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Recent Developments in Church Property Rulings

Maryland's highest court ruled that a local congregation that voted to disaffiliate from a national church after more than a century of association was entitled to retain its property.

Maryland
State:
Key point. A church affiliated with a hierarchical denomination may be able to retain its property if it disaffiliates from the parent denomination, despite a provision to the contrary in denominational bylaws.

Maryland's highest court ruled that a local congregation that voted to disaffiliate from a national church after more than a century of association was entitled to retain its property. A church affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church voted in 1993 to disaffiliate from the national church as a result of what it perceived to be burdensome financial demands and a decline in moral conditions within the denomination. Both the dissident congregation and the national church claimed ownership of the church's property, and a court was asked to determine the rights of the parties. A trial court ruled in favor of the local congregation, and the national church appealed. ...

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Posted:
  • January 1, 1999

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