Petition 80371

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Abandonment (80371-LC-¶2548.3)

Amend ¶ No. 2548.  
3. Abandonment—When a local church property is no longer used, kept, or maintained by its membership as a place of divine worship, the property shall be  considered abandoned, and  or when a local church no longer serves the purpose for which it was organized and incorporated (¶¶ 201-204), with the consent of the presiding bishop, a majority of the district superintendents, and of the district board of church location and building, the property shall be considered abandoned.  In such case, the local church shall be given 20 days notice of the meeting of the district board of church location and building and the church’s members shall have the right to appear before that board before it decides whether to consent to abandoning the local church.  After all consents are obtained, the annual conference trustees acting as successors to the former local church trustees and as persons empowered to enforce the denomination’s beneficial interests under the trust clause may assume control of the real and personal, tangible and intangible property of the abandoned church. If circumstances make immediate action necessary, the conference trustees should give first option to the other denominations represented in the Commission on Pan-Methodist Cooperation and Union. The conference trustees may proceed to sell or lease said property, retain the proceeds in an interest-bearing account, and recommend the disposition of the proceeds in keeping with annual conference policy. It shall be the duty of the annual conference trustees to remove, insofar as reasonably possible, all Christian and church insignia and symbols from such property. In the event of loss, damage to, or destruction of such local church property, the trustees of the annual conference are authorized to collect and receipt for any insurance payable on account thereof as the duly and legally authorized representative of such local church.

Rationale

This revision clarifies the abandonment process by stating that the use of a local church property for worship needs to be consistent with its original purpose as a part of the United Methodist connection, not as part of another denomination or as an independent body.  It also establishes a period...