A lawsuit between a local church and the Presbyterian Church (USA) has been dismissed after the PCUSA “disclaimed any and all interest” in the church’s property.
As a result, First & Calvary Presbyterian Church (FnC) in Springfield, Mo., has obtained a clear title to its property without having to pay John Calvin Presbytery (JPC) any type of exit fee.
In a Feb. 12 letter to the congregation, the church trustees explained
In December, at the insistence of JCP (John Calvin Presbytery), PCUSA was added as a defendant because it was the party who had claimed a trust interest in the property of all member churches. In this instance, PCUSA did not want to be involved in the lawsuit.
The PCUSA then filed a petition with the court requesting they be removed as a defendant in the case and disclaimed all interest in FnC’s (First and Calvary) property (PCUSA declared “no ownership interest in, and no right to control or maintain, the property of First and Calvary Presbyterian Church” and “disclaims any and all interest in the property of First and Calvary Presbyterian Church.”).
On February 9, 2016 the Court dismissed the case, based on the filings of both the JCP and the PCUSA.
During this course of events in civil court, the congregation voted by 72 percent to disaffiliate from the PCUSA. The vote on Aug. 16, 2015 was 493 to 185 in favor of disaffiliation. The 1700 member church has joined ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.
The Rev. Andrew Chaney, senior pastor at First & Calvary told the Springfield News-Leader that the decision to disaffiliate from the PCUSA was made “because of the denomination’s changing attitudes on the divinity of Christ, the authority of the Holy Bible, and the trend of higher governing bodies to increasingly use institutional power to exert control over local churches.”
Property at stake
The assertion of institutional power and control includes the question of the use and ownership of local church property.
The PCUSA has a “trust clause” in its constitution stating:
All property held by or for a particular church, a presbytery, a synod, the General Assembly, or the Presbyterian Church (USA), whether legal title is lodged in a corporation, a trustee or trustees, or an unincorporated association, and whether the property is used in programs of a particular church or of a more inclusive governing body or retained for the production of income, is held in trust nevertheless for the use and benefit of the Presbyterian Church (USA)” G-4.0203 of the Book of Order.
Chaney has been quoted as saying his church didn’t believe that they were bound by the trust clause.
“Two Presbyterian churches joined together in 1930 to make First and Calvary. First and Calvary joined the PCUSA denomination in 1983” Chaney told the Christian Post. “The First and Calvary deeds mention no trust and never agreed to a trust with the PCUSA denomination.” The court agreed and ultimately the PCUSA disclaimed any and all interest in the property.
In their letter, the FnC trustees thanked God that the lawsuit was over.
“It is hoped that the dismissal of this lawsuit will be good news to both parties so that each may go forward in serving the Lord,” they wrote. “Church leadership knows the congregation has been praying about this matter and appreciate your steadfast faithfulness as we have pursued clarification of ownership of the property and assets of FnC. With the ownership of land and other assets clarified, FnC can put its full energies and resources towards pursuing its mission in making disciples of Jesus Christ.”
Jesus, the Bible, and Essential Tenets in the Presbyterian Church (USA)
Hmmm .. perhaps adding the PCUSA along with the local Presbyteries as co-defendants when suing for clear title may actually help the church!!
Hopefully this will bode well for Bonhomme Pres. in Chesterfield, Mo, the key word here is hopefully.
We had our court case against PCUSA and St. Andrew Presbytery on March 30,2016 and presented this letter- hopefully this will help all of us. May be the straw that breaks the camels back-Let my people go..
So, of 1700 members, fewer than 700 found the issue important enough to even bother to vote on? That also makes the 493 a minority number of the total members. Could that imply that over 1200 didn’t care about the issue or were quietly opposed?
Also, it seems that the pastor misrepresents the reasons for departure. PCUSA has not changed it’s attitude about the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Holy Bible and the governing body isn’t increasingly imposing itself on the individual churches. That’s all simply untrue. The PCUSA operates from a grass roots process that makes its rules by votes from representatives of each individual church congregation. Its a representative democracy in action.Those in the minority are sometimes left without having their ways and get mad and want to leave. It’s called spoiled where I grew up.
This congregation had a fit, led by spoiled selfish mutineers wirh their own power agendas and the presbytery evidently chose not to fight the costly battle in court. The presbytery management seems to have acted much more in keeping with Christ’s tenets than the 493 mutineers did. Oh, but they were righteous because they are willing to take a stand against something that isn’t even required of them. My, how galant…
All this over a widely misunderstood human rights matter regarding sexual freedoms that doesn’t even impact them? Zero required of them. Nothing asked of them. The PCUAS adoption of the ruling might effect between 5 and 10% of all people. That’s a small number and then those wanting to be pastors is still much smaller. It’s not like it pays well or is filled with constant thanks from the people. Most pastors are abused by their good congregations. It’s a silly little matter allowed to be made large by those who wished to use and abuse it for their own personal causes.
I think Bob Wire was standing in front of a mirror when wirting this, because the pcusa he’s describing DOES NOT exist.
My thoughts and prayers are with the good people of FPC Starkville and FPC Greenwood (as well as with those who are in similar situations elsewhere) who are hoping that the courts in the state of Mississippi will interpret the laws of that state as those who wrote the laws intended. May God bless you all.
Silly and distortive little rant, Bob. Is Parsons acting on behalf of grass roots process and representative democracy when he goes out (representing us) and makes bizarro statements and claims regarding society and ‘chosen’ genders and you pick your radical cause du jour?