“The Court of Appeals ruled that the District Court was correct when it applied neutral principles of law. Under neutral principles, the court bases its decision in neutral, secular principles, looking at official documents such as property deeds and state statutes.”
On July 18, the Minnesota State Supreme Court denied the petition from the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area (PTCA) to review the decision of the Minnesota Court of Appeals in favor of Prairie Community Church of Twin Cities (formerly known as Eden Prairie Presbyterian Church).
The Court of Appeals’ April 24 decision upheld the March 24, 2016 ruling by the Fourth Judicial District Court, which concluded that the Prairie Community Church of Twin Cities “owns the disputed property and that the disputed property is not held in trust for the PCUSA, and the PTCA and PCUSA have no legal interest in the disputed property.”
The Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area had decided to appeal that ruling fearing that it “turns [the Presbyterian Church (USA)] into a congregational church, where each congregation has the freedom to pick and choose what it will and will not accept regarding church organization, government, and doctrine.”
In its presbytery report on why it was appealing, the PTCA’s Administrative Commission (AC) called the court’s decision “deeply disappointing, and we’re concerned about the impact it may have on our Minnesota congregations, our presbytery as a whole, our neighboring presbyteries in Minnesota, and the wider church. … We believe the decision of the Minnesota Court of Appeals potentially jeopardizes our presbytery’s authority to make decisions in the future regarding congregations who seek to leave. Additionally, we believe the decision may also place in jeopardy our foundational understanding that the Book of Order, in its entirety, applies to all members of the PCUSA.”