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Officers, Directors and Trustees - Part 2

• Internal church disputes present a difficult problem for the civil courts. Such was the case in a recent Illinois case. The regional diocese of the American-Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church dismissed certain church members from their position on a local church's board of trustees, selected other church members to govern the church, and ordered the discharged trustees to deliver the church's assets and records over to the newly appointed trustees. When the discharged trustees refused to comply with the mandates, the newly appointed trustees filed suit. A state trial court issued an injunction ordering the former trustees to "turn over all documents and assets of (the church) currently in their possession," and declaring that the church was subject to "the dictates of the regional diocese." The former trustees appealed, and a state appeals court reversed the lower court's order and ...

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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  • March 1, 1988