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Q&A: Church's Responsibility for Board Decisions

It's important to understand if board members are acting with "apparent authority."

Is the church responsible for its board members' actions?

The church is bound by the actions of its board, assuming those actions were taken following proper procedures such as pursuant to the church's bylaws or constitution, and were undertaken as a proper function of the board. So, if the board approved a vendor contract to lease a copier, the church is probably responsible. Even if the board acted without authority, the church might still be responsible under what is known as apparent authority. Apparent authority means that the person dealing with the church through the board reasonably believed that the board had authority to act on behalf of the church.

David Middlebrook is an attorney licensed to practice in Texas, Colorado, and the District of Columbia, and his practice emphasis is focused on representing tax-exempt organizations.

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations." Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

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Posted:
  • May 11, 2010

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