This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
Rules of a voluntary association are a part of a contract for membership in such association entered into between the association and a member thereof.1 A pastor of a church whose rule provides the pastor's salary to be fixed upon the basis of the estimated amount of voluntary subscriptions, which can be collected, and which provides that neither the church nor the conference shall be liable for the deficiency, can not recover from the church for the amount of subscriptions which have not been collected.2 The constitution and by-laws of a beneficial association form a part of a contract of insurance entered into between such association and a member thereof,3 whether such bylaws are referred to in the contract of insurance or not.4 The construction placed upon such by-laws by its highest tribunal beconies as much a part of the contract as the by-laws themselves.5 If power to change the by-laws is reserved, subsequent amendments become terms of the contract and are binding on the members.6 However, general power to change by-laws has been held not to confer power to change the contractual rights of a member.7
31 Hull, etc., Co. v. Coke Co., 113 Fed. 256, 51 C. C. A. 213.
32 Patterson v. Gage, 11 Colo. 50, 16 Pac. 560; Sinclair v. National Surety Co., 132 la. 549, 107 N. W. 184; Aldrich v. Bay State Construction Co., 186 Mass. 489, 72 N. E. 53; Empire Rubber Mfg. Co. v. Morris, 73 N. J. L. 602, 65 Atl. 450.
33 Imperial Fire Ins. Co. v. Coos County, 151 U. S. 452, 38 L. ed. 231; Wilkie v. New York Life Insurance Co., 146 N. Car. 513, 60 S. E. 427.
1Lawson v. Hewell, 118 Cal. 613, 49 L. R. A. 400, 50 Pac. 763; Green v. Board of Trade, 174 111. 585. 49 L. R. A. 365, 51 N. E. 599.
2 Baldwin v. First Methodist Episcopal Church, 79 Wash. 578, 52 L. R. A. (N.S.) 171, 140 Pac. 673.
3 Illinois. Protection Life Ins. Co. v. Foote, 79 111. 361; Illinois, etc., Association v. Wahl, 68 111. App. 411.
Indiana. Supreme Lodge Knights of Pythias v. Knight, 117 Ind. 489, 3 L. R. A. 409, 20 N. E. 479.
Louisiana. Daugherty v. Knights of Pythias, 48 La. Ann. 1203, 55 Am. St. Rep. 310, 20 So. 712.
Oklahoma. Home Forum Benefit Order v. Jones, 5 Okla. 598, 50 Pac. 165.
Tennessee. McLendon v. Woodmen of the World, 106 Tenn. 695, 52 L. R. A. 444, 64 S. W. 36.
4Hass v. Relief Association, 118 Cal. 6, 49 Pac. 1056; Condon v. Reserve Association, 89 Md. 99, 73 Am. St. Rep. 169, 44 L. R. A. 149, 42 Atl. 944.