Court denies TEC claims to Diocesan property

Sharpe-IkerThe 141st District Court has ruled in favor of the Diocese and Corporation in our nearly six-year-old lawsuit, instigated
by The Episcopal Church. Pictured with Bishop Iker is attorney Shelby Sharpe.

Statement by The Diocese of Fort Worth
March 3, 2015

On Monday, March 2, 2015, the 141st District Court granted our Motion for Partial Summary Judgment regarding all diocesan property, with the exception of All Saints’, Fort Worth, which Judge Chupp severed for a separate trial.

Nearly six years after we were first sued by The Episcopal Church and its local representatives, the court has confirmed the Diocese’s right to dissociate from TEC and for the Corporation to retain its property.

“We are grateful for the ruling in our favor,” said Bishop Iker. “It’s clear that both church laws and Texas laws have been rightly applied to this dispute.”

In granting our motion, the Hon. John Chupp has ruled that Bishop Iker and the duly-elected officials of the Diocese and Corporation control the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, its Corporation, all endowments and funds, and all property that has been disputed in this litigation. The ruling is binding on all parties.

The judge severed out all the claims concerning ownership of the property of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Fort Worth, and this case will be heard by him at a future time. All Saints’ is the only incorporated parish in the Diocese and claims to hold title to property in its own name. In a February 20 hearing before the court, Judge Chupp strongly encouraged the leadership of All Saints’ to pursue the Canon 32 process with the Diocese, which might settle the issues without the need for a trial.

The following statements from our Motion for Partial Summary Judgment are confirmed by Judge Chupp’s order:

“According to the deeds, church charters, and Texas law:

• using neutral principles of Texas law to decide this case is not retroactive;
• the properties at issue are owned by the Corporation;
• the Defendant Trustees are the properly elected Trustees of the Corporation;
• Bishop Iker is the proper chairman and a member of the Corporation’s board;
• no express trust exists in favor of Plaintiffs (TEC);
• no implied or constructive trust exists in favor of Plaintiffs;
• the Defendants are not estopped to defend themselves; and
• the Defendants properly control the funds, trusts, and endowments at issue.

As a matter of law, the Defendants are entitled to title, control, and use of all of the property at issue in this case.”

The laity and clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth rejoice with Bishop Iker and join him in giving thanks to God for this ruling. We pray for a quick resolution to the remaining claims and disputes. We will continue to carry out the mission given us by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: to win the world for Him.

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