Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 57. Religious and Charitable Matters; Cemeteries
Chapter 2. Church Property; Benevolent Associations and Objects
6/24/2021

§ 57-16. Property held, etc., by ecclesiastical officers.

A. How property acquired, held, transferred, etc. -- Whenever the laws, rules or ecclesiastic polity of any church or religious sect, society or denomination commits to its duly elected or appointed bishop, minister or other ecclesiastical officer, authority to administer its affairs, such duly elected or appointed bishop, minister or other ecclesiastical officer shall have power to acquire by deed, devise, gift, purchase or otherwise, any real or personal property, for any purpose authorized and permitted by its laws, rules or ecclesiastic polity, and not prohibited by the laws of Virginia, and the power to hold, improve, mortgage, sell and convey the same in accordance with such laws, rules and ecclesiastic polity, and in accordance with the laws of Virginia.

B. Transfer, removal, resignation or death of ecclesiastical officer. --

In the event of the transfer, removal, resignation or death of any such bishop, minister, or other ecclesiastical officer, the title and all rights with respect to any such property shall pass to and become vested in his duly elected or appointed successor immediately upon election or appointment, and pending election or appointment of such successor, such title and rights shall be vested in such person or persons as shall be designated by the laws, rules, or ecclesiastical polity of such church or religious sect, society or denomination.

C. Validation of deeds, etc. --

All deeds, deeds of trust, mortgages, wills or other instruments made prior to March 18, 1942, to or by a duly elected or appointed bishop, minister or other ecclesiastical officer, who at the time of the making of any such deed, deed of trust, mortgage, will or other instrument, or thereafter, had authority to administer the affairs of any church or religious sect, society or denomination under its laws, rules or ecclesiastic polity, transferring property, real or personal, of any such church or religious sect, society or denomination, are hereby ratified and declared valid. All transfers of title and rights with respect to property, prior to such date from a predecessor bishop, minister or other ecclesiastical officer who has resigned or died, or has been transferred or removed, to his duly elected or appointed successor, by the laws, rules or ecclesiastic polity of any such church or religious sect, society or denomination, either by written instruments or solely by virtue of the election or appointment of such successor, are also hereby ratified and declared valid.

D. Insufficient designation of beneficiaries or objects of trust. --

No gift, grant, bequest or devise made on or after March 18, 1942, to any such church or religious sect, society or denomination or the duly elected or appointed bishop, minister or other ecclesiastical officer authorized to administer its affairs, shall fail or be declared void for insufficient designation of the beneficiaries in, or the objects of, any trust annexed to such gift, grant, bequest or devise; but such gift, grant, bequest or devise shall be valid; provided, that whenever the objects of any such trust shall be undefined, or so uncertain as not to admit of specific enforcement by the courts of the Commonwealth, such gift, grant, bequest or devise shall be held, managed, and the principal or income appropriated, for the religious and benevolent uses of such church or religious sect, society or denomination by its duly elected or appointed bishop, minister or other ecclesiastical officer authorized to administer its affairs.

E. Rights and remedies cumulative. --

The rights created and the remedies provided in this section shall be construed as cumulative and not exclusive.

F. No implied repeal of other provisions. --

This section shall not be so construed as to effect an implied repeal of any other provisions of this chapter.

1942, p. 382; Michie Code 1942, § 38a; 1962, c. 306; 1966, c. 308; 2005, cc. 681, 772.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.