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Public Access to Church Board Meetings or Board Meeting Minutes

A church may receive requests from its congregation or the general public to attend board meetings or examine board meeting minutes. In general, churches are not legally required to open any portion of their board meetings or provide board meeting minutes to the public.

While some states may have open meeting requirements (sometimes called “sunshine laws”) especially for nonprofits that receive government funds, such requirements are limited and are generally not applicable to all churches. Local churches belonging to a denomination should also consult with their denomination for open meeting rules that may apply.

While guests may be invited to attend board meetings at certain times, allowing uninvited non-board members to attend the board meeting is generally unwise. In a similar sense, providing copies of a church’s board minutes to the public is generally not prudent. Many items discussed during board meetings and reflected in the minutes are confidential and should not be disclosed to the public.

Churches can benefit from adopting clearly defined policies on open meetings that describe if and when open meetings may be appropriate. Such policies should indicate who (members, professional advisors, media, the general public, etc.) may attend meetings and under what circumstances. These policies should also address meeting recordings and the confidentiality of any materials that may be distributed as part of the meeting.

 


This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.

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