In this issue
Mauck & Baker settles Milwaukee case
Partnership with foreign missions
Study shows same-sex households have negative affects on children
Mauck & Baker wins zoning lawsuit for Harvest Covenant Church
      November 2013


A law suit against the city of Milwaukee ended a few weeks ago when U.S. District Court Judge Charles N. Clevert entered an order approving Milwaukee's settlement with Harvest Covenant Church, a Mauck & Baker client. As part of the settlement the church was compensated for both damages and its attorneys' fees by Milwaukee.


In 2008, Harvest's Pastor Darnell Robinson returned from serving in the military and attempted to start an Evangelical Covenant Church in Milwaukee. Robinson founded the Harvest Child Development Center, a day care and social service facility, hoping to use the same location for church services on Sunday.


However, a Milwaukee ordinance effectively prohibited storefront churches, so Robinson applied for a special use permit in 2010 which he was denied. Harvest Covenant Church filed suit against Milwaukee on June 1, 2012. During the dispute, the court granted the church interim relief on March 26, 2013 allowing religious assembly in the building.  Along with the damages and attorney's fee, Harvest Covenant Church was also permitted to permanently continue holding religious assembly at their location on 7127 West Lisbon Ave.


Harvest Covenant Church in Milwaukee, Wis. receives permanent use of their building through a settlement. 


"I was really grateful for how attorneys for the city heard our story and responded after we filed suit," said Pastor Darnell Robinson. Attorneys at Mauck & Baker, LLC in Chicago, Ill. have represented Harvest Covenant Church as well as local counsel, attorney Michael Dean with financial support from Alliance Defending Freedom.


"I think the city quickly realized that the prior efforts to prevent storefront churches were unconstitutional. We appreciate Milwaukee's willingness to right a wrong and for its cooperation in this settlement," said Mauck and Baker attorney Noel Sterett. "Harvest Covenant Church can now move forward and worship in its own space."  

Partnership with Foreign Missions
 Richard C. Baker, November 2013 

Paul wrote in Philippians 1:3-5: "I thank my God in all my remembrance of you ... because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now."


Over the years, we have incorporated and obtained tax exempt status for ministries directly partnering with foreign mission organizations, trusts or individuals doing Gospel work in their native countries. As part of the partnership, these U.S. based organizations send funds that support their foreign partners directly.

Since 9/11 these partnerships have come under more and more scrutiny both from the IRS and from INS (Homeland Security.) It is no small thing to be scrutinized as potentially promoting or funding terrorism.  Since ignorance is no excuse under the law, failure to comply with the IRS and INS regulations could result not only in loss of tax exempt status but in personal as well as corporate liability for the directors/officers of the US based ministry.


Here is a brief outline to help your organization obtain tax exempt status and to comply with the charitable and anti-terrorist regulations.  


Obtaining and Maintaining IRS Religious Exemption


First, confirm that the foreign ministry is of such a nature that the IRS will recognize donations going to it as charitable.  As a rule of thumb, the more the foreign ministry fits within the guidelines for a US ministry to get tax exemption, the more likely the IRS will approve of your partnership as exempt.  Here are just some of the questions the IRS will want you to explain:

  1. Are the purposes and practices exempt under the IRS Code?
  2. Is the foreign organization incorporated, recognized as charitable in its own country and does it run is operations in a manner that passes IRS scrutiny?
  3. Explain how the foreign organization operates in connection with the domestic US not-for- profit organization in accomplishing each organizations ministry. 
  4. What written agreements does the international organization have with your organization? 
  5. What policies does the U.S. organization have in place to insure that its dealing with the foreign ministry meet IRS charitable guidelines?
  6. How often do members of your organization go to the foreign country and for what purpose?
  7. Does the foreign ministry's financial oversight meet IRS standards: (a) Who is in charge of conducting the foreign activities and services?  (b)    How much will these individuals be compensated? (c) How was it determined?  and  (d)  Are they related to anyone in the organization either directly or indirectly? 

Second, armed with this information, and after establishing procedures within your bylaws to comply with the IRS and INS, train your staff to "religiously" follow them. Your written operating agreement with the foreign ministry should also insure compliance.


Anti-Terrorist Financing Rules and Compliance  


You must also do periodic due diligence to insure that both organizations are not supporting terrorist organizations or individuals. One way this is done is to periodically review different websites including the Specially Designated Nationals List (SDN) to determine whether your partnering organization, or a particular individual or organization it supports is on that list. Two lists provided by the government should be checked regularly:




Due diligence, requires you to search for each of the individuals or organization receiving funds from either yours or the foreign mission. Also, a search should be done when a new person or charity is added to the either yours or the foreign mission's donee list. And in any event, a search should be done at least annually for all donations to individuals and organizations thereafter. 


But due diligence means more than merely checking a list. Personal involvement, visits and regular meetings with the foreign ministry's staff, review of records, etc. all add to the accountability of both organizations and assure compliance. Make a written notation and documentation for each search so as to document your efforts for future reference should an issue arise. 


While vigilance to the law is required, this should not stop us from partnering with our brothers and sisters in foreign lands where they often face persecution and hardship in their proclamation of the Gospel. In this, we become, like the Philippians in Paul's day: "... partakers both in (his) imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the Gospel." Phil. 1:7  



Richard Baker is a firm member of Mauck & Baker, LLC with an active practice representing churches and not for profit organizations for over 32 years. He is personally active in missions and serves on several boards or committees active in international ministry. 


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Watch Mauck & Baker's video to find out more about our firm
Mauck & Baker Video Testimony  
Church Interest
Read Christianity's Today's interview with University of Illinois law professor Pamela Foohey on bankruptcy in the church 
Christian Leadership Alliance gives advice for leaders from the book of Acts
Irish columnist explains same-sex unions will render marriage "irrelevant" because "for the first time, children and parenthood [will have] no place in marriage."

Counselor and evangelist LaQuita Suggs says churches must get rid of the stigma of asking for help.

Zoning disputes make it to to the top five reasons church end up in court. 
Study shows same-sex households have negative affects on children
November 2013 


An Academic Study 


The Review of Economics of the Household, a journal dedicated to providing a perspective on economic thinking about the home, released a Canadian study in September on graduation rates among young adults in a variety of difference households. 


The study looks at opposite sex households, same-sex households, as well as single parent  and common law households revealing 

significant differences in high school graduation rates between children living in same-sex households versus opposite sex households.


"Children living with gay and lesbian families in 2006 were about 65 % as likely to graduate compared to children living in opposite sex marriage families. Daughters of same-sex parents do considerably worse than sons," wrote the study's author Douglas Allen. The study examines adult children of lesbian and gay married couples in a country where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2005. 



Mauck & Baker's Response 


John Mauck explains some of the implications on child welfare resulting from same-sex marriage: 


The marriage of a man and a woman was a bulwark protecting children in adoption, foster care or custody proceedings. Children in Illinois are now at significantly higher risk due to Attorney General Lisa Madigan interpretation of the law stating child welfare agencies may not "discriminate" against single people, gay couples, unmarried opposite sex couples and others when determining the best interest of the child. The legislative, Governor Quinn and Lisa Madigan have re-instituted a twenty-first century version of child sacrifice. 


Please join me in prayer that our courts will recognize and reinstate the "best interest of the child" as the controlling criteria concerning the custody, foster car, and adoption of children.  


Contact Mauck & Baker's attorneys at 312.726.1243 for more information about amending your church bylaws and other information to protect your church's right to recognize and preform only opposite sex marriages.