BSC, Foundation available to help
    March 23 2010 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

    By the time the Baptist State Convention (BSC) hears about a dissolving church, it’s usually too late.

    But Brian Davis, BSC executive leader for administration/convention relations, wants churches to know that the BSC staff is available at any stage in the process.

    “While we are not a central contact, I’m glad that we are finding out through a variety of different ways,” he said. “Churches have to think this thing through.”

    Churches have several things to consider when dissolving, including property, other assets, endowments, cemetery, equipment, etc.

    The first point of contact is usually the association, said Davis. Sometimes the church will contact the attorney that helped the church incorporate.

    Davis encourages churches to include a dissolution article in the bylaws of the church.

    Otherwise, the church will have to follow state guidelines and may lose control of the process.

    Davis said various persons at the Convention can help a church in deciding whether to dissolve or choose other options. David Moore helps with pastoral ministries and Mark Gray can help with a possible restart of a church.

    Sometimes a church will consider a way to help a new church get started while it contemplates the future, Davis said.

    He said churches need legal counsel when dissolving a church because there are so many things to consider.

    Davis sees this as a possible trend for associations as well. He mentioned the merger of Central Triad and Piedmont Baptist associations.

    The Convention is willing to help set up a meeting with legal counsel and to guide them in thinking and praying through the process.

    “It’s a decision that needs to be bathed in prayer,” he said. “I think associations are already at the point of struggling.

    “It’s not going to be if they merge but how they do it.”

    One of the problems Davis sees is that some churches look at ministry as business.

    Churches need to consider where resources go.

    “A lot of it comes back to church health — one that is growing spiritually,” said Davis, who mentioned the Church Health Institutes the Convention is leading around the state. “Every church needs to be growing spiritually and have a culture of discipleship.”

    For some it is “imperative that they reach out and get some help,” he said.

    Incorporation used to be a question on the Annual Church Profile (ACP), but fewer churches fill out the forms or provide incomplete information.

    Davis said the ACP is important for the Convention staff to assign help in areas where it’s needed.

    “There’s a lot of statistical information people don’t realize” that the Convention needs, Davis said. “We don’t have all the answer s but are available to help find answers.”  

    Setting up endowment
    Bill Overby, director of development at the North Carolina Baptist Foundation, said they’ve only seen one church in the last 7-8 years that left a scholarship endowment along with the rest of its assets to another local church. That scholarship endowment has since been fully turned over to the Foundation to manage and it awards funds for students at many of the Baptist colleges in North Carolina.

    stock.xchng photo

    Church cemeteries add difficulty in the dissolution process. One option for an endowment is upkeep.

    “It took a long time to get it right, but now kids are getting scholarships because of it,” Overby said.

    Overby said dissolving churches tend to give resources locally, either to other churches or to ministries.

    “Imagination is your only limit,” he said, indicating money could be used for statewide ministries. The funds can be divided up among several organizations too. At least 51 percent must go to a Baptist entity if it is managed by the Foundation. If a church is considered a non-profit organization, it must give funds to another non-profit.

    “It opens a window for a lot of different things that might be attractive,” Overby said. “We don’t want to focus on the churches that have to go out of business, but it’s even worse when you’re a poor steward.”

    He encourages churches “to be a legacy church and continue to finance ministry as a legacy.” Overby said a rural Durham homeowners association even has an endowment set up through another foundation. That money is given to a couple of different Baptist efforts, including disaster recovery.

    The dissolution process gets even more complicated if there’s a “boneyard” or church cemetery, said Michael Ester, associational missionary for Liberty Baptist Association (related story).

    A cemetery requires perpetual care. An option churches have is to set up an endowment for the upkeep of the cemetery.

    Hal Bilbo, associational missionary with Stanly Baptist Association, said the former Palmerville Baptist Church is in the process of setting up an endowment (related story).

    The church closed last Easter but is still putting funds towards this endowment. The former members have raised $83,000 towards a $100,000 endowment to provide for the cemetery upkeep.

    For the BSC, visit or call (800) 395-5102. Visit North Carolina Baptist Foundation at or call (800) 521-7334.

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    3/23/2010 6:00:00 AM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 0 comments

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