Key point 6-06.4. Church officers and directors can be removed from office in the manner authorized by the church's governing documents. It is common for church bylaws to give the membership the authority to remove officers and directors who engage in specified misconduct or change their doctrinal position.
A South Carolina court ruled that it could resolve a defamation claim brought by dismissed church board members against their church since it could do so solely on the basis of neutral principles of law without any inquiry into church doctrine. A church relocated to a new facility. The congregation thereafter approved the church board's request to borrow funds to purchase and improve a nearby apartment building. After the purchase, the apartment building caught fire and the church learned it did not have insurance on the building. The church also learned that church property was serving as collateral for the loan used to purchase the apartment building. At a congregational meeting, the pastor made a presentation to the congregation providing the reasons he believed the board members should be removed from office.
The dismissed board members (the "plaintiffs") sued the pastor and church for negligence, and the pastor for defamation and emotional distress. The plaintiffs alleged that at the congregational meeting, the pastor told the congregation that the plaintiffs had placed a $300,000 mortgage on the church property to purchase some nearby apartments without his knowledge and failed to insure them. They asserted that the pastor also informed the congregation that they had mismanaged money and money was missing from the church. They further alleged that the pastor informed the congregation that he had been constantly deceived by the plaintiffs and that they should be removed from the board. A trial court dismissed the lawsuit, and the plaintiffs appealed.