Following a second loss before the state supreme court, the breakaway diocese in South Carolina will continue to pursue its claim to Episcopal Church property through the court system.
Late last week the South Carolina Supreme Court denied the request for rehearing made by the breakaway diocese. In a decision issued in August the court said 27 parishes occupied by the breakaway belonged to the Episcopal Church and its local diocese.
After their appeal was rejected by the state supreme court, the breakaway diocese has decided to ask the United States Supreme Court to take up the case. In a statement , Bishop Lawrence of the breakaway diocese wrote in a statement;
So we have before us our commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ to which we are unwaveringly wedded; a civil concern for religious freedom for ourselves and others; and a public duty to petition for constitutional due process to be upheld. Any of these might justify taking the next step down this legal road. Together they make a three-fold cord not easily broken.
In a separate legal action, the breakaway diocese has made a claim against the 27 parishes that the State Supreme Court has said are rightfully part of the continuing diocese of the Episcopal church. They filed a suit in Dorchester County seeking compensation for “betterments” made during their occupation of the property.
Bishop “Skip” Adams and Thomas Tisdale, Chancellor of the continuing diocese both expressed their disappointment in the continuing recalcitrance of the Lawrence-led diocese as well as their hope that all parties might begin putting their energy towards reconciliation.
“This new filing is not only completely without merit, but unfortunate and inappropriate. It moves us no closer to the kind of resolution that restores unity to our diocese,” Chancellor Thomas S. Tisdale said.
Bishop Adams said; “I appeal to the leaders of the disassociated group and their counsel to allow the people in the affected parishes to start having the necessary conversations with us to ensure that they can continue to worship in their churches. It is time to begin healing this division.”
All parties in the case have previously agreed to mediation to work out how to implement the Supreme Court ruling as well as issues raised in a separate federal lawsuit over the name and seal of the diocese. That mediation is scheduled to resume in Columbia, SC December 4-5.
image: Bishop Gladstone “Skip” Adams and Bishop Mark Lawrence