Starting a church involves a detailed process that can be heavily legal. The steps you take at the beginning of the process can determine whether your church may run smoothly. It is best to contact a lawyer at the beginning of the process. They can help set up your church for success. Here is how an attorney can help you start a church.
Handle the Administrative Details
A church must be incorporated in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The attorney can help draft Articles of Incorporation and file them with the state. In addition, your lawyer would also assist the church in obtaining an Employer Identification Number so you can hire and pay employees. The lawyer could also work on employment contracts and agreements.
One of the most important tasks a lawyer can perform is drafting the bylaws governing the church. The bylaws state how the church is to be run. The bylaws must be current because the church’s laws are constantly changing.
The bylaws also state how the church will be governed and how decisions will be made. The bylaws can contain key policies and clauses that dictate how the church’s finances will be handled. When there are any issues about how the church is being run, the first place that people will generally go is to the bylaws. Since the bylaws bind the church, they must be drafted correctly.
Counsel You on Compliance
There are numerous laws that churches must follow in their daily operations. An entire section of the Code of Virginia applies to churches and religious organizations. In addition, churches may also need to follow other local laws, such as building codes and environmental regulations.
Further, churches can also be sued in civil lawsuits. A church must understand all the legal risks that it faces when it begins operations. The attorney will explain the governing laws to your church’s officials so they can be aware of them going forward.
Draft Policies and Procedures
Once the church understands the laws, it must draft policies and procedures to ensure it follows them. Since many people may be involved in church business, each one needs to understand the correct way of doing things that could protect the church. There must be standardized procedures so there is uniformity among church practices. An attorney can help draft the required policies or review what church officials have composed.
Obtain Tax-Exempt Status
Another critical function is obtaining tax-exempt status. Congregants should be able to deduct their donations to the church from their taxable income. The church does not necessarily have to apply for tax-exempt status from the IRS but must meet the 501(c)(3) requirements. The church may find it helpful to obtain a 501(c)(3) determination letter from the IRS when it applies for grants. The church must comply with the requirements of the law if it wishes to maintain this status. Your attorney would work to ensure that the church meets the requirements of the law and advise the church on how to remain compliant.
Speak With Our Virginia Beach Church Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC for Help Starting a Church
Our Virginia Beach church lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC can help you with founding and running a church. Call us at 757-LAW-0000 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Located in Virginia Beach, we serve clients in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, Williamsburg, and Eastern Shore, Virginia.