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Invalid Church Business Meetings

Pastor tries to sue church for violating bylaws.

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.

A Connecticut court ruled that it was not barred by the First Amendment guaranty of religious freedom from resolving a pastor's claim that his employing church's decision to dismiss him was invalid, since it could resolve the claim on the basis of neutral principles without any inquiry into church doctrine. A church officer issued a "notice of call" that called a special meeting of the congregation on a specified date. The notice stated that the purpose of the meeting was to vote on several issues, including whether the church should remain an active congregation and whether to reduce the pastor to part-time status. During the meeting, the moderator asked the pastor to leave the meeting as they were going to discuss his employment. A member ...

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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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  • November 1, 2012

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