Significant CA Supreme Court ruling regarding church property
January 05, 2009 at 4:50 PM
There has been a significant ruling made by the California Supreme Court regarding the ownership of church property in the state. At issue was the Newport Beach parish of the Episcopal Church, who wished to separate itself, with its property, from the national denomination. The court ruled that the national denomination is the rightful owner of the property. This decision is expected to have large consequences for religious groups in California which have disagreements with their national bodies. The Episcopal Church, and the Presbyterian Church of the United States (PCUSA), are two denominations which have been particularly affected by these controversies. A similar case arose in Oklahoma regarding the Kirk of the Hills Church in Tulsa, which wanted to separate itself, with its property, from the PCUSA. An appellate court in Oklahoma ruled for the national denominational body in that case. There are ongoing cases in Virginia regarding Episcopal property which have yet to be heard. These cases present an interesting dilemma in contract law in which the court must be careful to not venture into ecclesiastical issues.
California Supreme Court says breakaway parish can't take national church's property -- Los Angeles Times
Oklahoma court upholds prebytery, PCUSA, in Kirk of the Hills case -- The Presbyterian Outlook
Episcopal church wins property dispute -- Associated Press
Episcopal Church cases (court opinion) -- Supreme Court of the State of California