As a church treasurer, you should be familiar with and able to identify the following documents:
1. Articles of incorporation. The articles of incorporation is a short document that contains the church's name, address, period of duration, initial board of directors, and statement of purposes. The articles of incorporation is called the church's charter. The charter is the most authoritative legal document that a church has. In the event of a conflict between the charter and any other legal document, the charter will control. Be sure you are well versed on your church's charter.
2. Corporate annual reports. In many states, incorporated churches are required to file an annual report with the Secretary of State. This is a simple form that takes only a few minutes to complete. But failure to comply with the requirement can jeopardize a church's corporate status; and this can expose church members and board members to personal liability. Churches should maintain a full set of all corporate annual reports filed with the Secretary of State's office.
3. Constitution or bylaws. This is the document that contains most of a church's rules of internal administration. At a minimum, church bylaws should cover the following matters: the qualifications, selection, and expulsion of members; the time and place of annual business meetings; the calling of special business meetings; notice for annual and special meetings; quorums; voting rights; selection, tenure, and removal of officers and directors; filling of vacancies; responsibilities of directors and officers; the method of amending the bylaws; and, the purchase and conveyance of property. It is essential for church leaders to be familiar with this document, since it covers so many issues of church organization and administration.