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FT. WORTH: TEC Diocese Appeals Court Ruling to Return all Property Contents: UPDATED

FT. WORTH: TEC Diocese Appeals Court Ruling to Return all Property Contents
Enough is enough, the trial court ordered them to bring it all back "immediately," says Bishop Reed

By David W. Virtue, DD
September 21, 2021

The TEC Episcopal Diocese which lost all its property in a 12-year legal battle with orthodox members of the Episcopal Diocese, has yet again appealed to the Texas Supreme Court. They say the judgment was overly broad and they should not have to return the real and personal contents at All Saints Episcopal Church. They stripped the parish to the bare walls. (See photo above).

The orthodox Episcopalians were awarded $100 million worth of property in a stinging rebuke to both the Episcopal Church and the Dennis Canon. The courts gave them rights over all the churches and their contents.

Lawyers for the TEC parish say the language of the enforcement order pertaining to the turnover of property far exceeds the substantive, adjudicative portions of the Final Judgment pertaining to property and the order was issued after the trial court's plenary power expired.

But Bishop Ryan Reed fired back, "Enough is enough. For 12 years, All Saints Episcopal Church of Fort Worth has occupied real and personal property and this Court definitively held 16 months ago was not its own. When finally ordered to leave the realty in April of 2021, like the Grinch who stole Christmas they stripped this church to the walls, taking not just the contents of the church but all the funds the parish had on hand when they abandoned the Diocese that governed that trust. On April 20, 2021, trial court ordered them to bring it all back "immediately."

"They did not. For another five months they held onto it all under a stay from the Second Court of Appeals--a stay that was lifted when that court denied their petition for mandamus on September 9th. The disputed buildings and contents were those located at 5001 Crestline and 5003 Dexter.

"There is no emergency, and the TEC diocese states none. The only "emergency" is they think the trial court, the court of appeals, and this Court are all wrong. As a matter of law, Relator is not entitled to possession or use of these buildings or their contents. The Court should deny the motion for temporary relief and the petition for mandamus."

Ryan reiterated that there was no emergency. "Shortly before the TEC diocese vacated the church buildings it wrongfully used for 12 years, its members and contractors began stripping, packing, and moving out all the personal property they could: altars, crosses, communion vessels, vestments, office furnishings, Bibles, library books, church music, software for the HVAC system, and every knife, fork, and spatula in the kitchen: They even removed a crucifix of Jesus on the cross from the sanctuary."

"The trial court ordered them "immediately" to return all the personal property that had been part of these parish buildings when the TEC diocese walked out of the Diocese and sued the Real Parties in April of 2009. That included the funds, accounts, records, and other financial assets on hand at that time to support the parish's ministries and operations."

"The TEC diocese presents no evidence of an emergency. It does not claim there is any risk that Real Parties will destroy the altars, crosses, and other religious items if returned where they belong. The very idea is preposterous, since Real Parties need these items so they can operate the parish today, just as the TEC diocese has been doing under a supersedeas order for 12 years.

"The only party here that has ever removed or destroyed personal property used at the All Saints parish is the TEC diocese."

State Supreme Court rejects TEC loyalists' bid to keep property

September 22, 2021

In a brief notice issued this morning, the Supreme Court of Texas rejected a motion to stay (suspend) an order issued in April 2021 for the return of items removed from chuch properties and funds belonging to those congregations. At the same time, it denied an accompanying Petition to overturn the order.

With the ruling by the Texas Supreme Court today, the Plaintiffs now must surrender all property, records, and financial accounts that they removed from the properties they formerly occupied.

Today's rejection is the third loss for Episcopal Church parties in the state Supreme Court and permits enforcement of the judgment to continue.

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is a constituent member of the Anglican Communion through the Global Anglican Fellowship Conference (GAFCON) with 55 congregations located in Fort Worth, Dallas, Austin, Midland, Wichita Falls, and other locations in Texas and Louisiana. It was founded in 1982.


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