GEORGE BURNS, MACK McCANN and CHARLES BARTLETT, Trustees of Park's Chapel Free Will Baptist Church, Plaintiff(s),
KINGDOM IMPACT GLOBAL MINISTRIES, INC., Defendant.
in the Court of Appeals 24 May 2016.
by Defendant from orders entered 18 December 2014 by Judge
Richard T. Brown and 19 June 2015 by Judge Tanya T.
Wallace in Cumberland County Superior Court No. 13
Yarborough, Winters & Neville, P.A., by J. Thomas
Neville, for Plaintiffs-Appellees.
H. Locus, Jr., for Defendant-Appellant.
Impact Global Ministries, Inc. ("Defendant" or
"Kingdom Impact") appeals from the 19 June 2015
order granting a motion for summary judgment in favor of
George Burns, Mack McCann, and Charles Bartlett, in their
capacity as trustees of Parks Chapel Free Will Baptist Church
(collectively "Plaintiffs"), as the rightful title
holder to several tracts of land located at 868 Amye Street
in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Defendant also appeals the
trial court's 18 December 2014 order imposing sanctions
for Defendant's failure to respond to Plaintiffs'
discovery requests. Defendant argues that Plaintiffs lacked
standing, and that the trial court erred in imposing
discovery sanctions and granting Plaintiffs' motion for
summary judgment because there existed genuine issues of
material facts. After careful review, we affirm the trial
court's discovery sanctions and summary judgment orders.
appeal arises out of the disputed ownership of real property
located at 868 Amye Street, in Fayetteville, North Carolina
("the Property"). The Property, conveyed seventy
years ago to the trustees of Free Will Baptist Church, is
comprised of several tracts of land and includes a church
sanctuary. Over the years, parishioners deeded various tracts
of land to the "Trustees of the Freewill Baptist Church
and their successors" and later to the "Trustees of
Parks Chapel Free Will Baptist Church and their
successors." The church was affiliated with the United
American Free Will Baptist Denomination (the
tracts central to this dispute, where the sanctuary is sited,
have been historically identified as Lots 12, 13, and 14
according to the plat of "Mac's Park." In 1947,
Emily McMillan conveyed Lots 13 and 14 by deed to the
trustees of Freewill Baptist Church to be used for church
purposes. In 1967, Mabel McNeill conveyed Lot 12 by deed to
the trustees of Free Will Baptist Church to be used by the
within the 1947 deed conveying Lots 13 and 14 to Free Will
Baptist Church is the following restrictive language:
TO HAVE AND TO HOLD, the aforesaid lots of land and all
privileges and appurtenances thereto belonging, to the said
parties of the second part, and their successors in office,
to their only use and behood for so long as said property is
used only for church purposes, and no longer, upon the trust,
nevertheless, that said property be held by the parties of
the second part, and their successors in office, for the sole
use, benefit, and enjoyment of said FREEWILL BAPTIST CHURCH,
its successors and assigns.
1967 deed conveying Lot 12 to Free Will Baptist Church
includes the following restrictive language:
In trust that said premises shall be used, maintained and
disposed of as a place of Divine worship for the use of the
United American Free Will Baptist Church in America, subject
to the discipline, usage, and ministerial elections of said
church, as may be authorized and declared from time to time
by the General Conference of said church and the Annual
Conference in whose bounds the premises are situated.
1984, the trustees of Free Will Baptist Church conveyed Lots
13 and 14 to the trustees of Parks Chapel Free Will Baptist
Church ("Parks Chapel") as successor to Free Will
Baptist Church. It is undisputed that the church simply
changed its name at that time. It is also undisputed that the
trustees of Free Will Baptist Church, for reasons that do not
appear in the record, did not convey title in Lot 12 to the
trustees of Parks Chapel when they conveyed Lots 13 and 14
when the church changed its name.
1999, Parks Chapel became incorporated under North Carolina
law as a registered charitable or religious nonprofit
corporation. The corporate bylaws required that the church be
governed by the Book of Discipline of the Denomination,
stating "this local church shall maintain its' [sic]
affiliation with the United American Freewill Baptist
Denomination and agrees to recognize and be governed by the
United American Freewill Baptist Discipline . . . ."
April 2009, at the conclusion of a worship service, then
acting pastor of Parks Chapel, William Thomas Ford
("Pastor Ford"), held a conference meeting to
propose withdrawing Parks Chapel from the Denomination and
the regional conference to which it was assigned, Cape Fear
Conference B (the "Conference"). The parties
submitted conflicting evidence before the trial court
regarding whether notice of the meeting was provided, who was
permitted the opportunity to vote on the withdrawal, and the
outcome of a vote held during the meeting.
later, on 8 May 2009, Pastor Ford sent a letter to the
Denomination and the Conference notifying them that Parks
Chapel was withdrawing its membership and would cease paying
February 2010, Pastor Ford signed Articles of Incorporation
for Kingdom Impact, which were filed with the North Carolina
Secretary of State's Office, declaring Kingdom Impact a
non-profit religious organization. In May 2010, Frances
Jackson, identified as a trustee of Parks Chapel, signed
Articles of Merger of Parks Chapel Freewill Baptist Church,
Inc. into Kingdom Impact Global Ministries, Inc. with the
Secretary of State's Office. The affidavit testimony
before the trial court however, challenged whether the merger
was properly voted on by the members of Parks Chapel.
2010, one month after the Articles of Merger were filed, the
Denomination appointed Nathaniel Jackson as the Interim
Pastor of Parks Chapel. The members of Parks Chapel who had
opposed the withdrawal from the Denomination continued their
affiliation with the Denomination and met for worship at ...