Masterson v. Diocese of Northwest Texas (Opinion)Annotate this Case
Title to property of a local church (the Good Shepherd) was held by a Texas non-profit corporation (Corporation). The Corporation was formed as a condition of Good Shepherd's congregation being accepted into union with the Episcopal Diocese of Northwest Texas (Diocese). After members of Good Shepherd's parishioners began to disagree with doctrinal positions adopted by The Episcopal Church of the United States (TEC), a majority of the congregation voted to amend Good Shepherd's articles of incorporation and bylaws to withdraw God Shepherd from communion with TEC and the Diocese. The Corporation and the withdrawing faction maintained possession of the property. The Diocese and leaders of the portion of the congregation loyal to TEC and the Diocese filed suit seeking possession of the property. The trial court granted summary judgment for the loyal faction, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the legal methodology called "neutral principles of law," rather than "deference," should be applied in this case; and (2) applying neutral principles of law to the record, the trial court erred by granting summary judgment. Remanded.