Thursday, October 10, 2019

Court Defers To Decisions of Parent Body In Dispute With Break-Away Presbyterian Congregation

In Presbytery of Seattle v. Schulz, (WA App., Oct. 7, 2019), a Washington state appellate court upheld a trial court's deference to decisions of the Administrative Commission set up by the Presbyterian Church USA's representative in connection with disputes regarding a break-away congregation.  Finding that the Presbyterian church is a hierarchical church, the court concluded that the trial court correctly deferred to the decisions of the Administrative Commission that the disaffiliation of the First Presbyterian Church of Seattle was invalid, any interest it had in church property was held in trust for the benefit of Presbyterian Church USA, and the church's severance agreements with its pastors were invalid.  The court rejected the argument by the local church that the national body no longer had ecclesiastical jurisdiction over it once it disaffiliated, so determinations after that date by the Administrative Commission should not binding.