THE STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

SUPREME COURT

 

In Case No. 99-421, East Coast Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church of America, Inc. v. Town of Swanzey, the court on December 18, 2001, made the following order:

On the plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration of the court’s July 26, 2001 decision and motion for leave to brief constitutional issue raised by opinion, the court orders that the slip opinion dated July 26, 2001 be modified as follows. In all other respects, the motions are denied.

1. The word "services" in the fifth sentence of the fourth paragraph on page 2 of the slip opinion is deleted and replaced by the word "programs," so that said paragraph as modified shall state as follows:

Pilgrim Pines’ functions can be divided into two main categories. First, during the summer months (eight to ten weeks per year), Pilgrim Pines is host to weeklong "camp programs" for families and adults. These programs have Christian-based themes and are run by pastors of the Church’s national clergy. The programs include worship services, Bible study groups and recreation opportunities when the programs are not in session. Guests are informed that they are expected to participate in the programs during their stay at Pilgrim Pines. Guest registration check-in forms require indication of church affiliation, and approximately sixty percent of guests are members of the Church.

 

2. The first sentence of the first full paragraph on page 4 of the slip opinion, which begins with the words "The trial court ruled that for the years in question," is deleted and replaced with a new sentence, so that said paragraph as modified shall state as follows:

The trial court ruled that for the years in question, the facilities at issue should not be entitled to a charitable exemption because the Church failed to offer their use to an indefinite number of the public. We agree.

 

3. The first four full paragraphs on page 5 of the slip opinion, which begin with the words "The Church's Articles of Agreement" and end with the words "not eligible for a charitable tax exemption" are deleted and replaced by the following two paragraphs:

Based upon our review of the factual record, we hold that the Church failed to prove that the beneficiaries of Pilgrim Pines were a substantial and indefinite segment of the general public for the tax years at issue.

According to the Church, our holding in Christian Camps & Conferences stands for the proposition that properties where programs are specifically oriented to people of a certain religion are properly exempted under RSA 72:23, V. We disagree. In that case, we upheld the trial court’s conclusion that a corporation owning and operating two summer camps "oriented toward an understanding of the tenets of the Christian religion, in addition providing all of the programs of the better summer camps for young people" was a charitable organization. Christian Camps & Conferences, 118 N.H. at 353, 355. The case does not address the specific degree to which the organization served the general public or a substantial and indefinite segment of the general public. Accordingly, we affirm the decision of the trial court that the Church’s operation at Pilgrim Pines is not eligible for a charitable tax exemption.

 

BROCK, C.J., and BRODERICK, NADEAU, DALIANIS and DUGGAN, JJ., concurred.

 

Eileen Fox,
Clerk

Date of clerk’s notice of decision: December 24, 2001