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Church Property Ownership

A denominational agency was entitled to the property of a local church following a vote to disaffiliate itself from the denomination.

Key point 7-03.3. Most courts apply the "neutral principles of law" rule in resolving disputes over the ownership and control of property in "hierarchical" churches. Under this rule, the civil courts apply neutral principles of law, involving no inquiry into church doctrine, in resolving church property disputes. Generally, this means applying neutral legal principles to non-doctrinal language in any one or more of the following documents: (1) deeds to church property; (2) a church's corporate charter; (3) a state law addressing the resolution of church property disputes; (4) church bylaws; or (5) a parent denomination's bylaws.

* A New York court ruled that a denominational agency was entitled to the property of a local church following a vote to disaffiliate itself from the denomination. A church which was originally incorporated as a Methodist Episcopal Church eventually became a member ...

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Posted:
  • January 1, 2007

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