DULUTH — Churches wanting to be clear on the latest regulations to impact their financial procedures, shore up their security plan, or take pre-emptive steps to protect their religious liberty can do so at Georgia Baptist-sponsored seminars in the coming weeks.
The Church Protection Seminar will be held May 4 from 9 a.m.-noon at Peace Baptist Church in Decatur and May 9 from 6-9 p.m. at Shirley Hills Baptist Church in Warner Robins. It is the second round of such training this year, with previous seminars held in March in Ellerslie and Canton. Three more locations will provide opportunities for the training this fall, with First Baptist Pooler (Sept. 17), First Baptist Villa Rica (Oct. 8) and First Baptist Pelham (Oct. 24) all serving as host for the events slated for 6-9 p.m.
Tony Neal, state missionary for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s Church Administration Ministry, said the events are set up to give the best opportunity for relevant training. Previously known as the Church Financial Seminar, the additional tracts reflect other areas that have grown in concern for leaders.
Neal will lead the tracts addressing financial policies and procedures, state and federal regulations, basic accounting safeguards, and restricted funds and general contributions. Ben O’Neal, Georgia Baptist Security Manager, will advise attendees on policies and procedures, interpreting Georgia’s gun laws, security teams, and active shooter preparation and response. Harrison Smith, from The Church Alliance of Alliance Defending Freedom, will instruct on how religious freedom threats impact a church’s governing documents and use of facilities. He’ll also speak on current issues such as marriage and the family, the transgender movement, public accommodation laws, and the importance of religious freedom state legislation.
How to register
Though the conference has branched out into other areas before, said Neal, this is the first year tracts on security and religious freedom have been offered. Online registration for the event is $10, while it will cost $15 at the door to attend. Register here for the Decatur conference and here for the Warner Robins location.
“Training [in different disciplines] at the seminar will be happening at the same time, so it’s good if churches can bring several people to attend separate seminars,” he said. Neal added that for individual attendees, PowerPoint presentations of the other seminars would be available.
Churches, he said, have to understand the importance of staying up-to-date on matters such as financial regulations. “Tax laws have changed and there are benefits and/or expense reimbursements I’ve seen that churches are doing incorrectly,” he testified. “Those result in higher tax bills for pastors. In helping prepare 2018 tax returns, I’ve worked with multiple pastors whose tax bill exceeded previous years’ by several thousand dollars.”
Not only does being educated help churches regarding their pastor’s taxes, it helps the church in general pay costs and proper handling of benefits. “You don’t want to misuse funds unwittingly, which can result in more significant costs,” Neal warned.
The seminars, hosted by the Church Administration Ministry, seek to expand the church’s ability to appropriately navigate legal roads. All churches want to know, for instance, the rights in protecting their building, members, and guests. Likewise, as the culture changes churches also want to be informed of their rights when it comes to living out their faith.
“It’s an all-around administrative training opportunity for those areas,” Neal added.