Monday, February 22, 2021

Dennis Canon Dead in Texas

 With its denial of certiorari (review) this morning to two of the Episcopal Church in the USA's ("ECUSA's") groups in Fort Worth, Texas, the United States Supreme Court has put to rest the multiple adverse claims made for the last twelve years against the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.  All of those various claims, and the stages of their ups and downs, have been chronicled on this blog, which began just before the legal disputes emerged. It is gratifying, therefore, to report that this blog has managed to outlive, along with (retired) Bishop Jack Iker and his faithful flock, the Machiavellian intrigues of the schemers at 815 Second Avenue to hound and intimidate them into surrender of their properties.

Denial of review of the May 2020 decision by the Texas Supreme Court puts finally to rest ECUSA's dogged attempts to enforce its notorious and one-sided Dennis Canon in Texas. The brazenness of that Canon, which attempted unilaterally to impose (after the fact) an enforceable, perpetual trust everywhere on all the parish properties of its members in ECUSA's favor, ran directly into long-standing Texas trust law, which requires the consent of a property's owner to place it into a trust, and which also requires express language to make a trust irrevocable. The Dennis Canon failed the test on both of those grounds.

Nor could ECUSA succeed by giving its successor group the same name as Bishop Iker's Diocese, and then pretending to assume its identity. The Texas Supreme Court saw through those machinations, and held that the majority controlling the Diocesan corporation, and not ECUSA's minority faction, were the true successors under Texas corporate law to the group that founded the original Diocese in 1983. In that respect, the Texas courts were far more perspicacious than the feckless courts in California, New York, Pennsylvania and elsewhere who simply allowed ECUSA's attorneys to pull the wool over their eyes, and pretend that the newest kid on the block was actually the oldest, who (they claimed) had been there the whole time.

Those on the losing side reacted with predictable assurances that life will go on as before.

I am not certain about this, but the Supreme Court's denial of review may now make it finally possible for Bishop Ryan Reed (Bishop Iker's successor) and his Diocese to have a Texas court call a halt to the ECUSA group's impersonation of that Diocese's identity, by using the same words to describe itself (see the previous link).

The success in Texas leaves just one long-standing ECUSA dispute still festering: its pursuit of Bishop Mark Lawrence and his Diocese of South Carolina. For the reasons articulated in this post, your Curmudgeon has hopes that that litigation, too, will finally resolve itself before too much longer in favor of Bishop Lawrence and his withdrawing Diocese, notwithstanding ECUSA's machinations to the contrary (and that almost carried the day).


  1. P.B. Curry's way of love (translation: way of litigation) is finally shot down by the Supremes. Too late for Pittsburg and San Joaquin, but hopefully not too late for South Carolina.

    1. Yeah, well Curry's comment yesterday included the line that they only resorted to litigation in order to preserve the legacy of faithful Episcopalians in the Diocese of Ft. Worth. My thought was - who? 15%? Had they succeeded, the legacy would be a barn burning and how fast they could sell the properties.
      Seems that preserving the legacy was done by the Diocese under Bishop Iker.

  2. Too late for Pittsburg and San Joaquin. But is it?

  3. Allen...what ever became of the Robert Masterson case in the Diocese of NW Texas?

  4. SVC Verger, see my post on that case for the details, but essentially the Texas Supreme Court restored the Church of the Good Shepherd's property to it, and that decision became final. That case was actually the first to hold that the Dennis Canon had no effect in Texas, and the Fort Worth decision affirmed it.

  5. I believe Easter Service will be the last before the Ikerpalians kick the parishioners out of our church. People who have contributed to it for decades, the people who donated 40K recently to fix the roof, people who volunteered and worked hard to put the church on better financial footing over the last decade, people who grew up in that church and lived their adults lives in that church, all tossed out. Unfortunate.

    Cause for celebration for some, apparently. But cruelty has become mainstream Christian behavior in our time.

  6. can certainly understand your feelings especially during the season of Easter. However, let's also make sure that everyone understands a few things. This did not have to happen in the first place. TEC chose to sue a departing Diocese which began the 12 year log ordeal. The vast majority (80%+) of parishes voted to realign. Those who voted to remain with TEC, could have taken their property with them. Bishop Iker was glad to work with those few parishes to come to an agreement, and a few were successful. It was TEC who put the breaks on that process. Had they left well enough alone, you likely would have retained your property. What you and others should be upset about is the millions of dollars spent by TEC, dollars which were contributed by parishioners, to bring about this lawsuit when it was clear in the beginning that the Dennis Canon did not trump Texas property law. Sadly, we have all endured a dozen years of this and now it is over...all of us can move on to continue building God's kingdom.

  7. Why do we have to suffer these fools…and down here now, the Bishop has decided that the Diocese of West Texas is no longer going to use wine at communion because wine is stinky poo. And imagine when the little ones are "playing communion"…what if they used wine instead of grape jelly mixed with apple cider??? What are we going to do…What if…???!!!!
    Your humble servant thought, incorrectly, a long time ago that my leader was taking care of the imbeciles whose duty it is to destroy a catholic, traditionalist, historically important, normal institution.

    Perhaps I turned my gaze too soon. I am ready to return to the battle at the command of Alex Haley…perhaps my most admired warrior in these matters. It is he I imagine when the anthem "A Mighty Fortress is our God"….is struck and the choir bursts out the wondrous words!!!

    David Christian Newton