It’s something we all do: we see the headlines, read the news, and think, That’s tragic. I hope it never happens here.
Unfortunately, church leaders are not immune to this kind of thinking—and it may prevent us from taking the precautions necessary for safe (and legal) ministries. Pastors must educate themselves, their boards, and other staff members on the issues that could land them in court. Each of the following stories concerns a church that recently encountered such issues.
Church Factions Compete over Property
For years, sexual abuse of a minor was the number one reason churches went to court. That changed in 2016, when property disputes took the top spot. Disagreements over church property can often lead to legal trouble, as in the following case. According to legal blog Religion Clause, two factions of Little Ettie Old Regular Baptist Church in Beaver, Ohio “both claimed ownership of the[ir] church’s property.” A trial court and appellate court ...1