Congregational trustees. From the very beginning of the settlement of Mennonites in America, as soon as land was secured for meetinghouses and for schoolhouses, trustees were appointed to hold title to the property of the congregation. Usually two or three trustees were named in the first deed as grantees to receive and hold the property, from whom the title automatically passed to their duly elected or appointed successors, mostly without any additional legal conveyance. However, at times a second conveyance was made, as was the case for the Salford (Pennsylvania) Mennonite congregation in 1763. This conveyance is interesting because of a statement that the names of the trustees were used "by the special nomination and appointment of the Christian Congregation called Menonists (alias Monistoe) who assemble to perform divine worship at a meeting house by them erected on the above described piece of land and that the said Indentures were made for the uses, services, benefit and convenience of the said Congregation and fraternity to a meeting house and school house and a place for them to bury their dead" (Wenger, Franconia, 133). The term trustee is not found in the early deeds, but the concept of representatives of the congregation holding property in trust is often clearly stated and always implied. In Colonial America the ministers of the congregations were sometimes designated as the trustees in the property deeds. The congregations were not incorporated as legal entities, and in most cases until the 1950s in North America had not been incorporated. The practice of using trustees is the common form of holding property.
Usually the trustees are also responsible for the maintenance, repair, and servicing of the meetinghouse and grounds. They hire the sexton or janitor, and receive and sometimes hold funds for these purposes, but often all funds are held by the church treasurer. They do not, however, in most congregations of the Mennonite Church (MC) and related groups, hold the alms fund or poor fund, which is received and administered by the deacon or other designated group.
Wenger, J. C. History of the Mennonites of the Franconia Conference. Telford, PA, 1937.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 751. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
©1996-2013 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.
MLA style: Bender, Harold S. "Trustees, Congregational." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1958. Web. 23 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/T788ME.html.
APA style: Bender, Harold S. (1958). Trustees, Congregational. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/T788ME.html.