The SBTC is continuing to seek property tax exemption and will raise new issues in a legal motion to be filed in Tarrant County for partial summary judgment against the Tarrant County Appraisal District, SBTC lawyer Shelby Sharpe told the convention’s Executive Board during its meeting April 22.
During the meeting the board voted to “pay under protest” the 2004 property tax on the SBTC office building and property from surplus funds. Last year, the Tarrant Appraisal District denied the SBTC property tax exemption and the SBTC filed a subsequent lawsuit in protest.
Sharpe told the board he believes the Tarrant Appraisal District’s denial of property tax exemption violates, among other things, the establishment clause of the First Amendment.
Sharpe said he believes the county erred in judging if the type and frequency of worship at the SBTC office qualifies it as a tax-exempt religious organization. In doing so, it is establishing acceptable and non-acceptable forms of religious expression as they pertain to tax exemption, he said.
A partial summary judgment requires there be “no dispute of material fact” based on evidence that would be issued if a trial were held, Sharpe said. A favorable ruling would mean the judge would likely follow with a judgment against the county for the convention’s legal fees and related costs.
Two additional attorneys with expertise in related issues are serving the SBTC pro bono, Sharpe said. If tax exemption were denied, the convention would pay about $200,000 annually in property tax.
“Pray that clarity and the facts will come out in this case,” Sharpe told the board. “Pray for the attorneys as we prepare the case and that it will be ruled upon justly.
“Let the law and the facts speak for themselves.”
The meeting included numerous pauses for prayer on various issues, including the lawsuit.
Other board actions included:
4voting unanimously to change the bylaws to allow the Committee on Order of Business to select a guest speaker for the SBTC annual meeting three years in advance.
4voting unanimously to request a change in the cooperative agreement between the SBTC and North American Mission Board asking that NAMB notify SBTC staff of “planned state-wide events 12 months prior to public promotion of such events as well as the clear communication of any other conference conducted in Texas.”
4voting unanimously, on a recommendation from the Administrative Committee and President Chris Osborne, to give $25,000 to Glorieta Conference Center to furnish a suite in the newly renovated Cottonwood Lodge in the name of Jim Richards, SBTC executive director.
4voting unanimously to authorize the board’s Administrative Committee to study and bring to the Executive Committee a recommendation concerning the establishment of a foundation.
In introductory remarks to the board, SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards lamented the fall of several church leaders and said Micah 6:8 summarizes God’s “universal ethic” for the world order he intended.
The scripture reads:
“He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?” (HCSB)
Richards said the verse commands us to love the truth, love people and love the Lord.
“God has a plan for this world order. And this world order is living in rebellion and the ethical system that God would have has been rejected by the world order. Unfortunately, I see the church often mirroring that ? Sometimes it’s sexual sin; sometimes it’s financially questionable activity. Whatever it is, there are constantly those who are falling by the wayside. I think living the truth and loving people and longing for the Lord are the three ethics that will enable us and undergird us to be what we o
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