Episcopal Legal Expenses Estimated at $52 Million as Anglicans Receive Payout

Aug 31, 2021 by

By Jeffrey Walton, Juicy Ecumenism:

Former Episcopalians in Texas received a $4.5 million check from the Episcopal Church (TEC) this week, mediated reimbursement for legal expenses incurred by Anglicans defending against the denomination’s unsuccessful lawsuit against a departing diocese.

It is a fraction of an estimated $51.7 million the national church has spent on property disputes across two decades, not counting additional funds spent by regional dioceses on attorneys’ fees and related expenses.

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth was sued by the Episcopal Church in 2009. The diocese went on to become a founding member of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). Litigation effectively concluded in February, after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up a TEC appeal following a unanimous Texas Supreme Court ruling in favor of the diocese.

“The Diocese made every attempt to avoid this litigation, beginning before its dissociation from TEC in 2008,” Bishop Ryan Reed wrote in a statement provided by the diocese on August 28. “Unfortunately, negotiations ended abruptly after three church properties were released to TEC-majority congregations when the Presiding Bishop and local TEC leaders brought suit in April 2009, foreclosing on the possibility of any other settlement.”

As I’ve written before, Episcopal litigation is not chiefly about money or church property, although those are both items under dispute. The denomination and Episcopal dioceses have expended enormous sums of money on legal fees, even taking a net financial loss in some instances despite court victories that awarded ownership of properties. Instead, litigation is chiefly aimed at preserving the exclusivity of the Episcopal Church’s Anglican Communion franchise.

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