Episcopal Parishes and Missions Join Diocesan Litigation

Episcopal Parishes and Missions Join Diocesan Litigation

On Friday, November 12, 2010, ten continuing Episcopal parishes and 38 continuing missions of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth were added as parties to the diocesan litigation pending in the 141st District Court of Tarrant County in Fort Worth.

Bishop C. Wallis Ohl filed an amended petition on behalf of the 38 diocesan missions; parishes filed a plea in intervention through members of their vestries and/or clergy. View copies of the Individual Plaintiffs’ Fifth Amended Original Petition and the Original Plea in Intervention of Episcopal Congregations.

The Episcopal parishes and missions seek declaratory and injunctive relief and request an accounting and recovery of their real and personal property, including funds, which have been in the possession of the Southern Cone factions for almost two years.

Almost a year ago some 47 Southern Cone factions filed a plea in intervention, suing the Diocese’s former provisional bishop, Bishop Edwin F. Gulick, Jr.; the diocesan chancellor; Standing Committee members; and Trustees of the Corporation for the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. The Southern Cone congregations seek a judgment for attorney fees and a declaration that they, not Episcopal parishes and missions, have a beneficial interest in the real property they have occupied after their leaders left The Episcopal Church. On November 12, 2010, they also filed an amended plea, adding Bishop Ohl and the individual trustees for the Fund for the Endowment of the Episcopate to their claims.

Two years ago, on or about November 15, 2008, the leaders of those Southern Cone factions left the Episcopal Church to form new churches under the episcopal authority of Bishop Jack Leo Iker, former bishop of the diocese, and purportedly as parts of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone and then the Anglican Church in North America. While disclaiming any association with The Episcopal Church, however, they have refused to vacate diocesan, parish and mission property and have continued to spend funds that had been acquired for the use of The Episcopal Church for more than 170 years.

The Episcopal parishes and missions are represented by attorneys Frank Hill and Anne Michels of Hill Gilstrap, P.C. in Arlington.

The motions for summary judgment filed by The Episcopal Church and the Individual Episcopal Parties, respectively, will be heard by the Hon. John P. Chupp on January 14, 2011 at 9:00 a.m. in the 141st District Court in Fort Worth.

Additional Filing November 15: First amended plea in intervention