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Pastor, Church & LawMember access only

by Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA

Congregational Churches

§ 2.01.01
Key point 2-01.01. In congregational churches ministers often are selected by church members according to the procedures set forth in the church's governing documents.

Churches may be classified in terms of polity or organization as either congregational or hierarchical. Understanding the difference between these two basic types of church structure is important, since some aspects of the pastor-church relationship turn on this distinction. The United States Supreme Court has defined a congregational church as "a religious congregation which, by the nature of its organization, is strictly independent of other ecclesiastical associations, and so far as church government is concerned, owes no fealty or obligation to any higher authority."[1] Watson v. Jones, 80 U.S. 679, 722 (1871).

The Supreme Court has defined a hierarchical church as "a subordinate member of some general ...

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