Sunday, December 10, 2006

UMC Local Church Property

In the early 20th Century, a non-denominational church joined the EUB, which merged with the UMC in 1968. Now the congregation wants to be independent again, and keep its building:

KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- Members of Lane Boulevard Church say they've been pushed out of their longtime home by the United Methodist Church, which says the denomination and not the congregation owns the building.

Lane Boulevard Church members voted this year to removed "Methodist" from their name.

On Nov. 27, Kalamazoo County Circuit Judge J. Richardson Johnson issued a preliminary injunction giving the Western Michigan Conference of the United Methodist Church access to the early 20th century building.

The 120-member Lane Boulevard congregation now holds Sunday services at the Hungarian Church of Kalamazoo.

"I know that it is hard for them," said the Rev. Zawdie Abiade, the Kalamazoo-area district superintendent for the denomination. But, he added, "the property legally belongs to the United Methodist Church."



ColeWake said...

My proposal for GC '08 is that someone pass a new law that says between '08 and '12 any congregation that votes 75% plus 1 to seperate from the Connection can do so without losing their property or accounts. They would still be liable for any loans and other obligations.

It should trim down some extrems on both sides and give those congregations who have already all but withdrawn from the connection (except when causing trouble) to have a way out. Time to lean up. We need to lose some of the fat so we can rebuild our muscle.

John said...

That's a really interesting proposal, Cole.

bob said...

While your idea is interesting Cole it doesn't really address the theme of the post, who should own the properties.

I wasn't involved with the UMC at the time the conferences took control of the properties. One of the older gentlemen in our congregation in speaking about it made the transfer seem coerced. If that is the case I would think there might be legal grounds for reacquiring properties when dissolving the bond to the conference.

Anonymous said...

The lane Boulevard situation is an interesting one. While the news reports were in error regarding political disagreements with the UMC (We have no politics at all) The case itself is one of Fraud. Back in the day the congregation gave to itself a trust in the property to protect itself from the EUB.
At the time of the EUB/Methodist merger in 1968, the congregation voted no. Then whenthey were told they had to go along, they refused to come under the dominance of the Discipline and refused to put a trust clause in its corporate documents. A year later, a filing was made in Lansing purporting to bind the congregation to both the discipline and the trust clause. This document was not discovered until 2003.
These corporate documents carry no charge, no vote, no certification of the vote and no signatures from any of the congregations officers.