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Pastor, Church & LawMember access only

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

The Contract

§ 2.02
Key point 2-02. The relationship between a minister and church is contractual in nature. The contract may be expressed in a signed document, or it may be implied. Either way, there are important legal consequences resulting from the contract.


The relationship between a minister and church is based on contract. One court observed that "one becomes pastor of a church pursuant to a contract, made with the person or body having the authority to employ."[40] Walker v. Nicholson, 127 S.E.2d 564, 566 (N.C. 1962). Another court noted that "just as a church can contract with persons outside the church membership, it can contract with its own pastor."[41] Waters v. Hargest, 593 S.W.2d 364, 365 (Tex. 1979). Often, a contract of employment will be implied between a church and its minister if no written agreement was signed. As one court observed, "[t]he ...

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