Community of Christ

Procedures for Purchasing Property

Legal - Procedures for Purchasing Property

1. Definition of a Building Program

A “Building Program” (Project) may consist of a sale of property, a purchase of property, building a new facility, remodeling or adding on to the present facility, or major repairs and maintenance to a facility. The information provided in this section is specific to the PURCHASE of property.

If consideration is being given to selling property please contact Legal Services for a copy of the “Building Program Guidelines & Procedures for Sale of Property.”  If consideration is being given to build a new facility or add on to a present facility, or if there is need for major repairs or maintenance, see Procedures and Guidelines for Building Program and Houses of Worship Revolving Fund Loan.

2. Presiding Bishopric’s Houses of Worship Revolving Fund

Purchase of property by a congregation, campground, or mission center may be assisted by the ministry and policies provided by the Presiding Bishopric through the Houses of Worship Revolving Fund (HWRF) program and Legal Services. These policies are designed to bring the resources, assistance, and experience of the World Church to the congregation, campground, or mission center. All purchases require prior approval of the Presiding Bishopric. 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. Decision to Purchase

Decisions about purchasing property must center on the ministries offered by the congregation, campground, or mission center, which in turn are determined by the congregation, campground, or mission center 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 vision, mission, program, and need for the facilities.

4. Preliminary Planning

Once a decision is made that the purchase of property would enhance the ministry of a congregation, campground, or mission center, you are ready to begin a planned approach to site selection, design concepts, and the building functions. Legal Services assists at every step of the purchasing process.

5. Initiating a Purchase

A purchase by a congregation or campground is initiated by contacting the mission center officers and Legal Services. This action should be taken as soon as it is probable that a purchase is likely to be pursued. Early notification benefits everyone by allowing 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 a new facility
    b) Approximate square footage of the proposed property
    c) Estimated cost of property
    d) Funds currently available
    e) Approximate loan amount needed, if any
    f)  Estimated costs of utilities

Pastors and congregational financial officers are responsible for ensuring the completeness of the letter of intent, and forwarding a copy, along with congregational business meeting minutes approving a purchase, to Legal Services, with a copy to mission center officers. It is important that mission center officers be thoroughly informed and deeply involved with each purchase.

6. Types of Purchases          

6.1 Unimproved Land
Factors to be considered when contemplating the purchase of vacant land for a building site should be carefully weighed:

    6.1.1.  Long-term needs of the congregation

    6.1.2.  Parcel size—is the property large enough for a church building and is there enough space to allow for ample parking, etc.

    6.1.3.  Potential to influence or control adjacent land

    6.1.4.  Zoning requirements (city and/or county)

    6.1.5   Cost of building a new facility

6.2 Improved Property
Factors to be considered when contemplating the purchase of improved property:

    6.2.1.  Suitability of the building such as location, square footage, ample parking

    6.2.2.  Plan for modifications that may be needed to adapt it to meet the needs of a specific congregation

    6.2.3.  Zoning requirements (city and/or county)

Consultation with mission center officers and the field apostle is required in all instances.