By-Laws

Section 1. Annual meeting

The Council shall hold an annual meeting the day prior to the opening of Synod. Two weeks prior to this meeting the home office shall send to each of the members of this Governing Missions Council a reviewed statement of all accounts which has been procured by the Treasurer from an independent CPA. Reports from each of the fields are also due to the Field Director no later than one month prior to the meeting. At the annual meeting the Council shall receive these reports, evaluate the work of the fields, elect officers, and new Council members, and conduct any other business that may come before it.

Section 2. Special meetings

Special meetings of the Council may be called at any time by the President with the concurrence of the Executive Committee, and shall call a meeting on receipt by the President of a written request by one-third of the membership of the Council. The President will then contact all Council members, stating not only the time and place of the meeting, but also the business intended to be transacted; and this correspondence shall be sent at least fourteen (14) days before the time of the meeting.

Section 3. Quorum

A majority of the Council shall constitute a quorum.

Section 4. Elections

The Council shall choose from its own number a President, Vice President, Treasurer, and a Recording Secretary. The term of the President shall be for one year, and he may succeed himself twice, becoming eligible for the office again after being out of the office for one succeeding term. The Council may extend the number of consecutive terms a President may serve at their pleasure by three-fourths vote. The same term applies to the Vice President. The terms for Treasurer and Recording Secretary are for one year, with no limit on the number of succeeding terms the office may be held. The Council shall also hire a Field Director to serve at the direction of the Council.

Section 5. Candidates

a) All Candidates to Presbyterian Missionary Union should apply first to the Field Director. Forms containing a series of questions and instructions will then be sent to the applicant. Candidates must then be able to give evidence of true spiritual life, a genuine calling to the field, and adequate educational preparation for the task in view. The applicant shall qualify in training to the level deemed necessary by the Missions Council for the ministry to which he will be commissioned. All candidates ought to have sufficient Bible training to enable them to engage in some aspect of the gospel ministry. Ordained men shall meet the qualifications set forth in the Form of Government, Chapters 13, 14 of the Bible Presbyterian Church. The applicant must be a member of a Bible Presbyterian Church or of a church viewed by our Synod as a sister church. Candidates must also provide evidence of physical fitness for service abroad. The Missions Council may appoint a foreign national to the field on which he resides to serve according to the same terms as US personnel, with the difference that salary support levels will reduce over time to encourage local support of local leadership.

b) If the Candidate appears to possess all these qualifications he will normally appear before the Council itself for acceptance. A three-quarters majority vote of those in attendance is required. In special circumstances, however, where time is a factor the candidate may meet with the Executive Committee. And if the Executive Committee is unanimously in favor, it may on behalf of the Council accept the Candidate as a missionary appointee.

c) After acceptance by the Council, the appointee must become familiarized with the policies and operation of the Council to the full satisfaction of the Field Director before beginning deputation in the churches. The PMU Council requires of all PMU missionary candidates the completion of a Deputation Seminar prior to fund raising and a Pre-Field Orientation upon raising sufficient funds to prepare for departing to their field. These training meetings will be conducted by the PMU Staff as needed. Arrangements for candidate orientation, deputation, final commissioning service and departure shall be determined by the Field Director and the appointee.

d) A missionary appointee will not be sent to the field until he has fully raised the pledged support he needs for his work. Proper accounting of funds received must be made to the Home Office on a regular basis in accordance with the Travel Reimbursement Policy published in the Foreign Missions Manual.

e) The appointee will be considered a full member of the Mission upon arrival on his designated field. Membership involves the responsibility to maintain effective service in the country in which he may be serving; to demonstrate harmonious fellowship in work with other members and national workers; and to acquire effectively the language of the people to whom he will minister.

f) A missionary is encouraged to retain membership in his home church throughout his missionary   career. Transfer of membership to a national church is permitted upon approval of the home church or presbytery and the Missions Council of the Presbyterian Missionary Union.

Section 6. Job Descriptions

a) Missionary.

i) A missionary working outside the United States with Presbyterian Missionary Union may be engaged in either ministerial/pastoral duties or non-ministerial/pastoral duties. He or she must meet the general requirements as codified in By-Laws: Section 5, Candidates.

ii) A missionary in a pastoral role must fulfill all the requirements of a minister as codified in the Form of Government of the Bible Presbyterian Church (BPC), General Synod. The pastoral office is open only to men in the BPC. He must be called to gospel ministry to serve on a particular field by his presbytery in accordance with the standards and practices set forth in the BPC form of Government for the ordination and installation of any other minister. He will either be actively seeking to establish new BP churches, develop existing BP congregations, or serve in a similar capacity in support of indigenous churches with a goal of raising up presbyteries where none exist, and supporting national presbyteries which are doctrinally and politically in harmony with the Bible Presbyterian Church, General Synod. He may also be involved in educational ministries, medical ministries if he is otherwise qualified to do so, and other activities to engage the culture in which he is living as much as possible. In addition to pastoral duties of preaching, teaching, counseling, administrating the sacraments, evangelizing, and discipling converts, he will also be responsible for raising the funding necessary to keep him and his family on the field, with the aid of the Home Office. He will keep an orderly account of his finances related to the mission and report on all mission activities monthly. He will be expected to contribute regularly to the publications of PMU as scheduled by the Home Office, annual reports to the Missions Council, and return to the United States as regularly as convenient to maintain good contact with his supporters. He will be subject to a formal evaluation every three to five years by the Field Director.

iii) A missionary in a non-pastoral role, while not a pastor, is expected to be a person, either male or female, of high moral character, approved by his or her local church Session for mission service and recommended to PMU for that service. Any number of ancillary or support occupations may be engaged in, whether in direct support to a missionary pastor or church, or in stand-alone ministries such as teaching, medical work, evangelism and discipleship, translation work, ministries of mercy, and so on, all with an effort to support the local church as much as possible. He or she will also be responsible for raising the funding necessary to keep himself or herself on the field, with the aid of the Home Office. He or she will keep an orderly account of his or her finances related to the mission and report on all mission activities monthly. He or she will be expected to contribute regularly to the publications of PMU as scheduled by the Home Office, provide annual reports to the Missions Council, and return to the United States as regularly as convenient to maintain good contact with his or her supporters. He or she will be subject to formal evaluation every three to five years by the Field Director.

b)  Church Planter. (Approved 2018)

i) A church planter must meet all the qualifications required of a licentiate or a minister by the Constitution of the Bible Presbyterian Church, General Synod, and be either a licentiate or an ordained minister in that Church, installed in his ministry by the appropriate regional presbytery. (By-Laws: Section 5 – Candidates)

ii) A church planter’s duties shall include outreach to the community with the goal of establishing a new congregation through Bible teaching and preaching, evangelism, leading in worship, administering the sacraments if ordained, youth work, counselling, pastoral care of the sick and infirm, and other ministry-related activities.

iii) The church planter is bound to uphold his church planting duties as a licentiate or an ordained minister in accordance with the Constitution of the Bible Presbyterian Church, General Synod, which is composed of the denomination’s Form of Government, Book of Discipline, and doctrinal statement codified in the Westminster Standards (Confession of Faith, the Larger Catechism, and the Shorter Catechism).

iv) Church planting is a full-time/part-time position, and the minister’s salary package will be set by the Council.

v) A church planter will be assigned to work a specific location, as chosen by the PMU Council in conjunction with the presbytery of the church planter.

vi) The church planter will be supervised by the PMU Field Director in cooperation with the regional presbytery of which the church planter is a member.

vii) Monthly reports of the church planter’s work and activities are required by the PMU office.

Section 7. Engagement and marriage

a) Married Candidates, or engaged couples contemplating missionary service together as husband and wife, will be received only when both parties have been examined and are considered acceptable. This does not mean that married women are expected to do the same work as their husbands. It does mean that they, like their husbands, should be physically and spiritually qualified to fulfill their own particular role.

b) If any missionary, regardless of time spent on the field, marries a person not acceptable to the Council, this automatically cancels his, or her, relationship to the Council.

Section 8. Furlough

a) The term of service shall typically be four years. The length of furlough will vary according to the circumstances on the field and the needs of the individual missionary, and will be approved by the Field Director. Exceptions to these rules will be at the discretion of the Council. Travel to one’s field is counted as part of the missionary term and travel home for furlough is part of the furlough time.

b) When it is necessary for anyone to return on an unscheduled furlough, whether for sickness, or whatever the cause, the field station chairman shall communicate such need with the Field Director. No one shall leave the field without the permission of the Council.

c) Missionaries on furlough will be expected to cultivate continuing missionary interest in his supporting churches, to develop new support where it may be needed, and also to cooperate in the overall work of the Missions Council whenever possible.

d) Missionaries must leave their belongings in such a way that they can readily be packed for shipment by a responsible party should the missionary not return to the field.

e) Extended or medical furlough may be granted by the Missions Council for special reasons, such as health, finances, educational advancement, or special assignment. The extension is for six months only with support. Any exception to this must receive review by the Missions Council.

f) If a missionary returns home and requests an extension of their leave of absence, it is normally granted for a period of a year and is without support. Termination shall be required if circumstances indicate the missionary will not be returning to the field.

Section 9. Resignation and dismissal

a) Resignation

i) A missionary who desires to resign from service under the Council must, if on the field, give six months’ notice to the Council through the field station chairman (or Field Director if no field station chairman exists); if at home, one month’s notice to the Council is required. Such resignations must be in writing, and preferably should state the reason(s) for resignation. Before any resignation is made, a personal interview with the field station chairman or Field Director is desired. The Council should allow for ample time in its estimation for response, according to the varying circumstances on each particular field.

ii) The first half of the missionary’s term on the field shall satisfy the donor’s investment in sending that missionary to the field. The last half of the missionary’s term of service shall warrant the expense of returning the missionary to his home.

1. Should a missionary resign from the Council for reasons other than health prior to having reached the mid-term, a proportionate share of the returning expenses will be charged against whatever balance the missionary has in his/her ministry fund

2. If the missionary resigns after his mid-term, the cost of his returning home will be shared by the Council and the missionary in proportion to the amount of the second half term served.

iii) A missionary who resigns within his first two years of service shall receive two months’ salary.

iv) A missionary who resigns with between two and four years of service shall receive three months’ salary from the date of leaving the field.

v) Missionaries with a full term of service or more shall receive six months’ salary and full travel expenses, unless the missionary has been on a paid furlough for three months or more, in which case the salary amount shall be reviewed.

vi) Any missionary account balance remaining at the effective date of resignation will be redirected to another comparable ministry at the discretion of the Council at the annual meeting.

vii) Upon resignation of a missionary/employee, any and all expenditures (e.g. salary, expense reimbursement, travel, retirement, health insurance, etc.) will cease from the date of resignation, except for the severance support listed above.

b) Termination

i) The Council shall be at liberty at any time for reasons sufficient to itself to discontinue the services of any missionary, such an action requiring a two-thirds majority vote of the Council, unless prohibited by the laws of the State in which the PMU office is located. In cases of misconduct involving any breach of the law of God in personal or public behavior, the Executive Committee may suspend or terminate the missionary’s working relationship with PMU, subject to the approval of the Council. If appropriate, the Executive Committee may also work with the missionary’s court of original jurisdiction to determine culpability and the appropriate course of action according to the Book of Discipline and the agency’s personnel policies. The Council should allow for ample time in its estimation for contact and response, according to the varying circumstances on each particular field.

ii) Upon termination of a missionary/employee, any and all expenditures (e.g. salary, expense reimbursement, travel, retirement, health insurance, etc.) will cease from the date of termination. As regards the employee’s ministry fund balance, any positive balance will be re-designated at the discretion of the Council at the annual meeting.

iii) A missionary who is terminated by the Council shall only be entitled to severance benefits at the discretion of the Executive Committee as it deems the missionary’s circumstances prompt such a consideration and funds are available in the missionary’s ministry account.

c) Retirement Policy

i) Retirement benefits are available at age 62 and after a minimum of 15 years of service. Retirement benefits may be granted by the Council to an individual with less than 15 years of service or prior to age 62, if the Council determines in its sole discretion that circumstances warrant such a consideration.

ii) No retirement age is set by PMU; however, the missionary will be evaluated prior to service (as per PMU’s By-laws 5(a)), and thereafter as circumstances may dictate during his or her time of service to ensure he or she is physically and mentally able to continue the appointment.

iii) Missionaries are requested to give their Field Director no less than one year’s notice as to their expected retirement date.

iv) Retirement Severance Package

When an employee retires under good circumstances and with a positive ministry fund balance, PMU will pay the missionary additional funds, not to exceed their remaining balance, as part of their retirement package.  The PMU Council will determine the method, amount, and timing of retirement benefits. These details will be approved at the annual Council meeting prior to the date of retirement.  Retirement benefits may be paid through an employee’s salary in any combination of the following three methods:

1. Additional contributions to their 403b account in an amount up to the maximum permitted by law and over a period of up to five years following retirement.

2. A bonus may be paid as all or part of a severance package over a period of time specified by the PMU Council. A severance bonus may be a predetermined amount or may be determined after contributions to the 403b account.  If determined after 403b contributions, the motion regarding a missionary’s retirement package may read as follows:  “additional amount of up to $____ approved to be paid as an employer contribution to the individual’s 403(b) account, subject to applicable contribution limits.  Any amount exceeding applicable contribution limits will be paid to the individual as a severance bonus.”

3. PMU is a non-ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) entity, and so is not subject to COBRA requirements. Therefore, payment of health insurance benefits for retired employees in our group health plan may not be possible after retirement if the employee is not eligible to continue his or her insurance under the provisions of the health insurance policy. If the employee is eligible, PMU will continue payment of insurance premiums contingent upon the availability of funds.  For employees utilizing medical sharing plans, PMU will continue payment of sharing contributions, also contingent upon the availability of funds. In either case, the amount paid shall not exceed the amount paid for such services at the time of their retirement.  Should raised funds be insufficient, the retired employee must either pay the amount lacking from personal funds or obtain less expensive coverage.

v) Missionary Donors

1. The Council will set a final date for accepting donations for the retiring missionary’s ministry fund.

2. A missionary can be asked to communicate with their donors to request continuing support of missions through another PMU missionary or the PMU General Fund.

3. The PMU office will announce to donors the missionary’s retirement and ending support date.

vi) Once the employee retires (regardless of age or length of service) or otherwise leaves our employment, the organization’s obligation for future retirement benefits of any kind ceases (other than those listed in point c. iv.).

Section 10. Relations to the government

a) All missionaries shall be subject to the laws and regulations of the government of the country in which they serve, except where these conflict with the will of God as revealed in the Word of God. The field station chairman or his authorized substitute is the only person to make an appeal to or deal with the government in general.

b) Nationals are fellow-laborers in the gospel and must be encouraged to their own level of leadership in the gospel work. Nationals are to be included in planning, setting goals, and decision making of the ministry.

c) In Countries with mature national Presbyterian churches, missionaries are encouraged to serve with national leaders on joint committees which will recommend to the Missions Council such mission projects as will benefit the national church and further the goals of PMU.

d) In new areas of missionary endeavor, the missionary involved should retain a leadership role. In areas where the work is already established and where the nationals can assume leadership, the missionary role should be that of co-worker.

e) Ecclesiastical autonomy (the maturity to the power and right of self-government) is granted to a national church established by PMU missionaries when that church is prepared to step out on its own and has already developed its own ecclesiastical courts (church sessions, presbyteries and a synod or general assembly) and is in agreement with the Bible and the Westminster standards. Distribution of any mission property involved shall be mutually agreed upon.

f) PMU may offer assistance to overseas ministries and churches according to the following terms:

i) All gifts shall be channeled either through a sponsoring church or the Treasurer of the Presbyterian Missionary Union.
ii) Disbursement shall be through the advice or even the administration of the missionary or missionaries on the field.
iii) Money shall be raised only for responsible churches or ministries, proven to have wisely administered funds previously.
iv) That a regular, consistent pattern of giving by the nationals to the requested project or a similar need can be demonstrated.
v) That all grants be made in small amounts and on a plan of reduction if the giving is to be of the nature of a continuing matter, in order to stimulate self-support.
vi) That where larger amounts are needed, the money be granted as a loan, without interest or at low interest; on a matching-fund basis involving the nationals; or on a percentage basis involving the nationals.

Section 11. Mission property

a) The field station chairman is responsible for all Mission property at his station, a list of which shall be entered in the station account book. Everything on the station except personal effects is included in the term, “Missions Property,” and is understood to be the property of Presbyterian Missionary Union.

b) Buildings on the Mission stations, even though built by private monies, belong to the Presbyterian Missionary Union. Under no circumstances must any property, stores, vehicles, tools, medicines, etc. be disposed of without the consent of the local Mission acting under the guidance of the Council.

c) Missionaries are not to own property (real estate) on the field.

Section 12. Station and Mission meetings

a) Each Station on a given field shall have an annual meeting to conduct business and prepare reports for the annual meeting of that field’s Mission, which is to be held shortly thereafter. More frequent meetings may be held as needed, and all minutes forwarded to the PMU headquarters.

b) At the annual meeting of a given field’s Mission, officers are to be elected with the results being forwarded to the Council. The choices for Mission Chairman and Mission Treasurer shall be subject to the approval of the Missions Council.

c) The field station at its annual meeting shall also consider all problems concerning the general promotion and well being of the work in its sphere. And it shall send a detailed report of these deliberations and conclusions to the Council by the middle of April of each year. This report will include a plan and a budget for the upcoming year.

d) Major decisions of a financial nature or involving the ministry of that field shall not be made without first consulting with the headquarters of Presbyterian Missionary Union.

e) Decisions that would greatly affect a missionary on furlough may only be made after consultation with both the missionary and the mission headquarters.

f) Extent of authority of the field council shall extend only to the sphere of its own ministry. The Mission Council of the Presbyterian Missionary Union shall have final determination in all decisions made.

Section 13. Duties of the Mission Chairman

a) He shall preside over all meetings of the field station and fulfill all functions as the executive responsible for his particular field according to the duties established in this Constitution and By-laws.

b) He shall carry on the official Mission correspondence with the Board and with the government of the country in which he is working.

c) He shall visit regularly the various Stations on his field to evaluate, advise, and report home concerning the work being done.

d) He shall convene field station meetings as may be necessary from time to time and not less that once every year.

Section 14. Duties of the Mission Treasurer

The Treasurer shall receive, account for, and disburse all field station funds in accordance with the policies of the Council. He is responsible to the Field Station Chairman and shall work in accordance with the directives of the Council Treasurer.

Section 15. Emergencies or field crises

a) In the event of an emergency situation requiring absence from the field, the missionary shall first request a leave from the Executive Committee through the Field Director. The terms of such a leave, if granted, shall be at the discretion of the Executive Committee.

b) It shall be the policy of the Presbyterian Missionary Union that no negotiations shall be entered into with hostage-takers. Ransom, giving in to demands or any other kind of acquiescence to terrorists shall not be considered.

c) Missionaries on the field are empowered to act upon their own authority to preserve their lives and PMU property in times of immediate crisis. Missionaries should attempt to communicate with the Field Director as soon as possible in such situations. The Missionary shall seek not to inadvertently endanger the lives of the national Christians at such times.

d) Times of crisis can be very traumatic for families of missionaries, especially if the missionary is single and female. PMU, the missionary, and the missionary’s parents are bound by the principle of vows found in Numbers 30:3-5, “If a woman makes a vow to the LORD, and binds herself by some agreement while in her father’s house in her youth, and her father hears her vow and the agreement by which she has bound herself, and her father holds his peace, then all her vows shall stand, and every agreement with which she has bound herself shall stand. But if her father overrules her on the day that he hears, then none of her vows nor her agreements by which she has bound herself shall stand; and the LORD will release her, because her father overruled her.” Once the single, female missionary is commissioned by PMU with her father’s approval, her status for the purposes of accountability is the same as for male or married missionaries under PMU.

e) Each missionary shall prepare and file with the office an emergency plan for their field following the general guidelines of the Emergency Procedures Manual adapted for the unique situation on any given field.

Section 16. By-Laws

a) The By-Laws may be amended only by a two-thirds majority vote of those in attendance at a duly called meeting of the Council. Notice of proposed amendments must be given in writing to all Council members at least two weeks in advance to the meeting. And if said amendment visibly affects any missionary or missionaries in the organization, opportunity must be given to these to voice their opinions before.

b) These By-Laws may be suspended under extraordinary circumstances by a ¾ vote of the Council members present.

c) This body shall as general rule follow the principles of parliamentary procedures as codified in Robert’s Rules of Order in areas not specifically addressed by the Constitution or By-Laws.

d) This document, the Constitution and By-Laws, should be read carefully from time to time in order that each Council member and missionary may ever keep true to the objective of the organization, to its principles, and its methods. The exact meaning of any point contained, or any question not covered herein, shall be decided by the Council.

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