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Rupp v. Brookdale Baptist Church

Decided: July 12, 1990.

WILLIAM RUPP, AN INFANT BY AND THROUGH HIS GUARDIAN AD LITEM GEORGE RUPP AND BETTY JO RUPP, INDIVIDUALLY, PLAINTIFFS-RESPONDENTS,
v.
BROOKDALE BAPTIST CHURCH, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County.

Michels, R.s. Cohen and Brochin. The opinion of the court was delivered by Michels, P.J.A.D.

Michels

We granted defendant Brookdale Baptist Church leave to appeal from an order of the Law Division which denied its motion for summary judgment in this action brought by plaintiff William Rupp, an infant by and through his guardian ad litem George Rupp, and plaintiff Betty Jo Rupp, individually, to recover damages for personal injuries sustained by William during his participation in a day camp operated by the Church. The trial court denied the Church summary judgment because it was "not satisfied that the camp's purpose was to further religious education."

The facts are essentially uncontroverted. The Brookdale Baptist Church which is located in Bloomfield, New Jersey, was established in the 1890's and was incorporated in July, 1895. It is a not-for-profit organization, established exclusively for religious, charitable and educational purposes. According to its constitution, the Brookdale Baptist Church was created

to bear united witness to the faith of its members in the whole Bible as the inspired Word of God; to promulgate the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the faith once for all delivered to the saints; to aid in mission work and in the winning of the lost to the Lord Jesus Christ; and to build up its constituency in the most holy faith.

In 1987, the Brookdale Baptist Church organized a day camp program for grade school children called Adventure Day Camp. The purpose of the program was to integrate biblical truth into the lives of the children through formal teaching and informal activities such as crafts and games. As the camp handbook states:

The ultimate goal of Adventure Day Camp is the integration of Bible truth into the lives of campers -- Matthew 28:19-20 (discipling) and II Timothy 3:17 ("thoroughly furnished unto all good works"). Each week we design activities for both salvation and growth spiritually, emotionally and socially.

The approach is two-pronged with both formal and informal teaching. While we believe both of these are Biblical, the natural setting and extended time from 8:30 AM -- 12:30 PM, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and 8:30 AM -- 3:30 PM on Thursday and Friday, make the informal teaching model most advantageous.

By formal teaching we mean the proclaiming of God's Word as we are commanded to do in many places in Scripture, such as Colossians 1:28-29. This

is done twice daily, once during adventure story time and once during adventure memory time.

Informal teaching is the talking while living that Moses speaks of in Deuteronomy 6:6-9. In fact, this is one of the only places in all of Scripture where we are told the "how" of teaching children God's truth. This then is done all day long by modeling and talking God's Word as it would shed light on what is happening.

We operate a vertical schedule, featuring different days at various public parks and beaches:

Monday -- Group ...


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