“Windwood Presbyterian is not the only congregation that has attempted a legal measure to retain possession of their property without having a pay a sum to their former presbytery. Highland Park Presbyterian Church, a megachurch located in Dallas, had voted to leave before Windwood and also filed a lawsuit attempting to not have to pay for their property in accordance with the “trust clause.”
A large Texas congregation that recently decided to disaffiliate from the largest Presbyterian denomination in the United States over its increasing acceptance of homosexuality is suing to keep its property.
Windwood Presbyterian Church of Houston has been waging a legal battle to not have to pay to keep their church property after having left Presbyterian Church (USA) earlier this year.
The Rev. Kevin C. Rudolph, pastor at Windwood Presbyterian, told The Christian Post that the lawsuit dates back to 2008.
“We have been involved in a lawsuit over the ownership of the property since 2008 and that suit is still in process,” said Rudolph, who noted that the congregation voted to disaffiliate back in May.
“Our congregation has approximately 1,100 members and we had more than 30 percent of the congregation present for the vote and the vote to disaffiliate and move to ECO received more than 99 percent of the vote.”
Windwood Presbyterian filed suit against PCUSA back in 2008, arguing that the denomination’s “trust clause” did not apply to their congregation.
According to the PCUSA Book of Order G-4.0203, the “trust clause” states “All property held by or for a particular church … is held in trust nevertheless for the use and benefit of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).”
The provision notes that this property includes not only for “a particular church” but also “a presbytery, a synod, the General Assembly, or the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) …”
Adopted back in 1981, the “trust clause” means that any church that disaffiliates from PCUSA must pay a varied amount of money to the denomination in order to maintain control of their property.