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JURISDICTION & ECCLESIASTICAL MATTERS - ST. UNION BAPTIST CHURCH, INC. V. HOWARD

St. Union Baptist Church, Inc. v. Howard, [Ms. 1141132, 1141212, May 13, 2016] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2016). The Supreme Court holds that a congregation’s selection and continued employment of its pastor are spiritual and ecclesiastical matters in which a state court may not interfere without violating federal and state constitutional provisions. Ms. *16-20, citing Williams v. Jones, 258 Ala. 59, 66, 67, 61 So. 2d 101, 107-08 (1952); In re Galilee Baptist Church, 279 Ala. 393, 394, 186 So. 2d 102, 103 (1966); Odoms v. Woodall, 246 Ala. 427, 429, 20 So. 2d 849, 851 (1945); McGlathery v. Richardson, 944 So. 2d 968, 977 (Ala. Civ. App. 2006) (Murdock, J., concurring specially); and Abyssinia Missionary Baptist Church v. Nixon, 340 So. 2d 746, 748 (Ala. 1976).

However, a pastor’s claims against a church corporation and the church’s deacons asserting conversion, breach of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment, breach of contract, replevin, conspiracy, and seeking an accounting of church funds are not ecclesiastical issues that a court lacks jurisdiction to consider. Ms. *20-24, citing McClendon v. Pugh, 49 So. 3d 1238, 1239 (Ala. Civ. App. 2010); Abyssinia Missionary Baptist Church v. Nixon, supra, 340 So. 2d at 748; and Williams v. Jones, 258 Ala. 59, 61 So. 2d 101 (1952).

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