N.Y. Religious Corporations Law Section 16
Property of extinct churches


Such incorporated governing body may decide that a church, parish or society in connection with it or over which it has ecclesiastical jurisdiction, has become extinct, if it has failed for two consecutive years next prior thereto, to maintain religious service according to the discipline, customs and usages of such governing body, or has had less than thirteen resident attending members paying annual pew rent, or making annual contributions towards its support, or in case of a United Methodist church, if such action have the consent of the presiding bishop and of a majority of the district superintendents of the annual conference and of the district board of church location and building of the district in which the action is contemplated, or in case of a parish of the Protestant Episcopal Church, if such parish has ceased for two consecutive years next prior thereto, to have a sufficient number of men qualified to elect or to serve as wardens and vestrymen therein, and may take possession of the temporalities and property belonging to such church, parish or religious society, and manage the same; or may, in pursuance of the provisions of law relating to the disposition of real property by religious corporations, sell or dispose of the same and apply the proceeds thereof to any of the purposes to which the property of such governing religious body is devoted, and it shall not divert such property to any other object. And for the purpose of obtaining a record title to the land and the church edifice, or other buildings thereon, by such incorporated governing body, the surviving trustee or trustees of said extinct church, or if there be no surviving trustee then a surviving member of said extinct church, may, without a consideration being paid therefor by such incorporated governing body, convey to it said land and church edifice, or other buildings thereon, subject, however, to an order of the supreme or county court based upon a petition reciting that said church has become extinct; the names of its surviving trustee or trustees, and the names of its members, who must have given their consent to the making of said conveyance. Upon the recital of said facts in said petition the court shall have jurisdiction to grant an order allowing said conveyance to be made without a consideration; and should there be no surviving members, as well as no surviving trustees of said extinct church, said petition may be made by an officer of such incorporated governing body, in which event the court, upon a recital of said fact, shall have jurisdiction to appoint a suitable person as trustee for the purpose of making said conveyance. And in case of a Reformed Church of America, Dutch Reformed Church, or Reformed Dutch Church in the United States of America or the United Reformed Dutch and Lutheran Church of America or a parish of the Protestant Episcopal Church, a Universalist Church or Society, an incorporated United Methodist Church, or an incorporated church of the United Church of Christ, or an incorporated Congregational Christian Church, should either of such surviving members or such surviving trustee of said extinct church refuse to act and sign said petition after request by an officer of said governing body of said last-named churches personally made by such officer, then said petition may be made by an officer of such incorporated governing body and in that event the court shall have jurisdiction and may appoint a suitable person as trustee for the purpose of making said conveyance. And in the case of said last-named Reformed churches, or of a parish of the Protestant Episcopal Church, a Universalist Church or Society, an incorporated United Methodist Church, or of an incorporated church of the United Church of Christ or of an incorporated Congregational Christian Church, the trustees of any such extinct church, the treasurer thereof or any person acting in either of said capacities may be required to show cause before the supreme court at a special term thereof held in the judicial district in which said church shall be located why they should not be required to give an account of all moneys and property of said church which they shall have in their hands or under their control and in case of their failure to show such causes they be required to account before said court for all the properties and moneys of the said church which shall be in their hands or under their control, and after the payment of all the claims against such church, if any, and the expenses of such proceeding, if it shall further appear that none of such property in the hands of said persons is required for the further support or maintenance of said church, said money and proceeds thereof shall be directed to be paid and turned over to said governing religious body to apply to the purposes to which the property of such governing body is devoted. An application or such order to show cause shall be made by a verified petition, which petition may be made by said governing body of said church or any officer thereof. Where a proceeding is instituted under this section for the sale of the real property of an extinct religious corporation, a compliance with paragraphs five, six, seven and eight of section five hundred eleven of the not-for-profit corporation law shall be unnecessary, and such proceedings shall be in all respects valid without a compliance with said subdivisions. Any gift, legacy, devise, annuity, or other benefit to a United Methodist Church that accrues or becomes available after said church has become extinct shall be and become the property of the trustees of the annual conference within whose jurisdiction the said extinct church was located. Any gift, legacy, devise, annuity or other benefit to a Universalist Church or Society that accrues or becomes available after said church or society has become extinct shall be and become the property of the New York State Convention of Universalists, as the governing religious body of every active, extinct or disbanded Universalist church or society within the bounds of the State of New York. The New York Conference of the United Church of Christ, Inc. shall be deemed the governing religious body of every extinct or disbanded church of the United Church of Christ and of any extinct or disbanded Congregational Christian Church which is a member of the New York Conference of the United Church of Christ, Inc. within the meaning of this section. The provisions of this section shall not apply to any Presbyterian church in connection with the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Source: Section 16 — Property of extinct churches, https://www.­nysenate.­gov/legislation/laws/RCO/16 (updated Sep. 22, 2014; accessed Jun. 15, 2024).

3
Filing and recording certificates of incorporation of religious corporations
4
Property of unincorporated society transferred by its incorporation
4‑A
Age qualifications of voters
5
General powers and duties of trustees of religious corporations
5‑A
Investment of funds
5‑B
Any investment of the funds of any religious corporation heretofore made by the trustees thereof shall not be deemed to have been restric...
6
Acquisition of property by religious corporations for branch institutions
7
Acquisition of property by religious corporations for cemetery purposes
7‑A
Deeds for cemetery purposes
8
Lot owners’ rights
8‑A
Reacquisition of a lot, plot or part thereof by a cemetery
9
Removal of human remains from one cemetery of a religious corporation to another cemetery owned by it
10
Acquisition of property by two or more religious corporations for a common parsonage
11
Correction and confirmation of conveyances to religious corporations
12
Sale, mortgage and lease of real property of religious corporations
13
Consolidation or merger of incorporated churches
14
Judicial investigation of amount of property of religious corporations
15
Corporations with governing authority over, or advisory relations with, churches or synods, or both
15‑A
Consolidation of incorporated presbyteries
15‑B
Consolidation or merger of incorporated Presbyterian and Lutheran synods
16
Property of extinct churches
17
Property of extinct Free Baptist churches
17‑A
Property of extinct Seventh Day Baptist churches and Seventh Day Baptist religious societies
17‑B
Property of extinct Presbyterian churches in connection with the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U
17‑C
Property of Lutheran congregations
18
Dissolution of religious corporations
19
Corporations for organizing and maintaining mission churches and Sunday schools
20
Corporations for acquiring parsonages for district superintendents and camp-meeting grounds
21
Corporations for acquiring camp-meeting grounds for the Reformed Methodist denomination
21‑A
Corporations for acquiring lands for parsonage or camp-meeting purposes for the Free Methodist denomination
22
Establishing and maintaining a home for aged poor
23
Powers of churches created by special laws
24
Government of churches incorporated prior to January first, eighteen hundred and twenty-eight
25
Pastoral relation
26
Worship
27
Reservation as to Baptist churches, churches of the United Church of Christ and Congregational Christian churches
28
Electronic meetings

Accessed:
Jun. 15, 2024

Last modified:
Sep. 22, 2014

§ 16’s source at nysenate​.gov

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