Churches are exempt from filing annual filings with both the IRS and the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.
Churches and religious nonprofits have unique governance, legal and risk management characteristics. These include ecclesiastical leadership, pastoral counseling, the clergy-penitent privilege, and the vast number of volunteers working with children and youth.
In addition to the services described in other sections of this website, our attorneys help churches and religious nonprofits in the following areas:
Governance. We can help your ministry develop bylaws and association agreements that harmonize your ecclesiastical structure with state and federal legal requirements.
Corporate and tax issues. While ministries are often exempt from many regulatory filings, they are not exempt from all such filings, nor are they exempt from following federal and state laws. We can help your ministry navigate its corporate and filing requirements, including bylaw notice requirements, unrelated business income tax (UBIT), and local property tax exemptions.
Campus Preservation Planning. Many ministries own valuable real estate and buildings. However, this property is often owned by the same corporate entity that conducts high risk ministry activities, such as youth ministry, where one car accident or an abuse allegation can expose and jeopardize a church’s building or endowment to a plaintiff’s law suit and court judgment. Fortunately, risk management strategies exist to allow your ministry to pay just claims, but protect valuable assets for your mission.
Policies and Procedures. We help ministries draft policies and procedures that comply with the law, ministry practice and beliefs. We have developed policy and procedure packages for the following ministry areas: children’s and youth ministry, pastoral counseling, abuse reporting, building safety and security, and benevolence.
Pastoral Counseling Advice. Ministry leaders are on the front lines when it comes to life’s most challenging counseling issues. These include suicide attempts, drug and alcohol addictions, mental health issues, spousal abuse, child abuse, and other criminal acts. Often issues arise in the context of the clergy-penitent relationship. Our attorneys can help your staff navigate an appropriate response that takes into consideration state reporting requirements, the safety of actual or potential victims, the rights of the accused or actual perpetrator, and addressing these within the larger context of the ministry’s responsibility to serve, protect, and shepherd its members.
Planned Giving. Many church members have a deep commitment and loyalty to their ministry, as well as a sense of stewardship of the resources entrusted to them. Yet many ministries fail to proactively teach on the subject of generosity, nor do they communicate to members 1) that the ministry welcomes planned gifts, 2) how to make such gifts, and 3) how the ministry would put such gifts to work. We can help your ministry develop a planned giving program that encompasses teaching on sacrificial living, wise stewardship, and the practical ways members can leave planned gifts to your ministry.
Staff and Volunteer Training. We can point your organization to a unique blended-learning program for your staff, volunteers and board of directors. This program can combine both face-to-face and online training courses. Over a hundred online courses include topics such as:
Child Abuse Response and Reporting
Sexual Harassment and Discrimination
OSHA compliance (Bloodborne Pathogens and Hazard Communications)
Board of Directors Training
385 Concord Avenue
Belmont, MA 02478 (617) 484-6610
Fax: (617) 484-0035