St Peter Constitution – in English as it was written

This document was found in the papers of Arthur C. Repp, located in the archives of Concordia Historical Institute located on the campus of Concordia Theological Seminary in St Louis, Missouri. Rev Repp collected this document and others while researching the articles he wrote in the 1930s and 1940s for the Quarterly publication of the Concordia Historical Institute.

Constitution of the German Evangelical Lutheran St Peter’s Congregation, Unaltered Augsburg Confession in and around the colony Serbin, Lee County, Texas.

I. Name

Our church and congregation shall bear the name The German Evangelical Lutheran St Peter’s Congregation, Unaltered Augsburg Confession (U. A. C.) in and around the colony of Serbin, Lee Co, State of Texas.

II. Creed

In our congregation all canonical books of the Old and New Testament are acknowledged as the revealed Word of God and the Collective Symbolical books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, contained in the Book of Concord, as that form and rule, drawn for the Word of God, according to which, because it is taken from the Word of God, not only the doctrine shall be taught and tried in our congregation, but also all occurring controversies in doctrine and religion shall be judged and regulated.These are: The Three Chief Symbols,
1)The Apostle’s Creed, 2) the Nicene Creed, 3) The Athanasian Creed, 4) The Unaltered Augsburg Confession, 5) The Apology for the same, 6) The Smalkald Articles, 7) The Small Catechism of Luther, 8) The Large Catechism of Luther, 9) The Formula of Concord.

III. Pastorship

The office of Pastor in this congregation can at any time be committed to such a minister only, who professes himself to all those confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (as named in section II), without reserve, to which the same as well as the schoolteachers are bound in the call.

IV. Of Divine Service and School Teaching

In public worship only pure Lutheran Hymns and in all performances of ministerial duties only pure Lutheran Forms are to be used. And in school, besides the Holy Scriptures, the Unaltered Small Catechism of Luther and only such books are to be used for instruction in the Christian doctrine, which are pure Lutheran. Parents, who are church members, are obliged either to send their children to the parish school, or to provide otherwise for the education on their children in the pure doctrine.

V. Of Catechetical Exercises

Those members of the congregation, who are yet minors are obliged to attend catechetical exercises, which are to be instituted with them in church.

VI. Of Languages

Our divine services are to be conducted only in the German language.

VII. Of Conditions in Regard to Admission

No one can become a member, still less an officer in the congregation or participate in the rights of a church members, except who, a) is baptized, b) confesses himself to all canonical books of the Old and New Testaments, and to those confessions, as mentioned in Paragraph II without reserve, and whole he may perhaps be yet deficient in the Knowledge of the collective Symbolical Books, before named, at least know and acknowledges the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, and Dr Luther’s Smaller Catechism, c) Does not live in manifest works of the flesh (Galatians 8:19-20) and maintains a Christian deportment, d) often partakes of the holy communion, provided the same belongs to the grown persons; e) signs the church constitution and subjects himself to all these regulations, which are thus far jointly established or which are to be established by a legal resolution of this community, in as much as they are not contradictory to the Word of God and who allows to be advised in brotherly love, whenever he has failed, f) the applicant is also to be asked, whether he belongs to any secret organization.

VIII. Of Exclusion and Seceding

If a member shall be excluded from the congregation, after all degrees of admonition as prescribed in the Word of God (Matthew 18:15-20) had been unsuccessfully applied, the same loses thereby as such all the rights of a member and all claims to the property of the congregation, so long as the same is not readmitted into the congregation. The same shall also hold good in reference to those members, who voluntarily withdraw from connection with the congregation, or who bring about this withdrawal by moving away, if they thereby annul their connection with the congregation.

IX. Of Church Powers

The congregation, as a holy body, has the highest power in the management of all the external and internal ecclesiastical and congregational affairs. No arrangement or decision for the congregation, or for church members as such, has any validity, whether it proceeds for an individual or from a body in the congregation, if it is not made in the name of and according to all general and particular authority, given by the congregation, and whatever is arranged or decided by individuals or smaller bodies in the name of the congregation and according to an authority, given to the congregation, can at any time be brought before the congregation has no right whatever to arrange or decide anything contrary to the Word of God and all the Symbols of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, should she do this, all such arrangements and decisions are null and void.

X. Qualifications in Regard to Voting and Eligibility to Office

a) Qualified to vote are only those male church members, who have arrived at the age of 21 years.
b) Eligible to all offices, that are given the ministry for assistance, are only those, who have already been members qualified to vote for one year.

XI. Of Power Concerning Elders (Wardens)

The present church elders and their legal successors, who are to assist the Pastor, have no more power in the congregation, and have it only so far and so long, as they are commissioned with it by the congregation. The instructions given by the congregation may at any time be altered or repealed by a legal resolution.

XII. Of Privilege to Elect and Call

The right to call and to receive the minister or ministers, the teacher or teachers in the congregation, shall at all times remain with the congregation, and can never be transferred to an individual or to a smaller body in the congregation. All other officers to wit: 1) Trustees are elected on Michaelmas Day for the term of three years; 2) Moderators (presiding officers) and Elders are elected on New Year’s Day for the term of one year by a majority of votes.

XIII. Of Removing from Office

The pastor, schoolteacher and all other officers of the congregation may be released from their office in Christian order. Good causes to remove pastors and schoolteachers are: constant and firm adherence to false doctrine, objectionable deportment, willful unfaithfulness in the discharge of official duties.

XIV. Of Management of Church Property

All property of the congregation is committed to the successive Trustees, elected by the congregation in such a manner that they are to manage the same in the name of the congregation as property belonging to other persons, but entrusted to them, to make contracts in reference to it. To disburse funds, to levy money, to receipt the same, sign documents, appear before court and transact all business, which the congregation as proprietress otherwise would herself have to do – yet in such a manner, that they are authorized to dispose of and manage this property according to their own will and judgment, but to carry out the said transactions only according to legal decisions and instructions of the congregation. And for that, which the Trustees do upon the resolution and instruction of the congregation, the latter has to stand with her property and indemnify the Trustees in every case; but if the Trustees deal with the church property without a resolution or instruction of the congregation, according to their own will, they are personally responsible for the same to the congregation.

XV. Of Proprietorship in Case of Separation in the Congregation

Should a separation arise in this congregation, which may God mercifully prevent – the property of the congregation and all the benefits, connected therewith, shall remain the property of this congregation and those members of it, who abide by the confession of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, and who want their minister to be bound by without reserve to the Collective Symbolical Books (as stated in paragraph II).

XVI. Of Church Meetings (Altered see below)

For a consultative (advisory) – or also for a so called necessary – congregational meeting, it shall be necessary, that at least one fourth of the church members holding the right of suffrage be present; but for a legal (authentic) resolution the agreement of at least two thirds of those present shall be necessary. Each church member is in duty bound, to attend the meetings, if possible, and the absentee renounces on such occasion by his non-appearance his right to vote. A regular meeting shall be announced at least one week previously, that is on two successive Sundays, by the minister or (sermon) reader of the congregation after the sermon, with specification of the main reasons for the same for sufficient consideration; a so called necessary church meeting shall be announced only once with specification of the reasons. As a rule a congregational meeting shall be held on every first Sunday in each month.

XVII. Of Signing Church Documents

All writings proceeding from the congregation, except those mentioned in Paragraph 14, shall be signed by her Elders in office at the time, in her name.

XVIII. Of Preservation of Church and School

Every member is obliged to contribute according to ability:
1) to the support of church and school,
2) to the remittance of all congregational debts, etc.

XIX. Of Admission

Those wishing to be received in to this congregation, have to make known this to the Pastor of the congregation, in order that he many examine them in their Christian knowledge. Hereupon they have to make known their desire for admission to a church Elder, of which the same has to inform the congregation. And if two members, qualified to vote, except the pastor, who has to bear testimony to the orthodoxy of the person to be admitted, can give a good report as to the deportment of the applicant, admission follows by signing these church regulations by the applicant, if the applicant be a male person. The above shall also be valid in regard to single and widowed female persons. If a person from another congregation acknowledged as orthodox asks for admission here, the same as to present letters dismissory.

XX. Unalterable Paragraphs

Unalterable paragraphs in this constitution shall be the following: II, III, IV, VII, VII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVII, and XX.

XVI. Of Church Meetings

A regular meeting is announced twice with specification of the main reasons, in which at least one fourth of the church members having the right of suffrage have to be present. For legal (authentic) resolutions it shall be necessary, that two thirds of the present church members, who have the right of suffrage, agree; the latter shall also hold good for extraordinary meetings. The absentee renounces on such occasion by his non-appearance his right to vote. As a rule, a congregational meeting is held on every first Sunday in each month.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *