Attorneys for the Episcopal Church and its allies in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth have filed a motion with the Texas Supreme Court asking it to reconsider its 30 August 2013 decision holding that “neutral principles of law” govern Texas church property disputes.
The 18 October 2013 asks the court to reconsider its ruling, which overturned a trial court decision which held that ownership of parish and diocesan properties was vested in the national church, not the local diocese led by the Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker. The Supreme Court sent the case back to the Tarrant County trial court directing it to adjudicate the dispute by looking at the title deeds and corporate charters of the diocese — using civil law to determine ownership.
The August ruling ended the denominational deference standard under Texas law, where the courts deferred to higher church bodies in adjudicating disputes over property.
In a statement posted on the Diocese of Fort Worth Facebook page, diocesan spokesman Suzanne Gill stated “[t]here is no need for the Diocese to respond at this time. We will wait for the Court’s decision to grant or deny the rehearing request. Requests for rehearing are rarely granted.”
After the August verdict was announced, the provisional Bishop of Fort Worth, the Rt. Rev. Rayford High, stated the national church and its allies were not giving up the fight. “I have heard that some folks think we are giving up. That is not true,” he said on 5 September 2013 “We will keep you as informed as possible as these plans unfold while still protecting our legal strategies.”