Employee Discrimination Lawsuit • Spending Order Dissolved • Parking Lot Plane Crash: News Roundup
This week’s headlines that affect churches and church leaders.
Employee Discrimination Lawsuit • Spending Order Dissolved • Parking Lot Plane Crash: News Roundup
Image: Daria Sukhorukova / Unsplash

Former Music Director Loses Discrimination Lawsuit. “[Colin] Collette, the music director at Holy Family Catholic Community in Inverness, [Illinois,] was with the parish for 17 years before he was let go in 2014 after announcing he was engaged to his same-sex partner. He filed a lawsuit against the church and the Archdiocese of Chicago last year, alleging discrimination and seeking reinstatement of his job, lost wages, and damages. . . . But US District Judge Charles Kocoras indicated in his ruling that the law gives churches more leeway than other employers to hire and fire who they want. The judge concluded that the job Collette held was ‘critical to the spiritual and pastoral mission of the church.’ While that might speak to Collette's high standing in the parish, the judge determined that it placed him within an exemption that churches have from some employee discrimination laws” (“Court rules against gay man who sued Catholic church over firing,” The Chicago Tribune).

Learn more about navigating employment issues with this downloadable resource.

Judge Dissolves Order to Freeze Spending at Michigan Church. “The Antioch Missionary Baptist Church will be allowed to continue with business as usual after a Genesee County judge dissolved an order to freeze spending at the church. In the packed courtroom on Tuesday, June 6, Genesee Circuit Judge Joseph Farah weighed the place of the court in the Flint church's governance, ultimately ruling that the parishioners suing the church and its leaders—including Flint City Council President Kerry Nelson—‘were going on hearsay’ and did not have the evidence required to support a court order preventing the church's sale. . . . Filed in Genesee County Circuit Court on Tuesday, May 23, the lawsuit claims that five clergy members of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Flint have ignored church guidelines, literally locking parishioners out of the church building and leaving them in the dark when it comes to a $1 million insurance fire damage payout” (“Judge won’t freeze spending at Flint church facing $1 million lawsuit,” M Live).

Avoiding Church Lawsuits provides guidance on proactive procedures that can help your church resolve conflict and stay out of court.

Pilot Injured After Small Plane Crashes into Church Parking Lot. “Authorities say a pilot was seriously injured when his small plane crashed into a car parked outside a church in Florida. Polk County Fire Rescue said the plane went down during the Sunday service at the Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Bartow. The church has a medical ministry and two registered nurses rushed out to assist the injured pilot until rescue workers arrived” (“Small plane crashes into car parked at church; pilot injured,” ABC News).

Is your church prepared for a medical emergency? This downloadable resource offers assessments, how-to guides, and other resources to help you prepare for a crisis.

Shooting of Church Statue Investigated as a Hate Crime. “The shooting of a religious statue outside St. Felicitas Catholic Church brought sadness and prayers Sunday [June 11] for the person suspected of committing the act. . . . Police say the statue, located on church grounds . . . was hit by eight bullets just after 2 P.M. Police on Saturday arrested a man in the incident whom they have yet to identify and said they are investigating the shooting as a hate crime. . . . The shooting didn’t injure anyone, but a police spokesman said officers struggled with the man when he was taken into custody. . . . ‘We are investigating this act of vandalism as a hate crime. There is simply no place and no excuse for vandalism aimed at a place of worship in our society,’ Lt. Ted Henderson of the San Leandro police said. The suspect had not been interviewed Saturday night, and a motive for the alleged crime was not yet known. Henderson said he thinks it was ‘an isolated incident’” (“Shooting of San Leandro church statue believed hate crime, police say,” East Bay Times).

In an interview, Anti-Defamation League associate director Elise Jarvis explains how houses of worship can take preventive measures against hate crimes.

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