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Thread: Denomination wants building back

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    Site Manager G R 'Scott' Cundiff's Avatar

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    Denomination wants building back

    Interesting article about a Presbyterian church building fight, similar to what what has happened in our own. In this case the church is generations old and the building is valued in the millions of dollars. Frankly, I think I could argue either side of the debate. What do you think?

    http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/201...MIJ/story.html

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    Senior Member Craig Laughlin's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by G R 'Scott' Cundiff View Post
    Interesting article about a Presbyterian church building fight, similar to what what has happened in our own. In this case the church is generations old and the building is valued in the millions of dollars. Frankly, I think I could argue either side of the debate. What do you think?

    http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/201...MIJ/story.html
    Sticky issue. I do think that when a church is multiple generations old the denomination has a much stronger case logically/morally. My church is over 100 years old and I talk often that what we have is a trust from God and from the generations before us. We are to make it better than we found it and pass it to the next generation as a sacred trust. I lean heavily on the idea that it is one of the ways the older generation partners with the younger in the work of the Kingdom. Hang around long enough and you will get to both receive and give.

    We had a church plant leave on our district and the buildings were worth a lot but they could make the argument that pretty much who was there gave the money to make it happen. (Not entirely true as they raised money on the district and my parents gave a significant amount of money for them believing they were helping to plant a Nazarene church)
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    Senior Member Jim Chabot's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    I think that the denomination has the rights to the building, hopefully it's on the deed.

    I also think that the congregation will probably lose this one. Ropes & Gray is a really good law firm.
    -Jim

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    Senior Member Bill Morrison's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    When the acting pastor says the denomination has "no legal right" I strongly suspect he is blowing air.
    I would assume a denomination as old as that one has pretty strong language in their "Manual" about who owns the property and I would suspect courts would side with them.
    But, that's why we have courts, isn't it? Perhaps the pastor has some legal defense that will make sense to the court. My hunch however is he mostly is just sure God must be on his side, the side
    of truth and justice of course!

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    Senior Member Greg Gates's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by G R 'Scott' Cundiff View Post
    What do you think?
    I think the local church has a good case against the denomination. The agreement between the two is based on specific expectations. The people were Presbyterian because they agreed with simple denominational values. When the denomination changed away from those previously agreed upon values, they forfeited the benefits from that previous agreement. The cost of changing to a more liberal theology is you lose the buildings of congregations that now disagree with you. If they didn't want to lose the buildings, they should have thought about that before they changed their theology. Either that or accept the cost of the decision.
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    Senior Member Greg Gates's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Just like Nazarenes. If a local church changed their theology away from the agreed upon denominational tenets, then that local church loses its building. But it works both ways. If the denomination decides speaking in tongues is fine... then they (the denomination) lose the buildings. Anything else is self-centered overreach and unbecoming behavior in the Kingdom of God.

    I think we are approaching a time where a GA resolution should be made allowing any local church to disassociate itself with the denomination and keep the building. The bureaucratic denominational value to a local congregation is tiny and dwindling compared to what it was a couple decades ago.

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    Senior Member Greg Gates's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back



    Why would the congregation put up a pathetic sign like that? It makes them look completely incompetent at managing a building.

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    My understanding is that Nazarene church buildings belong to the denomination. But not always. We knew a Nazarene preacher in a midwestern state who had moved into a small city during the Depression. He had organized a Nazarene church and had physically built the church himself. Somehow the property had wound up in his name and no one ever thought to check about it. When the Bible Missionary Church pulled out in the 50's he, and the church building went with them. Never heard of any other similar situations. Presumably there was a tightening up at both district and general levels after that.

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    Senior Member Mike Schutz's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    In the PC(USA) there is a very clear procedure for a congregation leaving the denomination. It is a rather lengthy process ( of course it is - they are Presbyterians after all). What is not being said here, but certainly implied, is that the congregation did not follow it, or they were not pleased with the results of the negotiations with the presbytery. Hundreds of congregations have left the denomination in the last decade or so, so I am sure the presbytery, and denominational legal counsel, know what they are doing, and have precedent on their side.
    It really is quite difficult comparing their denominational hierarchy to ours. While presbyteries are somewhat like districts, not really, and the moderator of the presbytery is nothing like our district superintendent. Because the moderator is a short-term position while one is also serving a local parish, precedent is much more important than personality.
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    Naznet Owner Dave McClung's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    What do the bylaws say?

    One can't know how this will turn out without knowing what the bylaws say. Most local churches are incorporated; therefore, the actions of the church are entirely dependent on the bylaws. My guess would be that a local congregation can't break it's ties with a denomination by a simple vote of the congregation. In most cases, it would require an amendment to the bylaws and possibly to the Articles of Incorporation.

    In the Church of the Nazarene, every congregation is required to state in the Articles of Incorporation that the Manual of the Church of the Nazarene is the Bylaws. If the facts described in this story happened to a local congregation of the Church of the Nazarene a court would find that the attempt to break the ties with the denomination were not successful.

    One issue that isn't mentioned in the article is the mortgage on the property.

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    Naznet Owner Dave McClung's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kennedy View Post
    My understanding is that Nazarene church buildings belong to the denomination. But not always. We knew a Nazarene preacher in a midwestern state who had moved into a small city during the Depression. He had organized a Nazarene church and had physically built the church himself. Somehow the property had wound up in his name and no one ever thought to check about it. When the Bible Missionary Church pulled out in the 50's he, and the church building went with them. Never heard of any other similar situations. Presumably there was a tightening up at both district and general levels after that.
    John, your understanding is not correct. In the Church of the Nazarene, each local church is a separate corporation (or in unincorporated a "religious association"). In either case, the local church is entitled to own its own property and to borrow in its own name. If you review the financial statements of the denomination, you will not find the value of the local church properties on the balance sheet.

    The Bible Missionary situation you mentioned was in Louisiana. There was a law suit filed by the Church of the Nazarene to keep the church building in question (I believe it was Ponchatoula), the law suit was settled. The building had a mortgage on it. Without an active congregation to pay the monthly mortgage payments, the building would have been a curse rather than a blessing. The Church of the Nazarene settled the suit with language that kept the case from creating a precedent, but the Bible Missionary Church kept the building and the mortgage.
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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave McClung View Post
    John, your understanding is not correct. In the Church of the Nazarene, each local church is a separate corporation (or in unincorporated a "religious association"). In either case, the local church is entitled to own its own property and to borrow in its own name. If you review the financial statements of the denomination, you will not find the value of the local church properties on the balance sheet.

    The Bible Missionary situation you mentioned was in Louisiana. There was a law suit filed by the Church of the Nazarene to keep the church building in question (I believe it was Ponchatoula), the law suit was settled. The building had a mortgage on it. Without an active congregation to pay the monthly mortgage payments, the building would have been a curse rather than a blessing. The Church of the Nazarene settled the suit with language that kept the case from creating a precedent, but the Bible Missionary Church kept the building and the mortgage.
    Well, that makes a second situation. The situation I cited was in Illinois. And, to the best of my knowledge, the property had been in the pastor's name since the church was organized and built. The BMC was organized about 60 years ago. The church in question had been in existence since the mid/late 30's.

    BTW, that pastor subsequently left the BMC and moved back to his home state, WV. On a trip to WV several years ago I had the privilege of seeing his widow again after nearly 50 years. Her husband had been my Dad's first pastor and he had lived in their home as a new Christian. Seeing her again and having her tell me how much they had loved my Dad was a real blessing. At times like that I am reminded again of that phrase in the Apostles' Creed that we believe in the communion of saints.

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    Senior Member Billy Cox's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Gates View Post
    Just like Nazarenes. If a local church changed their theology away from the agreed upon denominational tenets, then that local church loses its building. But it works both ways. If the denomination decides speaking in tongues is fine... then they (the denomination) lose the buildings. Anything else is self-centered overreach and unbecoming behavior in the Kingdom of God.

    I think we are approaching a time where a GA resolution should be made allowing any local church to disassociate itself with the denomination and keep the building. The bureaucratic denominational value to a local congregation is tiny and dwindling compared to what it was a couple decades ago.
    If a congregation pays for the purchase and upkeep of a building, why would a denomination have any ownership claim on that property?

    I wonder if congregations really know what they're getting when they tether themselves to a denomination. I wager that they do not.
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us wthout end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
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    Naznet Owner Dave McClung's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Cox View Post
    If a congregation pays for the purchase and upkeep of a building, why would a denomination have any ownership claim on that property?

    I wonder if congregations really know what they're getting when they tether themselves to a denomination. I wager that they do not.
    Billy, each congregation is unique, but I don't know any that have started without some kind of help from the denomination. In many cases the land is purchased by the denomination. Over the years, I have heard of a few preexisting churches that have chosen to join the denomination, but they are rare.

    In any case, when a church organizes, the people involved adopt the bylaws that provide the legal structure for the church. I don't know how many people read the bylaws before they join, but if they don't, they have no right complain about the bylaws.

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    Senior Member Greg Crofford's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Gates View Post
    The bureaucratic denominational value to a local congregation is tiny and dwindling compared to what it was a couple decades ago.
    This is a head-scratcher for anyone who values connectionalism, which is the lifeblood of the Church of the Nazarene and any group spawned out of the Methodist tradition.
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    Senior Member David Troxler's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave McClung View Post
    Billy, each congregation is unique, but I don't know any that have started without some kind of help from the denomination. In many cases the land is purchased by the denomination. Over the years, I have heard of a few preexisting churches that have chosen to join the denomination, but they are rare.

    In any case, when a church organizes, the people involved adopt the bylaws that provide the legal structure for the church. I don't know how many people read the bylaws before they join, but if they don't, they have no right complain about the bylaws.
    Our church here in Duxbury is one of those churches, which got its start under Caroline Staples, a holiness preacher from the north shore of Boston area in 1897. It was an independent holiness church and didn't join the denomination officially until after WWII. However, during the Great Depression years, the church began to obtain her pastors from among ENC students and faculty.

    If I understand the Manual correctly, those churches that joined the denomination at the outset have the right to keep their own buildings, but churches being established subsequent to that original date, the property would revert to the denomination. I know of one church that began with the original denomination that is still in its original building that could, I suppose, claim that ability to keep its property if they leave the denomination.

    I wondered if that would be the case here in Duxbury had they kept their original property (a building still in existence in Duxbury but no longer ours). We'd fall under the Manual provision that the property would belong to the denomination since we'd built a facility since joining the denomination.

    In any case, for a community approaching 400 years old, a church established in 1897 is still the new guy in town when the first church in town goes back to the time when people got off the boat (the Mayflower, that is).

    dave t
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    Senior Member Bud Pugh's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    In support of Dave McClung's assertions...

    102.2 says, "When a local church is incorporated, all property acquired shall be deeded directly to the church in its corporate name when it is possible to do so." and 102.4(4) states, "Upon dissolution, the assets of the corporation shall be distributed to the District Advisory Board."

    In addition, 104.4 says that "Trustees and/or a local church may not divert property from the Church of the Nazarene."

    There's the basis for how it works in our movement.
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    Senior Member Steve Mershon's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Bud Pugh View Post
    In support of Dave McClung's assertions...

    102.2 says, "When a local church is incorporated, all property acquired shall be deeded directly to the church in its corporate name when it is possible to do so." and 102.4(4) states, "Upon dissolution, the assets of the corporation shall be distributed to the District Advisory Board."

    In addition, 104.4 says that "Trustees and/or a local church may not divert property from the Church of the Nazarene."

    There's the basis for how it works in our movement.
    A question about 102.2 and 102.4: Over the years I have seen a number (i.e., more than a couple, less than many) of Nazarene Churches that did not comply with these requirements. Usually, these were older churches (established 1920's and 30's). I often wondered whether the churches predated these requirements, or simply reflected a congregation not knowing of the requirements, or not keeping your Articles current. Does any one know when these particular requirements were adopted?

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    Senior Member Bud Pugh's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Mershon View Post
    A question about 102.2 and 102.4: Over the years I have seen a number (i.e., more than a couple, less than many) of Nazarene Churches that did not comply with these requirements. Usually, these were older churches (established 1920's and 30's). I often wondered whether the churches predated these requirements, or simply reflected a congregation not knowing of the requirements, or not keeping your Articles current. Does any one know when these particular requirements were adopted?
    The 1923 Manual (the earliest I have access to) says in 93, "...all property acquired shall be deeded directly to the church in its corporate name." Having established the process for disorganizing churches (by the BGS on recommendation of the GS) in 118, 119 says, "In case an individual church becomes disorganized, any church property which shall exist may in no way be diverted to other purposes, but shall pass to the control of the District Assembly..." "...and Trustees holding property for the disorganized church shall sell or dispose of the same only on the order and under the direction of the appointed agent of the District Assembly, and turn the funds over to such agent."
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    Senior Member Bob Hunter's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Bud Pugh View Post
    The 1923 Manual (the earliest I have access to) says in 93, "...all property acquired shall be deeded directly to the church in its corporate name." Having established the process for disorganizing churches (by the BGS on recommendation of the GS) in 118, 119 says, "In case an individual church becomes disorganized, any church property which shall exist may in no way be diverted to other purposes, but shall pass to the control of the District Assembly..." "...and Trustees holding property for the disorganized church shall sell or dispose of the same only on the order and under the direction of the appointed agent of the District Assembly, and turn the funds over to such agent."
    Should a local church dissolve or leave the denomination and divert its assets, is there precedent for the District going after those assets? How much legal weight do these statements carry? And what if the board that carried them out is dissolved? I guess it just gets messy then doesn't it?

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    Senior Member Bud Pugh's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Hunter View Post
    Should a local church dissolve or leave the denomination and divert its assets, is there precedent for the District going after those assets? How much legal weight do these statements carry? And what if the board that carried them out is dissolved? I guess it just gets messy then doesn't it?
    From what I understand, the denomination has never lost a building it wanted to keep.
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    Senior Member Billy Cox's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Hunter View Post
    Should a local church dissolve or leave the denomination and divert its assets, is there precedent for the District going after those assets? How much legal weight do these statements carry? And what if the board that carried them out is dissolved? I guess it just gets messy then doesn't it?
    I wonder how it would affect giving if congregation members knew that they don't hold title to the building on which they are paying for mortgage and upkeep.
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    Senior Member Bud Pugh's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Cox View Post
    I wonder how it would affect giving if congregation members knew that they don't hold title to the building on which they are paying for mortgage and upkeep.
    First of all, they DO hold title to the building. That fact has been established several times in this thread.

    I wonder how it would affect giving if congregation members thought that a pastor/board/congregational vote could cause their investment in a building to be diverted to a cause they had not intended to support? I'd venture that most would not want their investment used other than as they gave it- to support the work of their local church and its connections/ministries.
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    Senior Member Craig Laughlin's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Bud Pugh View Post
    First of all, they DO hold title to the building. That fact has been established several times in this thread.
    This Is of course true but we need to be very careful with this language. When we tell the vast majority of people that the local church holds the title to the property, they would be surprised to know that doesn't mean they control the property. They could end up feeling very deceaved.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bud Pugh View Post
    I wonder how it would affect giving if congregation members thought that a pastor/board/congregational vote could cause their investment in a building to be diverted to a cause they had not intended to support? I'd venture that most would not want their investment used other than as they gave it- to support the work of their local church and its connections/ministries.
    Other than deep Nazarenes I suspect most folks are giving to the local church and assume if the local church left the denomination, the local church would keep the building. After all, the local church paid the bills not the denomination.

    Don't get me wrong I'm supportive of the idea that the denomination controls the facilities. However it is a very unusual arrangement in which the local congregation pays all the bills but the denomination has control. I think this is especially difficult for church plants. I think we can end up being deceiptive without meaning to.
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    Host Theology Forum David Graham's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Putting aside the "legal questions" about this, what about the "moral ones"?

    To me this is just another example of Christians treating each other badly contrary to the "Gospel of grace".

    It's no wonder many in the world look at the church and shout: "Hypocrites!"

    Surely some sort of compromise should be arrived at, where there is "no winner take all!"

    From the denominational point of view, they have a responsibility to follow the ethos of their mission irrespective of their theology. Surely this also means, supporting local congregations. So, if they (The denominational centre) have changed their "theology" and by doing so have lost the faith of particular congregations, then surely those congregations need to be allowed to follow their conscience without penalty, after all they didn't change "the rules" but rather had them imposed from "on high."

    With regard to their local property, it would have been the local congregation and their forebears who raised the money to both build the church and then to care for it. No doubt too, they would have contributed to the denomination by way of paying budgets and giving of special offerings. For the denomination to then demand that they should keep the property is both uncaring and efficious. What do they expect this congregation of "Christ's followers" to do after this..... meet on the streets in all weather conditions?

    On the other hand, the congregation need not separate from the denomination. From my understanding of Presbyterianism in my country, local congregations are not bound by the central policies of the denomination but can steer a more independent course. In my denomination, we have adopted a Presbyterian form of Government which gives us a level of autonomy irrespective of the policies of the centre or even of the majority of the churches within the denomination. This often irritates the older Methodists among us who want more uniformity (especially with regard to adopting more liberal social agendas) but our founding fathers made it so deliberately so that we could live together in grace even with widely different opinions.

    I really do hope that the situation with this church can be resolved amicably with a spirit of grace, though once the lawyers become involved (sorry Dave ) this becomes extremely doubtful.
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    Senior Member Jim Chabot's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    I'm not seeing this as much of a big deal, nor out of the ordinary. At least not for New England.

    We have weathered the priest scandal, cost the Church a ton of money and they closed or consolidated some parishes. A bunch of vigils, people holding services in closed parishes and folks refusing to cede to authority. Eventually they were all broomed out of the way.

    Then we had a split within the CofE with some keeping the name Episcopal and their building, while the others took up the name Anglican and walked away from their buildings.

    Moreover the realization that the franchise holder controls the property isn't out of the ordinary at all. Most denominations do control their real property.

    No surprises, nothing we haven't seen plenty of. Eventually the cheesy sign will come down the Presbyterians will get their building back and this will be soon forgotten.
    -Jim

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    Naznet Owner Dave McClung's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Bud Pugh View Post
    First of all, they DO hold title to the building. That fact has been established several times in this thread.

    I wonder how it would affect giving if congregation members thought that a pastor/board/congregational vote could cause their investment in a building to be diverted to a cause they had not intended to support? I'd venture that most would not want their investment used other than as they gave it- to support the work of their local church and its connections/ministries.
    When you say "they" hold title to the building, you may not be right. The title is probably held by a corporation. Under the law, a corporation is an entity. The members of a nonprofit corporation do not own the property. The corporation does. As I have pointed out in other posts, for the members of the corporation to divert assets of the corporation they must follow the bylaws.
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    Host Theology Forum David Graham's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    No surprises, nothing we haven't seen plenty of. Eventually the cheesy sign will come down the Presbyterians will get their building back and this will be soon forgotten.
    Please note Jim.... I am not having a "go" at you, I'm just expanding upon the quote itself.

    So then the real lessons from this are.....
    1. For a parishioner: don't be a part of a denomination? (They'll shaft you in the end!?)

    Or,

    2. If you're a denominational leader, money and property is more important than people! Do what ever is necessary to get them both!

    Thus grace is subordinate to law; an abstract concept that doesn't find traction in the real world! No wonder the young are deserting the denominations.... they're after spiritual authenticity and they're not finding it being lived out in practice, certainly not in "that kind" of administrative practice anyway! It's a very poor witness!

    Here's a prediction....
    The Presbyterian Church will get its building.... and a couple of dozen people will rattle around inside though most of the pews will be empty.

    The previous congregation will continue by meeting in a public hall somewhere and eventually will grow enough to build another worship structure which will be completely independent and (rightly) suspicious of the other denominations. And a future generation will ask the question: "Why are there so many different Churches?" Why don't they all join together and work as one? Duh!

    I confess that these sort of "sub-Christian" conflicts and divisions really grieve me. Maybe I'm too much of an idealist in this area.
    Thanks Jim Chabot, David Troxler - "thanks" for this post

  29. #29
    Senior Member Bud Pugh's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave McClung View Post
    When you say "they" hold title to the building, you may not be right. The title is probably held by a corporation. Under the law, a corporation is an entity. The members of a nonprofit corporation do not own the property. The corporation does. As I have pointed out in other posts, for the members of the corporation to divert assets of the corporation they must follow the bylaws.
    I did not communicate well, but this is what I would have said had I done better. It is certainly what I had in mind when I wrote it.

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    Senior Member Bud Pugh's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    The question of a changing theology aside, with the Church of the Nazarene in mind, I think we miss the point when we suggest that it is a financial issue or a control issue for the denomination. It's not like the denomination receives the assets.

    My participation in this thread has been with this thought in mind: the Manual position that a church's property/assets cannot be diverted is one that honors (or at least doesn't dishonor) the often sacrificial giving of those who provided the property/assets in the first place. I was in a meeting last night where another example was cited- that members of the congregation had mortgaged their own homes in order to build a building for the Church of the Nazarene. Sure, some of those people may be dead now, but their desires and sacrifices should not be taken lightly. To divert their investments to uses other than they intended is not moral, either. This is also why the Manual allows capital assets to be used for operating purposes only by special permission. There is a stewardship that goes beyond protecting "my stuff" from being used the way I think it should be used.

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    Senior Member Mike Schutz's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    I don't want to take this on a tangent, but it does seem to be a related issue.

    No one is a member of the denomination. Every member is a member of a local church. If your church closes, you are no longer connected to the denomination unless you choose to become a member of another local church in the denomination.

    While this makes sense from a theological and legal perspective, it makes little sense from the personal perspective of identity and loyalty. Imagine the conversation I had with relatives, charter members of a Nazarene church plant, when their church closed after 40 years. They said, "Two years ago the district closed our campground, which I spent thousands of dollars and thousands of hours to build. Now they are closing our church, which I devoted my life to build and support. And now they tell me I am no longer a Nazarene."
    "Fully embracing the Gospel, fully engaging the world"
    Thanks Jim Chabot, Rich Schmidt - "thanks" for this post

  32. #32
    Senior Member Jim Chabot's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by David Graham View Post
    Please note Jim.... I am not having a "go" at you, I'm just expanding upon the quote itself.

    So then the real lessons from this are.....
    1. For a parishioner: don't be a part of a denomination? (They'll shaft you in the end!?)

    Or,

    2. If you're a denominational leader, money and property is more important than people! Do what ever is necessary to get them both!

    Thus grace is subordinate to law; an abstract concept that doesn't find traction in the real world! No wonder the young are deserting the denominations.... they're after spiritual authenticity and they're not finding it being lived out in practice, certainly not in "that kind" of administrative practice anyway! It's a very poor witness!

    Here's a prediction....
    The Presbyterian Church will get its building.... and a couple of dozen people will rattle around inside though most of the pews will be empty.

    The previous congregation will continue by meeting in a public hall somewhere and eventually will grow enough to build another worship structure which will be completely independent and (rightly) suspicious of the other denominations. And a future generation will ask the question: "Why are there so many different Churches?" Why don't they all join together and work as one? Duh!

    I confess that these sort of "sub-Christian" conflicts and divisions really grieve me. Maybe I'm too much of an idealist in this area.
    I believe that your prediction is most likely accurate. When the Episcopal Church made some changes that many saw as untenable, a new entity was formed calling itself Anglican, for the most part these good folks took the honorable path and left their buildings behind as agreed. Our local congregation saw 150 families leave with just 5 or 6 remaining. Please not that I said "as agreed," for that is what is at stake here. These folks in Newton have acted dishonorably, the denomination to which they belong has rules to which they agreed to when they joined, you do not get to break the rules and take what isn't yours just because you are unhappy with the direction that the denomination is headed.

    For me, I would avoid these dishonorable folks who are trying to steal a building giving them a wide berth. The might well succeed as a congregation, not one that I would want anything to do with.

    Whatever happened to the maxim that God's work, done God's way will never lack God's provision. If these folks were truly people of faith, then they would have left the building as they agreed and started a new work on an honorable footing. Starting out on the basis of selfish greed isn't a good way.

    Not trying to have a run at you either, sometimes good people see things different ways.

    BTW; I was thinking of you last night. Watching a show called Outback Truckers here. One of the featured drivers was a fellow with the surname of Grahame, I wondered if he might be a relative, then I saw that he had an "e" added to his name. One tough bloke, that fellow, nothing stops him.
    -Jim

    To know and to serve God, of course, is why we're here, a clear truth, that, like the nose on your face, is near at hand and easily discernible but can make you dizzy if you try to focus on it hard. But a little faith will see you through.

    Garrison Keillor
    Thanks David Graham - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Jim Chabot's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave McClung View Post
    When you say "they" hold title to the building, you may not be right. The title is probably held by a corporation. Under the law, a corporation is an entity. The members of a nonprofit corporation do not own the property. The corporation does. As I have pointed out in other posts, for the members of the corporation to divert assets of the corporation they must follow the bylaws.
    I looked up the sale of a nearby building where the congregation became unsustainable. The building was held in the local Church's corporate name, as was the parsonage. In both cases the closing attorneys have recorded three documents, a vote of approval by the DAB, a corporate vote to sell and a deed. The transactions appear to be well protected from a runaway sale by a rebellious congregation. Given the requirement that each local Church corporation be incorporated using our Manual as bylaws, a closing attorney would look to them to properly assess the requirements of title.
    -Jim

    To know and to serve God, of course, is why we're here, a clear truth, that, like the nose on your face, is near at hand and easily discernible but can make you dizzy if you try to focus on it hard. But a little faith will see you through.

    Garrison Keillor

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    Host Theology Forum David Graham's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    I was thinking of you last night. Watching a show called Outback Truckers here.
    Yep seen a couple of the episodes of that show.... and yes I agree they're a special breed of bloke that do that job.... of course now there are women that do it too.
    Thanks Jim Chabot - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Jim Chabot's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by David Graham View Post
    Yep seen a couple of the episodes of that show.... and yes I agree they're a special breed of bloke that do that job.... of course now there are women that do it too.
    And they do the job quite well! One in particular was a former model, she doesn't look the part in any way, yet she is an incredibly good driver. Turns out on one episode she said that she learned to drive in the New Zealand army when she was young, she took up driving again as a way to see the country, calls herself a tourism driver! Pretty neat stuff!
    -Jim

    To know and to serve God, of course, is why we're here, a clear truth, that, like the nose on your face, is near at hand and easily discernible but can make you dizzy if you try to focus on it hard. But a little faith will see you through.

    Garrison Keillor
    Thanks David Graham - "thanks" for this post

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    Assistant Site Administrator/Forum Host Kevin Rector's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Laughlin View Post
    Other than deep Nazarenes I suspect most folks are giving to the local church and assume if the local church left the denomination, the local church would keep the building. After all, the local church paid the bills not the denomination.
    I don't know why there would be any reason that any would think that a local church COULD leave the denomination. All the people in the congregation could leave the church, and they can go start a new church somewhere else. But a local Church of the Nazarene by definition can't really leave the denomination and still be the same local church.

    In our denomination, being a part of the larger connected denominational framework is a major part of what it means to be the local church - I make sure that is understood right from the start. If the pastors don't make that plain as part of our core value work, then the pastors are failing. I couch it in theological frameworks of accountability, sacrifice, mutual support, etc.

    This is not just an academic exercise... I lived the value of being a part of a connected denomination when my house was destroyed by a tornado - my denominational family surrounded me in supportive love in ways far greater than my local church family could. We're helping our Peruvian brothers and sisters now with the flooding (http://www.ncm.org/peru.html). We are a connected church - and that is what you are signing up for when you participate in a Nazarene church.
    God is really good.

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    Senior Member Jim Chabot's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Rector View Post
    I don't know why there would be any reason that any would think that a local church COULD leave the denomination. All the people in the congregation could leave the church, and they can go start a new church somewhere else. But a local Church of the Nazarene by definition can't really leave the denomination and still be the same local church.

    In our denomination, being a part of the larger connected denomination framework is a major part of what it means to be the local church - I make sure that is understood right from the start. If the pastors don't make that plain as part of our core value work, then the pastors are failing. I couch it in theological frameworks of accountability, sacrifice, mutual support, etc.

    This is not just an academic exercise... I lived the value of being a part of a connected denomination when my house was destroyed by a tornado - my denominational family surrounded me in supportive love in ways far greater than my local church family could. We're helping our Peruvian brothers and sisters now with the flooding (http://www.ncm.org/peru.html). We are a connected church - and that is what you are signing up for when you participate in a Nazarene church.
    Preach it! Thanks wasn't enough!
    -Jim

    To know and to serve God, of course, is why we're here, a clear truth, that, like the nose on your face, is near at hand and easily discernible but can make you dizzy if you try to focus on it hard. But a little faith will see you through.

    Garrison Keillor

  38. #38
    Senior Member Billy Cox's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Rector View Post
    I don't know why there would be any reason that any would think that a local church COULD leave the denomination. All the people in the congregation could leave the church, and they can go start a new church somewhere else. But a local Church of the Nazarene by definition can't really leave the denomination and still be the same local church.

    In our denomination, being a part of the larger connected denominational framework is a major part of what it means to be the local church - I make sure that is understood right from the start. If the pastors don't make that plain as part of our core value work, then the pastors are failing. I couch it in theological frameworks of accountability, sacrifice, mutual support, etc.

    This is not just an academic exercise... I lived the value of being a part of a connected denomination when my house was destroyed by a tornado - my denominational family surrounded me in supportive love in ways far greater than my local church family could. We're helping our Peruvian brothers and sisters now with the flooding (http://www.ncm.org/peru.html). We are a connected church - and that is what you are signing up for when you participate in a Nazarene church.
    No argument here... I wonder whether giving an inch to congregationalism leads that way of thinking to take a mile. How 'separatist' can we be before connectional values seems like an alien concept?
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us wthout end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
    - C.S. Lewis

  39. #39
    Senior Member Craig Laughlin's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Rector View Post
    I don't know why there would be any reason that any would think that a local church COULD leave the denomination.
    I think we live in very different cultural views of the church. In my world most unchurched people (and most are unchurched) have very little awareness of what a denomination is. If they do, they certainly don't think of that as the primary unit of being. That is, the local church is not first Nazarene and second a local church. The churched people in my environment, are pretty strongly anti-denominationalism and the fights over buildings only reinforce that feeling. The only examples they have of leaving come from baptist which are an association and public fights of churches with denominations about keeping the building or not. In those instances they have no loyalty to denominationalism so they are on the local church's side. I'm not saying this is they way it should be but it is absolutely the environment in which I work. Frankly, being associated with a denomination makes people avoid coming to my church and has caused some to leave after they figured out that Nazarene means denomination. When I teach about the denomination it is mostly countering the bad impression and convincing them that there are some good things about being in a denomination.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Rector View Post
    All the people in the congregation could leave the church, and they can go start a new church somewhere else. But a local Church of the Nazarene by definition can't really leave the denomination and still be the same local church.
    Where I live Nazarene is simply a name and what the church is, is what the local church is not the denomination.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Rector View Post
    In our denomination, being a part of the larger connected denomination framework is a major part of what it means to be the local church
    I'm just not sure this is true in the way it once was. My parents and grandparents and great grandparents joined The church of the Nazarene, then sought out the local expression of that wherever they went. They identified with the denomination and being Nazarene. They gave up vacation time to go to camps, district assemblies, revivals. They wanted to be elected to district office, my parents worked many years running laymen's retreats. They gave sacrificially for the college and to plant other "Nazarene" churches. Their identity and therefore their connectivity was in being Nazarene. That way of looking at the world, brand loyalty, is gone and it isn't just with denominations it's with everything. The people who join my church today perceive themselves as joining a local church that just happens to be associated with a denomination. If the denomination has a place in their consciousness it is a a means to an end... missions largely.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Rector View Post
    - I make sure that is understood right from the start. If the pastors don't make that plain as part of our core value work, then the pastors are failing. I couch it in theological frameworks of accountability, sacrifice, mutual support, etc.
    Maybe I'm failing but I sure hope that theology, accountability, sacrifice and mutual support exist in my church because they are Christian values not just denominational values.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Rector View Post
    This is not just an academic exercise... I lived the value of being a part of a connected denomination when my house was destroyed by a tornado - my denominational family surrounded me in supportive love in ways far greater than my local church family could. We're helping our Peruvian brothers and sisters now with the flooding (http://www.ncm.org/peru.html). We are a connected church - and that is what you are signing up for when you participate in a Nazarene church.
    Yep, I think being connectional is great and I support being a part of the denomination. That being said... my post was about perception and if we are not both accurate and honest about how the denomination is or is not perceived we will get ourselves in trouble.
    It is not enough to be right, you have to be like Jesus.

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    Thanks Billy Cox - "thanks" for this post

  40. #40
    Senior Member Rich Schmidt's Avatar

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    Re: Denomination wants building back

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Laughlin View Post
    Yep, I think being connectional is great and I support being a part of the denomination. That being said... my post was about perception and if we are not both accurate and honest about how the denomination is or is not perceived we will get ourselves in trouble.
    Yep. I agree. And we pastors play an outsized role in shaping people's perceptions when it comes to our local church and what it means to be part of it. You have a much tougher context than many of us, though it seems that you're just a few years ahead of where the rest of us are heading at some point. Our mission field is ever changing.

    I planted our church, and since we don't have "Nazarene" in our name, I have to do some extra work to make sure people know that we're connected, what that means, and the ways that it's a good thing. I have to occasionally lift up examples of the ways we're connected and say things like, "I'm so glad we're part of this global network of churches! It means that whether you know it or not, you're already supporting work among refugees fleeing the violence in Syria." Etc, etc, etc.

    While grumbling might start in the congregation at large, any serious conversation about leaving a denomination is going to happen among the leadership, both pastoral staff and church board. At that level, you'd better believe we have to be clear on property issues! We bought our first building a couple years ago after meeting in rented space for 14 years. As a church board, we talked about what that would mean, the commitment we're making to remain Nazarene, etc. Only a handful of folks in our church (out of 85-100) have any Nazarene background at all, though most have prior church experiences of some sort. So it means some extra work on my part.
    Thanks David Troxler, G R 'Scott' Cundiff, Marsha Lynn - "thanks" for this post

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