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Topics of interest to Clerks of Session, Session Moderators and others who are interested in Presbyterian local-church governance.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Is Your Church Incorporated?

The Book of Order (G-7.0401) requires all congregations to be registered as non-profit corporations. It’s very important that churches not only make sure they are incorporated, but also renew their corporate registration with the State on an annual basis.

What are the consequences of not doing so? Sure, it’s an unlikely event, but if a person decided to sue the congregation for damages related to some personal injury and won, and the church’s corporate status could not be clearly established, it’s possible that the individual members of the church’s Board of Trustees (in the case of most of our congregations, that’s the Session) could be held personally liable for any part of the lawsuit award the congregation were unable to pay.

It costs just $25 a year to renew a church’s corporate registration, and it can be accomplished online in just a few minutes. Here’s a link to the “New Jersey Business Gateway,” a State of New Jersey web page where you can find out more about how to do this.

To find out if your congregation has a current corporate registration on file with the State, click here to conduct an online search. Be sure you use the accurate corporate name of your church (in our case, it’s “Point Pleasant Presbyterian Church,” not “First Presbyterian Church of Point Pleasant”).

If you think your congregation has never registered, click on “I want to form/register a business.”

More likely, your congregation was registered in the past, but the registration was allowed to lapse. You can re-register by clicking on “I want to reinstate my business.”

Annual online renewal is a simple process. You can pay the $25 fee online with a credit card. You’ll need to confirm the church’s name and address, the names of the officers of your Board of Trustees, and the name of an "Agent" (someone to whom the State will send future reminders of when renewals need to be filed). It’s probably best that the Agent be someone who receives mail at the church, so future reminder notices won’t go astray.


I'm establishing this blog as a place to post occasional, brief ruminations about the work of Clerks of Session. It's my hope that these thoughts may be useful to those who are fulfilling this vital role in congregations of the Presbytery of Monmouth of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and perhaps even beyond.

Pastors and others who are serving as Moderators of Sessions may find it worthwhile to check in here from time to time, as well.

We'll be posting links to upcoming entries in the Presbytery's new electronic newsletter.

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Carl Wilton
Stated Clerk, Presbytery of Monmouth