Ferguson v. MacLean [Supreme Court of Canada 1930 S.C.R. 630] summarize precedent legislation to The United Church of Canada by accepting that prior to union congregation properties of the Presbyterian Church in Canada belonged to the congregation and not the denomination, and four of five judges give opinion that after union congregation properties of the former Presbyterian Church in Canada continue to belong to the congregation and not the denomination:
Anglin C.J.C (Rinfret J. concurring) "We are, therefore, of the opinion that, there having been no meeting of the congregation of St. James Presbyterian Church, regularly called for the purpose of giving consent under s. 6, and the provisions of ss. 3 and 4 of the Provincial Act therefore not applying to its property, or to any part thereof, because excluded by s. 6, such property continues vested in the Trustees, who hold it for the benefit of that congregation, as it was prior to the 10th of June, 1925, and did not pass under sections 3 and 4, to the United Church of Canada." [1930 S.C.R. 646]
Newcombe J. "Unless the congregation consent, the property which it holds, in the words of the statute, solely for its own benefit, and in which its denomination has no right or interest, must remain where it was when the Union became effective, namely, with the congregation, and its consent is entirely discretionary." [1930 S.C.R. 659]
Lamont J. "It therefore seems clear that in those cases to which section 6 applies it was the legislative intention that the congregational property should not be vested in the United Church or brought under the terms of the Model Deed unless and until the congregation by a proper vote consented thereto. No consent being given in this case, the congregational property, in my opinion, (and I state my conclusions merely) is held by the trustees thereof solely for the benefit of the congregation of St. James Church. That congregation, however, entered the Union and became a congregation of the United Church. In my opinion that does not affect its right to its property. By entering the Union it did not lose its identity (See Preamble to Dominion Act)." [1930 S.C.R. 662]
The United Church of Canada v. Anderson [Provincial Court 1991 2 O.R. (3rd) 304] indicates the church initiated action against the Dover Centre Pastoral Charge after the latter asked the church to sell or transfer their church property to them for a nominal consideration. The resulting decision with respect to properties brought into the union by a congregation of the former Presbyterian Church in Canada made reference only to the minority opinion of Ferguson v. MacLean, "The words 'solely for its own benefit' must, of necessity, exclude the possibility of any other beneficiary. This is the view taken by Duff J. in referring to comparable United Church and Presbyterian Church legislation in New Brunswick: 'I think that condition excludes any other beneficiary, contingent or not' (Ferguson v. MacLean,  S.C.R. 630,  1 D.L.R. 61, at p. 651 S.C.R.)".
Without reference to the majority opinion of Ferguson v. MacLean that after union congregation properties of the former Presbyterian Church in Canada continue to belong to the congregation and not the denomination, the United Church of Canada obtained the decision "Accordingly, I conclude that these lands do not fall under the s. 6 exception and do not escape the provisions of s. 4" and wrongfully seized certain properties belonging to the Dover Centre congregation.
The above decision and its subsequent circulation within the church, while it may fall within the practice of law, does not meet "the imperative of justice, which, as a measure of faithfulness, must not only be done but also be seen to be done" [Manual 065(b)]. With respect to the residential schools question the church has chosen justice as differentiated from the practice of law; one might expect the same with respect to property questions.
summary of Ferguson v. MacLean and The United Church of Canada v. Anderson
Congregational Board of Trustees Handbook [copyright, see pp. 15-18]
summary of reversionary interests [without reference to Ferguson v. MacLean]
summary of precedent legislation to The United Church of Canada
full text Acts of Parliament
full text Ferguson v. MacLean
full text The United Church of Canada v. Anderson