By Laws

THE CLASSIS OF SCHENECTADY

OF THE

REFORMED CHURCH IN AMERICA

BY-LAWS

Article I.                              Classis

Section 1.01         The Classis of Schenectady is an assembly and judicatory of the Reformed Church in America.  These By Laws are supplemental to the  Constitution  of the Reformed Church in America, as defined in the Preamble to the Book of Church Order.

Section 1.02         The Classis of Schenectady is a religious organization organized in 1826, and incorporated under the laws of the State of New York.  Articles of Incorporation were filed in the Schenectady County Clerk’s Office on October 14, 1890.  Appendix A is the text of these articles

Section 1.03         Appendix B lists the churches of classis in their official order according to the date of their founding.

Article II.                           Responsibilities of the Classis

Section 2.01         In addition to the responsibilities and duties that derive from the Constitution, classis shall support the ministries of its churches as it determines necessary and appropriate.

Article III.                        Sessions of Classis

Section 3.01         Stated sessions are on the fourth Tuesdays of February, May and October.

Section 3.02         Special sessions may be called in accordance with the Constitution.  No business other than the business stated on the notice shall be conducted at special sessions.

Article IV.                        Officers of Classis and Elections

Section 4.01         The officers of classis are the President, Vice President, Stated Clerk and Treasurer.  The offices of Stated Clerk and Treasurer may be filled by one person.

(a)      If an officer of classis is not a voting delegate according to the Constitution,  he or she may not vote at a stated or special session of classis, except that any officer acting as President may vote to break a tied vote.

(b)      The Stated Clerk shall be compensated as determined by classis.

(c)      The Treasurer shall be compensated as determined by classis.


Section 4.02         Election of officers shall be undertaken as follows:

(a)      All enrolled ministers and all elders of classis churches are eligible for election, except for those who are under discipline.  In addition, all deacons of classis churches are eligible for election to the Office of Treasurer.

(b)      Elections will be held at the May stated sessions of classis, or, if there is a vacancy,  as described in Section 4.04(b) below .

(c)      A single slate of candidates shall be presented by the Human Resources Committee.  Additional nominations for each office may be made from the floor, but shall be limited to those who are present.

Section 4.03         Terms of office are as follows:

(a)      The terms of office for President and Vice President are one year or until a successor is chosen.  The President and Vice President may be reelected to a second consecutive term, but not to a third consecutive term.

(b)      The terms of office for Stated Clerk and Treasurer are three years, or until a successor is chosen.  Each may be elected to consecutive terms.

(c)      Terms of office begin at the close of the electing meeting.

Section 4.04         Vacancies will be filled as follows:

(a)      The Vice President shall become the President if the office of the President is vacant.

(b)      Vacancies in the offices of Vice President, Stated Clerk or Treasurer shall be filled for the un-expired term by election as described above in Section 4.02(c) at the next stated session, or at a special session called for that purpose.

Section 4.05         The President shall, in addition to the duties set forth in The Constitution:

(a)      Appoint the following with the advice of the Executive Committee:

·         Members of the permanent committees of classis, except the Operations Committee.

·         Chairpersons of the permanent committees of classis.

·         Members and chairpersons of the special committees of classis.

(b)      Nominate people to serve on the Operations Committee at the October stated session with the advice of the Executive Committee.

(c)      Preside at ordinations and installations.

(d)      Appoint supervisors of churches without installed senior or sole pastors upon the recommendation of the Pastoral Search and Supervision Committee.

(e)      Present a State of Religion in Schenectady Classis report at the stated May session.  The President shall consider the annual consistorial reports when preparing this report.

Section 4.06         The Vice President shall:

(a)      Assume the duties of the President if the President is absent.

Section 4.07         The Stated Clerk shall, in addition to those duties set forth in the Constitution, and those required by the General Synod, the General Synod Council, and those required by the Regional Synod of Albany:

(a)      Assume the duties of the President if the President and Vice President are both absent, or if these offices are vacant.

(b)      Keep a faithful record of classis actions and serve as the steward of classis records.

(c)      Keep an up-to-date roster of permanent and special committee members, their terms of office, and advise the Executive Committee when those terms are expiring.

(d)      Provide for effective communications within the classis, with other classes, and with the regional and general synods.

(e)      Give the chairperson of the Church Oversight Committee copies of the responses to the annual constitutional inquiries submitted by the ministers and elders.

(f)       Serve as a resource member of the Operations Committee.

(g)      Appoint delegates to the synods in an organized and timely fashion according to the following:

·         Elder delegates will be appointed upon nomination from their consistories in rotation based on the official order of the churches, Appendix B.   Consistories that decline the privilege of making such a nomination, or consistories that fail to make a nomination by the Stated Clerk’s deadline will be moved to the bottom of the rotation.  Consistories whose appointed elder is not able to attend may nominate another for appointment.

·         Minister delegates and their alternates will be appointed in rotation according to the date they last attended the synod in question, except that no minister will be appointed who has not been a member of classis for at least 18 months at the time of the deadline for appointment.  A minister who for any reason declines appointment will be treated as if he or she attended the synod, and will have his or her name moved to the bottom of the rotation.

·         The Stated Clerk will inform the classis at the February stated session of the current year’s and following year’s appointments.

(h)      Distribute at the February stated session a roster of the classis officers, minister and elder delegates, and committee members.

Section 4.08         The Treasurer shall:

(a)      Receive and deposit money paid to classis.

(b)      Distribute money as directed by classis.

(c)      Notify the churches of any assessments the classis may assign and set a schedule for receiving the payments.

(d)      Serve as a resource member of the Operations Committee.

(e)      Prepare draft income and expense budgets for the Operations Committee.

(f)       Prepare a financial report for each stated session of classis or as directed by the Executive Committee.

(g)      Advise the Church Oversight Committee whenever a church becomes delinquent in paying any of its assessments.

Article V.                           Transaction of Business

Section 5.01         The following, in order of priority, guide classis in its transaction of business:

(a)      The Constitution of the Reformed Church in America

(b)      These by-laws

(c)      The current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order

Section 5.02         Classis shall approve or amend the agenda presented by the Executive Committee at the start of each session.  Following such approval, changes to the agenda must be approved by a two-thirds majority.

Article VI.                        Executive Committee of Classis

Section 6.01         The membership of the Executive Committee of classis will consist of the:

(a)      President

(b)      Vice President

(c)      Stated Clerk

(d)      Treasurer

(e)      Chairperson of each of the permanent committees defined below.

(f)       Immediate Past President

Section 6.02         The Executive Committee shall:

(a)      Act on behalf of classis between stated sessions, unless otherwise required by the Constitution  or these by laws.

(b)      Develop the agendas for stated and special sessions of classis.

(c)      Monitor the work of the permanent committees of classis and hold them accountable for their assigned tasks.

(d)      Advise the President on appointments to the permanent and special committees of classis, except the Operations Committee.

(e)      Advise the President on nominations of people to serve on the Operations Committee.

(f)       Advise the President on appointments of chairpersons for the permanent and special committees of classis.

(g)      Report or refer the actions of the regional or general synods, or other bodies as appropriate, to the classis or to the appropriate permanent or special committee for action or advice.

Article VII.                     Committees of Classis

Section 7.01         The permanent committees of the classis are the:

(a)      Operations Committee

(b)      Ministry Oversight Committee 1: Commissioning, Certification and Staffing

(c)      Ministry Oversight Committee 2: Licensure, Ordination and Care

(d)      Church Oversight Committee

(e)      Pastoral Search and Supervision Committee

Section 7.02         The duties of the permanent committees:

(a)      The permanent committees assist classis in the fulfillment of its constitutional responsibilities.  These by-laws assign specific areas of responsibility for this assistance to the permanent committees below.

(b)      The permanent committees are also responsible for any other matters assigned to them by classis.

Section 7.03         Membership and Terms of Office

(a)      The members of the permanent committees are those active confessing members of classis churches or enrolled ministers appointed by the President, except that members of the Operations Committee are not appointed but are elected by classis at the October stated session upon nomination by the President, and except that membership on the Pastoral Search and Supervision Committee is limited to elders or enrolled ministers.


(b)      The terms of office for permanent committee members are three years, except that the terms of office for members of the Operations Committee are five years, and except that the terms of office for members of the Pastoral Search and Supervision Committee are three years or longer, as indicated in Section 12.01.b.  Permanent committee members may be appointed to consecutive terms.

Section 7.04         Special Committees

(a)      Classis or its Executive Committee may direct the President to form a special committee for any purpose.

(b)      Special committees are temporary.  Upon forming a special committee, classis will clearly define the specific task or tasks given to the committee as well as the terms of office of those appointed to serve on it.

Section 7.05         Chairpersons

(a)      Chairpersons of the permanent and special committees are appointed by the President.  Chairpersons will be elders or enrolled ministers.

(b)      Chairpersons will always have the privilege of the floor at stated or special sessions of classis, but will vote only if they are voting delegates as defined in the Constitution.

Article VIII.                  Operations Committee

Section 8.01         The members of the Operations Committee are the Trustees of Schenectady Classis pursuant to our Articles of Incorporation.

Section 8.02         Membership

(a)      The Operations Committee will consist of five members, including the chairperson.  In addition,  the Stated Clerk and Treasurer will serve as resource members without vote.

(b)      The terms of office of the five members will be staggered so that one member will be elected each year at the October stated session of classis.

Section 8.03         The duties of the Operations Committee are to:

(a)      Manage any real or personal property belonging to classis, and advise classis on the investment, expenditure or disposition of such property.

(b)      Advise classis whenever a consistory seeks permission to encumber its church’s property or incur a total indebtedness greater than two-thirds of its prior year’s expenditures for congregational purposes, as reported to the General Synod.

(c)      Review proposed income and expense budgets prepared by the Treasurer, and present these budgets to classis at the October stated session.

(d)      Advise classis on matters of insurance, investments, and other financial matters as requested by the Executive Committee.

(e)      Review the financial records of the Treasurer annually and present a report at the February stated session of classis.

(f)       Review the performance of the paid officers of classis, and recommend the amounts of their compensation to classis.

Article IX.                        Ministry Oversight Committee 1: Commissioning, Certification and Staffing

Section 9.01         Membership

(a)      The Ministry Oversight Committee 1 shall consist of six members, including the chairperson.

(b)      The terms of office of the six members will be staggered so that two members will be appointed or reappointed each year.

Section 9.02         The duties of the Ministry Oversight Committee 1 are to:

(a)      Assist classis in fulfilling the requirements of the Book of Church Order regarding the:

·         Commissioning and supervision of Preaching Elders.

·         Commissioning and supervision of Commissioned Pastors.

·         Certification and supervision of Associates in Ministry.

(b)      Present a single slate of candidates for classis officers at the May stated session of classis or as otherwise required.

(c)      Keep current a data base of people eligible to serve on the permanent and special committees of classis for use by the Executive Committee.

Article X.                           The Ministry Oversight Committee 2: Licensure, Ordination and Care

Section 10.01     Membership

(a)      The Ministry Oversight Committee 2 shall consist of six members, including the chairperson.

(b)      The terms of office of the six members will be staggered so that two members will be appointed or reappointed each year.


Section 10.02     The duties of the Ministry Oversight Committee 2 are to:

(a)      Assist classis in fulfilling the requirements of the Book of Church Order regarding the:

·         Supervision of Students of Theology.

·         Certificates of Fitness for Ministry

·         Supervision of Licensure and Ordination

·         Reception of Ministers and Licensed Candidates of other denominations.

·         Supervision of Ministers of Word and Sacrament.

(b)      Recommend minimum standards of clergy compensation to the classis at the October stated session.

(c)      Assist the classis in providing pastoral care for its enrolled ministers and their families.

Article XI.                        Church Oversight Committee

Section 11.01     Membership

(a)      The Church Oversight Committee will consist of six members, including the chairperson.

(b)      The terms of office of the six members will be staggered so that two members will be appointed or reappointed each year.

Section 11.02     The duties of the Church Oversight Committee are to:

(a)      Assist classis in fulfilling the requirements of the Book of Church Order regarding the superintendence of the churches.

(b)      Arrange for a minister of classis to superintend the dissolution of a pastoral relationship.

(c)      Review the answers given by the ministers and elder delegates to the annual constitutional questions, arrange for timely and appropriate classical response, and present a report to classis at the May stated session.

(d)      Meet with the consistory of any church that does not  stay current with its assessments or does not fulfill the Constitution’s or classis’ minimum requirements for clergy compensation.

(e)      Receive and review the requests of consistories that seek financial help and bring advise to the classis. 


Article XII.                     Pastoral Search and Supervision Committee

Section 12.01     Membership

(a)      The Pastoral Search and Supervision Committee will consist of nine members: the chairperson, who may be either a minister or an elder,  plus four ministers and four elders who comprise four minister/elder teams

(b)      The terms of office of the members will be staggered so that the members of each minister/elder team have concurrent terms.  Moreover, the terms of office of a minister and elder actually serving as a team supervising a search will be extended until the search is completed.

Section 12.02     The duties of the Pastoral Search and Supervision Committee are to:

(a)      Advise the President on the appointment of supervisors for consistories without an installed senior pastor.

(b)      Assist a consistory without an installed senior or sole pastor in contracting for interim pastoral services.

(c)      Advise classis whenever a consistory seeks to enter into a contract for ministerial services.

(d)      Assist the Search Committees of churches seeking a senior or sole pastor according to the most recent  Pastoral Search Handbook published by the Reformed Church in America.

(e)      Provide for a minister and elder of classis to attend meetings of consistories without installed senior or sole pastors.

(f)       Serve as the agent of classis in arranging the installation of any pastor.

Article XIII.                  Policies of Classis

Section 13.01     Policies of Classis

(a)      Each permanent committee will develop detailed, written policies pursuant to their areas of responsibility, and present them to classis for approval as necessary or as directed.

(b)      The above policies will be appended to these by-laws as Appendix C.  Policies may be changed by a simple majority of classis at any stated session or at a special session called for that purpose.

Article XIV.                  Amending the By-Laws

Section 14.01     These by-laws may be amended at any stated session by a two-thirds vote of the voting delegates present, provided that a majority of voting delegates approved the amendment at a prior stated session or special session called for that purpose.

Section 14.02     Appendix B may be changed by the Stated Clerk whenever it is necessary due to the organization or closing of a church.


Appendix A

Articles of Incorporation

State of New York

Schenectady County

We C P Ditmars, A C Lewell, Lauren Vanderveer, Norman F Nickerson, Robert Doig, T H Reeves citizens of and residents within the State of New York whose names are herewith annexed do hereby certify that we have associated together for Missionary, Mission and Sunday School purposes and for the furtherance of the religious opinion of the Reformed Church in America (formerly known as the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church in America), that the Corporate name of the incorporation shall be “The Classis of Schenectady of the Reformed Church in America,” and of that name this society shall be known in law.

That the said society shall be under the management of five trustees, one of whom shall be elected annually on the 3rd Tuesday of September of each year to serve for the term of five years.

That the following are the names of the trustees who will manage its concerns for the first year:

Thomas H Reeves to serve for 5 years

James J Marlette to serve for 4 years

Simon H Vedder to serve for 3 years

Abram Van Vranken to serve for 2 years

George C Stanford to serve for 1 year

We do further certify that the place of business or principal office of said association shall be in the County of Schenectady, NY.

In witness whereof we have presented our hands and seals this 14th day of September, 1890.


Appendix  B

The Churches of Schenectady Classis in their Official Order

The official order of the churches of Schenectady Classis is by their date of organization.

Church                                                                                                    Date of Organization

    1.     First Reformed Church of Schenectady                                                  1680

    2.     Niskayuna Reformed Church                                                                 1750

    2.     Helderberg Reformed Church                                                                 1767

    3.     Old Saratoga Reformed Church                                                              1770

    4.     First Reformed Church of Rotterdam                                                      1784

    5.     Amity Reformed Church                                                                        1802

    6.     First Reformed Church of West Glenville                                               1813

    7.     Fort Miller Reformed Church                                                                  1817

    8.     First Reformed Church of Scotia                                                             1818

    9.     Bacon Hill Reformed Church                                                                 1820

  10.     Second Reformed Church of Rotterdam                                                 1823

  11.     Lisha’s Kill Reformed Church                                                                1852

  12.     Mont Pleasant Reformed Church                                                            1892

  13.     Bellevue Reformed Church                                                                    1893

  14.     Altamont Reformed Church                                                                    1896

  15.     Woodlawn Reformed Church                                                                 1909

  16.     Trinity Reformed Church                                                                        1931

  17.     Lynnwood Reformed Church                                                                 1956

  18.     Christ Community Reformed Church                                                     1966