Church Property Disputes—Dispute Resolution Procedures
Key point 7-04. Churches and denominational agencies can avoid church property disputes by adopting appropriate nondoctrinal language in deeds, trusts, local church bylaws, or denominational bylaws.
How may a denomination ensure that it will retain the property of an affiliated church that votes to disaffiliate? How may an independent church congregation ensure that its property will remain with a particular group in the event of a church split? When can a local church seeking to disaffiliate from a particular denomination safely assume that it will retain the church property? And, how will a faction (a majority or a minority of church members) in an independent church know what its rights are, if any, in church property following a schism? The Supreme Court responded to these concerns in Jones:
[T]he neutral principles analysis shares the peculiar genius of private-law systems in general—flexibility ...
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