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The South Carolina Supreme court ruled that church trustees lacked the authority to remove their pastor.

Key point 2-04.2. Some courts are willing to resolve disputes over the termination of clergy if they can do so without any inquiry into religious doctrine.
Termination

* The South Carolina Supreme court ruled that church trustees lacked the authority to remove their pastor, and that a congregation's removal of its trustees and election of new ones was invalid because it occurred at a meeting that failed to comply with the "notice" requirements set forth in the church's bylaws. A church's trustees voted to dismiss the church's pastor. In response, the congregation voted to oust the trustees, elected new trustees, and overrode the dismissal of the pastor. The original trustees retaliated by freezing the church's assets and locking its doors. A group of church members asked a court to determine the status of the pastor and the newly elected trustees. A trial court ruled that the church ...

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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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Posted:
  • May 1, 2003

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