Key point 6-02.02. Churches are subject to the provisions of their governing documents, which generally include a charter and a constitution or bylaws (in some cases both). A charter is the state-approved articles of incorporation of an incorporated church. Most rules of internal church administration are contained in a constitution or bylaws. Specific and temporary matters often are addressed in resolutions. If a conflict develops among these documents, the order of priority generally is as follows—charter, constitution, bylaws, and resolutions.
It is important for church leaders to be familiar with the terms charter, constitution, bylaws, and resolution. The United States Supreme Court has observed that "all who unite themselves to [a church] do so with an implied consent to its government, and are bound to submit to it." Watson v. Jones, 80 U.S. 679 (1871). A church's ...
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