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Does AB have authority to close existing, active churches?
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Post Troy Hamby
here we go again... Golf Cart Mafia Soldier
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10/4/09 5:31 pm


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Post Re: Does AB have authority to close existing, active churche Church Planting 101
Lucious J. Bloomingthall wrote:
Does a State Overseer have the authority to shut down an existing, active church? I have read the Minutes and the section prescribing the duties and authorities of the State Overseer and I can't find it.


It's not in there. Because if it were then we would have to decide the definition of "active." And it would be embarrassing for the COG to qualify "Us 4 and No More" as active.
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10/4/09 5:38 pm


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Post Troy Hamby
Lucious J. Bloomingthall wrote:
Troy Hamby wrote:
here we go again...


I'm not calling you out. I'm asking a simple question, seeking clarification.

It is not my intent to start an argument about should or shouldn't small churches be closed.


okay, and just for clarification, my position was not that ALL small churches should be closed and sold. I said that if a church has run 10 people for 10 years and have shown no outward sign of growth, then that church might do more good for the kingdom by selling their property and donating the money to missions/church planting/etc. But ultimately, this is America and I guess if they have paid the bills and continue to do so, they have the right to continue to take up space.

As far as if an AB has that authority, I would be interested to know the answer to that also. I'm sure if he did, he would face a lot of criticism because every pastor would be worried that they would be next.
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10/4/09 5:39 pm


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Post Re: Does AB have authority to close existing, active churche Memory03
yes they can... they can sell the building out from under them too... if you don't believe it just check with some of our South Florida Pastors (who have been in the Miami area for a few years) and ask the about a church in Miami several years ago...
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10/4/09 5:59 pm


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Post Lucious Larry Wiley
The answer to your question is simple.

Yes!

When it comes to the local church an AB has more power than anyone. To their credit in my 35 years I have seen very few times where an AB abused his power.
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10/4/09 8:13 pm


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Post Leavenworth WA. Hillbilly
Dr. James E. C. closed the Leavenworth Wa. Church of God and they were having church each week and people paying tithes each week. The church had $14,000.00 in the bank. The church had never ask the state office for anything. The church has always paid its way. Dr. James E. C. closed the doors and gave everything they had inside the church, gave it away. Everything was paid for, gave it all away. New sound system!

Rode in on his shinny bike and then after closing and locking the place up rode off into the sunset on his shinny bike.
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10/4/09 10:05 pm


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Post Not there Larry Wiley
Quote:
A simple answer is what I'm looking for. Thanks, Mr. Wiley.

Please cite confirmation of your assertion from the Minutes of the General Assembly.


You will not find this in the minutes. An AB can dismiss a church clerk or council member, to my knowledge that is also not written in the minutes.

Every detail of an AB's power is not listed in the minutes.
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10/4/09 10:05 pm


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Post 4 hard facts Bro Bob
1) You are not going to find that authority in the MINUTES.

2) The AB will likely tell you what one told me when I pointed out that his action was in direct violation of the authority vested in the local church. "I have whatever authority I SAY I have."

3) You are not going to find Cleveland receptive to your objection based upon the limitations to the authority granted in the MINUTES. (Although they will hear a charge if you bring it.)

4) You are not going to find the courts interested in forcing this organization to abide by it's own rules. In the eyes of the court, you are always free to leave and go to their church where the congregation calls the shots.

When I prayed about it, God asked me a question: "Bob, if I can't make good people do right, what makes you think you can?"

He is still waiting for my answer.

Brother, whatever the specifics of your situation, you can forget the CoG system suddenly becoming just. What is your plan B?
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10/4/09 10:10 pm


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Post Bro Bob
Quote:
should the local congregation not want to close and decide to withdraw from the denomination and retain its property and assets.


You will find that the property of the local church is deeded to Cleveland about 99% of the time and this is required by the MINUTES 100% of the time.

You are free to leave. (By the time a member starts talking like you they are glad for you to go.) But what you gave to the church was a voluntary contribution of your part, and the property itself, except in rare occasions is deeded to Cleveland. Therefore if you lead (or follow) a local revolt, you won't be taking anything with you.
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10/4/09 10:41 pm


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Post Yes, he does AlaskanBishop
I have definitely seen this done; is that neccessarily good or bad? Not my call. Define active/inactive? What does "is" mean in post-Clinton America? Embarassed The authority of an A.B. is interesting; it tends to vary with the personalities of each A.B.
Not to steal your thread, but isn't that de facto what happened with Jamboree?
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10/4/09 11:33 pm


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Post If the local church holds the deed... roughridercog
this would severely limit the AB's power over a congregation. All that congregation has to do is change the name, and "presto" the AB has no power.
For that reason, you'll not see churches having their own deeds any time soon. But this is also why many of our churches use rented facilities or one owned by "another nonprofit organization" for the rental price of a dollar a year.
They own the building, but they're technically renting the facility.

The very idea of such things is frightening to those in leadership which can be both good and bad. It's bad because you can't lead where there is no trust. It's good, because it requires sound leaders to pay attention to situations and make their decisions prayerfully and carefully.

If you are in an older smaller church, it's a good bet HQ and the bank hold the deed. If you start something newer, rent from a "nonprofit organization" and keep the deed.
That's just this old preacher's opinion.
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10/5/09 7:46 am


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Post sheepdogandy
LJB talk to Joe Chambers, he can tell you EXACTLY what happens when anyone challenges Cleveland in court.

Best thing to do is let Cleveland have it and begin a Congregationally governed church.

Works for us.

20 years and still going strong.
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10/5/09 9:19 am


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Post Bro Bob
LJB I wish you all the best as you set about to do what you think is right.

I am a bit lost in the logic wherein you seem to say the equity (value of the property minus debt) isn't worth Cleveland coming after, but it is worth you, or at best your entire congregation, hiring a lawyer(s) to go after.

But that would be your call.

You are certainly not wrong when you say the overseer has overstepped his authority. He does hold tremendous authority, especially over your pastor. With or without the blessings of the congregation he can remove the man, and replace at his own discretion that man with any other and take as long as he wants to to do it. His options are almost limitless. In the absence of a pastor he is the only one who can call a business meeting at that church. And he can call it whenever he wants (Monday morning at 3am?) and however many times it takes to get the result he is looking for. If he ever persuades a majority of "the loyal members" present it is game / set / match.

Also, as to whether he stays true to the MINUTES or not as the process goes forward, Cleveland will not care in the least.

You are too deep in your particular situation to see it clearly. Even the two "hard facts" you listed are not hard at all, but merely a hope, a risk.
Quote:

1. The local church almost always wins at the lower court level ...
2. State Supreme Courts have given mixed rulings in such cases ...


You began this thread with one question and that answer is: No, the overseer does not have authority to close a church if that church is self supporting and those members wish to remain.

This is a major financial question, the authority over which is vested in the local congregation, not a church and pastor's council, not a pastor, and not a state overseer.

But you also acknowledged that you are well aware that this fact does not keep overseers from doing whatever they want to do. All I have done is agree with you.

It is my considered opinion that your chances of seeing a favorable outcome through the court system is less than bleak.

But you certainly can go that route if you wish.

I would urge you to consider what is the best long term outcome for yourself as a Christian, and your fellow Christians at your church.

I already know that answer. It is found in Psalms 37.

I pray that you find the peace of God. Stay true to him, and even those things over which YOU have no power you will see the hand of God work in. With your own eyes, you will see it.

That is my testimony.

BB
..............................
S42 IV. Duties and Responsibilities ( Church and pastor's council)


Financial
The Church and Pastorís Council, under the direction of the pas-
tor, shall approve the disbursement of church funds. (This does not
include Womenís Ministries monies.) All major disbursements must
be approved by the church in conference. Each congregation shall
determine what amount constitutes a major disbursement.



...................................

S46. LOCAL BOARD OF TRUSTEES
[1994]

II Duties and Authorities


2. The said Local Board of Trustees shall have full right, power, and authority to buy property for the use or benefit of the local congregation; to sell, hypothecate, exchange, transfer and convey any part of the local property held by it, or to borrow money and pledge the said property for the repayment of the same; and to execute all necessary deeds, conveyances and so forth, providing that each of the following conditions is met: (1) the proposition shall first be presented to a regular or called conference of the local church; (2) presided over by the state overseer, or one whom he may appoint; (3) approved by a two-thirds majority vote; and (4) provided further that the board have a certification, in writing, from the state overseer, or one whom he may appoint, that the proposition is not adverse to the interest of the Church of God ( Cleveland, Tennessee, U. S. A.).
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10/5/09 10:00 am


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Post A couple thoughts worth mentioning... Clint Wills
In today's economy, I think the COG would be hard pressed to take your property if there is any mortgage left on it. They would have to sell the building, and frankly, who is buying $1,000,000 houses of worship right now? So, the COG CAN take your property, but they will have to sell it. At that point, the local church could potentially buy it back from them...possibly for less than they owed in the first place. Unfortunately, I have actually heard this process spoken by a COG minister.
Secondly, the flip side, in this economy, is that the COG is on the hook for it if the church defaults. I don't like the idea that any church would get themselves in debt more than they can manage, but it happens. In that case, the COG has to make the payments.

I will say, I have a feeling that more often than not, there is more to it than we see. Hillbilly has been hitting the Leavenworth, WA point sense I started posting on Acts. The thing is, he doesn't even live up here in the Pacific Northwest. He has most likely heard one side of the story and chosen to blindly believe it. He MAY be accurate, but my experience tells me that there is more to it than meets the eye.
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10/5/09 10:44 am


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Post c6thplayer1
Troy Hamby wrote:
Lucious J. Bloomingthall wrote:
Troy Hamby wrote:
here we go again...


I'm not calling you out. I'm asking a simple question, seeking clarification.

It is not my intent to start an argument about should or shouldn't small churches be closed.


okay, and just for clarification, my position was not that ALL small churches should be closed and sold. I said that if a church has run 10 people for 10 years and have shown no outward sign of growth, then that church might do more good for the kingdom by selling their property and donating the money to missions/church planting/etc. But ultimately, this is America and I guess if they have paid the bills and continue to do so, they have the right to continue to take up space.

As far as if an AB has that authority, I would be interested to know the answer to that also. I'm sure if he did, he would face a lot of criticism because every pastor would be worried that they would be next.


I'm tellin LC javascript:emoticon('Razz')
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Post sheepdogandy
It's not supposed to. Rolling Eyes
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10/7/09 8:36 pm


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Post Bro Bob
Quote:
Our church holds the deed/title to the property.


Then they will have a much more difficult time closing your church and selling property they don't have a deed to. I'd say the legal case regarding the overseer's authority just tilted in your favor.

They will need to use the MINUTES to show that your property should have been deeded to them, and that will make it tough to show why two thirds of the congregation does not have to approve the sale of the property under the clause in the MINUTES I already quoted.

I'd be very interested to know how this came to be, and how it will be resolved. But it's really none of my business, I suppose.

BB
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10/7/09 9:30 pm


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Post Link
Where is the role of the AB found in scripture?
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10/8/09 2:57 am


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Post Randy Johnson
Link wrote:
Where is the role of the AB found in scripture?


Wasn't COG polity adopted from the Methodist system?
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10/8/09 6:54 am


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Post Re: Does AB have authority to close existing, active churche WACOG
Lucious J. Bloomingthall wrote:
Does a State Overseer have the authority to shut down an existing, active church? I have read the Minutes and the section prescribing the duties and authorities of the State Overseer and I can't find it.

Of course, I know our appointed officials disregard the Minutes, anyway, so I'm not sure why it matters. I just thought I'd ask for clarification.

Again, I have read pages 146-149, S23 STATE OVERSEERS, Section VI. Duties and Authorities, direct from the 2006 Minutes of the General Assembly and I can't find where the AB is granted the authority by the General Assembly to close existing, active, and self-sufficient churches. I do see where he is to discontinue (close) inactive churches and transfer the membership of those members to a church convenient for them, but I see absolutely no mention of closing existing, active churches.

I know the subject was somewhat discussed before. One poster had opined that he thought small churches ought to be closed. And most of the rest dissented.

Any thoughts? Citations of the Minutes are greatly appreciated.



One of the churches on our district was running 35 in attendance and didn't owe anything on their building, when they were told by their pastor the state had authorized the closure and sale of the building. They closed the church, sold the property and sent the people on their way.

They were told no one wanted to pastor them so close the church. I know for a fact their was a man that asked for the church and he was told no way.

The good side of that was that I gained about 25 totally dedicated people. Good things come out of bad situations too.
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10/8/09 7:49 am


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