Approved April 10, 2002
Whereas, The administrative structure of the Community of Christ is currently administered through "Rules of Order" adopted April 6, 1952, and amended several times
since that date; and
Whereas, World Conference Resolution 1248, "Field Organization," adopted April 18, 1996, established a procedure for experimentally administering some jurisdictions of the church through a single
mid-level jurisdiction known as a "Mission Center"; and
Whereas, The World Church Leadership Council has evaluated the concept of administering the church through such an administrative structure and have found,
through various methods of evaluation, that this structure would be of benefit to the mission of the church; and
Whereas, The term "Rules of Order" generally refers to principles of parliamentary procedure used by an
organization, while the term "Bylaws" generally refers to the basic rules by which an organization is governed; and
Whereas, It is now appropriate to make several additional changes to the basic governing procedures
of the church; now therefore be it
That the following Bylaws be adopted as the foundational governing document establishing the administrative and governance structure of the Community of Christ to replace the existing Rules of Order; and be it further
Resolved, That the following World Conference Resolutions shall be rescinded by the adoption of these bylaws: WCR 1156 (Robert's Rules of Order), WCR 1237 (World Conference Delegate Selection), WCR
1244 (Common Consent for Regions without Conferences), and WCR 1248 (Field Organization); and be it further
That the existing jurisdictions of the church shall remain in place until field consultations and administrative approvals establish Mission Centers to replace them, which should take place no later than July 1, 2004.
Bylaws of the Community of Christ
Article I - Name
The name of this church shall be "Community of Christ."*
Article II - Purpose
The purpose and mission of the
church is to proclaim Jesus Christ and promote communities of joy, hope, love, and peace. The church envisions a time when the promise of God's kingdom shall be fulfilled. We have a vision of that kingdom where the name
of Jesus Christ is truly honored, where God's will is done on earth, where the hungry are fed, poverty is alleviated, sinners are repentant, and sin is forgiven.
We believe that love is the proper foundation of our
relationship with others, that opportunity to grow in the likeness of Christ should be fostered, and that the resources of the world can be managed to respect and preserve their creation and purpose. We have a vision of
a time when all evil is overcome and peace prevails.
We will be an international community of prophetic vision, faithful to the risen Christ, empowered by hope, spending ourselves courageously in the pursuit of peace
Article III - Theocratic Democracy
Section 1. Definition.
The church, as defined by President Joseph Smith III, is a theocratic democracy. It was brought into being by divine initiative, is guided and administered by divine authority, is sustained by the light of the Holy Spirit, and exists for divine purposes. In response to divine initiative, members share responsibility for governing the church. "…all things must be done in order and by common consent in the church, by the prayer of faith" (Doctrine and Covenants 27:4).
Section 2. Priesthood.
The government of the church is by divine authority through priesthood. It should be noted that the government of the church is through priesthood, not by priesthood. The distinction is important. Ministers must first of all be disciples. Disciples are those who seek to transform this world into the kingdom of God and Christ. In no other way can their claim to divine authority become rich and meaningful.
Section 3. Priesthood Calls.
The basic principles pertaining to priesthood calls are that all calls shall be initiated by appropriate administrative officers, shall receive necessary administrative approvals, shall be presented to the candidate for acceptance, and shall be approved by an appropriate conference of members. Specific procedures are established by the First Presidency.
Section 4. Common Consent.
A basic principle of decision making in the Community of Christ is common consent. Common consent respects the rights of the people to assent to the general conduct of business within the church and to sustain those called of God to provide leadership. Common consent is exercised when members assemble in conferences in congregations, mission centers, and at the World Conference. Leadership is exercised through the responsibility of presiding officers and members to make proposals to the various conferences to which they are responsible and through recognizing that these conferences have the responsibility to review such proposals, to share points of view, and to vote as they feel led by the Holy Spirit.
The rights of the body are safeguarded through the process of common consent as follows:
a. By the guidance of the Holy Spirit in calling members to the priesthood. All priesthood members are to be ordained according to the gifts and callings of God unto them, and they are to be ordained by the power
of the Holy Spirit, which is in those who ordain them.
b. By the requirement that calls to the priesthood be presented for approval to an appropriate conference.
c. By the right of
approval and disapproval which rests with the people who are asked to sustain World Church leaders at World Conference, and local leaders at local conferences.
d. By the requirement that all things be
done with due regard for the duties and privileges of other ministers and members and in harmony with the legislative enactments of the body.
e. By the provisions for correcting disorder (Doctrine and
Covenants 122:10, 126:10).
f. By the understanding that, for the good of all, properly selected leaders must be allowed to do their work without undue interference, subject always to the provisions
made to cover special situations.
Section 5. Leadership and Administrative Functions.
Leadership and administration is through members of the priesthood, acting according to their several callings and with the consent of the church. Supervisory leadership of the ministries of the church is vested in the following groups:
a. The First Presidency
is composed of the president and two counselors, and they preside over the whole church. This includes responsibility for the World Conference, field ministries, priesthood quorums and orders, and headquarters functions.
b. The Council of Twelve Apostles
is responsible for the evangelistic witness of the church. Individual apostles may be assigned to various responsibilities of church leadership, including field administration.
is composed of the presiding bishop and two counselors. They are the chief financial officers and trustees of the church, and are responsible for the administration of the temporal affairs of the whole church.
Together these groups function as the leadership body of the church known as the World Church Leadership Council. To this council, from time to time, additional persons are added because of the unique contribution
they make to the administrative, programmatic, or missionary ministries of the church.
Other leadership functions are vested in the following councils, quorums, and orders:
- Council of Presidents of Seventy
- Quorums of Seventy
- Quorum of High Priests
- Order of Bishops
- Order of Evangelists
Section 6. Legislative Functions. Legislation is considered and enacted in World Conference, mission center conferences, and in congregational conferences. These conferences meet at the call of the
responsible administrative officers, at times and places determined by the bodies concerned, or without such provisions at times and places set by the responsible administrative officers.
a. Authority of Conferences.
Each conference has authority to legislate for those it represents, insofar as it does not usurp rights lawfully centered elsewhere. Accordingly, no congregational conference can legislate for its mission center, such as requiring certain acts on the part of mission center leaders, and no congregational or mission center conference can enact binding legislation on matters of World Church importance.
b. Limits. No legislative body can rightfully take to itself administrative or judicial functions.
c. Right to Nominate. It is the right of all members to make nominations
in filling elective offices in the jurisdictions of the church, but this action in no sense denies the right of presiding officers to present concurrent nominations for the filling of such elective offices nor does
it suppose that every office should be filled by election. Often program assistants are appointed by presiding officers and sustained by the appropriate conference.
Section 7. Judicial Functions. Every effort should be made to resolve conflicts through the ministry of reconciliation. In extreme cases, where such efforts are unsuccessful, members and
administrators may have access to church courts for protection or redress. The First Presidency has the authority to determine whether any case is appropriate for assignment to a church court. Church court procedures
are developed by the First Presidency and approved by the Standing High Council in accordance with scriptural provisions and principles of due process.
Article IV - Conferences
Section 1. Conferences.
Conferences are the legislative bodies of the church. They may be regular or special. Generally, regular conferences shall be held annually or otherwise as agreed upon by those who constitute their membership. They
may represent the church at large, a mission center, or a congregation. They are subject to the jurisdiction of the First Presidency, members of the Council of Twelve, and appropriate mission center presidents or
Section 2. World Conference.
The World Conference is the highest legislative body in the church and should be organized with primary reference to its legislative functions. The World Conference is constituted according to the provisions of the rules of representation and is empowered to act for the entire church. In the World Conference and in a general assembly, the First Presidency shall preside. In case of the absence or disqualification of the First Presidency, the Council of Twelve shall so function.
a. Leadership in the World Conference.
Members of the First Presidency, the Council of Twelve Apostles, the presiding evangelist, the Presiding Bishopric, the church secretary, the presidency of the Quorum of High Priests, and the presidents of Seventy shall have voice and vote in the World Conference and shall not be eligible to serve as delegates from any jurisdiction. The functioning of the quorums, councils, and orders is considered important to the World Conference; they shall have access to the conference through their presiding officers. The presiding officer of the conference may grant voice to those whose contribution is considered to be beneficial to the conference.
b. Delegates to the World Conference.
Mission centers are authorized to elect delegates to the World Conference. Delegates are members of the World Conference to which they are elected and are entitled to voice and vote at its meetings.
c. Basis of Representation. The number of delegates to the World Conference shall be apportioned to approximate a total of 2,800 persons. Each mission center shall be entitled to two delegates. Additional
delegates, in a number adequate to bring the total to approximately 2,800, shall be apportioned among the mission centers according to their membership enrollment.
The Credentials Committee shall determine enrollment of each jurisdiction as of one year prior to the convening of the World Conference and shall use that enrollment as a basis for allocating delegates from each jurisdiction. At least ten months prior to the convening of the World Conference, the Credentials Committee shall inform the president of each mission center of the number of delegates to which that mission center is entitled.
e. Qualifications for delegates. The only qualification for eligibility as a delegate to the World Conference shall be membership in good standing in the church.
Delegates shall be seated as members of the conference and entitled to vote in the conference's proceedings upon registering with the Credentials Committee. Each mission center should provide the Credentials Committee with a certified list of the delegates and alternates according to procedures approved by the First Presidency.
g. Delegate voting.
In general, each person seated as a delegate at the World Conference shall be entitled, when present, to cast one vote each time a vote is taken. In extraordinary circumstances, or in situations where a jurisdiction cannot send to the World Conference the number of delegates to which it is entitled, the First Presidency is authorized to implement alternate voting procedures subject to the consent of the World Conference.
Section 3. Field Jurisdiction Conferences.
Conferences of mission centers or congregations are regular gatherings authorized by a congregation, a mission center, or by the presiding officer of these jurisdictions. The member of the Council of Twelve who has administrative supervision may also call a conference if the need arises. These conferences have to do with the common interests of the church members within the specified areas. Mission centers have the option of providing for delegate conferences. In such cases the mission center conference is authorized to determine the basis for representation.
Section 4. Special Conferences. Special conferences may be called by the First Presidency for the World Conference; by the mission center president for mission center conferences; and by the pastor
for congregational conferences. In emergencies special conferences may also be called by the supervising administrative officer having jurisdiction. The call for special conferences shall specify the purpose of the
conference and only business mentioned in the call of the conference may be transacted.
Article V - Congregations
Section 1. Organization of congregations.
Congregations are the foundational missional units of the church where participants live out their discipleship. While numbers, complexity, and style may vary significantly, the ability and commitment to meet regularly as a community of disciples with a sense of common identity is the hallmark of each congregation. Congregations are formed by the authority of the field apostle in consultation with local church leaders, and with a vote of those who will make up the proposed congregation. Congregations are disorganized by the authority of the field apostle following consultation with local church leaders. Congregations should be primarily responsible for their own operations and ministries. Support for congregations beyond their ability to provide (e.g., legal, information systems, risk management, real estate, and human resource services) is the responsibility of the mission center and/or the World Church. Congregations are responsible for maintaining current membership data according to World Church guidelines.
Section 2. Congregational officers.
Congregations have the freedom to organize themselves in ways that functionally promote the congregation's vision of Christian mission. Even so, annually each congregation shall elect a presiding officer, known as the pastor, and sustain the appointment of a financial officer. The appointment is made by the mission center financial officer. This should be done at a regular congregational conference or at one specifically called for that purpose of which due notice shall have been given. Congregational leaders should keep the mission center leaders fully informed of the condition of the congregation and should have frequent consultation with the mission center leaders.
Section 3. Congregational conferences. Congregational conferences shall be convened at least once annually and at such other times as are determined by action of the body. Congregations may consider
legislation relating to congregational affairs. They may also consider legislation relating to the affairs of their mission center and recommend its enactment by that mission center's conference. Congregational
conference actions shall be in harmony with, and subject to, mission center conference actions, World Conference action, and subject to the advice of the mission center leaders and World Church officers concerned.
Special conferences may be called by the congregational pastor. All congregational conferences shall be scheduled by the pastor in cooperation with the mission center president. The mission center president shall
receive adequate notice and should be invited to offer any suggestions or nominations he or she may desire to present. In emergencies, and especially when a congregational pastor is incapacitated or the congregation
shall have fallen into disorder, the mission center president may request or call a congregational conference; in this or any other necessary situation the mission center president may recommend procedure, present
nominations for office, or do such other things as will best protect the interests of the church. When these interests shall require, the mission center president may take over direction of the congregation for a time,
administering the work thereafter-either directly or indirectly-until a more permanent arrangement can be made. If the mission center president is thought to have proceeded unlawfully in any of these matters, appeal is
to the supervising field apostle.
Section 4. Notice of Conferences.
Normally notice of all congregational conferences should be given to the members of the congregation at least two weeks prior to the congregational conference and should also be sent to the mission center president and to such other officers as might be concerned with the business to be transacted.
Section 5. Quorum.
For the transacting of all business at a congregational conference, unless otherwise provided by the conference, six or more members present at any properly called meeting shall constitute a quorum. However, it is the responsibility of every member of the congregation to attend congregational conferences, both regular and special.
Section 6. Presiding.
The pastor presides over congregational conferences. At the request of the pastor, or in the pastor's absence, the counselors may preside. Members of the First Presidency, Council of Twelve, or mission center staff may be asked to preside as a courtesy or in view of special circumstances.
Section 7. Responsibilities of the presiding officer.
It is the responsibility of the presiding officer to bring to the attention of the body such matters as may require consideration or action; to enforce observance of the rules of order with decorum and propriety; to secure, as far as possible, a due respect and regard for the laws governing the church as contained in the scriptures, mission center and World Conference enactments, and administrative procedures approved by the First Presidency.
Section 8. Emerging Congregations.
In the early stages of congregational development, groups such as house churches, expansion groups, cell groups, etc., may be established by the mission center president or the field apostle. By definition, such groups are not fully self-sufficient and require significant support from other congregations or the mission center. The groups may have conferences from time to time as necessary with the approval of the mission center president. Lines of administration shall be established by the mission center leadership with the approval of the field apostle. Lines of financial accountability shall be established by the mission center leadership based on guidelines established by the Presiding Bishopric and with the approval of the field apostle. Such groups may be granted full congregational status by the field apostle in consultation with the mission center leadership and with a vote of those who will make up the proposed congregation.
Article VI - Mission Centers
Section 1. Purpose.
Mission centers exist to support congregations, facilitate church expansion, and provide linkage between World Church ministries and congregations. Mission centers may vary in size and composition and may be organized on the basis of contiguous congregations, congregations within the same political boundary, congregations that share similar cultural or social identities, or such other criteria as may be determined by the World Church Leadership Council. Key functions include, but are not limited to:
- pastoral support of congregational leaders;
- leadership skill development;
- congregational consultant ministries;
- missionary ministries;
- church planting;
- congregational crisis support;
- financial resource development and support;
- specialized ministries (e.g., children, youth, young adult, singles);
- coordination of periodic celebration events (e.g., reunions, camps, conferences, etc.);
- technical assistance to congregations (e.g., legal, risk management, real estate, etc.);
- human resources; and
- essential administrative functions (e.g., implementation of World Church policies, priesthood administration, pastoral supervision, etc.)
Mission centers shall provide for the networking and grouping of congregations to encourage mutual support, foster church identity, pursuit of common causes, and to provide fellowship, leadership development, and
celebration opportunities (e.g., reunions, camps, retreats, and leadership development programs).
Mission centers are responsible for coordinating the management, creation, maintenance, and disposition of campgrounds,
administrative offices, and other ancillary facilities and entities that exist within the scope of the mission center's responsibility. Multi-jurisdictional associations may exist for these purposes as well.
Section 2. Formation of Mission Centers.
Mission centers are formed by the approval of the World Church Leadership Council with appropriate consultation. Factors to be considered when determining the configuration of mission centers shall include, but not be limited to:
- former jurisdictional ties (e.g., district, stake, and regional configurations);
- shared congregational interests, styles, and concerns; and
- geographic proximity.
Section 3. Mission Center Organization.
Mission center organization should be kept as simple as possible. The primary purpose is to support the ministry of congregations and promote the expansion of the church. Therefore, the mission center's focus should be on ministry and witness rather than on administration. In areas of relatively high membership density, leadership availability, and financial capacity, it may be necessary for mission centers to be more highly structured. Such a decision should be made with the concurrence of the field apostle. The principles of stake and district organization as described in various sections of the Doctrine and Covenants may serve, where helpful, in guiding mission center organization.
a. Mission Center President. Mission center presidents are appointed by the World Church through procedures established by the First Presidency. They are sustained by the Mission Center
Conference and are supervised by the field apostle. The mission center president is the primary representative of the World Church to the congregations that compose the mission center. The mission center president
is entrusted with the care and direction of the center's congregations through the properly selected pastors of these congregations and of the nonresident members of the mission center directly or through a
nonresident pastor. It is the responsibility of the mission center president to plan the extension and development of the work of the church within the mission center. Mission center staff members and congregational
pastors report to and are supervised by the mission center president.
b. Mission Center Financial Officer. Mission center financial officers are appointed by the World Church through procedures
established by the First Presidency. They are sustained by the Mission Center Conference and are supervised by the mission center president. Mission center financial officers have specific trustee responsibilities
in which they are subject to the direction and counsel of the Presiding Bishopric. They are responsible for such trusteeship to the appropriate conference and to the president of the mission center according to the
provisions of the related budget.
Section 4. Mission Center Councils.
Each mission center shall establish a mission center council, a standing body whose primary purpose is to advise mission center officers and staff on matters affecting the core functions of the mission center. Mission center councils shall be established according to World Church guidelines.
Section 5. Mission Center Conferences. Ideally, mission centers should convene conferences at least annually. Mission center conferences are authorized to transact business relating to the
enhancement of ministry and expansion of the work within the mission center. Enactments of a mission center conference are confined to matters of concern to the mission center, including the approval of mission center
budgets, the election of World Conference delegates, and the approval of legislation to be proposed for World Conference consideration. Mission center conference actions shall be in harmony with, and subject to, World
Conference action and subject to the advice of the World Church officers concerned. Mission centers may convene special conferences as needed. If in the determination of the mission center president in consultation with
the field apostle, the mission center is unable to convene a mission center conference at least annually (e.g., geographic distance, prohibitive cost, etc.), then the mission center council shall be responsible for
establishing procedures through which necessary conference decisions shall be made subject to the approval of the field apostle within World Church guidelines and policies.
Mission centers have the option of providing
for delegate conferences. In such cases the mission center conference is authorized to determine the basis for representation.
The field apostle shall receive notice of the mission center conference and should be
invited to offer any suggestions or nominations he or she may desire to present. In emergencies, and especially when a mission center president is incapacitated or the mission center shall have fallen into disorder, the
field apostle may request or call a mission center conference; in this or any other necessary situation the field apostle may recommend procedure, present nominations for office, or do such other things as will best
protect the interests of the church. When these interests shall require, the field apostle may take over direction of the mission center for a time, administering the work thereafter-either directly or indirectly-until
a more permanent arrangement can be made. If the field apostle is thought to have proceeded inappropriately in any of these matters appeal through the administrative line.
Section 6. Notice of Conferences.
Normally notice of all mission center conferences should be given to the various congregational pastors within the mission center at least four weeks prior to the mission center conference and should also be sent to the supervising field apostle and to such other officers as might be concerned with the business to be transacted.
Section 7. Quorum.
For the transacting of all business at a mission center conference, unless otherwise provided by the conference, six or more members present at any meeting for which proper notice has been given shall constitute a quorum. However, it is the responsibility of every member of the mission center to attend mission center conferences, both regular and special.
Section 8. Presiding Officer.
The mission center president presides over the mission center conference. At his/her request or absence, another member of the mission center staff may be chosen to preside. Members of the First Presidency, Council of Twelve, or their authorized representatives may be asked to preside as a courtesy or in view of special circumstances.
Section 9. Responsibility of the presiding officer.
It is the responsibility of the presiding officer to bring to the attention of the conference such matters as require the consideration or action of the mission center; to require observance of the rules of order with decorum and propriety; and to secure, insofar as he or she is able, a due respect and regard for the laws governing the church as contained in the scriptures and World Conference enactments.
Article VII - World Church Fields
Section 1. Nature of Fields. World Church fields are established by the First Presidency and are groupings of mission centers. Fields are flexible in nature and
their configuration will change periodically. The focus of ministry at the field level is to support mission centers in their efforts to support congregations and grow the church.
Section 2. Supervising Ministers. The First Presidency appoints members of the Council of Twelve to supervise fields.
Article VIII - Parliamentary Authority
The rules contained in the current edition of Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised
shall govern all conferences of the church in all cases where they are culturally appropriate and where they are not in conflict with these rules of order or any special rules of order adopted by the appropriate conference. In cultures where
Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised is not known or generally used, locally appropriate rules shall be utilized to guarantee the rights of individuals and groups to participate fully in the deliberative process.
Article IX - Amendments
These rules of order may be amended at any World Conference by a two-thirds vote, provided that the full text of such proposed amendments are published in the Herald
at least sixty days prior to the convening of the World Conference during which they will be considered.
* The name "Community of Christ" was established by the World Conference through WCR
1268 (April 7, 2000), and the new name became effective April 6, 2001. WCR 1268 also provided that "the name 'Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints' remain legally binding and be retained for
Approved April 12, 2002
1275. Whereas, The Community of Christ has a long history of involvement in ecumenical and interfaith
organizations and activities dating back as far as the participation of Joseph Smith III, W.W. Blair, and other church leaders in the Parliament of World Religions in 1893; and
Whereas, The 1980 World Conference
endorsed the participation of the World Church in interdenominational Christian ministries where such participation did not require the World Church to "(1) alter or abandon any of the traditional beliefs and practices
of the church, (2) endorse any creeds or theological positions which are inconsistent with any of the traditional beliefs and practices of the church, or (3) commit a disproportionate share of the church's resources of
time, money, or personnel" (WCR 1170); and
Whereas, The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America (NCCC-USA) and the World Council of Churches (WCC) have demonstrated positive
leadership in facilitating dialogue between faith movements; and
Whereas, The witness of the Community of Christ will be enhanced by cooperation with other faith movements in the pursuit of peace and justice while
allowing the unique message of the Community of Christ to be given wider voice through ecumenical and interfaith ministries; and
Whereas, Through the Path of the Disciple objectives the First Presidency has called the
church to "work in cooperative endeavors with other faiths"; and
Whereas, Without a single national church jurisdiction in the United States, there is no appropriate conference other than the World Conference for the
church in the United States to consider the question of membership in the NCCC-USA; and
Whereas, The NCCC-USA and the WCC do not require the endorsement of creeds or require the alteration or abandonment of any
traditional beliefs and practices of the Community of Christ; and
Whereas, Membership in the NCCC-USA and the WCC would not require the commitment of a disproportionate share of the church's resources of time, money,
or personnel; therefore be it
That the World Conference express its support for the Community of Christ entering into membership with the NCCC-USA and the WCC within the next two years; and be it further
That the Community of Christ enter into dialogue with the NCCC-USA and the WCC regarding an appropriate relationship between the Community of Christ and these ecumenical/interfaith organizations; and be it further
That the World Conference urge national churches in the various nations in which the Community of Christ is formally established to investigate and consider membership in appropriate ecumenical/interfaith organizations in those nations; and be it further
That the First Presidency appoint a standing World Church committee on ecumenical and interfaith relations to serve as a link between the Community of Christ and interdenominational, interfaith, and other carefully selected mission-oriented groups.
Sexual Abuse of Children
Approved April 13, 2002
1276. Whereas, Sexual abuse of children is a problem that exists worldwide; and
Whereas, Victims of sexual abuse,
both past and present, will often seek counsel from pastors, priesthood members, and church leaders regarding sexual abuse; and
Whereas, Other Christian denominations are currently under close scrutiny due to their
lack of education and a timely appropriate response to alleged cases of abuse; and
Whereas, There is an added, serious sense of betrayal felt when the perpetrator is a member of the clergy and that our own church with
its priesthood and leaders cannot consider itself to be beyond the risk nor immune to this serious problem; therefore be it
Resolved, That the church's program and policies continue to include
classes and information for pastors, priesthood members, parents, youth workers, and others in matters regarding sexual abuse of children, to include how to recognize sexual abuse, how to mitigate sexual abuse and how
to assist the victim in their recovery process within appropriate parameters of our role as ministers; and be it further
Resolved, That the church continue to make this program and these policies
available throughout the Community of Christ; and at the next World Conference a report from the Presiding Bishopric be given regarding continued implementation of this program and policies; and be it further
Resolved, That the World Church Leadership Council encourage all pastors, priesthood, and youth workers to complete and follow the program and policies that have been developed.