CHURCH PROPERTY REVERSION

Denominational church property reverts to the denomination if the local church ceases to exist or becomes no longer viable.  That is because most denominations include reversionary clauses in their organizational documents.  Local churches often also have such reversionary clauses in their organizational documents.  Not all deeds to property contain reversionary clauses.

In Central/Southern Illinois Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America v Trinity Lutheran Church of Kankakee, 2021 IL App 3d 190292-U, the appellate court affirmed summary judgment in favor of the denomination under the organizational document reversionary clause even though the property deed contained no reversionary clause.  The membership of the local church had dwindled to a dozen and the denomination had provided $400,000 in subsidies.  When a member of the local church changed the locks on the building and locked out the pastor appointed by the denomination, and rented the building to another church, the denomination invoked the reversionary clauses in the organizational documents.

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