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

A: The purpose of an indemnification provision is to protect individuals who are working for the ministry from incurring out-of-pocket costs if they’re sued in connection with their work on behalf of the organization.

Who should be covered: Ministry leaders and employees should be protected. You may also want to extend this protection to volunteers who are working on behalf of the ministry. Indemnification provisions should be drafted so that the ministry is able to avoid paying the legal expenses of individuals who are not furthering the purpose of the ministry, or who are acting outside of their authority.

How should indemnification be conveyed: If an individual is sued in connection with his or her ministry work, the bylaws should give the organization’s governing board the right to decide when and if such individual will be indemnified for out-of-pocket costs associated with the lawsuit. This protects the ministry from being required to cover costs associated with wrongful or criminal acts.

Reviewing ministry bylaws: If your bylaws already include an indemnification provision, it’s recommended that a locally licensed attorney review them to ensure that ministry leaders maintain the right to decide when and if the indemnification obligation is triggered. If the organization’s bylaws do not contain an indemnification provision, then an attorney should be consulted to develop indemnification wording, as well as to walk the ministry through the process of amending its bylaws.

It's important that ministry leaders review the organization’s existing bylaws and think through the indemnification process before a lawsuit is filed against the organization’s leaders, employees, or volunteers.

Recommended Resources

If you found this information helpful, you might be interested in these other resources from Brotherhood Mutual:

*Important information: Brotherhood Mutual is pleased to provide Legal Assist as a complimentary resource. The services we offer through Legal Assist 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.