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Disaffiliation and Congregational Splits

Which faction keeps the church building when a congregation splits?

• Which faction in a local church is entitled to the church's property following an attempted disaffiliation from a hierarchical denomination? That was the issue before a Texas appeals court in an important ruling. In 1959, a Texas congregation affiliated with the United Pentecostal Church (UPC). As a condition of affiliation, the church was required to adopt the UPC denominational articles of faith and constitution. The church also adopted recommended bylaws for local churches, and in 1970 incorporated under state nonprofit corporation law. In 1982, the church elected a new minister. Seven years later, following allegations of immoral behavior, the minister resigned the pulpit. Almost immediately, he had second thoughts about resigning. Encouraged by his supporters, he launched a campaign to regain his former position. Among other things, he claimed that he never really had resigned ...

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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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  • May 1, 1992

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