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Redemption Bible College v. International Pentecostal Holiness Church

Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawaii

July 23, 2013

REDEMPTION BIBLE COLLEGE; HIS HIGHEST PRAISE PENTECOSTAL HOLINESS CHURCHES, INC., a dissolved Hawai'i non-profit corporation; and PHILLIP ELLSWORTH, PAMELA YUEN and CHRISTOPHER YUEN, in their capacities as Trustees, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
THE INTERNATIONAL PENTECOSTAL HOLINESS CHURCH, an Oklahoma Corporation; and RONALD W. CARPENTER, SR., Defendants-Appellees, and JOHN DOES 1-10; JANE DOES 1-10; DOE CORPORATIONS 1-10; DOE PARTNERSHIPS 1-10; DOE LIMITED LIABILITY PARTNERSHIPS 1-10; DOE LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANIES; and DOE UNINCORPORATED ENTITIES 1-10, Defendants.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION IN WEST'S HAWAI'I REPORTS AND PACIFIC REPORTER

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FIRST CIRCUIT (CIVIL NO. 07-1-0825) .

Burt L. Snyder, for Plaintiffs-Appellants

David A. Nakashima, Zachary A. McNish, J.D. Ferry (Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing) for Defendants-Appellees

Nakamura, C.J., and Foley and Leonard, JJ.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiffs-Appellants Redemption Bible College (RBC), His Highest Praise Pentecostal Holiness Churches, Inc., a dissolved Hawai'i non-profit corporation (HHPPHC), and Phillip Ellsworth, Pamela Yuen, and Christopher Yuen in their capacities as Trustees (collectively, "Plaintiffs") appeal from the "Judgment for Possession as to 361 N. Kainalu Drive, Kailua, Hawaii 96734" (Judgment for Possession) filed in the Circuit Court of the First Circuit (Circuit Court).[1] The Judgment for Possession was entered against RBC and in favor of Defendant-Appellee The International Pentecostal Holiness Church, an Oklahoma Corporation (IPHC).

This appeal involves a dispute over the ownership of real property located at 361 N. Kainalu Drive, Kailua, Hawai'i (361 Property). The Circuit Court's Judgment for Possession was based on its grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendants-Appellees IPHC and Ronald W. Carpenter, Sr. (Carpenter), (collectively, "Defendants") on their claim that IPHC, and not HHPPHC, held valid title to the 361 Property.[2]

On appeal, Plaintiffs contend that the Circuit Court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants because there were genuine issues of material fact regarding whether IPHC or HHPPHC has valid title to the 361 Property. Plaintiffs also contend that the Circuit Court erred in denying their cross-motion for summary judgment, in which they asserted that title to the 361 Property had been improperly conveyed to IPHC. As explained below, we conclude that there were genuine issues of material fact concerning whether IPHC or HHPPHC has title to the 361 Property and therefore the Circuit Court erred in granting summary judgment and issuing the Judgment for Possession in favor of IPHC.

BACKGROUND

I.

A.

IPHC is an international church organized under and governed by the "Manual of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church" (Manual), which serves as IPHC's constitution. The three main organizational bodies of IPHC are the local church (church), the quadrennial conference (conference), and the General Conference. The General Conference is the highest body in the IPHC, and the conferences function as state-level organizations comprised of several local churches and ministers. When a local church is established in an area where no conference has been established, the new church becomes, by default, part of a conference known as the Home Missions Conference. The Manual specifies that all property held by the local churches and conferences are held in trust for IPHC.

B.

In 1968, IPHC acquired title to property located at 349/355 N. Kainalu Drive, Kailua, Hawai'i {349/355 Property) and began using it as the site of a local IPHC church, The Good Shepherd Pentecostal Holiness Church (Good Shepherd Church). The Good Shepherd Church was IPHC's first presence in Hawai'i.

In 1976, the 361 Property, which adjoins the' 349/355 Property, went up for sale. Because IPHC had a desire to establish an independent Christian school, IPHC (under its prior name, Pentecostal Holiness Church) entered into an agreement of sale to purchase the 361 Property from Carden, Inc. (Carden). The sales price was $210, 000 with a $45, 000 down payment. IPHC used loan proceeds from a mortgage of the 349/355 Property for the down payment to purchase the 361 Property. IPHC did not make any payments on that mortgage. Carden had been using the 361 Property to operate the Hawaii Child Centers (HCC), and IPHC agreed to lease the 361 Property back to HCC. The ...


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