Community of Christ

Building Program Procedures

Legal - Building Program Procedures

1. Definition of a Building Program

A “Building Program” (Project) may consist of a sale, purchase, building a new facility, remodeling or adding on to the present facility. The information provided here is specific to building a new facility, remodeling or adding on to a present facility, or major maintenance/repairs to the present facility. If a congregation, campground or mission center intends to sell or purchase property please contact Legal Services for guidelines and procedures specific to those types of transactions.

2. Presiding Bishopric’s Houses of Worship Fund

Building programs are assisted by the ministry and policies provided by the Presiding Bishopric through the Houses of Worship Revolving Fund (HWRF) program, if needed, and Legal Services. These policies are designed to bring the resources, assistance, and experience of the World Church to the Congregations. All building projects $200,000.00 and over require the prior approval of the Presiding Bishopric, whether or not a congregation has funds available to cover the cost. Approval by the Presiding Bishopric reinforces its role as trustee of the church and provides support of the goals of pastoral and witnessing ministries which are at the heart of our mission.

3. Congregation’s Decision to Build New or Add an Addition

Decisions about church facilities must center on the ministries offered by the congregation, which in turn are determined by the congregation in response to their particular understanding of the vision and mission of the church. Property decisions should be made only after considering and balancing the congregation’s vision, mission, program, and facilities. It is vitally important that the congregation determine and commit to their role in the larger community before finalizing decisions about facilities.

4. Building Programs

Every project undertaken by an existing congregation, mission center, emerging congregation, or campground which involves the purchase, sale, acquisition, construction, or major renovation of real property is considered to be a building program.

5. Preliminary Planning

Once the congregation makes a decision that a building program would enhance its ministry, they are ready to begin a planned approach to site selection, design concepts, building functions and construction. Legal Services assists at every step of the building process. The following information will provide guidance and policies to be carefully followed in all new construction and renovation.

6. Earth Stewardship

In accord with the church’s Earth stewardship, every effort to use environment-friendly building products and energy-efficient appliances in a project is advised. The resource “Building a Firm Foundation: A Creation Friendly Building Guide For Churches” is available on request from Legal Services. Congregations located in Canada may want to download the resource “Practical Guide to Improving the Energy Efficiency of Your Religious Building.”

7. Land Use

The first step in any building project, whether remodel, add-on, or new build, is to contact city, county and/or state [or province] authorities regarding restrictions, codes, and zoning that would pertain to the area in which the project will be located. All governmental approvals must be in place prior to beginning a project, if required.

8. Elements of a Building Program

Each Building Program consists of the following elements:

    8.1      The Building Project
    8.1.1.  Description of the congregation’s plan for ministry
    8.1.2   Discussion of building needs
    8.1.3   Description and extent of the project
    8.1.4   Development of preliminary building plans (including site plan)

    8.2.     The Financing Plan
    8.2.1   Calculation of estimated cost of the project
    8.2.2   Calculation of estimated financial resources
    8.2.3   Completion of loan application (if needed)
    8.2.4   Production of evidence of ability to repay loan (capital campaign)
    8.2.5   Analysis of the estimated impact on operating budget

    8.3.    Legislative and Administrative Approvals
    8.3.1  Secure legislative approval from the congregation
    8.3.2  Secure administrative approvals

    a) Pastor and congregational financial officer (congregations and emerging congregations)
    b) Mission center president and financial officer of affiliated mission centers
    c) Apostle in charge
    d) Presiding Bishopric

9. Initiating a Building Program

A building program is initiated by contacting the mission center administrative officers and Legal Services. This action should be taken as soon as it is probable that a building program is likely to be pursued. Early notification benefits everyone by allowing mission center, Legal Services, Fiscal Services, and Risk Management opportunity to offer assistance and guidance.

A letter of intent is to be prepared and forwarded to the mission center and Legal Services. The letter of intent should include the following information and attachments:

a) Purpose and need for the building
b) Approximate square footage of the proposed project
c) Estimated cost
d) Funds currently available
e) Approximate loan amount needed, if any
f)  Copy of congregational business meeting minutes approving the project.
g) Copy of preliminary building plans

Pastors and congregational financial officers are responsible for ensuring the completeness of the letter of intent, and forwarding all necessary legislative and administrative approvals to Legal Services. When all approvals have been received Legal Services will secure final approval of the Presiding Bishopric and apostle over the area, if needed.

Mission center officers are expected to be thoroughly informed and deeply involved with each project so as to provide leadership throughout the planning and building process.

10. Use of Architect for Planning, Design, and Construction for New Builds or Additions

The planning phase of a project is vital to its success. Building projects can benefit greatly by hiring an architect who is knowledgeable regarding local codes and zoning requirements and experienced in the specific project type, as well as environment-friendly building designs.

11. Plan and Contract Approvals—New Builds and Additions

Submit a complete set of plans, including a site plan, preliminary floor plan, elevations and a fully completed loan application to the mission center, with a copy to Legal Services for review. Bids/proposals from contractors cannot be signed, nor construction deadlines set, until review of the foregoing is completed and Presiding Bishopric has given tentative approval to the architectural plan, the financing, and if applicable, the Houses of Worship Revolving Fund loan being requested.

Presiding Bishopric approval shall include evaluation of building and financing plans as appropriate for the scope of each project. Even after approval for a building project has been given by the Presiding Bishopric, it is still necessary for construction contracts, insurance and bonding documents, and final versions of the building and financing plans to be reviewed and approved by World Church officers and Legal Services.

As the planning process begins, it will be especially important that all code and zoning requirements are cleared by local governing bodies.

12. Bids/Proposals and Contracts

It is important to remember that bids/proposals are not contracts.

Legal Services suggests that at least three bids be received on any project, whether large or small. The congregation has the authority to accept whichever bid it chooses, however, bids/proposals are NOT to be signed without prior review and approval by Legal Services. Once the congregation has selected a contractor’s bid, the bid is to be forwarded to Legal Services, along with the following:

a) Copy of congregational business meeting minutes approving the project and cost
b) Completed form titled “Contract Information”
c) Certificate of insurance provided by contractor
d) IRS Form W-9

Once the above documents have been received in Legal Services the information will be incorporated into a contract to be signed by the congregation and contractor.

13. General Contractor

Larger building projects may require a general contractor, who must meet certain insurance and bonding requirements. It is likely that a project will be submitted for approval before many of the particulars, including the negotiation of the contract with the builder is complete. Any approval given under these circumstances is always subject to the insurance and bonding requirements. All legal documents must be prepared or reviewed by Legal Services prior to signing them. Upon satisfaction of these items and final approval of the project by local governmental agencies and the Presiding Bishopric, the sale, purchase, or construction may proceed.

Legal Services strongly advises that the congregation check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) on any contractor that they may choose to select.

14. Volunteers

Enlisting local volunteer assistance is permissible when practical as a cost-saving measure. This may include professionals, skilled craftspeople, and laborers. However, it is important in all such instances that volunteer workers shall be properly coordinated into the project and that appropriate insurance coverage be provided to avoid undue risk to the congregation and the World Church.

15. Using Congregation Member as a Contractor

A congregation may have a member that is a licensed or certified contractor in various fields that has agreed to complete a building project at cost. The member/contractor will be subject to the same requirements and expectations as any other contractor. Congregation must also be willing to hold the member/contractor accountable to the same extent as they would any other contractor, which could very possibly result in hard feelings within the membership.