Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Fired Pastor and His Followers Lose Suit To Reclaim Their Former Church Building

In St. Mark Baptist Church of Pittsburg v. Saint Mark at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, (CA App., Dec. 18, 2015), a California state appellate court upheld a trial court's decision in a dispute over control of church property.  Two Baptist churches merged, but the arrangement went sour after two years.  Under the merger agreement,  Pastor McNab from St. Mark Pittsburg was to be the pastor of the merged church, but the church was to meet in the building used by St. Mark at Bethel. When trustees of the merged church voted to terminate Pastor McNab, he and some of his followers left the church and attempted to return to their original building which had by now been rented out to an unrelated church. They sued seeking a ruling that they, not the merged church, still owned their original building.  In this decision, the Court of Appeals upheld the trial court's denial of a preliminary injunction to prevent sale of the St. Mark Pittsburg church building by the merged church, and also upheld the trial court's removal of a lis pendis notice-- a notice that litigation impacting the property was pending. It held that there was substantial evidence that McNab and his current followers were not the rightful leaders of St. Mark Pittsburg even if it continues to exist as a separate entity.