S.C. Episcopal diocese claims a victory in secession struggle

The breakaway Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina has won the latest round in its fight to secede from the national … Continued

The breakaway Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina has won the latest round in its fight to secede from the national church.

A South Carolina judge on Wednesday (Jan. 23) issued a temporary restraining order that prevents the national church from using the name or seal of the diocese, which espouses a more traditional theology and disapproves of the national church’s acceptance of same-sex marriage and gay bishops.

The order, as diocesan officials understand it, essentially tells the national church that it may not preside over the existing diocese.

“We believe what the judge has said is what we have been saying for quite some time,” said Jim Lewis, a top aide to Bishop Mark Lawrence.

“The Episcopal Church is more than free to establish a new diocese in South Carolina,” Lewis said. “What the ruling says, though, is that they can’t do that and claim to be us.”

Though 44 of the 71 parishes in the diocese support secession, according to the diocese, Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has said that differences of opinion within the church should be tolerated but unilateral secession is not permitted.

Secession must be approved by the church’s General Convention, she said, which next meets in 2015.

South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Diane S. Goodstein issued the restraining order three days before Schori is scheduled to preach in Charleston, the seat of the diocese, which covers the eastern half of South Carolina.

On that same day, Jan. 26, Jefferts Schori will lead a meeting to elect a new provisional bishop and other clergy and lay leaders for the diocese.

The restraining order will stand for only 10 days, but other judicial action on the standoff could be taken at a Feb. 1 circuit court hearing and when lawsuits over the secession are heard.

Neva Rae Fox, national spokeswoman for the Episcopal Church, said she had no comment on the injunction.

In recent years, four other conservative Episcopal dioceses — in California, Texas, Illinois and Pennsylvania — have left the national church without seeking approval from the General Convention.

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  • MHCNYC

    Unbelievable that some schismatic group can steal the name of the Episcopal Church for it’s degenerate purposes.

  • Palmettostater

    At this point, most of the parishioners are concerned less about the issues that created the schism and more about the TEC attempting to take, by force, property that the parishoners have worshipped in for generations. The majority of the churches that are leaving pre-date the formation of TEC anyway. How then can the TEC claim that they own that land? This is a blatant land grab by a left-wing denomination and I, like the VAST majority of episcopalians in South Carolina are glad to have disassociated.

    The article doesnt mention it, but over 80% of the diocese voted to leave TEC. That speaks volumes of the desires of our churches to leave.

  • FormerlySC

    44 of 71. Mentions it. You are speaking in code. TEC. Jeez, can’t even write out The Episcopal Church. It is sad that former Bishop Lawrence has destroyed what so many built over so many years. An arch conservative has destroyed a diocese that I knew as quite tolernat when I was growing up in it.