Friday, April 14, 2017

Milestones: Korean Philadelphia Presbyterian Church v. Cal. Presbytery, 77 Cal. App. 4th 1069 (Cal. Ct. App. 2000)


Plaintiff Korean American church obtained a preliminary injunction against the defendant presbytery, and the presbytery appealed. The plaintiff church had fired a pastor and installed a new one. The fired pastor complained to the presbytery, and in turn, the church severed its relationship with the presbytery. Thereafter, the plaintiff obtained an injunction against the presbytery prohibiting it and persons affiliated with it from coming onto the church property or disturbing the church's worship or business meetings. Defendant appealed.

The appellate court dissolved the injunction, finding that much of the terms of the injunction were intended to reach the fired pastor, who was not a party to the litigation. The court also found that the terms of the injunction were overbroad, to a point that it may have prohibited congregants who supported the ousted pastor from speaking up.


Inter-church squabble at a Korean American church! For those growing up in such a church, it is a familiar sight--although few perhaps get as ugly as this one.

The court's opinion tries its best to avoid entangling itself with the actual relationship between the church and the presbytery, repeatedly pointing out that it would not adjudicate issues arising from that point. But one can plainly observe that even by adjudicating what the court considered to be peripheral issues, it is affecting the relationship between the church and its governing body.

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