Church Financial Records Belong to Whom?

One might think this is a foolish question.  Everyone assumes that the church is the owner of its own financial records, but what does the church’s Bylaws say?

What if the treasurer takes the financial records to his home and then has a falling out with the church or pastor? He claims ‘possession is 9/10s of the law’ and refuses to give the records back.  As treasurer, he claims all the work product in the records which are located on his personal computer.  Since he is a volunteer and receives no compensation for his services, he claims all the information belongs to him.  As the church, what do you have to dispute his claims and show that the records clearly belong to the church?

Before the above takes place in your church, you need to look at your Bylaws or other governing policies and documents to find out what authority the treasurer has over the church’s financial records.  If it is not clear who owns the financial records, the following needs to be implemented:

1. Amend the Bylaws to set forth the clear ownership of the financial records in the church.

2. Establish clear policies to cover the operation of the treasurer to include (a) a prohibition of taking any financial records of the church outside the church, (b) no records to ever be taken to the treasurer’s home or workplace, (c) church records to be stored in a locked and fireproof cabinet/safe at the church, and (d) all data is to be placed on the church’s computer with backup copies stored both in the fireproof cabinet/safe and an off-site storage not the home of the treasurer.

Once the above has been implemented, you should be better protected against a rebellious treasurer.  Remember, the person who betrayed Jesus was his treasurer.  Best be prayerful when you select the treasurer.

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