Author Topic: Diocese ruled owner of property in dispute  (Read 8590 times)

Marshall_Hahn

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 1433
    • View Profile
Re: Diocese ruled owner of property in dispute
« Reply #90 on: June 30, 2007, 01:00:02 PM »
Brian, there is no "let" about it.  If the congregation follows the process outlined, the property stays with the congregation - no matter what the synod council or bishop want.  That is the wording in the constitution.  And if you follow through in the references, you will see that it does matter whether the congregation was a former ALC, former LCA, former AELC, or newly formed congregation.

In terms of property, in the latest model (1995) there is no differences in regards to property matters based on predecessor church body. There is a differences in terms of terminating one's relationship with the ELCA.

*C6.05.   This congregation may terminate its relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America by the following procedure:

g. Since this congregation was a member of the Lutheran Church in America, it shall be required, in addition to the foregoing provisions in *C6.05., to receive synodical approval before terminating its membership in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

h. Since this congregation was established by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, it shall be required, in addition to the foregoing provisions in *C6.05., to receive synodical approval before terminating its membership in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.


The article concerning property ownership occurs in the next section and makes no distinction as LCA, ALC, or ELCA roots.

*C7.03. If a two-thirds majority of the voting members of this congregation present at a legally called and conducted special meeting of this congregation vote to transfer to another Lutheran church body, title to property shall continue to reside in this congregation. Before this congregation takes action to transfer to another Lutheran church body, it shall consult with representatives of the ______________ Synod.

*C7.04. If a two-thirds majority of the voting members of this congregation present at a legally called and conducted special meeting of this congregation vote to become independent or relate to a non-Lutheran church body, title to property of this congregation shall continue to reside in this congregation only with the consent of the Synod Council. The Synod Council, after consultation with this congregation by the established synodical process, may give approval to the request to become independent or to relate to a non-Lutheran church body, in which case title shall remain with the majority of this congregation. If the Synod Council fails to give such approval, title shall remain with those members who desire to continue as a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.


According to 7.03, the property stays with the congregation if they vote to join another Lutheran church body. According to 7.04. if they vote to join a non-Lutheran body or become independent, the decision about who keeps the property is in the hands of the Synod Council. They may let the majority keep it or they may let the minority who wish to remain in the ELCA keep the property.

Which is exactly the point I was making.  There IS a distinction between former ALC and former LCA congregations with respect to terminating the relationship with the ELCA.  And the disposition of property depends upon the proper procedures being followed in terminating the relationship with the ELCA.  The synod council and bishop have no option to retain the property in the ELCA when those procedures are followed and the congregation is choosing to relate to another Lutheran body.  In such cases the "25" in Pr. Austin's example would not retain the property - not because the synod "let" it be kept by the "475", but because that is the way the constitution is written.

Marshall Hahn

Brian Stoffregen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 43194
  • ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν
    • View Profile
Re: Diocese ruled owner of property in dispute
« Reply #91 on: June 30, 2007, 02:09:51 PM »
Which is exactly the point I was making.  There IS a distinction between former ALC and former LCA congregations with respect to terminating the relationship with the ELCA.  And the disposition of property depends upon the proper procedures being followed in terminating the relationship with the ELCA.  The synod council and bishop have no option to retain the property in the ELCA when those procedures are followed and the congregation is choosing to relate to another Lutheran body.  In such cases the "25" in Pr. Austin's example would not retain the property - not because the synod "let" it be kept by the "475", but because that is the way the constitution is written.
It depends whether or not the 475 were just voting to leave the ELCA or if they were also voting to join another Lutheran body. If joining another Lutheran body, they keep the property. If not, the property decision rests with the synod council.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Marshall_Hahn

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 1433
    • View Profile
Re: Diocese ruled owner of property in dispute
« Reply #92 on: June 30, 2007, 02:43:55 PM »
Which is exactly the point I was making.  There IS a distinction between former ALC and former LCA congregations with respect to terminating the relationship with the ELCA.  And the disposition of property depends upon the proper procedures being followed in terminating the relationship with the ELCA.  The synod council and bishop have no option to retain the property in the ELCA when those procedures are followed and the congregation is choosing to relate to another Lutheran body.  In such cases the "25" in Pr. Austin's example would not retain the property - not because the synod "let" it be kept by the "475", but because that is the way the constitution is written.
It depends whether or not the 475 were just voting to leave the ELCA or if they were also voting to join another Lutheran body. If joining another Lutheran body, they keep the property. If not, the property decision rests with the synod council.

The point being, in my neck of the ELCA, a synod which is 90% former ALC, if a congregation wishes to leave the ELCA with their property, they can do so without any approval by the synod council or bishop anywhere along the line - at least for those 90%.  They must follow the procedures, get the required 2/3 vote of the congregation, and choose to affiliate with another Lutheran body.  But it is entirely up to the congregation.  The only reason I am making a point of this is that several of the previous posts, including one of yours, Brian, made the assumption that this could only happen if the synod somehow allowed it to happen.  It is not that it is "allowed" - it is the process spelled out in the constitution.  This remains one of the differences between former LCA and former ALC congregations.  As I recall, the question of property ownership was one of the major battles in the formation of the ELCA, and this ALC/LCA distinction was adopted as a compromise solution.  None of the subsequent changes to the Model Constitution affects this distinction.

Marshall

Richard Johnson

  • ALPB Administrator
  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 10411
  • Create in me a clean heart, O God.
    • View Profile
Re: Diocese ruled owner of property in dispute
« Reply #93 on: June 30, 2007, 03:37:20 PM »
You're talking past each other here. Let me see if I can clarify.

Former LCA congregations, and congregations founded after the merger, need the permission of the synod to disaffiliate from the ELCA. Former ALC congregations do not need that permission.

Once a congregation decides to disaffiliate (and, in the case of former LCA and newer ELCA, it is approved), the rules about property are the same for everyone, namely, moving to another Lutheran church body does not require approval from the synod to take the property with them. Becoming non-Lutheran or independent does require synodical approval to take the property with them.

There seems to me to be some ambiguity in the documents about this latter point if there are no remaining members of the congregation who wish to remain in the ELCA; one could read it that the property then stays with the congregation regardless of synod action (since there would be no members "who desire to continue as a congregation of the ELCA").

There's also some ambiguity, I would think, about what constitutes "synodical approval" in the case of non-former-ALC congregations in their vote to disaffiate. Is that synod council? synod assembly? bishop? Doesn't say specifically.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Brian Stoffregen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 43194
  • ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν
    • View Profile
Re: Diocese ruled owner of property in dispute
« Reply #94 on: June 30, 2007, 04:03:07 PM »
The point being, in my neck of the ELCA, a synod which is 90% former ALC, if a congregation wishes to leave the ELCA with their property, they can do so without any approval by the synod council or bishop anywhere along the line - at least for those 90%. 
In the ALC, the majority could keep the property and a dissolving congregation could dispose of the property however they wished as long as it was another 401(c)3 organization. In the earliest ELCA model constitutions, the stipulation about the majority keeping the property in formerly ALC congregations was retained. However, since at least 1995, (the earliest model I have at home,) that distinction was no longer in the model. All congregations follow the same rules in regard to their property.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]