Episcopal Church Break-Up Over Gay Clergy Leads To Colossal Legal Battle

episcopal church by greg westfallA schism in the Episcopal Church over gay clergy has lead to one of the largest church-property disputes in U.S. history.

The Texas Supreme Court will decide who owns more than 50 Fort Worth-area churches, since the Fort Worth Episcopal diocese is no longer affiliated with the mother church. (The regional group left over the ordination of openly gay New Hampshire bishop Gene Robinson and other “liberal” moves.)

Conservative Bishop Jack Iker, who led the schism five years ago, claims his diocese holds the deeds to all church properties, which are valued at more than $100,000. But the national church filed a lawsuit in 2009, claiming the breakaway group couldn’t just take the land and buildings with it.

A district judge had originally given Iker 30 days to turn over the deeds to the national church, but that order was put on hold as the Fort Worth sect files an appeal.

Photo: Greg Westfall