Yet another former Episcopal diocese has won the right to control its name and property following a nearly seven-year dispute over the local religious body's official separation from the Episcopal Church back in 2008.
Tarrant County Judge John Chupp granted a partial summary judgement to the Diocese of Fort Worth on Monday, giving the religious body — which oversees $100 million in property — control over all of the buildings under its jurisdiction, aside from All Saints Episcopal Church of Forth Worth, according to the Christian Post.
Problems between the diocese and the Episcopal Church started back in 2008, when the majority of the diocese's 56 churches voted to leave over their disagreement with the ordination of gays and lesbians, among other theological issues, the Star-Telegram reported.
The Diocese of Fort Worth decided to separate and join the conservative Anglican Church in North America, which sparked a legal battle over who actually owned the the property that its parishioners had been using. After years of volleying back and forth, Chupp ruled in favor of the diocese earlier this week, trumping past victories attained by the Episcopal Church.
Diocese of Fort Worth
"We are grateful for the ruling in our favor," diocese leader Bishop Jack Leo Iker said in a statement. "It’s clear that both church laws and Texas laws have been rightly applied to this dispute."
The decision comes nearly seven years after the Episcopal Church first sued the Diocese of Fort Worth. A separate case will involve which religious body has rights to All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Fort Worth, as it holds its own title and was not included in the partial summary judgment.
In a separate statement issued by the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth — a body comprised of the faithful who are still loyal to the Episcopal Church — leaders expressed their disappointment, seemingly indicating that the legal battle is far from over.
"We are disappointed with this decision but quite hopeful for the future," the Rt. Rev. Rayford B. High, Jr., Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, said in a statement. "This sacred property was built up over 170 years in this part of Texas by generations of Episcopalians for the use of The Episcopal Church so it will be available for use by generations of Episcopalians to come as they do the work of the Church."
He continued, "That remains our purpose in this litigation, and we are confident going forward under the rulings of the Fort Worth Court of Appeals and Texas Supreme Court that are already in place in our case."
Read more about the legal battle here.
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This is hardly the first property dispute sparked by differences over Episcopal practices and theology. As TheBlaze previously reported, in a separate property battle earlier this month, a court ruled that the Episcopal Church no longer has rights to the breakaway Diocese of South Carolina’s property, nor can the Episcopal Church use or control the diocese’s associated names or symbols.
Theological differences were cited as the reason for the split, including disagreement over the traditional definition of marriage, as the Episcopal Church now supports same-sex relationships, according to Charisma News.
(H/T: Christian Post)
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