Church and Ministry Law

Called to serve their faith and guided by spiritual laws, the leaders and business administrators of religious institutions face unique challenges as they try to integrate their faith with the law.

Our Church & Ministry Law practice group is particularly attuned to the challenges facing ministries as they attempt to negotiate legal issues inherent in commerce. Operated by volunteers and staff who may have little business training, religious institutions are often confronted with complex IRS rules and regulations, land-use restrictions, employment law questions, leases, commercial contracts and a host of other issues inherent in operating a large organization.

Our employment law attorneys bring important insights to process of hiring, supervising and, when necessary, terminating employees of our ministry clients. We frequently assist ministries in drafting and updating Employee Handbooks with special sensitivity to the ministerial nature of the job descriptions in a religious organization. The attorneys and staff in our practice group are themselves people of faith concerned about caring for the disadvantaged and broken. We view our work in the law as a part of our personal ministry. Our attorneys have been instrumental in creating and assisting organizations to:

  • help remove teenage prostitutes from the street
  • reunite single mothers and their foster children
  • build youth mentor programs
  • support adoptions and charities assisting foster kids
  • create and operate prison transition housing and job programs
  • rehabilitate those burdened with alcohol and drug addiction through the Teen Challenge program
  • complete the construction of churches and temples
  • operate rescue missions and summer camps
  • plant new churches in both startup and multi-site projects
  • lower the cost of startup churches
  • create a ministry incubator to facilitate para-church ministries
  • educate ministry leaders and staff in the legal requirements of mandatory
  • reporting of sex abuse cases
  • develop best practices for mission trips
  • develop leadership succession plans
  • develop, document and implement a host of other initiatives for church and para-church ministries

Additionally, we help our church and ministry clients protect their campuses for use by generations to come through our unique Campus Preservation Planning(c) program which aims to protect ministry properties from uninsured, under-insured and uninsurable losses.

We Partner to Serve

Our religious leaders are confronting cultural and governmental issues vastly different than those which faced their predecessors. In legal cases ranging from attempts by city government to illegally restrict use of signs to the application of health insurance requirements, government authorities tend to treat religious organizations differently from their secular counterparts. It is imperative that attorneys who serve religious institutions understand how to apply statutory exemptions, the First Amendment, state constitutional provisions, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, privilege statutes and similar laws.

We encourage our attorneys in the Church & Ministry Law practice group to serve as adjunct professors and instructors for faith-based schools, colleges and seminaries in teaching the application of the critical legal and financial issues in those institutions. Our attorneys regularly present seminars for the Church Network, the Lutheran Best Practices Conference, The Phoenix First Assembly of God’s Dream Conference, the Risk & Insurance Management Society, the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions and a host of other state and national conferences.

Active in various communities and capacities, our attorneys:

  • were leaders in the effort to establish a religious liberty section of the Arizona State Bar Association
  • are encouraged to provide both paid and pro bono services to assist those whose religious freedoms are under attack
  • have been instrumental in providing training on handling media response in crisis situations and routinely advise our clients on mandatory sex abuse reporting issues

We offer programs for governing boards on topics ranging from donor development to board governance strategies and techniques, and have provided in-service training for religious schools, churches and other ministries.

In short, we would sincerely welcome the opportunity to assist in resolving any legal issues impacting your church or ministry and their operations. Bob Brown, head of the Church and Ministry Law practice group, serves as your point of first contact and may be reached on his direct line at 602-530-8023 or at The full Gallagher & Kennedy attorney team appreciates the opportunity to serve you.