January 2, 2012

More about the Christian & Missionary Alliance confiscating property

Yet another story about Christian And Missionary Alliance leaders confiscating church property that doesn't belong to them:
Court case determines church must shut down

I have been hearing from James Sundquist about this happening to numerous Christian & Missionary Alliance churches (many of which are being pushed to go seeker sensitive) over the last few years. I thought the C&MA claim to be congregational in polity, but as I understand it, the denomination MAKES them include a clause in their constitution that says if they don't grow in size, or shrink below some numerical threshold, or the denomination is otherwise unpleased with them, they forfeit their property. (source: Suing for Reconciliation: Struggling congregation alleges the denomination sold its sanctuary unlawfully.) This doesn't make sense to me, even if the church goes apostate, the most they should be able to do is make them forfeit the denomination's mortgage assistance (if any) and membership in the denomination.

A friend of mine commented, since she used to belong to a denomination that has a similar clause:
This goes on in the United Methodist Church too. It's the 'trust clause'. When a church joins a denomination, the building is held in trust by the Trustees. The people think it is held in trust for the congregation, but the purpose of the Trust Clause is that the property is held in trust for the denomination. Then the church wants to change affiliations, or the attendance dwindles and the church is closed and the denomination comes along and announces that it's their property and the people have nothing. And the people say, 'But we paid for it and refurbished it and added to it and cared for it." And the denomination whips out the paperwork and shows them the trust clause. In the case of the United Methodist Church, Methodist Episcopal churches joined because, "They will send us a preacher." So basically they got lousy preaching for the privilege of giving away their buildings and property and autonomy. But I thought courts were siding more with churches than with denominations, when these cases made it to court.
This is completely unbiblical. The Christian & Missionary Alliance ought to be ashamed. But I won't hold my breath. God will judge them, if they do not repent.