This section is from the "How To Pay Church Debts And How To Keep Churches Out Of Debt" book, by Rev. Sylvanus Stall. Amazon: How To Pay Church Debts And How To Keep Churches Out Of Debt.
Congregations have been known to borrow money on trustee notes, to give a first, second, and even a third mortgage on the church building and lot, and then in an hour of financial pressure have been known to allow the property to be sold under foreclosure, in order to buy it in at a nominal sum, casting off all the just and legal claims by a single act of villainy. In most instances, the congregations are able to pay the debts, and are guilty of a great crime when they refuse to pay. In other instances they are unable to pay, but are guilty of a crime equally as great, for they have created a debt when there was no possibility of ever paying it.
We might name men who are to-day poor, and dependent upon their daily wages for bread for their families, who have been rendered penniless by similar courses of dishonesty, and, in one or two instances, the transactions seem almost to have been characterized by fraudulent intent. The course of such congregations cannot be too strongly denounced It will be well when congregations come to recognize the fact that as long as any member of the entire organization has a single dollar's worth of property, he is bound by every sense of right, and every law of God, to use it in paying the debt which he has aided to contract. In the first place, no congregation has a right to create a church debt, but when they do, they become personally responsible, and their individual property, and even their future earnings, are pledged to the payment of that debt, and no injustice which may be practiced under the protection of the civil law can stand justified before God, until this obligation is both acknowledged and discharged. If a body of individuals decide to build a temple, that when completed is given to God in solemn ceremony, any bills which this body of individuals may create, and which remain unpaid, are most clearly their debts, and not God's at all, nor is it just that God's temple should be sold to pay their debts. God is not in debt, but these individuals are, and that, contrary to God's command, and being their individual debt, their individual property is as justly bound to the payment of this, as it is bound to the payment of any other debt.
An honest congregation cannot take refuge behind the civil law. any more than an honest individual can. Neither can a church debt become "out-lawed" If it ever becomes out-lawed, it can never become out-gos-peled. A "church debt," so called, but really the congregation's debt, remains in force as long as the persons live who made it, and they are bound to it by every sense of honor, by every manly principle, and every law of God; neither can they rid themselves of this obligation by separating themselves from the organization, or removing into the limits of another congregation. The obligation is a personal one, unaffected by time or place, and only relieved by payment or death - and then their estate is justly holding. When people shall come to look at this matter in its true light, they will not be so fast to create "church debts."