4500. The general regulations set forth in this chapter shall be binding on all trustees and their governing bodies of The Wesleyan Church, whether local, district, or General Church, including all institutions, subsidiary corporations, and similar bodies, unless otherwise stated in The Discipline or in the articles of incorporation and bylaws governing such trustees.
B. Local Laws
4510. All provisions of The Discipline relating to property, both real and personal, and relating to the formation and operation of any corporation, are conditioned upon their being in conformity with the local laws (4580) of the country, state, territory, or other like political unit within the geographical bounds in which the property is located; and in the event of conflict therewith, said provisions of The Discipline shall be modified to the extent required to conform with any such local laws. This regulation, however, shall not be construed to give the consent of The Wesleyan Church to deprivation of its property without due process of law, or to the regulation of its affairs by statute where such regulation violates the constitutional right of freedom of religion, separation of church and state, or the rights of the Church to maintain its polity.
4520. A trustee must be a Wesleyan Church member who meets the leadership qualifications (260–268; 558). Whenever a trustee ceases to be a member with said qualifications for any reason, the office as trustee shall be declared vacant and a successor shall be elected for the unexpired term in the manner provided in The Discipline.
4530. All trustees shall administer their duties in accord with The Discipline as from time to time amended, as directed by the governing body to which they are amenable, and subject to local laws as set forth in 4510. Whenever a trustee refuses to carry out properly given orders and instructions and submit to the authority to which amenable, the trustee may be removed from office and a successor shall be elected for the unexpired term as provided for in The Discipline.
4540. A board of trustees shall have and hold in trust for the use and benefit of the members and ministers of The Wesleyan Church any and all property committed to it; shall see that titles are good; that deeds and all written instrumentalities are in harmony with The Discipline and with local laws as set forth in 4510; that all property deeds and titles contain the required trust clause as set forth in 4610; that they are promptly recorded; that abstracts and all other legal papers are properly stored and secured; and shall perform such other duties as are required of them in The Discipline or by the governing body to which they are amenable, and in the case of incorporated bodies, as set forth in the articles of incorporation and bylaws or charter of the corporation.
4550. A trustee or board of trustees and/or its governing body may not divert property from the ownership and use of The Wesleyan Church.
4560. A board of trustees shall not normally accept a deed which contains a clause by which the land conveyed may revert to the original grantor, the heirs, or assigns of the original owners.
4570. “The Discipline” shall always refer to The Discipline of The Wesleyan Church as from time to time legislated and declared (125–185; 1590:1–2; 2066).
4580. “Local laws,” whenever used in The Discipline, shall be construed to mean laws, including regulations and case law, of the civil jurisdiction(s) applicable to the matter at hand. With respect to property matters, this would normally be the law of the jurisdiction within which the property is located, and with respect to any other legal matters, would normally be the law of the civil jurisdiction(s) within which the matters arise.
F. Trust Clause and Release Therefrom
4590. All property, whether real, personal, or mixed, acquired by any local church, circuit, district, institution, agency, or other similar body of The Wesleyan Church, whether incorporated or unincorporated, shall be held in trust for The Wesleyan Church, incorporated as The Wesleyan Church Corporation under the laws of the state of Indiana, and shall contain the trust clause as set forth in 4610 (315:6; 323:8). The absence of the trust clause in the evidence of the title or other written instruments, regardless of whether such absence is due to mistake, inadvertence, or willful omission, shall in no way exclude a local church, circuit, district, institution, agency, or similar body, whether incorporated or unincorporated, from or relieve it of its responsibility to The Wesleyan Church and subjection to the authority of said Church, and such property can only be sold, transferred, or otherwise disposed of in accord with the provisions of The Discipline, concerning the sale, transfer, or encumbrance of property.
- (2) Space reserved.
- (3) For local property in established districts see 510:4; 518:6; 528:5; 655:11; 725:21–22; 782:25–26, 29, 32; 850–856; 1038:3; 1180:19–20; 1233:13–14; 1310:11; 1360–1365; 4000–4070; 4100–4150; 4500–4630; 4660–4780; 4240–4250; 4830–4880.
- (4) For district property in established districts see 1038:3; 1180:19–20; 1233:13–14; 1310:11; 1360–1365; 4100–4150; 4240–4250; 4500–4630; 4830–4880.
- (7) For property of a subsidiary corporation, board, or institution other than a educational institution see 4300–4370; 4500–4630; 4240–4250.
4610. Trust Clause. All titles, deeds, and other written instruments for the conveyance of property to or for The Wesleyan Church as set forth in 4590 shall contain the following trust clause:
- In trust for the use and benefit of the ministry and members of The Wesleyan Church, incorporated under the laws of the state of Indiana as The Wesleyan Church Corporation, subject to The Discipline, regulations, and appointments of said Church as from time to time legislated and declared.
4620. Real property acquired by a conveyance containing the foregoing trust clause in 4610 may be sold in conformity with the provisions of The Discipline, and when such provisions have been complied with, the real property so sold or conveyed shall be released from the foregoing trust clause, and the trustees enabled to give a good and sufficient deed (4690:1).
4630. Real property acquired by a conveyance containing the foregoing trust clause in 4610 may be mortgaged or otherwise encumbered in conformity with the provisions of The Discipline, and when such provisions have been complied with, the foregoing trust clause shall be subordinated to the mortgage lien (4690:2).
A. Developing Church Property
4650. Developing District. Developing churches within the bounds of a developing district shall be under the jurisdiction of the Church Multiplication and Discipleship Division as set forth in 4800.
4660. District. The regulations concerning property for a developing church within the bounds of an established district are as follows:
- (1) The district board of administration shall be vested with power and authority to purchase, manage, sell, encumber, transfer, and dispose of any and all property of a developing church, whether real, personal, or mixed (510:3–4; 1233:13–14), and shall direct the pastor and the local advisory council concerning the same in keeping with The Discipline (1233:1, 30).
- (2) The pastor and local advisory council of a developing church shall be responsible to supervise, control, and maintain the property under their care as directed by the district superintendent and the district board of administration (510:3–4; 1233:1, 30).
- (3) All property of a developing church shall be held by the district in trust for the use and benefit of the members and ministers of The Wesleyan Church as required in 323:8 and shall contain the trust clause as given in 4610 (4140; 4590–4630; 4830).
- (4) Whenever a developing church has been organized as an established church (518–520), the district board of trustees may transfer the property to the local board of trustees as set forth in 4680, provided that the property is free of debt.
4670. Reclassification. Whenever an established church is reclassified as a developing church as set forth in 518; 1180:22; and 1233:26, the office of the members of the local board of administration shall thereupon cease (859:5) and the district board of administration shall be responsible for the property as set forth in 4660:1–4 (510:4). Whenever the property of such a church has been held by the local trustees, it shall be conveyed or transferred to the district to be held as set forth in 4120:6–7; 4830 (859:5).
4680. Local property within an established district may be held by the local church or by the district, as decided upon by the district conference (1180:19–20). In those districts where the local churches are to hold their own property, all grants, conveyances, devises, gifts, transfers, and assignments now owned or hereafter acquired of any property, real, personal, or mixed, to or for any unincorporated local church or any organization, board, or similar body connected thereto, shall be held by and/or conveyed to its duly elected board of trustees, and to their successors in office and their assigns, as the board of trustees of such local church, in trust for the benefit and use of the members and ministers of The Wesleyan Church, subject to its Discipline, regulations, and appointments as from time to time legislated and declared, and shall contain the appropriate trust clause as set forth in 4610 (4590; 4620). An omission of the name of any or all of the trustees shall not render any instrument invalid. (The regulations for an incorporated local church are set forth in 4000–4070.) In those districts where the district is to hold local property (323:8), such local property shall be held as set forth in 4140 or 4830.
4690. All written instruments of conveyance by which property is held or hereafter acquired by any local church, whether incorporated or unincorporated, shall contain the trust clause in 4610, and release therefrom shall be as follows:
- (1) Whenever the real property of a local church acquired by a conveyance containing the trust clause as set forth in 4610 is sold in conformity with the provisions of The Discipline (4700–4728), the written approval of the district board of administration (4700:3) shall constitute a release and discharge of the real property so sold and conveyed from the trust clause (4620).
- (2) Whenever the real property of a local church acquired by a conveyance containing the trust clause in 4610 is mortgaged or encumbered, as provided for in The Discipline (4700–4728), the written approval of the district board of administration for such mortgage or encumbrance (4700:3) shall constitute a formal recognition of the priority of such mortgage lien and the subordination of the trust clause thereto (4630).
4700. An unincorporated local church within an established district may acquire, purchase, sell, mortgage, transfer, or otherwise dispose of real property in accord with the following authorization and conditions:
- (1) A resolution authorizing such action shall be recommended by the local board of administration (782:27), and passed by the local church conference (655:11) by a majority of those present and voting, at any regular or special session duly called for such purpose, provided that notice of the intended action shall be given to the local church members by announcement from the pulpit in two regular services, the first of which shall be not less than one week before the date of the session of the local church conference at which the proposal shall be considered, and that such other notice shall be given as may be required by local laws (633:1).
- (2) Space reserved.
- (3) The district board of administration, after receiving the recommendation of the district building committee (if any), shall approve the proposal of the local church in writing and such approval shall be affixed to the written instrument involved (1233:30).
- (4) The resolution authorizing such action shall direct that any contract, deed, bill of sale, mortgage, or other necessary written instrument be executed by and on behalf of the local church by the proper officers of the local board of trustees, who thereupon shall be duly authorized to carry out the directions of the local church conference and the local board of administration in keeping with the requirements of The Discipline (850–859; 4500–4630; 4720); and any written instrument so executed shall be binding and effective as the action of the local church.
- (5) The chair of the local board of trustees, or other designated trustee, shall submit all written instruments of conveyance and title for the acquisition of property to the district superintendent for approval as to their conformity with The Discipline as stated in 1310:11 and shall see that permanent legal and property records are properly stored as set forth in 4760.
- (6) When real property is donated to a Wesleyan church for ministries or in a capital or fund-raising campaign, and the donor’s intent is that the property be sold and the proceeds invested accordingly, the local board of administration shall have full power to authorize the reception and disposal of the property, subject to the express written approval of each transaction by the district superintendent.
4720. The proceeds from the sale of any real property of a local church, whether incorporated or unincorporated, other than as provided for in 4700:6, shall be used for the purchase or improvement of property for that local church, unless otherwise authorized by the district board of administration (1233:30). In the event of a situation where two or more local churches have merged, proceeds from the sale of such property shall be used by the merged church unless otherwise authorized by the district board of administration. Whenever a local church does not wish to invest the money received as stated herewith, the money shall be forwarded to the district treasurer, and provided that all debts against such property being sold shall first be paid, it shall be used as ordered by the district conference or the district board of administration for the construction of churches or parsonages within the bounds of the district, for district property, or for purchase of property or construction of buildings involved in the planting of new churches. Such moneys may be used for other expenses involved in the planting of new churches only with the approval of the General Superintendent.