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For powers of trustees in relation to the property of the corporation, see gs 4, 5 and 11, and notes.
l'or powers of trustees in relation to minister, see notes to $ 5 under head of " Ministers.")
$ 33. Annual elections of incorporated Protestant Episcopal parishes. — The annual election of a Protestant Episcopal parish, hereafter incorporated, shall be held on the secular day in the week commencing with the first Sunday in Advent, designated in its certificate of incorporation. The annual election of an incorporated Protestant Episcopal parish or church heretofore incorporated shall be held on the day fixed for such annual meeting, by or in pursuance of law, or if no such date be so fixed, then on the Monday next after the first Sunday in Advent.
Notice of such annual election shall be read by the rector of the parish, or if there be none, or he be absent, by the officiating minister or by a church warden thereof, on each of the two Sundays next preceding such election, in the time of divine service, or if, for any reason, the usual place of worship of the parish be not open for the divine service, the notice shall be posted conspicuously on the outer door of the place of worship for two weeks next preceding the meeting.
Such notice shall specify the place, day and hour of holding the meeting, the name and term of office of each churchwarden and vestryman whose term of office shall then expire, or whose office shall then be vacant for any cause, and the office for which each such officer is to be then elected. The meeting for each such annual election, shall be held immediately after morning service.
The presiding officer of such meeting shall be the rector thereof, if there be one, or if there be none, or he be absent, one of the churchwardens elected for the purpose by a majority of the duly qualified voters present, or if no churchwarden be present, a vestryman elected in like manner. Such presiding officer shall be the judge of the qualifications of the voters; shall receive the votes cast; and shall declare the result of the votes cast at such election. The presiding officer of such meeting shall enter the proceedings of the meeting in the book of the minutes of the vestry, sign his name thereto, and offer the same to as many
qualified voters present as he shall think fit, to be also signed by them.
Only men of full age belonging to the parish, who have been regular attendants at its worship and contributors to its support for at least twelve months prior to such meeting, or since the establishment of such parish, shall be qualified voters at any such meeting. The action of the meeting upon any matter or question shall be decided by a majority of the qualified voters voting thereon. The polls of the election shall continue open for one hour, and longer, not exceeding six hours, in the discretion of the presiding officer, or, if required, by a vote of a majority of the qualified voters present and voting.
The church wardens and vestrymen shall be elected by ballot from persons qualified to vote at such meeting, and no person shal! be eligible for election as church warden, unless he be also a communicant in the Protestant Episcopal church, nor be eligible for election as vestryman, unless he shall have been baptized
At each annual election of an incorporated Protestant Episcopal parish hereafter incorporated, one churchwarden shall be elected to hold office for two years; and one-third of the total number of the vestrymen of the parish shall be elected to hold office for three years. At each annual election of an incorporated Protestant Episcopal parish or church heretofore incorporated, two churchwardens and the total number of its vestrymen shall be elected to hold office for one year thereafter, unless the terms of office of but one church warden or of but one-third of its vestrymen shall then expire, in which case one churchwarden shall be elected to hold office for one year, and one-third of the total number of its vestrymen shall be elected to hold office for three years. Each churchwarden and vestryman shall hold office after the expiration of his term until his successor shall be chosen.
[See form, No. 13.
L. 1813, ch. CO, § 1, subs. 9-14; R. S., 8th ed., 1882.
Without material change as to churches heretofore incorporated.' As to churches hereafter incorporated the date of annual election and the number and terms of office of church wardens and vestrymen are materially changed.
Presiding officer.- A rector of an incorporated church may be mandamused to give notice of the annual election. McLaurey V. Hart (Sp. T.), 11 N. Y. Supp.
The rector of the Protestant Episcopal church is both presiding and returning officer and his certificate of election is presumptive evidence of the right of the party receiving it to hold the office and exercise its functions. The People v. Lacoste, 37 N. Y. 192.
A presiding officer prevented by violence from discharging his duties at a regular meeting may retire, with those who choose to follow him, and conduct the meeting elsewhere. Field v. Field, 9 Wend. 394.
What constitutes quorum.– To constitute a corporate meeting there need not be present a majority of the corporators; but where the corporators are indefinite, those assembled pursuant to regular call will constitute a quorum, and the acts of a majority will bind the corporation, Madison Ave. Bantisi Church v. The Baptist Church of Oliver St., 32 How. Pr. 335; Field v. Tield, 9 Wend. 394.
Voters.- Only members of the congregation who have been regular attendants on divine worship and contributors to the support of the church for twelve months are qualified. Baptism in the church or reception by confirmation or communion do not alone qualify, as heretofore provided by L. 1813, ch. 60, § 1, suls. 6 and 9.
A member's right to vote depends upon his connection with the particular society, and not with the denomination at large. Watkins v. Wilcox, 4 Hun, 220.
The members of the church have no greater rights as corporators than the members of the congregation who steadily attend divine worship with them. Baptist Church in Hartford v. Witherell, 3 Paige, 296.
Persons otherwise qualified do not lose their right to vote at elections by reason of having renounced the doctrine of ecclesiastical government of the church. Petty v. Tooker, 21 N. Y. 267.
A religious corporation may, under its rules, exclude a member from spiritual privileges, but can not deprive him of his statutory rights as an incorporator. People v. German Church, 53 N. Y. 103; reversing 6 Lans. 172; People v. Phillip, 1 Den. 388.
Stated attendance means the personal presence of the voter at the religious meetings of the society. The regular attendance of members of his family is not sufficient. Casual attendance and regular contributions to the support of the church will not constitute a person a voter. I'eople et al. v. Tuthill, et al., 31 N. Y. 550.
Contribution and support must be according to the usages and customs of the church, which implies that contributions must be of a vital and substantial characte:. Id.
Contributions to the support of a charity connected with the church, or to a mission school, are not sufficient. Id.
A court of equity has no power to require qualifications in the electors of trustees, other than those prescribed by the statute. Robertson T. Bullions; 11 N. Y. 243.
A member can not vote by proxy at the meetings of a religious corporation. Gen. Corp. T., § 21.
The presiding officer may exact an oath from every person offering to vote. Gen, Corp. L., § 22.
Legality of election.- The question of the legality of votes cast at a corporate election can not be determined by the inspectors (or presiding officer acting as such) after they have already made a certificate declaring certain persons elected. Hartt v. Harvey, 32 Barb. 55.
An election of the trustees is valid although the notice required by the statute was not given, if the election was fairly conducted, and there is no complaint of want of notice. The People v. Peck, 11 Wend. COŁ
After the ballots are received, the right of the inspectors to inquire into their legality ceases. They must return the vote as cast. People v. White, 11 Abb. Pr. 168; Ilartt v. Harvey, 32 Barb. 55.
A certificate of election is presumptive evidence of election and can only be overcome by proof that the person holding it received less than a majority of the votes cast, unless the certificate shows upon its face that the person holding it was not legally elected. l'eople v. Lacoste, 37 N. Y. 192; Hartt v. Harvey, 32 Barb. (Sp. T.) 55.
$ 34. Changing the number of vestrymen of Protestant Episcopal parishes hereafter incorporated.- If the vestry of a Protestant Episcopal parish, hereafter incorporated, shall, by resolution, recommend that the number of vestrymen of such parish be changed to either three, six or nine vestrymen, notice of such recommendation shall be included in the notice of the next annual meeting of such parish, and be submitted to such meeting. If such recommendation be ratified by such meeting, the presiding officer thereof, and at least two qualified voters present thereat, shall execute and acknowledge a certificate setting forth such resolution of the vestry, the fact that notice thereof had been given with the notice of such annual meeting; that such meeting had ratified the same; and the number of vestry. men so decided on. Such certificate shall be filed in the office of the clerk of the county in which the original certificate of incorporation is filed and recorded, and such change in the number of vestrymen shall take effect at the time of the next annual corporate election thereafter.
1 If the number of vestrymen be thereby increased then, in addi. tion to the number of vestrymen to be elected at such next annual corporate meeting, one-third of such increased number of vestrymen shall be elected to hold office for one year there. after, one-third of such increased number shall be elected to hold office for two years thereafter, and one-third of such increased number shall be elected to hold office for three years thereafter.
If the number of vestrymen by such change be reduced, such reduction shall not affect the term of office of any vestryman duly elected, and at such next annual corporate meeting, and at each annual meeting thereafter, one-third of such reduced number of yestrymen shall be elected to hold office for three years.
[See form, No. 14.
$ 35. Changing date of annual elections, number and terms of office of vestrymen and terms of churchwardens in Protestant Episcopal churches heretofore incorporated.— If the vestry of a Protestant Episcopal parish, heretofore incorporated, shall, by resolution, recommend that the
the date of the annual election of such corporation be changed to a secular day in the week beginning with the first Sunday in Advent, or that the number of vestrymen be charged to three, six or nine, and that the terms of the churchwardens be changed so that one warden shall be elected annually, notice of such recommendation or recommendations shall be included in the notice of the next annual meeting of such parish, and be submitted to such meeting. If such recommendation or recommendations be ratified by such meeting, the presiding officer thereof and at least two qualified voters present thereat, shall execute and acknowledge a certificate setting forth such resolution of the vestry; the fact that notice thereof had been given with the notice of such annual meeting; that such meeting bad ratified the same; the date determined upon for the annual election of the parish; the number of vestrymen so decided on; and the fact that the meeting determined to thereafter elect churchwardens, so that the term of one warden shall expire annually.