174 P. 1118 (Colo. 1918), 8967, Baptist City Mission Soc. of Denver v. People's Tabernacle Congregational Church of Denver

Docket Nº:8967.
Citation:174 P. 1118, 64 Colo. 574
Opinion Judge:HILL, J.
Party Name:BAPTIST CITY MISSION SOC. OF DENVER v. PEOPLE'S TABERNACLE CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH OF DENVER.
Attorney:Henry E. May and Henry B. Babb, both of Denver, for plaintiff in error. Thomas H. Hood and Murray & Ingersoll, all of Denver, for defendant in error.
Judge Panel:BAILEY and ALLEN, JJ., concur.
Case Date:July 01, 1918
Court:Supreme Court of Colorado
 
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Page 1118

174 P. 1118 (Colo. 1918)

64 Colo. 574

BAPTIST CITY MISSION SOC. OF DENVER

v.

PEOPLE'S TABERNACLE CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH OF DENVER.

No. 8967.

Supreme Court of Colorado

July 1, 1918

         Error to District Court, City and County of Denver; John A. Perry, Judge.

         Suit by the People's Tabernacle Congregational Church of Denver against the Baptist City Mission Society of Denver. Judgment for plaintiff, and defendant brings error. Affirmed.

         Henry E. May and Henry B. Babb, both of Denver, for plaintiff in error.

         Thomas H. Hood and Murray & Ingersoll, all of Denver, for defendant in error.

         HILL, J.

         This controversy is between two religious corporations representing different religious denominations. It involves the ownership of what is called the People's Tabernacle in the city of Denver. It appears that in 1884 the defendant in error was organized as the People's Tabernacle Congregational Church of Denver, and thus continued up to the time of this controversy. As per its name and articles of faith, it was understood to be what is termed a Congregational[64 Colo. 575] church or society. It affiliated with the others of that denomination, and for a great many years received funds from the Congregational Home Missionary Society. In 1900 it acquired the land in controversy and erected a church edifice thereon. The funds received for the purchase of other lots and buildings formerly owned by this society, as well as for these lots, and the construction of the building thereon, were secured, some from its members, but principally by public donations through the efforts of its former pastor, Rev. T. A. Uzzell, who devoted over a quarter of a century to the work carried on by this organization. There is testimony tending to show that, while many of those who made the largest contributions thus gave to him at his solicitation upon account of their appreciation of his work and their confidence in him, without regard to the denominational character of his church, and without any strings upon it, that is, as to how he or the organization was to use it, it was likewise shown that during the period in which practically all these funds were raised he was generally known and understood to be a Congregational minister, and that his church, while somewhat on the missionary order, was likewise recognized and understood to be a Congregational church. The record further discloses that under his pastorship the church or mission prospered and did much good in its community, and that at the time of his death, 1910, it was in a prosperous and healthy condition, both spiritually and financially, that it then had about $1,700 in its treasury, that the church property was of a value of about $50,000 and was clear of incumbrance.

         The record discloses that, after Parson Uzzell passed away, dissension arose among the membership of the church, occasioned apparently by inability to raise money, with the result that thereafter, at a meeting purported to be called for that purpose and by a vote of the membership present, being 64 for and 58 against, a deed was authorized to be executed for the property to the Baptist City Mission Society, which it is conceded is a part of the [64 Colo. 576] religious organization known as the Baptist denomination. This deed contains certain conditions. One was that the Baptist societies would pay all the debts of the Tabernacle Church, which then had reached about $700, and also a special improvement tax against the property of about $1,700. Other clauses provided for membership under certain conditions of the members of the church in the Baptist Society. It also, under certain conditions, permitted a resale of the property. The result of its conditions as a whole permitted of its entire future control by the Baptist Church and of that creed and faith. Protests were made by many of the minority who were present at the meeting. Later 82 members of the church signed a written protest. This was ignored, the conveyance made, possession given, and the property turned over to the new organization. This suit was brought to have the deed declared void, for its cancellation, etc. Trial was to the court,...

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