News from the Episcopal Church in South Carolina:
The lawsuit filed by a breakaway group against The Episcopal Church and its local diocese in eastern South Carolina will be heard in state court, not federal court, U.S. District Court Judge C. Weston Houck ruled today.
The Episcopal Church in South Carolina had sought to have the case heard in federal court, citing First Amendment issues raised by the case. The lawsuit will now return to South Carolina Circuit Court and Judge Diane S. Goodstein in Dorchester County, said Thomas S. Tisdale, Jr., Chancellor of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina. Judge Houck’s order cannot be appealed.
“We are obviously disappointed with the result, but we are confident in our legal position going forward,” Mr. Tisdale said.
The lawsuit was filed in January by a group of former church leaders and some 34 parishes in eastern South Carolina who say they have “disassociated” from The Episcopal Church, seeking control of the name, seal and properties of the diocese. The group continues to call itself “The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina,” and recognizes Mark Lawrence as its bishop.