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This entry was published on 2014-09-22
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SECTION 17-C
Property of Lutheran congregations
Religious Corporations (RCO) CHAPTER 51, ARTICLE 2
§ 17-c. Property of Lutheran congregations. 1. Congregations of the
Lutheran Church in America. The synod having jurisdiction over a
particular congregation of the Lutheran Church in America, may declare
defunct any congregation, belonging to the synod, which has disbanded,
or has ceased or failed to maintain religious worship or services
according to the tenets and usages of the Lutheran Church, or whose
membership has so diminished in numbers as to render it impossible or
impracticable for such congregation to fulfill the purposes for which it
was organized or to protect its property from waste and deterioration,
or having departed from membership in the Lutheran Church in America,
without the consent of a convention of the synod.

Whenever the synod having jurisdiction over a particular congregation
of the Lutheran Church in America, declares defunct the particular
congregation, upon petition to the supreme court, and upon satisfactory
proof of the facts leading to said declaration, the court shall have
jurisdiction to grant an order to the effect that all property of
whatever kind which may have belonged to, or having been held by, said
congregation shall vest in the synod of jurisdiction in as full and
ample a manner as the same shall theretofore, have been vested in the
congregation so declared defunct.

The secretary of the synod of jurisdiction shall record in the office
of the county clerk, in which the congregation is located, a certified
copy of the resolution of the synod, declaring such congregation defunct
and the court order transferring the title of the congregation's
property; and the recording of such resolution and court order shall be
proof of the vesting of the title of the real property of such
congregation in the synod of jurisdiction.

2. Congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. (a)
The relationship between a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran
church in America and the church may be terminated in one of the
following ways:

(i) The congregation takes action to dissolve;

(ii) The congregation ceases to exist;

(iii) The membership of the congregation becomes so scattered or
diminished in numbers as to make it impracticable for such congregation
to fulfill the purposes for which it was organized. In such case, the
synod in order to protect the property from waste and deterioration,
through the synod council or trustees appointed by it, may take charge
and control of the property of the congregation to hold, manage, and
convey the same on behalf of the synod. The congregation shall have the
right to appeal the decision to the synod assembly;

(iv) The congregation is no longer recognized by the church under the
disciplinary provisions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America;
or

(v) The congregation terminates its relationship according to the
procedure outlined in paragraph (b) of this subdivision.

(b) A congregation may terminate its relationship with the church by
the following procedure:

(i) A resolution indicating desire to terminate its relationship must
be adopted at a legally called and conducted special meeting of the
congregation by a two-thirds majority of the voting members present;

(ii) The secretary of the congregation shall submit a copy of the
resolution to the synodical bishop and shall mail a copy of the
resolution to voting members of the congregation. This notice shall be
submitted within ten days after the resolution has been adopted;

(iii) The bishop of the synod shall consult with the congregation
during a period of at least ninety days;

(iv) If the congregation, after consultation, still desires to
terminate its relationship, such action may be taken at a legally called
and conducted special meeting of the congregation by a two-thirds
majority of the voting members present, at which meeting the synodical
bishop or an authorized representative shall be present. Notice of the
meeting shall be mailed to all voting members at least ten days in
advance of the meeting;

(v) A certified copy of the resolution to terminate its relationship
shall be sent to the synodical bishop, at which time the relationship
between the congregation and this church shall be terminated;

(vi) Notice of termination shall be forwarded by the synodical bishop
to the secretary of the church and published in the periodical of the
church; and

(vii) Congregations which had been members of the Lutheran Church in
America shall be required, in addition to the foregoing provisions, to
receive synodical approval before terminating their membership in the
church.

(c) Subject to the provisions of the governing documents of
congregations recognized at the establishment of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America, the following shall govern the ownership of
property by congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:

(i) Title to property shall reside in the congregation. The
congregation may dispose of its property as it determines, subject to
any self-accepted indebtedness or other self-accepted restrictions;

(ii) Title to the undisposed property of a congregation that ceases to
exist by virtue of subparagraph (i), (ii) or (iii) of paragraph (a) of
this subdivision, shall pass to the synod of this church to which the
congregation is related;

(iii) Title to the property of a congregation that is no longer
recognized by this church as a result of discipline shall continue to
reside in the congregation;

(iv) Title to the property of a congregation that has acted to
terminate its relationship with this church by the provisions of
paragraph (b) of this subdivision and to relate to another Lutheran
church body shall continue to reside in the congregation; and

(v) Title to the property of a congregation that has acted to
terminate its relationship with this church by the provisions of
paragraph (b) of this subdivision and to become independent or to relate
to a non-Lutheran church body shall continue to reside in the
congregation only with the consent of the Synod Council. The Synod
Council, after consultation with the congregation by an 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 the congregation. If the Synod
Council fails to give such approval, title shall remain with those
members who desire to continue as a congregation of this church.