Welcome to the resource page for the Trustees! We have compiled information, templates and other resources that we hope will be helpful as you explore and navigate your position as a committee member. If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact your District Superintendent or their Administrative Assistant. (https://www.cnumc.org/district-offices).
Recording of Finance/Trustees Session Saturday January 28th, 2023 9am-1pm ( Click Here )
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the job description for Trustees?
The Mini Version: Trustees supervises and maintains the resources of your congregation so that its ministries can be effective.
The Short Version: The key word for Trustees is “manage.” Trustees is responsible for several legal and administrative functions, a few of which include maintenance of all local church property; annually reporting to the charge conference on the state of the church’s property, equipment, investments and resources; maintaining adequate insurance coverage for all property; being responsible (along with the pastor) for all use of the church buildings and grounds; ensuring that the articles of incorporation of the congregation are kept up to date (as applicable); and receiving and administering all gifts made to the congregation.
The Easy-to-follow 3-page Version: See the “Trustees Job Description” on the The UMC Discipleship Ministries’ website:
The Official Definition: The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 2016
The Discipline is the current statement of what The United Methodists Church believes and how we govern ourselves. See paragraphs 2525 - 2533 for the full-length duties of Trustees. https://www.umc.org/en/content/book-of-discipline-2525-ff-board-of-trustees
A “Must” for your committee: Guidelines: Trustees (2016)
Each member of your committee should have a copy of this extremely helpful and highly recommended booklet with an overview of the year and step-by-step instructions.
2. Where can I find the required forms to fill out?
Many forms can now be found on the California – Nevada dashboard known as the People Portal. Portals allow users to easily log in to gain access to important forms and update/submit information for the Conference office. Trustees-related forms such as “Trustees Facility Use Report” and “Report of the Trustees” can be accessed here by the chair of the committee. Please see the following link for detailed information and instructions.
3. Do we own our church?
In short, the local church property and assets are held in trust for the benefit of the entire denomination. Following are two resources on what is called the “United Methodist trust clause.”
What is the United Methodist trust clause?
This article gives the history behind the trust clause and the following definition: “The United Methodist trust clause is a statement included in legal documents (deeds) declaring that the property and assets of a local church or United Methodist body are held “in trust” for the benefit of the entire denomination. The trust clause ensures that United Methodist property will continue to be used for the purposes of The United Methodist Church.”
The Book of Discipline, paragraph 2501, “Requirement of the Trust Clause for All Property”
4. How do we register to become a non-profit? How often do we have to renew our status?
Nonprofit status is granted upon approval of an application with the Internal Revenue Service under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
• The organization does not need to pay income taxes to the state or federal government.
• Those who contribute to the organization can deduct the donations on their income tax returns.
• The earnings of the organization do not inure to any private individual.
• The organization does not involve itself in supporting individual political candidates.
The General Council on Finance and Administration of the United Methodist Church (GCFA) maintains a group exemption for all United Methodist churches and agencies.
United Methodist churches do not need to make this application. A United Methodist Church can obtain a letter from GCFA documenting its inclusion in the United Methodist Group exemption by going to www.umgroupruling.org and entering the church’s employer identification number, EIN.
For other useful links to IRS resources, visit our Finance & Admin page https://www.cnumc.org/for-churches.
5. What are the “articles of incorporation”? How and when do the trustees update them?
One reason that incorporation is vital is because it “will assist in exempting church members and officers from legal liability for debts or other obligations of the local church” (Guidelines: Finance, pg. 25). Corporations are created and regulated at the state level with the Secretary of State.
For a United Methodist church, the articles of incorporation include provisions stating:
• the corporation is created and exists in accordance with the current version of the UM Book of Discipline and subject to future versions of the UM Book of Discipline
• upon dissolution of the corporation, all assets go to the Annual Conference
Typically, the UM Book of Discipline can be considered the corporation’s bylaws.
A church’s board of trustees serve as the corporate board of directors. The chair of the board is listed as the chief executive officer of the corporation. The secretary of the trustees is listed as the secretary of the corporation. The church treasurer is listed as the chief financial officer of the corporation. In California, these officers are updated every other year via the California Statement of Information. In Nevada, officers should be updated whenever there is a change in the officers. In both states, these updates can be done online at the website of the secretary of state.
As a member of the church board of trustees, you should visit the Secretary of State website and do a search to verify your church’s corporation is in good standing.
Nevada churches: https://esos.nv.gov/EntitySearch/OnlineEntitySearch
California churches: https://bizfileonline.sos.ca.gov/search/business
If your church is delinquent in reporting its officers to the Secretary of State, the corporation will likely be suspended. Please contact our Finance & Administration office if you would like advice on getting your corporation back in good standing.
6. Who covers our property insurance?
Most local churches in our Annual Conference are covered with Berger & Jones. If you are a new chairperson for your committee, we recommend calling your agent or Berger & Jones directly to introduce yourself and simply ask “What do I need to do?”
7. How do we manage our insurance coverage?
Trustees are responsible for obtaining adequate insurance coverage for the local church. On an annual-basis, they must compare the existence and adequacy of the church’s insurance coverages (including liability) to an insurance schedule published by the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA), and then report to the charge conference on how to bring the coverage into compliance (Book of Discipline, paragraph 2533.2). The purpose of this review is to ensure that the church, its properties, and its personnel are properly protected against risks.
8. Do you offer trainings or webinars?
We highly recommend all church officers and committee members enroll in the Basic Lay Servant Ministries course as well as the Spiritual Gifts class in the conference’s Lay Servant Ministry program. These courses help us become servant leaders and to live into God’s mission and purpose for our lives. For the schedule of classes, click here.
We offer various courses throughout the year that will be announced on our conference’s weekly newsletter, Instant Connection (subscribe here: https://www.cnumc.org/news).
Church Leadership Training, Jan. 27 & 28, 2023 – Trustee/Finance Track: This training covers the positions of Lay Leader and members of SPRC, Finance and Trustees. This training is strongly recommended for those new to a position.