MORTGAGE OF CHURCH PROPERTY

THE JUDICIAL COUNCIL OF

THE AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL ZION CHURCH

IN THE MATTER OF

THE PETITION OF TERI CARLYLE-TAYLOR 

DECISION No. 2017-38

This matter is before The Judicial Council by a petition filed by Teri Carlyle-Taylor (hereinafter referred to as Petitioner), a member in good standing of Kyles Temple A.M.E. Zion Church, Vallejo, CA; California Annual Conference, from the Bay Cities District of the Western Episcopal District. The Petitioner requests clarification and declaratory judgment regarding whether the Chairperson of the Trustee Board and the Pastor of another church can legally take out a loan on a church without the approval of the membership.      

  

JURISDICTION 

 

The Judicial Council shall not have original jurisdiction, since decisions are declaratory and final in the interim of the General Conference. The Book of Discipline of The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (The Discipline), Paragraph 343, Article II (b), (2016).  

 

DUTIES 

 

To hear and make declaratory judgments when petitioned to do so when any law is subject to more than one interpretation or any paragraph in The Discipline is of doubtful meaning.   Any person in good and regular standing in The A.M.E. Zion Church can petition The Judicial Council for such a judgment.  The Council's decision is final unless revised by the General Conference. The Discipline, ¶ 344, Art. III (b), 2012.   

 

FACTS OF THE CASE AS ALLEGED BY THE PETITIONER 

 

The Petitioner alleges the following as facts: 

 

  1. During the month of May, it was discovered that on March 23, 2017, Dr. Sheila Quintana and Rev. Jawwad Love (Pastor of Greater Cooper A. M. E. Zion Church in Oakland, CA) signed for a $500,000 loan against Kyles Temple; 

 

  1. The loan was not approved by the former Pastor, Trustee Board, Steward Board or the congregation; 

 

  1. Dr. Sandra Davis signed a resolution purporting to be the church secretary of Kyles Temple A.M.E. Zion Church, authorizing Dr. Sheila Quintana, Trustee Chairperson, to execute all loan documents, including a Note and Deed of Trust on behalf of Kyles Temple A.M.E. Zion Church in order to secure the loan in question in the amount of $500,000.00; 

 

  1. At the time, Dr. Sandra Davis claimed to be the church secretary of Kyles Temple A.M.E. Zion Church. However, she was the Western Episcopal District Director (sic) and in fact a member of Hillard Chapel in Stockton, CA; 

 

  1. At the time, Dr. Sandra Davis represented she was the church secretary in fact Lynda Daniels was the secretary of Kyles Temple A.M.E. Zion Church of Vallejo, CA. 

 

QUESTIONS PRESENTED 

Whether the Chair of the Trustee Board and the Pastor of another church can legally take out a loan on a church without the approval of the membership? 

DECISION   

 It is a well-settled law of the church that the property of a local church cannot be disposed of or mortgaged outside of the safeguards established by the General Conference and set forth in The Discipline, whereby an established four-prong test must be completely satisfied before the property of a local church can be disposed of by sale or otherwise. The applicable section of the The Discipline is stated as follows: 

The Trustees shall not in any case whatsoever dispose of church property by sale or otherwise without the consent of the majority of the members in full connection, expressed by vote in a meeting call for that purpose, of which due notice has been given. Provided, however, that no congregation, Pastor, nor trustee board or agents of the congregation shall mortgage or sell any property of The A. M. E. Zion Church without confirmation of the Quarterly Conference and written consent of the Bishop of the district all the Annual Conference. 

The Discipline, Para. 398, (2016).   

Utilizing the four-prong test regarding the actions of Trustees of the local church to dispose of church property by sale or otherwise, we have reviewed all applicable documentsi  submitted in this matter and we find that the Board of Trustees of Kyles Temple A.M. E. Zion Church at no time held a Trustee meeting to consider obtaining a mortgage on the church property in the amount of $500,000. Our finding is supported by the minutes of Trustee meetings held on February 13, 2017, March 6, 2017 and April 10, 2017 as well as Answers to Interrogatories from Trustee Board member, Ronald L. Baker, that stated in his Answer to Interrogatories that no meeting was held and no vote taken to mortgage said property. We also find that Dr. Sandra Davis was not a member of Kyles Temple A.M. E. Zion Church on March 14, 2017 when she signed a Kyles Temple Board Resolution claiming to be the Church Secretary. We find that the Resolution signed by Dr. Sandra Davis granting authority to Dr. Sheila Quintana was not supported by a vote of the Board of Trustees at any meeting prior to March 14, 2017. We additionally find that the action of Dr. Sheila Quintana did not satisfy the first step of the four-prong test set forth in The Discipline, Para 398, (2016) and the Laws of the State of California that govern the actions of Trustees of Non-Profit Religious Corporations.  

Secondly, utilizing the four-prong test, we find that the action to obtain a mortgage on the church property in the amount of $500,000 by Dr. Sheila Quintana as Board Chairperson of Kyles Temple A.M.E. Zion Church was done without the consent of a majority of the members in full connection; expressed by vote in a meeting called for that purpose, of which due notice had been given. Our finding is based on the fact that no minutes of any church meeting held for that purpose were presented.  Additionally, the actual church secretary, Linda Daniels, the Pastor at the time of the transactions in question, Reverend Dr. David Miller, Ronald L. Baker and Petitioner Teri Carlyle-Taylor, deny that a membership meeting was called by the Pastor to discuss and vote to give their consent to the Board of Trustees. Our finding is also supported by the minutes of the Kyles Temple A.M.E. Zion Church Fourth Quarterly Conference held on May 22, 2017, wherein Dr. Miller as Pastor of Kyles Temple A.M.E. Zion Church stated on the record, “that he did not approve any loan on the church.”  We also find that it was at the Fourth Quarterly Conference that the officers and members of Kyles Temple A.M.E. Zion Church became aware of the loan in question through the discovery of a second Deed of Trust filed and recorded on the church property. 

Thirdly, the four-prong test set forth in The Discipline requires confirmation of the Quarterly Conference before any congregation, Pastor, trustee board or agent of the congregation shall mortgage or sell any property of The A.M.E. Zion Church. Our review of the minutes from the Third and Fourth Quarterly Conferences held on March 14, 2017 and May 22, 2017 do not support confirmation of the Quarterly Conference of Kyles Temple A.M.E. Zion Church to give authority to Dr. Sheila Quintana as Board Chairperson to execute the documents in question to obtain a $500,000 mortgage on the church property. Our findings are also supported by Answers to Interrogatories sent from The Judicial Council and based on no response to Interrogatories to Dr. Quintana and Dr. Sandra Davis.ii 

Fourthly, any sale or mortgage of church property by a congregation, Pastor, trustee board or agent of the congregation requires written consent of the Bishop of the Episcopal District or the Annual Conference. We have not been provided any written consent from Bishop Staccato Powell, Presiding Prelate of the Western Episcopal District, in whose jurisdiction the property in question is located. Based upon the foregoing, we find that the fourth step required in the four-prong test to have written approval of the Bishop of the District or Annual Conference has not been satisfied.   

Therefore, we find that the four-pronged test has not been satisfied, i.e., (1) that the $500,000 mortgage obtained through the action of Dr. Sheila Quintana on behalf of Kyles Temple A.M.E. Zion Church was in violation of The Discipline, Para. 398, (2016); (2) There was no meeting nor vote of the Board of Trustees that granted to Dr. Quintana authority to act on behalf of Kyles Temple A.M.E. Zion in obtaining a mortgage; (3) The alleged vote and Resolution of the Kyles Temple A.M.E. Zion Church Board was signed by Dr. Sandra Davis who was not the secretary nor a member of Kyles Temple A.M.E. Zion Church. The loan in question was obtained without the consent of the majority of the members in full connection, expressed by vote in a meeting called for that purpose, of which due notice had been given. The $500,000 mortgage on the church property of Kyles Temple A.M.E. Zion Church was obtained without the consent of the Quarterly Conference; and (4) There was no written consent from Bishop Staccato Powell to allow the action of Dr. Sheila Quintana as Board Chairperson of the Board of Trustees to execute documents that encumbered Kyles Temple A.M.E. Zion Church property in an amount of $500,000.  

Finally, we can find no facts or evidence to support Petitioner’s claim that the Pastor of another church was involved with the loan in question involving Kyles Temple A.M. E. Zion Church.  It appeared that the Pastor in question executed loan documents on behalf of another church, not Kyles Temple. 

Therefore, it is the law of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, that no congregation, Pastor, nor trustee board or agents of the congregation shall mortgage or sell any property of The A. M. E. Zion Church without satisfying the four-prong test outlined above.  

 

BY ORDER OF THE JUDICIAL COUNCIL THIS 3rd DAY OF NOVEMBER, 2017. 

All concur. 

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