An unsung hero of the church

February 1, 2012 | Viewpoints | Number 3
Sherri Grosz |

When was the last time you prayed for your treasurer or thanked him or her for his or her work? Your treasurer is a key person in church operations and carries a great deal of responsibility for the finances and legal status of the church.



Treasurers must issue correct charitable receipts on behalf of the church. Issuing receipts for donations made by cash, cheque or direct deposit is reasonably straightforward, but there are other situations where the rules may be unknown or mistakes can be made. For example, could a church issue a charitable receipt, instead of a paying a contractor?



Your church relies on its treasurer to follow the law. Each charity in Canada must file a Registered Charity Information Return, also known as a T3010, within six months of the charity’s fiscal year end. In 2011, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) revoked the charitable status of 757 charities that didn’t file their paperwork on time or couldn’t prove they had sent it. Of those charities, 194 identified themselves as religious.



Losing charitable status means a church cannot accept donations and cannot issue charitable receipts. Churches that have lost their charitable status may spend many months or years working to meet the CRA’s re-registration requirements and may need to hire accountants or lawyers to assist their treasurer.



Treasurers experience the heart of the church in a way that no one else can. “Wallets are the last thing to enter the church and the first to leave,” one treasurer told me. A change in spiritual condition is often reflected with a change in that person’s giving to the church.



Treasurers are often alone with the knowledge that a person’s giving pattern has changed, but are discouraged from sharing any information with the pastor or elder.



Other church members may be surprised when a family leaves a church, but the treasurer often had clues long before their departure. Treasurers may also be surprised or disappointed to discover that otherwise “active” members are not financially involved in the congregation.



Your church can support your treasurer by ensuring that he or she has access to the training and information needed to do the job well. Church leadership can create a team to assist the treasurer with the workload. This provides protection for the treasurer against accusations of theft or fraud, and ensures that there are trained volunteers available to help shoulder the task. Some churches have hired a bookkeeper to complete many of the day-to-day tasks and thus reduce the workload for the treasurer.



Remember to include your treasurer in your prayers and to offer a word of encouragement as he or she offers gifts of time and skill to further the work of the Lord and your congregation.



Sherri Grosz is a stewardship consultant at the Kitchener, Ont., office of the Mennonite Foundation of Canada (MFC). For stewardship education and estate and charitable gift planning, contact your nearest MFC office or visit MennoFoundation.ca.

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I think this is a timely article, and it prompted me to share this with the pastor and contact the treasurer with our thanks.
Linda

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