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Legal Owners of Church Property

A New York court ruled that a parent denomination held title to the property of a local church that voted to disaffiliate 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 nondoctrinal 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 parent denomination held title to the property of a local church that voted to disaffiliate from the denomination. The members of a Methodist church voted to withdraw from The United Methodist Church (UMC). The UMC asked a court for ...

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Posted:
  • March 1, 2007

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