HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS | 1877 CONVENTION
1877 CONVENTION REPORT
Of Special Committee on Incorporating Trustees for the Estate and Property of the Diocese
To the Convention of the Diocese of New York:
The Special Committee appointed at the last convention to consider and report on the expediency of forming a body corporate under the act of the Legislature of State of New York, passed April 11th, 1876, being Chapter 110 of the Laws of 1876, and supplemental to the act for the Incorporation of Religious Societies, as printed on pages 109 and 110 of the last Journal of the Convention, respectfully report:
That, having considered the new act, they think that the interests of religions in this Diocese may be promoted by the Convention if it will avail itself of the provisions of that law. It seems to meet a want that has sometimes confronted persons desiring to do good in certain ways, but unable to find the hands, convenient and responsible, into which they might place their benefactions safely in trust for the intended objects. For example: In the beginning of a parish in a sparse population, it is hard from the lack of Churchmen in the place to form a Vestry that can take and hold land, buildings and movables which may be provided, with any prospect of a sure preservation of the property in the future for the purpose for which it would be given. Moreover, vestries, when formed under the general law for incorporating churches, are not legally capable of being Trustees of funds for all religious, educational and charitable objects; and when made recipients of gifts for some of those ends, they cannot be practically held responsible for their administration, and may sometimes yield to the temptation to borrow, incumber, mortgage or sell, and thus occasion the loss or perversion of the trust fund. This new law, however, provides a way whereby what is given for churches, schools, mission houses, sisterhoods, hospitals and other benevolent institutions and endowments, can be so taken and held; that the donor may have confidence that his gift may be preserved safely for the use for which it was bestowed. Whatever may be placed according to this law, will become the property of the Trustees of the whole Diocese, holding their office at the pleasure of the Convention, and be held in trust so as not to be diverted from its specific object and will be protected and managed by a corporate board created by and responsible to the Convention. With such care and management, as may be expected to result from this plan, Christian beneficence, instead of being apprehensive of a frustration of its efforts, may find inducement and encouragement to action.
By special acts of the Legislature, this Convention, it is true, already has, for special purposes, several corporations which are responsible to it; such as the Trustees of the Episcopal Fund, the Trustees of the Aged and Infirm Clergy Fund, the Missionary Committee of the Diocese and the Trustees of the Sand's Fund. With no one of these would a Body incorporated under this new law, necessarily interfere. It would not impair the powers of those existing bodies, nor trench upon the property or duties belonging to them. There are important objects for which property may be given that none of those existing bodies can take in charge, according to the particular acts by which they are incorporated. Any such property, however, bestowed for a religious, educational, benevolent or charitable purpose connected with the Convention, or any part of the Church in the Diocese over which it has jurisdiction, can be taken and held under this law in corporate form by the Trustees chosen by the Convention, and thus constitute a trust fund for parish or institution as destined by the donors, without danger of incumbrances being imposed upon it by careless, reckless, negligent or unwise internal management, and subject to the eye of the whole Diocese through its annual Convention.
Your committee, therefore, recommend the adoption of the following resolution:
RESOLVED, that this Convention will proceed to elect nine Trustees to take charge of the estate and property belonging thereto, and to transact all affairs relating to the temporalities thereof, in pursuance of the act of the Legislature of the State of New York, passed April 11th, 1876; and that the Bishop of this Diocese be, and he hereby is, elected one of said Trustees, to hold office, so long as he shall continue to be such Bishop; and that the residue of such Trustees shall hold their offices as follows: two for one year, two for two years, two for three and two for four year; and that at each future annual Diocesan Convention, there shall be elected successors to the outgoing Trustees for a term of four years, and also a trustee to fill any existing vacancy for the residue of an unexpired term; but all the Trustees shall hold their offices subject to such power and authority of the Convention, as is provided for by said act; and that every Trustee shall continue in office until his successor is elected; and that the name and style by which the said Trustees and their successors shall be known, shall be, "The Trustees of the Estate and Property of the Diocesan Convention of New York," and that said Trustees shall not assume or exercise any of the powers or duties or take any estate or property now or hereafter pertaining or belonging to or vested in or held by any other incorporated body, legally connected with the Convention or charged with the care of any fund connected therewith; and that all elections of Trustees, other than the Bishop of the Diocese, shall be by ballot, unless balloting be dispensed with by unanimous consent.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
Charles Tracy, Wm. E. Eigenbrodt, Samuel B. Ruggles, F. S. Winston, Cambridge Livingston, Committee. ____________________________________________________________________________________
This resolution was adopted by the Diocesan Convention on September 27, 1877, and has since undergone some slight revision with respect to the composition of the Trustees and their terms of office.