OVERSEA CHINESE MISSION CONSTITUTION
[Current Updated Version as of December 4, 2022]
This current version incorporates the revisions that were voted in at the 2021 AGM.
Further revisions are currently in progress; updates to be presented for adoption at a future AGM
In the body of the text we have capitalized the word "church" when it refers to the Universal Church and not capitalized it when it refers to the local church unless it occurs at the beginning of a sentence.
OVERSEA CHINESE MISSION CONSTITUTION
Article 1: Name and Address
1. The name of this church is Oversea Chinese Mission, also known as OCM. The church was founded by Rev. Shih Qi Sheng (Rev. Torrey Shih). The main language of the church is Mandarin. The church registered with the State of New York in 1961.
2. The address of the permanent main church building, which we bought in 1966, is 154 Hester Street New York, NY.
Article 2: Goal and Doctrinal Statement
1. This church builds up believers through public worship, fellowship, evangelism, doctrinal teaching, and other aspects of spiritual life. Led by one true God, we hold that Jesus Christ is Head of the Church and the Bible is the final authority. Our goal is to be a living testimony in order to glorify God and benefit mankind.
2. Doctrinal Statement
(1) We believe that the entire Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, was inspired by God. The Bible is the only authority for Christian belief and conduct. The Bible is inerrant and infallible and is the only authority for Christian belief and conduct.
(2) We believe in one true God, the Creator and Preserver of all things, infinite in being and perfection. He is eternally coexisting in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit; who are of one substance and equal in power and glory; the God of Creation, Redemption and Final Judgment.
(3) We believe the eternally pre-existent Son became incarnate without human father, by being born of the virgin Mary. Thus in the Lord Jesus Christ divine and human natures were united in one Person, both natures being whole, perfect and distinct. To effect salvation, He lived a sinless life and died on the cross as the sin offering for mankind, shedding His blood for the remission of sins. On the third day He rose from the dead. He ascended to the right hand of the Father, where He performs the ministry of intercession as the mediator between God and man. He shall come again, personally, visibly, and gloriously to complete His saving work and to consummate the eternal plan of God.
(4) We believe that the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Triune God who has descended to regenerate and indwell believers, and to work in the believer's heart and produce Christ-likeness. The Holy Spirit also leads believers into the truth and gives them strength to live a holy life and bestows on them the spiritual gifts to serve and edify the church.
(5) We believe that man was created in the image of God, but disobeyed God and fell from his sinless state at the temptation of Satan. The fall caused sin, spiritual and physical death bringing to the entire race the sentence of eternal death Only through substitutionary atonement by Jesus Christ can man be saved bringing him into a state of adoption as children of God, chosen before the creation of the world as recipients of God’s Grace, and will be preserved eternally in Christ. Sinners are saved by God's grace through faith in Christ, not by their own good works.
(6) We believe in the bodily resurrection of the just and the unjust. The just will be raised with a glorious body eternally blessed and the unjust will be raised to judgment and eternal punishment.
(7) We believe there is one holy and universal church which includes all born-again Christians, past, present and future, in all places. Scripture commands believers to gather as a local body for worship, prayer, fellowship, and the teaching of the Word; to observe Baptism and Communion as established by Jesus Christ; to offer service to the body through development and use of talents and gifts and outreach to spread the gospel to the world. The church is the bride of Christ awaiting His glorious return.
Article 3: Membership and Ordinances
1. Whoever has accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, is in agreement with the Doctrinal Statement of the OCM Constitution, is 18 years of age or over, is baptized, is in regular participation in the ministries of OCM for at least one year, is in regular attendance in an OCM Main Church worship service for at least one year, is in regular participation in offerings to OCM for at least one year, should be able to submit a formal application for constituent membership. After approval by the Membership Review Committee and the completion of membership class, the applicant will be accepted as OCM Main Church constituent member and can participate all constituent membership meetings and has voting right.
2. All the ministries and finances of this church shall be openly reported to the members on a regular basis. Members have the right to express their opinions in writing to the Pastoral Staff and the Planning Committee at any time.
3. This church baptizes its members by immersion and accepts believers from other churches who have been baptized by immersion or sprinkling.
4. This church celebrates the Lord's Supper once a month and also at Easter and other special days.
5. This church practices the dedication but not baptism of the infants and children of members.
Article 4: Committees and Branch Churches
1. This church shall not belong to any denomination, but shall be a permanent member of
the National Association of Evangelicals.
2. The committees of this church shall be: Worship Committee, Caring Committee, Missions Committee, Evangelism Committee, Fellowship Committee, Christian Education Committee, Service Committee, and Finance Committee. More committees may be added as necessary.
3. All those who serve on the committees shall be members who are motivated by the Holy Spirit and do the service voluntarily. The leader of each committee shall be either a staff member or shall be appointed in the Pastoral Staff meeting.
4. Each committee shall hold meetings as necessary. The rules and regulations of the committees shall be in accordance with this Constitution.
5. Churches established in various locations by this church shall be either coordinated, organized, and subsidized by the Missions Committee, or the important decisions shall be made by the Missions Committee. When such a church becomes completely independent it shall then have a sister relationship with this church and we shall care for and help each other. We shall also strive together, having the same desire to spread the gospel.
Article 5: Congregational Meeting
1. Ministry representative(s) shall attend the congregation meeting.
2. The congregation meeting of the church shall be called by the Senior Pastor and Board of Deacons. Reports from each ministry shall be presented. Minutes of each meeting shall be kept.
Article 6: Board of Deacons
Candidates for deacons shall have the following qualification (1 Timothy 3:8-13)
1. Shall have a good reputation in the family, inside and outside the church. Shall be blameless in word and deed. Shall be hospitable, understand the truth of the Bible, and be capable of teaching and caring. Shall be a model for other Christians in their faith, love, offering and participation in church activities.
2. Shall treat the church as they would their home. Shall be at the age of 30 and above. Shall be a constituent member and actively serve in this church at least 7 years or above. Immediate family members shall not serve on the Board of Deacons during the same term.
Responsibilities of Deacons
1. Shall assist the Senior pastor and pastors in promoting and developing various ministries. Shall assist the pastoral and teaching responsibilities of the Pastoral Staff. Shall care about the spiritual and material life of the church members and encourage them to love each other.
2. Shall manage hiring or dismissal of members of the Pastoral Staff, all full-time and part time staff as necessary and determine salary and benefits, such as social security and medical insurance.
Selection Process and Term of Office
1. Shall be composed of at least nine members. The members were nominated by the Pastoral Staff and elected by the Board of Deacons.
2. The deacon’s term of office is three years. A deacon is eligible to be re-elected for one additional term. After serving for two consecutive terms, a deacon may not be re-elected for one year before being nominated for another new term. 3. The Senior Pastor of the church shall be the chairman of the Board of Deacons, but shall not have the right to vote. When pastoral matters need to be discussed, a meeting may be called by the vice-chairman, and the chairman and elders shall leave the meeting voluntarily.
4. The Board of Deacons shall have a vice-chairman and a secretary, elected by the deacons from the deacons of each term. A new deacon shall not be eligible to be elected as the vice-chairman.
5. The Board of Deacons shall hold at least one meeting each quarter. The meeting shall be preferably held before the Congregation meeting, so that the decisions of the deacon’s meeting can be shared with the congregation.
6. In cases where a deacon can no longer worship at this church and participate in its deacon’s meetings because of relocation or for any other reason, a new deacon shall be elected as a replacement. However, if the remainder of the term is one year or less, the replacement shall be elected in the next election.
7. If a deacon is alleged to have incorrect belief or improper conduct, and supporting evidence is found by the Pastoral Staff and the Board of Deacons, a 75% vote shall disqualify the person from serving on the Board of Deacons.
Article 7: Pastoral Staff
1. This church shall hire one senior pastor and other Pastoral Staff members as needed.
2. The Senior Pastor shall have had formal theological training, shall have been ordained and shall have had a minimum of seven years' experience as a pastor, or equivalent qualifications. The Planning Committee must approve his hiring.
3. The Senior Pastor is responsible for preaching, supervising and promoting the various ministries, calling of the meetings of the Pastoral Staff, the Planning Committee, and the coworkers, according to the predetermined agreement 4. The Pastoral Staff meeting shall be called by the Senior Pastor and shall be held monthly to discuss the various ministries and recommend people to serve on each committee. Minutes of each meeting shall be recorded.
5. There shall be no term limit for any member of the Pastoral Staff. Six months' notice shall be given before employment is terminated by either side.
6. A retired Pastoral Staff member may be employed as a consultant-advisor of this church, but without salary. There shall not be more than two consultant-advisors at any time.
Article 8: Intentionally Deleted
Article 9: Amendment
1. This Constitution shall be the highest authority for the operation of this church. The Constitution shall be put into practice by the Planning Committee after it is established.
2. The official version of this Constitution is in English. The traditional version of this Constitution is in Chinese.
3. This Constitution may be amended, by a two-thirds vote of the constituent members present and voting at the meeting for this church or at any subsequent meeting, after written notice, embodying such amendment, has been openly given at a previous meeting, and also in the notices of the meeting at which such proposed amendment is to be acted upon.
Article 10: Elders
1. Candidates for Elders shall have the following qualifications (I Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9; I Peter 5:1-4):
(1) Shall have a good reputation in the family, inside and outside the church. Shall be blameless in word and deed.
(2) Shall be hospitable, understand the truth of the Bible, and be capable of teaching and pastoring.
(3) Shall be a model for other Christians in his faith, love, offering and participation in church activities.
(4) Shall treat the church as he would his home. Shall be at least 45 years of age. Shall be a constituent member and actively serve in this church. Has served as a deacon or member of steering committee for at least 6 years. Immediate family members shall not serve as active Elders during the same term.
2. Responsibilities of Elders:
(1) Shall assist the Senior pastor and Pastoral Staff in promoting and developing various ministries. Shall assist the pastoral and teaching responsibilities of the Pastoral Staff. Shall care about the spiritual and material life of the church members and encourage them to love each other.
(2) Shall attend the meeting of the Board of Deacons and shall not have the right to vote. Shall facilitate cooperation among the church co-workers. Shall pray and plan with them for the ministries of the church. (
3) May be a committee leader or may recommend suitable persons to be committee leaders. Shall assist the Pastoral Staff to train and counsel the committee leaders. Shall care about the spiritual and material life of the church members and encourage them to love each other.
(4) When an active Elder is clearly called by the Lord to be hired as a full-time pastor, and has received theological training from an accredited theological school, he shall bear the same responsibilities as the other members of the Pastoral Staff and become an inactive elder, and he may receive pay remuneration (Ref. OCM Employment Policy Handbook)
3. Selection process and term of office:
(1) Shall be nominated by the Pastoral Staff. Nominees shall have the qualifications of an elder and shall "desire a noble task." (I Timothy 3:1).
(2) The number of elder is set according to the actual needs of each language ministry (the existing ones are: Mandarin, Cantonese, and English), and each language ministry has its own representatives. The whole church shall have at least six serving elders, but no more than nine.
(3) The term of an active Elder shall be 5 years. He is eligible to be re-elected once. After serving for two consecutive terms, he may not be re-elected for one year before being nominated for another new term. Only Elders who are active can join the meeting of the Board of Deacons. An Elder who is no longer active shall retain the title of an Elder.
(4) Elders will retire at the age of 75 and shall be recommended to become emeritus Elders.
(5) If an Elder is alleged to have incorrect belief or improper conduct, which causes damage to his responsibility and testimony, and supporting evidence is found by the Pastoral Staff, remaining active Elders and the Board of Deacons, a negative vote by 75% of the combined Pastoral Staff, remaining active Elders and the Board of Deacons shall disqualify the person from serving as an Elder.