TEC DIOCESE OF FORT WORTH
April 5, 2018
On Thursday, April 5, 2018, the Fort Worth Court of Appeals issued a 178-page opinion in favour of the loyal Episcopalians of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. In a decision authored by the Chief Justice, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s 2015 judgment for the breakaway parties and held that the loyal Episcopalians are entitled to control both the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and its Corporation.
Noting that the parties agreed that the Corporation held legal title to all of the property in dispute, the Court of Appeals also analyzed two examples of the many deeds at issue. The Court of Appeals rendered judgment in favour of the loyal Episcopalians on those two deeds, both of which relate to property occupied by All Saints Episcopal Church (Fort Worth). The Court of Appeals then remanded the many other, similar deeds to the trial court so it could rule on those deeds using the same analysis.
Bishop Scott Mayer of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth said today: “We are very grateful for the care taken by the Fort Worth Court of Appeals in reaching its decision. As this unfolds, the people and clergy of our diocese will, as always, carry on our work as the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement. We continue to hold all involved in our prayers.”
The Episcopal Parties and Congregations look forward to the resolution of this matter and the trial court’s enforcement of the Court of Appeals’ opinion.
This is the very latest news of the Episcopal (TEC) Diocese of Fort Worth’s battle against the secessionist (ACNA) diocese in Fort Worth to retain its historic churches and title.
In the U.S. situation of ecclesiastical litigation – between the supporters of the traditional TEC (Anglicans in communion with the Lambeth Conference and the See of Canterbury) and the secessionists under the various different jurisdiction fostered mostly by the African churches now in the GAFCON community (which has set up its own separate ecclesiastical structures governed by the ‘Jerusalem Statement’ of Faith) – the ups and downs of hopes for just settlement of property claims seems to be ongoing. The only people to benefit from this continuing litigious saga seem to be the lawyers involved in the disputes that have been ongoing ever since the arrival of ‘missionaries’ from the Global South who claim a superior ‘orthodoxy’ to TEC and the rest of the Anglican Communion.
North America and Canada, however, are not the only Anglican jurisdictions threatened by a takeover from foreign invasion. The emergence of groups like AMIE, the Anglican Mission in England – also fostered by GAFCON prelates – and GAFCON/ FOCA, the ‘Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans’ – all of which are sola-Scriptura, conservative Evangelical movements dedicated to a fundamentalist interpretation of biblical passages in dispute on matters of gender and sexuality – though relatively small – are dedicated to the overtaking of the traditional Anglican ethos of ‘Unity in Diversity’.
Whether these new, quasi-Anglican, churches will succeed in taking over existing property from the original Anglican Churches in their various constituencies is yet to be seen. The situation in the U.S.A. and Canada is still very fluid – especially in areas of local property ownership contention. However, in the meantime, the Gospel of radical inclusion is still gathering momentum in the mainline churches. Thanks be to God.
As someone once said: “Schism is a horrid thing!” – from whatever cause or for whatever reason. The prayer of Jesus still informs the best intentions in the Body of Christ: “That they may be ONE!”
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand