The “Waring Blender”

The song Poor, Poor Pitiful Me, lyrics by Warren Zevon, and sung by Linda Ronstadt and covered later by Terri Clark related the woes of a woman that lacked mate picking skills:

Well I met a man out in Hollywood

Now I ain’t naming names

Well he really worked me over good

Just like Jesse James

Yes he really worked me over good

He was a credit to his gender

Put me through some changes Lord

Sort of like a Waring blender

Churches with poor pastor picking skills suffer similarly.  Churches, no matter how small, that do not generally follow their governance documents, typically corporate bylaws, experience similar woes.

In Iglesia Pentecostal Filadelfia, Inc. v Rodriquez, Slip Op. (Tex. App. 13th, 2021), the trial court dismissed the case because it could not tell who was in governing control of the church.  A warranty deed clearly indicated the church owned the church property.  But, the failure to follow the bylaws in electing governing board members, officers and pastors left the Court with no means to determine who was in charge.  The Ecclesiastical Abstention Doctrine, the court held, precluded the court from resolving the dispute in the absence of a record.  The pastor even admitted he had been unaware of the existence of any bylaws until the lawsuit was filed in 2018 even though the church was founded and incorporated in 1987 by his parents.  The appellate court affirmed.

The only solution for a church in such a situation is to hold a congregational meeting, elect a new board, and document its decision.  The documentation probably would need to be a resolution accompanied by a signature by every voting member of the church.  Adopting a formal church membership roll in the same manner might be required to allow verification of the congregational vote.  Any church, no matter how large or small, that does not document its governance consistent with its governing documents at least to some extent risks losing control of its property, its assets and its funds to a faction or even an interloper.  Such documentation is simple, freely available on the internet or other sources, and need be updated only a few times a year.  An official copy should be kept at the church offices and a digital copy off site.  The digital copy should be updated at least annually.

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