HYPOTHETICAL: Suppose that: (1) The board of directors of General Motors approves the business plan of the Chevy division to experiment with other technologies such as the Volt hybrid. (2) Many of the workers of the Cadillac division get upset by this decision. They claim GM's board has abandoned The Automotive Faith Once Delivered that automobiles burn gasoline, damnit! (3) These dissidents proclaim that Cadillac is withdrawing from General Motors and temporarily joining the Indian car manufacturer Hindustan Motors [an actual company], under the auspices of the International Association of Automobile Manufacturers [there's no such thing, so far as I know], so that they can continue to build luxury cars the way they're meant to be built.
QUESTION: Who owns the Cadillac factory, the brand rights, the dealership contracts, the buildings and fixtures, the office supplies, etc. — is it the Cadillac dissidents, or General Motors?
ANSWER: General Motors, of course. The Cadillac dissidents would be horse-laughed out of court if they claimed Cadillac had ‘seceded’ from GM. We can stipulate that the Cadillac factories, office buildings, etc. were built largely through the efforts of generations of Cadillac workers and execs. Even so, at best the dissidents would be treated as having constructively resigned en masse. And as with any other resignation, the courts wouldn't let them take so much as a desk stapler with them.
(What the courts would do, and what should happen, are not necessarily the same thing. See my post from last year, Property ought to go where it can be best used.)
I adapted the above from my comments in a discussion thread at TitusOneNine. Another commenter, 'Jeffersonian,' claimed that my hypothetical was inapt because, (supposedly) unlike Pittsburgh, ”GM created Cadillac, owns Cadillac and runs Cadillac. At no time was there an organization called “Cadillac” that had to petition to join GM. It never was, is not, and never will be an independent entity.”
Historically, it appears Jeffersonian is wrong: According to Wikipedia, Cadillac was originally founded as an independent company in 1902; it was acquired by General Motors in 1909.
Even so, Jeffersonian's response nicely supports my hypothetical: It seems that at no time was there ever an organization called ‘the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh' until it was created by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. According to the separatists' Web site, until 1865, western Pennsylvania was simply part of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania:
The first known Episcopal clergy resident in this western third of what was then Diocese of Pennsylvania included . . . . [¶¶] For a decade after 1810, Joseph Doddridge, pioneer missionary in our region, wrote letter after letter to the eastern bishops pleading with them to convince General Convention to establish a western diocese. But conservative forces continued to guard oversight of entire states. The first division finally was set up in 1838 in western New York, but no further divisions took place until the western third of Pennsylvania with its 24 counties became the Diocese of Pittsburgh in 1865. [Bold-faced emphasis added.]
So, contrary to Jeffersonian's argument, the Diocese of Pittsburgh was not a standalone entity that elected to join the Episcopal Church. No, the diocese was a creature of the Episcopal Church from its very beginning.
(Related post: It matters how an Episcopal diocese came into being.)