It’s no secret that the United Methodist Church is anything but united. Debates of theology, leadership, property ownership and more have reached a tipping point. To make matters worse, the United Methodist Church removed the proposed separation plan that was supposed to be a path out.
One thing that keeps the churches from leaving the UMC is the trust clause. It’s true that if you decide to sever your relationship with the denomination, legal issues over property ownership will arise.
But it’s a myth that the trust clause can’t be broken. We have helped dozens of churches just like yours leave the denomination with ownership of their building and property.
The wait-and-see approach isn’t working, and the UMC promises no path out. Meanwhile, cash-strapped bishops are closing churches every day and taking their properties.
Your church likely holds the deed to the church, pays for the property, the insurance, maintenance and other elements that typically signify ownership. So, how could it be that you don’t you own your property?
It really depends on state law and how they apply trust clauses. But the bottom line is that the UMC doesn’t always win and there is a path to keep your building. If you truly feel led to leave the denomination, you are not a prisoner to the trust clause.
The attorneys at Dalton & Tomich, PLC have experience in church property disputes and denominational splits and are aware of the issues that need to be resolved. We are frequently engaged by local congregations seeking to leave their denominations throughout the United States. Contact us today to speak with an experienced attorney about your case.
These free guides to leaving the United Methodist Church answer the most common questions that arise and gives you step-by-step action items to begin the process of leaving.
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Our practice is led by Daniel P. Dalton, the nationally recognized authority in trust clause litigation and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). He has helped dozens of local Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian USA, Christian Reformed, Reformed Churches and other local churches affiliated with denominations from coast to coast, including serving as both general counsel and special litigation counsel. He doesn’t just want to help you win your case, but also to be healthy and thriving afterwards.
The Urban Church will be forever grateful to Dalton & Tomich for navigating it through a difficult land use issue. Let them give you honest and caring advice because that’s exactly what they’ll do.
Dalton & Tomich’s assistance in our RLUIPA matter has paved the way for our church to continue serving the community and for new churches in the area to thrive in the future. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your stand for religious freedom.
Dan Dalton, and the law firm Dalton & Tomich, stepped in and fought for our church, its people and the vision that is Hope Rising. They stood with us, gave us a voice and were absolutely amazing every step of the way. Dan Dalton and the Dalton & Tomich law firm are not just amazing lawyers, they are friends, they are family and they are members of 'The Church'.
Dalton & Tomich has experience representing hundreds of churches just like yours as they have exited the United Methodist Church. We know how to navigate the legal process, and we’ll be with you every step of the way.
Your church needs to carefully choose responsible people—ideally with backgrounds in management, finance, and human resources—who are committed to meet weekly to lead your church out of the denomination. We will advise you on how to form this team.
We conduct a thorough inventory of what property the local congregation owns and how the assets are titled, which informs the legal steps that might or might not be taken when the church departs from the denomination.
Because the annual conference likely owns the name of your church and the Methodist name is trademarked, we will work local counsel to assist you in creating a new legal entity/local church. This will become the new entity that is used to litigate ownership of church property.
After we work with you to complete the above three steps, and depending on your state, what the church owns, its debt, and other factors, we will prepare to negotiate or litigate the church property ownership with the conference or local district.
Be assured that Dalton & Tomich will help your church from beginning to end, and discretion and security are of primary importance during the process. Your pastor’s and church’s confidentiality are protected the entire time, and the Bishop is not notified of the new church’s incorporation until it is appropriate and necessary.
You’re not trapped. It is possible to build a growing church outside of the United Methodist Church, and there are thousands of people just like you who have done it.
Let us help you defend your property and build a brighter future for your church.