Posts tagged "0901518"

Newton Presbyterian Church, et al. v. Smith, et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 09-015-18)

COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS SUFFOLK, ss. SUPERIOR COURT. _ ______ ______ ______ _ 1784CV00804-BLS2 NEWTON PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH and THE PRESBYTERY OF BOSTON v. GARRETT SMITH and Others and NEWTON COVENANT CHURCH v. PRESB_Y__T_E_R__I_A_N__ C__H_U__R_C__H_ (USA) MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ALLOWING PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION FOR A PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION The parties to this lawsuit dispute who is entitled to use and control property belonging to the Newton Presbyterian Church (“NPC”), which is a member of the national Presbyterian denomination known as the Presbyterian Church (USA) (the “PCUSA”). Judge Sanders recently allowed Plaintiffs’ motion for partial summary judgment, ruling that they are entitled to enforce a ruling by the Presbytery of Boston that the remaining members of the NPC are entitled to use and control the disputed property, and that the break-away church members that now call themselves the Newton Covenant Church are not. Plaintiffs have now moved for a preliminary injunction that would begin to enforce Judge Sanders’ dispositive ruling by ordering Defendants to vacate the church’s real property, return all other property, and refrain from using the NPC property in a manner inconsistent with the prior determination of the Presbytery. For the reasons discussed below, the Court concludes that Plaintiffs are entitled to such relief. It will therefore ALLOW the motion and issue a preliminary injunction in the form requested by the Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs will remain free to let Defendants continue to worship in and make other use of the NPC building, at least for now. But that is for the Plaintiffs to decide. Defendants have no right to continue their use and occupation of the NPC property, now that Judge Sanders has determined that the Presbytery’s decision must be respected and enforced. – 2 – 1. Background. A majority of the NPC’s members voted in January 2017 to break away from the PCUSA and affiliate instead with the Evangelical Covenant Church. The Presbytery of Boston is the governing body for all PCUSA member churches in this area. It determined that the loyal Presbyterian members of the NPC are the true church, and that the break-away majority were no longer members of the NPC and had no power to take “any action purporting to affect the ownership, possession, use or status of the church property” or to change NPC’s name. The break-away majority, led by the Defendants, ignored these directions, changed the sign outside the church building to read “Newton Covenant Church,” and has occupied, kept possession, and been controlling use of all church property. The NPC and the Presbytery of Boston then brought this suit, seeking declaration “that the ecclesiastical determination of the Presbytery regarding the true NPC and who among its members is entitled to the use and control over the NPC […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - March 1, 2018 at 1:56 am

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