Arguing Over Ardmore Church

1 decade 1 year 10 months ago Monday, December 04 2006 Dec 4, 2006 Monday, December 04, 2006 8:25:01 PM CST December 04, 2006 in News

With no indoor plumbing, no furnace and no congregation, it may be hard to fathom an argument over an abandoned church.

"I want you all to go home," Arnie Shearer said. "This deal has gone on and on, and it's over. It's been to court and it's done."

But it's not done, at least not for seven more years, because that's how long it will take for Arnie Shearer to own the land through what's called adverse possession.

"To get title to someone's land by adverse possession, you have to posses the land for 10 years and you have to do it in the right way," said Dale Whitman, University of Missouri law professor. "And, as Judge Grimm says, one of the elements in the right way, you have to do it both without permission to be there and under a claim of right."

Shearer has been around the church for many years, but it wasn't until the previous caretaker's death in 2003 that Shearer been considered the building's prime caretaker. Three years ago is also when the Board of Trustees of the Missouri United Methodist Church granted Kathy and Sonny Langdon rights to the building.

"There are a lot of children who have basically slipped through the cracks of organized religion," Kathy Langdon said. "They had their little buckets and mops, they were ready to go in and clean up the place and have a Sunday school and church."

The Langdons technically own the building because of the deed from the Methodist Church, but it would take another judgment to order Shearer off the land. That's why when Target 8 went to see the church, the Langdons and Shearer disagreed about who could stay. There was so much confusion, the sheriff asked everyone to leave because even he can't decide who owns the land.

However, Shearer lives next door and owns about 40 acres surrounding the church's half-acre lot. Unless the Langdons can persuade a judge to order him off the property before his seven years are up, they can't take possession.

"Even though he has no claim here, we can't step outside the law and actually remove him," Kathy Langdon added. "So we'll have to go through the legal steps as far as we can until we get something settled definitely."

The Langdons said they can't afford the costs of going to an appeals court, but they will start a fund-raising campaign and continue rallying support. Shearer said he's going to stick around until his remaining 7 years are up.

Kathy Langdon said it's unethical for the Macon county prosecuting attorney to represent Shearer in the case as a private client. A judge denied both of Langdon's motions to disqualify the prosecutor as Shearer's lawyer and to appoint a special prosecutor.

Kathy's husband, Sonny, hopes to be the pastor of the re-opened church. Shearer said there are several other nearby churches, plus an inactive Baptist Church less than a mile away. He thinks this one is beyond repair and it would be cheaper to build a new one.[

If you have a problem or concern you would like Target 8 to investigate, call 573-884-6397 or emai Target 8 at komu.com.

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