Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Home / Courts / N.C. Court of Appeals / Real Property – Constitutional – First Amendment – Church Property – Neutral Principles 

Real Property – Constitutional – First Amendment – Church Property – Neutral Principles 

This dispute is between the Greater North Carolina Jurisdiction Church of God in Christ, Inc. (GNCJ), and the plaintiff-church, which bought land and built a church on it with no funding from the GNCJ or the national Church of God in Christ. The defendant-trustees deeded the church’s property to the GNCJ. The trial court followed First Amendment jurisprudence when it looked to the Official Manual with the Doctrines and Disciplines of the Church of God in Christ to determine that the trustee defendants were not, in fact, constituent members of plaintiff’s governing body when they executed the deed to the GNCJ. 

We affirm judgment for plaintiff. 

Defendants lodged a general objection to the testimony of “all witnesses” called to testify on plaintiff’s behalf, including any “natural persons.” The trial court overruled the objection. 

A general objection, if overruled, typically does not entitle a party to appellate review thereof unless there is no possible purpose for which the proffered evidence could have been admissible. This is not such a case. It is beyond cavil that religious associations may sue and be sued as entities unto themselves without the inclusion of individual party-plaintiffs, and that clergy and members of churches may testify in such cases without themselves being parties to the action. 

Defendants’ decision not to present any evidence at trial leaves the record bereft of any evidence contradicting plaintiff’s allegation that Truth Temple “is the legal name under which the church intends to continue worshiping and meeting in the future[,]” other than the trustee defendants’ general denial of this allegation in their unverified answer. Nor is there any evidence in the record to support defendants’ argument that the trustee defendants were, in fact, trustees of plaintiff or, for that matter, of Truth Temple Church of God in Christ, Inc. (noted in the caption as plaintiff’s former name)—if that is, in fact, a distinct entity. And as there is no evidence in the record to support the contention that the trustee defendants had any legal authority to execute the deed on behalf of either plaintiff or Truth Temple Church of God in Christ, Inc. Defendants have no basis upon which to challenge the trial court’s judgment. 


Truth Temple v. Word Proclaimed Church of God in Christ, Inc. (Lawyers Weekly No. 012-314-22, 18 pp.) (Valerie Zachary, J.) Appealed from Pitt County Superior Court (Marvin Blount, J.) Christopher Edwards for plaintiff; Natarlin Best for defendants. 2022-NCCOA-486 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *