Skip Navigation
Search Keywords...
Open Menu

TLC By-Laws


(Revised November 2019) 

The purpose of these By-Laws is to guide the members of Trinity Lutheran Church in the implementation of the purpose of the congregation as stated in Article II of the Constitution. As such, these By-Laws are meant to be a clarification of, and subordinate to, the Constitution. 

These By-Laws are to be utilized in facilitating the efficient operations of the congregation’s business in support of our mission and in an atmosphere of Christian  love and community. 

There are three types of membership: baptized, communicant, and voting. All are defined in Article IV of the Constitution. 

A    Process of Admission 

1    Baptized Members are received by the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, or through the consent of one or both parents in the case of children who have been baptized in the name of the Triune God at another Christian congregation. 

2    Communicant Members are received by one of the following processes: 

a    Rite of Confirmation: Confirmation itself being a reception into church membership, all who are thus received by this sacred act become communicant members. 

b    Transfer: Persons requesting membership in Trinity Lutheran Church, with a communicant letter of transfer from another Lutheran Congregation in fellowship, provided they conform in all respects to the requirements of membership in this congregation, shall be received into such membership upon approval of the Pastor and Board of Elders. Announcement of such will be made at the next meeting of the Church Council and Voter’s Assembly. 

c    Profession of Faith or Reaffirmation of Faith: Other persons shall submit their application for membership to the Pastor (or an Elder) and, after having completed the Pastor’s Information class or otherwise given satisfactory evidence of qualification for communicant membership to the Pastor and Board of Elders, they shall be accepted into communicant membership upon the approval of the Pastor and Board of Elders. Announcement of such will be made at the next Church Council and Voter’s Assembly. 

3    Voting Members are received by the following process: 

a    Reception: All communicant members meeting the Constitutional requirements for voting membership shall be added to the rolls of voting membership provided they assume the duties of voting membership as defined below. 

b    Duties: It shall be the duty of every voting member to attend the Voter’s Assemblies. By failing to attend such meeting, a member waives the right to cast his vote during that meeting. Voting members shall accept nomination for office, committee appointments, etc., if possible, and all voting members shall generally participate in the business activities of the Voter’s Assembly upon which they are qualified to vote. 

4    Recording of memberships: 

a    Trinity will establish a membership roll of Baptized Members, Communicant Members, and Voting Members. Additions, deletions, and changes will be initiated by the Pastor or Chairman of the Board of Elders. 

B    Process of Termination 

1    Communicant and Voting Membership shall be terminated for the following reasons: 

a    Transfer to Other Congregations: Communicant members desiring to join a congregation in church fellowship shall present their request for transfer to the Pastor and Board of Elders, to whom authorization is granted to issue such transfer. Such transfer of membership shall be announced at the next Church Council or Voter’s Assembly. 

b    Joining Other Churches: In cases where communicant members have joined another congregation outside our own fellowship they shall, upon the recommendation of the Pastor, be considered such as have terminated their membership and their names shall be removed from the membership list upon the approval of the Board of Elders. Such action shall be announced at the next Church Council and Voter’s Assembly. 

c    Whereabouts Unknown: The names of members whose whereabouts are unknown and cannot be established, or have not received the Lord’s Supper for a period of two years shall be removed by the Board of Elders, and such membership terminated. Prior to such termination, the Board shall solicit 
possible information or knowledge of these individuals from within the congregation and other sources. 

d    Excommunication: Any member who continues to live as a manifest and impenitent sinner shall be admonished in love according to 1 Cor 5:1-7 and Matt 18:15-20. If he refuses to amend his sinful life after proper admonition, he shall be excommunicated. The Board of Elders shall attempt to return the member to the Christian life. Intimate details that would cause undue embarrassment to the member, such as may make continued active membership in the congregation difficult, will not be open to general assembly disclosure. A vote approving excommunication requires two-thirds majority of those present at a properly convened Voter’s Assembly. 

e    Self Exclusion: Such members who disregard the Lord’s commands and promise concerning the frequent use of the Word and Sacrament within a two year period shall, in the event all efforts to encourage the use of the Word and Sacrament have failed and after careful consideration, the Board of Elders and Pastor shall declare such membership as terminated by such members exclusion of themselves. Official notice shall be sent to the  member and announcement of such action made at the next Council meeting and Voter’s Assembly. 

2    Termination Status 

a    Any member whose communicant membership has been terminated for any reason other than transfer to another congregation in fellowship has forfeited all rights of a member of this congregation. Such termination not only releases them from all responsibilities to this congregation, but also excludes them from the privilege of church membership, such as receiving Holy Communion, a Christian burial, and transfer to another LCMS congregation. Any termination of membership relinquishes all claims upon the property of the congregation as such or any part thereof. 

b    Membership terminated may be reinstated following Pastor’s instruction class or profession of faith, upon recommendation of the Pastor and approval of the Board of Elders. 


A    Meetings 

1    The Voter’s Assembly shall conduct two regularly scheduled meetings (one in November and one in May) during the calendar year. The agenda for the May meeting shall include the election of officers and Church Council members. The agenda for the November meeting shall include the approval of an annual budget. 
2    Special meetings of the Voter’s Assembly may be called at the discretion of the Council or Pastor. 

3    Every Voter’s Assembly shall be announced (by word or in the bulletin) at a Sunday service prior to it. When a meeting has been thus announced, it shall be considered a properly convened and legal meeting capable of transacting business. 

B    Quorum 

1    The voting members present at a regularly scheduled Voter’s Assembly shall constitute a quorum. For amending the Articles of Incorporation, the Constitution and By-Laws, the erection of buildings, the purchase or sale of real property, or the removal of a pastor or teacher or some other member from office, a two- thirds majority shall be required for adoption of a resolution, unless otherwise provided by State Law. 

2    At special Voter’s Assembly meetings at least 50 voting members shall constitute a quorum. 

3    In the absence of a quorum, those present may fix the date for an adjourned meeting for which at least seven (7) days written notice shall be given to the congregation. The members who are then present at such adjourned meeting shall constitute a quorum. 

C    Published Agenda 

1    An agenda for each regularly scheduled Voter’s Assembly shall be published in  the church bulletin at least one (1) Sunday prior to the meeting. Any item requiring a vote of the congregation at a regularly scheduled meeting must be submitted to the President at least thirty (30) days prior to the scheduled  meeting. 

D    Order of Business 
1    The following shall be the order of business for a Voter’s Assembly: 
pening Prayer 
Reading of the Minutes 
Treasurer’s Report 
Reports and Recommendations of Auxiliaries, Officers, and Boards 
Unfinished Business 
New Business 
Prayer and Benediction 
2    In addition to principles laid down in Scripture, the latest edition of Robert’s Rules of Order shall be followed. 


A    Procedure 

1    A Nominating Committee appointed by the Council in February shall present a slate of candidates for election to each office of the Council at the May meeting of the Voter’s Assembly, and will take office on June 1 following election. The slate is to be presented in the Sunday bulletin at least one week prior to the Voters Meeting. Additional nominations may be made from the floor provided the nominee concurs with his name being placed on the slate. All nominees for election to the Church Council must have been a communicant member of the congregation for at least six months and be at least 18 years of age. 

B    Term of Office 

1    Church Council members shall be elected to a specific office or position on the Church Council for a term of two years. Council members shall be permitted to hold the same office or position for two consecutive terms only. In the event of a vacancy on the Council, a temporary successor shall be appointed by the  Council to serve until the next Voter’s Assembly at which time a successor will be elected to fill the remainder of the term or the appointment shall be ratified by the Voters at the next regular meeting. An Officer of the congregation, or a member of the Church Council, who has served two consecutive terms in the same position, should not serve an additional term in their current position. In  the  event that no successor has been elected or has qualified when the respective term expires, such Officer or Council Member shall be allowed to continue until a successor is qualified or elected. 
2    “To promote the continuity of Church Council membership the office of President and Vice President shall be elected in odd years.  The Treasurer and Secretary shall be elected in even years.  The Chairpersons for Christian Education, Evangelism, Property Management and Stewardship shall be elected in even years. The Chairpersons for Social Ministry, Youth, and  Elders shall be elected in odd years."   

The officers of this congregation shall be: The President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. 


A    Church Council Members 

1    The Church Council shall be composed of the President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Chairman of the Board of Elders, Chairperson of the Boards of Stewardship, Property Management, Evangelism, Christian Education, Social Ministry, and Youth Ministry. The Pastor(s) and other called church workers shall be ex-officio members of the Council but shall not have voting privileges. 

B    Duties 

1    It shall be the duty of the Church Council to meet once a month to consider and discuss all matters pertaining to the general welfare of the congregation as presented by the various boards in written reports and to present recommendations to the congregation. The Church Council shall act in matters committed to it by the Voter’s Assembly and in cases of emergency, between congregation meetings. It shall annually approve the Board members, and Financial Examination Committee, and any other necessary Standing Committees. Church Council will handle human resource issues related to any hired church staff positions or support personnel. This does not  include the  hiring and termination of called church workers. 

C    Financial Examination 

1    All of these books shall be examined annually by a minimum two person  committee appointed by the President of the congregation, and a report of such examination shall be submitted to the congregation. The extent of the examination shall be determined by the Church Council. 

D    Restrictions 

1    The Church Council shall not have the right to purchase, encumber, sell, make commitments binding, or give property of the congregation, unless the Voter’s Assembly has given authorization in an official meeting. 

2    However, during each fiscal year the Church Council shall have the right to expend congregation funds for needful and necessary materials, not already approved in the annual budget, in an amount not to exceed a cumulative total of ten percent of the total annual budget. 
3    The Office of the Holy Ministry, the administration of the Sacraments, and the application of the Office of the Keys in accordance with Holy Scripture and Lutheran Confessions, prescribe that only men shall be eligible to perform these distinctive functions. 

E    Operations Manual 

1    The Church Council shall develop the mission and goals of the congregation for the review and approval of the Voter’s Assembly. Each Board Chairperson shall have a service (job) description outlining their duties or responsibilities and have an operations plan that includes a purpose statement, goals, objectives, and action plans that support the overall congregational mission plan. Church  Council should review these annually. 

2    At the creation or inception of a standing committee, the committee should submit an operating plan to include purpose statement, goals, objectives, reasonable time frame of operation and action plans which support the reason for inception. 

3    Building use policies and fees, staffing (church employees) policies and any other similar policies shall also be included in this Operations Manual and may be changed upon approval by Church Council at any time. 

F    Miscellaneous 

1    Except as otherwise noted provided by these By-Laws, all ministries, organizations, and existing standing committees are accountable to the congregation through the Church Council. 


For more specific information, please refer to the Service Descriptions section in the Manual of Operations for Trinity Lutheran Church. 

A    Duties of Officers 

1    The President shall: 

a    Prepare the agenda for and preside at all meetings of both the Voter’s Assembly and Church Council. He shall see that all resolutions of the congregation are carried out. He is an ex-officio member of all Boards and Committees of the congregation. 
2    The Vice President shall: 

a    Perform the duties of the President in his absence. 

3    The Treasurer shall: 

a    Receive and record in financial documents kept for such purpose deposits in the congregation’s designated depository, all congregational monies, including offerings, contributions, special collections, loans, subsidies, bequests, etc. 

b    Submit a report at each Voter’s Assembly. Such report shall show receipts and disbursements compared with budgeted amounts. 

c    Have general responsibility for all financial matters in conjunction with the Board of Stewardship. 

d    Be a member of the stewardship board. 

4    The Secretary shall: 

a    Keep and read accurate minutes of the meetings of the Voter’s Assembly and of the Council for the permanent records of the congregation. 

b    Ensure the maintenance of the Constitution and By-Laws of the congregation and corporate records. 

c    Ensure the maintenance of other data with historical significance. 

B    Duties of Church Council Members 

1    The duties and responsibilities of the Church Council Board Chairpersons can be found in the Service Descriptions section in the Manual of Operations for Trinity Lutheran Church. 

A    Initiating the Call 

1    Vacancy 

a    When a vacancy exists in a Called position, the  President  of  the Congregation shall appoint a Call Committee. The Call Committee will either defer to the existing job description or prepare a full job description. 
Nominations to the Call Committee will be solicited from the congregation. 

2    New Position 

a    Before a Call Committee can be formed for a new  “called” position, the  Church Council must first prepare and submit for approval at a Voter’s Assembly, a job description and a qualification list. 

B    Call Committee 

1    Composition 

a    The Call Committee shall be chaired by a member of the Church Council and include a member of the Board of Elders. The remaining members (at least five total) shall be selected from the congregation at large with a goal of having as much diversity as possible. 

2    Duties 

a    The Call Committee, utilizing the prepared job description and qualifications, will solicit nominations from the District and the congregation, obtain biographical data, conduct interviews and present the recommended candidates to the voters in either a regularly scheduled or special voter’s meeting. 

3    Extending the Call 

a    The list of candidates and biographical data shall be made available to the congregation at least seven (7) days prior to the meeting at which the call is to be considered. The election shall proceed by written ballot. After each ballot, the candidate receiving the lowest number of votes will be dropped from consideration. This procedure will be followed until one candidate has received a majority of all votes cast. Final action of such elections must be affirmed by a minimum of two-thirds (2/3) of the members voting. The unanimous support of the congregation for the candidate elected is desirable but not mandatory. To encourage unanimity, a non-binding vote to make the call unanimous may be taken. 

These By-Laws may be amended in a properly convened meeting of the Voter’s Assembly by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the members present. Proposed By-Law changes must be formally announced at least thirty (30) days prior during the congregation’s worship services and be published in both the church bulletin and monthly newsletter. 

TLC Constitution



MAY 2008 


(Revised May 2008) 


Inasmuch as the Word of God requires that a Christian congregation shall conform to this Divine Word in doctrine and practice (Ps 119:105; Matt 28:18-20; Gal 1:6-8; 2 Tim 4:105) and that all things be done decently and in order (1 Cor 14:40), we, the members of Trinity Lutheran Church, Savannah, Georgia, Chatham County subscribe to the following Constitution and Bylaws in accordance with which all spiritual and material affairs of the congregation and its members shall be governed. 






The purpose of this congregation shall be to give honor and glory to the Triune God, to carry out His will, to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world, to manifest the unity of our faith in Jesus Christ as God and Savior, to spread the kingdom of God, and to foster Christian fellowship and love, by the preaching of the word of God, by the administration of the Sacraments, and by the religious instruction of all its members, according to the confessional standard of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Article III). 



This congregation and it members acknowledge and accept all the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments 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 Writings are the three Ecumenical Creeds (Apostles, 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. 



Any requirement of condition of membership as stated in the By-Laws shall not be contrary to the doctrinal standard of Article III of this Constitution.  The membership of this congregation includes the following: 

A    Baptized Membership 

1    Definition 

a    Baptized members shall be those who have been baptized in the name of the Triune God, and who are under the spiritual care of the pastor of this congregation, including the children on the membership rolls who have not yet confirmed their baptismal vows. 

B    Communicant Membership 

1    Definition 
a    Communicant members are those baptized members who have been confirmed or received adult instruction in the Lutheran faith, accept the doctrinal standards of Article III of this Constitution, are familiar at least with the chief doctrines as set forth in Luther’s Small Catechism, and who are not members of any anti-Christian organizations whose principals, rituals, and conduct conflict with the Word of God. 

2    Duties 
a    Communicant members shall conform their entire lives in the rule of God’s Word and to that end attend divine services faithfully, make diligent use of the Means of Grace, exercise faithful stewardship of God’s gifts, and impart and accept fraternal admonition as the need for such admonition becomes apparent. 

C    Voting Membership 
1    Definition 
a    All who met the requirements of communicant membership and have reached their eighteenth year and have read and agreed to abide by the Constitution and By-Laws of this congregation. 
2    Duties 
a    Voting members shall attend the meetings of the Voter’s Assembly regularly, vote, and participate in the work of the congregation and willingly accept responsibility according to ability. 



The pastoral office of this congregation and its members, as well as that of a called ordained or commissioned minister as defined by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, hereinafter referred to as called church workers, shall be conferred upon those ministers, called church workers, and candidates who profess and adhere to the confessional standard set forth in Article III of this Constitution and are well qualified for their work.  Pastors and called church workers shall, in the call extended to and accepted by them, be pledged to this confessional standard. 



A    General 
1    The congregation, through the voting members, shall have supreme power to administer and manage all its external and internal affairs.  The establishment and conduct of all institutions and societies within the congregation, such as the parochial school, Sunday School, youth societies, ladies organizations, choir, etc., shall at all times be subject to the approval and supervision of the congregation.  The congregation, 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 decisions shall be null and void. 

2    The congregation shall not conduct or carry on any activities not permitted to be conducted or carried on by an organization exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of the United States and the regulations promulgated there under as said Section and regulations now exist, or as they may hereafter be amended, or by an organization contributions to which are deductible under Section 180(c)(2) of such Code and regulations promulgated there under as said section and regulations now exist or as they may hereafter be amended. 

B    Right of Calling 
1    The right of calling pastors or other church workers shall be vested in the voting members of the congregation and shall never be delegated to a smaller body or to an individual. 

C    Decisions 

1    Matters of doctrine and conscience shall be decided by the Word of God; other matters shall be decided by the Voter’s Assembly by a majority vote unless otherwise specified by the Constitution or By-Laws. 

D    Powers of Officers 

1    Corporate officers or committees, whether elected or appointed by the voters, 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 voters. 

E    Removal from Office 

1    Any officer, pastor, or called church worker may be removed from office by the members, by ballot, in Christian and lawful order, for one of the following causes: persistent adherence to false doctrine, scandalous life, and inability to perform their official duties or willful neglect of them. 

2    The congregation may request, by two-thirds majority vote of the Voter’s Assembly, the resignation of any pastor, called church worker, or officer from the position in the congregation in the case of prolonged incapacity or general incompetence. 

F    Miscellaneous 

1    Any part of the property or earnings of the congregation shall not inure to the benefit of any member, contributor, trustee, or officer of the congregation or any other private individual. 

2    The corporation shall not issue capital stock. 



The congregation shall be managed by the Church Council, members of which shall be selected in the manner and at the time set forth in the By-Laws of the congregation.  The Church Council shall at no time consist of less than three (3) members, the exact number of which shall be fixed by the By-Laws.  The congregation empowers the Church Council to conduct business of Trinity Lutheran Church in accordance with this Constitution and other regulations adopted from time to time. 



The officers, boards, and committees of this congregation shall be such officers, boards, and committees as the By-Laws of this Constitution may prescribe. 



If at any time a division should take place on account of doctrine, or for any other reason, the property of the congregation and all benefits therewith connected shall remain with the communicant members who continue to adhere in doctrinal standard and practice to Article III of this Constitution, as determined by the adjudication procedure of the Synod.  In the event the membership should totally disband, or upon the dissolution of the congregation, the property and all rights connected therewith shall be distributed exclusively to the Florida-Georgia District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. 



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 standard of Article III.  Likewise, in all classes for instruction in Christian doctrine only such books shall be used as conform to this standard. 



This congregation shall hold membership in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod as long as this Synod remains true to the Word of God, the Lutheran Confessions, and Article III of this Constitution.  It shall send its pastor and a lay delegate to the District Convention of the Synod.  It shall be the duty of the congregation and its individual members to support the work of the Synod, since they thereby support their own Christappointed work. 



A    Unalterable Articles 

1    Articles II, III, XII.A, and XII.B.3 of this Constitution shall not be subject to change or repeal. 

B    Amendments 

1    Amendments to these Articles and Constitution may be adopted at a regular Voter’s Assembly, provided: 

a    That they do not conflict with the provisions laid down in Article III or with any Section of any other Article that pertains to Scriptural doctrine and practice. 

b    Amendments to this Constitution may be proposed in writing in any Voter’s Assembly meeting by any voting member.   If the majority of the voting members present vote in favor of the proposal, then a copy of such proposed amendment shall be communicated by written notice to all voting members at least two (2) weeks preceding the next Voter’s Assembly meeting.  The final vote on the proposed amendment shall be taken in that meeting or at a duly publicized continuation of that meeting. 

c    The affirmative vote of two-thirds (2/3) majority of the voting membership present at the Voter’s Assembly shall be required for the adoption of an amendment. 

d    Upon adoption, any such amendments shall be submitted to the district Committee on Constitutions for approval in accordance with the Synod’s ByLaws. 


This corporation may adopt such By-Laws as may be required for the accomplishment of its purpose.