Key point 6-09.02. Church members have such legal authority as is vested in them by their church's governing documents, and in some cases by state nonprofit corporation law.
In churches with a congregational form of government, the general rule is that a majority of the members represent the church and have the right to manage its affairs and to control its property for the use and benefit of the church, and that the law will protect such authority at least as it relates to civil, contract, or property rights. Mitchell v. Dickey, 173 S.E.2d 695 (Ga. 1970); Wright v. Smith, 124 N.E.2d 363 (Ill. 1955); McHargue v. Feltner, 325 S.W.2d 349 (Ky. 1959). One court has stated the rule as follows: "The courts will give effect to the action of the majority of members of a congregational or independent religious organization … insofar as regards civil or property rights when they ...
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