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Denominational Arbitration Procedures

Can arbitration procedures be enforced?


A California appeals court refused to enforce a denomination's binding arbitration procedure for resolving disputes with affiliated churches. A local Assemblies of God church in California voted in 1989 to disaffiliate from the denomination as a result of bylaw amendments adopted by the Southern California District Council of the Assemblies of God (the "District"). The church interpreted these amendments to adversely affect the sovereign rights of affiliated churches and allow the District to confiscate local church property at any time it chose. The District insisted that the church agree to arbitrate the dispute regarding the disaffiliation. It relied on the following arbitration provision in the District's bylaws:

Any controversy or claim between any District Council member church … or any member or officer … for which either party may have a cause for legal action ...

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  • November 2, 1992

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