(Chicago, IL, USA)
Is it OK for a pastor to have a separate personal bank account in the name of the church?
The only way I can think of that would be acceptable for the pastor to have a personal bank account in the name of the church would be a discretionary fund
This fund can be used for the pastor to help out needy individuals somewhat privately, but the following guidelines should be included in your written church policy:
1. require the pastor to document and record distributions from the fund showing the types of assistance provided during any given year (for example: $100 was given to a needy family to purchase groceries or $150 was given to a needy elderly woman to provide her with transportation to and from a kidney dialysis center for a year.)
2. Encourage the pastor to use the monies for goods and services rather than cash assistance (examples: taxi fare, bus ticket, a bag of groceries, a pair of shoes, a doctor bill), which helps to protect the pastor, the church and the persons receiving assistance from accusations of irregularity or private inurement;
3. Require the pastor to request the funds from the treasurer on some type of request voucher form, as an internal control mechanism over access to the fund (note: this can be done and still maintain confidentiality for the specific needy persons who will be beneficiaries);
4. State that the fund may not ever be used by the pastor for himself or his family
5. This one is up to the board..... limit the dollar amount that may be expended at any one time without advance written permission from the church board.
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