Church Property Dispute • Sanctuary Church • Fireworks Damage: News Roundup
This week’s headlines that affect churches and church leaders.
Church Property Dispute • Sanctuary Church • Fireworks Damage: News Roundup
Image: Warren Tobias / Unsplash

Ohio Court Rules Competing Church Factions Must Share Building. “In Mullins v. Wicker . . . an Ohio appellate court, in a 2-1 decision, agreed with a trial court's decision in a case in which two competing factions of the Little Ettie Old Regular Baptist Church in Beaver, Ohio, both claimed ownership of the church's property. The trial court had held that there are two congregations each equally entitled to church property and issued an injunction specifying how the two factions would share use of the church building. The appeals court majority affirmed. Judge Harsha, dissenting, argued that the court should have applied the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine and dismissed the case for want of jurisdiction, even though neither party raised the jurisdictional issue. He argued that the dispute here is essentially over church doctrine” (“Court Rules Church Factions Must Share Church Building,” Religion Clause).

Read about other cases involving the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine with our Recent Developments interactive map.

Rural Colorado Church Provides Sanctuary to Immigrant Facing Deportation. “A small piece of paper hangs above a bed in the pastor’s office at the Mancos United Methodist Church. It’s a sign-up sheet with the names of local residents committed to watching over Rosa Sabido, a Mexican national who has found sanctuary from deportation in the Colorado church. The residents sleep in the church office, while Sabido rests in a separate room normally used as a children’s nursery. . . . For the last 30 years, Sabido has lived in the US on visitor visas or by receiving stays of deportation, but she was denied a stay in May and became eligible for immediate deportation. . . . After her request was denied, Sabido approached the Mancos United Methodist Church. It had voted a few months earlier to become a sanctuary church; the roughly 60-member congregation was eager to put its faith into action. . . . Sabido’s attorney is applying for another stay of removal. Two former sanctuary seekers in Denver, Jeanette Vizguerra and Arturo Hernandez Garcia, eventually won temporary reprieves from ICE in May, allowing them to leave the First Unitarian Church where they had taken refuge” (“In a small-town Colorado church, an immigrant facing deportation finds sanctuary and friendship,” The Los Angeles Times).

Learn more about immigration law, sanctuary churches, and more in this interview with an immigration attorney.

Cincinnati Church Damaged by Fireworks. “Fireworks accidentally landed on the roof of a North Fairmount church, causing $50,000 in damage overnight. . . . No one was inside when flames broke out at Pentecostal Holiness Church on Carll Street just before midnight Tuesday. . . . Crews put the fire out in about 15 minutes” (“Fireworks spark church blaze, damage set at $50k,”

Find help with church safety issues with the downloadable resources Essential Guide to Managing Risk for Church Boards and Your Helpful Guide to Church Insurance.

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This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations."

Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.


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