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A federal court in Michigan resolved a dispute between a local church and a religious denomination regarding ownership of the church's property.

The church was established in 1967, and it purchased a church building and adjacent property in 1971 in its own name (the deed made no reference to the denomination). In 1976, the denomination formally adopted a new constitution which, among other things, declared that all properties owned by local churches belonged to the denomination, and that no one other than the denomination had the authority to sell property of local churches.

A schism arose within the local church, and one faction challenged the denomination's ownership and control of the church's property. The court concluded that the church was part of a hierarchical denomination, and that Michigan courts may apply either the "compulsory deference rule" or "neutral ...

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Posted:
  • January 2, 1989

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