Is Your Church Unincorporated?

By Pastor Everett Ramsey

How did the state of Nebraska bring a civil action against the Faith Baptist Church?  How did the pastor wind up in jail and the deacons come in jeopardy?  All good questions since the Constitution protects religion and individuals.  A simple answer is we were incorporated under the laws of Nebraska.  I was the president of the corporation and the deacons were the officers and trustees.  Incorporation of churches began about seventy years ago, all stemming from wrong motives:  Denominations started mission churches including investing money and time.  To protect their investments, they incorporated and put the new assets of the new churches in the corporation to prevent them from being taken in the event the young work failed or in the event the people decided to break off from the mother denomination and become an independent church. 

Another justifying rationale was that the corporation limited the liability of its officers to the assets of the corporation, if the corporation was ever sued.  Of course, all these reasons violated Biblical principles concerning personal responsibility and liability in relationship to God and man.  What we did not realize was that a corporation is the creation of a state government.  Therefore, the entire church became a licensed operation of the state.