Friday the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth received a favorable ruling from the Court and the property held by those who have left The Episcopal Church is to be turned over to the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. But that, of course is not the end of the matter. Those who have left and still hold the property and accounts (the Iker / Southern Cone church) plan to appeal. So it goes on. (Sigh...)
The news of the Court's ruling for The Episcopal Church Diocese of Fort Worth, posted on Friday, can be read HERE.
On January 22nd, Saturday, the Iker/Southern Cone Diocese (labeled by the Star Telegram "Iker's group") posted the following:
Diocese and Corporation announce intention
to appeal trial court ruling
to appeal trial court ruling
On Friday afternoon, Jan. 21, attorneys for the Diocese and Corporation received two orders from the Hon. John Chupp in the matter of the main suit against us, in which a minority of former members has been joined by The Episcopal Church in an effort to claim diocesan property. Judge Chupp signed an order drafted by the plaintiffs' attorneys, from which he struck several points with which he did not apparently agree. The order does find that TEC is a hierarchical church, and on that basis the judge has ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. The judge's order can be read here.
Friday's ruling from the trial court is a disappointment but not a disaster. The plaintiffs have offered no evidence, either in the courtroom or in their voluminous filings, supporting their claim that the Diocese was not entitled to withdraw from The Episcopal Church, as it did in November 2008. Nor have they demonstrated a legal right to our property, which is protected by Texas statutes regulating trusts and non-profit corporations.
On the contrary, it is our position that the judge's order does not conform to Texas law, and we are therefore announcing our plans to appeal the decision without delay. We believe that the final decision, whenever it is signed by Judge Chupp based on these orders, will not be sustained on appeal. According to our lead attorney, Shelby Sharpe, “These orders appear to be contrary to the earlier opinion from the Second District Court of Appeals in Fort Worth and current decisions from both that court and the Supreme Court of Texas.”
In response to the ruling, Bishop Iker has said, “We are obviously disappointed by Judge Chupp’s ruling and see it as fundamentally flawed. We are confident that the Court of Appeals will carefully consider our appeal and will rule in accordance with neutral principles of law as practiced in the State of Texas. In the meantime, we will continue to focus on mission and outreach in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, while praying for the judges who will take up our appeal.”
We give thanks to God in all circumstances, and we trust in His plans. While we disagree with the judge's ruling, we offer our sincere appreciation for the time and study he has given to the case.