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Ownership of Church Parsonages

A Tennessee court addressed this matter in an interesting case.

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• A Tennessee court addressed the issue of ownership of a church parsonage in an interesting case. In 1953, a donor gave a home to a church. The deed contained the following language: "This land is given by us to the church for the purpose for the home for the Baptist pastor and no pastor shall occupy said place as a home unless he preaches `that you are saved by Grace through Faith in Jesus Christ and not by works.' And in the event he refuses to preach such doctrine he will not be permitted to reside in said parsonage." Many years later, the church purchased other property for the purpose of constructing a new parsonage, and it sought approval from a court to sell the existing parsonage and apply the proceeds to the construction of the new home. The original donor's surviving family members challenged the church's position, and claimed that they would own the property if the church ...

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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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  • July 1, 1992

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