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Q&A: Can a Church's "Irrevocable" Promise Become Revocable?

Why a church may have to honor a valuable commitment to a retired pastor.

When I retired as pastor, the church board took "irrevocable" action to provide full health coverage for my wife and me as long as we were alive. Recently I received a call from the current pastor stating that the board wants to cancel the health insurance benefits to my wife and me. The pastor stated that they are taking action because "they can change anything from past action." Can an "irrevocable" commitment be changed?

It is a well-established legal principle that a unilateral promise (i.e., a church board's irrevocable promise to pay a pastor's health insurance for life) is revocable. However, it is also well-established that unilateral promises can become irrevocable if they are supported by some form of "consideration."

Consideration is a legal concept that means something of value. To illustrate, X's promise to provide a benefit ...

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  • February 26, 2014

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