GCI-USA Church Development and Administration (CAD) recently emailed the primary pastoral leader in each U.S. congregation to let them know that revised editions of several GCI policy manuals have been posted at http://www.gci.org/go/manuals. Here are excerpts from the email’s summary of revisions to the manuals:
1. Church Administration Manual
- The primary change has to do with defining three types of GCI-USA congregations: chartered churches, chartered fellowship groups and non-chartered fellowship groups. The “fellowship group” categories, which are new for us, are a response to the reality that we have many very small congregations that need the freedom to operate in ways more appropriate to their size and other constraints and opportunities. All congregations with an average attendance of 15 or fewer people will be classified as fellowship groups and your regional pastor will work with you to determine if such congregations should operate as “chartered fellowship groups” or “non-chartered fellowship groups”—the revised manual explains the difference.
- We have set a new policy for the way our congregations are named. This policy applies to new congregations and to established congregations that wish to change their name.
- We have eliminated all reference to the licensing of elders. Our experience has been that the licensing procedure is no longer useful and so has been altered. Under the new policy, elders will be ordained but not licensed. When an elder is ordained, they will be given an appropriate title (such as lead pastor) in accordance with their particular pastoral leadership assignment within the congregation in which they serve. That assignment is not permanent, but the ordination as elder is permanent so long as the elder complies with the code of ethics for elders and otherwise remains a GCI member in good standing, and continues to want to serve as an elder. In keeping with this new policy, we’ve posted a revised ordination/appointment application at http://tinyurl.com/hrhycay. This form is to be used to apply for elder ordination and to apply to be appointed as a member of a pastoral team or as a fellowship group facilitator.
- We’ve made minor updates to the section that describes our denominational corporate structure at the international level. Further updates will be made in a few months with final approval of our new denominational articles of incorporation and bylaws. As Dr. Tkach announced in the 2014 regional conferences, we’ve been working toward this major step for the last few years and we’re just about complete.
- We’ve streamlined our grievance, discipline and appeals process to make it less cumbersome, expensive and time-consuming for all involved. There now are fewer levels in the process with the final point of review for grievances and appeals being the relevant regional pastor.
- The Pastoral Continuing Education Guide is now published as Appendix F in the Church Administration Manual. Pastors and pastoral team members, please pay close attention to this appendix as it pertains to steps you are expected to take in furtherance of your education as a GCI-USA pastoral leader.
2. Financial Management Manual
Changes to this manual mostly have to do with updating terms and a few procedures related to our standard financial management system used by chartered churches (and now by chartered fellowship groups). Pastors, please pay particular attention to the section listing financial reports required from chartered churches and chartered fellowhip groups. If you or your treasurer are having difficulty getting these reports completed accurately and on time, the folks in our Treasurer’s office in Glendora are happy to assist you.
3. Church Building Manual
Changes to this manual are minor, related mostly to updating terminology connected with our recently implemented regional structure.
4. GenMin Handbook
- Added a section on reporting accidents/incidents
- Added a section that prohibits using 15-seat passenger vans
- Added a standard incident report form