Category : TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

Anglican Unscripted 606 – Legal Victories

Kevin Kallsen and AS Haley talk about the latest court victories for the ACNA. And, some of the challenges the US Supreme Court’s recent decisions will bring religious communities.

Posted in Anthropology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(JE) Anglican Bishop Ryan Reed on Seeking the Gospel Amidst Litigation

“One of the things that we have learned is the spiritual handicap or weight that comes upon you even when you are defending yourself in a lawsuit,” Reed shares. ” This Sunday on Pentecost I am calling the entire diocese to a day or penance and of repentance. We are all collectively going to pray the litany of penance together and repent of any way in which this lawsuit has kept us from being faithful to the Gospel, any way it may have hardened our hearts to those who differ with us or those who wanted to hurt us.”

“This Sunday is a day of penance and a day of re-dedication. On Pentecost we are all going to re-affirm our baptismal vows and return to 100 percent focus upon sharing the Gospel and the transforming love of Jesus because that is what is important,” Reed declares. “All of this property and these funds and the buildings — those are just tools to help us share the good news of Jesus Christ. We could do with or without them to be honest, but if we’re not doing that, then those things don’t matter at all.”

Read it all and watch the whole interview (just over 23 minutes).

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pentecost, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

A S Haley–Texas Supreme Court Repudiates ECUSA’s Sophistries

In a comprehensive and unanimous thirty-page decision filed Friday morning, May 22, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of Bishop Jack L. Iker and reversed the Court of Appeals’ earlier decision to the effect that ECUSA’s rump diocese, and not Bishop Iker’s diocese, controlled the Texas corporation which holds title to the properties of those parishes which in 2008 voted to withdraw their diocese from the unaffiliated and unincorporated association that historically has been called the (Protestant) Episcopal Church in the United States of America.

The decision is as straightforward an application of “neutral principles of law” (espoused by the U.S. Supreme Court in Jones v. Wolf) as one could find among the courts to which ECUSA has presented its “hierarchical church” sophistries. It repudiates those sophistries in a succinct passage (pp. 24-25):

In sum, TEC’s determinations as to which faction is the true diocese loyal to the church and which congregants are in good standing are ecclesiastical determinations to which the courts must defer. But applying neutral principles to the organizational documents, the question of property ownership is not entwined with or settled by those determinations. The Fort Worth Diocese’s identity depends on what its documents say. To that end, the Diocesan Constitution and Canons provided who could make amendments and under what circumstances; none of those circumstances incorporate or rely on an ecclesiastical determination by the national church; and nothing in the diocese’s or national church’s documents precluded amendments rescinding an accession to or affiliation with TEC. Applying neutral principles of law, we hold that the majority faction is the Fort Worth Diocese and parishes and missions in union with that faction hold equitable title to the disputed property under the Diocesan Trust.

The opinion then makes short shrift of ECUSA’s remaining arguments. It demolishes ECUSA’s Dennis Canon, first by holding that a beneficiary like ECUSA cannot declare a trust in its favor in Texas on property that it does not own, and second by holding that even if the Dennis Canon could be said to create a trust in ECUSA’s favor, the Canon does not, as Texas law specifies, make the trust “expressly irrevocable”. Thus it was well within the power of Bishop Iker’s Fort Worth Diocese to revoke any such trust, which it did by a diocesan canon adopted in 1989 — to which ECUSA never objected in the twenty years following that act.

The Texas Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals’ holding that ECUSA could not assert title to the parishes’ properties by way of any “constructive” trust (a creation of the law to prevent a wrongdoer’s “unjust enrichment”), or by the ancient doctrines of estoppel or trespass-to-try-title, or by accusing Bishop Iker and his fellow trustees of the diocesan corporation of breaches of fiduciary obligation allegedly owed to ECUSA. Each of those claims would involve the civil courts unconstitutionally in disputes over religious doctrine.

In conclusion, the Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals on the grounds last noted, reversed its principal holding that as an ecclesiastical matter, ECUSA got to say which corporation under Texas civil law was the entity which held the parishes’ property in trust, and reinstated the trial court’s judgment that Bishop Iker’s corporation was in law the trustee of the properties of the parishes in his diocese.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

(Star-Telegram) TX court favors classical group in Episcopal Church Fort Worth-area property dispute

One group calling itself the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has won a decisive legal battle in a fight over which religious organization has control of church property.

But whether the war is over between these two religious organizations, both of which claim the title of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, is still being decided.

Both groups seek ownership of about $100 million in church property in a 24-county area….

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

The Diocese of Fort Worth Responds to Today’s Unanimous Texas Supreme Court Decision

From there:

Today we rejoice that the Supreme Court of Texas has issued a unanimous decision in our favor concerning the suit first brought against the Diocese and Corporation more than 11 years ago. After considering our Petition for Review of the 2018 opinion issued by the Second Court of Appeals, the high Court has granted all the relief requested.

Page two of the opinion says in part,

Applying neutral principles to the undisputed facts, we hold that 1) resolution of this property dispute does not require consideration of an ecclesiastical question, 2) under the governing documents, the withdrawing faction is the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, and 3) the trial court properly granted summary judgment in the withdrawing faction’s favor. We therefore reverse the court of appeals’ contrary judgment.
In its opinion, the Court found that the Diocese had not violated any Episcopal Church charter in withdrawing from association to TEC in 2008, and that the actions of the Diocese and Corporation were consistent with our own charters and with the state’s trust and unincorporated association statutes, and it upheld the dismissal of the Dennis Canon as determinative in Texas church property disputes.

Plaintiffs may exercise their rights of appeal, after which a mandate will go to the trial court for implementation.

We are grateful for the Court’s hard work on this decision and for the clarity with which it was rendered. We give thanks to the members of our legal team – Shelby Sharpe, Scott Brister, and David Weaver – for their sound counsel, expertise, and perseverance throughout these proceedings.

We give thanks for our visionary founding Bishop, the Rt. Rev. A. Donald Davies, and for those who assisted him in setting the legal and temporal foundations of the Diocese and Corporation. We stand on their shoulders.

We praise God for the steadfast faith and leadership of our third Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker, a true shepherd of the flock, who made many sacrifices throughout his episcopate for the sake of Christ’s holy Church.

Above all, we thank God for his eternal provision and protection for his Church and the people he has called to serve him.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

Texas Supreme Court Makes Major Ruling in the Episcopal Church case in Fort Worth

The court of appeals declined TEC’s constructive-trust claim because such relief would require the court “to delve into the mysteries of faith,” impermissibly entangling the court in a dispute over religious doctrine.We agree with the analysis.’

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

(GR) Terry Mattingly–After decades of fighting, United Methodists avoid a visit from Ghost of the Episcopal Future?

Wait a minute. The crucial language that the “practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” was just approved this past February? That hasn’t been the language in church discipline documents for many years before 2019 and affirmed in multiple votes?

But here is the most crucial point. What, precisely, are the “fundamental differences” that the United Methodists involved in these negotiations — leaders from left and right — cited as the cause of the upcoming ecclesiastical divorce? Was it really LGBTQ issues, period?

Consider this commentary from David French (an evangelical Presbyterian) of The Dispatch:

The secular media will cast the divide primarily in the terms it understands — as focused on “LGBT issues” — but that’s incomplete. The true fracturing point between Mainline and Evangelical churches is over the authority and interpretation of scripture. The debate over LGBT issues is a consequence of the underlying dispute, not its primary cause. …

Thus, at heart, the disagreement between the Evangelical and Mainline branches of Christianity isn’t over issues — even hot-button cultural and political issues — but rather over theology. Indeed, the very first clause of the United Methodist Church’s nine-page separation plan states that church members “have fundamental differences regarding their understanding and interpretation of Scripture, theology and practice.”

Ah, there’s the rub. Who wants to put “Scripture, theology and practice” in a news report — especially at NBC Out and similar structures in other newsrooms — when you can blame the whole denominational war over conservatives refusing to evolve on LGBTQ issues?

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Media, Methodist, Religion & Culture, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Central Florida, TEC Conflicts: Central New York, TEC Conflicts: Colorado, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut, TEC Conflicts: Florida, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, TEC Conflicts: Georgia, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles, TEC Conflicts: Milwaukee, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan, TEC Conflicts: Ohio, TEC Conflicts: Pennsylvania, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh, TEC Conflicts: Quincy, TEC Conflicts: Rio Grande, TEC Conflicts: San Diego, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Conflicts: Tennessee, TEC Conflicts: Virginia, TEC Departing Parishes, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Episcopal Diocese Of Fort Worth V. The Episcopal Church Case as Heard before the Texas Supreme Court Today

Read it all and you may watch the whole video also (a little over 43 1/2 minutes). You may also find the case documents here.

Posted in Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

(AI) Texas Supreme Court to hear Fort Worth case

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

A S Haley unpacks the recent Second District Court of Appeals in Fort Worth Episcopal Church Decision

After reviewing the history of church property cases in the United States Supreme Court, and fleshing out what that Court meant by the term “neutral principles”, the Texas Court of Appeals then focused on its own Supreme Court’s recent decision in Masterson v. Diocese of Northwest Texas (Tex. 2013) 422 S.W.3d 594 as instructing how neutral principles of law are used to resolve church property disputes in Texas. It set out the following concise summary of Masterson’s holdings (pp. 78-79):

    • Absent specific, lawful provisions in a corporation’s articles of incorporation or bylaws otherwise, whether and how a corporation’s directors or those entitled to control its affairs can change its articles of incorporation and bylaws are secular, not ecclesiastical matters, and an external entity—under the former or current statutory scheme—is not empowered to amend them absent specific, lawful provision in the corporate documents. Id. at 609–10 (citing Tex. Bus. Orgs. Code § 3.009; Tex. Rev. Civ. Stat. Ann. art. 1396–2.09).
    • The TEC-affiliated bishop could, as an ecclesiastical matter, determine which faction of believers was recognized by and was the “true” church loyal to the Diocese and TEC, and courts must defer to such ecclesiastical decisions, but his decision identifying the loyal faction as the continuing parish does not necessarily determine the property ownership issue, and his decisions on secular legal questions such as the validity of the parish members’ vote to amend the bylaws and articles of incorporation are not entitled to deference. Id. at 610.
  • If the title to the real property is in the corporation’s name and the language of the deeds does not provide for an express trust in favor of TEC or the Diocese, then the corporation owns the property. Id.

These propositions are all correct statements of Texas law as expounded in Masterson. Followed correctly, they should have led to a correct decision in the Fort Worth case. Instead, look where the Salazar court ended up…

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

Diocese of Fort Worth to Appeal recent Ruling to the Texas Supreme Court

From there:

On April 5, 2018, the Second Court of Appeals issued its long-awaited Opinion in our dispute with TEC over the ownership of our church property, and it essentially reversed the previous trial court ruling in our favor (dated July 2015). After review by our legal team, we have concluded that this most recent appellate court opinion is not consistent with what the Texas Supreme Court previously decided when it addressed this controversy in 2013 and that we will appeal it.

In reversing the original trial court ruling in favor of TEC’s claims, the Supreme Court instructed the trial court to rehear the case and to use neutral principles of law in reaching a conclusion, instead of deference to TEC. This means that Texas laws concerning corporations, property, trusts, and unincorporated associations are to direct the outcome of the lawsuit.

The Texas Supreme Court ruled in the Masterson case (No. 11-0332) that:

  • Changes made to “articles of incorporation or bylaws are secular, not ecclesiastical, matters.” (page 25)
  • “…[W]e have held that Texas courts cannot simply use deference or identity methodology principles to resolve this type of issue.” (page 27)
  • “…[I]dentifying the loyal faction” does not “determine the property ownership issue under this record, as it might under the deference or identity methodology.” (page 27)

We are disappointed that the appellate court chose to decide this as an identity case. We remain hopeful that we will prevail under neutral principles of law should the Texas Supreme Court address this controversy for the second time. We will file a petition for review in May or June but will likely not know whether the Court will take the case for decision until late this year or early 2019.

In the meantime, everything remains as it has been, as we continue to wait for a conclusion to this tiresome litigation now entering its tenth year before the courts. Our trust is in the Lord Jesus Christ alone, and we rely upon His grace to sustain us with faith and patience in the months to come. Please continue to pray for our legal team and for the justices who will address our petition.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

(Fort Worth Episcopal Church suit update) Diocese, Corporation file response briefs

After a second filing extension due to unavoidable caseload delays, the Diocese and Corporation filed two response briefs with the Second Court of Appeals, located in Fort Worth.Because the briefs filed in December made differing arguments, two response briefs were necessary. The TEC parties now have the opportunity to make a reply by March 24. These files are large and may require a few moments to load.

You may find the two (big) downloads here and there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, Theology

Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth: Judgment concludes trial-court phase

Bishop Iker and the people of the diocese of Fort Worth win case.
Today the Hon. John P. Chupp signed his Final Judgment concerning the Motions for Partial Summary Judgment filed last December by the TEC-loyal plaintiffs and the defendant Diocese, Parishes, and Corporation, as well as Motions for Partial Summary Judgment concerning the TEC-loyal All Saints’ Episcopal Church (Fort Worth) filed by these same parties on May 6. In doing so, the 141st District Court affirmed and combined its orders of March 2 and June 10 [see the entries below], which upheld the Diocese’s right to dissociate from TEC and for the Corporation to retain its property ”“ including All Saints’ parish property transferred from the Dallas Diocese ”“ and elected leadership.

Today’s judgment brings to a close a process started on Aug. 30, 2013, when the Supreme Court of Texas ordered that the case, initially decided using a “deference” approach, return to the trial court and that the court reconsider the parties’ claims, applying the Neutral Principles approach instead.

The trial court’s ruling now becomes appealable, and the TEC-affiliated plaintiffs have indicated their intention to ask the Second Court of Appeals for a review. In early August the court is expected to issue an order stating terms that will allow the TEC-affiliated congregation of All Saints’, Fort Worth, to remain in the property it now occupies during the duration of the appeal.

We give thanks for our many blessings, for God’s work among us, and for the Hope of Salvation that is within us. We are thankful, too, for the patient endurance of all those who have prayed and labored for this day, especially our legal team, their associates, and their families.

Read it all

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

A S Haley: Final Judgment in Fort Worth Case

Judge Chupp has entered a final judgment against TEC, its rump diocese of Fort Worth and its parishes, thereby ending the lawsuit in which they sought to claim the corporation, property and bank accounts owned and controlled by Bishop Jack L. Iker and his co-trustees. Judge Chupp ordered that the plaintiffs “take nothing” from their complaint. This leaves all real property, corporate control and diocesan bank accounts exactly as they were after Bishop Iker and his Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth voted to leave TEC in November 2008.

The TEC parties have said they plan to appeal the final judgment to the Second Circuit Court of Appeal. However, any such appeal will be guided by the “neutral principles of law” announced by the Texas Supreme Court when it reversed Judge Chupp’s original judgment in their favor, based upon his belief that he was required by Texas law to defer to the “hierarchical” Episcopal Church. Under neutral principles, the Texas courts look solely to the documents establishing a party’s title: whose name is on the deeds, what trusts have been recorded, and what (if anything) the Church’s governing documents say about a diocese’s ability to amend its own constitution so as to remove its affiliation with the Episcopal Church.

Read it all

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

(Xn Post) Original Diocese of Fort Worth Wins Court Battle Over Church Property Claimed by TEC

A judge has ruled that a diocese in Texas which broke away from The Episcopal Church over theological differences is the rightful owner of its church property.

Judge John Chupp of Tarrant County ruled Wednesday that All Saints Episcopal Church belongs to the…Diocese of Fort Worth rather than the national denomination.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

A S Haley: (BREAKING) Bishop Iker and His Diocese Win All Saints Fort Worth Case

Early reports coming in
News has just been received that Bishop Iker and his Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth are the victors in the separately-tried lawsuit to determine the ownership of the grounds and property of All Saints, Fort Worth.

Judge John Chupp of the Tarrant County District Court had severed off the All Saints case, because its facts were more dependent on documents and circumstances that were not shared with all the other parishes in dispute…

Read it all

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

A S Haley–Anglican/Episcopal Dust-up in Fort Worth over All Saints

Bishop Iker’s latest request was thus simply an attempt to go back to ground zero, before Mr. Hill started drawing the battle lines, and to take the real pulse of the entire All Saints congregation in order to arrive at an amicable, Paulian-motivated settlement of the dispute. The rump faction at All Saints once again has spurned any such resolution — acting, no doubt, in unity with ECUSA and its attorneys.

And so we see that little has changed, despite Bishop Iker’s success in the underlying lawsuit. The attorneys have agreed on some procedures to expedite the resolution or trial, if necessary, of the All Saints case, and there remain still other matters which the parties can address by means of further partial summary judgment motions. No one seems to think that there are any material disputed facts.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, Theology

The Episcopal Church refuses All Saints’ Fort Worth permission for Canon 32 process

In a letter dated March 9, attorneys for The Episcopal Church and the TEC-affiliated All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Fort Worth rejected the Diocese’s offer to resolve the property dispute between the parish and Diocese through the Canon 32 process.

Read it all and follow the link.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, Theology

A S Haley–The Meaning of the recent Fort Worth Decision in the Ongoing Episcopal Litigation War

Judge Chupp’s ruling is thus significant for a number of reasons:

1. For all practical purposes, it ended the case — in favor of Bishop Iker and his co-defendants. There are still some claims for damages and trademark infringement, etc., reserved for another day.

2. It agreed with the Texas Supreme Court that “neutral principles of law” were to be used to decide the issues in the case, and that their application was not retroactive, since Texas courts had been applying neutral principles to church property disputes for a number of years already.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Analysis, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, Theology

(Get Religion) Terry Mattingly–Star-Telegram coverage of Anglican Wars needs Work

This reference makes it sound as if the tradition of properties being controlled by the local diocese is a brand new concept, created by Iker and company in the very recent past. Did those ordinances “declare” this fact or affirm older traditions? Stop and think about it: Why was there such a bitter battle in Denver back in 1979 when the national church took the unusual step of creating and passing the Dennis Canon?

As always, I am not saying that journalists need to agree with Iker, or with High for that matter. The key is to understand the arguments being made by experts on both sides.

The bottom line: When dealing with Anglican controversies, it always helps to include specific dates in the timeline, while also remembering that these battles are being fought at the local, regional, national and global levels.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Media, Religion & Culture, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, Theology

(RNS) Original Fort Worth Episcopal Diocese win latest round in Texas church property fight

For the second time in as many months, a state court has sided with a group of breakaway Episcopalians, ruling that they can keep their property after leaving the national church in 2008 over sharp differences on homosexuality and the authority of Scripture.

Judge John P. Chupp of the 141st District Court in Tarrant County, Texas, ruled Monday (March 2) that more than 60 parishes in greater Fort Worth can retain their property and remain independent of the Episcopal Church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, Theology

A S Haley–The Episcopal Church and the Freedom of Association: a Showdown Is Coming

By my count, 40 of the 91 cases listed resulted in legal victories at the trial or appellate level for ECUSA; just two parish cases (All Saints and the Good Shepherd San Angelo case in Texas) went the other way, but three of the five cases involving Dioceses resulted in rulings against ECUSA. A fourth diocese case (San Joaquin) is on appeal; the fifth one (Pittsburgh) gave a victory to ECUSA on the basis of a very strained reading of the effect of a stipulation between the parties.

It is a legitimate query to ask why the results of the parish cases are so lopsided in favor of ECUSA, while the results of the diocese cases go just the other way.
For the parishes, most of the decisions turned upon explicit language in their own bylaws that made them “perpetually” subject to their Diocese and ECUSA. No such language exists in any of the Dioceses’ governing documents, however. For the cases involving them, the explanation lies in the well-established freedom of association, which is a fundamental right enshrined in the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. It holds that just as no one can be prevented by the government from joining a group, so also the group may not go to court to prevent a member from leaving it. “Freedom of association therefore plainly presupposes a freedom not to associate,” as the Supreme Court put it in Roberts v. U.S. Jaycees, 468 U.S. 609, 623, 104 S. Ct. 3244, 3252, 82 L. Ed. 2d 462 (1984).

The liberals in ECUSA have a very difficult time trying to understand why their Church should be subject to such a doctrine. For them, the union between a Diocese and General Convention is an ecclesiastical one, and as such, they claim, civil courts should be precluded (by that same First Amendment!) from examining or questioning it in any way.

A moment’s reflection will expose the flaws in that argument (not that ecclesiastical liberals ever pay any attention to logic or reason). ECUSA is, ecclesiastically speaking, a denomination — but that says nothing about what it is in the eyes of the law. In order to sue or be sued in a civil court, for instance, ECUSA has to be a juridical person, not just an ecclesiastical one.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Analysis, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, TEC Conflicts: Quincy, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology

Yesterday's Fort Worth Legal Decision (IV)–Fort Worth Diocesan Statement

On Monday, March 2, 2015, the 141st District Court granted our Motion for Partial Summary Judgment regarding all diocesan property, with the exception of All Saints’, Fort Worth, which Judge Chupp severed for a separate trial.

Nearly six years after we were first sued by The Episcopal Church and its local representatives, the court has confirmed the Diocese’s right to dissociate from TEC and for the Corporation to retain its property.

“We are grateful for the ruling in our favor,” said Bishop Iker. “It’s clear that both church laws and Texas laws have been rightly applied to this dispute.”

In granting our motion, the Hon. John Chupp has ruled that Bishop Iker and the duly-elected officials of the Diocese and Corporation control the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, its Corporation, all endowments and funds, and all property that has been disputed in this litigation. The ruling is binding on all parties.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

Yesterday's Fort Worth Legal Decision (III)–A Star-Telegram Article

After a bitter, seven-year legal dispute, state District Judge John Chupp ruled Monday that the Episcopalians led by Bishop Jack Iker who broke away from the national Episcopal Church are entitled to an estimated $100 million in property in the 24-county Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

Fort Worth-area Episcopalians who remained loyal to the national Episcopal Church and reorganized the diocese under Bishop Rayford High have the right to appeal the decision.

“We are grateful for the ruling in our favor. It is clear that both church laws and Texas laws have been rightly applied in this dispute,” Iker said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, Theology

Yesterday's Fort Worth Legal Decision (II)–TEC Bishop of new Fort Worth Diocese's statement

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

Yesterday's Fort Worth Legal Decision (I)–the Actual Order

Take a look.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, Theology

Decision Made in TEC Lawsuit in Forth Worth–"We Won! Bishop Iker will issue a statement on Tuesday"

Found here (right hand side at the top under the “News”).

Update–email from the Diocese:

Court rules for Fort Worth Diocese and Corporation…Late this afternoon, Judge Chupp released his ruling in our case. We praise God for His faithfulness. Bishop Iker will have a full statement tomorrow.

Partial Summary granted with exception on claims to do with All Saints Episcopal Fort Worth.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, Theology

A Fort Worth Star Telegram Article on the latest Legal Developments in the Fort Worth legal Tussles

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, Theology

(Diocese of Fort Worth) Trial court ruling expected soon in Episcopal Church Lawsuit

Oral arguments on each side’s motion for partial summary judgement were heard this morning in a two-hour hearing before the Hon. John Chupp, and a ruling is expected from him soon. The judge asked for each side to submit proposed orders to him on Monday, Feb. 23. He will likely select one of them to sign, subject to any alterations he may wish to make.
In the course of the hearing before several dozen clergy and lay people, Judge Chupp asked each side, “What are you asking me for today?” The Plaintiffs argued for a “simple solution” acknowledging that the property is held in trust for the Diocese and Congregations by those individuals recognized by The Episcopal Church.

The Diocese and Corporation countered that, under neutral principles of law as mandated for the trial court to follow, the Dennis Canon has been found by the Texas Supreme Court to have been revoked, leaving the property in trust for the parishes and missions in fellowship with the Diocese, and only those individual defendants before the court are the duly-elected officers of the Diocese and the Corporation.

Judge Chupp posed a number of questions to the Plaintiffs during their presentation, and the discussion was frequently animated. Near the conclusion of the hearing he indicated a philosophical preference for local self-determination, asking, “Why do we need to have a ”˜big government’ solution to this where a New York church says [what is best]?”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker Issues Pastoral Letter on South Carolina Court Decision

Dear Friends in Christ,

We were all greatly encouraged by the court ruling that came out of South Carolina last week, where the historic Diocese prevailed in its lawsuit against The Episcopal Church. Circuit Court Judge Diane S. Goodstein ruled that Bishop Mark Lawrence and his Diocese, under neutral principles of law, had legitimately withdrawn from TEC in 2012 and were entitled to retain all their buildings, assets, and intellectual property (name, identity, seal, etc.)

South Carolina’s Supreme Court had previously ruled that the Dennis Canon (that claims all church property is held in trust for TEC) was invalid in that State, and the Texas Supreme Court has made the same determination here in Texas. Under neutral principles of law governing property, trusts, and corporations in Texas, we believe we should prevail in the hearing before Judge Chupp on Friday, Feb. 20, here in Fort Worth.
The same conclusion was also reached recently in the appellate court system in Illinois, where the Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that there is nothing in the Constitution and Canons of TEC that prevents a Diocese from withdrawing, with its property and assets. The right to associate includes the right to dissociate. The Illinois Supreme Court denied an appeal from TEC attempting to reverse that ruling. And though TEC will be making a similar appeal in the South Carolina decision, it is expected that they will reach the same result.

In coming months, we expect TEC will once again be taking their losses in Illinois, South Carolina, and Texas to the United States Supreme Court, seeking reversals. We do not believe such efforts will succeed. Needless to say, all of this is a very expensive undertaking, costing both sides millions of dollars in legal fees and court costs that instead should be going for ministry and outreach in the world.

Continue to pray for our legal team as we prepare for the summary judgment hearing on the 20th and for clarity and insight for Judge Chupp in his ruling.

Thank you all for your continued faithfulness and for your witness to the Truth.

Faithfully in Christ,

–The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker, Bishop of Fort Worth

(Found here).

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