The Arizona Southern Baptist Convention provides sample bylaws, articles of incorporation, property deeds, and other legal documents for church plants. One of the clauses in these documents is a reverter clause which transfers all the church’s assets to the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention in the case that the church ceases to be a Southern Baptist Church. My own church has such a clause in their bylaws, but they are not nearly as strict as the current templates available.
This language is encouraged for all churches and is required for church plants to get support from the convention. I understand the Southern Baptist concern to protect their investment. I also understand the desire in the local congregation to be sure that no cult takes over the church. This clause would allow the local SBC association come in, take over the property and start a new church in that case.
However, does this language not scare you? We have seen denominations leave the orthodox faith before. Is the SBC immune from liberalism, heresy, and apostasy? Shouldn’t the local church have some protection against being kicked out of the SBC and have their assets seized by the convention?
Is a church with these sort of bylaw restrictions still truly autonomous? Looking forward to your comments…
ARTICLE IX (emphasis added)
Purchase of Real Property
In the event the Church owns, or elects to purchase real property, the following covenants, conditions and restrictions shall apply to such real property:
Section 1. The deed conveying the ownership of the real property to the Church shall contain covenants, conditions, and restrictions consistent with those set forth in sections 2-6 of this Article IX (the “CC&Rs”). If the Church already holds title to real property, or acquires title to real property, at any time, without the CC&Rs being recorded against such title, then the Church shall immediately take action to record the CC&Rs against such title and the language of these Bylaws shall be a grant of authority for the Pastor or Chairperson of the Deacons to execute and record such CC&Rs without any further action being taken by the members of the Church.
Section 2. Real property owned by the Church as Grantee shall be used for the benefit of the members of the Church who are determined to be in harmony with and affiliation with the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention (“ASBC”), even if the members determined to be in harmony with the ASBC shall be a minority of the membership.
Section 3. For Church members to be in harmony with and affiliation with the ASBC requires that the messengers of the Church shall be recognized and given full voting privileges at the annual meetings of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention.
Section 4. Should the Church messengers be denied such recognition and voting privileges by the ASBC, or in case the organic existence of the Church shall cease, or in case its house of worship or the real property owned by the Church shall be abandoned or shall cease to be used as a house or place of Southern Baptist worship by those in harmony with or affiliated with the ASBC, as above set forth, or in case same shall be sold by the Church or the title be transferred by legal process or otherwise, without the written consent of the ASBC, then in each and every such case the title to the above described property shall revert to and become vested in the (local Southern Baptist Association’s name), or its successor, to be used for a church or mission in harmony with and affiliated with the ASBC.
Section 5. No reversion of title that might occur, as a result of the circumstances set forth in Section 4 above, shall render invalid or operate in any way against the lien of any mortgage or deed of trust given, with respect to the conveyed property, in good faith, and for value and on any such reversion (local Southern Baptist Association’s name) shall take title to the conveyed land subject to any such mortgage or deed of trust. However, any lien of any mortgage or deed of trust given, with respect to the conveyed property, that is not in good faith and not for fair value, or that is an effort to circumvent the intent of this restrictive covenant, shall be void and of no effect. The ASBC, or its successor, may enforce any of the covenants, conditions, and restrictions set forth herein by any appropriate action at its respective option. At any time following the date of this document, the covenants, conditions, and restrictions contained herein may be terminated by a written agreement signed by the Church and ASBC and recorded in the County Recorder’s Office in the county where the real property is located.
Section 6. Notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, the provisions in this ARTICLE IX of the Bylaws may not be amended or repealed except by unanimous consent of the voting members of the Church at any special business meeting of the Church, after such proposal for amendment or repeal has been made available, in writing, to all Church members at the worship services taking place during at least the two (2) weeks prior to the special meeting wherein the vote will be conducted.
View the complete document templates:
Articles of Incorporation
Declaration of Restrictive Covenants for an existing deed