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Local Church Retains Control of Property

Court denies Episcopal national church ownership of building used by newly dissociated church.

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.

The Texas Supreme Court ruled that a church that withdrew from the national Episcopal Church retained control of its property in a dispute with the national church. Due to doctrinal differences with the Episcopal Church ("national church"), some members of a local ...

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Posted:
  • February 27, 2014

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