Judge limits use of diocesan names and seals in S.C.

A Circuit Court judge in South Carolina has issued a temporary restraining order preventing those loyal to the Episcopal Church from using registered names and marks, such as diocesan names and seals, claimed by Mark Lawrence and his followers. Mary Frances Schjonberg of Episcopal News Service reports:

A South Carolina Circuit Court judge Jan. 23 issued a temporary restraining order preventing any “individual, organization, association or entity” from using registered names and marks that are claimed by Mark Lawrence and other leaders who led some Episcopalians in that state out of the Episcopal Church.

Judge Diane S. Goodstein’s order is in effect until Feb. 1 when a hearing is scheduled.

The order says Lawrence and 24 other people associated with him are the only ones who may use the diocesan seal as described in its registration with South Carolina Secretary of State as well as the names “The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina,” “The Diocese of South Carolina” and “The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.” Those three titles were registered on Nov. 5, 2010, according to the order.

The temporary restraining order is related to the suit that was filed in state circuit court Jan. 4. The action, the original plaintiffs said in a press release at the time, was taken “to protect the diocese’s real and personal property and that of its parishes.”

The suit also asked the court to prevent the Episcopal Church from “infringing on the protected marks of the diocese, including its seal and its historical names, and to prevent the church from assuming the diocese’s identity, which was established long before the Episcopal Church’s creation,” according to the press release.

Goodstein’s Jan. 23 order made clear that the restraining order applies only to the names and seal, and not the other matters alleged in the suit. The judge said in the order that a hearing was needed because the group of people who opposed Lawrence’s departure from the Episcopal Church has “allegedly and repeatedly” been using the names and the diocesan seal, “including those so similar that they are perceived to be the Diocese of South Carolina.”

Read full story here.

Comments (8)

"The group of people who opposed Lawrence’s departure from the Episcopal Church has “allegedly and repeatedly” been using the names and the diocesan seal."

Oh, you mean that what's left of the real Episcopal Diocese of South Florida has been calling itself the episcopal Diocese of South Carolina?

A headline on page four of the Winter 2013 edition of Jubilate Deo - the breakaway diocese's newspaper - reads, "Impersonating Group Plans Convention; Presiding Bishop to attend; Diocese Responds".

Another on page two reads, "FAQs About the Assault on the Diocese of South Carolina and the Disassociation".

The paper can be downloaded at http://www.diosc.com/sys/images/documents/jubdeo/2013_winter_jubilate_deo_web.pdf

While I take issue with the actions of the diocese, I commend the talent, professionalism, and faithfulness of its newspaper editor, my friend and colleague, Joy Hunter.

Heidi Shott

So, the Presiding Bishop should convene "The PECUSA" Convention -- our other corporate and canonical name!

Once more Bishop Lawrence and his crew want it both ways.

Maybe they are a diocese...just not of the Episcopal Church.

Lawrence is a Bishop...just not of the Episcopal Church.

The members of the breakaway group are members of a new denomination that exists within the the boarders of (half) the State of South Carolina...but they are not Episcopalians.

Their own words in their own newspaper proclaim loudly and proudly that they have disassociated themselves from the Episcopal Church. But they also claim that there is some invisible barrier that prevents people from the denomination they left to come in and minister to the people they excluded by their disassociation.

Which is it? Are you in or are you out?

You say you're out.

If they've left the Episcopal Church, then why should they care of +KJS or anyone else wants to come in have a meeting? These are people from another denomination, right? They should care about as much as if a meeting of Methodists or Baptists or, God forbid!, the MCC should meet inside the geographical boundaries of their new disassociated church.

Why should they care?

Because they know they have risked it all and provoked a crisis of their own making, that's why. They want to build their new denomination on the assets, property and good name of the church they voluntarily departed from.

Oh for heaven's sake. Get this judicial-FAIL decision appealed. TEC has the legal precedents, the schismatics do NOT.

JC Fisher

Of course, the other option might be for the Diocese of Upper South Carolina to take over jurisdiction of the loyalist parishes and have a single diocese that covers the entire state. Since they already have a bishop and Standing Committee, no elections are necessary. What to ultimately call that single diocese can be decided after the litigation is over.

Andrew: The Court order doesn't prevent the Presiding Bishop or anyone else from ministering to the folks in DSC who wish to remain in TEC. They just can't call themselves the Diocese of South Carolina, the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, or the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina. Like most temporary restraining orders, it was issued ex parte (with only one side present). There will be a hearing on Feb 1 for the court to decide whether to dissolve the TRO or make it a temporary injunction while the litigation is pending.

JCF: TEC may have some legal precedents, but they aren't South Carolina cases, and the SC courts aren't obliged to follow precedents in other states. The SC courts may ultimately rule for TEC, but a lead-pipe cinch it ain't.

Ya know, I have relatives living in Columbia in the Dio of upper SC and it never occurred to me that Dio SC's claims based on their own existence before TEC do not make coherent sense today, since they were/are only a PART of the state/colony of SC. Lawrence and his cronies are such frauds. I don't know whether to smack them or laugh at them.

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