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Breakaway South Carolina diocese denied rehearing of property case

Breakaway South Carolina diocese denied rehearing of property case

The South Carolina Supreme Court, in a split decision, has refused to take up the breakaway diocese of South Carolina’s motion to rehear the property case they lost earlier this year. Two justices, Costa Pleicones and Donald Beatty, were against rehearing the case while John Kittredge and Jean Toal were for it. Justice Kaye Hearn did not participate in the decision. Since no majority was reached, the rehearing was denied.


Their motion to force the recusal of one of the justices they claim is biased against them, Justice Hearn was also denied, but by unanimous vote.  The justices said that the request for recusal came too late in the process.


In a statement from the breakaway diocese, Canon Jim Lewis reiterated the diocese’s commitment to not accepting the consequences of their choices and threatened further costly legal action;

“We are deeply disappointed the Court did not see fit to recuse Justice Hearn.  Her personal interest in the outcome of this litigation, beyond the normal matters of law, has clearly influenced its outcome. That is unfortunate not only for the Diocese but for all the citizens of this State with concerns for a fair and impartial judiciary. We also find it disturbing that the weight of the Constitutional concerns raised was not given further opportunity to be addressed. Church property ownership in South Carolina is now gravely complicated.

Given the gravity of all these concerns, we will now give serious consideration to seeking review by the U.S. Supreme Court. We believe the number and character of the issues at stake in this ruling merit review by the high court. Because of the long road of litigation that has brought us to this day, all the parties to this case will need to take counsel together before deciding our next steps.

We remain confident that God is at work in even these circumstances to redeem and use them, as He does all things, for His glory and the building up of His Church.”


The continuing Episcopal Church diocese, which calls itself the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, had not issued a statement yet [UPDATE: check out their statement here].  That diocese, currently under the provisional leadership of bishop Skip Adams had earlier offered to settle the case in such a way that most of the disputed parish property would have gone to the breakaway group while the diocesan name, seal and properties would have remained in the hands of the continuing diocese.  The breakaway group dismissed that overture due to their apparent over-confidence in their legal case.


Another case, in Federal Court, concerning ownership of the name, seal, and other trademarks of the diocese, is still underway, with mandated mediation scheduled to continue with the next session to begin December 4th.


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Bill Swartzer

This is a bit too editorialized for my taste. The facts are the facts, but saying the breakaway diocese has a “commitment to not accepting the consequences of their choices” and that settlement was not reached “due to [the breakway diocese’s] apparent over-confidence in their legal case” is unhelpful.

I get the Episcopal Café leans left or progressive, but when it comes to such matters, I would urge you to report the facts of the litigation, and then have a separate opinion piece on the whys and wherefores. Otherwise you’re doing not much more than mirroring StandFirm or VirtueOnline.

And I celebrate this ongoing victory. Now the Episcopal Church needs to renew their offer and settle.

Kurt Hill

Sell the schismatics St. Philip’s and keep St. Michael’s as the TEC cathedral…

Chip Mills

God is indeed at work in the former Lower Diocese!

Chris Thompson

If one would read the book by Paul Starobin, “Madness Rules The Hour” about the call for secession from the people in Charleston, you could understand the dissenting diocese. I believe that “madness” truly rules the time!

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