REVISED STATUTES, 1989
1 This Act may be cited as the Religious Congregations and Societies Act. R.S., c. 395, s. 1.
CONSTITUTED BY DEED
Constitution of congregation
2 (1) Where any number of persons not less than twenty, capable of contracting, desire to form themselves into a congregation of Christians for the public worship of God according to their peculiar rites and ceremonies, they may, by deed by them executed in the presence of two or more witnesses,
(a) constitute themselves such congregation;
(b) adopt a suitable name therefor;
(c) declare the place where the same is established; and
(d) declare the particular denomination of Christians with whose doctrines such congregation is connected.
Restriction of name
(2) The name adopted pursuant to subsection (1) shall not be the same as the name adopted or used by another congregation or by a religious organization or body.
Trustees and other particulars
(3) They may also by such deed
(a) name two or more persons of the congregation to be trustees thereof, and give them a name of office;
(b) describe by bounds any land conveyed to or in trust for the congregation for any purpose connected with the congregation; and
(c) set forth the constitution of the congregation, the mode of admission of future members, by whom the right of voting at meetings shall be enjoyed, how the votes shall be ascertained and given, the manner in which vacancies in the trust shall be supplied and such other particulars as they think proper.
Duty to record and register deed
(4) Every such deed shall be
(a) recorded by the trustees or other person on behalf of the congregation in a book to be kept for that purpose; and
(b) registered in the registry of deeds for the registration district in which the congregation is established. R.S., c. 395, s. 2.
Vesting of property
3 Upon the deed being so registered, all the land described therein and all real and personal property granted to the congregation or to their use is vested in the trustees, named in the deed, for the use of the congregation. R.S., c. 395, s. 3.
Authority to sue and be sued
4 (1) Such trustees, in all matters concerning the real and personal property of the congregation, may sue and be sued by their name of office.
(2) No action shall abate by the removal or death of any trustee but shall be proceeded in by or against the succeeding trustees who shall pay or receive the like moneys and costs as if the action had been prosecuted in their names for the benefit of the congregation.
(3) Any moneys paid by them shall be reimbursed to them from the funds of the congregation. R.S., c. 395, s. 4.
Power to hold or alienate property
5 Every congregation established under this Act may
(a) hold in the name of its trustees real property not exceeding the yearly value of eight thousand dollars and personal property not exceeding in the whole at any one time forty thousand dollars; and
(b) use and dispose of such real and personal property as the congregation deems expedient. R.S., c. 395, s. 5.
6 (1) The members of every such congregation may
(a) meet when they think proper;
(b) at any such meeting by the votes of the majority of the members present, make and put in execution such regulations, not being contrary to the laws of this Province or to any rule or regulation embodied in the deed under which the congregation or society is constituted, as the majority deems necessary for the government of the congregation;
(c) change such regulations as they think proper.
Vacancy and removal
(2) A majority of the members may
(a) choose trustees to supply any vacancy in the trust;
(b) remove from office any of the trustees for the time being, and manage and superintend the affairs of the congregation.
(3) The time and place appointed for every such meeting shall be duly notified to the members of the congregation in the manner prescribed by any regulation made by the congregation in that behalf.
(4) Some fit person shall be chosen chairman at every meeting.
(5) All proceedings thereat shall be entered in the books of the congregation and signed by the chairman and clerk of the meeting, and proof of such entry so signed shall in any action or other proceeding at law be presumptive evidence of such proceedings and of the regularity of the meeting. R.S., c. 395, s. 6.
7 Every person admitted a member of the congregation after the registration of the deed shall execute the same in the presence of two witnesses before he is deemed a member. R.S., c. 395, s. 7.
Property held at formation
8 (1) All real property which at the formation of any congregation under this Act is held therefor by any trustees not appointed under any statute or deed of incorporation shall, by such trustees or their survivors or by such of them as then remain in this Province, be conveyed to the new trustees named in the deed by their name of office.
Vesting in new trustees
(2) Upon the conveyance being made and registered, all the estate and interest of the original trustees, or the survivors of them and their heirs, in such property is vested in the new trustees to the use of the congregation as effectually as if all the original trustees had joined in the conveyance. R.S., c. 395, s. 8.
9 (1) Any religious society or congregation incorporated by special Act of incorporation or by deed under the provisions of any Act at any time before the thirty-first day of March, 1851, in force for such purpose, may avail themselves of the provisions of this Act, if the parties executing the deed comprise two thirds at least of the members of the former corporation who at the time form a part of the congregation and also two thirds at least of the persons actually exercising the function of trustees by their individual names as such trustees.
Effect of registration
(2) Upon the new deed being registered, the former Act or deed of incorporation from thenceforth ceases to be in operation and the property held thereunder vests in the new trustees in accordance with the terms of the deed.
Effect on legality
(3) Nothing herein contained affects the legality of any proceedings regularly had under the former Act or deed of incorporation. R.S., c. 395, s. 9.
Term and salary of minister
10 (1) Where the choice of a minister is vested in the congregation or church members, the trustees may enter into an agreement in writing with any minister whom the congregation or church members appoint to the spiritual charge of the congregation for such period and salary as are agreed on.
Entry of agreement
(2) Such agreement shall be forthwith entered on the books of the congregation. R.S., c. 395, s. 10.
Liability of member
11 (1) In any case in which the funds at the disposal of the trustees of any society or congregation are insufficient to discharge the liabilities duly incurred in respect to such society or congregation, such trustees, when so directed by the vote of a majority of the members at a duly assembled meeting, shall sue for and recover from each solvent member of the congregation liable to contribute to such fund in respect to such liability, or the representatives of any such member, a rateable proportion of the amount required to discharge such liabilities.
(2) Such rateable proportion shall be fixed by the rules or regulations of the society or congregation. R.S., c. 395, s. 11.
CONSTITUTED BY DECLARATION
Constitution of congregation
12 (1) Any religious society or congregation not incorporated or constituted by deed under this Act may, at any meeting of the congregation held in pursuance of a notice stating the object of such meeting and given at its usual place of holding public worship either by verbal announcement during divine service to the congregation or by posting the same on the door of such place of worship for three Sundays preceding such meeting,
(a) proceed to appoint a chairman and secretary; and
(b) upon the vote of two thirds of the members of the congregation, and of adherents actually contributing to the funds thereof above nineteen years of age actually present, proceed to the adoption of a declaration by resolution or otherwise to the effect that they constitute themselves a religious congregation or society.
Constitution and by-laws and officers
(2) Such society or congregation, at any such meeting or any subsequent meeting called in the same manner, may by a majority of votes adopt such permanent constitution and by-laws not inconsistent with the laws of this Province as it considers necessary, and may appoint trustees and such other office-bearers as it sees fit, and define their powers and duties, and may regulate the terms of membership in the society or congregation.
Vesting of property
(3) The real and personal property of the society or congregation are vested in such persons as are duly appointed trustees thereof by resolution of any such meeting, during their continuance in office, and any such resolution shall be recorded in a book to be kept for that purpose.
Powers of officers and trustees
(4) The officers and trustees appointed from time to time by any such congregation or society are invested with all such powers for the holding and transfer of the property and management of the business of the congregation or society as are conferred upon them by the constitution and by-laws so adopted.
Transactions of business
(5) Any business of the society or congregation not so entrusted to the officers or trustees shall be transacted by the vote of a majority of the members present at any such duly assembled meeting. R.S., c. 395, s. 12.
Alienation of property by trustees
13 (1) On being so directed by a vote of the majority of the members of any society or congregation present at any regular meeting, the trustees shall sell, mortgage, lease or convey any real or personal property of the society or congregation for such estate, and on such terms as the meeting directs.
Execution of conveyance
(2) Every conveyance of any such real property executed by the trustees and by the chairman of the meeting is valid. R.S., c. 395, s. 13.
Alienation of property if no trustees
14 (1) Any religious society or congregation having no trustees, or not having the power to sell the property of the society or congregation, may when it is necessary or expedient in order to erect a new place of worship or for any other object of the society or congregation, at a regular meeting of the members of the society or congregation, authorize such persons as they appoint to sell or otherwise dispose of any real or personal property of the society or congregation in such manner as the meeting appoints.
Validity of sale
(2) A sale thereof under the authority of such resolution shall be valid and effectual.
Sale of business apart from land
(3) The provisions of this Section extend to authorize the sale of the place of worship or other building of the congregation apart from the land on which the same stands. R.S., c. 395, s. 14.
Vacant office of trustee provided for
15 Where any real property has been or hereafter is conveyed in trust for erecting thereon houses for public worship, or dwelling or other houses or buildings intended for the accommodation of ministers or clergymen officiating or engaged to officiate for any church or congregation, and the mode of appointing new or other trustees than the grantees is provided for in the deed of conveyance creating such trust, or otherwise in writing, when a vacancy occurs by reason of the death, removal, resignation or displacement of any trustee, it is not necessary that the remaining or surviving trustee or trustees, if any, make any deed or conveyance to the newly appointed trustee, in order to invest him with the estate, functions, trusts and powers of the original trustees under such deed or declaration of trust or instrument in writing creating such trust and directing the appointment of future or succeeding trustees, but such newly appointed trustee thereupon, without deed or other conveyance, is seised in fee or other estate to the uses and trusts created as fully and completely as were the original grantees if the terms or conditions for such appointment are fully complied with. R.S., c. 395, s. 15.
Vacant office not provided for
16 (1) Where the mode of appointing new or other trustees than the grantees is not provided for in the deed of conveyance creating such trust, or otherwise in writing, when a vacancy occurs by reason of the death, removal, resignation or displacement of any trustee, the members of the society or congregation, for whose use or in trust for whom the said property was conveyed, may call a meeting of such members by notice given in the meeting-house or church of the society or congregation at the time of divine service during two consecutive Sundays next preceding the day appointed for such meeting, or by notices posted on the door of such meeting-house or church for such two Sundays the notice in either case to state the place and hour of such meeting, and the object for which the same is convened.
Appointment of new trustee
(2) Such meeting may, by the vote of not less than two thirds of the members present at such meeting, appoint one or more trustees in place of any trustee or trustees so dying, removing, resigning or being displaced.
Effect of appointment
(3) Immediately upon such appointment, the trusts and powers of the original trustees under such deed or declaration of trust or instrument in writing vest in the person or persons so appointed, and he or they thereupon become seised in fee or other estate of the trust property to the like uses and trusts as the original grantees under the deed or other instrument were.
Registration of resolution
(4) A copy of the resolution of the meeting appointing such trustee, verified by the oath of the clergyman or minister or the clerk of such society or congregation, shall within one month after such appointment be filed in the registry of deeds for the registration district in which the trust property is situated, and in default of the same being so filed such appointment is void and of no effect. R.S., c. 395, s. 16.
Amendment of constitution or by-laws
17 Any religious society or congregation, incorporated by an Act of this Province or constituted by any deed or declaration under the provisions of this Act, may at any regular meeting of the members held in accordance with the provisions of such Act, deed or declaration, by a vote of two thirds of the members present, alter or amend its constitution or by-laws. R.S., c. 395, s. 17.
The Church of England Act unaffected
18 (1) Nothing in this Act contained affects The Anglican Church Act.
Spiritual government unaffected
(2) Nothing so contained affects the spiritual government or discipline of any church, society or congregation. R.S., c. 395, s. 18.
Where union of congregations
19 Where real property is held by trustees for the use of any religious society or congregation and such society or congregation, when authorized by its constitution to do so, desires to unite with another society or congregation of the same denomination, the trustees for the time being may convey any real property held by them to the trustees of such last mentioned society or congregation or of the united society or congregation, but no such conveyance shall be made unless and until it is directed in the manner provided by Section 13. R.S., c. 395, s. 19.