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CHURCH Definition & Legal Meaning

Definition & Citations:

In Its most general sense, the religious society founded and established by Jesus Christ, to receive, preserve, and propagate his doctrines and ordinances. A body or community of Christians, united under one form of government by the profession of the same faith, and the observance of the same ritual and ceremonies. The term may denote either a society of persons who, professing Christianity, hold certain doctrines or observances which differentiate them from other like groups, and who use a common discipline, or the building in which such persons habitually assemble for public worship. Baker v. Fales, 16 Mass. 498; Tate v. Lawrence, 11 Heisk. (Tenn.) 531; In re Zinzow, 18 Misc. Rep. 053, 43 N. Y. Supp. 714; Neale v. St. Paul’s Church, 8 Gill (Md.) 116; Gaff v. Greer, 8S Ind. 122, 45 Am. Rep. 449; Josey v. Trust Co., 100 Ga. 608, 32 S. E. 628. The body of communicants gathered into church order, according to established usage in any town, parish, precinct, or religious society, established according to law, and actually connected and associated therewith for religious purposes, for the time being, is to be regarded as the church of such society, as to all questions of property depending upon that relation. Stebbins v. Jennings, 10 Pick. (Mass.) 193. A congregational church is a voluntary association of Christians united for discipline and worship, connected with, and forming a part of, some religious society, having a legal existence. Anderson v. Brock, 3 Me. 248. In English ecclesiastical law. An institution established by the law of the land in reference to religion. 3 Steph. Comm. 54. The word “church” is said to mean, in strictness, not the material fabric, but the cure of souls and the right of tithes. 1 Mod. 201.


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