January 4, 2017
When an organization becomes incorporated, it gains the same legal rights and responsibilities as an individual. That’s true for churches and ministries, just as it is for businesses. Incorporation takes the weight of responsibility off the shoulders of individuals and instead, places it on the organization. In contrast, a court may find all members of an unincorporated church legally responsible for negligent or criminal actions committed by one church member.
Incorporated churches and ministries have several advantages
Churches and other ministries should consider incorporation for a variety of reasons. The most important is to protect individual members from personal liability associated with the negligent actions of fellow members.
Incorporated ministries also enjoy other benefits:
Complete incorporation at the state level
Incorporation takes place at the state level, often through the Secretary of State’s office. When incorporating, first contact an attorney who is familiar with not-for-profit laws in your state. The attorney will prepare a document known as Articles of Incorporation and help you establish your corporation’s unique name, a statement of organizational purpose, and operational bylaws.
According to Michael Allison, vice president and chief counsel at Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company, church bylaws should include the following elements:
Once you establish your church’s bylaws, use the bylaws as a guide by which your ministry operates. Doing otherwise can create legal problems, especially if church leaders reach major decisions in a manner inconsistent with your bylaws.
Review bylaws regularly
Your ministry should appoint a task force to evaluate its bylaws at least every two years. This group should operate strictly within the established rules for changing bylaws and should consult an attorney before finalizing official changes. Many states also require incorporated ministries to submit annual paperwork, such as an annual report to the Secretary of State’s office.
Recently, we learned about two major overseas incidents involving pastors on mission trips. The first incident involved a pastor being hit by a motorcycle while running. The second was a bus accident involving two pastors. The runner and one of the two bus passengers sustained extensive injuries.
Last month, the IRS announced that its initiating hundreds of church exams to test compliance with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). While many provisions only apply to churches with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees (FTEs), even smaller churches could potentially violate provisions applicable to health benefit plans with as few as 2 plan participants.
July 4th is synonymous with food, fun, and fireworks. If your church is planning an event this Independence Day, remember to keep a focus on safety, so that everyone can have fun.
National Insurance Awareness Day falls on June 28 this year to remind people everywhere that insurance is vital to their companies and ministries.
More than 700 confirmed cases of measles have been reported in the United States so far this year, making this outbreak the worst in decades.
Do you use commercial vehicles that transport more than 15 passengers or carry cargo from one state to another as part of your ministry? If so, you are required to register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and obtain a USDOT number.
If your ministry buildings become damaged because of a tornado, or if your ministry plans to volunteer to assist with disaster recovery for those affected by these storms, be mindful of the dangers involved.
Thinking about taking a group from your ministry ziplining? Be sure to confirm that the site you choose complies with the new Kentucky state law that regulates aerial recreational devices.
The National Safety Council has designated June as National Safety Month, so we want to make sure your ministry is doing everything it can to protect its people, property, and programs. Each week in June, we’ll tackle a different topic. Up this week: Emergency Preparedness.
There’s a new scam in town, and ministries and other organizations collecting donations are the primary target. If your ministry collects tithes or donations, you could be targeted by scammers practicing donation overpayment fraud.
Accidents and medical emergencies happen at church more often than you may think. Knowing how to deal with minor medical injuries, illnesses, and major medical emergencies until first responders arrive can make a big difference.
Beloved evangelist Billy Graham was called to his heavenly home on Wednesday, February 21, 2018, at the age of 99.
For the first time in its 13 years of influenza monitoring, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting that every state in the continental U.S. is seeing widespread flu activity. Get tips on how to keep your congregation healthy this flu season.
On January 27, American Church Group of Kentucky and Heartland Church in Paducah hosted a Church Security Conference to help educate ministries on how to protect their people and ministries. The three-and-a-half-hour event was free to attend and offered local churches an opportunity to learn how to develop a safety and security mindset and identify potential gaps in their current safety and security procedures.
We pray for the victims of the shooting at Marshall County High School in Benton, KY. How would your church respond in a similar situation?
Snow skiing. Camping. Whitewater rafting. A youth group trip can give students an exciting diversion from their weekly routines, as well as an opportunity to strengthen healthy friendships. Off-site activities may challenge your students to step outside of their comfort zones a bit, but this can bring about a positive result.
If you are in the process of planning a mission trip for your church group, make sure to think carefully about insurance, safety, and security as you hammer out the details. Extra preparation could minimize headaches when your group arrives on the mission field.
Has your church or school ever been asked to loan one of your vans or buses to another? Before you decide to loan your ministry vehicles to another organization, seriously consider the potential risks associated with such a decision.
Completing a personal property inventory of your church or ministry could be one of the wisest activities you can pursue. If disaster strikes and you file an insurance claim, you may need an inventory highlighting damaged items.
Have you thought through potential dangers that may confront your ministry? Taking steps to consider and address these risks provides important protection from injuries, lawsuits, fires, and dozens of other hazards that may affect your ministry, especially your employees and those you serve.