On Friday, March 21, 2014, the Texas Supreme Court denied the motions for rehearing of its August 30, 2013, opinions in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth case and the companion Masterson case from the Episcopal Diocese of Northwest Texas. Both cases address fundamental Constitutional issues regarding the rights of American churches, including The Episcopal Church, to determine their ministers and internal governance and to maintain their churches and other property given for the mission and ministry of the Church. People are of course free to leave their church, but they cannot take with them the property they received as officers of that church and committed to use only for that church.
The impact of the Court’s denials is to remand the cases to their respective trial courts for further proceedings under neutral principles of law, as stated in the August 30 opinions. Any petitions for writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court would be due within 90 days of the denials of rehearing, unless an extension of time is granted.
The Rt. Rev. Rayford B. High, Jr., bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, stated, “While we are disappointed at any delay in the resolution of this dispute and the return of historic Episcopal property for the use of The Episcopal Church, we look forward to its ultimate resolution in our favor. Regardless of the immediate decisions to be made in the next steps in the litigation, we will continue to pray for all our sisters and brothers involved in this situation, and I ask all of you to continue to stay focused on the mission and ministry that Christ has called us to undertake and continue to move forward as His faithful disciples. We will continue our mission as the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth of The Episcopal Church in these 24 North Texas counties, where we have ministered continuously since 1838.”