This week’s headlines that affect churches and church leaders.
Texas Appeals Court Rules Against Break-Away Anglican Group. “In The Episcopal Church v. Salazar . . . a Texas state appeals court issued another ruling in a long-running dispute over ownership of property of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. In 2008, the Diocese voted to disaffiliate from The Episcopal Church and to become part of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. In 2009, The Episcopal Church sued claiming ownership of the Diocese's property. The litigation has moved up and down the Texas court system, including to the Texas Supreme Court, ever since. In this week's opinion, the state Court of Appeals reversed in part a trial court decision and held that control of the property resides in the group that remained with The Episcopal Church under the leadership of Bishop Scott Mayer, rather than with the break-away group led by Bishop Jack Iker” (“Break-Away Texas Anglican Group Loses in Latest Round of Long-Running Case,” Religion Clause).
Read more about what this property case means for your church in this Recent Development, which covered the story earlier in the dispute.
Donor-Advised Funds Account Holders Prioritize Education. “Account holders of donor-advised funds (DAFs) aren’t like your typical check-in-the-mail donor. They tend to be wealthier, savvier in terms of taking advantage of the tax implications of their gifts, and—according to new research—prioritize their gifts differently than the general donating public. DAF account holders and general donors shared three of the same top four subsectors to which they gave between 2010 and 2015, but the priorities skewed differently. Education (28 percent of average yearly contribution) was the top subsector for DAF grants followed by public-society benefit (15 percent), religion (14 percent), and human services (11 percent). General donations, by yearly contribution, favored religion (32 percent), education (15 percent), human services (12 percent), and foundations (12 percent) during that same time” (“Donor-Advised Funds Grantors Prefer Education over Religion,” The Nonprofit Times).
Learn about receipts for donors and how to follow IRS guidelines in this downloadable resource.
New York Church Encourages Members to Carry Guns. “When the parishioners at the Lighthouse Mexico Church of God gather for worship each Sunday, many of them are armed. The fact that they carry is no secret. The church, located in the small, upstate town of Mexico, N.Y., says on its website that it's ‘not a gun-free zone.’ Pastor Ron Russell began to encourage church members to carry concealed weapons after Dylann Roof killed nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. in 2015. Russell, 70, believes that it's not just his responsibility to keep his church safe, but his sacred duty—pastors are commissioned by God to protect their flock, he says. The pastor, who's been with the church since 1994, oversees a makeshift security team that patrols the church grounds on high alert each week” (“Armed at Church: Why This Congregation Is ‘Not a Gun-Free Zone,’” NPR).
Learn about various security options for your church in this downloadable resource.
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Emily Lund is assistant editor for Church Law & Tax.