Process for Church Name Change?
February 6, 2023
8 comments 272 views
We are looking for resources as to what might involved in changing the name of our church. Does anyone have a step-by-step guide on how to do this?
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Is this a US or Canadian church?
If a Canadian church is seeking a name change, the steps are available on the CRA website. Please inform the respective classis regarding the name change so that the denominational data base can be updated. If you have questions please contact the Canadian office.
If a US church is changing its name the process is a little different because churches are considered under the denomination's umbrella federal employer ID number (FEIN).
-The church/council approves the name change and reflects this in their minutes and is signed by office bearers.
-File articles of amendment with your state. Each state has a codified process for accepting articles of amendment and name changes. It is also a good time to thoroughly review your entire articles of incorporation to see if you want to amend any other parts.
-Amend the church's bylaws: Your bylaws also need to be amended to reflect your church's new name. Do not throw away the old bylaws! Rescind the old bylaws and adopt the new ones as of the council meeting date that approves the new bylaws.
-Let the classis and denomination know. The denomination makes an annual report to the IRS regarding church updates, including name changes. If you have questions please contact the US office.
Whether you are affiliated with a Canadian or US church, please (please!) scan your articles of incorporation and bylaws to a safe online storage space and email/send a copy to the CRCNA archives office at Calvin University.
Calvin University Archives, 1855 Knollcrest Circle SE; Grand Rapids, MI 49546; [email protected]; 616-526-6916
If a US church, could a church change its name by adopting a DBA? If so, what would be the recommended process? Thanks!
It is essentially the same process so you will need to evaluate why you would go the route of applying for a DBA instead of making an official name change.
For Canadian churches one first needs to take into consideration whether the church is incorporated provincially, as the name change registration process needs to start there. The process may vary by provincial registry. The second step is to advise CRA of the name change with respect to charitable status.
US Churches (most states, perhaps all) can file "Assumed Business Names" (ABN, also known as a DBA) and doing that is a much less involved process than "changing the name". Filing an ABN amounts to having the legal right to use a "nickname," while changing the actual incorporated name involves more than that (filing amended or restated articles).
Now, it may be that the church wants a "name change" (not merely the right to use a nickname/ABN), but filing an ABN involves less than changing the name.
When you file taxes or a 990 at the end of the year, check the change name box. It is really that simple. You can change the name of a business anytime, however there is no fee to update the name with a tax or exemption filing. - signed the girl who couldn’t make up her mind about a name!
Churches are not required to file 990's and so they generally don't. But if you use the method of "checking the change name box" in a not-required 990 form, that does nothing in terms of changing the name of the church, at least if the church is an incorporated entity. Corporations, including changing their names (and DBA's) are state law matters, not federal law matters. A form 990 is a federal law (IRS) matter.
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