Update: Community Church of Paramus (NJ)

The Appellate Court of New Jersey has ruled in favor of the Metropolitan District of the C&MA in a dispute over the closure of a failing Alliance church in Paramus, New Jersey. It was the earnest desire of the district to settle this dispute in accordance with scripturally based processes of mediation and arbitration. Unfortunately, it soon be-came evident that not all parties were content to see these processes through to completion.

The closure of a church is a grievous event. However, it is sometimes necessary to take this difficult step for the good of the remaining members and the surrounding community. Assets from the Paramus Church closure will be used to plant another Alliance Church in the Paramus area.

The Metropolitan District wishes to express its heartfelt appreciation to those who offered prayerful support through this difficult process. May Christ be honored as a new church arises in the days ahead!

January 3, 2012

A Message from Dan Wetzel Regarding the Closure of the Community Church of Paramus (NJ)

Over the past few weeks, numerous stories have surfaced through both printed and Internet media channels regarding the closing of the Community Church of Paramus (NJ). However, many of the statements published are simply untrue. One story that appeared in WND online gave significant voice to those disgruntled with the The Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) and the Metropolitan District and slanted the story in a way that seemed to justify the angry, unfounded accusations of these individuals. The WND story has been reposted to Facebook and other social media outlets, causing some alarm within the C&MA and the greater body of Christ. The purpose of this release is to clarify the facts surrounding the closure of the Community Church of Paramus.

According to Bruce Terpstra, superintendent of the Metropolitan District, the District Executive Committee made a decision to close the Community Church of Paramus more than two years ago. The events precipitating the closure included

  1. the embezzlement of church funds;
  2. the absence of constitutional leadership;
  3. deficient spiritual and administrative oversight; and
  4. the assessment of the District leadership team that the church was no longer viable based on the church’s own bylaws.

The Community Church of Paramus had been affiliated with The Christian and Missionary Alliance since the mid-1960s. In 1996 the church voted unanimously to become an accredited church in The Alliance. In the years that followed, the church enjoyed a fruitful relationship with the Metropolitan District and the C&MA. By 2009, however, the church had suffered a significant decline in attendance and was experiencing financial difficulties. Over a two-month observation period, church attendance ranged from 10 to 16, including the pastor and his family. The financial desperation of the church was causing its leaders to make decisions that would encumber both the church and the District, forcing the District to close the church and thus invoke the reversion clause in accordance with constitutional procedures and regulations.

The district had offered to allow the few remaining members of the church body to continue meeting in the building as an associated church (with no direct oversight by the District) while a growing new congregation would take responsibility for the building and its cost of operations. The church refused, attempted to revise its articles to remove the reversion clause, and voted to leave The Alliance. It retained legal counsel, which advised the church’s leadership to cut all communications with The Alliance. The District also attempted to resolve the dispute by seeking binding arbitration with Christian conciliators. The church again refused. The District, still liable for the ministry and the property, had no choice but to turn to the legal system to resolve this conflict.

It is sad that the remnant of the congregation has sought to malign brothers and sisters in Christ in hopes of winning public sympathy. The truth is that the Community Church of Paramus made a conscious decision to become an accredited C&MA church, to adopt the reversion clause, to agree to the governing documents of the C&MA, and to reap the benefits of denominational community, accountability, and resourcing. When the time came that the church was no longer viable, the remnant decided it did not want to honor the previous commitment. It is even more regrettable that others have chosen to exploit this situation to make disparaging accusations against the C&MA and the Metropolitan District with neither full knowledge of the facts nor evidence to support their claims.

The Metropolitan District of the C&MA is a growing church movement that has started more than 60 churches over the past 10 years. Its mission is to make fully-devoted disciples of Christ in the metropolitan areas of New York and New Jersey, in the United States, and around the world. When a church within the district must close, its remaining resources are used for that mission alone.

The Christian and Missionary Alliance in the United States is part of a worldwide family of Christians mobilized to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) by living out the fullness of Jesus Christ in personal experience, building His Church, and carrying His light to the darkest parts of our neighborhoods and the nations (Acts 1:8).

For more information, contact Rev. Dan Wetzel, interim vice president for Church Ministries, at wetzeld@cmalliance.org.


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