the Virginia court's recent ruling that the historic Falls Church building belongs to the Episcopal denomination, rather than the local congregation. Falls Church is now seeking a rehearing.
Property deeds in many denominations (including ours) are not held by the local church, but rather by their governing bodies. This arrangement works fine as long as everybody is in harmony with each other, and in many respects is a safeguard agaist a few rogue members taking over and stealing a church way from it original, intended, historic path.
However, what happens when the denomination strays from its original, intended, historic path and the local church departs in protest? Who should get the building?
The way I see it, in disputes like this, church property should always go to its primary investors.
If the denomination was the primary source of funding for the property (purchase, maintenance, repairs, projects, etc.) then it should go to them. If, however, the local congregation carried the burden of paying for it, then they should retain the right to keep it -- regardless of which entity holds the title.
The responsibility of the courts in such cases, then, should be determining the primary investors.