Friday, November 12, 2010

United Methodist Church Sues Break-Away Oregon Congregation

The Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church last week announced that it had filed suit in an Oregon state court against a break-away congregation, seeking to recover for UMC the real and personal property held by the Ontario,Oregon congregation.  The complaint (full text) in Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church v. Ontario Community Church, Inc., (OR Cir. Ct., filed 11/3/2010), asserts that UMC is entitled to the property under provisions in its Book of Discipline that specify local church property is held in trust for the denomination. The congregation broke away after its members objected to a change in clergy imposed by the bishop.  The congregation filed amended articles of incorporation describing itself as a non-denominational church and purporting to revoke any express or implied trusts created for the benefit of UMC or other bodies.The complaint also alleges that the meeting at which a vote to break away was taken was improperly called and that members lack authority to alter restrictions on local church property. AP yesterday, reporting on the decision, says that congregations in California and Alabama have left the United Methodist Church in recent years, sparking similar litigation.