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Pastor, Church & Law

written by Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA

Powers of a Local Church

Volume 2 . Chapter 6 . § 6-13

It often is necessary to determine the nature and extent of a church's powers, for a church's actions may be subject to challenge if they exceed the church's authority. As has been noted elsewhere,513 unincorporated churches possess only such authority as is granted to them by state law. Many states have enacted legislation enabling unincorporated churches to sue and be sued and to hold property in the name of trustees. But without any specific delegation of authority from the state, an unincorporated church has no legal powers and must act in the name of its members.514

In many states a church may incorporate under either a general nonprofit corporation law or a religious corporation law. State nonprofit corporation law ordinarily confers several ...

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