Recent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches
Court Addresses Multiple Claims from Pastor, But ‘Ministerial Exception’ Doctrine Bars a Resolution to Age Discrimination Charge
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In 2011, an officer of the regional church formally appointed the pastor as lead pastor of the local church. Although the pastor insisted that the regional church had no authority to determine who was the church's pastor, he accepted the appointment and accepted a stipend of $1,500 per month. The regional church discontinued the stipend in 2012.

In 2015, an officer of the regional church informed the pastor that it was time for him to retire because the regional church had "younger people" capable of taking his place and that his last day as pastor would be May 31, 2015. The pastor ignored this ultimatum and continued to assert his authority to act as the church's pastor. The regional church responded by changing the locks to the church without notifying the pastor, and by informing local law enforcement personnel that the pastor "had made illegal and unauthorized entry onto the properties." The pastor was warned that he would be subject to arrest if he attempted to enter the property again.

The pastor sued the regional church, asserting the following claims:

  • age discrimination based on the regional church's attempt to remove the pastor so that a younger pastor could be chosen;
  • breach of contract to pay a monthly stipend of $1,500 after 2012;

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