St. Olaf College Student Congregation
In recognition that God is working at St. Olaf College, a community of varied religious and social backgrounds in which students are challenged by questions and faced with decisions, the St. Olaf College Student Congregation seeks to become an intentional and self-conscious expression of God's gathered people, providing opportunity for the ministry of Word and Sacraments, extending a call for responsible membership in the community of faith as well as in the community of learning, and showing a genuine and active concern for the work of the Church both on and off the campus. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
NAME AND INCORPORATION
C1.01. The name of this congregation shall be the St. Olaf College Student Congregation of Northfield, Minnesota.
C1.02. For the purpose of this constitution and the accompanying bylaws, the St. Olaf College Student Congregation is hereinafter designated as “this congregation.”
CONFESSION OF FAITH
C2.01. This congregation confesses the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
C2.02. This congregation confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and the Gospel as the power of God for the salvation of all who believe.
- Jesus Christ is the Word of God incarnate, through whom everything was made and through whose life, death, and resurrection God fashions a new creation.
- The proclamation of God’s message to us as both Law and Gospel is the Word of God, revealing judgment and mercy through word and deed, beginning with the Word in creation, continuing in the history of Israel, and centering in all its fullness in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
- The canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the written Word of God. Inspired by God’s Spirit speaking through their authors, they record and announce God’s revelation centering in Jesus Christ. Through them God’s Spirit speaks to us to create and sustain Christian faith and fellowship for service in the world.
C2.03. This congregation accepts the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the inspired Word of God and the authoritative source and norm of its proclamation, faith, and life.
C2.04. This congregation accepts the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds as true declarations of the faith of this church.
C2.05. This church accepts the Unaltered Augsburg Confession as a true witness to the Gospel, acknowledging as one with it in faith and doctrine all churches that likewise accept the teachings of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession.
C2.06 This church accepts the other confessional writings in the Book of Concord, namely, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles and the Treatise, the Small Catechism, the Large Catechism, and the Formula of Concord, as further valid interpretations of the faith of the Church.
C2.07 This congregation confesses the Gospel, recorded in the Holy Scriptures and confessed in the ecumenical creeds and Lutheran confessional writings, as the power of God to create and sustain the Church for God’s mission in the world.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
C3.01. The Church is a people created by God in Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, called and sent to bear witness to God's creative, redeeming, and sanctifying activity in the world.
C3.02. To participate in God's mission, this congregation as a part of the Church shall:
- Worship God in proclamation of the Word and administration of the sacraments and through lives of prayer, praise, thanksgiving, witness, and service.
- Proclaim God's saving Gospel of justification by grace for Christ's sake through faith alone, according to the apostolic witness in the Holy Scripture, preserving and transmitting the Gospel faithfully to future generations.
- Carry out Christ's Great Commission by reaching out to all people to bring them to faith in Christ and by doing all ministry with a global awareness consistent with the understanding of God as Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier of all.
- Serve in response to God's love to meet human needs, caring for the sick and the aged, advocating dignity and justice for all people, working for peace and reconciliation among the nations, and standing with the poor and powerless, and committing itself to their needs.
- Nurture its members in the Word of God so as to grow in faith and hope and love, to see daily life as the primary setting for the exercise of their Christian calling, and to use the gifts of the Spirit for their life together and for their calling in the world.
- Manifest the unity given to the people of God by living together in the love of Christ and by joining with other Christians in prayer and action to express and preserve the unity which the Spirit gives.
C3.03. To fulfill these purposes, this congregation shall:
- Provide services of worship at which the Word of God is preached and the sacraments are administered.
- Provide pastoral care and assist all members to participate in this ministry.
- Challenge, equip, and support all members in carrying out their calling in their daily lives and in their congregation.
- Teach the Word of God.
- Witness to the reconciling Word of God in Christ, reaching out to all people.
- Respond to human need, work for justice and peace, care for the sick and the suffering, and participate responsibly in society.
- Motivate its members to provide financial support for the congregation's ministry and the ministry of other parts of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
- Foster and participate in interdependent relationships with other congregations, the synod, and the church-wide organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
- Foster and participate in ecumenical relationships consistent with church-wide policy.
C4.01. This congregation shall be an interdependent part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) or its successor, and of the Southeastern Minnesota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. This congregation is subject to the discipline of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
C4.02. This congregation accepts the ECLA Confession of Faith and agrees to the Purposes of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and shall act in accordance with them.
C4.03. This congregation acknowledges its relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in which:
- This congregation agrees to be responsible for its life as a Christian community.
- This congregation pledges its support, financial and otherwise, and its participation in the life and mission of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
C5.01. Membership in the St. Olaf Student Congregation shall be open to all students at St. Olaf College who desire actively to participate in the St. Olaf Student Congregation. Such membership shall not be considered as affecting in any way the student's legal membership in his or her home congregation.
C5.02. All members shall have the right to vote and hold office. It is understood that those who worship regularly and participate in the ongoing program of the congregation may consider themselves members. Thus the right to vote is determined by the honor system.
C5.03. Regarding baptism and confirmation:
- A student who has not previously been baptized, when giving evidence of having an adequate understanding and acceptance of the teachings of the Word of God may become through baptism a member of the congregation.
- Instruction shall regularly be provided for those desiring to be baptized into the Christian faith and those preparing for Affirmation of Baptism (Confirmation).
C5.04. Pertaining to responsibilities of membership, it is expected that a member of this congregation shall:
- Make diligent use of the means of grace, both Word and sacraments.
- Endeavor in her/his conduct to manifest the fruits of the Spirit. According to Galatians 5:22-23, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
- Acknowledge that all she/he is and has come as good gifts from God, and as one expression of her/his gratitude and obedience, shall contribute to the support, financial and otherwise, of the congregation and the work of the Church.
- Attend congregational meetings and support other activities of the congregation.
C5.05. Participation in the Lord’s Supper is open to all, regardless of membership.
C6.01. Pastors of this congregation must be pastors in good standing in the ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and be installed by the bishop of the synod, or someone authorized by her/him.
C6.02. The calling of a pastor shall be done by the Board of Regents of St. Olaf College upon nomination of the college president. The congregation shall set up a call committee to serve in an advisory capacity.
C6.03. If in the judgment of the college president and college trustees, the pastor is not able to work in this field effectively, she/he may be requested to resign. If the pastor's resignation has been requested by the president and college trustees, she/he shall vacate the office within one month from the date of such request. If she/he does not resign upon such request, the resolution shall constitute a notice of dismissal to be effective at the end of one month after its adoption.
C6.04. If the pastor resigns, her/his resignation shall not go into effect until one month after its presentation, unless the college trustees consent to release her/him at an earlier date.
C6.05. The following shall be valid reasons for deposing the pastor: offensive life, continuance in spite of admonition, in false doctrine or unfaithfulness in the conduct of her/his office.
C7.01. There shall be semi-annual congregational meetings held near the opening and close of the academic year. These meetings may take place at the beginning of a Sunday worship service.
C7.02. A special congregation meeting may be called by the pastor, the congregation council, or the president of this congregation, and shall be called by the president of the congregation upon the written request of ten of the voting members. The call for each special meeting shall specify the purpose for which it is to be held and no other business shall be transacted.
C7.03. Notice of all meetings of this congregation shall be given at the services of worship on the preceding two consecutive Sundays.
C8.01. The Student Congregation Council shall consist of seven officers and eight class representatives, to be elected annually.
C8.02. The officers shall include the president, the secretary, the treasurer, the vice-president of life and growth, the vice-president of worship, the vice-president of stewardship, the vice-President of extra-campus activities. A vice-presidential office may be filled by two people, or by three people if one person will be absent for a semester. Each of these offices shall be elected in the spring for the following school year.
- The president shall be chairperson of the council and shall have the power to fill any vacancies, subject to the approval of the other Student Congregation Council members.
- It shall be the duty of the secretary to keep a record of the meetings of the Student Congregation and the Student Congregation Council. The secretary may also be assigned other tasks related to record-keeping within the Council and the Congregation's activities.
- The treasurer is to count and deposit the offerings. She/he will monitor the finances of the Student Congregation and annually propose a budget to be approved by the voting members. Furthermore, the treasurer will provide recommendations to the vice-president of Stewardship and the Student Congregation Council in regard to use of the offerings and other financial matters.
C8.03. There shall be two representatives, one male and one female, from each class year. The sophomore, junior, and senior class representatives shall be elected at the end of the school year prior to their year of service. The president shall appoint the first year class representatives at the beginning of each school year.
C8.04. All officers shall submit a report of their activities for the year. These shall be kept on file in the office of the congregation.
C9.01. In order to be effective, an amendment to the constitution must be presented in writing and received by a majority vote at a called congregational meeting and be adopted at a called congregational meeting at least four weeks thereafter. A two-thirds majority of voting members present is required for adoption.
C9.02. A proposed amendment to the by-laws must be presented at a regularly called meeting of the congregation. If the amendment is approved at this meeting by a majority, it shall be referred to a subsequent regularly called meeting, when a majority vote shall be required for adoption.
(Constitution, Chapter 5)
DEFINITION OF MEMBERSHIP
- All students who profess the Christian faith as it is set forth in Chapter 2 of the constitution and are willing to participate in the life of a congregation committed to the Lutheran understanding of the faith may be members.
- Lutheran students may retain membership in their home congregations while participating as members in the student congregation. Membership in the Student Congregation shall cease at the time of termination with the college. Transfer of membership to a regular congregation shall be from the home congregation.
- Students from non-Lutheran congregations also may become members of the Student Congregation while holding membership in their home congregations.
- Students with no church membership shall be welcomed and encouraged to seek further instruction in the Christian faith.
- Non-baptized students shall be welcomed and encouraged to seek instruction in the Christian faith leading to their baptism. The sacrament of baptism shall be granted to those who desire it after proper instruction.
- Participation in the Lord’s Supper is open to all.
(Constitution, Chapter 7)
- All congregational meetings shall open and/or close with the Word of God and prayer, except when held in conjunction with a worship service.
- The president of the congregation shall preside at the congregational meeting unless the meeting otherwise decides.
- Fifteen per cent of the voting members shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.
- In the following cases the vote shall be by ballot:
- To elect the members of the church council.
- To amend the constitution or by-laws of the congregation.
- To suspend or dismiss any officer of the congregation.
- In all matters not specifically provided herein, procedure shall be according to Robert's Rules of Order, Revised.
(Constitution, Chapter 8)
DUTIES OF OFFICERS, COUNCIL, AND COMMISSIONS
- Duties of the president, secretary and treasurer shall be as described in the constitution.
- The vice-president of worship assists the pastor(s) in the spiritual care of the Student Congregation. She/he shall be responsible for communion services, regular worship services, vespers services, and special services presented by the congregation. The vice-president of worship shall be responsible for organizing all volunteers for these services.
- The vice-president of life and growth seeks to enrich the spiritual lives of students through various fellowship experiences, such as pre- and post-worship gatherings, Bible study groups, and fellowship retreats. In these and other ways, this office works to encourage and enhance personal and community growth in a welcoming environment.
- The vice-president of extra-campus activities is responsible for the Student Congregation's involvement outside of the St. Olaf campus. This includes concerns for the worldwide issues of hunger, poverty, and human rights and relationships with other churches in Northfield, the Cannon River Conference, and the ELCA.
- The vice-president of stewardship is responsible for promoting and encouraging good stewardship of both time and money. This includes advocating for involvement in on- and off-campus projects such as Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, Bread for the World, Fair Trade, etc.
- From time to time, the congregation may choose to add temporary members to the council for specific purposes, such as serving as a liaison to other Christian or interfaith groups on campus. These officers, like the others, shall be elected annually in the spring. One model of such an office is as follows:
- The CAN (Christian Activities Network) Representative shall act as an appointed representative of the Student Congregation to the greater St. Olaf Christian community. The CAN Representative attends regular meetings of the Christian Activities Network and works alongside leaders of other campus Christian organizations to share important information between groups, organize campus-wide Christian fellowship events, and nurture collaboration and mutual support across the St. Olaf Christian community. The CAN Representative then reports back to the Student Congregation Council in order to ensure dialogue between the Council and this wider community.
REPORTS OF COMMISSIONS AND COMMITTEES
- All commissions and committees shall submit a report of their activities for the year. These shall be kept on file in the office of the congregation.
- All commissions and committees handling funds shall submit accounts to the treasurer prior to the semi-annual meetings and the treasurer shall include such accounts in her/his report to the meetings.
- Pastors are expected to keep accurate record of ministerial acts and this record shall remain the property of the congregation.