May 23, 2017
Q: Why is the CBOT proposing a change in the method in which closed churches are managed?
A: The 2016 Book of Discipline ¶2549.2(b) specifies that closed churches are to revert to the Conference Board of Trustees. Previous Books of Discipline have included similar language. The proposed Standing Rule change, and the property management proposal, will both bring us into compliance with the Discipline, but it will also facilitate professional management and disposition of the properties.
Q: How did the CBOT arrive at the recommendation of Norton Commercial?
A: A “Request for Proposal” (RFP) was distributed to 5 firms in November, 2016. Based on reviews of the proposals and interviews conducted by the Conference Treasurer and Dean of the Cabinet, the CBOT chose Norton Commercial, and Gainesville Real Estate firm.
Q: How will proceeds of any future sales of properties be distributed?
A: The Barnes Fund for Church Development will continue to receive 25% of the “net proceeds of sale.” The remaining funds will be held by the Conference Board of Trustees.
Q: So the Districts will no longer automatically receive 75% of net proceeds?
A: Correct, but the districts can apply to the CBOT and request funds from sales of church properties in their areas. One thing to keep in mind-by the end of this Annual Conference, we will have roughly 90 fewer churches than we had in 2004. Maintaining a $2M annual Congregational Development budget, plus the Barnes Fund for Church Development, plus funding ongoing District church development projects from church sales and apportionments may not be sustainable in the long run. The District Administrative Review Team is studying how districts are administered.
Q: Are the Districts prohibited from owning property?
A: There is nothing in the Discipline to indicate that.
Q: What about cemeteries? Will the District Trustees continue to be responsible for them?
A: The CBOT hopes that, as the process for closing a church nears completion, cemetery associations will be set up, just like they are now. However, the CBOT does NOT expect the Districts to be responsible for ongoing maintenance. In the hopefully rare cases in which cemetery associations cannot be set up by the church before closure, the Conference will develop a method to care for them. The Chair of CBOT has assigned members of the Trustees to study this issue.
Q: Are there any other conferences that use professional property management firms?
A: Yes, at least 3: North Carolina, Florida and Rio Texas. More are considering the use of professional firms, as, sadly, the number of closed churches is expected to grow.