Property of the Churches
All property, both real and personal, that belongs to the Churches comprised respectively in classes, regional synods, and general synods in common, shall be held in trust for such Churches in equal shares by deputies or trustees appointed for that purpose from time to time by the appropriate classis, regional synod, or general synod, and such deputies or trustees shall be bound by the terms of their appointment and instruction and are subject to being discharged by a subsequent classis, regional synod, or general synod.
This article was drawn up by one of our brothers in the legal profession and adopted by the general synod of 1974. We do not think that it needs an elaborate explanation, and for this reason we confine ourselves to a few remarks.
The churches individually are recognized as legal entities that can own real estate, receive legacies, etc. Usually they (have to) appoint a few brothers who act as trustees and hold all property in behalf and on behalf of the church. They are bound by their instruction and are subject to being replaced by others. This can be done, because a church is an existing, permanent body.
But what about a broader assembly, for instance a general synod? It exists for a few weeks and then is no more. Yet there are common possessions. We are thinking of the general archives and of our Theological Seminary. These belong to the churches in common, and have to be under the control and at the disposal of the churches in common at all times.
To safeguard the rights of the churches and to prevent that anyone entrusted with, say, the finances of the Theological Seminary might abscond with them, it has been stipulated that trustees or deputies are holding the common possessions for the churches in trust either in classical, or regional synodical, or general synodical combination, and that each subsequent classis or regional synod or general synod respectively has the right to replace them.
The churches remain the undisputed owners also of whatever they possess in common in whatever combination.