall have such other powers and perform such other duties as may be prescribed by the Elders. He shall make, or cause to be made, the financial reports at each regular Elder meeting and the annual meeting of members.

Subject to Article 1396-2.16 of the Texas Non-Profit Corporation Act, unless otherwise provided in the Articles of Incorporation or this Constitution, any vacancy occurring in the board of directors shall be filled by the affirmative vote of a majority of the remaining directors though less than a quorum of the board of directors. A director elected to fill a vacancy shall be elected for the unexpired term of his predecessor in office. Any directorship to be filled because of an increase in the number of directors shall be filled by election at an annual meeting or at a special meeting of members called for that purpose.

Any director may resign effective upon giving written notice to the Chairman or the Secretary unless the notice specifies a later time for the effectiveness of such resignation. If the resignation is to take effect in the future, a successor may be selected before that time. A vacancy or vacancies in the board of directors shall be deemed to exist in case of the death, resignation, or removal of any director, or if a need exists and the specified limit is not exceeded. No reduction of the authorized number of directors shall have the effect of removing any director before the expiration of the director’s term of office.

ARTICLE V: GENERAL PROVISIONS

SECTION 1: STEWARDSHIP AND FINANCES

This church shall be supported by the voluntary giving of tithes and offerings by God’s people. We believe that every Christian should give systematically, regularly, proportionately, sacrificially, and cheerfully of his substance to the Lord’s work through the local church (1 Cor. 16:1-2; 2 Cor. 8-9). All other forms of support shall be approved by the Elders.

An appointed committee in consultation with the Elders shall present an itemized budget to the church body for approval by the majority.

All funds received must be properly recorded on the church books, and all funds dispersed must have proper signatures. The church shall hold, manage, and disburse any funds or properties received by it from any source in a manner that is consistent with the expressed purposes of this church.

This church shall not incur debt.

For any organizational part of the church to exceed its budget, it must have the approval of the Elders.

The church shall receive all monies or other properties transferred to it for the purposes for which the church was formed (as shown by the Articles of Incorporation and this Constitution). However, nothing contained herein shall require the Elders to accept or receive any money or property of any kind if it shall determine in its discretion that receipt of such money or property is contrary to the expressed purposes of the church as shown by said Articles and this Constitution.

Persons dismissed or who have withdrawn from the membership of the church have no right to claim any of the church property or on financial gifts that they have given to the church.

SECTION 2: MISSIONS RESPONSIBILITIES

The spreading of the Gospel through missions shall be of high priority. The support of missions through prayer, education, and finances shall extend to the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention, local and area missions, and other mission efforts worldwide. This support shall not violate the provisions of this Constitution.

SECTION 3: AUXILIARY ACTIVITIES

Auxiliary activities shall be created as the need arises, and shall be accountable to the church body through the Elders.

SECTION 4: LITERATURE

All teaching literature used in church activities must recognize the Bible as the inerrant, inspired Word of God in accordance with the doctrinal statement of this Constitution, and be designed for the edification and spiritual growth of the believer.

SECTION 5: SETTLEMENT OF DISPUTES

In any dispute arising between church members, pastors, or staff about any matter of spiritual teaching or practices, church finances, or title to property purchased with church contributions, the dispute shall be resolved by the Elders of the church (or a duly appointed committee of the Elders at the sole discretion of the Elders). A decision shall be reached after prayerful consideration, in a spirit of humility, with each elder regarding one another before himself and striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:1-3). As mentioned in the doctrinal statement, we believe that scripture prohibits members from bringing civil lawsuits against the church or other members of our assembly to resolve personal disputes. (1 Corinthians 6:1–8; Ephesians 4:31–32)

SECTION 6: LICENSING

As a sovereign church, the congregation has the authority to license and to ordain upon a majority vote of the voting members present and voting at a meeting called for that purpose.
Any qualified member who evidences a divine call to preach the gospel may be recommended to the church for licensing after an examination by the Elders. This examination will address scriptural qualifications, suitable gifts, necessary training, and the evident blessing of God on his ministry.

SECTION 7: DISSOLUTION OF THE CHURCH

In event of dissolution, the property of the church, real, personal, and other assets shall be disposed of according to the majority vote of the remaining church members, in compliance with the Articles of Incorporation and/or the Texas Non-Profit Corporation Act.

ARTICLE VI: CHURCH MEETINGS

SECTION 1: WORSHIP SERVICES

The church shall meet regularly each Sunday for worship and at any other times the church deems appropriate under the direction of the Elders.

SECTION 2: BUSINESS

Regular business meetings shall be conducted at least annually at a designated time. Called business meetings may be conducted to consider special matters. Except for matters of physical emergency, one-week notice must be given before each called business meeting. A quorum for any regular or called business meeting shall consist of 10 percent of the voting membership. Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised shall be the guide for all business meetings. In all business matters, a majority vote shall prevail unless otherwise specified in this Constitution. The moderator of all business meetings shall be appointed by the Elders.

ARTICLE VII: ADOPTION OF AND AMENDMENTS TO THIS CONSTITUTION

The adoption of and amendments to this Constitution shall be by vote of the church at any regular church business meeting, one month’s previous notice having been given in writing as to the Article(s) and Section(s) in question or nature of addition to this Constitution. Approval shall be by 75 percent of those voting.