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A church officer is a member of the laity who assists the priests or minister in management and upkeep of the church. These can include the organization of events, bookkeeping and representing the church in the community. All churches have different organizational structures, and officers can hold various titles, including president, secretary, clerk, elder and deacon.
The foremost duty of officers is the church's financial management. Working in conjunction with the clergy, officers keep track of the church's fiduciary intakes and expenses, as well as help plan for the organization's financial future.
In addition to tithing and the passing of the collection plate, churches often hold additional fundraisers. In keeping with their role as financial managers, church officers devote a large part of their time to organizing and supervising these events.
Most churches also keep many additional records, including documentation of the activities, information on the congregation and religious information relevant to the church's mission. Officers sort and archive much of this material.
An unofficial duty of church officers is to act as a role model to members of the congregation and the wider community. Officers, especially deacons are often required to refrain from certain behaviors, such as drinking or smoking.
Church officers must attend and supervise all meetings related to the management of the church. Often, an officer takes minutes, whereas another runs the meetings.
Often churches appoint an officer to manage the Sunday school program, which involves the hiring of teachers, the development of a curriculum and the supervision of lessons.
Officers of the church often act as liaisons between the priest and his congregation regarding routine matters. Officers are responsible for sending out mail and making certain phone calls.
Many officers are charged with maintaining a record of the church's history, including the recording of current events as well as an archive of all documents related to the church's past.
Church officers are often involved in the programming on church activities. These can include outreach, congregation-building and other activities designed to enhance the church's role in the community.
Often a single church officers, especially one with a law degree, handles all legal duties, including matters involving taxes, lawsuits, property rentals and sales, and employment, as well as the maintenance of all legal documents.
Michael Wolfe has been writing and editing since 2005, with a background including both business and creative writing. He has worked as a reporter for a community newspaper in New York City and a federal policy newsletter in Washington, D.C. Wolfe holds a B.A. in art history and is a resident of Brooklyn, N.Y.