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APPEAL HOLLAND UNIVERSAL LIFE CHURCH LOVE AND REV. ROBERT B. GRAHAM (11/21/78)

decided: November 21, 1978.

IN RE: APPEAL OF THE HOLLAND UNIVERSAL LIFE CHURCH OF LOVE AND REV. ROBERT B. GRAHAM, SR., PASTOR AND ASSOCIATE PASTOR DANIEL J. CALLAHAN FROM THE BUCKS COUNTY BOARD OF ASSESSMENT APPEALS. COUNTY TAX PARCEL NO. 31-43-56. HOLLAND UNIVERSAL LIFE CHURCH OF LOVE, REV. ROBERT B. GRAHAM, SR., PASTOR AND ASSOCIATE PASTOR DANIEL J. CALLAHAN, APPELLANTS


Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County in case of In Re: Appeal of the Holland Universal Life Church of Love and Rev. Robert B. Graham, Sr., Pastor, and Associate Pastor Daniel J. Callahan from the Bucks County Board of Assessment Appeals, County Tax Parcel No. 31-43-56, No. 77-6195, 04-6.

COUNSEL

Rev. Robert B. Graham, Sr., appellant, for himself.

Donald B. McCoy and Robert L. White, with them Robert C. Steiger, for appellees.

Judges Wilkinson, Jr., DiSalle and MacPhail, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Wilkinson, Jr.

Author: Wilkinson

[ 38 Pa. Commw. Page 530]

This is an appeal from an order affirming the denial by the Bucks County Board of Assessment Appeals

[ 38 Pa. Commw. Page 531]

(Board) of an application for tax exemption for the dwelling house and lot of Robert B. Graham, Sr. (hereinafter appellant) and his family on the ground the premises were being used as "a church for religious services and meetings."

The subject property of this appeal was acquired by appellant and his wife by deed in 1962. From the record it appears that at no time since acquisition of the property has it ceased to serve as the residence of appellant and his family. Events commencing sometime in late 1976 or early 1977 culminated in appellant's March 7, 1977 application for exemption under Section 202(a)(1) of The Fourth to Eighth Class County Assessment Law (Law),*fn1 Act of May 21, 1943, P.L. 571, as amended, 72 P.S. § 5453.202(a)(1).

On April 14, 1977 appellant was notified by mail of the Board's denial of his application. Appellant requested and on May 31, 1977 was afforded a courtesy hearing at which his application was again denied. Following affirmance of the Board's determination by the common pleas court, appellant instituted the present appeal.

Appellant conducts "services" in his home for varying numbers of persons. Although the lengthy

[ 38 Pa. Commw. Page 532]

    record examines in repetitive detail the nature of the "church" both physically and spiritually, the substantive content and regularity of the "services," and the mechanics of appellant church's connection with its mother organization, we think the controlling aspect of the case concerns the proper application of the statutory exemption relied upon by appellant. Accordingly we take no position on the ...


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