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Church Property and Denominational Ownership

A California court ruled that a provision in a church's deed that required church property to revert to a denominational agency was legally enforceable by the civil courts.

Key point 7-04. Churches and denominational agencies can avoid church property disputes by adopting appropriate nondoctrinal language in deeds, trusts, local church bylaws, or denominational bylaws.

* A California court ruled that a provision in a church's deed that required church property to revert to a denominational agency in the event that the agency determined that the church no longer was in fellowship with it, was legally enforceable by the civil courts. For many years, a church was affiliated with the Church of God denomination, and one of its regional associations ("regional church"). The church acquired property by a deed containing the following provision: "To have and to hold, so long as [the church] maintains fellowship and doctrinal unity with [the regional church] and the property remains in use by said church. If this property falls into disuse or, if in the opinion of said ...

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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:
  • November 1, 2007

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