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Pastor, Church & LawMember access only

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

Diversion of Church Funds

§ 4.09
Key point 4-09. Clergy who divert church funds to their personal use face possible criminal and civil liability.

Church income ordinarily consists of designated and undesignated contributions, interest on bank accounts, gain on investments, and rent from church-owned properties. Some churches have income from the rendition of services, such as the operation of child care facilities, private schools, or counseling services. Church income, from whatever source, is held by the church in trust for the church's religious and charitable purposes. Such a trust may be express, as when a donor contributes funds for a specified purpose, or implied, as when funds are contributed without designation regarding their use or constitute rents, interest income, service income, or gains.[128] See generally G. BOGERT, THE LAW OF TRUSTS AND TRUSTEES § 371 (1977 & suppl. 1999).

The principle that church funds ...

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