Skip to comments.N.Y. judge rules church separating from PCUSA can keep its property
Posted on 08/25/2006 2:37:16 AM PDT by PAR35
A state judge in New York's Supreme Court system has ruled that the Hudson River Presbytery has no claim to the property of the now independent Church of Ridgebury.
The decision was a big, if temporary, victory for a tiny congregation membership 29 at the end of 1995, according to PCUSA records that voted unanimously on Jan. 10, 2005, to leave the Presbyterian Church (USA).
The leaders of the congregation announced their departure by warning that any attempt by the presbytery or the denomination to claim the church's property "will be deemed slander of title, compensable by damages, and any entry onto Ridgebury Church property by any officer and/or agent of the Presbytery of Hudson River shall be deemed criminal trespass."
The presbytery and the Rev. Richard H. Spierling, chairman of the presbytery's administrative commission, were undeterred. They filed a lawsuit claiming that the property belongs to the denomination. The complaint named as the defendants individual trustees, a denominationally recommended strategy intended to warn elders and trustees that they could incur personal liability amounting to thousands of dollars each if they persisted in their local church ownership claims.
But New York Judge John K. McGuirk ruled on behalf of the congregation on August 15, issuing a 10-page decision that declared that the Ridgebury congregation was not obligated to submit to the hierarchical claims of the denomination.
Deciding the case under "neutral principles of law," as recommended by the U.S. Supreme Court, McGuirk turned aside the PCUSA's argument that it is the rightful owner of the property under the denomination's property trust requirement in chapter 8 of the Book of Order.
(Excerpt) Read more at layman.org ...
Some of your pingees might be interested in this development. Although there are some differences between the Dennis Canon and the PCUSA claims of trust, this case may still be of use to folks in NY trying to stay in the Anglican communion as TEC departs.
After all, what's just one more rule broken.
Thanks to PAR35 for the ping.
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Thanks for the post and ping.
I heard an interesting comment/rumor last week re the California parishes getting to keep their property if they split.
The ACLU of all organizations might be on the side of the splitting parishes. Most bishops don't want to tangle with the ACLU and the additional bad publicity of a front page lawsuit with the Parish and the ACLU going after the bishop.
So you look at the deed records, the corporate papers, etc, to see if a trust has been created.
"From the ACLU's standpoint, it might make some sense. The basis for the rulings in favor of the congregations is that churches have no special rights. Property disputes involving churches are to be determined the same way similar disputes would be between other corporations or entities."
Also, a break away parish, would be breaking away from big organized religion, and this would probably appeal to the ACLU.
On the other hand, the breakaway congregations are going to be generally opposed to what the ACLU holds dear, such as abortion and the homosexual agenda. It's got to be a tough decision for the organization.
It will be fun watching the ACLU deciding where to go.
Of course the ACLU is so homosexual agenda pushing driven, they will probably go that way.
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