[Episcopal News Service] On May 22, the Supreme Court of Texas issued a ruling against the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and in favor of a breakaway group now affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America in a dispute over which group legally controls the diocese’s property.
The ruling reversed a 2018 appeals court decision that established The Episcopal Church’s diocese, led by Bishop Scott Mayer, as the rightful controller of the Diocese of Fort Worth. In 2008, a majority of clergy and lay leaders in the Diocese of Fort Worth voted to leave The Episcopal Church and join the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone over doctrinal differences on topics like same-sex marriage and the ordination of women. Now there are two entities calling themselves the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth: the original diocese associated with The Episcopal Church and the breakaway group that is now part of the Anglican Church in North America.
The Supreme Court decision puts the ACNA-affiliated group in control of the diocese’s $100 million worth of property.
“This decision is a disappointment to us all, but as followers of Jesus Christ, we live in hope,” Mayer wrote in a letter to his diocese. “Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry joins me in acknowledging our disappointment and urging all of us to be gentle with one another during this trying time, with the important goal of continuing our worship of God and our ministries in this diocese in as uninterrupted [a] manner as possible. Now I, other diocesan leaders, and our legal team have to make decisions about our next steps.”
Katie Sherrod, the Episcopal diocese’s director of communications, said the diocesan leadership is “deeply disappointed and actually shocked by this decision” and will now consider whether to appeal to the United States Supreme Court.
“If we know anything about the people of the Diocese of Fort Worth, it is that they are resilient. They are faithful,” Sherrod told Episcopal News Service. “And they’ve been through this once before, when they lost everything and came back, and I suspect they’ll do it again.”