Constitution & By-laws
The Philadelphia Church
WHEREAS, the evening of His Ascension, Jesus Christ appeared to ten of His disciples, and said, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you" (John 20:21). And He breathed on the ten, and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (vv. 22–23); and
WHEREAS, Jesus Christ said, "For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter [Petros], and on this rock [petra] I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (Matt 16:17–19); and
WHEREAS, Jesus Christ said, "All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Go therefore and makes disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father [Patros] and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you" (Matt 28:18–20); and
WHEREAS, Jesus Christ three times commanded Peter to, "Feed my sheep" (John 21:15–17),
We, having received the Holy Spirit when drawn from the world by the Father, hereby covenant with the Father and the Son to dedicate ourselves to fulfilling all tasks divinely placed upon us as loyal and trustworthy servants, while striving to live peaceably with all men and women, showing love and exercising mercy to all. We further covenant to live by the laws of God that have been written on our hearts and minds through receipt of the Holy Spirit, obeying God in all things and at all times. We, therefore, proclaim to the world that we are members of the spiritual fellowship identified as the Body and/or Bride of Christ--and specifically, we represent the spiritual sixth of the seven churches to whom Christ directed letters to their angels: to wit, the church in Philadelphia (Rev 3:7–13).
THEREFORE, by receipt of the Holy Spirit and by authority granted from the Father to Christ and from Christ to His disciples, we hereby resolve to set forth by-laws binding upon all fellowships of The Philadelphia Church and upon all individual members in good standing:
The primary mission of this church shall be twofold: (1) to proclaim the good news of the kingdom that all who endure to the end will be saved (Matt 24:13 & 10:22); and (2) "to tend the flock of God that is in [our] charge, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion but willingly…not for sordid gain but eagerly" (1 Peter 5:2).
FURTHER, to accomplish the primary missions of this church and with the inherent authority granted to this church, (1) qualified ministers and servants shall be ordained when said individuals have demonstrated their qualifications, not as novices and not from conceit, but as sober-minded and spirit-lead disciples. Offices to which these individuals will be ordained are divinely-revealed in Scripture. Ordination shall be to no other offices, even though additional offices can properly be funded from tithes and offerings.
(2) The organizational structure of The Philadelphia Church shall be as an association of fully autonomous fellowships that doctrinally agree with these by-laws and with the church’s STATEMENT OF BELIEFS, as amended from time to time by the consensus of the ordained men and women then serving in offices. Provision for the formation of an adjudicating consensus of elders is hereby reserved, with this adjudicating body having the right to receive a small stipend and reimbursement for their legitimate expenses, these moneys coming from the fellowships collectively.
(3) The governing hierarchy of a fellowship shall not be determined congressionally, or by the direct vote of members in good standing within the fellowship, but by the demonstration of fulfilling an office prior to ordination to that office; e.g., a pastor will demonstrate the person’s calling to be a pastor through righteous shepherding of a flock of disciples prior to the person’s ordination to the office of pastor. Receipt of the Holy Spirit conveys full ordination to make disciples, and to teach these disciples to obey everything Jesus Christ commanded, and to baptize these disciples into judgment. Ordination to the office of pastor, then, will be by the consent of those who have been discipled, thereby allowing each fellowship to remain fully autonomous.
The Philadelphia Church decrees that in its application of love for all men and women, any person not causing disruption through an activity of the person--regardless of nationality, race, color, creed, religious or political persuasion--is welcome to fellowship at any of the church’s regular worship services, Bible studies, annual festival or new moon services, or at other church occasions. Disruption automatically includes, but is not limited to espousing, preaching, teaching, distributing tapes, literature, or materials of any kind that set forth doctrines and practices contrary to the laws of God, as understood in the church’s STATEMENT OF BELIEFS. Prior approval from an ordained individual shall not be needed before a person is welcome to fellowship with The Philadelphia Church.
FURTHER, because of the importance of all drawn disciples, regardless of fellowship, being covered by the blood of Christ, The Philadelphia Church’s Passover services shall be open to all who have searched themselves and have determined that they will partake in the services worthily.
The Philadelphia Church recognizes the sovereignty of individuals in their personal relationships with God the Father and Jesus Christ. Members are in voluntary association with The Philadelphia Church, and membership in a fellowship of The Philadelphia Church is not a determining criteria of whether a drawn disciple will be "saved" when the individual’s judgment is revealed at Christ’s return.
MEMBERSHIP: Since Jesus Christ said that no one can come to Him unless drawn by the Father (John 6:44, 65); and since Jesus Christ further said to His disciples, "You did not choose me, but I chose you" (John 15:16); and since the Apostle Paul writes that "the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law--indeed, it cannot" (Rom 8:7), The Philadelphia Church recognizes that disciples of Christ have been individually drawn from the world by the direct intervention of the Father and by the calling of Christ until such time as the kingdom of the world becomes the kingdom of the Most High and His Messiah halfway through seven years of tribulation (Rev 11:15). Therefore, association with The Philadelphia Church does not make any person a disciple of Jesus Christ; a person has become a disciple prior to having interest in associating with The Philadelphia Church. As a result, The Philadelphia Church ’s duties toward the person are to further disciple or teach the person as Priscilla and Aquila did Apollos (Acts 18:26), better explaining and expounding the Ways of God. The disciple’s duties toward The Philadelphia Church are to present himself or herself an able student, consistent in attendance, faithful to forgive oneself and others, submitting to God, and striving to live within the laws of God. Habitual behavior inconsistent with the laws of God demonstrates disrespect for God and for other disciples, and shall be the basis for baring further association after the behavior has been first privately, then publicly addressed in accordance to Scripture.
An ordained individual shall have failed in his or her responsibilities if this individual tolerates or enables habitual behavior inconsistent with the laws of God. This ordained individual shall be publicly censured.
Since being made a disciple is action done to a person through divine drawing and calling, The Philadelphia Church rejects traditional concepts of joining the church through application, required indoctrination, placing one's letter in the church, or other methods of documentation. The Philadelphia Church accepts as members those individuals who declare their membership and affiliation, and who agree to abide by these by-laws. Members in good standing are those disciples, who, by habit, have demonstrated their willingness to be able students.
Again, membership in The Philadelphia Church shall in no way be considered a requirement for salvation. The Philadelphia Church acknowledges that it is one of seven recognized endtime fellowships within the greater Body of Christ.
The Philadelphia Church hereby adopts as the basis for its doctrines the whole word of God, as revealed in the most ancient manuscripts, and declares that it accepts the canonical texts as recognized in the Authorized Version of 1611, less the Apocrypha. (The preceding statement shall not be construed as an endorsement of the Authorized Version, but as an easily recognizable listing of canonical books and epistles.)
The Philadelphia Church welcomes cooperation with any other church body, insofar as such body desires. The Philadelphia Church shall not prohibit members from attending services with other fellowships, but The Philadelphia Church does not allow guest speakers from other fellowships to espouse doctrines or concepts not held by The Philadelphia Church.
The Philadelphia Church specifically welcomes all disciples who recognize their need to attend annual Holy Day or new moon services to such services.
Because each fellowship of The Philadelphia Church is fully autonomous, nothing in these by-laws shall be construed to limit a fellowship from adopting additional by-laws and practices consistent with the laws of God as the particular fellowship deems necessary. Therefore, this document does not establish procedures for creating boards of directors, nor any other executive committees not specifically referenced. It defers all decisions concerning association to Scripture. Likewise, it defers all decisions concerning disfellowshipping an individual to Scripture. In all things, the Word of God shall be binding--and since meaning is assigned to words through hearing Christ’s voice, the traditions stemming from how a Scriptural passage has been applied are subject to change with additional growth in grace and knowledge as reflected in an amended STATEMENT OF BELIEFS.
The Philadelphia Church will comprise an association of private fellowships organized as non-profit churches. No church shall acquire or accumulate moneys beyond a prudent reserve to pay salaries or maintain physical facilities. No salary shall be above industry standards for comparable duties and responsibilities. No fellowship shall be formed for personal gain or profit.
Yet, disciples are Scripturally bound to pay tithes and give offerings. Therefore, moneys collected by a fellowship beyond a prudent reserve necessary to pay salaries and maintain physical facilities shall be used to "remember the poor" (Gal 2:10).
The above seven (7) articles conclude the by-laws of The Philadelphia Church. This document shall not be amended. An apparent error or omission in this document shall be referred to the authority of Holy Writ for clarification--nothing in this document shall be construed to be in conflict with the Word of God. The will of God the Father and Christ Jesus shall prevail at all times and in all things. Amen.