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Court orders return of everything All Saints Episcopal Church plundered

By David W. Virtue, DD
April 29, 2021

Following a court determination that Bishop Ryan S. Reed and his diocese who held the majority of the parishes, (55 vs 15) were the legitimate heirs of the Diocese of Ft. Worth; one of the parishes - All Saints Episcopal Church - went on a rampage and stripped the building of literally everything.

A court injunction revealed that shortly before the Episcopalians had to vacate the church buildings, its members and contractors began stripping, packing, and moving out all the personal property they could. Like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, they removed 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.

The parish argued in a Motion for Emergency Relief that it was an "emergency," but they never said what it was. Because there was none. For 12 years the congregation had refused to leave church buildings they did not own.

A year ago, the Texas Supreme Court definitively rejected their claims. But when they were finally ordered to obey the Court's mandate and move out, they stripped, boxed, and removed all that they could, until the trial judge ordered them to stop and bring it all back. The only "emergency" is that they think the trial judge was wrong to do so.

As a matter of law, the parish is not entitled to the possession or use of these church buildings or their contents. The Court denied the motion for temporary relief and the petition for mandamus.

All Saints Episcopal Church (Fort Worth), wrongfully possessed and used the sanctuary, parish hall, rectory, and the disputed buildings and contents located at 5001 Crestline and 5003 Dexter, the court determined.

When informed of what All Saints (Relator) was doing, the trial court ordered them "immediately" to return all the personal property that had been part of these parish buildings when Relator 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 that are needed to support the parish's ministries and operations. But the parish offered no evidence that Real Parties would remove or destroy the altars, crosses, Bibles, vestments, and other personal property if they are returned where they belong. The parish didn't even claim this is a risk.

The idea is preposterous since Real Parties needed these very items so they can operate the parish today, just as Relator had been using them under a supersedeas order for years.

The Final Judgment included lists of personal property, several large endowments and trust funds to be turned over to Bishop Ryan and his diocese.

No reasonable person could read the Supreme Court's opinion as allowing Relator to keep the entire contents of the churches they were ordered to vacate. Nothing in the Supreme Court's opinion granted Relator any right to strip a parish of personal property historically used for operating that church. The trial court did not abuse its discretion by enforcing that mandate.

Bishop Ryan told VOL that St Luke’s, St Christopher’s and St Stephen’s Wichita Falls were also stripped. "Only St Stephen’s has returned everything. All Saints has returned most but not all items," he said.


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