By Viola Larson, Naming His Grace blog.
It was the most unusual presbytery meeting I have ever attended. It was about the Korean churches in our presbytery. The meeting was very small; most Sacramento Presbyterian Church (USA) churches, both orthodox and progressive, seem to have just given up and are allowing a few to plan the future. And those few are often very confused and troubled.
When we addressed the first item, which I wrote about earlier:
- With the determination of the Presbytery Engagement Team (PET) appointed to the Capital Korean Presbyterian Church, El Dorado Hills, determining that there is a schism pursuant to the Book of Order (G-4.0207), that the presbytery take immediate action and appoint an administrative commission with original jurisdiction of the Capital Korean church, and continue the relationship with the PCUSA in all means of its ministries
Which had as its explanation, ““The Presbytery Engagement Team of Capital Korean Presbyterian Church has become aware of members, pastor and session who are departing the church, and others who request maintaining their membership with the PCUSA.
I asked if some more information could be shared, for example, did the session vote, did all of the congregation leave. But no leader attending seemed to have any information. The chair of the Committee on Ministry, who presented the items, in fact tried to answer the question but said he didn’t have any information.
Disengagement is a perfectly valid form of protest/resistance.
Glad I followed the link to read the entire post.
Interesting section about the debt on this church property. If I recall correctly CA courts follow the implied ownership for Hierarchical denominations. If the people, staff and elders of the congregation leave the debt remains with the congregational entity whether it contains members or not. I’d suspect the lender will have a strong case to make that Presbytery is liable based on their claims of ownership as a Hierarchial entity.
Is there case law where that has actually happened? If the Presbytery is liable and unable to pay then is next recourse to the Synod and then to the denomination?
Ownership and debt are always interesting issues. The trust clause implies that a Presbytery is a de facto owner of real estate, meaning such property would revert to the Presbytery, should a church close, default on a loan, or a congregation vacates the property. In the case of a loan default, the Presbytery is “usually” the co-signer required to pay off the loan.
That said, there are instances where a church secured a loan without either consulting or seeking approval from Presbytery, contrary to the Book of Order. In most of those cases the Presbytery was still required to assume the debt (but not all cases, because the case was made that a Presbytery was not required to assume a debt they knew nothing about.) Also, it makes no difference if it was a commercial loan or a loan through PILP.
In another instance, a session secured a loan without getting approval from or even informing the congregation. That congregation had even let its state incorporation lapse, which led to the individual elders being held responsible or the dept.
It is also true, whether or not a denomination has a trust clause, if there is a loan default the courts will seek to find somebody to hold responsible for the debt.
Thanks. In a state like TX or SC where the courts have not followed Hierarchical Preference I could see the Presbyteries could avoid recourse unless they had started legal actions claiming ownership. In a state like CA where the courts have soundly supported Hierarchical Preference I’d suspect that the courts would support the lenders saying the Presbytery had failed to properly oversee the Session.