Unincorporated association

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An unincorporated association may be created merely by gathering and functioning as a group for particular tasks. They may legally tie themselves together so that if one falls prey to the courts in this litigious society they all fall.


An 'unincorporated association' is an organisation set up through an agreement between a group of people who come together for a reason other than to make a profit, eg a voluntary group or a sports club.

Legally speaking a group of people who get together and decide to perform some task without filing any legal paperwork or establishing any formal legal structure have formed an unincorporated association.

“Unincorporated association" means an unincorporated group of two or more persons joined by mutual consent for a common lawful purpose, whether organized for profit or not.

While the common legal terms is unincorporated association other phrases describing this corporate status may include a voluntary group or union, voluntary organization, common-interest association or just an association.

For Profit

If that lawful purpose for which they have joined together to accomplish includes earning a profit, their association is automatically a partnership or joint venture for tax and most other legal purposes.

For example, if two people get together and decide to operate a food truck, they have formed a partnership, even if they file no paperwork. They now enjoy mutual liability. Because it is not respected as a separate legal entity [no separate legal existence apart from its members] its members generally can be held personally liable for its debts and liabilities.

There is no distinction between the people and all their other assets. Every member becomes entirely liable for the actions of the other in the operation of the food truck no matter how great or how small their participation may be.

Non Profit

If the purpose for the association is to benefit the public some way, and does not include earning a profit, the association’s members have formed an unincorporated nonprofit association.

People form nonprofit unincorporated associations often without being aware of it.

If several of your neighbors get together to help raise funds to keep your local library branch open, you’ve formed an unincorporated nonprofit association.

If an unincorporated association’s purpose is charitable, educational, and/or scientific in nature, it can qualify as a Section 501(c)(3) organization (also called a public charity).

Unless your state law contains an “enabling statute” granting rights to an an unincorporated association it cannot hold or receive property, or sign contracts, in its own name.

Because of these limitations, nonprofit unincorporated associations are usually used to accomplish limited short-term goals, such as raising funds.

If an unincorporated charitable nonprofit has more than $5,000 in annual revenues, it must apply for IRS recognition of its status.

A Church does not. But a church is established by Jesus Christ.

Multi-state association

Only a few states have statutes that protect members of unincorporated associations from legal liability. If an unincorporated nonprofit organization operates in a state that has no statutory protection for members, the members could be personally liable for the debts or other obligations of that association. This may extend beyond the state the formation took place to any place these members function.

"In Denver & R.G.W.R.R. v. Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen'

the Supreme Court held that for general venue purposes the residence of a multi-state unincorporated association includes not only its principal place of business, but also any district in which it may be found to be 'doing business.'" [1]

"At common law the unincorporated association was viewed as a

group of individuals rather than a legal entity, and hence to sue an association one had to join all of its members." [2]

Even knowledgeable members of an associations may unknowingly cross a line and find themselves involved in litigation.

Ancient Associations

The phrase guilt by association is meant to condemn all because of their association with those who did wrong. From ancient Roman law to kill all the slaves of a house if the master was killed by a slave to Hitler who rounded up thousands of people based on this premise of association. Millions have been prosecuted and persecuted based on their association with others.

Certainly there are legal ways to protect from this danger within courts of a legal system but is there a danger at natural law?

"And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." Revelation 18:4

The word partakers is from the Greek word sugkoinoneo[3] Which is defined as to become a partaker together with others, or to have fellowship with a thing.

Fellowship with what thing?

The word sugkoinoneo comes from the word koinoneo[4] and it is defined " to come into communion or fellowship with... join one’s self to an associate, make one’s self a sharer or partner."

So what is it that people are in communion with or associated with that is missing the mark or doing contrary to what they should be doing?

Plutarch had told the people and Polybius certainly warned the people and certainly prophets like Peter who warned about Covetous Practices making people Merchandise and cursing their children.

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A Tithing was a group of ten men. Their chosen titular leader was a Tithingman but he was a part of another group of ten men. The leader of the Tithingman's group was to help coordinate their resources as a part of a network of men without incorporating as a legal body in order to maintain the welfare of a hundred men and their families in matters of law justice, mercy and fidelity and eventually in the continuation of these groups of tens, hundreds and thousands for a whole and free nation. When the righteous Social Virtues predominated in the people with each man doing his duty unselfishly this system worked well.

Tithingman Defined

A Tithingman was a leader of ten men. The ten men were the heads of families in old England. The chief man of a tithing and presided over its gatherings but also linked it to other gatherings representing the interest of the titthing an communal gatherings but titular in nature.

A tithing or tything was a historic English administrative or legal unit, originally one tenth of a hundred families.

National Network

A little known truth of history is that “our modern reliance on government to make law and establish order is not the historical norm.”[5]

Nations often united in groups of ten and formed a network. They kept these networks alive through systems of charity that helped people in times of need. The leader had no power over the people but were to facilitate a network that gathered all the different groups of ten in a meaningful and organized manner.

In ancient nations such rulers of ten did not really have authority over the men or people. They used these networks to bind people together by common sense of loyalty. There were several important elements required to maintaining these networks in a viable and healthy state.

A leader of ten men or a tithing was known as a 'tēothingman' which became known as a tithingman. In prehistoric West Germanic form it was a *tehuntha-, among the Latins it was a 'decānus, or among others he was a dean or doge. Later in England we see terms like borsholder appeared.

These men who served a tithing gathered with other men like themselves and chose their leader. This next layer of the network was called a Hundredsman. The hundredsmen networked among themselves and chose someone they called a shire or eolderman which became an alderman.

With a healthy network of honorable and loyal men, an army could be mustered overnight to deal with fire, flood or invasion on a local or national level.

These systems met with varied success depending on numerous elements in the relationship of these groups and the men who wove them together as a nation. In fact there were several criteria that proved essential to the strength of those national societies.

Patterns of Networks:

  • There needed to be an actual service performed to the people of a local group of ten families which passed through the hands of the Tithingman.
  • To do this that group must give the means to the Tithingmen through charitable offerings to provide those service, not just for their group but for the whole nation.
  • The Tithingman needed to know the families of the group he served but also keep himself somewhat separate and impartial to the group.
  • The group he served was not his group but a group of other Tithingmen.
  • The bonds of trust and honor between the other Tithingmen he gathered with was absolutely critical to the health of the Network as a national group.
  • The same was true of the Shire or Eolderman who served the Tithingmen. He also gathered in a small group of ten Eolderman.

Status of Position:

These leaders had a grave responsibility to deal with the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and fidelity and provide a Daily ministration for the needy.

They had not only the compassion to administer charity and mercy to the people but also answered the Hue and cry of those who were unjustly abused. The social virtue apparent in a man was an essential ingredient for whole communities relied on his relationship of trust and honor in shoring up the network.

If they did not cement their relationships with fellow tithing-men, or hundredsmen, or eoldermen the aid that might be needed to save them might be delayed or not come at all.

These systems or networks were forms of self-government that provided assistance for people in times of need like injury, illness or deaths in a family but in more dire times it was often a matter of life and death.

This was your social insurance for you and your family and sometimes for your whole community and even your entire nation. Through the administration of these men of service all justices and mercy could be provided.

  • They were a peacemaker not a placater.
  • They would rebuke unrighteousness not pander to men of vise.
  • They valued strength and dedication so refused to weaken the poor.
  • Because what would be given in time of need was freely given by friends in personal sacrifice the motivation to use the resources of the government was wisely bestowed upon the deserving.

Around the tenth century the roll of the tithing man had begun to shift. While their position in the community was one of service and their authority was only over what had been given, the tithings became more like gangs as jealousy and envy ate away at the once noble office.

A new element in society began to grow with power and influence. Kings rose to positions of power more than nobility. They were crowned and sanction by a Church established by the spiritual of blessing of Constantine and Charlemagne. The moral code, courage and caring of the people no longer turned back the tide of tyrants and despotism dug in its heals against the liberty of the people.

Freedom waned under the weight of the organized armies of these kings like Stephen, De Bullion and, Carte and William the Conqueror. The union and discipline of earlier networks of societies across Europe were not as intimidating to these despotic kings as they had been under Emperors of Rome.[6]

As always it was not the machinery of these kings that brought the people down from liberty to subjection but it was the spirit of self interest that crept into the hearts of the people, tipping the scales of righteousness that made the people subject. Over time the sloth, avarice and self-interests brought the tithings to a stagnate realm because leaders became more concerned about the support they received from their local group than they were concerned about righteousness needed to hold the nation together.

The early Church appointed by Christ, as well as early Levites of Israel, and evidently the altars of Abraham used these patterns of Tens to form voluntary governments that brought the people together without compromising freedom of Choice.

Governments often need to be able to muster people into a large force for the aid, protection and defense against injustice, disaster, calamity or even invasion. To do this they formed these groups of Tens and linked them in order to gather with a network of respected individuals who diligently dedicated themselves to the mission of procuring the loyalty and love of an entire nation... not just for each other but for righteousness.

When the spirit of pride[7] touches our choices and actions a spiritual current begins to poison society. When the local Tithing begins to neglect the rest of the nation or people of God's kingdom the spirit of God departs and the spirit of evil fills the vacuum.

The people often have their eyes upon the kings and rulers of the world thinking their salvation or social security rises or falls in their great power. But it is the humble ways of self-sacrifice where we live that makes the real difference.

When the Tithingman begins to focus on his local Tithing more than the Kingdom of God and those duties within his congregation of ministers he is in fact leading the people back into bondage. It is absolutely essential he lead the congregation he serves to care about all the other congregations his fellow ministers serve as much as their own. He can only do that if he realizes and emphasizes that his congregation of ministers is his congregation and the elders who gather and choose him as their minister are merely a congregation he serves.

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  2. E.g., Karges Furniture Co. v. Woodworkers Local 181, 165 Ind. 421, 423-24, 75 N.E. 877, 878 (1905); Picket v. Walsh, 192 Mass. 572, 589-90, 78 N.E. 753, 760-61 (1906).
  3. 4790 ~συγκοινωνέω~ sugkoinoneo \@soong-koy-no-neh’-o\@ from 4862 and 2841; v AV-have fellowship with 1, communicate with 1, be partaker of 1; 3 1) to become a partaker together with others, or to have fellowship with a thing
  4. 2841 ~κοινωνέω~ koinoneo \@koy-no-neh’-o\@ from 2844; v AV-be partaker 5, communicate 2, distribute 1; 8
    1) to come into communion or fellowship with, to become a sharer, be made a partner
    2) to enter into fellowship, join one’s self to an associate, make one’s self a sharer or partner
  5. The Enterprise of Law: Justice without the State. Bruce L. Benson Publisher: Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy (San Francisco), 1991 ’
  6. In Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”, he praised “the union and discipline of the Christian republic.” This personal discipline included the rights and responsibilities of freedom. It was a kingdom that depended on faith, hope, and charity. He also pointed out that “it gradually formed an independent and increasing state in the heart of the Roman Empire.”
    The reason early Christians gathered together was to take care of the business of the kingdom of God. There was religious freedom guaranteed by the Roman constitution. There was no persecution because men loved one another. The problem was the difference between these two systems of government. Christ was turning the world right-side up. To those who did not want to change, they accused His followers of turning the world upside down.
    “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.” Revelation 2:14
  7. Pride is an inwardly directed emotion that carries two common meanings. With a negative connotation pride refers to an inflated sense of one's personal status or accomplishments, often used synonymously with hubris.