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

BSC, Foundation available to help

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

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


“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


For the BSC, visit www.ncbaptist.org or call (800)

395-5102. Visit North Carolina Baptist Foundation at

www.ncbaptistfoundation.org or call (800) 521-7334.

Related stories

Saying good-bye to church hard

Pastor not superhero to save church

Two Burlington churches form one new fellowship

Stuggling congregations lack hope, purpose

Southview sells, stays on as renter

Editorial: Keeping doors open not reason enough to keep doors open

BSC, Foundation available to help

A time to die: How do (and should) churches die?

When churches die, can they live again?

Church renewal depends on leadership