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Valuable Information to Help You Protect Your Ministry

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October is Pastor Appreciation month and here at FIG we want to celebrate
and express our thanks!

Jeremiah 3:15 - And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. 

 

                                             

 

In honor of Pastor Appreciation Month we are giving away a $50 gift card! If you are a Pastor, or would like to nominate a Pastor, click here to enter. ENTER GIVEAWAY The winner will be announced on November 2, 2015. 

 

 

 

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When it comes to vehicle inspections most of us are doing good to keep the gas tank filled and the oil changed only a few hundred miles after the yellow light comes on. Most Churches find that with their never ending to do lists that automobiles typically are on the bottom. If it starts, there isn't a problem! Personally I'm guilty of rarely washing my car. I depend on the rain to keep it clean! However, as a Ministry there are several important reasons why vehicles inspections should become part of your regular routine. 

Safety is obviously a main concern. You want to make sure the vehicle is in good working order before loading it up with passengers. Another concern is liability. Imagine your church van was involved in a serious accident which includes severe injuries and a fatality. Due to the nature of the accident several lawsuits are filed against the church. Lawyers are going to go over every detail with a fine tooth comb to try and prove that your ministry was negligent in a multitude of areas aside from the accident. Did you do driver training? Was a vehicle inspection done prior to driving? If your answer is no, you are negligent. 

So how do you incorporate vehicle inspections into your Ministry? Simple. You create a routine. They say something needs to be done consistently for twenty-one days before it becomes a habit, and I am all about self improvement! In our Risk Management Document Library we have a Vehicle Self Inspection Form. We recommend you download and print up several copies to keep on a clipboard or in a notebook in each of your church vehicles. Before any of your driver's take a vehicle out, they need to do a quick inspection, just like they do when you rent a car. Only this time you're not on the defense pointing out that dent was there before you left the lot in your economy priced clown car. 

Why is this important? As we've said in the past, it's all about documentation. If a lawyer is claiming negligence you now have a history of documentation showing that you inspect the vehicle on a regular basis. You've done what the law considers a reasonable person would do. If you haven't yet completed driver training, please check out this blog post. Driver Training  

A few minutes of effort could make all the difference to your ministry. 

                            

 

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Since we are almost through the week I thought today would be a great day for a bonus blog! Our RMM Blog offers a lot of features and I wanted to take a moment and point some of them out to make sure you are getting to enjoy them all. 

If you have subscribed to the blog then you receive an email each week. That email is basically a quick preview of what has been posted. At the bottom of the email is a button that says "View Post."  I highly encourage you to click it! It allows you to view the content on our website, which includes images, videos, links and it's all in color! Imagine, with the click of a button you go from 1950's black and white to technicolor in all it's glory! 

At the top of each blog post is a search bar. This allows you to easily search for blogs containing key words, or you can select the category folder on the left and you can search blogs based on categories such as Church Policies, Vehicle Safety, Sexual Misconduct, Risk Transfer etc. 

At the bottom of each blog post are a couple items as well. One is the option to leave a comment. This is where you can ask questions, leave feedback and shower me with praise if you so choose! The second is a bar with several stars. You can rate each blog on a scale of 1-5. This allows me to know which topics you found the most helpful. 

Finally, if you did find a particular blog post insightful and wanted to save it, or share it with someone you can! You can post it to social media via facebook, twitter, linkedin, or google plus. You can save it to a board on pinterest, or you can print it by selecting the print button at the top of the blog. 

As always, it is our goal to help educate ministries on the issues that are facing them in today's society. If you have an area of concern that you would like to see us talk about please let me know. I am happy to do some research and find the best possible solution for your ministry. 

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We are excited to announce a new feature on our website which we have named the FIG Forum. 

One of the things we try to do when meeting with you, our clients, is ask if you have a prayer request that we could pray with you about. While we are a business, we truly feel as though God has called us to serve in this capacity of helping churches. Therefore, this is our ministry. 

The Bible says "Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them." - Matthew 18:20 

While we are honored to share in these prayers with you, we got to thinking about how we could bring all of our ministries together in prayer. Thus the FIG Forum was born. Our concept is simple. Share your prayer requests with hundreds of churches at once. 

How do you go about doing this? 

1. Log onto our website. 

2. Select Testimonials > Forum. 

3. Select Prayer Requests 

4. Click the Subscribe button so that these prayer requests will be emailed directly to you. 

5. To submit a prayer request select > New Topic > Type your request and hit submit. 

We hope you will feel free to share your requests in this new section and if you have thoughts or ideas of something you would like to see us offer on our website please let us know! 

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Today I want to focus on the serious topic of child sexual abuse. The statistics of child sexual abuse are startling to say the least. The Abel Harlow Child Molestation Prevention Study states that pedophilia molesters average 12 child victims and 71 acts of molestation. Out of 561 sexual offenders there were over 291,000 incidents totaling over 195,000 total victims. These are enough victims to fill 2 ½ Superdomes! This same study found that only 3% of these sexual offenders have a chance of getting caught. 

While we know these horrific crimes are happening across our nation, we sometimes think these things cannot possibly happen within our community; however it is critical to note that this abuse is no less prevalent within the faith community. In fact, there are studies that demonstrate that the faith community is even more vulnerable to abuse than secular environments. The Abel Harlow study revealed that 93% of sex offenders describe themselves as “religious” and that this category of offender may be the most dangerous. Other studies have found that sexual abusers within faith communities have more victims and younger victims. This disturbing truth is perhaps best illustrated by the words of a convicted child molester who told Dr. Salter,

“I consider church people easy to fool…they have a trust that comes from being Christians. They tend to be better folks all around and seem to want to believe in the good that exists in people.”

Besides sending shockwaves down your spine, why is it critical for those within the faith community to be aware of these statistics? Though there are many reasons, here are a few to consider.

1.       If approximately 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men have been sexually abused as children, this means that our churches are filled with abuse survivors. For example, a church of 200 members (100 women and 100 men) will have at least 41 child sexual abuse survivors.  Yet, sexual abuse is still too seldom talked about inside our churches. How would your church respond if:
* 20.5% of the congregation had cancer; or
*20.5% of the congregation had lost a child; or
*20.5% of the congregation had been fired from employment?

Is it safe to predict that addressing this issue would become a primary focus of the church ministry? Is it safe to predict that pastors would preach sermons addressing the spiritual issues associated with trauma? Is it safe to predict church members would expend themselves in love and service to those experiencing such deep hurt? Is it safe to predict that the church would not respond to this criminal offense in silence? As a faith community, we must learn to approach the horror of child sexual abuse no differently.

 

2.       Those who sexually victimize children likely have victimized dozens of other children during their lifetime.  Not only does this open our eyes to the prevalence of this tragic epidemic, but it should also help to equip us to respond to individuals within our faith community who get “caught” for engaging in this criminal behavior against a child and beg for “grace,” claiming that this was the only child they ever victimized. Based upon these statistics, the offender is most likely lying, which means they are continuing to deceive in order to reestablish trust and access of our children. Perhaps these statistics can help drive our faith communities to open their eyes to the dark truths about those who abuse.  

3. Most children never report sexual abuse, and when they do, it is often ignored. Perhaps these statistics will prompt our faith communities to actively educate our members about this crime, and to dialogue openly about these issues with our children. Two key components of such education are prevention and response. Educating all members of your ministry on policies and procedures to prevent sexual abuse is a must. Running background checks on every single volunteer who works with minors is a must. Learning the signs of sexual abuse is a must. Our risk management system provides sample policies from sexual misconduct, sexual predators, and youth safety that will help your ministry build a solid foundation of prevention.

 


4. In the event of an abuse allegation it is important to have sexual abuse coverage in place. While some carriers assure their clients that low limits provide adequate coverage statistics disagree.  The following are a few examples of sexual abuse cases and the monetary settlements:
Jehovah Witness                              2014                       $13.5 Million
Boy Scouts                                     2015                       $11.8 Million
Elementary School Teacher                1999                       $6.8 Million
Youth Pastor                                   2000                       $4.2 Million
Volleyball Coach                              2006                       $1.8 Million
Pastor                                            2008                       $800,000

One religious organization has paid a grand total of $2,786,897,033 in sexual abuse settlements. This money was rewarded to 5,679 victims reaching a grand total of $490,737 per victim.

If your current sexual abuse limit is $250,000, and defense costs are outside your limit, the carrier can choose to write you a check on day two for your entire limit and they are no longer responsible to defend your ministry. This leaves you with the financial cost of hiring an attorney, paying court fees and restitution.  If on average a sexual abuse victim is awarded $490,737 your ministry now owes the remainder $240,737. This is why having low limits on the number one crime affecting churches is never a good idea. We recommend a $1,000,000 limit.

In this world we live in today, protecting your ministry through prevention and response, policies and procedures, communication and coverage limits, should be your number one priority.



Copyright Boz Tchividjian – Source Material 

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Traveling the world is an adventure. Last year I was fortunate enough to take a solo two week trip to Europe, much to the chagrin of my parents. I've always been their independent child. I believe my first sentence was "I do it myself."
While I had traveled outside of the US before, this was my first trip on my own. I learned a lot during my time abroad. How to navigate public transit without English signs everywhere, how to order at a restaurant without being able to read the menu, how to communicate with various hand signals and that good walking shoes are a MUST! Traveling abroad is a wonderful thing, and if you are fortunate enough to be able to, I recommend you explore as much as possible. However, there are a few things you need to know before you set foot outside of the US. 

Whether you are traveling for personal pleasure, work, or a missions trip you need to purchase an international medical insurance plan. Insurance coverage for your church, your personal health insurance, or you business does not extend outside of the United States. 

If I were to ship my car over seas to London, my car insurance would not be effective even though my car is in London. The same is true for your church liability, med pay or personal health insurance. Just because you are in London does not mean your insurance follows you. 

So how do you purchase an international medical policy? Typically when you are purchasing a ticket to an international destination the airline will offer you an opportunity to purchase a medical policy. You can also purchase them from various companies. You can select an individual policy or one for a group. If you are going on a mission trip, every single person attending needs to have an international medical policy. Even if you seek medical treatment in the US upon your return, your health insurance would deny coverage because the injury occurred out of the country.The pricing for these plans are very reasonable, and well worth the coverage and security it provides. As an example I did a quote for me and my Dad.  

Jessica Gleason      30 years old      $500,000 of coverage      $20 premium 
Mike Gleason         52 years old      $500,000 of coverage      $40 premium 

Here is a link to one of these companies. MEDEX Assist

A
s always, if your ministry is planning a trip and you have questions, please give us a call. Also, feel free to invite me! 

 

                                      

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According to Robert’s Rules of Order, meeting minutes play a crucial role in providing record of what was said and done at the meeting. While typical minutes do not make for riveting reading, it is important that they are informative and easy to navigate for whatever the reader needs to know six months from now.

As you work on implementing our risk management procedures into your ministry, it is important that your meeting minutes reflect the adoption of these policies.

Let’s say that a sex offender starts attending your church, and you are made aware of his history. Upon meeting with him you explain your ministries policy on sex offenders attending services.  He may then claim that you are discriminating against him.  If you can show that you had adopted a policy regarding sex offenders prior to him stepping foot in your building then he cannot claim discrimination. However, if you decide to adopt a policy after he started attending then his claims have validity.

 

So how do you adopt a policy in your meeting minutes? You want your minutes to be readable, and use of unpretentious language helps, just remember to be precise in the information you give.

Following the example of the sex offender, this is a sample guideline of how to adopt a policy.

I make a motion that we adopt How to Handle Sex Offenders, Policy 1, from the Ministry Protection Risk Management System. 

You can adopt policies and procedures individually, or you can adopt our risk management system all at once.

I make a motion that we adopt all policies and procedures from the Ministry Protection Risk Management System.

If you have hosted one of our Risk Management Seminars, we would suggest you list that in your meeting minutes as well.

Board acknowledges Ministry Protection Risk Management Seminar occurred on (date) in compliance with the policies and procedures of our Risk Management System.

While this may seem redundant, it is important to keep a record so that you have proof of implementation. 


The Sex Offender Policy I referenced above is available for download in our Risk Management Document Library. It provides three sample policies with different levels of protection for you to choose from. Simply log in and select - Ministry Risk Management - and from the drop down choose the document library. This form is under the Sexual Misconduct section and titled "How to Handle Sex Offenders." 


Adoption of these policies is a simple step your ministry can take to ensure you are protected. 

                                           b2ap3_thumbnail_Why-waste-time.gif

 

 

 

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There was little to disguise what these two had been up to moments before police pulled them over. The would-be burglars master plan had one tiny flaw; there 'disguises' comprised of masks drawn on their face with permanent marker pen. American police stopped their car after a witness reported two men with "painted faces" were trying to break into a flat in Iowa. 

Although these men might not be the most brilliant or successful criminals, burglaries are on the rise. One area Churches are particularly affected by is copper theft. Worldwide demand for copper has brought its price to an all-time high, resulting in an increase of copper theft crimes. Ground and roof mounted heating and air conditioning units have been stolen or destroyed at churches across the country for the copper they contain. 

So what measures can you take to protect your property? Step one, cover everything in permanent marker......Just kidding! There are many ways to help protect against copper theft. 

Add security lighting to areas where thieves may hide. 

Deny access to roof-mounted HVAC units by removing ladders and other step-ups that may assist thieves. 

Consider using wrought iron cages or fences to enclose your AC units. 

And finally, what may be considered the ultimate deterrent, add security cameras. Now I know what you're thinking, "It's not in the budget to purchase security cameras!" Was I right? I have a feeling I was.  I'm also sensing you're hungry, but before you reach for that donut hear me out. While I suggested your purchase security cameras, I didn't say they had to be real. The UniquExceptional UDC4 Cameras contain 30 fake infared night vision LEDS that stay illuminated during darkness. The batteries last 9-12 months, and the model can be installed with a few screws in minutes. A security sticker is also included at the grand cost of $7.99 per camera. 

I would suggest you purchase a few of these to install around entry doorways and above your HVAC unit, placing the sticker on the unit itself. For just a few dollars you can deter potential copper thieves since no one, even those who paint their faces with marker, will go after a unit under surveillance when there are plenty out there unprotected. 

 

Here is the link to the cameras on Amazon. If you have Amazon Prime - they qualify for free shipping! 

UniqueExceptional UDC4 Camera

 Editors Note: It may be worth paying for real cameras if you can capture something like this! Enjoy! 

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An Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Policy is an important statement about an employer’s commitment to minimize and eliminate all forms of unlawful harassment, discrimination, and bullying into the workplace.

Not only is such conduct against the law, but it can also create a hostile working environment, decrease productivity, and increase absenteeism.

How are you accountable?

The law says that the employer, whether an individual or company, will be liable for discrimination or harassment that the employer causes. This is called primary liability. Primary liability will be incurred either through the actions of the individual employer, or in the case of  a company, through its officers or managers.

An employer can also be liable when they ignore discrimination or harassment that they see happening in the workplace.


The employer will also be liable for the discrimination or harassment caused by its employees. This is called vicarious liability. If the employer can show that it took reasonable steps to prevent the discrimination or harassment occurring, then the employer will not be liable.

 

Simply having an EEO policy is not enough to avoid legal liability for harassment and discrimination in the workplace. The law requires an employer to do everything ‘reasonably practicable’ to eliminate harassment and discrimination.

 

In 2011, there were 33,956 complaints of harassment made to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission resulting in $100,200,000 paid in settlement.  

Reasonable Steps for the Employer to Take

  • Issue Written Policies that state clearly that discrimination and harassment will not be tolerated. 
  • Train all staff on discrimination and harassment, outlining the rights and responsibilities of staff.
  • Appoint people responsible to ensure as far as possible that harassment and discrimination do not occur.
  • Implement grievance procedures.
  • Remind employees of the EEO policy on a regular basis.

 

 

As part of our risk management services we have created employee handbooks and employment applications to assist you in this process. These are included in your manual as well as available on our website. Feel free to contact us for assistance and we will gladly help you in protecting your ministry. 

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As part of our commitment to helping ministries, we provide free Risk Management Seminars to all our clients. We believe it is important to educate the entire congregation on how best to protect the ministry and ensure it's continuation.  Our philosophy is that we don't tell you what to do; we help you do it. Working with hundreds of churches has given us first hand knowledge in multiple areas of risk management, ensuring you will never find yourself in a George Costanza situation. 

If you're interested in scheduling a Risk Management Seminar for your ministry please let us know! *Ovaltine drinks not provided.

To Schedule a seminar please contact Jessica Gleason - 812-355-4605 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

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First Insurance Group is pleased to announce that we have partnered with GuideOne Insurance. 

                                           


As an independent agency, we have the ability to work with multiple carriers to ensure your policy is at a fair market price. Adding GuideOne to our Church Market Portfolio helps us expand that effort. Since we serve churches across eight states, GuideOne Insurance helps us address the needs of our ministries nationwide. 

GuideOne Insurance has been protecting policy holders for over 65 years and has an A rating with A.M. Best. 

A few historical facts: 

1946 - William M Plymat sent 10,000 letters to ministers and laymen, asking their views on the idea of an insurance company that would insure only total abstainers from alcohol at lower rates than other carriers. The belief was that non-drinkers would be in fewer accidents that those that did drink. The company was established as America's first auto insurance company for non drinkers. 

1947 - The Preferred Risk Mutual Company (PRM) was licensed to operate in Iowa. Reverend Same Morris, a popular radio host, was elected the first president of the company. 

1962 - The company introduced America's first multiple-peril package policy for churches. 

1980 - The Preferred Risk Family provided seed money to help establish MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, as a national organization. 

1990 - PRM Provided MADD with a $2 million dollar donation. 

1998 - Preferred Risk changed it's name to GuideOne Insurance. 

2005 - GuideOne was selected as one of the "Principle 10 Best Companies for Employee Financial Security." 

2013 - They were named to Ward's 50 Top Performing Insurance Companies for the third year in a row. 

2014 - They were named to Inc. 5000's list of the fastest growing private companies in the united states. 


First Insurance Group is currently ranked the top Church Producer in Indiana with GuideOne and we will continue to honor our commitment of providing you the best service and coverage to protect your ministry. 

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When it comes to driving an automobile it's important to remember that not all cars are created equal. The way you maneuver on an exit ramp varies depending on whether you're in a Civic, F150, 15 Passenger Van or a Bus. Just because you know how to drive one vehicle safely doesn't mean you're automatically proficient in all, despite having that little thing called a driver's license. 

This is why driver training is vital for your ministry. Whether you run a bus route or occasionally use the church van for youth group outings, educating the people who drive your vehicles is a must and documenting that education is just as important. 

As part of our Ministry Risk Management System, we make driver training simple and easy. Log onto our website and select the the Ministry Risk Management Tab. In the drop down menu you will see Church Video Library. Select the Auto Safety Video section.

Underneath each video you will see a form asking you to enter the names of the people who are watching the video along with your church information. This is where the documentation part comes in. If your church van was in an accident involving severe injuries or fatalities, the first thing a lawyer is going to ask is, "Did you do any sort of driver training? If so, can you prove it? What documented evidence do you have?" If you've watched our videos, and submitted the names of the drivers who did the training you can answer yes. If your answer is no, you now have a valid reason to sit in front of the computer and watch videos! 

So gather up your drivers, document their training and in the mean time enjoy the bus driver training video below! 

 

 

                                    

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Since Facebook launched, users have uploaded more than 219 billion photos. #selfie 



While many of these are personal photos from vacation, family events and pets, some are also uploaded from public events.  Sharing photos on Facebook is one of the core purposes of the social media site, however posting photos comes with certain responsibilities ethically and legally.

According to Facebook, if you live in the United States you can generally post picture of other adults, but not children, without their permission. Two states, Georgia and New Jersey, are working on laws that make it illegal for anyone other than a parent to photograph a minor.

In addition, online sites must comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Act of 1998, which has rules regarding the posting of identifying information including a child’s school, home town or full name. Though this law does not apply to individuals, Facebook could remove photos that violate the rule at the request of parents.

So how does your ministry navigate the waters of posting photos without creating a liability exposure?

We have created a photo use agreement for our ministries to use for their websites, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

If you regularly post pictures of your youth group activities, have the parents sign the photo use agreement giving their permission for their child’s pictures to appear online.  Don’t assume just because the majority of teenagers have social media accounts that their parents are ok with their images being displayed publicly on your ministries website and social media outlets. Think twice before you post!

 

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First Insurance Group is pleased to announce we have partnered with Mennonite Mutual Insurance to best serve you. 

 

 

What is known today as Mennonite Mutual Insurance Company actually came into existence in 1895 when a group of men, recognizing the need for protection from property loss against fires and storms, joined together to form a property mutual aid association. These men were members of the Mennonite Church and chose to name the association Mennonite Aid Plan. Among these founders were J.M. Smucker (founder of the J.M. Smucker Company) and D.C. Hostetler (a local dairy farmer). Both men served the Association as President and Secretary/Treasurer respectively for over 40 years. 

Mennonite Mutual Insurance Company offers insurance products through independent agents, specializing in serving the insurance needs for churches, farms and small businesses. They have an A- (excellent) rating with AM Best. 


First Insurance Group is proud to work with such a reputable company with a long standing history in the community whose goals reflect our own; Protecting and Serving Ministries. 

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SDS what? In a world where people use emoticons, abbreviations and acronyms instead of typing words, being faced with yet another term to memorize can be daunting. However, I promise this acronym is far more important that learning what TTYL means. (It's talk to you later btw) <--btw is by the way. AHH! I Can't Stop! 

SDS stands for Safety Data Sheets. These sheets are legal documents containing information on the potential effects on your health from exposure to chemicals. It is a sixteen-section document dealing with toxicity, use, storage, handling and emergency procedures related to any products the government feels need to be controlled. It describes the possible hazards involved with the product, how to use it safely, and what to expect when the safety recommendations are not followed. In addition, it tells you what to do when accidents occur and how to recognize symptoms of overexposure. 

How does this apply to you? All employers are required by the Department of Safety and Health Administration to compile a list of Safety Data Sheets for all products and chemicals used on the grounds in their facility. While OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has not made it a standard practice of targeting churches, their enforcement is at historically high levels and ministries should be prepared should they extend their focus. 

Consider OSHA's aggressive enforcement of late: 

  • The average proposed penalty for "Serious" violations more than doubled in 2011. A penalty of up to $7,000 per violation can be imposed. 
  • Significant cases are up 30%. Penalties of up to $70,000 may be imposed for each willful violation with a minimum of $5,000 for each violation. 
  • Some Mega-Penalty citations exceed 1 Million. 
  • OSHA is more aggressively issuing repeat citations of up to $70,000 for each violation. 
  • There has been a 100% increase in fine cost per violation. 

When it comes to enforcement, employers can expect to see a continued increase in OSHA activity. OSHA director DR. David Michaels has stated that the higher penalties are still too low when compared to other regulatory agencies. 

Fortunately getting into compliance is easily accomplished with a few simple steps.
Designate a person responsible for obtaining and maintaining the Safety Data Sheets. Have this person take inventory of your facility writing down the products and chemicals used. Once you have created a list, you can obtain the SDS by simply typing the name of the product into an internet search engine i.e. Lysol Spray SDS. Click on the provided link where you are usually given an option to save or print the file. In order to help this process, we have created a sample list of SDS in our Risk Management Document Library. 

Safety Date Sheets can cover a variety of products. The following are a list of areas you would need SDS for. 

  • Office Supplies 
  • Cleaning Supplies 
  • Automotive Supplies
  • Maintenance Products
  • Construction Materials 
  • Extermination Products 
  • Personal Care Products 

We recommend printing these sheets and assembling binders for each area the products are stored like the Kitchen, Supply Closet, Maintenance Shed, etc. If you have questions regarding implementation or having problems finding a particular Safety Date Sheet please let us know. We are always happy to assist! 

 

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Galatians 5:13  For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 

 

July 4th, a day we as a country remember the sacrifices of men and women to grant us freedom. In the spirit of remembrance, I've decided to share a few facts about this historic day. 

According to author Kenneth C. Davis, July 2nd is the real day of independence, but it's celebrated on the 4th because that's when congress accepted Jefferson's declaration. 

Thomas Jefferson drafted the declaration of independence on a laptop, which was a writing desk one could fit on one's lap. 

Thomas Jefferson changed the wording on the declaration of independence from "the pursuit of property" to "the pursuit of happiness." 

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4th, 1826. 

Only two men signed the declaration of independence on July 4th, 1776; John Hancock and Charles Thompson. 

Jefferson's original draft of the declaration of independence was lost and the one eventually signed was the "engrossed" document. 

The printed version of the declaration was called the Dunlap Broadside. 200 were made, but only 27 are accounted for. 

Congress declared July 4th as an official holiday in 1870 as part of a bill to official recognize other holidays, Christmas being one of them.

The declaration of independence was a justification for a revolt against the British, which included a list of charges against the British King. 

Several countries have used the declaration of independence as a beacon in their own struggles for freedom. These countries include France, Greece, Poland, Russia and many countries in South America. 

"Yankee Doodle," a popular American patriotic song, was originally song prior to the Revolution by British military officers in mockery of the unorganized and buck-skin wearing "Yankees." 

The Star Spangled Banner was written by Francis Scott Key and was originally a poem stemming from his observations in 1814 concerning the British attack on Baltimore's Fort McHenry during the war of 1812. It was later put to music, though no decreed the official national anthem until 1931. 

Including John Adams and Thomas Jefferson (mentioned earlier), a total of three us presidents have died on July 4th. James Monroe is the third president to share this fate. 

Conversely, America's 30th president Calvin Coolidge, was born on July 4, 1872. 

In 1776 about 2.5 million people lived in the United States 311.7 million people in 2011. 

The average age of those who signed the declaration of independence was 45. The youngest, at age 27, was Thomas Lynch, Jr. of South Carolina. The oldest delegate was Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania at age 70. Thomas Jefferson was 33. 

1 out of 8 signers were educated at Harvard. (7 total) 

The White House held its first 4th of July party in 1801. 

The tune of the national anthem was originally used by an English drinking song called To Anacreon in Heaven. 

In 1954 the words "Under God" were added to the Pledge of Allegiance. 

The oldest, continuous Independence Day celebration in the United States is the 4th of July Parade in Bristol, Rhode Island; it began in 1785. 

 

 

 

May your holiday be filled with family, friends, and thankfulness for the blessings God has bestowed on us. Happy 4th! 

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Being a good steward is a principle most of our parents instilled in us from a young age. Take care of your possessions; don't leave your toys on the floor. Protect your valuables; don't leave your bike in the driveway. As a ministry you practice good stewardship in the care your facility. You sweep the floors, take out the trash, pay your bills, and hopefully request certificates of insurance from those using or working on your facility. If you have no idea what the words certificate of insurance are referring to, then I suggest you take a moment and read my blog on using standard subcontract agreements. For those of you raising your hand in a ooh ooh, pick me fashion because you have a folder full of certificates, not so fast. The gold star isn't yours just yet. Can you say without a shadow of a doubt that those certificates you are so proud to possess are filled out correctly?

 A certificate of insurance has the ability to do two things.

1. It proves that the insured has insurance.

2. It can protect your ministry from inheriting someone else's liability claim.

The purpose of requesting a certificate of insurance is for you to receive both benefits. However, if the certificate is not filled out correctly, it does not afford your ministry any protection.


What takes a certificate from worthless to worthwhile? As every great treasurer hunter will tell you, X marks the spot.

 

I've included a sample certificate of insurance to illustrate exactly what needs to be filled out. Highlighted by the red circles are several X's. These X's are in the Additional Insured column next to the General Liability, Auto and Umbrella sections. By having these checked, this certificate is naming you as an additional insured on their insurance policy. This means their policy will defend your ministry if a claim should arise as a result of them using or working on your facility. Next to the workers compensation box you will notice the X is in the waiver of subrogation column. This means that if the HVAC guy was injured working on your unit, his work comp claim cannot become the churches work comp claim, and they waive the right to sue you.

Some companies will place the X's in the boxes and some will type out the additional insured and waiver of subrogation coverage in the description box below. As long as you have the coverage filled out in one of these areas your certificate is protecting you. If your certificate is blank, you might as well make a paper swan.

If you find yourself unable to decipher your certificate, please send them to us! We are happy to review any and all certificates and provide feedback. Not sure who you need to request a certificate from? Give us a call and we will walk you through the process. Ensuring your ministry is protected with correct certificates is just another example of being a good steward.

 


 

 

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When you think about community traditions, churches are at the heart of them. From rummage sales and voting locations to trunk or treat and Christmas programs, no other building is used for such a variety of events as a church. While opening your doors to the community is the nature of ministries, you should be aware what you're opening the door to.

When you allow a person, an entity, a township etc., to use your property in any capacity you are also allowing them to use your insurance. Their liability is now your liability. Their lawsuit is now your lawsuit. We are not suggesting you bar the doors and dig a moat in order to defend your ministry, however there are practical solutions you can implement to ensure you are protected. So how do you know who to let in, and what procedures to follow?  Let me tell you a little story. 

Once upon a time, in a kingdom far, far away was a Church. This Church was a pillar of the community. One day, the town council asked the church if they would help them with the annual town parade. The Church, always willing to oblige in local events, agreed and asked what they could do to help. The council explained that since the church was on the parade route, they would like to set up bouncy houses on their lawn. The Church remembered a risk management blog they once read advising them to ask for a certificate of insurance, and the city provided one. To make sure it was filled out correctly they sent for their trusted adviser, Sir Insurance Agent. He reviewed the certificate only to discover the Church was not listed as an additional insured on the policy! (Gasp) He advised the Church to have the city correct this at once, so that the city's insurance policy would protect the Church in case of any bouncy house mishaps. The Church called the city only to discover that they could not add them as an additional insured because their policy excluded coverage for bouncy houses! The Church had been tricked into taking on all the liability for the city's bouncy houses because they were on their property. The End. 


I'll give you a moment to recover from that shocking story.....


Now you know what procedure to follow if you are ever part of a parade, but what do you if the boy scouts, home school group, men's basketball club or women's quilting circle ask to use your facility? 

Step one is to evaluate the potential liability of those asking to be on your premises. The women's quilting circle is far less likely to have an injury compared to the men's basketball club.  

If you are dealing with a group that has an insurance policy, like the boy scouts, you ask for a certificate of insurance listing you as an additional insured. You also have them fill out a Church Facility Usage and Hold Harmless Agreement. Where does one find such a fancy sounding document? You're in luck! We provide all our risk management documents to our clients for free. Simply log-in to our website and visit our Risk Management Document section to automatically download to your heart's content. 

If the group does not have an insurance policy, like a home school group, you can still request them to fill out the Church Facility Usage and Hold Harmless Agreement. Simply remove the insurance requirements section. 

Not sure if letting the flame throwing jugglers practice in your gym is such a good idea? Give us a call and ask! We are always happy to advise what procedures or documents will best protect your ministry. Want to learn how to tell if a certificate of insurance is filled out correctly? Stay tuned for more blog posts! 


 

 

 

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Some of my fondest memories growing up are associated with attending youth group activities at my church. As with most people, when strolling down memory lane, I am filled with laughter and astonishment at some of the things I did. Many of these outlandish experiences are the result of amazingly wacky ideas dreamed up by my youth pastor. Strobe light pillow fights, pitch black hide n' seek, and blind volleyball are just a few examples of my childhood. 

The nature of ministries is promote events to bring in the public. While these events are great fun for your congregation, there are some potential risks associated you should be aware of. Knowing how to navigate and prepare for these exposures to your ministry when planning an event can make all the difference in its success. 

Having worked with hundreds of Churches dare we say we've seen it all? *knocks on wood* Perhaps we haven't dealt with every scenario imaginable, but we have handled a variety of events. Based on some of these ministries events I secretly think my former youth pastor is on the interwebs blogging his divine event-spiration. 

An important thing to note is that while you have insurance for your ministry, some events may require you to purchase additional coverage. Whether the carrier requires additional premium for the exposure or you need to purchase an event policy, the purpose is to provide separate limits and specific coverage that the currently policy is not intended to provide. Insurance carriers assess your ministry and extend coverage based on standard church risks. They expect to offer coverage on your facility if there is a wedding, a fellowship, a ladies scrapbooking event, etc. However, they were not anticipating you giving hot air balloon rides, having monster truck races, motorcycle jumping, sky diving, archery camp, or covering the church lawn in bouncy houses. I know what you're thinking, and the answer is yes, we have had our ministries attempt to do all of the above. While we are not suggesting you pick up a bow and arrow and recreate the hunger games, we do want you to be aware of what coverage you may need when planning your next event. 

So how do you know if your latest brainchild already has coverage in place? Simple. Call us and ask! We will advise if that is a standard coverage on your current policy or we will help you get the event coverage that you need in place. 

 

 

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"Give Instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wise: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning."  Proverbs 9:9

There is no document that will guarantee that a church will never be sued, or, if sued, will never be held liable for injuries. However, liability release forms can be a great value in proving parts of a case.

To understand liability waivers, it is important to have an understanding of some of the legal terms. One important term is “negligence.” Negligence as defined by law is a failure to exercise reasonable care.

 

 

What is the Risk?

A Colorado court recently held that a “waiver and release document which purported to release the church from responsibility for any liability that might result from participation in an off-site church event attend by patrons, did not release the church from liability for injuries suffered by a minor patron when she collided with a rock on frozen lake while being towed on an inner tube by an all-terrain vehicle, because the agreement did not contain any information describing the event activities or associated risks.” The court concluded that since the parent had not been properly informed in writing about the dangers associated with the activity the release was ineffective.

The example given above shows that the church was found negligent; they failed to exercise reasonable care in the planning of this event. You must not do less than your due diligence when it comes to the preservation and protection of your ministry.

 

 

What Can Be Done?

There are several steps to be taken when incorporating a release form into your ministry.  As we saw in the Colorado case, having a release form that does not state the event specifics will not be effective in protecting your ministry. Some vital elements that should be included in any release form are as follows:

  • Description of activity.
  • Date and location of activity.
  • Proper indemnification and hold harmless language that releases the ministry from all liability.  
  • A consent to medical, dental or hospital care. 

 

It is important to protect your ministry by making prudent decisions regarding your liability release forms. A simple form can make the difference in your ministry continuing to operate. Log In and head on over to our Risk Management Document section and download your release forms today!

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