Churches are wonderful, but very unique, organizations within the context of American life. Churches provide so many resources–both physical and spiritual–to our community. But as with any organization, churches face many legal issues, and the fact that their organizational structure is so unique causes their legal issues to be just as unique.
The fact is that most churches do not have a good nonprofit lawyer that they can turn to when legal issues arise. Many pastors, administrative pastors, and deacon chairmen, when looking for a lawyer to help, automatically turn to a lawyer in their congregation–even if that lawyer has no experience with nonprofit law. But just as you would not want an Employment Lawyer to draft your Will, so too you would not want your church to be represented by someone who does not have experience working in the field of nonprofit law.
The list of legal issues that face most churches can be endless, but here are some of the examples of issues we have seen some of our clients face in the last year:
- Employee Hiring/Firing Issues,
- Property Tax Exemptions for churches,
- Bylaws and other Governance Issues,
- Issues involving the safety of children (including policies regarding child care workers, whether the church allows sex offenders to attend worship, etc.),
- Partnership Agreements with other organizations for off-site clinics,
- Disputes with donors about the intended use of property, and
- Many Other Issues
Because churches have a unique structure and place in the community, the legal issues that they face are likewise extremely unique. It is important that your church have a lawyer who understands churches, their polity/structure, and the law surrounding nonprofit entities.
If you have questions about these issues or any other Church Law issue, please feel free to give us a call at 214-236-2712 to speak to one of the Attorneys at Cook & Gore. We have represented both small and large churches, and love getting to help them handle their legal issues so that they can get back to ministering to our community.