What Happens if?

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I am new in the AME structure. Was sent by God to fellowship where the Pastors had a heart for God and lead the people for the Lord. Well, my family and I ended up at a church that happened to be AME. Never mind the religious structure. . we were seeking Jesus and found him. Now my question is. . since the AME structure is so restrictive, etc. . what happens if a Pastor of an AME church decides to come out of the AME structure and start the church moving in the way of nondenominational? would the Pastor be offered to buy out the AME structure for the building, etc. .to continue the ministries in the same building? . . .I know it all turns into business; however, when God speaks those that have a heart for Him must listen and be obedient. . .Has anyone history on this very thing? or is this concept new to the AME?

-- Anonymous, June 17, 1999


If a pastor decides to go the way on non-denominationalism, tht pastor must go alone. As a minister or member of the AME Church, one must support the church, change the church through the General Conference, or leave the church. I choose to support the church and work for change within the General Conference. At the same time, if a pastor chooses to leave, that pastor cannot "take" the congregation and property and there are no provisions to "sell" the property. The Annual Conference disposes of excess property of the AME Church.

-- Anonymous, August 20, 1999

There have been court cases (unfortunately) that have upheld Rev. Paris' position. The church building etc. belong not to the pastor or even the congregation but to the church and no one can take the church even the whole church

-- Anonymous, January 11, 2000

To further elucidate, this is not merely an AME issue, but a Mehtodist issue, and all Mehtodist churches handle this issue in a similar fashion. In November, 1999, Anthony Muse attempted to take a United Methodist property independent from the Baltimore jurisdiction. This was overturned, and the minister resigned, surrendering his ordinatation papers to his Bishop. This year, John Cherry, pastor of the 9formerly) lrgest AMEZ church took "his" ministry independent, forming "From the Heart Ministries". They attempted to retain all properties. A civil court recently ruled that according to the discipline and deeds, those properties belonged to AMEZ connectionally.

I agree with Rev. Paris. The best way to effect change is within the ystem, but with prayer, diligence and courage. It will usually end up being evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

-- Anonymous, April 18, 2000

I feel that since the charter of the AME Zion organization does not specify what the provisions are in a case such as this, it is unclear that the individual pastor who wanting to leave the organization must forfeit all property rights. And as far as the members go, they belong to God and I feel that it is against the will of God for anyone or any organization to claim rights on people. Is not the ministry the sole ownership of God and I do believe that individuals because of stewardship have rights to claim joint ownership with Christ over the work that they have been given to manage. Lastly, I feel that if Pastors are required to maintain buildings and properties out of the monies that are a direct result of their members then it should be up to the members and that Pastor to decide who has rights to said properties. If the organization was responsible for the maintenance, mortgage and other payments of the individual churches I could understand why they would feel that they have "rights" to properties. To my kknowledge most organizations leave these matters into the hands of the individual governing Pastors and board of directors and because it is their responsiblity to see that the Pastor is operating under the right covering and not taking advantage of the members. Individual churches pay fees and other types of monies to the organization and this should be all that is required. If the organization is trying to claim ownership then they should also be directly responsible for maintenance of said properties, acquisition of new members etc and this should be in plain contractual language. My pastor experienced something of this magnitude back in 1992 and it was the detriment of her family that the organization decided that they wanted to keep properties even though it was the Pastor who built and paid for the building as well as other properties of the church. To this day this particular church is not growing as a matte of fact its membership is declining. My pastor could have fought the organization in court, however God did not lead her to do so. The organization did not pay her spouses insurance timely and other things were not done which resulted in her husbands life insurance policy to lapse 30 days before his untimely death. Her husband had given his life to oversee his region and was given nothing in return. This is the dangers of having an organization in control of local churches where the leadership should have direct control over them. I pray that Pastor Cherry will succeed in this fight as I know that God did not call anyone at this hour to be in oppressive situations. God desires that we all prosper, but we must not do so at the expense of souls.

-- Anonymous, April 01, 2001

There really should never be a fight over church property. In Texas, and I assume all other states, when a 501c3 organization is disolved, the property must be distributed to another such organization. Now, if a pastor is dissatisfied with a denomination, he/she is free to leave. If the members of that church chooses to go with the pastor, they are also free to do so. That seems right and reasonable to me. True, the property may have been purchased with the tithes and offerings of the members, but the tithes and offerings were given to God, hence they no longer have any claim to the tithes and offerings or the property they were used to purchase. If one is truly born- again, they should have no problem leaving without fighting to carry the property with them.


Pastor Paris

-- Anonymous, April 01, 2001

Would anyone be concerned about church property if it was not worth the money it is? This one thing has changed the whole church scene.... money.Pastors are only concern about money for themselves and not about the welfare of the souls that are lost. Its about how rich can I become at the expense of the the church. God has to be very angry at our clergy today with what is happening in our church. Greed By our sheperds.

-- Anonymous, December 30, 2001

Not all AME pastors are consumed with personal aggrandizement. In the Texas Conference, which consists of 50 reporting churches, the average church income reported this year was $81,616.81. THe average Pastor's Salary was $12,679.53. Of the 50 churches, 1 pastor took no salary at all (for the 6th straight year), and 23 other pastors received less than $10,000. An additional 15 pastors are paid $20,000 or less. The highest reported salary in the district was $54,500, which was 8.78% of the reported income for that charge (there are other compensating factors, the noted "plus, plus", but these data re not reported).

By comparison, a person working at McDonald's for the minimum American wage of $5.15 per hour receives, for a 40-hour week, assuming NO vacation or holiday, and 2080 hour worked in a year, a salary of $10,712 per year. An entry-level secretary, paid $10 per hour, receives an annual salary of $20,800. Entry-level engineers around the country earn anywhere from $36,000 to $81,000 per year, with the median being somewhere near $48,000 (depending on region and discipline).

The work is all divine.

-- Anonymous, December 31, 2001

Jerryl thank you so very, very much for pointing out that a large percentage of us are working to glorify God! The state of Montana ranks 48 in the country in terms of average pay. We have 3 A.M.E churches in Montana, and the highest paid salary for our clergy is $5,000.00 a year. I get the least amount. All of us A.M.E clergy are working a full time job. My daughter returned home last year to co- found our church at 23 and is our Chistian Education Superintendent, she has been offered several well paying jobs out of state, but feels God has called her to stay and work with the church. On a personal note, I am happier as an A.M.E pastor than I have ever been in my life. To wake up on sunday and know I get to tell people the good news is the most awesome feeling. And yesterday, to see half our congregation, drive through terrible road conditions from another town 32 miles away to come to church made me cry. Please don't give up on all clergy, God is doing a new thing in all of us. I have a feeling we will hear from other clergy who love working for the lord. Again thank you Jerryl for providing another perspective.

-- Anonymous, December 31, 2001

I am another of the A.M.E. pastors that does not take a nickel of salary. God has blessed me enough on the outside (secular job) that I feel no need to draw from money that much better could be used for kingdom building. Although I do not draw my salary (although one has been set) I do make sure I continue to tithe. God can not put anything in your hand if you keep it clenched short, and I am living testimony to the fact you just can't beat God's giving. One of the reasons that ask is your church incorporated is so that property is held at a connectional, rather than local level. Locally, we have had several cases where the property and buildings were deeded to the "colored community" of the town in which the church stood. I all of those cases, the A.M.E. denomination lost the property and the church did go independent. But it was not until after a nasty court battle, a lot of newspaper headlines and wounds that still haven't (and probably never will) heal, It all should belong to God but when the court does intervene, it is a matter of deeds, bylaws, and long legal battles.

Rev. John

-- Anonymous, December 31, 2001

May I respectfully disagree with you, rev. john on the salary issue. I don't think a pastor has the right to deprive the church of the opportunity to bless her/him. My reading of Galatians Chapter 6:6-10 is that the church or an individual for that matter is to plant "sow" good things in the one who teaches (the pastor). Verse 6 says the church ought to "share". And verses 7 - 9 indicates the principle of planting and reaping; then verse 10 asks the church to take advantage of the opportunity to sow in you.

Now, the church should pay the pastor as they can afford; the pastor in turn can give MORE than the salary back to the church as his/her tithe and offering. What about this?


Pastor Paris

-- Anonymous, December 31, 2001

Pastor Paris

Respectfully, we will agree to disagree on this one.

For me to take a salary only to put it back in would be nothing more than spreadsheet sleight of hand. I believe that a workman is worthy of his wages. I believe Pastors should be paid. In all of that, including the Biblical base we are in firm agreement.

But I view my taking a salary, much as I would a millionaire drawing Social Security. It would be legal and perfectly legetimate but if it were me, I would not do it.

The church knows what its obligation would be to the next Pastor. The salary is real and documented. We just cut out the middle step of it being handed and then handed back. But in reality that is what happens, although we spare ourselves the paperwork.

Pastor Paris, we are on the same page, just getting there from different chapters of the book.

Rev. John

-- Anonymous, December 31, 2001

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