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Disaffiliated Churches' Property

When a church leaves its denomination, who keeps the property?

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

A South Carolina court ruled that a national church retained title to the property of a local church that voted to disaffiliate. The national church was established in 1898 and has assisted in the establishment of several local churches. A local church purchased property in 1975 in the names of three trustees, and, with financial assistance from the national church, constructed a building on the property. A dispute developed between the national church and the local congregation which in 1994 culminated in the local congregation's formal resignation from the national church. At the same time the trustees under the 1975 deed executed a document purporting to convey the property to the local congregation. After the local congregation's ...

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  • January 1, 1997