Key Excerpts follow below the “read more” link.
Note: An article with important background to today’s decision is here.
[color=Red]UPDATE:[/color] Don’t miss Allan Haley’s analysis of this decision at Anglican Curmudgeon
 However, the deference approach is unavailable where the determination of a church’s hierarchical structure is not easily discernible. See Maryland & Virginia Eldership of the Churches of God v. Church of God at Sharpsburg, Inc., 396 U.S. 367, 369-70 (1970) (deference approach is permissible only where the governing church body can be determined without extensive inquiry into religious policy). Here, the trial court declined to apply a deference approach, concluding it could not “constitutionally determine the highest judicatory authority or the locus of control regarding the property dispute to which it would be required to defer.” The court’s conclusion is not against the manifest weight of the evidence.
 A review of the evidence presented in this case, including testimony from Dr. Mullin, the Church’s own witness, does not clearly demonstrate the existence of a hierarchical relationship between the Diocese and the Church. Indeed, the Church’s authority is not readily ascertainable without an impermissible investigation into matters of polity. Moreover, the central matter underlying the parties’ dispute is: “who owns the disputed property.” Determining whether the Diocese could leave the Church or identifying the leaders of the continuing diocese is unnecessary for purposes of answering that question. Again, such determinations would necessarily involve an extensive inquiry into church polity. With regard to the issue of the disputed property, however, we agree with the trial court it can be resolved by applying neutral principles of law.
 An examination of the evidence reveals nothing to demonstrate an express trust, an implied trust, or any other interest vested in the Church. As stated, neither the deed nor the Discretionary Agency Agreement provides for an express trust in favor of the Church. Further, our review of the Diocese’s constitution and canons does not suggest diocesan assets were ever impliedly held in trust for the Church. After Jones, the Church adopted a trust canon (Title I.7.4, referred to by the parties as the Dennis Canon). That canon provides parish property is held in trust for the Diocese and Church and restricts a parish’s ability to dispose of its property. However, it appears undisputed the Church’s canons do not contain similar language with respect to diocesan property being held in favor of the Church. In addition, Bonner testified the Dennis Canon does not apply to property owned by a diocese. Our review of the record reveals nothing to suggest the opposite conclusion. Accordingly, the trial court’s findings in this regard are not against the manifest weight of the evidence.
 In sum, the evidence presented demonstrates title to the funds and real property lies with the Diocese. Following our review of the record, we cannot say the trial court’s findings were arbitrary, unreasonable, or not otherwise based on the evidence. Nor can we say the opposite conclusion is clearly apparent in this case. As a result, the court did not err in finding in favor of the Diocese. We commend the trial court for its detailed order, which we found quite helpful in reviewing this matter.
 For the reasons stated, we affirm the trial court’s judgment and deny the Church’s motion to substitute party.
 Affirmed; motion denied.