Is your church property protected?

Most people are familiar with the concept of personal estate planning in the form of a Will or a Trust. While people are living, they formally express their intentions regarding the disposition of their property and material possessions.

Conditional deeding is much like that, but on a corporate level. Each local congregation decides what will happen to its church building(s), parsonage, and lands. It is important that congregations make these decisions now so that safeguards are in place to protect assets and property.

No one wants to think about their church closing but, in reality, churches come to the end of their life cycle, just as people pass on. As a Church of God congregation, your mission throughout the church’s history has been to accomplish the Great Commission. It makes sense that, if the local church has to close the doors, the congregation would want to pass on those assets so the mission of making disciples could continue with the Church of God.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it important to safeguard our church property?

Safeguarding your property allows your congregation to determine the legacy of the church now, rather than entrust it to the whims of a few remaining people who may or may not share the same passion for making disciples with the Church of God.

What is conditional deeding?

Conditional Deeding, Subsequent Deeding, and Restrictive Covenants are all legal terms that provide a way for the local church to retain ownership and control of their property but safeguard their property in the event that certain agreed-upon conditions are met. It allows the local church to protect themselves from “steeple jacking” and helps ensure that the efforts and sacrifices of the local Church of God people continue to be used in the mission of the Church of God in the future. The local church still owns the property. Conditional deeding only secures the property if certain “conditions” are met. Until then, nothing changes.

What is “steeple jacking?”

“Steeple jacking” is a real concern, particularly for smaller congregations. This happens when outside people come in, often from another congregation, and begin worshipping with a congregation. After a period of time (often as short as six months), according to the bylaws, this group holds legal status as “members” of the church. Suddenly, this group outnumbers the existing members, and votes them and the pastor out. They have taken over the property and it no longer affiliates with the Church of God. If the property is NOT safeguarded, virtually nothing can be done.

Does conditional deeding mean we lose control or ownership of our church property?

No. Neither the national offices of the Church of God, nor the state, nor region can “take your property” as long as the church is open and actively affiliated with the Church of God. The local church remains “in control” of the property. Conditional deeding is similar in concept to a Last Will and Testament of a person. Your heirs cannot take your home while you are still living. It is only when you pass on that they receive your property. Likewise, the church continues to own the property until an agreed-upon condition is met (like the church closing). It is only then that the property is transferred to the Church of God.

SO WHAT SHOULD I DO?

This three-step process is for Church of God Ministries, Inc., State or Regional Assemblies, and Local Churches to implement a plan of conditional deeding to protect the legacy of Local Church real property, e.g., church buildings and land.

By implementing this three-step process, Local Churches, working with their state, regional, or national leadership will be able to protect the legacy of their real property and ensure that the church building and land continue to be used to further God’s Kingdom through the ministry of the Church of God.

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Step One

The State or Regional Assembly passes a corporate resolution expressing the purpose for conditional deeding and the intent to implement a conditional deeding program with Local Churches.

Step Two

The Local Church passes a corporate resolution expressing its desire to participate in a plan of conditional deeding and authorizing its leaders to execute the necessary documents to protect the legacy of the church’s real property.

Step Three

The Local Church executes a Conditional Deed Agreement with the State or Regional Assembly or Church of God Ministries, Inc. Through the Conditional Deed Agreement, the Local Church agrees to protect the legacy interests of its real property through a three-step process. First, the Local Church conveys its real property to the State/Regional Assembly or Church of God Ministries through a Quit Claim Deed, which is recorded with the local county recorder’s office. Next, the State/Regional Assembly or Church of God Ministries, Inc. conveys the real property back to the Local Church through a Conditional Quit Claim Deed, which is recorded. The Conditional Quit Claim Deed includes certain basic standards for Church of God congregations taken directly from the Church of God Credentials Manual, which are stated as conditions. The Local Church owns the real property so long as it continues to satisfy the conditions in the Conditional Quit Claim Deed. If the Local Church subsequently fails to meet the conditions, then after being given 30 days to correct the situation, the State/Regional Assembly or Church of God Ministries, Inc. can record a third quit claim deed called the Escrow Quit Claim Deed, which will transfer the Local Church’s real property back to the State /Regional Assembly or Church of God Ministries. The Escrow Quit Claim Deed is held in escrow and not recorded unless the Local Church fails to comply with the conditions in the Conditional Quit Claim Deed. All three deeds—the Quit Claim Deed, the Conditional Quit Claim Deed, and the Escrow Quit Claim Deed are executed at the same time as the Conditional Deed Agreement.

INDIVIDUAL FORMS & RESOURCES

Still have questions? We’re here to help!

Please contact Deb Gwaltney at 800-848-2464, ext. 2116 or dgwaltney@chog.org
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