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Greetings Brethren and Sistren!

My name is Rev. Patrick Dieter and I have been ordained since the early Seventies, but I re-solemnized my ordination in about 1997. I had a ULC Congregation on the Island of Maui for almost three years, though I eventually moved on to other expressions of spirit for a while.

In terms of operations, all my private income was donated to the church, which was then applied to owning and maintaining a sacristy, vehicle, etc. I did not pay any private salaries, nor did the church generate any money other than donations. I filed my taxes honestly and openly, and at the time, the IRS was apparently just fine with things. In fact, there was a full audit later which also did not call this stuff into question.

I recently had a major spiritual revelation that has inspired me to reclaim my role as Minister, and apply my clinically-trained counseling skills as well as my 50 PLUS years in professional music to the Calling. The good news is that I know exactly what I want to be, do and express with this ministry.

What I don't know is what may have changed in the past 17 years. At the time, we were able to be a congregation as long as we formed a board, and did all the other goodies in that edition of Zondervan's Guide. It appears that the US Government has "tightened the screws" quite a bit in terms of what they are willing to call a "legitimate" church or congregation.

Are there any fellow Reverends here that can give me a sort of "quick and dirty" overview of what is (and is not) possible these days? I'm not totally invested in being able to have the same tax privileges I had back then, but I most definitely DO want the church to be able to shelter any spiritual counseling, laying on of hands, retreats, seminars, etc. without running afoul of the government or any licensing agencies. Since I was a professional counselor for many years, I am already familiar with the Mandated Reporting rules regarding child, elder, incapacitated person abuse.

I am going to grab a new Zondervan's today and bone up, but I would LOVE to know the "inside story" in terms of any court cases that occurred, challenges survived, etc.

Great to be back in touch with the ULC!

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goldenskyhook (Rev. Patrick Dieter)

Welcome back! So happy you are back.

I was ordained in 2003. Officially founded the church six months later with my first order of business - registering

with the IRS as well as the Secretary of State. I chose to consult an accountant (who reviewed IRS regs quickly with me for a

very nominal fee) and I also visited with an attorney (again a VERY nominal fee).

I found ALL of the information on this Forum to be THE BEST resource for advise. MDTaylor and Dorian Gray especially were

quite valuable during the set-up phase.

The rules have changed however you certainly have the basics.

Forming a board, figuring out your record keeping, being able to explain your doctrine and dogma, proving

you have regularly scheduled spiritual events (handled in our case by church bulletins announcing and reporting on

said events) .....having an IRS employer number (you might have difficulty opening a bank account without that) as banking

regulations are pretty fussy on any DBA (doing business as) accounts now........probably most of the stuff you need to

do has not changed that much.

If you intend to SELL anything (like have a gift shop or on line donation situation) you will definitely want to get some

outside advise. The IRS takes particular interest in retail commerce working through church locations.

I have found - in nine years so far - we have had ZERO issue with the IRS. In fact, we have gone to them more than once

and flat out said we didn't understand what we were suppose to do with this or that and they were VERY polite and pretty

doggone helpful.

They have never once - even remotely - been anything but a good resource to us.

We are transparent with all money coming in and going out and we log every single penny. We log every thing donated to

us (food, clothing, toys, paper, stamps) - anything - is logged and when it is used, shared, distributed or thrown away it is

logged in detail.

I think keeping good records to discuss intelligently and accurately what you are doing is the most important part of your new

(for the second time) adventure.

THE SINGLE BEST ADVISE I can offer is to read the postings on this Forum.

I doubt we would be planning our 10th anniversary as a church without the wisdom we gained from the other

people (both practicing ministers and ministers who are not currently practicing but who are resourceful and intelligent and

willing to help).

Again, you are most welcome.


PS - somehow I launched the posting before I finished writing it so if it notes an edit - it was because I am

technologically slow and have no idea how to insert a smiley face to indicate my laughing at my own boo boos and goofs.

Edited by VonNoble
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Welcome back,

I can't make any comments regarding starting up your own church/ministry, as that isn't the route I am personally pursuing, though you could say that I do have a congregation, I regularly get together with 4 or 5 other individuals leading religious discussions, and comparing different religious texts, though it isn't anything beyond that at this time. as you mentioend you were planning on picking up, I would have to recommend the Zondervan guides, in addition to talking to a certified accountant.

Again welcome back,

Rev. Douglas Trouten

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