Park Owned by United Church of Christ Qualified for Exemption as Property Used Exclusively for Religious Purposes

Church Property

An Illinois state appeals court ruled that a 1.6-acre "religious park" owned by the Illinois Conference of the United Church of Christ was exempt from property taxation.

The "Pilgrim Park" was owned by the 330-church Conference, and had been established "to provide a unique setting outdoors for individuals and groups to experience and live out the biblical faith, and to experience a place for recreation and reflection." The park was used regularly for religious activities, including morning spiritual meditations, evening vespers, and religious retreats.

Under these circumstance, the court concluded that the park qualified for exemption as "property used exclusively for religious purposes." It rejected the contention that the presence of a small caretaker's residence on the tract prevented the property from being "used exclusively for religious purposes," and similarly ignored court rulings from other states under state property tax exemption statutes "far more restrictive than the statutory authority in our state." Illinois Conference of the United Church of Christ v. Illinois Department of Revenue, 518 N.E.2d 755 (Ill. App. 1988)

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