Parent church’s default judgment against break-away congregation upheld on appeal

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Church of God in Christ, Inc. v. Board of Trustees of Emmanuel Church of God in Christ(KA Ct. App., June 8, 2012), a Kansas state appellate court affirmed a default judgment and award of damages to an international hierarchical church body in its suit against a break-away local local congregation and some of its members.  Even though the split off of the congregation arose out of a dispute over the authority of the bishop to appoint a pastor for the church, that issue, according to the court, is separate from the property dispute. The court held that while it does not have jurisdiction over  appointment of clergy, it does have jurisdiction to resolve the property dispute.