Posted by Kendall Harmon

Local Episcopalians hoping to reclaim millions of dollars in church property, which is now controlled by those who split six years ago from the national Episcopal Church, are taking their case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Leaders of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth who remain faithful to the U.S. Episcopal Church filed a petition Thursday for a writ of certiorari with the nation’s highest court.

The petition asks the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision of the Texas Supreme Court on Aug. 30, 2013, overturning a Fort Worth lower court’s ruling in January 2011 that awarded property and holdings in the 24-county diocese to those loyal to the national church.

The Texas Supreme Court called for a rehearing on property matters in Judge John Chupp’s 141st District Court based on “neutral principles” of Texas law. The “deference” principles used in the earlier decision gave weight to the hierarchical structure of the U.S. Episcopal Church and its claim of ownership of all church properties.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted June 23, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The diocesan legal team was notified yesterday that TEC parties have filed an appeal with United States Supreme Court (USSC) asking it to review the Texas Supreme Court's judgment in our case. This form of appeal is known as a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari (review of the case).

Historically, the USSC agrees to review only 1 in 100 of the certiorari petitions filed annually. Our attorneys believe there is little chance the Court will review our case because (1) there is no final judgment yet; (2) the USSC has no power to review issues of Texas law unless there is a violation of the U.S. Constitution; and (3) TEC’s petition asks the Court to abandon the Neutral Principles approach to church property disputes, which every state has adopted for the last 30 years.

To speed up this process, the Diocese plans to waive a response to TEC’s petition. The Court’s practice is not to grant certiorari without requesting a response first, so our “waiver” merely means that we will not file a response unless and until the Court asks for one. That way the petition goes to the justices’ chambers for a potential denial in the near future; if we file a response it delays distribution to the justices’ chambers by several months.

This filing does not affect the calendar that has been set in the 141st District Court.

(Via Email).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

3 Comments
Posted June 21, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a hearing Thursday, May 22, before the 141st District Court, the Hon. John Chupp set the course for the conclusion of the suit filed against the Diocese and diocesan Corporation over five years ago.

Attorneys for the Diocese successfully argued against consolidation of the case, which would have re-attached portions that were not part of the 2011 Summary Judgment that was appealed to the state Supreme Court. Judge Chupp signed an order denying the proposed consolidation and clearing the way for a new Summary Judgment hearing. Additionally, local TEC parties sought to delay the date of that hearing until mid-2015, but the judge set a date before the end of 2014, much closer to the timeline proposed by the Diocese. The hearing date is Wednesday, Dec. 17; filing deadlines will be set in advance of the hearing.

We give thanks for the positive results of this hearing and continue to pray for God’s guidance and provision.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 23, 2014 at 6:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In compliance with the mandate issued by the Texas Supreme Court on March 21st, today the 141st District Court in Fort Worth agreed to move forward with a new trial in the property suit brought five years ago by The Episcopal Church against the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. It is anticipated that the next major event in the proceedings will be a hearing on motion for summary judgment sometime this fall, when neutral principles of law concerning trusts and property ownership in the State of Texas will be applied in the dispute.

On Thursday morning Judge John Chupp heard discussion on both sides, then ruled on two motions. He denied a motion by TEC to stay the resumption of proceedings in his court, which would have postponed the case further while TEC considers an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court; and he ordered the return of the $100,000 cash bond posted by the Diocese in October 2011 in connection with our appeal to the state Supreme Court. His order also terminates other conditions of the supersedeas bond.

Commenting on the result, diocesan attorney Scott Brister noted, “The judge ruled with us. It's time to move forward and finish this suit.”

“We are grateful to be relieved of the obligations of the supersedeas order,” added diocesan chancellor David Weaver. “We appreciate the continued prayers of our congregations as we navigate our way through the civil justice system.”

In the near future our attorneys will present the trial court with a proposed scheduling order to move the case forward in compliance with the Texas Supreme Court's opinion of August 30, 2013.

The Diocese is delighted to be on a path toward the conclusion of a lengthy and costly legal process. Bishop Iker said, “This is a great encouragement to us, and we look forward to the day when all these legal proceedings are behind us and we can get on with the mission of the Church without the distraction of litigation."

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 24, 2014 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

First came the ruling against TEC in the direct appeal we brought to the Texas Supreme Court, issued on August 30. Second came the denial of TEC’s request for the court to rehear (or reconsider) that ruling. And now comes their third loss, on April 17. The high court has denied TEC’s motion to recall the mandate it sent to the trial court, which would have “stayed the proceedings” (stopped the legal process in Texas) while they try to get a review of our case from the U.S Supreme Court. Apparently the state Justices agreed with our attorneys that it is highly unlikely the U.S. Supreme Court will review the case at this stage. Nonetheless, TEC has until June 19 to seek review at the national level.

The next step in the litigation here in Fort Worth is a hearing at 9 a.m. on Thursday, April 24, in the courtroom of Judge John Chupp, where we have requested that he set aside the supersedeas order and refund to the Diocese the $100,000 cash bond we posted two years ago in order to maintain possession of our property. With his original decision having now been reversed by the Texas Supreme Court, there are no legal grounds for the order to remain in effect.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 22, 2014 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Your Curmudgeon has just received reliable word that ECUSA and its attorneys intend to ask the United States Supreme Court to review the (interlocutory!) decision by the Supreme Court of Texas in Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth v. Episcopal Church (USA), in which the Texas Court recently denied ECUSA's petition for a rehearing. The decision is called "interlocutory" because it is not a final one -- the case still has to go to trial before Judge Chupp in Tarrant County District Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court, as a rule, accepts review of interlocutory decisions only in cases of extreme emergency, where further proceedings in the lower court could wipe out a party's chances ever to take a future appeal from the final decision, when it is eventually entered. (Recall that the Court denied the petition for review ("certiorari") filed by St. James parish, in Newport Beach, following the interlocutory decision by the California Supreme Court in The Episcopal Church Cases -- which returned those cases for trial, just as in Texas....)

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: AnalysisEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 26, 2014 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In another recent but unpublished decision, the same [South Carolina] Court of Appeals disposed in one paragraph of an appeal by a Baptist Church Conference from a judgment finding it had no ownership or trust interest in the property of one of its churches (Haselden v. New Hope Church, No. 2012-213355, March 19, 2014) (h/t: commenter "Joe"). The per curiam opinion is self-explanatory:
The General Conference of the Free Will Baptist Church of the Pentecostal Faith ("the Conference") appeals the circuit court's order granting summary judgment in favor of New Hope Church ("New Hope") on the grounds that New Hope owned the property on which it was situated free and clear of any legal interest claimed by the Conference. We affirm pursuant to Rule 220(b), SCACR, and the following authorities: Rule 56(c), SCRCP (stating that summary judgment is proper when no genuine issue exists as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law); Jones v. Wolf, 443 U.S. 595, 603 (1979) (stating that when resolving disputes over the ownership of church property, courts must rely "exclusively on objective, well-established concepts of trust and property law familiar to lawyers and judges."); S.C. Code Ann. § 62-7401(a)(2) (Supp. 2013) ("To be valid, a trust of real property, created by transfer in trust or by declaration of trust, must be proved by some writing signed by the party creating the trust."); All Saints Parish Waccamaw v. Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of S.C., 385 S.C. 428, 449, 685 S.E.2d 163, 174 (2009) ("It is an axiomatic principle of law that a person or entity must hold title to property in order to declare that it is held in trust for the benefit of another or transfer legal title to one person for the benefit of another.").

AFFIRMED.
Since it is unpublished, the opinion has no precedential value (i.e., it cannot be cited to any other South Carolina court), but its summary disposition is still a strong indicator of the way the wind blows in South Carolina. The Court found applicable Jones v. Wolf's holding that state courts may apply traditional concepts of trust and property law in resolving church property cases; a South Carolina statute setting out the legal requirements for a valid trust in the State; and the Supreme Court's opinion in the All Saints Waccamaw case, which ruled against a similar argument made by ECUSA and the then-EDSC. Taken together, those three authorities are all a court needs to cite in order to find a Dennis-Canon type of claim invalid and of no consequence under South Carolina law.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort WorthTEC Conflicts: San Joaquin* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 24, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Today the Texas Supreme Court denied the losing parties' petitions for rehearing in the two ECUSA cases pending before it: No. 11-0265, Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, et al. v. The Episcopal Church, et al.; and No. 11-0332, Masterson v. Diocese of Northwest Texas. The Court had delivered its opinions in the two cases last August 30. In the first case, the Court had sided with Bishop Iker's Diocese by a closely split vote of 5-4, reversed the summary judgment of Circuit Judge John Chupp which had awarded all of the property and assets of Bishop Iker's Diocese to the Episcopal Church and its rump diocese, and sent the case back to the trial court. The majority held that the trial court had improperly failed to apply a "neutral principles of law" analysis to the issues. The four dissenters did not disagree with that result, but instead believed that the Court lacked jurisdiction to hear a direct appeal from the trial court's judgment in the case.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: AnalysisEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

1 Comments
Posted March 21, 2014 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Episcopal Church and its local supporters in Fort Worth have suffered a second defeat from the Texas Supreme Court. On August 30, 2013, the high court reversed a lower-court decision that favored TEC’s claim to all church property in the Diocese of Fort Worth, which left the denomination in 2008. Today the Court denied TEC’s subsequent motion to rehear the case which now returns to the lower court for a new hearing and summary judgment based on neutral principles of law, not deference to a hierarchical church. We praise God for this very good news.

Some speculate that TEC will now seek a review of the ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court as a further delaying tactic, but given past decisions on cases similar to this, it is highly unlikely that such a request would be granted. In recent appeals, the SCOTUS has left church property disputes to each state Supreme Court to decide. Moreover, the Texas Supreme Court will issue its mandate referring the case to the trial court, regardless of any such filing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

5 Comments
Posted March 21, 2014 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Watch it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: Analysis- Anglican: Latest NewsEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

0 Comments
Posted February 23, 2014 at 2:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Over the past several years, the U.S. Episcopal Church has filed church property lawsuits against churches and dioceses that have chosen to cut ties with the denomination over theological differences. Conservative Episcopalians have left, denouncing what they believe is the denomination's departure from scriptural authority and traditional Anglicanism....

Anglican Church of North America Archbishop Robert Duncan told Institute on Religion and Demography, "This is a tragic and unwise decision that threatens the future of Nashotah House." Duncan also serves on the seminary's Board of Trustees.

The seminary's dean, Salmon, explained that the decision came after Deacon Terry Star of North Dakota, a student at Nashotah and member of the Episcopal Church's Executive Council, said that Schori had advised him against attending the seminary. Two other female Episcopal students said they were also discouraged from attending the seminary. "All three said she should be invited to come and see ACNA and TEC in harmony," Salmon said, according to IRD. "No one here is fighting with anybody."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* TheologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologySacramental TheologySeminary / Theological Education

6 Comments
Posted February 23, 2014 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As planned, the Diocese filed a motion today in response to the TEC parties' petition for rehearing before the state Supreme Court. Our response was submitted at the request of the Court. You may read it [at the link provided when you click below].

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

0 Comments
Posted December 7, 2013 at 12:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While legal disputes continue over the name and property of The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, the two competing parties are holding their annual church conventions separately.

In 2008, the leadership of the Texas-based diocese voted to cut its ties with The Episcopal Church over growing theological differences. Since then, dispute over who owns the diocese's property has been debated in court....

Read it all from the Christian Post.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

0 Comments
Posted November 9, 2013 at 1:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Presiding Bishop's job -- and future reputation -- is, in effect, on the line. She and her personal Chancellor have been so identified with the litigation agenda of ECUSA (because they run that agenda without interference from anyone else in the entire Church) that they are taking a hit, so to speak, on account of the reversals which that agenda has recently suffered in Texas (Fort Worth), Illinois (Quincy), South Carolina, and yes - let it be said -- in San Joaquin (even though there is as yet no final judgment there, ECUSA faces a decidedly uphill battle to convince the California court that its canons allow it to take the property of the withdrawing diocese).

In a (rather desperate, and, some would say) clumsy attempt to protect her prerogatives on the litigation front, the Presiding Bishop (and, as always, her personal Chancellor, whose law firm earns millions each year from the Presiding Bishop's continuing patronage) asked the "Ecclesiology Committee" to deliver a counter to the "Bishops' Statement on Polity" promulgated by the Anglican Communion Institute and the Communion Partner Bishops within ECUSA....

That Committee (with membership as noted above) obediently came forth with just such a "Statement", and presented it to the assembled bishops in Nashville. Wonder of wonders, however -- what seemed likely as a rubber stamp of 815's current litigation claims devolved into a rejection of the Committee's paper. That rejection was based chiefly on the bishops' reluctance to submit themselves or their dioceses, by a simple resolution, to any claim of metropolitan authority -- but it was also based on their own personal knowledge of the Church's historical polity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: AnalysisEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort WorthTEC Conflicts: QuincyTEC Conflicts: San JoaquinTEC Conflicts: South CarolinaTEC Polity & Canons* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted September 28, 2013 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To the clergy and people of the Diocese,

The Texas Supreme Court has granted a TEC request for an extension of 30 days of time to file a motion to rehear the case decided against them on August 30th. TEC attorneys in the other church property dispute decided against them on that same day (Good Shepherd, San Angelo), have done the same thing.

Motions for rehearing are almost always filed following a decision of the Court. But what are their chances of getting one? Clearly the odds against such motions are very steep, and they are almost never granted. In a concurring opinion written by our attorney, Scott Brister, while a member of the Texas Supreme Court in 2009, he discussed the infrequency of parties being successful in pursuing motions for rehearing, quoting the following statistics:
“In the last 10 years, this Court issued more than 1100 majority and per curiam opinions. On rehearing, we changed less than 50 of the opinions, and those almost always in minor respects that had no effect on the judgment. In only four cases did the prevailing party in the judgment change. Thus, the chance that an original judgment will differ from the final judgment is about 1 in 300.” Edwards Aquifer Auth. v. Chemical Lime, Ltd., 291 S.W.3d 392, 412 (Tex. 2009) (Brister, J., concurring). These motions are granted so rarely that the rules do not even require responses to such motions unless the Court asks for one. TRAP 64.3.

So here we go again! This will delay final resolution of this dispute by several months. What do these people have against simply moving forward in the trial court, as directed by the Supreme Court decision? More delays – more expense – more Episcopal arrogance claiming that TEC can’t possibility be wrong!

Patience and prayer must continue. By God’s grace, we will prevail in due course.

So here we go again! This will delay final resolution of this dispute by several months. What do these people have against simply moving forward in the trial court, as directed by the Supreme Court decision? More delays – more expense – more Episcopal arrogance claiming that TEC can’t possibility be wrong!

Patience and prayer must continue. By God’s grace, we will prevail in due course.

--(The Rt. Rev.) Jack Leo Iker is Bishop of Fort Worth
Bishop of Fort Worth

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort WorthTEC Polity & Canons* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

4 Comments
Posted September 12, 2013 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Living with litigation has become a way of life for us as members of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. For the past 4 ½ years, we have been under the cloud of a lawsuit brought against us by The Episcopal Church and its local supporters, seeking to deprive us of our buildings and assets. This has been a huge distraction from our focus on spreading the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and making new disciples for the Kingdom of God. What a relief and a blessing it was to have the Texas Supreme Court overturn the trial court judgment against us on August 30. So now we head back to the local court for a reconsideration of the dispute – based this time upon neutral principles of law, and under this methodology we are confident we will prevail. Life goes on – the litigation continues – and we learn again how important it is to trust in the Lord in the midst of distractions and threats to our security.

The national leadership of TEC has misguided and misled local Episcopalians by encouraging them to support its litigation strategy, which sought to undermine the laws of the State of Texas regarding property, trusts and corporations.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 8, 2013 at 3:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to the Supreme Court’s majority opinion released Friday, the Iker group asserted that the canon “does not create a trust under Texas Law, but that even if it does, it was revocable and the Diocese revoked it” when it amended its own canons.

The justices also noted that they addressed similar flaws in an earlier case, Masterson v. Diocese of Northwest Texas.

In it, they said the canon, “simply does not contain language making the trust expressly irrevocable. ... Even if the canon could be read to imply the trust was irrevocable, that is not good enough under Texas law.”

Read it all from the Star-Telegram.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

0 Comments
Posted August 31, 2013 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We rejoice in today’s ruling by the Texas Supreme Court overturning the summary judgment in favor of The Episcopal Church. The Supreme Court ruled that the Trial Court erred in deferring to the TEC rather than subjecting TEC’s property claims to the same neutral principles of law that apply to everyone else. The Trial Court must now reconsider the merits of the case based upon neutral principles of law, and we are confident that we will prevail when TEC is subjected to neutral principles of Texas law. In sum, while today’s opinions are not a final victory, they indicate that a final victory is only a matter of time.

The decision in our case must be considered in the light of the Supreme Court’s ruling in a related case, also announced today – that of the Church of the Good Shepherd, San Angelo. Here too the Court reversed lower court opinions in favor of TEC and directed the trial court to decide that case based upon neutral principles of law, rather than deference to an hierarchical church....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 30, 2013 at 5:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 30, 2013 at 5:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Today the Texas Supreme Court handed down decisions in the two ECUSA cases pending before it: No. 11-0265, Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, et al. v. The Episcopal Church, et al.; and No. 11-0332, Masterson v. Diocese of Northwest Texas. In the first case, the Court sided with Bishop Iker's Diocese by a closely split vote of 5-4, reversed the summary judgment of Circuit Judge John Chupp which had awarded all of the property and assets of Bishop Iker's Diocese to the Episcopal Church and its rump diocese, and sent the case back to the trial court. The majority held that the trial court had improperly failed to apply a "neutral principles of law" analysis to the issues. The four dissenters did not disagree with that result, but instead believed that the Court lacked jurisdiction to hear a direct appeal from the trial court's judgment in the case.

In the second case, the Court by a vote of 7-2 reversed the Court of Appeals' decision requiring the Church of the Good Shepherd in San Angelo to turn over its building and all other assets to the Diocese of Northwest Texas. The Court definitively ruled that all Texas courts must follow "neutral principles of law" (rather than deferring to an ecclesiastical hierarchy), and that based on such an analysis, the Dennis Canon was not effective under Texas law (or that if it were effective to create a trust, the trust was not expressly irrevocable, and so could be revoked by the parish in question).

Read it all and note you can read the full Supreme Court decision opinion in the Fort Worth case here and in the Good Shepherd case here - other documents and concurring/dissenting opinions may be found here

Update: Pastoral Letter from Bishop Iker is here

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

12 Comments
Posted August 30, 2013 at 11:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Wading into the tricky legal waters where religion and government meet, the Texas Supreme Court will decide who owns 52 Fort Worth-area churches — the national Episcopal Church or the diocese that broke away in protest of the consecration of a gay bishop, the ordination of women and other liberal policies.

The properties at stake are worth more than $100 million, making this the largest church-property dispute in Texas history, and probably in U.S. history as well, lawyers say.

What’s more, the court decision will affect the way Texas handles future church disputes by further pinning down a moving legal target: the dividing line between the free exercise of religion, as guaranteed by the First Amendment, and state laws affecting property, nonprofits and related areas.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

1 Comments
Posted December 29, 2012 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The videos of the oral arguments yesterday in the two church property cases before the Texas Supreme Court are now archived. The first, The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, et al. v. The Episcopal Church (No. 11-0265), may be watched here; the second, Robert Masterson, et al., v. Diocese of Northwest Texas, et al. (No. 11-0332), is at this link.

The two cases involved similar issues of property law: under the "neutral principles" approach, how do courts resolve intra-church disputes over who has control of the entity holding title to the real property? In both of the cases, the entities holding the legal title are corporations; and in both cases, the Episcopal Church (USA) -- or the diocese (in the Masterson case) -- claim the right to decide just who may occupy the offices in those corporations....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

1 Comments
Posted October 18, 2012 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort WorthTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

0 Comments
Posted October 16, 2012 at 8:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rev. Mark A. Bleakley, vicar of All Saints, will lead both the Holy Eucharist Services and the Christian Training. Bleakley currently lives in Vicksburg.

Bleakley graduated from Bob Jones University in 1995 and earned a Masters of Divinity in 2004 from Cranmer Theological House in Houston. He was ordained deacon at Holy Trinity Reformed Episcopal Church by Bishop Daniel Morse of the Reformed Episcopal Diocese of Mid-America and moved to Philadelphia, Pa., where he served as youth director at St. Mark's Reformed Episcopal parish for a year. In 2005, he was licensed by Bishop Duncan to serve as a deacon at Grace Episcopal Church, Mt. Washington, Pa., where he served for two and half years.

On the Feast of the Holy Cross, Sept. 14, 2007, Bishop David Hicks of the Diocese of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic ordained him to the sacred priesthood at Grace Episcopal Church under the blessing of Bishop Duncan.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)Episcopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained

0 Comments
Posted September 15, 2012 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The dispute stems from the decision in 2008 by Iker and a majority of the 56 congregations in the Fort Worth diocese to leave the national church because of disagreements that included the ordination of a [non-celibate] gay bishop.

Iker's group, which continues to call itself the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, allowed the parishes that voted to remain in the Episcopal Church to keep their assets. It took the rest of them, saying they were diocesan property under state law.

The group that remained with the national church, led by provisional Bishop Wallis Ohl, and the national church sued in district court contending that all the assets belonged to the national church. In addition to St. Andrew's, properties include Camp Crucis in Granbury and churches throughout a 24-county region.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

0 Comments
Posted September 5, 2012 at 3:46 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an order published...[yesterday], the Supreme Court of Texas has, following its announcements of decisions in a number of pending cases, granted Bishop Iker's request for expedited oral argument and set the case for hearing on the same day as the San Angelo case (the appeal by Church of the Good Shepherd from the decision in favor of the Diocese of Northwest Texas) -- October 16, 2012, at 9 a.m.

Each side will have twenty minutes for oral argument.

Read it all and follow the many links.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican IdentityEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort WorthTEC Polity & Canons* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* TheologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 1, 2012 at 12:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Back to work at 2:15. The Bishops dealt with a sensitive issue. Seven bishops--some retired or no longer Episcopalian--had signed a friendly brief for the court proceedings in Fort Worth to support the parishes who left The Episcopal Church and are trying to keep their property. Because much of our conversation was private, I can only report that we had a unanimous roll call vote to support the Episcopal parishes, the right of the Episcopal bishops in the dioceses struggling with property disputes, and affirmation that the Episcopal bishops are the only rightful bishops in these dioceses. It was a hard but grace filled conversation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention --Gen. Con. 2012TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort WorthTEC Conflicts: QuincyTEC Polity & Canons--Aggressive Title IV Action Against Multiple Bishops on Eve of Gen. Con. 2012

4 Comments
Posted July 9, 2012 at 6:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
Resolved, That Episcopalians in the Dioceses of Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy and San Joaquin--lay and clergy--be commended for their unflagging efforts to continue to witness to God's mission as The Episcopal Church during recent difficult times as they reorganize their continuing dioceses in that same spirit; and be it further

Resolved, That the leadership in each of those four continuing dioceses be commended for their similar efforts, including in particular the Rt. Rev. C. Wallis Ohl, Provisional Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth; the Rt. Rev. Kenneth L. Price, Assisting Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh; the Rt. Rev. John C. Buchanan, Provisional Bishop of the Diocese of Quincy; and the Rt. Rev. Chester L. Talton, Provisional Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin, and especially the strong lay leadership of each dioceses.
You may read more there.

Update: You can check to see the headline chosen by the TEC affiliated diocese of Fort Worth there.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention --Gen. Con. 2012TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort WorthTEC Conflicts: QuincyTEC Polity & Canons* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

13 Comments
Posted July 8, 2012 at 5:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
Attorneys for the Diocese, Corporation, and congregations have filed a Motion to Expedite Oral Argument in our appeal to the Texas State Supreme Court. This extraordinary request was prompted, in part, by the threat of ecclesiastical discipline against the seven TEC Bishops who filed a brief in April as friends of the court, describing the structure of TEC hierarchy, as expressed in the Constitution and Canons which govern TEC’s General Convention and its relationships with member dioceses.

The Motion seeks a date for oral argument not later than October 16 this year. That is the date the Court has set to hear arguments in the appeal of Church of the Good Shepherd, San Angelo.

Because the Court is currently in recess, it is not expected to consider the Motion before it reconvenes in August. Action against the bishops was initiated at the end of June.
You may find the Motion to Expedite Oral Argument there and also please see an Anglican Ink article on this matter here.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort WorthTEC Polity & Canons* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

0 Comments
Posted July 7, 2012 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefforts Schori
The Episcopal Church
815 Second Avenue
New York, NY, 10017

Re: Request to set the record straight

Dear Bishop Jefforts Schori:

We, the bishops of the Dioceses of Quincy and Fort Worth, with the support of the Standing Committee and Council of each diocese, respectfully urge the Church’s House of Bishops, at its meeting at the 77th General Convention in Indianapolis, to set the record straight regarding recent statements by certain bishops in our Church. The subject bishops are:

1. The Rt. Rev. Maurice M. Benitez (resigned, Diocese of Texas);
2. The Rt. Rev. John W. Howe (resigned, Diocese of Central Florida);
3. The Rt. Rev. Paul E. Lambert (suffragan, Diocese of Dallas);
4. The Rt. Rev. William H. Love (diocesan, Diocese of Albany);
5. The Rt. Rev. D. Bruce MacPherson (diocesan, Diocese of W. Louisiana);
6. The Rt. Rev. Daniel H. Martins (diocesan, Diocese of Springfield);
7. The Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton (diocesan, Diocese of Dallas);
8. The Rt. Rev. Peter Beckwith (resigned, Diocese of Springfield); and
9. The Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon (resigned, Diocese of South Carolina).

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The House of Bishops is well aware of the litigation across this Church resulting from breakaway factions who left The Episcopal Church but claim to have taken parishes and entire dioceses, and all the historic church property, names, records, and funds, with them, and claim to “be” the continuing parish or diocese. In the Dioceses of Quincy, Fort Worth, San Joaquin, and Pittsburgh, these breakaway efforts were led by former members of the House of Bishops.

Recent events illustrate that there are still bishops in our Church who harm the Church by officially misrepresenting the polity of the Church; invading the episcopal jurisdiction of other bishops; taking official, formal, affirmative actions directly against their own Church and sister dioceses; and even recognizing the continuing authority of breakaway former bishops over the bishops who are recognized by this Church. In doing so they give aid and comfort to breakaway factions who would take title and control of substantially all of the real and personal property of this Church and cripple its mission and ministry.

Specifically, on April 23, 2012 Bishops Benitez, Howe, Lambert, Love, MacPherson, Martins, and Stanton, purporting to act in their oficial capacities as bishops of The Episcopal Church and its House of Bishops, caused to be filed an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief n litigation in support of a breakaway faction led by former bishop Jack Iker and against this Church and its Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

Similarly, on October 6, 2011, 2011, Bishops Salmon, MacPherson, and Beckwith, purporting to act in their official capacities as bishops of The Episcopal Church and its House of Bishops, caused to be filed affidavits in litigation in support of a breakaway faction led by Alberto Morales and against this Church and its Episcopal Diocese of Quincy. The details of their misrepresentations are reflected in the documents themselves. However, generally the bishops falsely claimed as follows:

1. They Represented that Dioceses Can Unilaterally Leave: These bishops give aid and comfort to breakaway factions trying to alienate this Church’s historic property and identity and urge a false view of polity that would purport to authorize each bishop across this Church to lead his or her diocese and church property in the diocese out of The Episcopal Church.

2. They Denied the Dennis Canon and Failed to Safeguard Church Property: These bishops advocate that the breakaway parties should prevail in the litigation against The Episcopal Church and the loyal Episcopalians in those dioceses and assert positions that would strip millions of dollars of historic property and funds, lovingly accumulated by generations of Episcopalians, from the mission and ministry of this Church, and instead urge that they be used by breakaway factions for the mission and ministry of a new church. They thus would nullify this Church’s trust interest in all the real and personal property of congregations in those dioceses and, indeed, across The Episcopal Church and fail to safeguard property of the Church and its dioceses.

3. They Recognized the Wrong Bishops: The amicus bishops in the Fort Worth case expressly claim that Iker, not Bishop Wallis Ohl, repeatedly recognized by the Church, is still the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth; in the Quincy filing the affidavit bishops imply that Morales, not Bishop John C. Buchanan, repeatedly recognized by the Church, is the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy. By this claim these bishops not only reject this Church’s authority to recognize its own bishops but they arrogate for themselves, in direct defiance of this Church, the authority to determine the episcopal authority of every other bishop in the Church, substituting at will their personal standards for those of this Church and trying to inject chaos into core ecclesiastical functions of The Episcopal Church itself.

4. They Violated Episcopal Jurisdiction: By their public filings in local litigation, without invitation or consent of the ecclesiastical authority in those sister dioceses, these bishops directly violated the ecclesiastical authority and episcopal jurisdiction of Bishop C. Wallis Oh1 and Bishop John C. Buchanan, respectively, who have been consistently recognized by The Episcopal Church as being the current bishops of Fort Worth and Quincy. By inserting themselves in local litigation against the ecclesiastical authority in those dioceses, the subject bishops have violated the longstanding prohibition against “acting in another diocese without the consent of the diocesan authority”’ and have engaged in boundary crossing to interfere profoundly in the mission and the very existence of a sister diocese and the jurisdiction of other bishops of this Church.

CONCLUSION

This is not a matter of a few unhappy bishops stating their personal views on church polity. They each affirmatively and officially acted by injecting themselves, intentionally and without invitation from the bishops exercising jurisdiction, into local litigation, opposing this Church and sister dioceses on core ecclesiastical issues regarding the very identity of other dioceses.

We respectfully urge that the House of Bishops set the record straight on the polity of this Church regarding its hierarchical character.

Respectfully submitted,

(signed)

(The Rt. Rev.) C. Wallis Ohl (TEC) Bishop of Fort Worth

(The Rt. Rev.) John C. Buchanan (TEC) Bishop of Quincy

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort WorthTEC Conflicts: QuincyTEC Polity & Canons

19 Comments
Posted July 6, 2012 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In their brief, the bishops and ACI argue that the summary judgment ruling by the trial court in the Fort Worth litigation violated the First Amendment to the United States Constitution because it immersed the court in an impermissible “searching” and “extensive inquiry into religious polity.” Under the Supreme Court’s First Amendment jurisprudence, courts may constitutionally defer to a church authority rather than apply neutral principles of law only if they can identify the appropriate ecclesiastical authority without conducting such an extensive inquiry into church governance. In the case of The Episcopal Church, its governing constitution specifies that the diocesan bishop is “the Ecclesiastical Authority” in the diocese. Acceptance of TEC’s claim that there are other bodies or offices with hierarchical supremacy over the diocesan bishop would require the Court to become embroiled in a searching historical analysis of difficult questions of church polity without any explicit language in the church’s governing instrument on which to base its conclusion. The First Amendment does not permit such a result.

First, look at the summary introduction and then take the time to read the whole argument (36 page pdf).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort WorthTEC Polity & Canons* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture

8 Comments
Posted April 24, 2012 at 5:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....because ECUSA's governing documents do not attempt to place any restrictions on property owned or controlled by member dioceses, but only on the properties of parishes and missions, its claims to the diocesan properties are bogus, and require no "deference" whatsoever.

Texas is thus appearing as though it could be the first jurisdiction in the United States to issue a definitive ruling on the ability of Episcopal Church (USA) member dioceses to leave that organization with their property and bank accounts intact. Of course, the fact that the Episcopal Church did nothing to stop the Confederate dioceses from withdrawing en masse after the outbreak of the Civil War, and waited patiently for them to return afterward without ever going to court over the matter, speaks volumes.

The Episcopal Church (USA)'s priorities have changed markedly in 150 years -- and not for the better. That it would consume its ever-dwindling resources over such a dispute is nothing to be emulated, or admired. (Thankfully, PCUSA thus far has had to deal only with the withdrawal of individual parishes, and not regional presbyteries or synods.) Instead of chasing after dioceses no longer willing to participate in its apostasy and decline, ECUSA should concentrate on getting its own house in order.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

9 Comments
Posted March 27, 2012 at 5:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a 49-page brief filed today with the Texas State Supreme Court, attorneys for the Diocese, Corporation, and congregations asked the Court to uphold several previous Appellate Court decisions and establish Neutral Principles as the method for resolving church property disputes in the state.

Neutral Principles, accepted in 36 states and approved by the U.S. Supreme Court since 1979, is a method of settling questions of church property ownership using the same rules that govern ownership of other types of private property, and it removes courts from wading into doctrinal disputes.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

3 Comments
Posted February 9, 2012 at 3:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

0 Comments
Posted January 9, 2012 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Via email:
The elected officers of the Diocese and Diocesan Corporation were extremely pleased today to learn that the Texas State Supreme Court has granted our motion for direct appeal. The Court has agreed to reconsider the February 2011 decision by the 141st District Court, which would result in the surrender of all property to representatives of the New York-based Episcopal Church.

The Diocese's written brief is due to be filed with the Court by Feb. 6. The opposing parties may respond by Feb. 27, after which the Diocese will have about two weeks to reply. A hearing date has not been set.

Commenting on the news, Bishop Jack L. Iker said, “We are delighted with the decision of the Texas Supreme Court to grant our request for a direct appeal in the lawsuit brought against us by The Episcopal Church. It is very rare for a direct appeal to be filed in the first place, and it is even rarer for the Supreme Court to grant one. It is clear that the Court understands that key questions of the constitutionality of Texas statutes, trust codes, and property laws are at issue in this litigation.

“It is our hope and expectation that the Supreme Court, using neutral principles of law, will rule in our favor.”

With one Episcopal church property appeal from the Church of the Good Shepherd in San Angelo already before the Court, it is even more significant that the court has moved so swiftly to take up our case. This announcement encourages us to believe that the Court finds merit in our case, and it renews our hope of an early conclusion to litigation that has already consumed almost three years and millions of dollars in legal expenses.

“It is gratifying,” said Fort Worth attorney J. Shelby Sharpe, who heads the diocesan legal team,“ that the court has granted the petition for direct appeal in this critical religious freedom case. We look forward to the court's ultimate decision, which should be helpful to other courts facing similar issues.”



Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

0 Comments
Posted January 9, 2012 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
On Dec. 2, leaders of the Diocese announced they had received a request from the Bishop’s Committee at St. Timothy’s, Fort Worth, asking that members of the mission congregation, as well as Fr. Christopher Stainbrook, the vicar, be permitted to become part of the Roman Catholic Church's Anglican Ordinariate while continuing to use the real property of the church for worship, instruction, and fellowship activities. It was announced that a forum would be held on Sunday, Dec. 11, to discuss the situation, and that a vote of the qualified members would be taken the following week in order to ascertain the wish of the majority of the congregation.

On Dec. 6, lawyers for The Episcopal Church parties delivered a letter to our legal team inquiring about the situation at St. Timothy and commenting that the proposed use of the St. Timothy property by a body from another denomination would not be a “normal course of business use” in compliance with the order of the 141st District Court signed Oct. 20, 2011. The team was asked to explain how the situation would be handled to be in compliance with the order to avoid a hearing before the court, or the TEC lawyers indicated they would proceed to bring the matter to the court's attention.

Our attorneys have therefore informed Fr. Stainbrook and the Bishop’s Committee that “Bishop Iker and the diocesan leadership ... cannot jeopardize the entire Diocese as a result of your desire to join the Ordinariate.” It is imperative that all parties to the proceedings in the 141st, including St. Timothy, obey the October 20 order.

As a result, the Dec. 18 vote of the mission congregation has been canceled. The Dec. 11 forum will be held as planned, so that the congregation has an opportunity to ask questions and share its concerns. Bishop Iker will accept Fr. Stainbrook's resignation from Anglican orders as part of his stated intention to seek re-ordination for service in the Ordinariate.

“We regret,” Bishop Iker says, “that the desires of the St. Timothy's Ordinariate group to continue to use the facilities after Jan. 1, 2012, would be contrary to the court order and subject all of us to unnecessary legal proceedings that the TEC lawyers have stated they are prepared to pursue. Sadly, this prevents a pastoral solution to a sensitive issue of spiritual discernment. We are grateful to Bishop Keith Ackerman for his willingness to provide Sunday services at St. Timothy's beginning on the first Sunday after Christmas Day.”



Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

11 Comments
Posted December 8, 2011 at 1:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After hearing from each side and noting that the 14-page proposed order submitted to him today “is a lot thicker than the one was back in May,” the judge returned to the original three-page document presented on May 19, 2011, which he said had been “sitting in my drawer since then.” He announced that he already had struck out a paragraph requesting “additional security” for the TEC parties and had entered a figure of $5 million as a benchmark of “fair market rental value” of a select dozen churches in the Diocese – a value presented in May by the TEC attorneys. Lead diocesan attorney Shelby Sharpe explained that no rent ever is paid by churches for use of property owned by the Corporation. Nevertheless, said the judge, the property “does have some value.”

Judge Chupp then set the bond at two percent of $5 million, or $100,000, to be paid by Nov. 20, 2011. In addition to the cash amount, the order requires each of the 48 parishes and missions involved in the judgment to present a “monthly summary of the sources, amounts and payees of any and all expenditures ...”

Read it all and please follow the links.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

0 Comments
Posted October 21, 2011 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



The segment description is as follows:
George Conger and Kevin Kallsen bring you back to the "new media" of the 1980's in their "On this day in History" segment. They also discuss the use of analogies and their place in a violent world. Alan Haley discusses some specifics from the court case in the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin; and our guest Bishop this week is Bishop Iker from the Diocese of Fort Worth. Bishop Iker brings news from the Fort Worth law suit and the new heat record for DFW.
Watch it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: Analysis- Anglican: Latest NewsEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort WorthTEC Conflicts: San Joaquin* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

6 Comments
Posted August 6, 2011 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the Anglican tradition, the Holy Bible is revered as central to God’s self-revelation to the world. It is the divinely inspired, revealed Word of God, unchanged from the time of the first Apostles. It expresses the unchanging Gospel of the Lord Jesus for ever-changing times – for, though times may change, the Truth does not. The Letter to the Hebrews reminds us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings.” (Hebrews 13:8) Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word of God, tells us, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.”(John 14:6) When certain bishops deny these words, they are no longer true guardians and defenders of the faith, unity and discipline of the Church, as held by Anglicans around the world. Those who abandon the teachings of the Bible also abandon the Anglican way. Such innovators are free to start a new church, but do not call it Anglican if it does not abide by the clear standards and teachings revealed in Holy Writ.

While being clear that the Bible is basic and fundamental to all that Forward in Faith stands for, that it is the foundation upon which everything stands, we must hasten to add that our faith is not in the Bible, but in Jesus Christ. We believe the Bible, because it is the Written Word that bears witness to the Incarnate Word. We are saved by our faith in Jesus, not the Scriptures. So while we affirm that Anglicanism rests on a firm Biblical foundation, we confess that Jesus Christ Himself is that one foundation upon which the Church of God is built. As St. Paul reminded the Church in Corinth, “No other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (I Cor. 3:11) Historic, orthodox Anglicanism is built upon nothing less than the sure foundation of Jesus Christ, and everything else rests upon Him. In his Epistle to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul states it in a slightly different way: “You are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord.” (Ephesians 2:20)

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesCono Sur [formerly Southern Cone]Episcopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* TheologyTheology: Scripture

14 Comments
Posted June 16, 2011 at 3:49 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The appeal is a Texas-sized piece of litigation: take a look at the first five pages of the Jurisdictional Statement, which are required just to list all of the parties involved and their counsel!

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

0 Comments
Posted June 5, 2011 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
On Wednesday, June 1, attorneys for the Diocese initiated our direct appeal to the Texas State Supreme Court, arguing that the high court should review the trial court's Feb. 8 judgment in favor of local Episcopal Church (TEC) parties without the delay of an intermediate appeal.

The Statement of Jurisdiction asks for the Supreme Court's immediate attention to what it describes as ”the largest church property dispute in Texas history,” involving ”60 churches and over $100 million in property.”

The Statement shows that the case meets all the statutory requirements for a direct appeal. Foremost among these is the requirement that the lower court's decision challenges “the constitutionality of a state statute.” It explains that the trial court order, if allowed to stand, would overturn trust law in the state and set a precedent against the use of neutral principles to decide church property cases. The neutral principles approach has been established in Texas and most other states since 1979 and has been upheld in five Texas courts of appeal, as well as the state Supreme Court, as recently as 2007. The effect on trust law would extend to virtually every non-profit organization in the state, making it difficult or impossible for them to hold bank accounts, take loans, or conduct other business anywhere in Texas.

TEC supporters have 10 days in which to respond to the filing. Diocesan attorney Scott Brister explains that “the Court holds conference and takes votes every Monday in June; thereafter, it does not convene again until August.” Attorneys for the Diocese hope the court will accept the appeal before its summer recess and set a hearing date for early fall.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort WorthTEC Parishes* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

0 Comments
Posted June 2, 2011 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
We are looking forward to having Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali visit our diocese May 22-25 for a teaching mission. He is the former Bishop of the Diocese of Rochester in England and a recognized expert on the subject of Muslim-Christian relations. He is a native of Pakistan who converted to the Christian faith and then felt called to the ordained ministry. He will preach at St. Vincent’s Cathedral on Sunday, May 22, and lead a diocesan clergy day on Tuesday, May 24, at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Fort Worth. That evening, everyone is invited to hear him speak at the Will Rogers Center in Fort Worth’s cultural district. His theme is “Hold Fast: An Urgent Call to the Western Church.” The event begins at 6:30 p.m., and I hope you will come and bring friends with you.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult EducationPreaching / Homiletics

1 Comments
Posted May 20, 2011 at 4:51 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. tomorrow, May 19, in the 141st District Court, to determine the amount of the supersedeas bond that the Diocese will be required to post to avoid having to turn over our properties pending the appeal.

Following our Motion, filed in April, to set the bond at $0 and permit our congregations to continue using and caring for their property, the plaintiffs now have filed what appears to be a request for a bond of “at least $13.5 million.”

As always, please keep the hearing in your prayers, and, if possible, plan to attend. The court is located on the fourth floor of the Family Law Center on Weatherford Street in Fort Worth.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

9 Comments
Posted May 18, 2011 at 6:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Representatives of the Episcopal Church implied if they were victorious in the lawsuit and St. Vincent's property was indeed vacated, it would be used for mission work. This was not the case when the building sheltering The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in New York City, valued at $386,400, was forced to be vacated and then sold for $50,000 in order to house the Islamic Awareness Center. Time magazine's David Van Biema reported that Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the Episcopal Church "would rather see the churches sold and deconsecrated for secular purposes than passed on to the departing congregations."

I wonder what kind of message is being sent to the world as ecclesiastical focus shifts from charity to greed. Is it not permissible to just walk away during a disagreement instead of suing one another? I remember those preschoolers in that tiny chapel during the late '70s settling differences on the playground by a handshake. God bless this grownup mess.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

10 Comments
Posted May 16, 2011 at 3:24 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The diocese has received good news this month from two federal courts: Two suits initiated in 2010 against diocesan leadership have been stayed until the appeal of the primary suit has run its course in state courts, and a third will not impede an arbitration process already under way.

On Wednesday, May 11, in Fort Worth, federal court judge Terry Means responded favorably to two motions filed by the Diocese seeking to stay the intellectual-property suits brought against Bishop Iker last fall. One, brought by The Episcopal Church last September, seeks to seize control of the diocesan seal and the name “The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.” The other, filed a month later by All Saints’ Church on Crestline Road in Fort Worth, alleged that Bishop Iker had been using the parish’s seal and had improperly bestowed its name on another congregation. Subsequently Fr. Darryl Pigeon and the vestry of his Fort Worth congregation were added as defendants. Judge Means stayed the first suit in December; his decision of Wednesday confirms and extends that order. The stay on the All Saints’ suit is the first order he has issued in that case.

Read it all and follow the links also.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

0 Comments
Posted May 14, 2011 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On May 4, in response to a Complaint filed April 25 in federal district court by the Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company [PIIC], the Diocese filed a Motion to Stay the suit pending the results of an arbitration which had already commenced between the parties.

The suit, which is the fifth action against the Diocese and its elected leaders in the last 24 months, was announced on the Web site of the local TEC-affiliated congregations, led by Bishop Wallis Ohl.

Read it all and follow the links to the two documents.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

0 Comments
Posted May 6, 2011 at 6:03 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
...[On] April 28, Judge John Chupp will determine to what extent he will permit the local minority group aligned with TEC to conduct discovery with regard to the Motion to Set Supersedeas Bond* that has been filed by our attorneys. We are asking Judge Chupp to permit the Diocese and our 48 congregations to continue to have possession of the property while the case is being appealed, without the necessity of posting a large bond. The local minority group wants to take depositions and conduct other discovery, including inspections of the property, ostensibly for the purpose of developing evidence to support their argument that a substantial bond should be required as a condition for the continued possession of the property by the Diocese and its congregations during the appeal.

According to David Weaver, who is representing our congregations, "Since the plaintiffs likely will not prevail on the bond issue, they are attempting a flanking maneuver by seeking permission from the Court to allow them to engage in expensive discovery procedures."

Please keep the hearing in your prayers, and, if possible, plan to attend. The 141st District Court is located on the fourth floor of the Family Law Center on Weatherford Street in Fort Worth.

*A supersedeas bond is a deposit made during an appeal process when the case involves property and the party making the appeal wishes to delay full payment until the process concludes


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

0 Comments
Posted April 30, 2011 at 7:56 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
Following the sever-and-stay order issued April 5 by the 141st district court, leaders of the Diocese and Corporation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth will file a Notice of Appeal with the trial court early in the week of April 11. We will dispute the court’s ruling that all our property is held in trust for TEC; on the contrary, the property is held for the benefit of the local congregation, as our Constitution and Canons plainly state.

Our attorneys anticipate making the appeal directly to the Texas State Supreme Court. It is within the Court's discretion to take the case directly, or to require that we go first to the intermediate Court of Appeals. Since all parties agree that the case will come inevitably before the high court, we hope to save both the time and expense of an intermediate appeal as we seek resolution to the litigation brought against us, which has been so distracting from our mission for the past two years.

As an additional result of the April 5 order, all discovery in the case is now on hold. The plaintiffs' proposed property inspections will not be carried out. Nor will the judge's Feb. 8 order to surrender our property be enforced during this period: Our congregations will not be evicted from their churches for the duration of this process, if ever.

We give thanks for the opportunity to appeal our case, and we continue to pray for our attorneys as we move on to this very important phase of the litigation.



Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

1 Comments
Posted April 10, 2011 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two senior priests of the Diocese of Fort Worth have left the breakaway Anglo-Catholic diocese for the Anglican Ordinariate.

On March 8, Bishop Jack Iker announced that his number two man, Canon Charles Hough, and Fr. Louis Tobola had resigned their posts effective March 31.

The bishop noted Canon Hough had served as Canon to the Ordinary for the past 17 years, and he and Fr. Tobola had each served for over 30 years in the diocese. “Though they have not yet resigned from the ordained ministry, they are expected to do so at the time the Ordinariate is established for former Anglicans who wish to come into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church,” Bishop Iker said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)Anglican ProvincesCono Sur [formerly Southern Cone]Episcopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

7 Comments
Posted April 1, 2011 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When the Diocese realigned in November 2008, a small minority of our members elected to leave their churches to worship elsewhere. The following April, the Diocese was sued on behalf of those people, and two years later we are still in the midst of what will be a precedent-setting case to defend our property under Texas law.

In the weeks since our last court hearing, on Feb. 8, our lawyers have been conferring and negotiating with the plaintiffs' attorneys over the terms surrounding Judge John Chupp's Jan. 21 ruling, which favored the plaintiffs. Since the Jan. 21 ruling did not dispose of the case, the parties are engaged in a process of "discovery" which permits them to obtain and examine one another's records. Some of the documents requested by the plaintiffs previously have been delivered to them for inspection, and other documents currently are being prepared.

In addition, lawyers for the parishes and missions of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and lawyers representing the minority breakaway faction (affiliated with the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America) are making arrangements for the inspection, requested by attorneys and representatives of the minority faction, of all our property, including the Diocesan Center, Camp Crucis, and all our churches. This inspection is being arranged pursuant to a Request for Entry Upon Property filed by the minority faction pursuant to Rule 196.7(a)(1) of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.

This rule provides that any party to a lawsuit may request and obtain entry upon the property of another party to the lawsuit "to inspect, measure, survey, photograph, test, or sample the property or any designated object or operation thereon." The Rule is customarily and routinely invoked whenever there is litigation between competing parties with respect to which party has a right to title or possession of property. This is nothing to be alarmed about, though the other side is attempting to use it for propaganda purposes, to promote the impression that they have prevailed in the litigation, when, in fact, it is far from over.

Previous rulings by the Trial Court in the litigation pending in Tarrant County – including the interlocutory Declaratory Judgment – have no effect on the right of the minority faction to inspect the properties. According to Rule 197(a), the right of a party to inspect property in the possession of the other party exists until "the earlier of 30 days before the end of the discovery period or 30 days before trial."

The motivation that underlies the minority faction's decision to incur the thousands of dollars in expense for the inspection of the property in the Diocese is unknown to the attorneys and officers of the Diocese. Unfortunately, however, the Diocese will incur substantial expense, because the inspections by the minority faction must be supervised by the attorneys representing the Diocese and its parishes and missions.

Attorneys representing both sides of the dispute are attempting to schedule the inspections so as to minimize disruption of regularly scheduled activities and events sponsored by the Diocese and its parishes and missions.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market

1 Comments
Posted March 12, 2011 at 9:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Please keep him and Marilyn in your prayers. My understanding is that he is intending to pursue ministry in the Roman Catholic Church, likely under the provisions of the Ordinariate when that all becomes clear.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

7 Comments
Posted March 7, 2011 at 8:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a hearing today before the Hon. John Chupp, attorneys for the Diocese and Corporation persuaded him to grant all our objections to the Partial Summary Judgment orders he issued Jan. 21. As a result, The Episcopal Church authorities will not succeed in their efforts to force some 6,000 regular Sunday worshipers to vacate their churches any time in the near future - and perhaps never, depending on the results of an appeal of the case. As the appellate process proceeds, the Bishop, clergy, and elected lay leaders will continue to carry out their duties and ministries as in the past.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

0 Comments
Posted February 8, 2011 at 8:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all and follow the links.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

0 Comments
Posted January 28, 2011 at 6:07 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A dispute within the church and the Fort Worth diocese has caused both to now worship at different buildings. But the ruling from the Judge John P. Chupp of the 141st District Court could signal a start to the reconciliation process and a return to the buildings they both said they've been a part of for many years.

"We are, of course, pleased with last week's decisions," said Coleman. "We hope it may hasten the day when our building at Burnett Street and Tenth will be returned to our use."

The ongoing dispute several years in the making came to a crossroads this past Friday. Bishop Jack L. Iker is a leader of a movement to realign his followers under the South American-based Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, the branch of the church that is headquartered in Argentina.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

4 Comments
Posted January 25, 2011 at 6:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop Jack Iker said he and other area Episcopalians who left the national church will appeal a judge's decision ordering his group to give up all property of the 24-county Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

15 Comments
Posted January 23, 2011 at 1:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all and please follow the links as well.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

8 Comments
Posted January 22, 2011 at 3:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The judge did not issue a decision of his own, but simply signed the pro forma orders submitted by ECUSA and the local Gulick parties. He made a few deletions in the former, to make it clear that he was deciding the case by deference to the "hierarchy" of the Episcopal Church (USA), and not on neutral principles of law. Indeed, he staked his all on a bet that the Texas higher courts would not follow the latter approach, since he struck out the proposed paragraph that would have said he would reach the same result under "neutral principles" analysis. Thus if the Court of Appeal rules that he should have applied neutral principles, he will have to start all over again.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

3 Comments
Posted January 22, 2011 at 3:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Friday afternoon, Jan. 21, attorneys for the Diocese and Corporation received two orders from the Hon. John Chupp in the matter of the main suit against us, in which a minority of former members has been joined by The Episcopal Church in an effort to claim diocesan property. Judge Chupp signed an order drafted by the plaintiffs' attorneys, from which he struck several points with which he did not apparently agree. The order does find that TEC is a hierarchical church, and on that basis the judge has ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. The judge's order can be read here.

Friday's ruling from the trial court is a disappointment but not a disaster. The plaintiffs have offered no evidence, either in the courtroom or in their voluminous filings, supporting their claim that the Diocese was not entitled to withdraw from The Episcopal Church, as it did in November 2008. Nor have they demonstrated a legal right to our property, which is protected by Texas statutes regulating trusts and non-profit corporations.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

0 Comments
Posted January 22, 2011 at 2:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The plaintiffs in the suit are TEC and local Episcopal parties who were in the minority when the Diocese voted to separate from TEC in 2008. Their representatives argued that once a parish joins TEC, “you are subject irrevocably to The Episcopal Church” and that the General Convention's canons are “silent” on the subject of a diocese separating from the larger body because “it is inconceivable.” Ownership of property, one attorney argued, “is an ecclesiastical question.”

Representatives for the Diocese, Corporation, and the intervening parishes warned the judge that “other states have some crazy statutes,” but that Texas law does not permit a trust to be imposed on another person's property without written consent, that no trust is irrevocable unless that is expressly stated, and that non-profit corporations, such as the one that holds the property of the Diocese, are entitled to select their own officers without having them removed at the whim of others. To rule in favor of the plaintiffs, therefore, would be to “declare Texas trust law unconstitutional” and throw into question the legal status of virtually every church property in the state.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

1 Comments
Posted January 15, 2011 at 10:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What I wish to call your attention to in this post is something that had completely escaped me in previous visits to the multifarious litigation occurring in Fort Worth. One of the attorneys for Bishop Ohl and the Local Episcopal Parties, Jonathan Nelson (he argued at the initial hearings in front of Judge Chupp), who is now on his own, was earlier in a law partnership in Fort Worth called Broude, Nelson & Harrington, P.C. As a member of that law firm, he represented the Corporation of the Diocese of Fort Worth in a 1993 lawsuit against the Rev. M. L. McCauley, of the Church of the Holy Apostles, who had voted with his vestry to leave the Diocese and join the Antiochean Orthodox Church.

Bishop Iker was then the Co-Adjutor of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, scheduled in 1994 to succeed the Rt. Rev. Clarence C. Pope, Jr., who as the diocesan was also the head of the associated Corporation. That Corporation, in turn, was established to hold legal title to the real property of all the parishes in the Diocese -- including the Church of the Holy Apostles. Thus when the Rev. McCauley and his vestry claimed the right to continue to occupy the parish's property after they had joined the Orthodox Church, the Corporation of the Diocese had to become the plaintiff in a lawsuit filed to oust them from possession. The attorney who participated in drafting the complaint and supporting affidavits for the plaintiff Corporation, and who signed his name to the pleadings, was Jonathan Nelson, of Broude, Nelson & Harrington, P.C., Fort Worth, Texas.

Now that same Jonathan Nelson is representing the minority who, with their provisional bishop, has brought suit against Bishop Iker and the other trustees of the diocesan Corporation. And he has the gall to offer, on behalf of his current clients, the very pleadings and affidavits which he mainly drafted in the 1993 lawsuit as ostensible "judicial admissions" on the part of his former clients.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort WorthTEC Polity & Canons* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

8 Comments
Posted January 9, 2011 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Episcopal Church suffered a setback this week in its Texas legal battle with the breakaway Diocese of Fort Worth after a US Federal judge stayed all proceedings in the trademark against Bishop Jack Iker, pending the diocese’s motion to intervene in the case.

On Dec 20, Judge Terry R. Means in Fort Worth issued a one-page order that “in the interests of judicial economy and fairness to all parties,” the proceedings in the Episcopal Church’s trademark infringement suit against Bishop Iker would be stayed until the court ruled on the diocese’s request to intervene in the proceedings.

The decision affects only the third of the four lawsuits initiated by the national Episcopal Church and its surrogates against Bishop Iker and the majority faction of the Diocese of Fort Worth....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

1 Comments
Posted December 23, 2010 at 4:27 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I resolved to stay away from ECUSA's litigation troubles during this season of the nativity, but I still have to report to my readers breaking news, if it is important. And this is important news: the federal district court in Fort Worth today issued a one-page order staying all further proceedings in the trademark infringement action brought by the rump diocese of Fort Worth and its "corporation" (which does not actually exist, for reasons I explain below). The stay will remain in effect until the court resolves the pending motions by the real diocese of Fort Worth and its real corporation to intervene in the case to protect their property rights in their name and corporate insignia.

With an apparently unlimited litigation budget in Texas, the Episcopal Church (USA) and its puppet diocese of Fort Worth have tried all manner of strategies to accomplish an end run around the courts of Texas and achieve a quick victory in their dispute with Bishop Jack L. Iker and his Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

17 Comments
Posted December 21, 2010 at 3:27 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort WorthTEC Conflicts: PittsburghTEC Conflicts: QuincyTEC Conflicts: San Joaquin

30 Comments
Posted November 30, 2010 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:

Citing “malicious prosecution and abuse of process” in bringing a suit which has “no factual or legal foundation,” a response filed Friday, Oct. 29, asks for sanctions on the lawyers who crafted litigation against Bishop Jack Iker on behalf of All Saints’ Episcopal Church on Crestline Road in Fort Worth.

Bishop Iker’s response denies the charges of harm to the Crestline Road congregation and notes that federal law provides “a remedy against counsel who unreasonably and vexatiously multiply the proceedings in a case.” The Oct. 15 complaint, filed in federal court, was intended to harass the Bishop and multiply the cost of litigation, the response explains. In addition, the federal suit multiplies the proceedings on an issue already under consideration in a Texas state court. The plaintiff and counsel are well aware of that suit, which covers the question of who owns certain church properties, including intellectual assets such as trademarks. That suit already represents the Crestline congregation’s interests.

Bishop Iker’s response asks the federal court to deny relief to the plaintiff church and to direct the plaintiff’s counsel to repay the Bishop’s legal costs.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesCono Sur [formerly Southern Cone]Episcopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

10 Comments
Posted November 1, 2010 at 3:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A fourth lawsuit has been laid at the doorstep of Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker by the loyalist faction in the diocese, claiming he has violated the trademark of a Fort Worth congregation for his personal enrichment and to deceive the local citizenry.

On Oct 18, the diocese reported that All Saints Episcopal Church, a congregation that had affiliated with the loyalist faction, had filed a lawsuit against Bishop Iker in the US Federal Court for the Northern District of Texas alleging the misappropriation of the parish’s name and reputation for his own personal ends.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

7 Comments
Posted October 24, 2010 at 1:33 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With three suits pending in two Texas counties, members of the minority that chose to stay in The Episcopal Church (TEC) two years ago have launched another assault on much the same grounds as the first three. Today All Saints’ Episcopal Church on Crestline Road in Fort Worth has sued Bishop Jack Iker personally, in federal court.

There can no longer be any doubt that this litigation is intended to harrass, intimidate, bankrupt, and divert the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, its Corporation, and its leadership – particularly Bishop Iker – from carrying out the mission of the Church.

Ironically, only this weekend Bishop Iker made several comments in jest to a gathering of clergy and laity of the Church of England in London, saying that he had “not checked the Internet today” to see whether he had been sued again.

In dispute now is the right of the Bishop to recognize a parish in the Diocese as All Saints’ Episcopal Church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)House of Deputies President TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

20 Comments
Posted October 19, 2010 at 6:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(Via email and with permission--KSH).

The federal lawsuit filed against me by the Schori-led group for trademark infringement is both preposterous and vindictive.

It's preposterous because a “minority faction” – in the words of the mandamus opinion from the Fort Worth Court of Appeals – is trying to get a different result in federal court from the state court ruling, which clearly stated that their lead counsel do not represent the diocese, and the minority faction does not have authority to act for the diocese.

Having been heavily out-voted at our diocesan conventions in November 2007 and again in 2008, the minority group left the diocese, yet is trying a hostile takeover of the diocese through the courts. They filed a lawsuit in state court in Tarrant County in April 2009 claiming to be the diocese. In June of this year the state appellate court found that the attorneys hired by this minority faction cannot represent the diocese. The state court lawsuit includes the two trademarks, namely the name and seal of the diocese.

Having struck out at the diocesan convention and struck out at the state court level, the minority faction filed this new lawsuit in federal court over the same trademarks as in the state court case. It looks like they are shopping for a new judge. As to whether this new case will be a “game changer,” we are confident that the minority faction will not be any more successful in federal court than they have been in state court.

The lawsuit is vindictive because it is aimed personally at me, as an individual. I do not use the trademarks personally – the diocese uses them! Even the minority faction acknowledges this when they say the diocese has used the marks since 1983. I have used the marks ever since I was consecrated bishop of the diocese in 1993, and I continue to hold that office. This is only one more indication of how angry the minority faction is at having lost the convention votes and left the diocese.

The question still remains: Why would they not accept our offer to transfer title of their property to them and avoid all this costly litigation?

--(The Rt. Rev.) Jack Leo Iker is Bishop of Fort Worth

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

9 Comments
Posted September 30, 2010 at 7:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My thanks to Randall Foster for these terrific pictures--read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)Anglican ProvincesCono Sur [formerly Southern Cone]Episcopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

1 Comments
Posted September 27, 2010 at 5:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The battle over the name of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has gone to federal court, with a trademark lawsuit filed against Bishop Jack Iker by the local group that chose to remain affiliated with the national church.

In 2008, delegates of the 19,000-member Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth voted overwhelmingly to leave the national denomination over issues including same-sex unions and the ordination of women. Several churches remained with the national denomination, and both groups now operate as the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

The lawsuit, filed this week, contends that even though the Iker-led group left the national Episcopal Church, it "has been continuously providing, advertising and marketing its religious services under the name and service mark 'The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.'"

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

13 Comments
Posted September 25, 2010 at 9:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Frank Kirkpatrick, professor of religion at Trinity College, wrote in a survey article in 2008 that "there were, as of December [2007], 55 [Episcopal Church] property disputes in one state or another of resolution around the country." (You may find a listing of those lawsuits in this post from August 2008, and see also the latest report from the American Anglican Council.) Of those fifty-five lawsuits, I estimate that ECUSA itself was a party to about half of them. Thus from the five lawsuits to which it was a party as Bishop Griswold ended his term in November 2006 (the Pawley's Island case in South Carolina, the three Los Angeles lawsuits, and a case involving St. James Church in Elmhurst, in the Diocese of Long Island), the number increased by five times in the first full year of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's term.

Under Bishop Jefferts Schori, ECUSA did not just passively stand by as the property disputes emerged, and allow the diocese involved to carry the laboring oar. It aggressively prosecuted the cases in both California and Virginia, joined in filings in Connecticut, Georgia and New York (where it intervened as the DFMS against St. Andrew's, in Syracuse, and filed an amicus brief in this case in New York's highest court), became enmeshed in additional litigation in San Diego and Colorado, and threatened litigation against the dioceses of San Joaquin, Fort Worth and Quincy if they dared to withdraw from the Church. (The latter two threats were issued by the Presiding Bishop's Chancellor on his own initiative, as discussed in this earlier post.)

There are no records in the minutes of the Executive Council during this period to show that it was ever consulted before any of these multiple filings in the name of the Church took place; as quoted in the previous post, the Presiding Bishop held the view that only she personally, and neither the Council, nor even General Convention, had any authority over litigation. Thus she simply gave her Chancellor free rein -- and ECUSA's legal bills began to mount exponentially.

Read it all (and please note it is part of a series all parts of which need to be perused).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort WorthTEC Conflicts: PittsburghTEC Conflicts: QuincyTEC Conflicts: San JoaquinTEC Departing ParishesTEC Data* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

20 Comments
Posted September 2, 2010 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth was formed in 1982 by an organizing convention of clergy and lay delegates. The diocese then voted to affiliate with the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. General Convention does not establish dioceses; rather, dioceses join the General Convention voluntarily.

Diocesan conventions in 2007 and 2008 voted by 80 percent to withdraw from the General Convention. As an unincorporated association, the diocese simply exercised its right to withdraw. Nothing in the constitution or canons of TEC says a diocese may not leave. The litigation against us is an attempt to deny this legal right.

Read it all.

(Please note that the letter to which Ms Gill is responding may be found here [starts at the bottom of the page and continues on the following page at the top]).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

12 Comments
Posted August 28, 2010 at 10:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We see in this set of facts, as early as 2004, a recurring pattern. While professing to honor diversity -- and indeed, to seek "unity in diversity" -- the groups allied with Via Media have always taken root only in those dioceses led by orthodox clergy who stoutly resisted the ordination to the episcopacy of individuals in a noncelibate relationship outside of Holy Matrimony as defined (and still defined) by the Book of Common Prayer. For thus upholding the rubrics of the BCP, they have been accused of fomenting schism within ECUSA, sued, deposed and hounded from the Church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican IdentityEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Central FloridaTEC Conflicts: Fort WorthTEC Conflicts: PittsburghTEC Conflicts: San Joaquin* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* South Carolina* TheologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

2 Comments
Posted August 23, 2010 at 7:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The summer months have seen no break in the Episcopal Church’s legal wars, with new lawsuits, appeals and victories for both sides in the litigation over parish and diocesan property.

On July 6, the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin filed suit against the rector, vestry and parish of St Paul’s Anglican Church in Visalia, California. A congregation of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, St. Paul’s along with a majority of the diocese withdrew from the Episcopal Church in 2007 and affiliated with the Province of the Southern Cone.

The St Paul’s litigation joins a growing list of parish lawsuits funded by the national Episcopal Church and initiated by loyalist faction in San Joaquin. Suits against lay leaders and parish corporations are pending against St Francis Anglican Church in Turlock; St Michael’s Anglican Church in Ridgecrest; St John’s Anglican Church in Porterville, James Anglican Church in Sonora; Holy Redeemer Anglican Church in Delano; and St Columba’s Anglican Church in Fresno.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort WorthTEC Conflicts: San Joaquin* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

10 Comments
Posted August 13, 2010 at 8:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a hearing...[yesterday] Judge Ralph Walton granted three motions favoring St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Fort Worth, as well as the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and the Corporation of the Diocese. At issue in the case is payment of a bequest made to St. Andrew's in 2002 by a longtime parishioner. As he had done in past hearings on earlier motions, Judge Walton dismissed attempts by representatives of the national leadership of The Episcopal Church (TEC) to bring issues from a case pending in Tarrant County into the trust case before the Hood County court.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

1 Comments
Posted July 15, 2010 at 9:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A local group representing the national Episcopal Church has hit a legal snag in its attempt to take control of the property of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

The 2nd Court of Appeals ruled Friday that the group's attorneys, who filed a lawsuit on behalf of "The Corporation" and "The Fort Worth Diocese," cannot represent those entities because the entities are also associated with Bishop Jack Iker, the defendant in the lawsuit.

The appellate court noted that there is only one corporation and diocese, which both sides are staking claim to.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

7 Comments
Posted July 1, 2010 at 12:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Court's opinion and order represent an unqualified victory for the Diocese and Corporation headed by the Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker, which were both established in 1983. Here is the essential quote from the Court of Appeals' opinion:

It is undisputed that there is only one Corporation and only one Fort Worth Diocese, regardless of how those entities are named or characterized in the underlying suit - whether as entities, as individuals "holding themselves out" as those entities, or as individuals "associated with" one or the other Bishop. There is a single Fort Worth Diocese and Corporation, which both a majority and a minority faction claim to control. The attorneys whose authority is challenged are either authorized to represent those two entities or they are not. But the trial court has barred them from representing only the Corporation and the Fort Worth Diocese associated with the Iker Group. We are aware of no statute or common law rule allowing attorneys to prosecute a suit in the name of a corporation or other entity on behalf of only one faction or part of that corporation or entity against another part or faction.
...

Thus, the Court of Appeals has soundly rejected ECUSA's Machiavellian strategy.... Although ECUSA's own complaint (and motion for summary adjudication) will stand for the time being, Bishop Gulick and his five "trustees" will have all their pleadings stricken, and so will have to start from scratch. They will have to admit this time that the entities they claim to represent were newly organized in 2009, and that will undermine ECUSA's position as argued in its motion as well. So my guess is that if this decision stands (and there is every reason to expect that it will, since it is so straightforward), ECUSA will have to refile its motion for summary adjudication also. Given the appellate court's ruling as quoted above, ECUSA cannot go forward on its preferred theory that "dioceses never leave, only people do." That is why this decision is such a huge victory for Bishop Iker and the true Diocese of Fort Worth.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

11 Comments
Posted June 26, 2010 at 9:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read the opinion here (20 page pdf).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

0 Comments
Posted June 26, 2010 at 9:03 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

2 Comments
Posted May 28, 2010 at 7:33 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

However, unlike the case in San Joaquin, there is now a date that has been set for oral argument in the Court of Appeal -- and it will occur in the same week that oral arguments have been set in the Supreme Court of Virginia on the litigation between ECUSA, the Diocese of Virginia, and the Anglican District of Virginia. (The latter Court has not yet published a specific date and time for argument, but has announced only that arguments will occur sometime during its session meeting from April 12 to 16.)

The Court of Appeals for the Second District of Texas, which hears appeals from Fort Worth, has announced that it will hear oral argument on the writ sought by the Episcopal Diocese and Bishop Jack Iker on Wednesday, April 14, beginning at 1:30 p.m.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort WorthTEC Conflicts: San JoaquinTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

3 Comments
Posted March 10, 2010 at 4:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is Mr. [Simon] Sarmiento who misled the members of General Synod, not Ms. Ashworth. Notice first of all that he evaded Ms. Ashworth's point. She asserted that the Church's lawsuits named individual vestry members as defendants, and he responded that such defendants are "generally covered" by insurance. (That has not been my experience in any church litigation with which I have been associated; only the largest Episcopal parishes can afford to budget for such insurance.) He does not deny that individual vestry members are named, but claims that no damages are sought against them.

This is, as I say, highly misleading. Any individual named in a lawsuit can be held liable for costs if he or she ends up losing; such costs in protracted cases (such as the Dennis Canon ones usually are) can run into the many thousands of dollars. And for an example where ECUSA sought $500,000 plus additional damages from a church's law firm, one needs look no further than this earlier post. (The pseudo-diocese of San Joaquin has carried on the tradition by naming the individual vestry members and rector of St. John's Anglican parish in Turlock as defendants in its latest lawsuit. The plaintiff Bishop Lamb made a point of telling his flock that it "is not a suit against any individuals." But the story about the suit linked earlier has a copy of the complaint which you may download, and see for yourself that the defendants named [scroll down to page 5] include the rector and nine vestry members, who are sued "as individuals". Those individuals still need to pay an attorney to defend them [no insurance is applicable], and there is always, as I say, individual liability for court costs if they lose [see paragraph H. of the prayer for relief on page 24 of the complaint (page 28 of the document)].)

But now we have a different kind of response to ECUSA's bullying tactics -- one might even say that ECUSA has sued one vestry member too many. For one such vestry member whom the Church named in a lawsuit to recover a parish's property in San Angelo, Texas is also an attorney: his name is Mark Brown. And in his capacity as an attorney, Mark Brown has filed an amicus brief in the writ proceeding currently pending before the Court of Appeals in Fort Worth.

It is a brilliant brief, and may do far more damage to ECUSA's claims in that case than ECUSA has been able to do to Mr. Brown.

Read it carefully and make sure to download and read the whole document by Mark Brown also.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Episcopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

2 Comments
Posted February 19, 2010 at 5:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)Anglican ProvincesCono Sur [formerly Southern Cone]Episcopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

8 Comments
Posted February 18, 2010 at 8:38 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jack Iker, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, was tired of fighting his church. As a conservative and traditionalist, he had long disagreed with its practice of ordaining women priests. He was deeply dismayed by its more recent consecration of a gay bishop, its policy of blessing same-sex unions, and its movement away from the Biblical teaching that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ. These changes, he felt, were all proof that his denomination had lost its way. And so, on November 15, 2008, after fifteen years as a bishop, Iker left the Episcopal Church.

But he did not leave alone. He took most of the Diocese of Fort Worth with him: 48 churches, 15,000 parishioners, and more than 58 clergy. The loyalist minority who did not follow him made up only 8 churches. And in a startling assertion of temporal power against a centuries-old establishment, Iker announced that he and his flock would be keeping their assets—hundreds of millions of dollars of real estate, buildings, and investments—the legacy of a century and a half of worship. He was leaving, in other words, but he wasn’t going anywhere.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

3 Comments
Posted January 25, 2010 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When reviewing the major religion news stories in the Fort Worth area over the past year, one subject kept rising to the top — the Episcopalian split.

Two groups of Episcopalians — the breakaway group led by Bishop Jack Iker and the other that voted to stay in the national Episcopal Church — went separate ways, each claiming the title Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

Members of Iker’s group voted to leave the Episcopal Church, saying it has strayed from biblical principles in many ways, including ordaining an openly gay man, Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

Area Episcopalians who stayed in the national church reorganized the Fort Worth diocese, naming a provisional bishop, now the Right Rev. C. Wallis Ohl, to replace Iker. Also, they, along with the national church, filed suit in Tarrant County’s 141st District Court, seeking that Iker’s group give up all church property in the 24-county diocese.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

0 Comments
Posted December 27, 2009 at 4:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Forty seven parishes and missions of the diocese have filed a Plea in Intervention in the lawsuit against the diocese that is currently before the 141st District Court. Collectively, the 47 churches are termed the “Intervening Congregations.”

The plea asks the court to acknowledge through a declaratory judgment that, “in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, the title to the real property being occupied and subject to the control of Intervening Congregations is held by the Corporation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth in trust for the use and benefit of each Intervening Congregation” and that this trust relationship is superior to any other claims.

Read it all and check the pdf linked at the bottom also.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

4 Comments
Posted November 20, 2009 at 12:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Now that the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth (Southern Cone) are separate entities, they are both reporting unanimous decisions by their respective legislative bodies. The decisions move the dioceses away from one another and toward their respective theological commitments.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort WorthTEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

10 Comments
Posted November 18, 2009 at 9:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Fort Worth Court of Appeals has ordered the suspension of further proceedings in a suit brought against the diocese last April. The stay was issued late on Monday, Nov. 16, in response to a Petition for Writ of Mandamus filed by the diocese on Friday, Nov. 13. The suit is pending before the 141st District Court. The Hon. John P. Chupp is the trial judge.

Monday’s order, issued by the Court of Appeals for the Second District of Texas, says, “The court has considered relators’ [the diocese’s] petition for writ of madamus and motion for stay and is of the tentative opinion that relators are entitled to relief or that a serious question concerning the relief requires further consideration.” The order sets a deadline of 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 30, for any response to be filed by parties of interest, who could include Judge Chupp and attorneys Jonathan Nelson and Kathleen Wells. The stay is in effect until the Court of Appeals issues a decision.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

3 Comments
Posted November 17, 2009 at 12:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Kneeling during an ancient laying-on-of-hands ritual, the Rev. Susan Slaughter on Sunday became the first woman ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

Among a sea of friends, relatives and colleagues gathered at St. Luke’s in the Meadow Episcopal Church, Slaughter was ordained by the Right Rev. Edwin F. "Ted" Gulick Jr., bishop of the Diocese of Kentucky, who has also been serving as provisional bishop of the Fort Worth Diocese.

A letter of congratulations from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori read by Gulick said: "I give thanks to God for this sign of the resurrection of the Diocese of Fort Worth. Susan, may his light shine through you. May the widow’s gifts spread throughout your diocese."

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained

12 Comments
Posted November 16, 2009 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What a joy and delight it was to participate in our diocesan convention this past weekend! I can tell you that after 35 years of ordained ministry, having attended annual conventions year after year, both here and in two other dioceses, seldom can they be described as joyful or delightful! Too often they are contentious, boring, and frustrating! But let the record show that this one was indeed very different! It was a great experience, and I think that everyone who attended will agree.

All six resolutions were adopted unanimously and without dissension! Gone were the contentious debates of the past between opposing sides! We spoke with one mind and one voice. Likewise, everyone was in agreement about the need for the proposed amendments to the diocesan Constitution and Canons. We even agreed on the adoption of a budget of over $1,981,000 and parish assessments to support it, without one dissenting vote!

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

4 Comments
Posted November 11, 2009 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For three decades, a succession of conservative bishops here barred women from being ordained as priests in the Episcopal Church.

But the conservatives went their own way last fall, forming the Anglican Church in North America. And so on Sunday, exactly one year after that schism, Susan Slaughter will become the first woman in the Episcopal Church's Forth Worth diocese to don a red stole for ordination to the priesthood.

"God works in mysterious ways," Ms. Slaughter said, "and this is one of those."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

31 Comments
Posted November 10, 2009 at 12:39 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As two former Episcopal dioceses hold conventions this weekend, they are beginning to incorporate congregations from across the nation.

The Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh will vote on welcoming Harvest Anglican Church, Homer City, Pa.; Church of the Transfiguration, Cleveland, Ohio; HolyTrinityChurch, Raleigh, N.C.; and St. James Church, San Jose, Calif.

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth (Southern Cone) plans to receive St. Gabriel’s Anglican Church, Springdale, Ark., as a new mission station. It also will welcome two existing parishes: St. Matthias’ Anglican Church, Dallas; and Church of the Holy Spirit, Tulsa, Okla.

On Oct. 30, the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee went to court against St. Andrew’s Church, Nashville, which left the Episcopal Church in 2006 and has since announced its affiliation with the Diocese of Quincy (Ill.).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)Episcopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort WorthTEC Conflicts: QuincyTEC Conflicts: San JoaquinTEC Departing Parishes* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

2 Comments
Posted November 8, 2009 at 5:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Five new Congregations will be welcomed into the Diocese, with seat, voice, and vote, at our Annual Convention on November 6 and 7. The Church of Christ the Redeemer in Fort Worth will be recognized as a new mission church, with Fr. Christopher Culpepper as vicar. St.Francis Church in Dallas will be received as a new parish of the diocese; their rector in Fr. David Allen. The Bishop will introduce St. Gabriel's Anglican Church in Springdale, Arkansas, as a new mission station, under the leadership of their rector, Fr. John Slavin. And then two parishes will be welcomed and seated under a new Parish Affiliation Agreement, authorized by the Bishop, Standing Committee, and Corporation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. They are St. Matthias' Anglican Church in Dallas, Fr. Dwight Duncan, rector; and the Church of the Holy Spirit, Tulsa, Oklahoma, whose rector is Fr. Briane Turley.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort WorthTEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth

3 Comments
Posted November 5, 2009 at 12:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Check them out.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesCono Sur [formerly Southern Cone]Episcopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort WorthTEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

7 Comments
Posted November 4, 2009 at 6:57 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth was long known as one of the most conservative in the Episcopal Church, and one measure was the refusal by its bishops to ordain women to the priesthood.

When a large majority of clergy and lay delegates of the diocese voted to follow Bishop Jack Iker's recommendation and leave the Episcopal Church, that split the diocese into churches leaving the denomination (most of them) and those choosing to stay.

The group choosing to stay has long wanted to ordain women to the priesthood - and that will finally happen in Fort Worth this Sunday. Deacon Susan Slaughter will be the history-maker.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchWomen

6 Comments
Posted October 28, 2009 at 7:54 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But the provision for married clergy, which the Catholic church has made on a limited basis since at least the 1980s, remains a qualified one. Only unmarried men will be eligible to serve as bishops in the new dioceses, the Vatican said, consistent with a "long historical tradition" in both the Catholic and Orthodox churches.

Other details of the new rules remain unclear pending their still-unscheduled publication, but Cardinal William Levada, head of the Vatican's doctrinal office, suggested on Tuesday that the new dioceses will not ordain married men unless they have already started their preparation in Anglican seminaries, or permit unmarried priests to take wives after ordination.

For some potential converts, those qualifications are a deal breaker.

"I find the lack of a permanent provision for a married priesthood to be a serious obstacle to unity," said Anglican Bishop Jack Iker of Fort Worth, who has considered joining the Catholic church in the past.

Read the whole article.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVI

2 Comments
Posted October 22, 2009 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I have read with great interest various reports concerning today’s announcement from top officials in the Vatican about some new provisions being made whereby Anglicans may enter into full communion with the Holy See. For some time now I have understood that high-level discussions about this were taking place in Rome and that an announcement along these lines would be made before the end of the year. As today’s announcement indicates, a new Apostolic Constitution is soon to be released which will spell out Pope Benedict XVI’s response to Anglicans who wish to enter into full visible communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

Many Anglo-Catholics will welcome this development as a very generous and welcoming offer that enhances the Pastoral Provision that has been in place for several years for those seeking reunion with Rome. Other Anglicans who desire full communion with the See of Peter would prefer some sort of recognition of the validity of Anglican orders and the provision for inter-communion between Roman Catholics and Anglicans.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: Latest News- Anglican: Primary SourceEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVI

21 Comments
Posted October 21, 2009 at 12:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The continuing diocese of the Episcopal Church in Forth Worth was reconstituted in February 2009 and is now led by Provisional Bishop The Right Rev. Edwin F. Gulick, Jr., Bishop of Kentucky. As a Bishop, Gulick already is a Trustee of the University; Kent Henning also is a Trustee from the continuing Ft. Worth Diocese and will continue in his appointment.

The Committee on Credentials recommended to the full Board that only the Trustees elected by the continuing Episcopal Diocese of Ft. Worth be seated on the University board.

“This action by the Board was carefully studied over a period of months and is consistent with the governance of the University as mandated by the Constitution and By-Laws,” Chancellor Parsley said.

The Constitution states that the University “must in all parts be under the sole and perpetual control of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America,” and represented in part by Trustees elected by the 28 dioceses that comprise the owning dioceses.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchEducation

1 Comments
Posted October 20, 2009 at 11:07 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The favorable ruling on the third-party motion, which has been before the court since its first hearing on Sept. 9, brings eight persons into the suit as third-party defendants: the Rt. Rev. Edwin F. Gulick, Margaret Mieuli, Walter Cabe, Anne T. Bass, the Rev. J. Frederick Barber, the Rev. Christopher Jambor, the Rev. David Madison, and Kathleen Wells. They are, respectively, the Provisional Bishop, Standing Committee, and Chancellor for the group of Episcopalians wishing to remain in The Episcopal Church following the diocese’s realignment at its November 2008 convention.

Shelby Sharpe, representing the diocese, argued for reconsideration of Judge Chupp’s previous Rule 12 order, which found that there are two dioceses and two corporations in the suit. In a memorandum submitted to the court on Oct. 1, he showed that the plaintiffs already had conceded in their original petition that there is only one Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, and he cited Texas case law requiring such admission to be binding.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesCono Sur [formerly Southern Cone]Episcopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

3 Comments
Posted October 2, 2009 at 4:27 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am inviting everyone in the Diocese to join me in a morning of fasting and prayer this Friday, Oct. 2nd, as Judge John Chupp considers three motions we have put before him in the 141st District Court. The hearing begins at 9 a.m. on the fourth floor of the Family Law Center, located at 200 E. Weatherford Street (one block east of the old court house, on the south side of the street).

In the first motion the Diocese is asking leave to file a third-party petition against the persons elected as provisional bishop and as members of the Standing Committee at a meeting held on Feb. 7, 2009. This is to bring before the court those persons who have authorized the suit against the Diocese and the Corporation Trustees in order to determine the legitimacy of their election.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer

1 Comments
Posted September 30, 2009 at 8:42 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A member diocese of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) will consider a resolution that maintains the diocese’s ties with the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone.

The resolution is being proposed by the Diocese of Fort Worth’s standing committee. The diocese’s convention will meet on Nov. 6 and 7 in Arlington, Texas. The resolution commits the diocese to continued participation in the ACNA, but also “maintains its status as a member diocese in the Province of the Southern Cone while the formal process of recognition of [ACNA] continues in the Anglican Communion.”

“At this point, the Anglican Church in North America is not yet fully recognized as a province of the Anglican Communion,” the standing committee said in an explanation. “We are working towards that goal, but it is a lengthy process involving the primates, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Anglican Consultative Council.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)Anglican ProvincesCono Sur [formerly Southern Cone]Episcopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

1 Comments
Posted September 30, 2009 at 8:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

And this is the fatal flaw that lies at the heart of ECUSA's "winner-take-all" strategy. It tries to argue that a Diocese may never vote to leave, and that the only result of such a vote is that people leave, but the structure remains intact. But the people in question do not conveniently resign their positions, because in their view, they are leaving and taking the entire diocesan legal structure with them. So in their view, they are keeping their positions. Thus ECUSA has to come up with a way of claiming that those positions are in fact vacant. It goes through the charade of "deposing" the Bishop with far less than the required number of votes, but that does not solve the problem. The clergy deputies who voted for the amendment cannot be summarily removed without deposing them as well -- a process that takes six months. And there is no mechanism whatsoever for summarily "deposing" or "removing" a lay deputy from office.

Without such resignations, and without any mechanism for removing lay Convention deputies, the very next "special meeting" of the Diocese which is called is null and void itself. For the duly elected deputies from the last Convention are the ones who should be seated, but they are barred from attending by the unconstitutional device of imposing a "loyalty oath". And there cannot be a legal (one-third) quorum of loyalist clergy, because nearly nine-tenths of them went with Bishop Iker.

The problem of ECUSA and its remnant "Diocese" is that they just will not follow their own procedures to organize and become legitimate in the eyes of the law. Mr. Nelson, Bishop Gulick's attorney, even (unwittingly) described his own clients to the court and spelled out what they ought to have done (id. at 57):

MR. NELSON: What I'm saying is that the body gets together, and then it must be approved by the general convention in order to be a valid diocese. It can get together and call itself a diocese, but until it's approved and until that diocese agrees to accede to the constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church, it is not a diocese and cannot be a diocese.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

2 Comments
Posted September 24, 2009 at 7:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




Return to blog homepage

Return to Mobile view (headlines)