By David Paulsen
Episcopal News Service

All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Fort Worth, Texas, has filed for bankruptcy protection, partly citing the “bad faith and scorched-earth tactics” of the Anglican Church in North America’s Fort Worth diocese, which in April took possession of the Episcopal congregation’s church and rectory.

All Saints’, with about 1,500 members and annual plate and pledge revenue of $1.5 million, is the largest and best-resourced congregation in the diocese now known as the Episcopal Church in North Texas, formerly the Diocese of Fort Worth. On Oct. 15, officials from the Anglican Church in North America, or ACNA, sent a letter to Frost Bank requesting possession of All Saints’ accounts with the bank. The bank declined that request but responded by freezing the accounts, the Rev. Christopher Jambor, All Saints’ rector, said in an Oct. 22 declaration filed in bankruptcy court.

ACNA “has refused to withdraw its demand on Frost Bank, and Frost Bank has refused to unfreeze” the accounts, Jambor said in his written declaration, filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas. His congregation now “is unable to collect and remit funds or pay its employees.”

In August, The Episcopal Church agreed to pay the ACNA diocese $4.5 million, covering legal costs accrued by ACNA in the court case. Since then, Episcopal congregations and ACNA congregations have continued to argue in a lower court over what other property needs to be turned over to ACNA.

“We’ve been trying to work with them for literally months,” Suzanne Gill, the ACNA diocese’s communication director, said in an interview with ENS. “At a certain point we need to ask authorities to take steps so this will be brought to a conclusion. We’ve been at this a very long time.”

The Episcopal Church in North Texas counters that it is following court orders, which specify that ACNA is only entitled to property – including bank account balances – from the date that The Episcopal Church filed its lawsuit, April 14, 2009.

“As far as we know, we have complied with everything we have been told to do. We have given them everything we have been told to give them related to that initial [Texas] Supreme Court judgment,” Katie Sherrod, the North Texas communication director, told ENS.

Read the rest at ENS.