When St. Francis on the Hill Episcopal Church voted to leave the Episcopal denomination in October, members of the El Paso parish intended to keep the church building and other property.
Now as the parishioners of the renamed St. Francis on the Hill Anglican Church, they are suing the denomination in a preemptive strike to prevent it from attempting to take back the property.
Such disputes are not uncommon, but this case could become the first of its kind to make it to a jury trial. Previous cases stemming from parishes and dioceses withdrawing from the Episcopal Church have been decided by judges. No case has so far made it to a trial by a jury.
The St. Francis case had been headed to trial Oct. 2, but after a hearing Sept. 17, the case was delayed until Feb. 5. The delay will give Judge Gonzolo Garcia of the 210th District Court in El Paso time to rule on motions that could determine the outcome of the case without a trial.