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Churches Can Lose Property Upon Leaving Denomination

Be informed before you vote to secede.

Key point: The property of a local church affiliated with a hierarchical denomination may revert to the denomination if the church votes to disaffiliate.

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that title to a local Episcopalian church reverted to the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut following its vote to disaffiliate from the Diocese.

The church had been affiliated with the Diocese for more than a century, but voted to disaffiliate and join the Anglican Church in 1986. Both the church and Diocese claimed ownership of the church property, and a civil court was asked to resolve the controversy.

A trial court concluded that the constitution and canons of the Diocese, as well as the historical relationship between the church and Diocese, created a trust in favor of the Diocese on the property held by the local church. As a result, the Diocese was declared to be the rightful owner of the church's ...

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  • January 3, 1994