FPC Houston Agrees To Pay 1 Million For Clear Title To Church Property

The settlement also offers protection to the FPC’s pastors and session

The letter to the church, signed by the pastor and clerk of session, said that the “financial settlement was made in part in recognition of the long-standing relationship between FPC Houston and presbytery and in support of the shared mission values that are at the heart of both organizations.”

 

After agreeing to pay $1-million, First Presbyterian Church (FPC) in Houston now has clear title to its property.

The settlement agreement between FPC and New Covenant — reached on May 10, 2016 — ended two years of civil litigation between the two parties. The church filed its civil lawsuit on May 29, 2014 seeking to clear the title of its property from claims by the denomination that it holds a trust interest in FPC’s property.

According to a letter posted on the church’s web site, and an announcement posted on the presbytery web site, FPC agreed to pay the presbytery $700,000 in semi-annual installments of $175,000. Also, the church will make a $300,000 mission payment — four quarterly payments of $15,000 for five years — to a mission partner chosen by FPC Houston in consultation with the presbytery.

The total amount of $1-million is less than one percent of the church’s total asset value.

The settlement also offers protection to the FPC’s pastors and session from any disciplinary action by the presbytery, the synod or the PCUSA for five years.

The letter to the church, signed by the pastor and clerk of session, said that the “financial settlement was made in part in recognition of the long-standing relationship between FPC Houston and presbytery and in support of the shared mission values that are at the heart of both organizations.”

In Feb., 2015, a judge had ruled that FPC owned its property. Judge Wesley R. Ward found that there was “no enforceable trust or property interest created by any version of the Presbyterian Church (USA) Book of Order or the Presbyterian Church of the United States Book of Church Order under the neutral principle factors set forth by the Texas Supreme Court in Masterson V. Diocese of NW Texas.

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