Rev. Matt

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Posts posted by Rev. Matt

  1. Just wanted to pop in and give everyone an update. We opened our bank account.... easiest bit of the process. Wonderful lady.

    We're planning our first set of services now... our opening service being that of the Samhain Festival. Open to all... I'm really excited about it.

    You've all been such a wonderful help, and the support you've lent has been great.

    Thank you all so very much!

    We're putting the Incorporation on hold just for now so we can take stock of our situation. Its no good to have an incorporated church if we have no services or participants! But once we tackle that again, I'll be sure to let you all know how it goes. I don't anticipate it being too long from now though.

    I've also got our website well under way now. If you'd like to visit it, go to www.sacredwindsanctuary.org

    I'd love your opinions. After all, its all possible because of you.

    Blessed Be!

  2. It could be that you visited the wrong department. Did you go to the Department of State? It could also be that you were at a STATE office with FEDERAL laws in hand....

    In any event, to form a corporation in New Jersey, go here.

    You can fill out the form online here and never even go to Trenton again. (I know....you really want to go back, don't you?)

    Thanks for that info... but we've already been there. That's what prompted us to go to Trenton. We went to the Corporate FIling Unit - it was definitely the right place. Problem is, they had no idea what they were doing. Just like this website, they weren't aware of the laws pertaining to "Title 16" Incorporation. New Jersey has special laws for the incorporation of churches. We can file with a reduced fee, in the order of only $25, and no annual filing for tax...as we'd be tax exempt. The website doesn't provide for it... and the person we spoke to was totally unknowledgable on the subject, despite her "working there for 15 years". Just because someone works someowhere for a long legth nof time, especially for government, doesn't mean they are always GOOD at it. Besides, I'm sure it isn't everyday they need to know how to handle a new church filing.

    I'm not exactly sure how we're going to proceed from here. I guess we'll discuss it at our next board meeting this Saturday. Gotta love these beauracracies, no?

  3. Quick update....

    Our day in Trenton... was very frustrating. As expected, they had no clue what they were doing. They sent us back to our conty clerk to register, who then was very happy to register us a Trade Name which according to them is something many churches have done, because it enables them to open a bank account. And, as an unincorp. association, that may be useful. BUT fact of the matter is, incorps. of ALL kinds are meant to be done by Trenton. We caled an yelled at them again, and got yet some other explaination, saying we need to do something federally which was just total BS. So we're now looking into finding a lawyer willing to work pro-bono, or we may have to resort to using a Pay service such as Legalzoom to get these papers filed. we don't have enough knowledge of laws and paperwork to hold our own here and fight with the people who know less than we do but work for the gov't.

    If anyone knows of anyone or service inparticular who can help... by all means, PLEASE let me know.

  4. Very good advice, as always Von.

    Just wanted to provide an update.... We received our Congregation Certificate from HQ this week, so as far as HQ goes, we are official. We (the rest of the board and I) are planning on going to Trenton (NJ state capitol) on Monday the 29th to file our Incorporation in person with the State Corporate Filings Unit as a Title 16 (Religious) Non-profit Organization.

    So at that point we will then be an officially official group, outside our affiliation with HQ. This way, if anything ever does happen to HQ, we still exist as a congregation in perpetuity. We won't have to rely on HQ's existance.... though as long as they are fine there, and I hope they will always continue to be, I'll still maintain our affiliation with them. It is because of them that all of this is possible.

    So...wish me luck with the bureaucrats on Monday. No doubt I'll have to explain the law to them. As it stands so far, I've spoken to them on the phone 3 times, and gotten 3 different answers. So I'll be sure to go with the written laws in hand.

  5. Congratulations you are moving forward rapidly.

    Incidentally - you have a couple of years to get that 501 C-3 complete....so no panic. We had assistance from a CPA to complete ours, however, we did NOT as yet submit it.

    The reason being that our total collections per year are low...so there is not much of a tax issue to warrant filing at this time.

    That is not to suggest you hold off filing - but there is a somewhat large fee and if it serves no real benefit to you to have it (no one in the area to will us a big chunk of money - no matching grants about to happen etc.) ....so to date even though we have talked to the IRS several times (and they were VERY nice and VERY helpful each time).....we have not seen a reason to file.

    Also...we did exactly what you did .....got our EIN.......had the church structure drawn up and reviewed by an attorney - submitted it to the State Attorney General and we have been pretty much "there" without any real need to do more since then.

    RE: the building - we have one. We met several places before the church was complete. Our building is NOT fancy or large - we did ALL of the construction work ourselves or got it donated. It was a push but we finished it in eight months.

    Again, very simple. Very small.......but it works and we are glad to have a dedicated space to meet.

    I was amazed how many people would help us along the way. One person donated windows...another came by (different faith - barely knew him - and he donated electrical services).....one offered to get our fixture wholesale - another offered to install the air and heat at cost........and so it went. We had people from OTHER churches come and help us put the insulation in.....and help with the carpentry.

    If you get started - somehow word got around and people just called and volunteered. Without that wondeful American spirit - we would still be trying to get it done.

    The use of the land was provided for the price of $1 per year....with a VERY LONG TERM lease.

    There was only eight people (three couples and two singles) when we started.....and we are still growing - steadily.

    I wish you well.

    IF you can manage to complete incorporation and IF you are ready to file with the IRS - it is always best to do so I would think. But it will take a little time to have everything they request (like samples of your bulletins and stuf) - so they don't expect you to have it all ready day one.....and like I said - they have been helpful and have given us good advise so far so don't be afraid to talk to them. We have called locally and nationally and everyone was pretty open to our church and giving us assistance.

    Von

    That's incredible Von! I sincerely hope that such compassionate people come to aid the development of our congregation. I just really hope we may be so welcomed in the community, as ours is a Pagan centered church. I'd REALLY like to know how you managed the $1 Lease agreement.

    As for the 501©(3).... I've done a RIDICULOUS amount of research... and found this that ALL may be interested in:

    Organizations Not Required To File Form 1023

    Some organizations are not required to file Form 1023.

    These include:

    Churches, interchurch organizations of local units of a church, conventions or associations of churches, or integrated auxiliaries of a church, such as a men's or women's organization, religious school, mission society, or youth group.

    Any organization (other than a private foundation) normally having annual gross receipts of not more than $5,000 (see Gross receipts test, later).

    These organizations are exempt automatically if they meet the requirements of section 501©(3).

    Just a small piece of the whole information... this piece can be found at http://www.irs.gov/publications/p557/ch03.html#d0e3612

    Also:

    Religious Organizations

    To determine whether an organization meets the religious purposes test of section 501©(3), the IRS maintains two basic guidelines.

    That the particular religious beliefs of the organization are truly and sincerely held.

    That the practices and rituals associated with the organization's religious belief or creed are not illegal or contrary to clearly defined public policy.

    Therefore, your group (or organization) may not qualify for treatment as an exempt religious organization for tax purposes if its actions, as contrasted with its beliefs, are contrary to well established and clearly defined public policy. If there is a clear showing that the beliefs (or doctrines) are sincerely held by those professing them, the IRS will not question the religious nature of those beliefs.

    Churches. Although a church, its integrated auxiliaries, or a convention or association of churches is not required to file Form 1023 to be exempt from federal income tax or to receive tax deductible contributions, the organization may find it advantageous to obtain recognition of exemption. In this event, you should submit information showing that your organization is a church, synagogue, association or convention of churches, religious order, or religious organization that is an integral part of a church, and that it is engaged in carrying out the function of a church.

    In determining whether an admittedly religious organization is also a church, the IRS does not accept any and every assertion that the organization is a church. Because beliefs and practices vary so widely, there is no single definition of the word church for tax purposes. The IRS considers the facts and circumstances of each organization applying for church status.

    To be found at http://www.irs.gov/publications/p557/ch03.html#d0e4423

    There's plenty more to be found at http://www.irs.gov/publications/p557/ch03.html

    And there is the IRS Publication "Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations"(PDF).

    All wonderfully helpful - but still no replacement for legal help and tax advisors. Now, if only we can find someone willing to donate those services...

  6. Thank you very much!

    Now, I have a question for those who have established congregations, not just with the ULC, but also did all the appropriate paperwork with the federal and state gov'ts....

    I'm wondering, how did you all decide to file? Did you incorporate as a Nonprofit with your state, or did you stay an unincorporated association? Did you apply (and receive) 501©3 Tax Exemption?

    Basically I'm wondering what other congregations did to satisfy their legal obligations. Now mind you I'm not looking for legal advice, as the board forbids, and rightfully so... I'm wondering what different paths you've all taken and the experiences you've had.

    I'm also curious how many have a building dedicated to the purpose of the congregation, as opposed to holding service in a home or public meeting place.

    Thanks everyone!

  7. I just wanted to give an updae to everyone interested....

    Myself, my Treasurer, and Secretary all got together yesterday, filled out the form for Headquarters (and called them with a small question, such nice people always!). We got a Money Order, and mailed out the form!

    We also worked until 1am on all the things we're going to need. We've gotten the EIN, so that we can establish a bank account. That part is always very simple. We found the 1023 form for Tax-Exempt, and have been reviewing that.

    The MAIN part of our accomplishment is the total creation of our by-laws. This in great detail outlines every aspect of our existence, from definition, intent to form, purpose, government, election, rules, regulations.... not one thing overlooked. I must say, we had a great leg up on this, as we had existing documents for a different organization that was run by a friend before his passing, that set great example. Much time and effort went into it, and I'm sure it will do us good. Once we have that draft finalized, I will be glad to provide it as an example to any who wish to do the same.

    Of course, a small, yet VERY important part is of course, what shall the name be??? Well, after much thought and deliberation, our name of the Congregation is "Sacred Wind Sanctuary of Universal Life". It is simple, and inclusive. It keeps Universal Life in the name, as directed by HQ, but can still be simply refered to as Sacred Wind Sanctuary for short.

    At our next meeting, we will revel in the joy of having our certificate from HQ... then back to work on completing the 1023, as well as filing for exept status from the State of New Jersey. We made a discovery that while incorperated Non-profits in NJ must file with a $75 fee, CHURCHES and RELIGIOUS NON-PROFITS may file with one a $5 fee, and no annual fee. But we have to get incontact directly with the NJ CFU, since the website filing doesn't allow for it....that we could see.

    Thoughts and advice are ALWAYS welcome!

  8. Hi everybody!

    As the title suggests... I have decided to start a new congregation, and wish to do so with 2 of my close friends and spiritual partners.

    Now I am pretty clear on most everything. But I do have one question. I sent an email to HQ through their website's contact form. I'm not sure if it went through properly, especially since their web store has been down for 2 months now... but I have yet to receive an answer from them.

    My question is on behalf of one of my two associates. He was wondering if Ordination was a requirement for him to be named as one of the required 3 board members. I myself would be Pastor, he'd be Treasurer, and my other friend Secretary. Of course, I am Ordained already. Now, he has no issue if it would be a requirement, but for his personal reasons, he'd prefer not to ordain if it isn't required.

    This issue isn't directly specified on the Congregation Agreement... so I was wondering if any of you already knew the answer?

    Thanks for your help! I'm sure I'll have many more questions as we go.

  9. I became ordained for several reasons. In no particular order....

    Because as a Wiccan, there is no centralized church, or religious government. So even though the USA recognizes Wicca as a religion, you still have a difficult time being recognized as clergy.... which leads to the second point...

    In order to officiate over official things, mainly Marriage, you must be ORDAINED clergy. Like I said before, it is difficult to be recognized as such without an established central church or such.

    And finally, I've been toying with the idea of pulling my other spiritual people together to form a Congregation of our own - and the ULC provides for that.

    Plus the total inclusion and lack of political motives and goal of unity and freedom for the ULC.

    I've always felt a strong spiritual calling, and have been guiding those who seek guidance for a long time now. I feel the ULC empowers me to be able to do so in a more complete way.