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Church Incorporation Information Sheet

Information on how to incorporate new Societies and Fellowships.

Church Incorporation Information Sheet

Updated 6/7/22

All Free Methodist Churches (once they reach Fellowship or Society status) must be incorporated.
See the chart below to determine if incorporation is required of your church:
Church Status Incorporation Required?
Society Yes
Fellowship Yes

Church Planting Project (CPP)

through Annual Conference

Should be incorporated through the Annual Conference (action required to add the CPP with your SOS)

Church Planting Project (CPP)

through local church

Should be incorporated through the local church (action required to add the CPP with your SOS)
Affiliate No
Emerging Ministry Point (EMP) No
Preaching Point (PP) No

We can give you general steps toward becoming incorporated, but because every state has a
different process for incorporation, the best practice is to contact your Secretary of State.

  1. Your church must obtain an EIN before applying for Articles of Incorporation. To apply online (which is the
    fastest method) visit the IRS website, or click on the below link:
    https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/how-to-apply-for-an-ein
  2. Be sure the Annual Conference and the FMCUSA has your EIN. This is how your church gets added to our 501c3 for tax exempt status.
  3. There will be a form on your Secretary of State’s website (see hyperlinks on last page of this document for easy access). In many cases it will be called Articles of Incorporation. Please find out what your state requires before proceeding.
    1. The form will have a section for church by-laws. You can find our denominational by-laws
      template to be used by each FM church at the below link:
      https://legal.fmcusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/FMC-Church-Bylaws-Template-.pdf
      On this form, you will:
      1. Fill out the name of your church at the top title section and Article 1
      2. Fill in your state in the following articles: 2, 3.3 (twice), 3.4.1, 5.2, and 9.1
      3. Date and sign on page 6
    2. You will likely need to list your Board of Directors, and their individual addresses.
      Once incorporated, the Conference Office and the FMCUSA must receive a copy of incorporation
      documents.
      1. Contact your Conference Office to find out how to securely send them your documents.
      2. To send your incorporation documents to the FMCUSA, click here.
      3. If the church is under the conference’s incorporation, please let the FMCUSA know.

Church Incorporation FAQs:

Once my church is incorporated, will we need to go through the process again at some point?

It really depends on what your state requires. Some require a report to be submitted every two years, others do not. If there are CPPs in your conference, make sure that those are included in the updates or reports to your Secretary of State.

Our church was given incorporation for perpetuity; do we need to send anything in?

If your church is incorporated for perpetuity, it means you do not have to re-file with your state unless something changes. You do need to send in a scanned copy of your incorporation documents to the Conference Office as well as the FMCUSA. You might need to pay a small fee (typically $30-40) to obtain a copy of your incorporation.

We have several CPPs. What forms should we fill out to add them to our conference or society INC status?

We do not have all of the state forms for periodic reporting. The best route is to call your SOS office and ask them directly, or visit their website.

Are we doing this to satisfy an insurance company requirement?

No. We are doing this to protect church members, pastors, churches, and conferences as well as the denomination in the event of a lawsuit. All churches and conferences should have liability insurance and the FMCUSA must be added as additional insured. For more information on insurance requirements for churches and conferences, click here.

As a conference, how can we streamline the incorporation process for our churches?

Conferences that have 100% incorporated churches have a dedicated staff person that either:
A. Does the work for each church with the SOS themselves, or
B. Walks a church layperson or pastor through the process.
C. Other conferences have hired a person to handle just this kind of task for the churches within their conference.

To see a sample Articles of Incorporation form, click here: Articles of Incorporation Template
The next page of this document contains hyperlinks and phone numbers for all of the Secretary of State websites.

Please let me know if we can be of further service to you.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Goodberry
Executive Administrative Assistant

 

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