Four representatives of a church in Chattanooga stand quietly today in a title guaranty office as Donald Trump delivers an inaugural oration in Washington, D.C.
The federal president describes the populist anger at state progressivism that brought him to office while, just at noon hour, the churchmen ink documents in a bid to liberate themselves from a servitude to the state.
By David Tulis / Noogaradio 92.7 FM
The elders and deacons of the local reformed congregation are signing a transfer of property from Brainerd Hills Presbyterian Church Inc. to a second body, Brainerd Hills Presbyterian Church, organized not as a creature of the state, but by their savior Jesus Christ as a church.
In 2015 members of the congregation fell under godly conviction about what elder Vaughn Hamilton calls a divided loyalty to Christ, a confusion created by the existence of the church’s parallel entity, its nonprofit corporation that claimed to subjugate the body of Christ under state government through the secretary of state’s office.
By their signatures, Mr. Hamilton, elder Peter Gagliardi and deacons Pat Murphy and this writer transfer land and buildings titled to the corporation on East Brainerd Road in Chattanooga to the church itself.
Tiny final steps remain. Mr. Hamilton will take the deed to the Hamilton County register in the courthouse across the street from Title Guaranty, where for a F$700 fee legal papers are filled and notarized. And, lastly, a report to the church members.
Mr. Hamilton is a computer networking specialist by trade; he and his wife, Faith, have seven children. He explains the act of disincorporation as an act of caution about the wiles of men and as an act of worship to God.
Giving and receiving
“We are going to finalize the transfer of the property of the corporate entity,” he says prior to grabbing and using a pen. “We have been charged to dissolve that entity. *** We function as those officers elected by that body, the corporation, and [are] charged with authority and privileges that have to do with that state entity, the corporation.”
But the church governors have a second, more authentic office, that of biblical origin. In this office, that of elder and deacon, they receive assets cleared of state interest and claim.
“The charge that we have as officers of the church,” Mr. Hamilton says, “is a charge that we have by virtue of Christ’s reign in His kingdom. He charges us with duties to His lordship and for the sake of His people. That’s a much higher calling, a sacred calling” that has been confused with that of corporate officer.
“The corporate charter explains how to dissolve the corporation and the church membership ordained a shedding of the corporation.” Today’s act is the next to final act, the last being a report of the church government back to the membership.
The church state corporate entity has existed parallel to the church. The church, in contrast, is a spiritual corporation that operates today.
“The spiritual entity, a congregation that operates under the charge of scripture with regard to its being and its existence — and the scriptures describe it in various ways — it continues as an ambassadorial entity of Christ’s kingdom on earth, under His rule and reign, and according to His rule it operates. It persists in its largest form in the universal church. But the corporate entity comes and goes at the whim of the state.”
‘Division of allegiance’
“The problem existed in a division of allegiance, and language that did not honor the lordship of Christ with regard to His church. That is being removed now by the dissolution of the corporate entity and the moving of the property into the possession of the church as a church of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That division of allegiance expressed there in the corporate charter expressed things that were simply untrue.
“For one, it indicated in the explicit language of our charter that the church was being created by the corporation. That is so explicitly false, given what the scriptures say about the Holy Spirit establishing the church under the authority of Jesus Christ and then shepherded according to His purposes and his appointments. That is completely false, yet that was part of our corporate charter.
“Furthermore, there was explicit language about the authority of the state and the obedience of the church to the authority of the state in areas that simply can’t be yielded to the state because the church has to obey her savior and king, Jesus Christ.
“So, those things seem to be taken for granted quite often by those who incorporate the church in some state entity like that. We saw that very much as a shame to our role as obedient citizens and servants and sons of our great God and following the lordship of our Savior in His appointments for our church. So this is, we hope, a way of showing honor to our King.”