Our life together as followers of Christ at Hyattsville Mennonite Church must be one that invites others to join us in this journey. We extend a welcoming hand to all who want to join with us, who confess their faith in Christ as Lord of their lives and commit themselves to a life of discipleship and mutual care. We may receive new members in one of several ways.
1. New members are received by means of a faith decision. Those making a first profession of faith are given appropriate instruction over a period of time, and are then baptized.
2. a. New members are received by transfer from other churches of Anabaptist tradition; or,
b. new members are received by transfer from other Christian churches. If they were baptized as infants, we invite them to signify their adult faith decision by receiving believers’ baptism. They are also instructed in the distinctive beliefs associated with the Mennonite church.
3. Persons who have not been associated with their church home for some time may also be received by a reaffirmation of their faith, and may be rebaptized.
Generally, prospective members become acquainted with the congregation by sharing in its life. We expect that prospective members will also discuss issues of faith with the pastor and become familiar with our constitution. We encourage these first steps for all new members. When the pastor discerns a readiness for membership in the candidate, s/he will recommend the person to the pastorate. If the pastorate approves, the candidate’s name is published in the church bulletin for three weeks before a date set for reception of new members. Subject to any further counsel from the congregation, the person is welcomed as a member of the congregation. We encourage new members to reflect publicly on their faith journey as part of the service.
Hyattsville Mennonite Church also offers associate memberships to people attending church for a limited period of time, and who wish to be identified formally with the congregation. We grant this temporary, 24-month membership to members of other Christian churches on request from the candidate, and on the recommendation of the pastorate. Associate members are understood to retain their membership in a home church, but to have all rights and responsibilities of membership in this congregation.
Rights of Membership:
- Members receive care counsel from their fellow members and the pastor.
- Members may vote in congregational meetings.
- Members may chair committees, and serve on the council and the pastorate.
Responsibilities of Membership:
- Members participate in caring for each other and in giving counsel.
- Members contribute to the life of the congregation through their gifts and talents.
- Members contribute as they are able to the financial support of the congregation.
Church Structure and Organization
Hyattsville Mennonite Church is organized into three principal bodies, the church council, the pastorate and the trustees, all of whom are elected by the congregation. Together these bodies assure the basic operation of the church, and they are distinguished by the fact that all who serve on them are affirmed by the congregation and generally serve multiple-year terms. The church pastor carries out his/her duties together with the church council, the pastorate and the trustees. (If there are multiple pastors, then throughout this document the term “pastor” applies to each pastor or to the pastoral team.)
The church council is a forum for a series of standing committees that carry out ongoing tasks associated with congregational worship, service and community building, as well as ad hoc committees created for short-term, specific tasks and projects. It operates as the basic administrative arm of the congregation, overseeing and coordinating work among standing and ad hoc committees, as well as between the pastorate and trustees. Representatives of all of these groups attend council meetings; the pastorate and trustee chairs report to the council.
The pastorate particularly addresses the spiritual care of the congregation and advises the pastor in matters of spiritual or personal concern among the congregation, or in matters that involve the pastor. The pastor is a nonvoting, ex officio member of both the council and the pastorate.
The trustees have legal standing for Hyattsville Mennonite Church. They oversee financial/business and physical plant issues.
Current Chair: Janelle Tupper
The council coordinates the group activities of the congregation, maintains a balance between the resources and needs of the congregation, assists the committees and special interest groups in their work, assists in developing new programs as needed, recommends to the corporation programs that require budgeting and prepares agendas for congregational action, such as personnel appointments or programs. The council may form ad hoc committees as needed. On recommendation from the pastorate the council appoints people to fill unexpired terms of office.
The council convenes the annual congregational meeting, at which the annual budget is approved. Additional member meetings may be called at the council’s request or that of at least 25 percent of church members. These meetings are announced at least two weeks before they take place.
The church council comprises the congregational chair, the chair-elect, the chair of the pastorate, standing committee chairs, the trustee chair, the treasurer and the pastor(s). The congregational chair presides as council chair and over congregational meetings. The congregational chair-elect serves as vice-chair. The chair and chair-elect positions are each a one-year term filled successively by the same individual, so that all who serve as council chair have served the year previous as chair-elect. Elections for chair-elect take place annually. If the congregational chair resigns or, for any other reason, is unable to fulfill his/her duties, the congregational chair-elect shall serve as the congregational chair for the remainder of the vacated term. The chair-elect shall then serve his/her entire elected term as chair.
The church council maintains meeting minutes, allocating responsibility among council members at its discretion, which it forwards to the church office for filing. Council meetings are open to any member of the congregation, but voting rights are reserved for council members only. The council sets its own meeting schedule; special meetings may be called by a quorum of three or more members. The council has a job description that it may edit to detail its tasks, as long as the description fits within this covenant.
Current Chair: Peter Goering
Attention to spiritual concerns and congregational life is vested in the pastorate. It has six main areas of responsibility:
- to invite and foster spiritual growth;
- to extend care to people in need within the congregation;
- to help people to get to know each other;
- to make visitors feel welcome;
- to discern gifts of members in the congregation; and
- to approve new members.
Discerning gifts includes providing a process by which the congregation affirms its leadership. The process includes helping to find committee candidates and submitting a ballot to the church council for affirmation and then to the congregation for a final vote.
In addition to discerning gifts, the pastorate appoints an individual to schedule for Rolling Ridge Study and Retreat Center, a Mennonite Mutual Aid advocate, and the planning committee for Mennonite Church and Church of the Brethren spiritual enrichment.
The pastorate is the primary reference group for the pastor(s), who assist(s) in the work of the pastorate, and is assisted by its members.
Congregational requests may come to the pastorate through any of the members. The pastorate is responsible to the congregation, from which it receives its mandate. It includes the chair, chair-elect, past chair and at least two at-large members. Chair, chair-elect and past chair positions are each one-year terms filled successively by the same individual, so that all who serve as pastorate chair have served the previous year as chair-elect and will serve as past chair the following year. Elections for the position of chair-elect take place annually. At-large members serve three-year terms and are elected on alternate years. They may successively serve as chair-elect, chair and past chair as well. If the pastorate chair resigns or, for any other reason, is unable to fulfill his/her duties, the pastorate chair-elect shall serve as the pastorate chair for the remainder of the vacated term. The chair-elect shall then serve his/her entire elected term as chair.
The pastorate meets regularly and chooses its own recording secretary. The pastorate has a job description that it may edit to detail its tasks as long as the description fits within this convenant.
Current Chair: Tim Wiens
The trustees of Hyattsville Mennonite Church:
- represent the congregation in any legal matters concerning real assets owned by the congregation;
- maintain the building and any property the congregation owns;
- prepare and present a budget annually;
- negotiate contracts for paid positions, including the pastor(s), administrative assistant, custodian, worship music and arts coordinator, and so on, on behalf of the congregation, and monitor payments for services, withhold income taxes and negotiate pension plans, health insurance, disability insurance and other employee benefits;
- are custodians for all funds held by the church;
- arrange for an audit of the church’s financial books at least every other year;
- provide a representative to the church council, to which they are accountable.
The trustees are executors for the church’s legal and business affairs and are responsible to the congregation that is the decision making body for issues such as structural growth, staff positions and so on. Members of the trustees include at least four voting individuals elected by the congregation through a gift discernment process, and the church treasurer, who is a nonvoting member. The congregation elects one member two of every three years; in the third year the congregation elects two members.
The treasurer is elected annually and is responsible for monitoring church finances and making quarterly reports to the board. S/he attends church council meetings separately from the trustee representative.
The trustees meet quarterly or as needed to carry on the business of the congregation. They choose a chair annually by mutual consent.
Adult Education Committee
Current Chair: Mitchell Atencio
The purpose of adult Sunday school is “to engage in studies and discussions of Christian faith and life, promoting spiritual growth, nourishing a living relationship with God and mutually supporting one another in our individual journeys” (Vision Statement, 9/23/1990).
The adult education committee’s task is to:
- develop and plan curricula for the adult Sunday school;
- recruit teachers to lead adult Sunday school discussions;
- be open to and actively solicit ideas and issues for discussion;
- encourage involvement of all adults in discussions, in leading discussions, and/or in planning sessions;
- encourage class foundation in people’s own faith experiences and in our own story, and encourage teachers to share honestly out of their own story, and respect the faith experiences of others;
- report to and participate in the church council through the committee chair, who is a member of the council.
The committee is organized annually. The congregation chooses the committee chair through a gift discernment process, and the chair recruits other members of the committee. It meets regularly, as needed, to accomplish its purposes.
Children’s Education Committee
Current Coordinator: Penny Russell
The children’s education committee carries the responsibility of providing a Christian education for our children during the traditional Sunday School hour and for other activities for the children, such as Christmas programs and Children’s Church. The committee is encouraged to draw on Mennonite/Anabaptist curriculum materials, but may also use other nontraditional methods.
The committee works closely with parents and reports to the church council through the committee chair, who is a member of the council. The committee is organized annually. The congregation chooses the committee chair through a gift discernment process, and the chair recruits other committee members. It meets regularly as needed to accomplish its purposes.
Current Chair: Mary Jo Schumacher
The hospitality committee provides and coordinates hospitality in our church community. Committee members:
- coordinate hosts and hostesses for fellowship meals and hot/cold drink servers between Sunday school and morning worship;
- coordinate or provide refreshments for special events, including congregational meetings;
- arrange for lodging for visiting groups;
- organize special hospitality events, such as visitation Sunday;
- ensure that kitchen equipment is in working order, and that kitchen supplies are available;
- inventory and clean the kitchen at least annually;
- recommend a committee activity budget for the annual church budget.
The committee is organized annually. The congregation chooses the committee chair through a gift discernment process, and the chair recruits other members of the committee.
Outreach Service Coordinator: Outreach Ministries
The tasks of the various outreach ministries are to reach out to the needs of the greater Washington, D.C. community, and to encourage, promote and sponsor special events for Hyattsville Mennonite Church. The ministries encourage participation in voluntary services projects and plan for occasional worship services so that the various programs can be highlighted for the congregation. The ministries seek to be a prophetic voice in addressing the issues of injustice that create poverty and oppression in the world and in our community.
The many and varied outreach ministries of the church are represented by the outreach service coordinator on the church council. The service coordinator facilitates communication between ministries when their efforts overlap, between the church leadership and the committee chairs, and between the ministries and the congregation. The service coordinator promotes and celebrates church members’ involvement in service projects.
The congregation chooses the outreach service coordinator, who is a member of the church council, through a gift discernment process.
Current Chair: Meryt McGindley
The worship committee is responsible for planning worship services that:
- invite the congregation to praise and adoration of God and an awareness and
experience of the Holy Spirit’s presence;
- call the congregation to praise and adoration of God and a knowledge of the Holy Spirit’s presence;
- build community through sharing experiences of joys, concerns, prayer and counsel;
- foster careful Scripture study;
- inspire and strengthen faithful living as disciples of Jesus Christ in the Anabaptist/Mennonite tradition.
Committee duties include the following:
- coordinate planning for Sunday worship services and special services for Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter and other special seasons or days;
- provide ways for those attending to be involved in worship and discover or cultivate their gifts in worship leading, song leading or sharing of talent;
- encourage and facilitate creative artistic expression and various styles of worship;
- work closely with the pastor to be sensitive to the congregation’s worship needs;
- regularly evaluate the success of worship services in meeting the committee’s goals; and
- report to and participate in church council through the committee chair, who is a member of the council.
The committee is organized annually. The committee chair is chosen by the congregation through a gift discernment process, and the chair recruits other committee members. The pastor(s) is an ex officio member(s) as well.
Ad Hoc Committees
The church council may appoint ad hoc committees to serve needs or support activities whose scope is limited and/or temporary in nature. Examples of such committees are the building fund committee, organized to assure funding for a proposed church renovation project, and the church polity committee, organized to update the church constitution. Such committees as wish to be included in the congregational budget address their request to the church council and report on their activities to the congregation by way of the council.