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Steps That Every Church has to Take for Protection

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After a lengthy meeting with Dr. David Gibbs and the Christian Law Association, and also a meeting with the insurers of our church, the following items were brought to our attention that required an emergency meeting and a revamping of our church bylaws in order to protect us from lawsuits arising from the recent Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriage:

  1. Church property must have extremely strict "worship only" use written into the church bylaws.  No longer can you rent out church property to any other entity outside of your church or you fall into "public use and domain" laws that open you up for attack.
  2. Marriages should not be performed for anyone other than your church members AND it is highly recommended that they be termed as a "Marriage and Family Worship Service" rather than a "Wedding Ceremony".  There are real legal protections still in place to protect "worship services" that are NOT in place to protect a church from a typical wedding ceremony.
  3. Any church benevolence offered to the general public such as donations to soup kitchens, food banks, rescue mission for homeless in your city, etc...puts your church into a public services category and opens the church up to an entirely new set of laws and regulations.  Unfortunately, all church benevolence has to be restricted to only those within your church fellowship or you open up the doors to litigation. 
  4. Very detailed membership requirements must be in your church bylaws (I am sure all IFB churches have this covered already), so that person or couple can't just walk in and ask for an application for membership to be accepted without a testimony of salvation.

There were a host of other small, seemingly nit-picky measures recommended to protect your church and/or pastor from litigation from the LGBT crowd.  I would highly recommend your pastor contact the Christian Law Association and their insurers the sooner the better. 

Hold the Fort.

Bro. Santos

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After a lengthy meeting with Dr. David Gibbs and the Christian Law Association, and also a meeting with the insurers of our church, the following items were brought to our attention that required an emergency meeting and a revamping of our church bylaws in order to protect us from lawsuits arising from the recent Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriage:

  1. Any church benevolence offered to the general public such as donations to soup kitchens, food banks, rescue mission for homeless in your city, etc...puts your church into a public services category and opens the church up to an entirely new set of laws and regulations.  Unfortunately, all church benevolence has to be restricted to only those within your church fellowship or you open up the doors to litigation. 

Hold the Fort.

Bro. Santos

Our food pantry has never been run like most. Most have a set day and time, people come in from off the street and get what they want.

Ours is thus: we know of a need (by phone, personal contact on the street, or someone tells us of them) and WE pack a box or two and personally deliver at their house, shelter or street corner. No church building involved except as a place to store the food. Thus the church is still not "public domain".

Also, we don't rent out the building, though the space may be loaned to me to do a wedding or funeral if I ask.

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We don't rent the church building to anyone and like mentioned above, if someone is in need we help them directly by delivering a box of food, paying an electric bill or filling their car with gas.

A few years ago our pastor gave our church board a list of things he wanted to make sure the church was covered for, asked them to add any others needed, discuss with lawyers and make changes to the church by-laws. He knew the day was coming when homosexual "marriage" would be forced upon the country as a legal right and wanted the church to be ready ahead of such; as well as tending to other details that might come up.

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Sadly, my refusal to loan out our building to someone to do something else, resulted ultimately in the loss of said building. However, in the process, we lost the worry of losing our building over any else, so there is that.

As for weddings, its much simpler than that: I don't ask to be paid for my weddings, as they are considered an aspect of my ministry. If someone wants to give a donation, that's fine, but since I don't get 'paid', no one can call it a service to be rendered to anyone who asks. As an aspect of my ministry, it must thereby conform to my beliefs.

Bylaws are great, if your church is an incorporated 501c3 organization-we aren't, so we don't worry about it. We DO have clear membership rules, if you will, but since we aren;'t 501c3, there is nothing anyone can seek to take from us.

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Our pastor doesn't charge for weddings either. Actually, I didn't know some pastors do charge, I thought they all performed weddings on a donation basis.

Our church by-laws are aspects of our church constitution, not a matter of incorporation.

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