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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Trust-Deeds

are forms of conveyances of real estate specifying some trust for which the property is held. At an early period of his history Wesley published a model deed for the settlement of chapels, to the effect that the trustees, for the time being, should permit Wesley himself, and such other persons as he might from time to time appoint, to have the free use of such premises, to preach therein God's word. After his death, and that of Charles Wesley and William Grimshaw, the Chapels were to be held in trust for the sole use of such persons as might be appointed at the yearly conference of the people called Methodists, provided that the said persons preached no other doctrines than those contained in Wesley's Notes on the New Test., and in his four volumes of Sermons. This was followed, on Feb. 28, 1784, by the Deed of Declaration, explaining the words "yearly conference of the people called Methodists." This Deed of Declaration is recognized in the trust deeds of all the chapels built by the Wesleyans. In the Methodist Episcopal Church it is directed that the following trust-clause shall be inserted in each deed: "In trust, that said premises shall be used, kept, maintained, and disposed of as a place of divine worship for the use of the ministry and membership of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States of America; subject to the discipline, usage, and ministerial appointments of said Church, as from time to time authorized and declared by the General Conference of said Church, and the Annual Conference within whose bounds the said premises are situate. In trust, that said premises shall be held, kept, and maintained as a place of residence for the use and occupancy of the preachers of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States of America who may, from time to time, be stationed in said place; subject to the usage and discipline of said Church, as from time to time authorized and declared by the General Conference of said Church, and by the Annual Conference within whose bounds said premises are situate."

Trustees are Church officers appointed for the purposes of holding the legal title to Church property, and of taking care thereof. In the different branches of Methodism there are some differences of provision, but in general principles they are the same. In the Methodist Episcopal Church the Discipline says, "Each board of trustees of our Church property shall consist of not less than three nor more than nine persons, each of whom shall be not less than twenty-one years of age, two thirds of whom shall be members of the Methodist Episcopal Church." "Where the Church has not received a legal act of incorporation or charter; and where the law of the state does not specify any particular mode of election, the trustees are elected annually by the Fourth Quarterly Conference . . . upon the nomination of the preacher in charge, or the presiding elder of the district. Where the state or territory directs the mode of election, that mode must be strictly observed; and where charters of incorporation are obtained, they specify the particular qualifications and time of election of these officers."

The trustees have the charge of all repairs to be made on Church property, and of all financial matters pertaining to its preservation; are directed by the Discipline to make an annual report to the Fourth Quarterly Conference of the amount and value of the property, expenditures and liabilities, etc.; and are held amenable to the Quarterly Conference for the manner in which they perform their duty. By the action of the General Conference of 1876 trustees are forbidden to "mortgage or encumber the real estate for the current expenses of the Church."

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Trust-Deeds'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/t/trust-deeds.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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