Recent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches
“Church Autonomy” Applies in Church Name Dispute

Key point 6-12.4. Most courts refuse to intervene in church disputes concerning the validity of a membership meeting that was not conducted in accordance with the procedural requirements specified in the church’s governing documents. However, some courts are willing to intervene in such disputes if they can do so without inquiring into religious doctrine or polity.

A Tennessee court ruled that it was barred by the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine from resolving a church member’s lawsuit challenging the legal validity of a vote by church members to change the name of the church. In 2017 a church voted to change its name. A church member (the “plaintiff”) was upset with the new name, and filed a lawsuit against the church, pastor, and board of deacons, claiming that the vote to change the name was illegal and void. The plaintiff asked the trial court to set aside the vote, order a new vote, and enjoin the church from changing its name.

Log In For Full Access

Interested in becoming a member? Learn more.

Related Topics:
Posted: March 1, 2019
View All
from our store
Church Governance

Church Governance

What leaders must know to conduct legally sound church business.
Pastor, Church & Law, Fifth Edition

Pastor, Church & Law, Fifth Edition

Learn which local, state, and federal laws apply to religious organizations.
Mandatory Child Abuse Reporting Laws

Mandatory Child Abuse Reporting Laws

State by state laws to report child abuse.
Church Issues: Same-Sex Marriage and Gender Identity

Church Issues: Same-Sex Marriage and Gender Identity

Richard Hammar reviews public accommodations laws.

ChurchSalary

ChurchSalary

Let ChurchSalary do the work. Get personalized compensation reports for staff and pastors.