Author Topic: Church Charters  (Read 3717 times)

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Offline spurly

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« on: Sat Mar 22, 2003 - 14:04:16 »
The two churches where I have served have both gone away from church charters or bylaws.  At the current congregation we are incorporated, but the incorporation just says that we are a non-profit independent Christian Church.  That's it.

Our constitution?  The word of God.  Our by-laws?  His ways.  It's really simple when you do it that way.  In my opinion Janine, what you said is true.  Things like these amount to creeds.  Not only do they amount to creeds, but they lead to division in the body.

(As a matter of fact that's why the by-laws at my current church were thrown out several years ago.  People used them like their \"Bible\" to cause division and pain).

Kevin

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« on: Sat Mar 22, 2003 - 14:04:16 »

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« Reply #1 on: Sun Mar 23, 2003 - 15:11:11 »
[!--QuoteBegin--][/span][table border=\"0\" align=\"center\" width=\"95%\" cellpadding=\"3\" cellspacing=\"1\"][tr][td]Quote [/td][/tr][tr][td id=\"QUOTE\"][!--QuoteEBegin--]I think it's an honorable attempt to hinder the attempt of liberals to \"steal\" or \"take over\" church buildings, as many of them did around a hundred years ago.

Actually, it might be a good idea today to add an item or two to the list, considering what's happening in some places (women taking leadership roles in congregations, worship services, etc.).

Robert G[/quote]



Edited by BH.  Mother says if you can't say anything nice say nothing at all.

Offline david johnson

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« Reply #2 on: Mon Mar 24, 2003 - 12:55:04 »
[!--QuoteBegin--][/span][table border=\"0\" align=\"center\" width=\"95%\" cellpadding=\"3\" cellspacing=\"1\"][tr][td]Quote (Arkstfan @ Mar. 24 2003,12:25)[/td][/tr][tr][td id=\"QUOTE\"][!--QuoteEBegin--]When a church takes it upon itself to interact with the world by owning or controlling property and purchasing goods and services then appropriate steps must be taken to protect the body in those entanglements. If that means incorporation or creation of a charter that is what you have to do.[/quote]
i understand the legal need for incorporation.  does a charter
serve the same function?

dj

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« Reply #2 on: Mon Mar 24, 2003 - 12:55:04 »

boringoldguy

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« Reply #3 on: Sat Mar 22, 2003 - 13:09:51 »
Many years ago, before I lived where I live now, our congregation incorporated as church under state law.  The reason was so that the congregation could issue bonds for a new building.

Incorporated into that charter are  prohibitions on the use of \"mechanical instruments of music\" and premillenialism in our building.

I'm probably the only person who knows this;  I won't get into how I know it, but I've kept it to myself.  It seems to me that if somebody was interested in causing mischief some day, they might use this.  (I suspect our current preacher has some premillenial tendencies, but he hasn't ever preached about it.)

So, if this is in the official church charter, is that like having a creed?    What does anybody think?

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« Reply #3 on: Sat Mar 22, 2003 - 13:09:51 »

Offline janine

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« Reply #4 on: Sat Mar 22, 2003 - 13:58:12 »
Three churches I've been part of have gone thru the process of creating a charter where there was none before, or, in one instance, of totally re-vamping an old one that had been neglected so long it was a millstone around the congregation's neck.

In all the states I know of, it's necessary to incorporate a church if you want the advantages thereof.  To protect church members' assets, for example, when some trespasser onto the property gets hurt & decides to sue the church.  That sort of thing.

In the first case, it was of no consequence as far as how the church functioned.  Those were some excellent brothers & sisters in Christ and I have wished myself back there many a time.

In the third case, the little congregation was so very, very sick in so many ways, it is unlikely that the appointing of a \"board\", and all that other charter stuff, did any further harm.  That congregation went nova, and likely would have anyway, even without the charter business, and the stress-producing purchase of a new building that necessitated the incorporation and charter in the first place.  There's a little nubbin of a red dwarf congregation there now, where once had been a lot of golden shining promise.

In the second situation, the one where one man had been the controller of so much for so long... all the board members but himself had died, and he hadn't kept up the yearly business that keeps the incorporation/charter going.  We had to scrap it and go from scratch.  As we feared, the people who were voted to the board took it as some sort of power position... the congregation imploded soon thereafter.

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« Reply #4 on: Sat Mar 22, 2003 - 13:58:12 »



Offline janine

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« Reply #5 on: Sat Mar 22, 2003 - 14:10:38 »
Depending on one's state, I think the best way to go is to keep whatever allows the church, as an entity, to take the blow, thru its insurance, etc., when a legal action (fair or not) is thrown against it.  Besides that, anything that adds specific extra-Biblical restrictions is a pain.

And it can come back to bite you, even if you think you have it all figured out. No sooner would you set up some admonition against instruments or premillenialsim, then something else would be a popular bad thing, and a move would be made to add to the charter.  Pretty soon, if there were enough people in power who wanted it, you'd have all sorts of rules contradicting each other & the situation would get really silly.

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« Reply #5 on: Sat Mar 22, 2003 - 14:10:38 »

Offline Arkstfan

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« Reply #6 on: Sat Mar 22, 2003 - 17:35:14 »
Boring, is that the church in Ohio? I saw a legal notice in Christian Chronicle about it. Apparently they have to advertise and give someone a chance to take over the place before a court will invalidate the deed restriction.

Offline janine

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« Reply #7 on: Sun Mar 23, 2003 - 06:20:17 »
If charters would isolate all the wolves inside, where they can gnaw on each other all day long :readytoeat: , and leave the sheep out here with me, I'd be glad!

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« Reply #8 on: Sun Mar 23, 2003 - 12:35:43 »
My-Oh-My what havoc mankinds rules and regulations can reap upon a congregation of believers, huh?
For some reason, [if I am not mistaken,]  God sent His Son, Jesus Christ to come down here to fulfil all of these laws and bylaws that human's like to place upon ourselves. The one thing that he stressed was Love and that is what some of these congregations seem to be lacking the most of. If we truly had Him in our hearts then all the rest takes care of itself. If only these people could just see that lots of times the problem is not the lacking of more rules, laws, creeds etc. but the lack of real honest to goodness Love, that comes from our Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God!  Then and only then, will we see our numbers grow, not necessarily in our buildings but our numbers in the amount of hearts that are truly given to God in His service and that will be the time to rejoice! Not for our buildings but our true church....Christ's church.  :thumbs-up: Hope I didn't offend anyone elses belief, these just happen to be mine.....Thanks for your time in reading this as it came from within my heart. [my opinion] :inlove: Memmy  :amen: These emoticons are awesome! Love-em!  :givingkiss:

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« Reply #8 on: Sun Mar 23, 2003 - 12:35:43 »

Offline david johnson

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« Reply #9 on: Sun Mar 23, 2003 - 15:03:28 »
i do not favor charters.

dj

Offline WileyClarkson

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« Reply #10 on: Sun Mar 23, 2003 - 19:35:04 »
Charters are necessary today to protect the members and leadership of the church from alot of financial legal problems that can occur without them.  Even so, I have seen the problems caused by corporate charters and deed restrictions that not properly written and executed.  The last church I attended had a corporate charter that required a minimum of three trustees---but not elders acting as the trustees.  The trustees had control of all the funds.  When the church appointed elders, the trustees decided that they would not give up control.  A fight occured between the trustees and the elders and the elders lost, along with the church.  The elders and deacons ended up resigning and the church ended up loosing 1/3 of its members in about a two month time frame.  That church is now considering appointing elders again (after three years) and the same trustees still have control of the funds.  The church runs by men's meetings but the men who don't agree with the trustees don't usually attend.  You can imagine where that is heading--again.

The church I was a member of for 20 years before the one described above did not have a charter.  However, it had deed restrictions on the property.  Among them was a \"reverter clause\" that there could be no musical instruments in the building and the church could not have any type of fund raising activity on the property except fot the normal Sunday morning collection.  If either of those things happened and the previous landowners found out about it, the church could have lost ownership of the property and everything on the property to the original owner of the property.

[!--QuoteBegin--][/span][table border=\"0\" align=\"center\" width=\"95%\" cellpadding=\"3\" cellspacing=\"1\"][tr][td]Quote [/td][/tr][tr][td id=\"QUOTE\"][!--QuoteEBegin--]Actually, it might be a good idea today to add an item or two to the list, considering what's happening in some places (women taking leadership roles in congregations, worship services, etc.).
Robert G.
[/quote]

Personally, I would prefer a charter that specifically included women in all areas of church leadership and worship!  The less restrictive the charter  is the better off the church is.  It is a necessary evil in today's society. :(

Offline Arkstfan

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« Reply #11 on: Mon Mar 24, 2003 - 12:25:22 »
When a church takes it upon itself to interact with the world by owning or controlling property and purchasing goods and services then appropriate steps must be taken to protect the body in those entanglements. If that means incorporation or creation of a charter that is what you have to do.

Offline Arkstfan

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« Reply #12 on: Mon Mar 24, 2003 - 13:19:03 »
In some states a charter does serve as an incorporation document. In others it is just an agreement between the members that the church will do X and Y but can't do Z.

The church-state seperation issues are sticky so some states allow the use of a charter in lieu of incorporation because the incorporation statutes impose some requirements that can be contrary to church beliefs.

In a pair of cases the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that portions of the state's incorporation statutes are unconstitutional as applied to churches and had to be read as if those provisions did not exist when applied to churches.

As best as I can remember the facts, a large Church of Christ had a corporation that held the building and paid the related expenses while the remainder of funds were controlled by the elders. The elders would release a summary of contributions, income and expenses but did not release a detailed information. For example you knew how much was spent on salaries and benefits but not how they were allocated, how much went to benevolence but not whether they gave a check to this family or bought supplmental items for the pantry or closet, etc.

A member wanted the detailed information and sued to get it. The state Supreme Court ruled that control of the church budget was vested in the elders under the beliefs of the church and the government couldn't compel them to reveal that information to members.

Offline janine

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« Reply #13 on: Thu Mar 27, 2003 - 21:44:01 »
I doubt too many people in the first century went around visiting housechurches with a cervical whiplash collar under their robes and an eye toward slipping and sueing!

Offline mistergus

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« Reply #14 on: Sat Mar 22, 2003 - 13:43:38 »
I think it's an honorable attempt to hinder the attempt of liberals to \"steal\" or \"take over\" church buildings, as many of them did around a hundred years ago.

Actually, it might be a good idea today to add an item or two to the list, considering what's happening in some places (women taking leadership roles in congregations, worship services, etc.).

Robert G

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« Reply #15 on: Sat Mar 22, 2003 - 15:49:10 »
I know of one situation where the restriction on instrumental music was written into the deed (a member gave a congregation a lot to build on.)   Many, many years later, when the congregation had folded and the remaining members wanted to dispose of the lot, it created a real interesting situation.  Nobody would take the lot with that restriction.

Offline Lee Freeman

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« Reply #16 on: Sun Mar 23, 2003 - 13:00:31 »
Robert, most folks in the mainline coC would consider me a \"liberal\" (Stone and the Campbells would be too under the modern mainline coC's tests of orthodoxy. So would David Lipscomb and James A. Harding, who both taught premillennialism. Under that church charter some of the godlest Christian men in coC history would be banned from setting foot inside that building.); never have I tried to steal or take over a church. I have though, personally witnessed  a group of conservatives actually take over a church back in '93 (I do realize that not all folks with a conservative bent take over churches). To me, the whole idea of church charters bothers me. I would not consider instrumental music or premillennnialism to be issues worth dividing over; while I do not agree with premillennialism on intellectual and theological grounds, nevertheless, most premillennialists are sincere (I certainly think Harding and Lipscomb were!). I cannot believe God would send Harding or Lipscomb (or anyone else) to hell for being sincerely mistaken about the end times. A mature church, in my opinion, should not need charters or creeds (though like Campbell, I have no problem reciting the Nicene or Apostle's Creeds). Certainly Campbell and Stone regarded creeds (save the two before mentioned) as mostly divisive, because they in effect say, \"to be one of us, you must think, reason and interpret scripture like us,\" which Stone and the Campbells realised was neither true nor possible.                                                                    

Kevin has it right, I think. No creed, or charter, but the Bible. It worked for Stone and the Campbells. Campbell and Stone taught that unity on every single doctrine taught in the Bible was a) impossible and b) unnecessary. They urged a unity based upon the basic, essential, core doctrines of the apostolic faith. Anything not essential to salvation (instrumental music, premillennialism, womens' role, missionary societies, cooperative meetings, etc.) was opinion, which each individual Christian was free to interpret for herself. Though T. B. Larimore was personally opposed to instrumental music he never refused fellowship to churches that used it. Would I refuse fellowship to a church that had a charter? NO. But what right do we have to legislate where God has not expressly legislated? Pax vobiscum.

Offline Lee Freeman

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« Reply #17 on: Mon Mar 24, 2003 - 11:48:38 »
Did the early church need charters? Isn't it sad how we've made things so complicated over the last 2,000 years. Pax vobiscum.

Offline janine

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« Reply #18 on: Mon Mar 24, 2003 - 13:48:56 »
I don't mean privacy-violating, embarrasment-making details, but a wise eldership would make basic details known.

\"X dollars went to the pantry in 2002\",
\"X went to direct emergency benevolence, paying of utility bills, etc.\", like that.

Keeping the people aware makes for more intelligent people in the pews, re: what the church as a body does.

IMHO.

Offline hmb

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« Reply #19 on: Tue Mar 25, 2003 - 16:47:25 »
In TX you get the non-profit corporation articles approved by the secy of state and then you draft by-laws.  I've worked with a couple of churches getting their not-profit articles approved.  The main reason to do this, as others have said, is to avoid liability for slip and falls, and other lawsuits. Without an incorporation, the individual members can be held liable.