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Pastor, Church & Law

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

Legal Briefs

Volume 1 . Chapter 2

Legal principles apply to the three phases of a minister's relationship with a local church:

(1) Initiation of the relationship—Initiation of the pastor-church relationship varies from denomination to denomination and even from church to church within some denominations. Hierarchical denominations may exercise considerable control over local churches, and prescribe how a minister is to be selected. In congregational denominations, the local church is self-governing and has the authority to select its own ministers. This authority must be exercised in accordance with the church's constitution and bylaws. This is a very important principle of law, and it indicates the necessity of being familiar with a church's governing instruments.

While ...

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