Doctrinal Basis and Constitutional Changes Approved
At an Extraordinary General Meeting of FIEC held during 2023 Leaders’ Conference, member churches voted to make changes to the FIEC Doctrinal Basis, Women in Ministry Ethos Statement, and our CIO Constitution.
These changes were first trailed to member churches in March 2023 and had been discussed by Trustees at length during meetings in February and June this year. The changes bring theological clarity to our beliefs about marriage, as well as amending a section of our Women in Ministry Ethos Statement and updating our Constitution to allow online meetings.
Marriage in the Doctrinal Basis
The EGM voted to approve a new Doctrinal Basis which makes a clear statement on marriage. Increasingly, some churches becoming CIOs are not adopting the current FIEC Doctrinal Basis because it does not make a Biblical statement on what we believe about marriage.
During the meeting, Chair of the Trust Board Ian Jones explained that this is necessary because some professing evangelicals are now coming to different conclusions about marriage. In addition, this amendment clarifies where we would separate from others who cannot affirm these beliefs which we believe represent the clear teaching of Scripture.
The approved changes see a reworking of the existing section 3 in the Doctrinal Basis on “The Human Race”. This will now be split into two new sections entitled “Humanity” and “The Fall”.
These changes required a 75% majority to pass, and 92% of churches voted in favour of the proposal, thus the motion passed.
Amendment to the Women in Ministry Ethos Statement
The current Ethos Statement on Women in Ministry was adopted by FIEC churches in 2011 to bring clarity to our fellowship as a grouping of complementarian churches. It was then updated to include a clause in relation to gender in 2016.
A change was proposed because there had been a concern that the ethos statement was taking a position on the doctrine of Eternal Functional Subordination of the Son because of the reference in the statement to relationships within the Trinity. The ethos statement was never designed to do this.
Therefore, a new paragraph was proposed to member churches, replacing the one titled “Creation and Trinity”. During the meeting, Ian Jones explained that the change is solely in relation to this theological concern and does not change the wider ethos statement in any way.
Again, this change required a 75% majority and 96% of churches voted in favour of the change, thus the motion passed.
Amendment to the CIO Constitution
This amendment was around the desire to be able to hold General Meetings online should that be necessary for any reason.
Ian Jones explained to the EGM that the Board was responding to Charity Commission concerns that charities like FIEC should make provision in their Constitution for online meetings. The Commission has suggested they would not be as flexible as they were during the Covid-19 pandemic if there were ever a reason meetings could not take place in person. In effect, they are expecting charities to make provision for online meetings in their governing documents where necessary.
He was also clear that the provisions would not mean FIEC would hold hybrid meetings, and that the desire was to continue to hold General Meetings in person.
The proposed new wording which will form the new constitution was approved unanimously, thus the motion passed.
In summary, all the proposed changes that have been discussed with member churches during 2023 were passed during the EGM. That means the Doctrinal Basis, the Women in Ministry Ethos Statement and the Constitution will all change as per the proposals.