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Is your church property protected?

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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. The local church does much the same through what is called secure deeding. This is particularly important because hostile take-overs can happen and sometimes churches dwindle and need to close.

With secure deeding, each local congregation decides what will happen to its church building(s), parsonage, and lands. As a Church of God congregation, your mission throughout the church’s history has been to accomplish the Great Commission. It makes sense that the congregation will want to pass on those assets so the mission of making disciples could continue with the Church of God.

If legacy dollars are given to Church of God Ministries, they will help to collectively and significantly advance the kingdom. Ministries such as Clergy Advocacy and Resource Effort (CARE), Disaster Relief, Global Strategy, Leadership Focus, Life Givers, and Ministers Aid will have far-reaching benefits. See Legacy Giving Opportunities at the bottom of this page.

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 secure 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.

Anything else I should know?

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

LEGACY GIVING OPPORTUNITIES

CARE 

Hosted by Church of God Ministries in partnership with Servant Solutions, and partially funded by the Lilly Endowment, CARE seeks to address economic challenges facing early-career pastoral leaders. With over 50% of CHOG pastors in the US saying financial stress impacts their desire to stay in ministry, CARE offers free finance and compensation coaching for pastors and congregational boards. 

Learn more at https://www.jesusisthesubject.org/care/

DISASTER RECOVERY 

Immediate response is critical during times of disaster. We see devastating images coming out of each disaster and each involves people with severe needs. Church of God Ministries advances funds during disasters with the anticipation of the gracious outpouring of donations from churches and individuals.

Learn more at https://www.jesusisthesubject.org/disaster-relief/

GLOBAL STRATEGY 

Our mission at Global Strategy is to walk alongside the local church globally, pursuing the development of healthy churches that are locally led and sustained, regionally connected, and missionally engaged so that the church can give life to communities around the world.

Right now, we work with churches in 89 countries. We support 64 missionaries in 23 countries and have 52 development projects in 25 countries.

Learn more at www.chogglobal.org

LEADERSHIP FOCUS 

Leadership Focus is the three-year training and equipping program offered within the Church of God for those who have sensed a call to ministry or missions. It is a 6-course series of robust curriculum to support the credentialing requirements in the Credentials Manual of the Church of God and is designed to prepare servant-leaders for ministry and missions. Candidates are placed into small clusters with an experienced mentor/coach that guides candidates in exploring four core values that are the heart and essence of the work in Leadership Focus.  The core values that candidates deeply engage and explore include:

  • Spiritual formation and biblical knowledge, making Christ the center of our life, relationships, and ministry;
  • Servant Leadership Competencies, knowing God and His call on our life, knowing ourselves and how we are created to fulfill God’s plan, purpose, and mission and how to serve and empower others;
  • Intentionally living out biblical community so that our lives and ministries are connected with others locally, nationally and globally;
  • Committed to a missional life personally, publicly, and professionally sharing the love of Christ and the message of salvation.

 Learn more at https://www.jesusisthesubject.org/leadership-focus/

LIFE GIVERS 

LifeGivers is an inspirational program designed to CONNECT in discipleship with other believers, REIGNITE your passion and purpose, and REVITALIZE your local church. This is done through flexible online courses. A wide variety of very helpful topics for both pastors and lay leaders are offered. They are led by some of the nation’s most revered coaches.

Learn more at https://www.jesusisthesubject.org/lifegivers/

MINISTERS AID 

There can be times of great stress in a pastor’s family, particularly when in between pastorates. The income loss can create havoc or some other crisis’ point that is deserving of assistance. The Ministers Aid Fund brings a word of hope to the pastor on behalf of the larger church.   

URBAN MINISTRIES 

Urban Missions exists to shine a light for Jesus Christ in the life of those who live in the shadows of our most prosperous cities. These corners of need are the dark places where Jesus went, and where today our churches are establishing communities of empathy and hope. Christ-centered strategies involve daycare and after-school programs, infant crisis services, youth mentoring services, job training and apprenticeship programs, and community development initiatives.

Learn more at https://www.jesusisthesubject.org/urban-missions/

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