Doctrines and Discipline of the Free Methodist Church of North America - 1939 Edition



I. Trustees—Appointment and Duties

     ¶ 271. The board of trustees for church property shall consist of not less than three nor more than nine persons, at least two-thirds of whom shall be members of the Free Methodist Church.

     ¶ 272. In all cases where the law of states or territories requires a specified mode of election, that mode shall be observed; otherwise such trustees shall be elected at the society meeting, except where a society is not incorporated, and is embraced within a circuit and has become extinct, in which case trustees for such property shall be elected by the annual circuit meeting. All trustees shall hold their office until their successors shall be elected.

     ¶ 273. Boards of trustees shall report all business transacted to the annual circuit meeting, and to the society whenever requested to do so by the preacher in charge, the official board or by the society. They shall also make an annual statement of the financial condition of the property in their care.

     ¶ 274. If a member of our church holding the office of trustee withdraws from the church, is dismissed by letter or expelled, or removes beyond the bounds of the circuit for which he was elected, the society may declare his place in the board vacant, except in states or territories where the law will not allow this to be done.

     ¶ 275. No other denomination shall be permitted to hold stated appointments in any of our churches without the consent of both the preacher in charge and a majority of the trustees.

     ¶ 276. If a district desires to purchase or acquire property, such district shall incorporate. There shall be not less than three or more than nine trustees elected by the quarterly conference. All trustees shall hold their office till their successors shall be elected but provided that if a duly elected member shall refuse, by his actions, to attend legally called meetings of the board for one entire year or for three consecutive meetings, whichever is the longer period, his place shall be declared vacant by the next session of the quarterly conference and his successor elected at once for the remainder of the term, provided the same does not conflict with the law of the State of Incorporation. When the district becomes incorporated, the deed shall be made out directly to the district in its corporate name, and not to individual trustees; and in all cases it shall contain the trust clause included in Paragraph 278. This does not apply to Canadian property.

II. Incorporation and Deeds

     ¶ 277. Before any real estate is purchased for either church or parsonage property, let the society consult some reliable lawyer, provide him with a copy of our Discipline for reference, and wherever the law of the state or territory will permit, proceed legally to incorporate the society. Let the articles of incorporation, where the laws will permit, provide that the society shall be subject to the rules, regulations, doctrines, and Discipline of the Free Methodist Church, incorporated as “The Free Methodist Church of North America,” as from time to time adopted by the General Conference of said church, in so far as the same do not contravene the laws of the state, and that the secular affairs of the corporation shall be managed and controlled by trustees elected according to the provisions of said Discipline. When such incorporation is completed let the deed be made out directly to the society in its corporate name, and not to individual trustees; and in all cases it shall contain the trust clause included in the next paragraph.

     ¶ 278. In states where the law requires church property to be held by trustees, and in states where incorporation can not be secured as provided for in the preceding paragraph, let all deeds be made to trustees, naming them and their successors in office, and containing the following trust clause: “In trust for the use and benefit of the membership of the Free Methodist Church of North America, incorporated under the name of ‘The Free Methodist Church of North America,’ subject to the Discipline, usages and ministerial appointments of said church, as from time to time authorized and declared; and, if sold, the proceeds shall he disposed of and used in accordance with the provisions of said Discipline, and of the civil law; and in further trust and confidence that in the houses of worship now erected or that may hereafter be erected on said premises hereby conveyed, the seats shall be forever free; and in further trust and confidence that the said trustees and their successors in office shall permit at all times the preachers who may be duly authorized according to the Discipline of the said Free Methodist Church, to hold religions services in said houses of worship according to said Discipline.”

     ¶ 279. No deed shall be accepted which contains a clause by which the land conveyed may revert to the original grantor, his heirs or assigns.

     ¶ 280. All deeds should be immediately recorded. and in all their parts should be made to conform to the laws, usages and forms of the state or territory in which the property may be situated.

     ¶ 281. In no case shall the church or parsonage property he sold, mortgaged or encumbered for current expenses.

     ¶ 282. Whenever it may become necessary or advisable to dispose of any church property, the trustees may sell and convey the same by first securing the authority of the society for such sale, the approval of the district elder and the consent of the General Conference, or in the intervals of its sessions, of two-thirds of the trustees of the General Conference; provided that in all cases the proceeds of such sale shall be used either for the purchase or improvement of property for the same uses and deeded to the same corporation or trustees; or if not so used, shall be held subject to the order of the annual conference in whose territory such property may be situated.

     ¶ 283. Whenever any church property is no longer used for church purposes, and is declared abandoned by the annual conference, it shall he the duty of the trustees, if any remain, to sell such property and turn over the proceeds of such sale to the annual conference. If no such trustees remain, it shall be the duty of the trustees of the annual conference to take possession of such property by any means lawful in the state or territory in which the property may be situated. The annual conference may sell and convey such property, the proceeds of such sale to be used as said conference may direct, provided that such transaction shall not be contrary to the civil law.

III. Erection of Churches

     ¶ 284. 1. All our houses of worship must be built plain and neat, without steeples, and no more expensive than is absolutely required for comfort, convenience and stability, and with all seats free.

     2. No step shall be taken involving pecuniary liability in erecting houses of worship or parsonages, or in purchasing church property of any kind, until two-thirds of the amount necessary to meet the estimated cost be secured in good, reliable subscriptions.

     3. No houses of worship, parsonages or other church buildings shall be erected on leased ground, except on reservations or other places where it is impossible to secure a deed in fee, or without the unanimous consent of the conference Board of Church Extension and Aid Society of the annual conference in whose territory the property is situated.

     4. Each annual conference shall appoint a committee of not less than three on “Church Buildings and Locations,” and no church shall be built within the bounds of the conference without the approval in writing both of the location and the plan of the building and of the title of the property. If any location is selected or a church building constructed without such consent that society shall not receive aid from the Church Extension and Aid Society. This committee shall satisfy themselves that proper facilities have been made for the accommodation of the Sunday school before giving their approval.

     5. The Executive Commission is authorized to collect data touching the questions of heating, lighting, ventilating and comfortable seating for churches, also to secure cuts, drawings and working plans of church buildings which conform to Free Methodist standards, and to make such information and plans available for societies desiring to build; and all societies intending to build are urgently requested to secure such information from the Executive Commission and to make such use of it as local conditions will permit.