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This entry was published on 2014-09-22
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SECTION 16
Property of extinct churches
Religious Corporations (RCO) CHAPTER 51, ARTICLE 2
§ 16. Property of extinct churches. Such incorporated governing body
may decide that a church, parish or society in connection with it or
over which it has ecclesiastical jurisdiction, has become extinct, if it
has failed for two consecutive years next prior thereto, to maintain
religious service according to the discipline, customs and usages of
such governing body, or has had less than thirteen resident attending
members paying annual pew rent, or making annual contributions towards
its support, or in case of a United Methodist church, if such action
have the consent of the presiding bishop and of a majority of the
district superintendents of the annual conference and of the district
board of church location and building of the district in which the
action is contemplated, or in case of a parish of the Protestant
Episcopal Church, if such parish has ceased for two consecutive years
next prior thereto, to have a sufficient number of men qualified to
elect or to serve as wardens and vestrymen therein, and may take
possession of the temporalities and property belonging to such church,
parish or religious society, and manage the same; or may, in pursuance
of the provisions of law relating to the disposition of real property by
religious corporations, sell or dispose of the same and apply the
proceeds thereof to any of the purposes to which the property of such
governing religious body is devoted, and it shall not divert such
property to any other object. And for the purpose of obtaining a record
title to the land and the church edifice, or other buildings thereon, by
such incorporated governing body, the surviving trustee or trustees of
said extinct church, or if there be no surviving trustee then a
surviving member of said extinct church, may, without a consideration
being paid therefor by such incorporated governing body, convey to it
said land and church edifice, or other buildings thereon, subject,
however, to an order of the supreme or county court based upon a
petition reciting that said church has become extinct; the names of its
surviving trustee or trustees, and the names of its members, who must
have given their consent to the making of said conveyance. Upon the
recital of said facts in said petition the court shall have jurisdiction
to grant an order allowing said conveyance to be made without a
consideration; and should there be no surviving members, as well as no
surviving trustees of said extinct church, said petition may be made by
an officer of such incorporated governing body, in which event the
court, upon a recital of said fact, shall have jurisdiction to appoint a
suitable person as trustee for the purpose of making said conveyance.
And in case of a Reformed Church of America, Dutch Reformed Church, or
Reformed Dutch Church in the United States of America or the United
Reformed Dutch and Lutheran Church of America or a parish of the
Protestant Episcopal Church, a Universalist Church or Society, an
incorporated United Methodist Church, or an incorporated church of the
United Church of Christ, or an incorporated Congregational Christian
Church, should either of such surviving members or such surviving
trustee of said extinct church refuse to act and sign said petition
after request by an officer of said governing body of said last-named
churches personally made by such officer, then said petition may be made
by an officer of such incorporated governing body and in that event the
court shall have jurisdiction and may appoint a suitable person as
trustee for the purpose of making said conveyance. And in the case of
said last-named Reformed churches, or of a parish of the Protestant
Episcopal Church, a Universalist Church or Society, an incorporated
United Methodist Church, or of an incorporated church of the United
Church of Christ or of an incorporated Congregational Christian Church,
the trustees of any such extinct church, the treasurer thereof or any
person acting in either of said capacities may be required to show cause
before the supreme court at a special term thereof held in the judicial
district in which said church shall be located why they should not be
required to give an account of all moneys and property of said church
which they shall have in their hands or under their control and in case
of their failure to show such causes they be required to account before
said court for all the properties and moneys of the said church which
shall be in their hands or under their control, and after the payment of
all the claims against such church, if any, and the expenses of such
proceeding, if it shall further appear that none of such property in the
hands of said persons is required for the further support or maintenance
of said church, said money and proceeds thereof shall be directed to be
paid and turned over to said governing religious body to apply to the
purposes to which the property of such governing body is devoted. An
application or such order to show cause shall be made by a verified
petition, which petition may be made by said governing body of said
church or any officer thereof. Where a proceeding is instituted under
this section for the sale of the real property of an extinct religious
corporation, a compliance with paragraphs five, six, seven and eight of
section five hundred eleven of the not-for-profit corporation law shall
be unnecessary, and such proceedings shall be in all respects valid
without a compliance with said subdivisions. Any gift, legacy, devise,
annuity, or other benefit to a United Methodist Church that accrues or
becomes available after said church has become extinct shall be and
become the property of the trustees of the annual conference within
whose jurisdiction the said extinct church was located. Any gift,
legacy, devise, annuity or other benefit to a Universalist Church or
Society that accrues or becomes available after said church or society
has become extinct shall be and become the property of the New York
State Convention of Universalists, as the governing religious body of
every active, extinct or disbanded Universalist church or society within
the bounds of the State of New York. The New York Conference of the
United Church of Christ, Inc. shall be deemed the governing religious
body of every extinct or disbanded church of the United Church of Christ
and of any extinct or disbanded Congregational Christian Church which is
a member of the New York Conference of the United Church of Christ, Inc.
within the meaning of this section. The provisions of this section shall
not apply to any Presbyterian church in connection with the General
Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).