Bylaws of University Mennonite Church

Revised and Adopted 12/5/2018

Article I:  Name and Affiliation

The name of this congregation is the University Mennonite Church. University Mennonite Church is affiliated with the Allegheny Conference of the Mennonite Church USA.

Article II:  Congregational Year

The congregational year shall be from September 1 to August 31.

Article III:  Statement of Faith (adopted April 29, 1984)

Our congregation is a community of Christian believers who identify with Anabaptist tradition and associate with the Mennonite Church.

We believe in God, loving and eternal,

Who, as Creator, calls the world into existence,

Who, as Reconciler, became incarnate in Jesus to share our life,

Who, as Enabler, lives in us as guiding Spirit.

We believe God interacts creatively with all people,

Convicting us of our sins and alienation from God,

Calling us to repent of our willful failure to follow God’s way,

Offering us reconciliation through Jesus Christ, the acceptance of which is symbolized by water baptism.

We believe the church is an international community of people

Who accept Jesus as Savior and Lord, and voluntarily commit themselves to follow His example and teachings,

Who gather regularly to worship God and share in each other’s spiritual growth and physical needs,

Who remember Christ’s death, resurrection, and love by participating in the Lord’s Supper,

Who proclaim God’s presence in the world and God’s promise of everlasting life.

We believe the Bible is God’s authoritative word to us

Presenting a record of God’s interaction with individuals and groups,

Revealing God’s love and purposes for us and desire for reconciliation,

Offering a guide for our lives as we interpret it through study in community.

We believe God calls us to a life of active discipleship

Sharing the good news of God’s love and salvation by faith,

Living a lifestyle of love, justice, and concern for God’s creation, despite differences with the predominant values and practices of society,

Practicing peacemaking and witnessing to the power of love in interpersonal and international relationships.

 Article IV:  Membership

  • Membership in the University Mennonite Church requires a commitment to Jesus as Savior and Lord, involvement in a life of discipleship, agreement with our statement of faith, and participation in the life of the church.
  • The elders and pastor shall discern the readiness of persons for baptism and membership, inform the congregation of persons who are preparing for baptism/membership, and invite congregational counsel in advance of their reception into membership.
  • Believers’ baptism is our normative practice.
  • Persons baptized as believers, and having church membership elsewhere, may transfer their membership by means of church letter.
  • Persons who expect to be involved in the church community for a limited time and would like to retain their membership in a “home” church may become associate members of University Mennonite Church. Associate members have all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of regular members.
  • Christians from traditions that do not practice believers’ baptism who wish to join University Mennonite Church as members will be asked to reflect on the believers’ church tradition as it relates to baptism, and they will be encouraged to consider water baptism as a public sign of their commitment to Christ and their incorporation into Christ’s body.
  • All members of University Mennonite Church are eligible to vote at congregational business meetings.
  • Membership is required to serve in certain congregational positions as defined in article V.

Article V:  Discernment of Congregational Positions

All members and active participants are encouraged to become involved in congregational life through the expression of their individual gifts and talents. The leadership team shall be responsible for preparing a slate of nominees or volunteers for all congregational offices, functions, and committees, consistent with the guidelines in Article IV. This slate shall be presented annually at a spring business meeting. Offices, functions, and roles shall be confirmed by means of a plurality vote in cases where there are multiple nominees and by affirmation when there is no selection required. All positions shall be filled for one year terms except for those multiple year terms defined below.

The following positions require membership in University Mennonite Church:

  • Congregational chair – 1 year: Handles administrative responsibilities of congregational life. Develops agendas and chairs the leadership team and congregational meetings. Oversees the work of church committees.
  • Assistant congregational chair – 1 year: Assists the congregational chair and assumes the chair’s responsibilities in the absence of the chair. Takes minutes at leadership team meetings.
  • Elders – 3 years (staggered terms): Provide leadership for the spiritual life and pastoral care of the congregation. Listen to, counsel, and care for pastor(s). Assist with gift discernment.
  • Treasurer – 2 years: Responsible for the oversight of church financial matters, including the safe keeping of all monies collected, held, or invested by the church, disbursement of funds as authorized by the congregation or leadership team, preparation and presentation of financial reports and budget.
  • Allegheny Conference Delegates – 1 year: Represent the congregation and attend Allegheny Mennonite Conference meetings. Vote on behalf of the congregation on conference matters.

There shall be no limit on the number of terms or consecutive terms that an individual may serve in any position, except for elder. Elders shall be required to have at least a one-year break between terms.

Article VI:  Leadership Team

The leadership team of the University Mennonite Church will be the Pastor(s), Elders, Congregational Chairperson and Assistant Chair. The leadership team shall meet as frequently as required to fulfill its function of providing oversight for the spiritual welfare, mission and direction of the congregation.

Article VII:  Pastor(s)

The pastor(s) shall lead the spiritual life, mission, and pastoral care of the congregation. The pastor(s) shall serve consistent with the covenant with University Mennonite Church. Mutual evaluation of the covenant and the work of the pastor(s) shall occur no less than biennially from the date of initial appointment.

Article VIII:  Calling a Pastor

Our approach to calling a pastor shall use the guidelines prescribed by the Mennonite Church USA for congregations seeking pastoral leadership.

A pastoral search committee will guide the process of preparing for the search, communicating updates on the search process to the congregation, reviewing potential candidates, and inviting candidates to University Mennonite Church to meet with the congregation. The pastoral search committee will be comprised of seven to nine persons, including one or two high-school-age youth. At least one member of the search committee will be from the current elder group. Membership at University Mennonite Church is not required to serve on the committee. The leadership team will solicit nominations from the congregation for the pastoral search committee, creating a slate of potential candidates that is representative of the congregation. The congregation will approve the committee through either affirmation or vote (depending on the size of the slate). The congregational chair will appoint the committee chair from those affirmed or elected.

The search committee will work closely with the Allegheny Mennonite Conference Minister during the search process.

All current members are eligible to vote on the decision to call a pastor to a covenant relationship with the church. The vote will be conducted by signed ballots (including email or other electronic forms). A period of seven days will be provided for voting. Ballots will be returned to the congregational chair, who, along with the assistant chair and lead elder, will be responsible for tabulating and reporting the voting results in summary form to the congregation. A 90% affirmative vote is required to call a pastor.  The leadership team will draft the covenant between the church and the pastor and seek congregational approval.

Article IX: Standing and Other Committees

University Mennonite Church will maintain standing committees to coordinate, nurture, and carry out the essential functions of the community, including worship, mission and outreach, stewardship, fellowship, Christian education, and the maintenance of our physical buildings and grounds. Other standing and ad-hoc committees may be created from time to time by the congregation.

Article X:  Congregational Business Meetings

Our approach to decision making shall be guided by our Statement of Faith (Article III).

At least four congregational business meetings shall be held annually and shall be open to all members and active participants of University Mennonite Church. Participation in voting shall be consistent with the guidelines in Article IV. Meeting purposes shall include the affirmation/election of persons to congregational offices, functions, and committees, adoption of a budget, the discussion of church policy and practices, and for any other business related to the congregation. Additional meetings may be called at the discretion of the congregational chair.

Actions requiring group decisions at congregational business meetings (with the exception of actions addressed in Articles V, VIII, and XI) shall be decided by a 70% vote of the members present at the meeting.

Article XI:  Amendment of Bylaws

Our approach to decision making shall be guided by our Statement of Faith (Article III).

Members of University Mennonite Church may propose amendments to these bylaws in writing to the leadership team at any time. The leadership team shall be accountable for compiling and presenting proposed amendments to the congregation for consideration. The leadership team will provide members with proposed changes to the bylaws at least four weeks prior to a meeting at which the proposed changes will be discussed. The leadership team will carefully decide on a period of discernment with reflection, prayer, and dialogue prior to calling for a vote on proposed changes. Proposed amendments shall be considered at a minimum of two meetings prior to voting.

The vote will be conducted by signed ballots (including email or other electronic forms). A period of two weeks will be provided for voting. Ballots will be returned to the congregational chair and assistant chair, who will tabulate the votes. An 85% affirmative vote of ballots cast is required to adopt amendments to the bylaws.

Revision History

Originally Adopted June 20, 1999

Revised May 7, 2000

Revised March 24, 2014

Revised June 6, 2017

Revised December 5, 2018