The Government Funding Supreme Court Case Churches Should Watch. “Earlier this year, the US Supreme Court agreed to consider Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley, a 2013 lawsuit filed by the church after the state of Missouri rejected its application for a grant to replace its preschool’s playground pebbles with repurposed rubber from old tires. The state’s grounds for denial? The preschool was ineligible because it was run by a church, citing an 1875 Missouri constitutional amendment—known as the Blaine Amendment—prohibiting public funds from being used ‘in aid of any church.’ Here, David O. Middlebrook—a founding shareholder of Anthony & Middlebrook and the Church Law Group in Grapevine, Texas, and Church Executive ‘Legal Realities’ Series author—offers his take on this potentially pivotal case for churches” (“A Supreme Court Case to Watch: Trinity Lutheran Church vs. Pauley,” Church Executive).
If your church is wondering where the divide is between church and state in the realm of politics, find answers in Politics and the Church, a new downloadable resource.
Mississippi Bill Could Allow Guns in Churches without a Permit. “The Church Protection Act [in Mississippi] is a bill under the microscope by some moms and faith leaders who gathered Thursday [March 17] at the state capitol to express opposition. They're worried it's not what meets the eye. ‘We need to stand up and continue to make our voices heard because our lives are on the line,’ said Lucy McBath, the leader of Everytown Faith and Outreach. However, the bill's author says they shouldn't be concerned. ‘What this bill does [is] extend the Castle Doctrine to a local church who decides to authorize a security team to protect the people,’ said state Representative Andy Gipson. But opponents claim it would instead dismantle the state's concealed carry permitting system” (“Some Express Concern over Church Security Bill,” WTVA.com).
The downloadable resource Confronting Gun Violence at Church details what churches need to know and how they can prepare for this growing threat.
Minister Speaks Out against Denomination’s Failure to Disclose Pastor’s Status as Sex Offender. “More than a year earlier, the same man [Pastor Eli Echevarria] began visiting my congregation in Branford, Connecticut. We welcomed him, and in the following months he mixed with the congregation, including the children. Then, after he had been with us for several months, when I had returned from a summer holiday, it was brought to my attention that Echevarria had been recently arrested for possessing child pornography. The arrest was for behavior when he was still preaching in New Haven, Connecticut, well before he crossed our threshold. I then discovered he had been convicted before on charges of illegal sexual contact in 2006, put on three years' probation and registered as a sex offender” (“Breaking My Church’s Silence about a Pedophile,” Courant.com).
The Church Board Guide to a Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Policy walks church leaders through each step of outlining training, procedures, and responses to sexual abuse of minors in the church.
Church Bookkeeper Arrested for Stealing from Cancer Charity. “A Central Florida church bookkeeper was arrested Monday after police said she stole thousands of dollars from a charity that funds breast cancer screenings for women who are poor. Sharon Darleen Gane, 69, worked at the First United Methodist Church in Dunnellon, Florida, and signed over more than $100,000 in checks intended for the Michelle-O-Gram charity into her personal account, according to police. The nonprofit organization helps women who lack the finances or insurance to go get mammograms. The church writes checks and does the bookkeeping for the charity, WESH reports. Gane has been in charge of the organization’s finances since September 2011” (“Police: Florida Church Bookkeeper Steals Thousands from Breast Cancer Charity,” PalmBeachPost.com).
The Essential Guide to Internal Controls walks church leaders through best practices for financial transparency and security.
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