Legal Q & A

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Boards, Bylaws, Organization & Records


Q. What should churches and ministries know about the U.S. Supreme Court's decision regarding same-sex marriage?

... On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 ruling, holding that the Fourteenth Amendment requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex. The decision also requires states to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed in another state.

Q: What does our ministry need to know about affiliated organizations?

...The creation of an affiliated organization within the ministry’s larger corporate structure can provide multiple benefits, but it also presents certain drawbacks...

Q: Are church board members personally liable for board decisions?

...Church board members have been placed in a position of trust, and they have a legal duty to place the church’s interests ahead of their own...

Q: Are clergy members required to sign marriage licenses?

...If a clergyperson chooses to officiate or solemnize a wedding, most states require the officiant to sign the state marriage license in order for the marriage to be recognized by the state...

Q: As a church board member, what issues should I be aware of?

...Every church board should be prepared to answer the following 10 questions, starting with, "Are we incorporated?"...

Q: Should our ministry incorporate?

...In today’s legal climate, objections to incorporating a church based on submission to the authority of the state are obsolete...

Q: Should we include indemnification provisions in our ministry bylaws?

...Ministry leaders and employees should be protected if they’re sued in connection with their work on behalf of the organization.

Q: What documents should we keep, and for how long?

...You may not have to retain every record that crosses your desk, but before you decide to toss anything, determine what you need to keep and why.

Q: What issues should we consider when merging with another ministry?

...Consider leadership changes, changes to legal documents, decision-making up to the point of the merger, employment transition,  title changes for owned assets, and vendor relationships... 

Q: What should our ministry know about bylaws?

...Your bylaws are your ministry’s opportunity to write your own story on how your ministry will look and act...

*Important information: Brotherhood Mutual is pleased to provide LegalAssistance as a complimentary resource. The services we offer through LegalAssistance are intended to provide general legal information to our current and prospective policyholders.

The information we provide is intended to be helpful, but it does not constitute legal advice and is not a substitute for the advice from a licensed attorney in your area. Accordingly, no attorney/client relationship is created through this process, and no legal advice will be provided. We strongly encourage you to regularly consult with a local attorney as part of your risk management program.

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