There are a number of steps that you need to set up a 501c3 company. You have to file Articles of Incorporation with the NC Secretary of State. Once that is done you can obtain a federal tax payer ID number. You must complete the IRS Form 1023 "Application for Recognition of Exemption." There is corporate paperwork that must be drafted such as By-laws, conflict of interest policies, corporate minutes , etc.
I would be glad to work with you. We should be able to do everything over the phone, email, mail, fax, etc. such that you would not likely have to come to Salisbury.
Feel free to call me, if you would like to discuss this matter in more detail.
I am licensed to practice law only in North Carolina. My answer provides only general information. Do not rely on this answer as specific legal advice for your particular situation. This answer does not form an attorney-client relationship. You should consult with an attorney to fully discuss your situation and to obtain advise about your legal rights and obligations.
I agree with the previous poster: simply put
2. Adopt governance policies, elect officers and a board as well as other start up steps,
3. File the Form 1023 with the IRS.
Its of course not so simple and each step comes with various issues - for example, is the religious org affiliated with another relgious institution. If so there may be requirements that your organization will need to satisfy to make an affiliation. The IRS has very specific criteria it looks at when reviewing religious organizations - this IRS publication is useful - http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1828.pdf
Info on the incorporation process in NC can be found here - http://www.secretary.state.nc.us/corporations/pdf/NonprofitCorporation.pdf