New Episcopal Filings Focus on the Merits
On October 18, 2010, The Episcopal Church and local Episcopal parties filed updated pleadings and motions for summary judgment in the case pending against former diocesan leaders in the 141st District Court, Tarrant County, Texas. [See detailed list here.]
The Court has set a hearing on the motions for summary judgment for 9:00 a.m. on Friday, January 14, 2011 in the courtroom of the 141st District Court. Texas. Rules of Court provide that the defendants’ responses must be filed seven days before the hearing.
The Church’s pleadings and motion focuses on three primary points:
- that the diocesan parties recognized by the Church are the persons entitled to control the Diocese, its Corporation and assets;
- that the diocesan property must be held and used for the mission of the Church;
- and that certain changes made by the defendants to articles and bylaws of the Corporation are ultra vires and void.
In support the Church cites cases across Texas and the rest of the country which conclusively show that the Episcopal Church is hierarchical, that those who remain loyal to a hierarchical church are entitled to control church property, and that a diocese may not unilaterally withdraw from the Church.
NOTE: The Local Episcopal Parties include leaders of the continuing Diocese, Diocesan Corporation, and Fund for the Endowment of the Episcopate.
NOTE: Former diocesan officials include former Bishop Jack Iker, former standing committee members, and former trustees of the Diocesan Corporation and Endowment Fund.
NOTE: “Intervening Congregations” are those 47 congregations whose leaders claim allegiance to Bishop Iker, the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, and the Anglican Church in North America.
The pleadings of the Local Episcopal Parties assert claims against former diocesan leaders under state law for declaratory and injunctive relief, an accounting, conversion, trademark dilution, breach of fiduciary duty, action to quiet title, and trespass to try title.
The Local Episcopal Parties’ motion seeks a partial summary judgment against former diocesan officials, including former Bishop Jack Iker, former standing committee members, and former trustees of the Diocesan Corporation and Endowment Fund.
The motion seeks among other things declarations:
- that The Episcopal Church is a hierarchical church;
- that the First Amendment requires the court to defer to the hierarchical church on questions of local church identity, leadership, and control;
- and that the local Episcopal Parties, recognized by the Church, are the rightful parties to control the church property.
These legal positions are supported by court decisions across the country and by numerous judicial admissions made by former diocesan officials before they left the Church in 2008, e.g., that the Church is hierarchical, that diocesan Constitution and canons cannot be inconsistent with the general Church Constitution and canons, and that persons who leave the church are no longer Episcopalians and are not entitled to control church property. These and similar representations were made to the district court in Tarrant County in 1994-5 and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in 2002.
The current motions are not directed at the some 47 “Intervening Congregations” whose leaders claim allegiance to Bishop Iker, the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, and the Anglican Church in North America while occupying and using the property of the historic churches of the Diocese accumulated over 170 years in and for the mission of the Episcopal Church in this area.
Former diocesan leaders and “Intervening Congregations” have sued the following Local Episcopal Parties:
- Bishops: The Rt. Rev. C. Wallis Ohl, The Rt. Rev. Edwin F. Gulick, Jr.
- Standing Committee: The Rev. Christopher Jambor; The Rev. Fred Barber; The Rev. David Madison; Margaret Mieuli, Anne T. Bass, Walt Cabe;
- Corporation Board: The Rev. James Hazel, Cherie Shipp, Robert M. Bass, The Rev. John Stanley, Dr. Trace Worrell;
- Endowment Fund Board: The Rev. James Hazel, Shannon Shipp, David Skelton, Robert Hicks, Anne T. Bass, Whit Smith, Floyd McKneely;
- Chancellor: Kathleen Wells.
The defendant former diocesan leaders and the “Intervening Congregations” have not filed motions for summary judgment.
For easier reference, the motions refer to the page numbers, e.g., A24, of the voluminous Appendix which contains the summary judgment evidence supporting the motions. The Appendix also includes a detailed index of all the affidavits and exhibits, referenced by page number.
Related documents are:
- Plaintiff The Episcopal Church’s Third Amended Original Petition
- Individual Plaintiffs’ Fourth Amended Original Petition
- Individual Plaintiffs’ Original Answer to Intervening Congregations’ Original Counterclaim
- Second Amended Answer and Counterclaims to Southern Cone Corporation’s Plea in Intervention and Third-Party Petition
- Second Amended Answer and Counterclaims to Southern Cone Diocese’s Third-Party Petition
- Second Amended Answer and Counterclaims to Intervening Congregations’ Plea in Intervention and Counterclaim Against Intervening Congregations
- Local Episcopal Parties’ Motion for Partial Summary Judgment
- Plaintiff the Episcopal Church’s Motion for Summary Judgment and Brief in Support of Motion (with TABS A – E)
- Plaintiff’s Modified Summary Judgment and Brief in Support of Motion – Appendix A (0298708)
- Plaintiff’s Modified Summary Judgment and Brief in Support of Motion – Appendix B (0298711)
- Plaintiff’s Modified Summary Judgment and Brief in Support of Motion – Appendix C (0298713)
- Plaintiff’s Modified Summary Judgment and Brief in Support of Motion – Appendix D (0298714)
- Plaintiff’s Modified Summary Judgment and Brief in Support of Motion – Appendix E (0298716)
- Appendix to All Episcopal Parties Motions for Summary Judgment
- Affidavit of The Rt. Rev. C. Wallis Ohl (A1-10) & Exhibits
- Affidavit of The Rt. Rev. Edwin F. Gulick (A28-34) & Exhibits
- Third Affidavit of Robert Bruce Mullin (A42-43)
- Second Affidavit of Mark Duffy (A114-863)
- (A114 – 293)
- (A294 – 407)
- (A408 – 503)
- (A504 – 614)
- (A615 – 682)
- (A683 – 737)
- (A738 – 802)
- (A803 – 863)
- Affidavit of Gregory S. Straub (A864-865) & Exhibits
- Affidavit of Kathleen Wells (A881-888) & Exhibits
- Affidavit of Jonathan Nelson (A976-981) & Exhibits
- Affidavit of The Rev. Canon Charles K. Robertson (A1237-1238) & Exhibits
- Plaintiff’s Modified Summary Judgment and Brief in Support of Motion – File-Marked