Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth v. Episcopal Church (Opinion)Annotate this Case
In this dispute over which faction of a splintered Episcopal diocese is the "Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth" the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the withdrawing faction, holding that resolution this property dispute does not require consideration of an ecclesiastical question and that, under the diocese's governing documents, the withdrawing faction is the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.
After a disagreement about religious doctrine the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and a majority of its congregations withdrew from The Episcopal Church. The church replaced the diocese's leaders. Subsequently, both the disaffiliating and replacement factions claimed ownership of property held in trust for the diocese and local congregations. The withdrawing faction argued that under the organizational documents, the unincorporated association's identity is determined by the majority. The church and its loyalists argued that the entity's identity is an ecclesiastic determination. The Supreme Court agreed with the withdrawing faction by applying neutral principles to the disputed facts, holding that the trial court property granted summary judgment in the withdrawing faction's favor.