A Texas Supreme Court opinion has an impact on somewhere between 50 and 60 Episcopal churches in North Texas, including St. Peter s by the Lake at Possum Kingdom Lake, Holy Spirit Episcopal Church in Graham and St. Luke s in Mineral Wells. (Mark Engebretson)
A Texas Supreme Court opinion has Episcopalians in the Fort Worth Diocese quite happy.
The opinion has an impact on somewhere between 50 and 60 Episcopal churches in North Texas, including Graham, St. Peter's by the Lake at Possum Kingdom Lake and St. Luke's in Mineral Wells.
Jim Westlake, senior warden at Holy Spirit Episcopal Church in Graham, said the dispute between the Diocese and The Episcopal Church boils down to ownership of church property - whether facilities under the Diocese, which broke away from the U.S. Episcopal Church organization, is actually owned by the diocese or if it belongs to The Episcopal Church.
What the Texas Supreme Court ruled was that the district court's ruling in favor of The Episcopal Church, meaning Diocese property belonged to TEC, was made using an inappropriate method to determine ownership.
Westlake said the Texas Supreme Court was a 5-4 decision.
"They dissented on whether the court should have heard the case in the first place," Westlake commented.
Now that the case returns to district court, Westlake is confident the decision will be in the Diocese's favor.
"Relative to the local church, we and the other 50 or 60 churches in the Diocese have been operating under this cloud," he said. "It's been frustrating at best, it changes your approach. We can go to church and not worry about property."
He added that congregations in the Diocese didn't know if they would have a place to worship the next week.