Saturday, July 25, 2015

Final Judgment in Fort Worth Case

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

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

Such an appeal will probably take a year or more to resolve. The losing side could then ask the Texas Supreme Court to review the case, but its decision to do so is discretionary. The same would be true of any further request for review filed with the United States Supreme Court after the Texas courts have finished with the appeal.

In the meantime, the parties are settling upon terms for Judge Chupp to approve next month that will allow the TEC-aligned congregation of All Saints to continue to worship in the same church it has been using since the lawsuit began, until the appeal is decided. The congregation claimed to own title to all of its property, but an examination of the facts under neutral principles showed that the deeds to the actual church property were in the name of Bishop Iker’s diocesan corporation, which the court declared was the owner of All Saints. Bishop Iker is showing a good deal of Christian charity toward the congregation, which had written him a letter at the outset of the litigation threatening to take him personally to court should he venture on the property. Most recently, they rebuffed again his efforts at conciliation, and would not acknowledge his authority.


  1. How sweet it is! (With apologies to Jackie Gleason.). Northwest Bob

  2. Excellent news. Just to annoy tec, the bishop might let the remnant use the building. They likely won't increase in numbers, just let them fade away quietly or loudly as they decide. Show tec the way to budget.

  3. Unfortunately, Texas law is slightly different to the effect that we cannot extrapolate too quickly that this fantastic decision will be affecting other courts outside of the Republic of Texas.

    BUT!!! Fortunately, this one point about hierarchy, is terribly important, as you all and our Vicar know and understand better than I. We really need to think about linking ourselves to independent and Orthodox Anglican entities and begin the process of delivering the remnant of a non-church (the Protestant Episcopal Church of America) to the liberal, socially involved Methodists. In another fifty years, I would hope to see either tumbleweeds in the "National Cathedral's" sanctuary and lateral chapels or that the building has been taken over by the Anglican Orthodox Communion as the implied Church of State without portfolio. I am afraid however that the United States of America has trapped itself in a downward helix and no movement, Protestant, Orthodox, or combination of the two can save the Republic's soul.

    One test will be that If 70% of the Jews in the United States who vote, decide to vote Democrat again, after all that has happened during these past eight years...then that barometer will be a telling measure.

    BUT! For now.....Allow me to go and take out my chilled bottle of Optimist Juice and see if I can see the Bluebird on my shoulder during this happy hour.

    El Gringo Viejo

  4. Now that the final ruling has been issued and now appealable to 2d Court and thus TXSC by TEC, and they'll not prevail in either, when will the Diocese be able to recoup legal expenses incurred due to TEC suing? If we do, would the expenses be from the onset of the lawsuit by TEC in 2009?