Do church members have the authority to challenge the sale of church assets by the church board?
That was the question before the District of Columbia Court of Appeals in an important decision. Mount Jezreel Baptist Church was incorporated in 1883. The original certificate of incorporation stated that it was formed "for the purpose of religious worship … at the corner of Fifth Street and E Street, Southeast, in the City of Washington."
In 1982, after the safety of the historic church building became an issue, the pastor and board of trustees decided to close the church and move to a new location. For at least ten years prior to the sale of the church property, relations between the board of trustees and a segment of the congregation became increasingly hostile.
After the sale of the church building, a group of the dissidents filed a lawsuit alleging that the trustees and pastor ...