Thursday, January 01, 2009

Practical Tips for a Move to Western Orthodoxy

From WesternOrthodoxy.com. I have updated some of the information from this original post, written on that website and not by me, to reflect our new Western Rite Vicar General, the Very Rev. Fr. Edward Hughes. This is a helpful, practical guide for those who are looking for a new church home in the new year.
Practical Tips for a Move to Western Orthodoxy

This article is a collection of points to think about for those considering a group move to Orthodoxy. Some are practical - how to make a great altar for a temporary space. Others are legal issues to explore with counsel. Not every point applies to every situation. These thoughts are offered by those who have been through this process, survived and thrived.

Phase 1:
Exploring Your Options

A great move. Here is what one layman, whose father had been an Episcopal priest, wrote after he and his parish completed a move to Orthodoxy:

My wife and I talked, we prayed, we thought about it. 73 years of Episcopal Church worship were ‘on the line.’ To leave was almost inevitable, but filled with fear and trepidation. We went to our first Western Rite Orthodox communion still unsure. Lo and behold we found ourselves at home, and what a homecoming! The liturgy, the prayers, the celebration of the Mass without the contamination of inclusive language, without the intrusion of contemporary political liberalism. We were Home! Surely God was leading us, loving us and guiding us! Home! How else can you say it? Home with Jesus Christ! Free at last to worship as our fathers and their fathers before them. Thanks be to God.
Like any important move - such as to your dream home or a great new job -- a move to Western Orthodoxy takes consideration, planning, and effort. This article makes it easier to think through and complete that process. And here’s the best news: Coming home to Orthodoxy is the last move you’ll ever have to make.

Call with questions! The Archbishop has appointed a Vicar General as the person directly under him to deal with Western Rite issues, inquirers, liturgics, etc. Grab the telephone and call the Vicar General about any issues, concerns, problems, or just to talk about Western Orthodoxy. He can help personally or refer you to someone in the Vicariate. The Vicariate can also arrange speakers -- for example, other priests or lay people who have gone through this and can speak to your people. Here are the address and telephone numbers:

The V. Rev. Edward Hughes
103 Pleasant St
Methuen, MA 01844
(978) 685-4052 or (978) 686-3274
Bricks and Mortar. Most new churches start fresh in a new space. If you are thinking of trying to keep the old church building, get excellent legal counsel far in advance of any move. In the Episcopal church, this has been made very difficult by changes to canon law designed to thwart people changing affiliations. Get solid, independent legal advice. Whatever the advice, think hard before devoting your early years and resources to a custody battle for the building. You may decide, in the words of one parish, to say “You keep the building, and we’ll keep the Church.”

Testing the Waters. Normally, the movement to Orthodoxy begins with a few people. It is of course desirable - both for spiritual and pragmatic reasons -- to bring with you as many people as possible. However, you must be discerning and realistic. You know your parish. Establish your core group before you make any announcement. This is particularly true if it appears that only a portion of the parish will be likely to make the move. Begin cautiously, approaching only those persons you are confident would be interested. After you make your announcement, you may be amazed at the number of people who join you. You may also be surprised by some persons who do not, and who may even become hostile.

Loose Lips. As you explore the possibility of forming a group to join Orthodoxy, be circumspect. This is especially true if a priest or deacon is considering whether he is called to go with you. If the hierarchy of your current denomination discovers your discussions or search before you have finalized your plans and announced your departure, it could make a “pre-emptive strike” against you. Excommunications or suspension of clergy can present difficulties if done before you are ready to move. Such actions can injure the financial position of clergy and their families by creating gaps in retirement packages, group health insurance, etc. While new arrangements will eventually be made, you want such matters to be negotiated and transferred, rather than starting anew or after a lapse in coverage.

Address People’s Concerns. Once you are discussing the possible move, take time to solicit and address any concerns parishioners have about the idea. People may have erroneous ideas, such as that Orthodox services require 3 hours of standing, or aren’t in English. Show people the Western Rite service, so they can be comfortable with it. If people are concerned about joining a church they may perceive to be “ethnic”, address that head on, including by explaining that something like half the members and clergy of the Archdiocese are converts, and that Western Orthodox folks in particular are almost all converts. Offer to put people in touch with similar lay people from other parishes who made the change.

More Orthodoxy Online. Investigate the additional resources and information available on other Western Orthodox websites. Check out our Links page.

Phase 2:
Physical & Legal Preparations for the Move

Once you decide to move, you have two main needs: (1) To gather the vestments, books and other hardware necessary for proper worship, and (2) To establish the legal framework for your new parish. These activities should go on concurrently.

  • Holy Hardware
You will want to make the first liturgy in the new space look and feel like as much like a “real” church as possible. Plan ahead for vestments, acolyte cassocks and surplices, altar items, etc. At the same time, don’t obsess if you don’t instantly own everything you had at the old church.

A Little Leaven. Orthodox communion bread is leavened. For leavened priest’s wafers and people’s hosts, call (931) 836-8089.

Service Books. Order service books in advance. Write to the Vicariate about Western Rite materials available from the Vicariate or the Archdiocese. Depending on how “Novus Ordo” your parish was forced to go, you may no longer have 1940 Hymnals or a proper Anglican altar Missal or the English Gradual. Here are ideas on where to get those:

What’s in the Attic? If the old church has copies of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer or 1940 Hymnals or English Gradual books stored somewhere and never used, consider negotiating to take them with you. (This would be done after your announcement is made.) The BCPs do contain material not used by Western Orthodox, but are handy because they contain the proper version of the psalter. (See also Daily Office, below.)

Bookstores. Second-hand book shops often have inexpensive copies of the 1940 Hymnal and 1928 BCPs. Ask everyone in the parish, especially those practiced at ferreting things out in bookstores, to look for them. Have a book marking party to make the small linguistic changes necessary to reflect Orthodoxy’s rejection of the filioque. Delete the words “and the Son” from the Creed’s “who proceedeth from the Father and the Son . . .”. Occasionally a hymn has an embedded reference to the filioque. These are also easily fixed. For example, Hymn 199’s last line refers to the Holy Ghost as “who from Both with Both is One/” Change this to “who with Both is ever One.”

Auctions. Try searching for vestments, candlesticks, altar linens, and other tangible items online. At any given time there’s an amazing amount of religious hardware on offer through Ebay, for example. If you don’t find what you need immediately, you can register a personal shopper request for it. That means Ebay will email you whenever a new item comes up that matches your request. Yahoo’s auction service has a similar feature. Consult someone in your group who’s an experienced online auction shopper. And be sure to ask any questions before you bid for something. Also check out traditional auction houses in your area. If possible, make arrangements to be alerted when church-related goods come up for bidding.

Coordinate Donations. Set up a Donations or Arts Committee. People may be in a fever to donate things. Unless judgment and oversight are exercised, you can end up with a bunch of stuff that doesn’t match, some of which is undesirable, and all of which must be used to avoid giving offense. Draw up a prioritized list of what the church needs. This might include references to the Wippell’s catalog (preferable to the Almy, which is more Novus Ordo) and prices. Circulate it, or use it tactfully as a reference when people express interest in giving something. Wippell’s USA contact information is:

1 Mill Street
P.O. Box 468
Branchville, NJ 07826
tel. (973) 948-2134.
I’ve Got a Little List. Appoint one of your number to keep a detailed list of all gifts made, especially physical items. Describe the gift with specificity (e.g., Silver plated monstrance with Limoges image of the Blessed Virgin Mary). For major items like a processional cross, set of vestments, etc. consider taking a photograph. For each gift, list the donor(s)’ names, addresses, the date the gift was received, and whether it is in memoriam. If the gift is a memorial, list the name of the person in whose memory the gift is given, and that person’s relationship to the donor. Include the value of each non-cash gift, and any supporting documentation the donor may have. This list is a permanent record for your mission and the parish it will become. The record helps people to establish the charitable exemption for any gifts, and can also help establish an insurance claim in the event of a loss in future years. (Store one copy of the list away from the church for this purpose.)

Let Us Build an Altar. A practical altar is easily built with two tall sawhorses and a large, solid, heavy board. When covered with a Jacobean frontal the altar looks great. See our instructions for making and vesting an altar.

Laudian Frontals. The beauty of the traditional Laudian frontal is also very practical for those in temporary worship spaces. Essentially, you sew a large rectangle large enough to throw over the altar and flow out regally all around. You can round off the corners, or leave them square and simply turn them under at the altar. This frontal not only makes for a beautiful altar, it also saves all of the material so that it can be re-used later when you have a permanent space of your own. If you can find locally or afford to order from Wippell’s a good all-seasons tapestry suitable for formal liturgical use, you can start with a single frontal to use year-round. Since good tapestry is costly, it’s usually less expensive to buy solid color fabric in the various liturgical colors and make a different frontal for each season. Look for a fabric that drapes nicely and has a bit of heft to it. Upholstery grade material works well. See our instructions for making and vesting an altar.

The Propers. If your choir director is unfamiliar with how to chant the propers in the English Gradual, or if you need the books, call the Vicariate - there are people who can help.

Pew missals. A people’s Western Orthodox Missal is available from the Archdiocese. Updates/revisions to it are available from the Vicariate. Also available is a red paperback edition of the liturgy. This is an inexpensive choice for those just starting out.

Thurible and Incense. Incense is required at Mass in the Orthodox church. You can get a thurible and incense from Wippell-Mowbray. (See "Coordinate Donations," above, for contact information.) Plain frankincense is available at some health food/natural food stores and some Greek Orthodox sources. (Note: The thuribles used in the Eastern Rite are not appropriate for WR use because they have bells on them.)

  • Stablish The Thing: Legal and Organizational Preparations
Mission Control. As soon as your group is reasonably defined, and you are sure you are going to make the move, contact the Western Rite Vicariate, so that your status as a Mission of the Orthodox Church can be established as soon as possible. This is very important - it provides you with a place to be, an anchor, so that you are not just a group of people with no association or defined purpose. It also can allow you to accept tax exempt gifts and pledges, using the charitable and/or religious tax exemption of the Vicariate or a local Orthodox church which may be designated to help you.

Do You Exist? Consider forming the legal structure of the new church in advance. Start the process for incorporation, or whatever the appropriate formalities are in your state. The Antiochian Archdiocesan sample articles of incorporation will help you get started. Supplement them with federally-required provisions and requirements specific to your state.

Getting Your Own Tax Exemption. Talk with your counsel about securing a tax exemption under Internal Revenue Code, Section 501(c)(3), as well as a similar exemption from the state in which you are organized and operate your new parish. This is valuable, since it exempts the church from income tax as well as from most or all state taxes. It also means gifts may be deducted by the donor.

Keeping Your Tax Exempt Status. Once your parish obtains a tax exemption, you must keep it. One of the Internal Revenue Service tests is the “organizational and operational test”. A church must demonstrate that it is organized and will be operated exclusively for religious purposes. Statements to this effect should go in both the bylaws and in the Articles of Incorporation, where the corporate purpose is given. The IRS also requires that religious organizations refrain from lobbying or political campaigning. Church bylaws and articles of incorporation must also provide that church assets are irrevocably dedicated for religious purposes, and that if the church ever dissolves its assets will be distributed to another tax-exempt religious organization. (See the Antiochian Archdiocesan sample articles of incorporation.) You should consult with your local counsel about these provisions, as well as how your organization can meet these tests to obtain and maintain tax exempt status.

Insurance. Get your new insurance up and running before your first service. Include these coverages among those you consider: Property insurance, to protect against loss to buildings and things belonging to the church (vestments, supplies, books, furniture, etc.); Liability insurance, to protect the church from any third party claims (such as if a visitor slips and falls at your service). Liability insurance may include coverage for Directors and Officers (your clergy and vestry members) and for clergy malpractice. Pick an insurance expert knowledgeable about the needs of churches and non-profits, and ask for a church combination package. This can offer all needed coverage at a substantial discount over the cost of buying each policy separately.

Accounting. The account books of the mission must be established right away to keep track of monetary donations, gifts and pledges, and to assure that the federal Internal Revenue Code and the tax laws of your state are complied with. Get the accountant in place even before you make the break -- it’s essential that proper books and records be established at the very beginning.

Health Coverage. Write to the Archdiocese to arrange clergy health coverage through the Archdiocesan plan. Shop around also. Depending on local circumstances, you may be able to secure a better deal on the open market.

Decency and Good Order. Make sure everything is in apple-pie order at the old church before you announce your plans and certainly before you actually go. This means physical space, church property, accounts, etc. Take photographs of the exited space and bring them with you. Do this even if there is no sign of trouble - if you never need them, fine. However, claims of damage or tampering may be asserted after you’re gone and not in a position to rebut them without photos. Immediately after the move, consider going over the property with the Bishop or other person in authority, as one would with a landlord on exiting an apartment.

Mine and Thine. If you are bringing anything with you that somebody could argue belongs to the old church, be open about it. Document why you believe it need not remain behind. Invite the old church to let you know if it disagrees.

Put it in Writing. Document everything. This need not be done in a stilted, legalistic manner. Use a friendly letter instead. The point is to have something in writing, both to smoke out any misunderstandings so they can be resolved promptly, and to have a record of what went on. The address box of the letter should include the recipient’s title, e.g. Senior Warden. Here’s an example of a legally effective confirming letter, which has a non-threatening, friendly tone. If you secure a deal to buy unused books, you could write:

Dear Walter,

Thanks so much for agreeing to sell the old BCPs and 1940 hymnals to our new mission at 50 cents a copy. We counted 150 total, so here’s our check for $75 - if you came up with a different number just let me know. I’ll have somebody pick them up after the Thursday liturgy next week.

Thanks again, ____.


Or, to document that certain objects formerly used and stored at the old church are going to the new, you could write:

Dear Elizabeth,

As I mentioned to you at coffee hour last week, the folks leaving to start the new Orthodox mission are bringing with us the silver tray used for the entrance votive candles and the set of Oxblood vestments for Passiontide. As you know, the tray was on loan from Mrs. Waters, who is joining the new mission. The vestments were given to Fr. Glaston personally and thus are going with him.

If you have any questions, just give me a ring.


You get the idea.

Proof of Delivery. Send any written items in a way that gives proof of delivery, such as Federal Express or certified mail, return receipt requested. If for some reason you decide that it will be too offensive or “in your face” to send an item in such a way, consider having an independent person - like a neighbor or friend not affiliated with the church - review the letter, seal it and hand deliver it. That way, there’s a relatively neutral person to confirm delivery. On the file copy of the same item, have the person make a note of when and how it was delivered. For example “Handed personally to secretary outside Fr. Smith’s office, Wednesday March 10th at noon.” Or, “Went to the church Friday June 3rd at 4:30 p.m., nobody there, put the letter through the mail slot.”

Media Coverage. If the press gets involved in your change, seek out parishioners or others experienced in handling the media -- this is a great opportunity to get your message across. Consider sending press releases to the Religious Editor or other suitable media sources. Be sure to send your draft press release to the Vicar General before it goes out. This helps ensure a consistent message and enables you to build on what others have done in the past. Comments to the media should be upbeat. Give your reasons for the change, stressing the positives of Orthodoxy, not the negatives of your old denomination.

Phase 3:
Up and Running

Welcome to Orthodoxy. Consider asking for “Welcome” letters from the Vicar General, your local W.R. dean, and any other Orthodox clergy who may have been involved in your transition. It is very cheering to have these read aloud at the first service. It underscores that the people aren’t just leaving something, they are joining something. Also, reading letters from the duly constituted authorities underscores that you are not vagantes.

Be It Ever So Humble. Once you have established your mission, you must have a place to hold your services, vestry meetings, etc. This place need not be grand, nor what you ultimately want your church building to be. However, it is extremely desirable that it be a place that is exclusively yours, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If it is all yours, almost anything will do for a beginning. You may hear arguments that you cannot afford any such place, and that homes should be used, or that a place should be rented just for Sunday mornings. Occasionally this must be so. However, you should look at the budget very carefully and sacrifice other things to get a place of your own. This will enhance your sense of mission and may also help you grow. It’s hard to get new folks into a private home, or to explain to inquirers that Mass is here, Matins there, and Evensong someplace else. Also - it’s a lot of work traipsing altar frontals, missals, thurible, etc. from place to place. Much better to have your own, blessed site where all can remain up from week to week.

Begin As You Mean to Go On. People are generally most receptive to change right at the time of the switch. If things like the propers, incense, formal liturgical language, veiling during Lent, etc. were forced to lapse in the old church, restore them right away, the first day. Toss the cassock-albs or other Novus Ordo vestments and start with the right stuff on day one. That way, these features are understood as givens, non-negotiable from the start. If you start without such things, it may be difficult to add them later.

Bless Thine Heritage. As you settle in, remember two key rules: No Novus Ordo, No Byzantinism. Look at old prayers you’ve collected; if they’re Novus Ordo, retranslate them back to traditional, liturgical English, or get the original version from an older source. Have the choir director take the same care with anthems. Well-meaning Eastern Orthodox may suggest you adopt customs or rituals followed in the Eastern Rite. Sometimes in the zeal of joining a new group, people may want to do that. This is forbidden; See the Ordo. The Eastern and Western Rites - including non-liturgical customs - are not hybridized. Each is preserved separately in its glory and fullness. Indeed, one of our new blessings is that when away from home we can attend Eastern Rite liturgies as full participants, just as our Eastern Rite brethren do when they visit a Western Rite parish.

Blessed Bread. Western Orthodoxy has restored the ancient Western custom of offering the eulogiae or pain benit - bread which is blessed, but not consecrated. At least as early as the 6th century, the custom of giving out blessed bread to non-communicants was prevalent in England, France and Germany. The Sarum liturgy, an inspiration for the Orthodox liturgy of St. Tikhon, has a specific prayer to bless the eulogiae, which is approved for Western Orthodox today: “Bless, O Lord, this creature of bread, as thou didst bless the five loaves in the wilderness, that all who partake thereof, may receive health both of body and soul. In the name + of the Father, and + of the Son, and of the Holy + Ghost. Amen.” Giving blessed bread to all is a kind and helpful custom for today, since persons who do not share the Orthodox understanding of communion might otherwise feel uncomfortable at not being able to receive. It is also a good example of the joy --and paradox-- of becoming Orthodox - that in the “Eastern” Orthodox church, we can be more free than before to fully pursue and enjoy all that is good in our Western Christian heritage.

The Daily Office. If people have gotten out of the habit of saying daily Matins and Evensong, teach on this. Get a sufficient number of Ordos, from:

ORDO
St. Luke's Priory Press (website under construction)
1325 E. Queen Ave.
Spokane, WA 99207
Also available is The English Office. Look at used bookstores for a single volume combining the King James bible (the authorized English language bible for our Archdiocese) and the 1928 BCP. This is very useful for saying the office.

King James Version. If necessary, alert lay readers for matins and evensong to practice the lesson from the KJV, and have a KJV bible at the church for readers to use. You may need to remind people to use the old form of introducing and readings: E.g., “Here beginneth the ___ verse of the __ chapter of the Epistle of James.” “Here endeth the [first or second] lesson.”

Confession. In addition to the General Confession at each liturgy and in the daily office, The Orthodox Church stresses sacramental confession to a priest. If this has not been customary or well-understood in your prior affiliation, consider teaching on this.

Bequests to the Church. After the switch, people whose wills contain bequests to the old church or affiliated organizations may wish to change their wills to leave the bequests to the new church instead. An announcement can be made in the bulletin reminding people of this issue.

Emergency notification cards. As at a school or office, it’s a good idea to have emergency notification cards. These tell the parish leaders who to call if a member is ill, has an accident, etc. If you had them at the old church, consider photocopying those of parishioners who are founding the new church. (Get their permission first, in writing.) Or, create/copy a form, and have them filled out at the first meeting or service of the new church. Some people may have included the church or priest as an emergency contact on a wallet card or at work. If the telephone number of the clergy or the church office has changed, consider reminding people to update such designations.

Funeral directions. Consider having parishioners fill out a card indicating their wishes (hymns, burial site, etc.) in this regard. The Orthodox church disfavors cremation. Relatives, however, may prefer it because it is perceived as cheaper. Having written confirmation of parishioners’ wishes can avoid unseemly disputes down the road, perhaps with relatives who are a different religion or unchurched. Your local funeral director is a good resource for whatever forms work in your state.

Resignations. Consider whether members wish to or need to resign from church-related boards or organizations affiliated with the old entity. For example, if you are the old parish’s representative to the ECW, you need to resign from that. Do this in writing and retain copies. It’s thoughtful to copy the old church on the letter, so that they know you’ve taken care of this. Depending on terms between those leaving and those staying, consider asking who your replacement will be and including that in your letter.

The Acolyte Corps. In Orthodoxy, only men and boys serve as acolytes. If your old church allowed female acolytes, you need to prepare them to understand and accept this change. Consider recruiting the former female acolytes to a new job in the new church - running the book table; coordinating the outreach program; managing the schedule of who sets up each week for liturgy, etc.

The Altar Guild. In the Western Tradition, it has long been a special ministry of church women to care for the vestments, altar linens and vessels, to help set up the altar, and to arrange and place the altar flowers. This is one of many instances where the Western Orthodox tradition is different from the Byzantine practice (only men deal with the altar). If you already have an altar guild, it can transition seamlessly into Western Orthodoxy. If your past affiliation doesn’t have this feature, talk to other Western Rite priests and altar guild directresses about how to get it going. One practical set-up point is new to Orthodoxy: The Metropolitan Archbishop gives a silk square to each new parish at the time of its reception into Orthodoxy. This item, called the Antimens, goes on the altar every liturgy, under the Fair Linen.

Mail Forwarding. At the post office, fill out mail forwarding cards for the priest, vestry members and other individuals who may receive mail at the old church by name. Ditto for the rectory. If something is sent to you which should go back to the old church, forward it promptly with a nice note. (Keep a file copy of your note and a photocopy of the outside of the item forwarded.)

Set an Example. Act at all times in a courteous and businesslike fashion. In addition to being the right thing to do, it can help move to your parish people who are sitting on the fence. If the people who stay behind are acting angry, vindictive, and paranoid, and the people who moved to Orthodoxy are being friendly, open, and courteous, think about what kind of message that sends.

Memorial Gifts. Parishioners occasionally find it a wrench to leave behind gifts given in memory of their beloved dead. Consider negotiating to buy these for the new church, so that they may follow the giver. This may be a long shot, but you never know. Unless the leaving group is on extraordinarily good terms with the old church, this might best be done well after the dust has settled.

Prepare for the Novelty to Wear Off. After you’ve been up and running in Orthodoxy for awhile, prepare people for some degree of let-down. Remember Screwtape’s letter to Wormwood: “Work hard, then, on the disappointment or anticlimax which is certainly coming to the patient during his first few weeks as a churchman. The Enemy allows this disappointment to occur on the threshold of every human endeavour. It occurs when the boy who has been enchanted in the nursery by Stories from the Odyssey buckles down to really learning Greek. It occurs when lovers have got married and begin the real task of learning to live together. In every department of life it marks the transition from dreaming aspiration to laborious doing.” The novelty of setting up chairs and carting around “church in a box” runs out. Persevere.

Be Realistic. Do not suggest that life will be a perfect dream in Orthodoxy, that a person’s spiritual life will radically change and improve right away, that the church will magically triple in numbers and money, etc. This may sound silly - but in at least one instance people were told things like this, believed them, and were disappointed. Discuss the real reasons for becoming Orthodox: Orthodoxy is true. We can be in the historic and vibrant Orthodox church, in communion with millions of people, while also preserving all that is good and worthy in the Western Christian heritage. This is not just for our own benefit, but for that of all His holy church. Orthodoxy wants the glorious and beautiful traditions of the West restored unto her. While the Orthodox church, like any in this fallen world, has problems, they are vastly different from those with which many of us were familiar in a previous denomination. No argument about dogma, no political groupthink masquerading as Church doctrine, etc.

Spread the Word. Are there people who left your old church out of concern that it was departing from its true tradition? Who became unchurched for whatever reason? After the new church is up and running, let them know about it. Some people may be interested in joining; others may simply be glad to know that their former co-parishioners have found a home in Orthodoxy.

A Worthy Vocation. From the beginning, traditional Western Christianity has suffered attacks from within and without. In spite of the heresies, persecutions and schisms, and the serious attacks in our own 20th century, it has survived for 2,000 years. If you are considering becoming Western Orthodox, you may well be called by our Lord to preserve the magnificent heritage of the Western Christian Tradition, restored to Orthodoxy once more. This vocation is to perpetuate the Western Rite liturgy, and also the beauty, majesty, spirituality, and devotion of the Western Tradition. We are sure that if you are true to this calling, God will bless your endeavors.

Enjoy Your New Home! Thousands of people have found a new home in Orthodoxy - perhaps you are called to do so. Of course it is not easy. Of course it involves sacrifice - and plain old work, like some of the practical tasks outlined here. All good and true endeavors do. But we know of nobody who, having made the move, would ever go back. Welcome Home. Amen.

Write the Next Chapter. Is there something you wanted to see in this article that’s not there? Something your group found helpful in the transition and want to share with others? Send in you suggestions, and maybe they will be part of the next edition of this article.

Labels: , ,

3 Comments:

Blogger A Sinner said...

Forgive me my brother, but the below information that you have suggested in setting up a WR is unwise and leads our churches into the domination and control of the Government. Churches are already tax exempt and require no 501 c 3 to receive tax exempt donations. Please see my post on JourneyTo Orthodoxy.blogspot.com

"Getting Your Own Tax Exemption. Talk with your counsel about securing a tax exemption under Internal Revenue Code, Section 501(c)(3), as well as a similar exemption from the state in which you are organized and operate your new parish. This is valuable, since it exempts the church from income tax as well as from most or all state taxes. It also means gifts may be deducted by the donor.

Keeping Your Tax Exempt Status. Once your parish obtains a tax exemption, you must keep it. One of the Internal Revenue Service tests is the “organizational and operational test”. A church must demonstrate that it is organized and will be operated exclusively for religious purposes. Statements to this effect should go in both the bylaws and in the Articles of Incorporation, where the corporate purpose is given. The IRS also requires that religious organizations refrain from lobbying or political campaigning. Church bylaws and articles of incorporation must also provide that church assets are irrevocably dedicated for religious purposes, and that if the church ever dissolves its assets will be distributed to another tax-exempt religious organization. (See the Antiochian Archdiocesan sample articles of incorporation.) You should consult with your local counsel about these provisions, as well as how your organization can meet these tests to obtain and maintain tax exempt status."

8:47 AM  
Blogger Vir Speluncae Orthodoxae said...

If this isn't on the Archdiocean website IT SHOULD BE!

2:33 PM  
Blogger Ben Johnson said...

"A Sinner," a few comments:

To underline the first line of this post, the entire indented message was taken from the archived WesternOrthodoxy.com, formerly the website for Fr. Charles Dinkler's church. Perhaps the late father wrote it himself? I merely updated a the addresses, as I wrote.

While I have heard many arguments against churches attaining 501(c)3 status from the government, I have not much analyzed them. To the extent that I have, I have not found their conclusions maintained by their theses.

The most important part is, in this as in matters of faith, my opinion and yours is irrelevant: every canonical Orthodox Church in this country will demand its churches file and receive 501(c)3 status. Thus, that is an important part of affiliating with Orthodoxy or starting a mission under any jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church. If you feel this is a trap, you can always try to sway the bishops. Until then, think of this as a helpful exercise in submission to one's church hierarchy.

God bless!

1:14 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home