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South Carolina: Episcopal Church settlement offer rejected

South Carolina: Episcopal Church settlement offer rejected

The Episcopal Church and the Diocese offered a settlement to the breakaway churches in South Carolina. Today the proposed a settlement with a breakaway group that would have ended litigation over $500 million worth of property was rejected. The name and seal of the Diocese would return to the Episcopal Church.

From the Charleston Regional Business News

The national Episcopal Church and its S.C. parishes proposed a settlement with a breakaway group earlier this month that would have ended litigation over $500 million worth of property. That offer was rejected today… On June 2, the national [Episcopal] church proposed letting the 35 breakaway parishes keep their church properties in exchange for the national church keeping the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina name, property and assets, according to a news release from the Episcopal Church in South Carolina.

The diocesan assets are currently in the control of the breakaway group, which is led by the Right Rev. Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina. He testified that he was removed as bishop by the national church in 2012. The Right Rev. Charles G. vonRosenberg is bishop of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, which stayed with the national church.

“From the beginning of this dispute, we have hoped for reconciliation with people in the churches affected by this sad division,” vonRosenberg said in a statement. “We see this offer as the strongest possible way we can demonstrate that.”

The case will probably go on to Federal court where most rulings have favored the Episcopal Church.

Episcopal News Service has the story here.

An offer by South Carolina Episcopalians to settle a church-property lawsuit in eastern South Carolina was rejected by a breakaway group on June 15, the same day the offer was made public.

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina offered to let 35 parishes keep their church properties, whether or not they choose to remain part of The Episcopal Church.

In exchange, the proposal required the breakaway group to return the diocesan property, assets and identity of “The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina” to the diocese that is still affiliated with The Episcopal Church.

Added at 7:45 PM


posted by Ann Fontaine


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Dan Rafferty

To accept the offer is to compromise on what is seen as fundamental (plse don’t run this into fundamentalism) to their theology which is much more than “simply” an issue re. the LGBTQP orientation. Indeed, I would suggest that to frame the conflict as “simply” in these terms is to be rather…., how should I say it? Egotistical?

If one is truly of a theological persuasion and may believe that a last stand is called for in witness to one’s faith, then the compromise is not tenable. No matter one’s take on this conflict, the leadership of TEC had to see this coming as this diocese is the last (?) to holdout.

I distinctly remember (20 yrs ago+/-) a bishop of national renown telling the conservatives “Go, for God’s sake go.” What was not said was ” but leave everything behind. ” Imagine all the court fights not happening, the pastoral reduction of extreme tensions, and a concerted redirection of the revenues spent.

Oh if only we had said “go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” Or a process similar to the Diocese of Olympia which ulimately led to the return of property and reconciliation for many in one of the congregations. The other property is not very useful with all of the public domain encroachment anyway.

In the end, the DFMS may win the war but what is really left? You know the folks along the French eastern borders kind of got tired of the liberators winning their battles in first the Great War to End All Wars then the aftermath known as WWII.

If we are a domestic ___ missionary society, our metrics sure are not very supportive. We keep redefining “adequacy” in order to …….what? Notice that in this case “success” is missing ? Oh and yes another restructuring is coming along with new terminology. …. but the fundamentals, which are not doing much, stay the same.

If TEC/DFMS is really so great and forward thinking, show me the pudding ….as the proof is in the eating thereof. Remember 20/20 and also the Decade of Evangelism?

I remember with “horror” being told “well not everyone has to be an Episcopalian”. My half joking response was “why not?” We have the best BCP, theology –Via Media, and hymns, right?

The statement was in response to implementing a full worship bulletin and out of the actual BCP which newcomers found difficult.

No we’ll keep the animosity level high as we drain our coffers (or short the ministries).

Kurt Hill

“No we’ll keep the animosity level high as we drain our coffers (or short the ministries).”—Dan Rafferty

Well, uh, no we won’t, Dan. The Church Insurance Company of Vermont, with whom, some years ago, the schismatic bishop took out a legal defense policy, recognizes Bishop von Rosenberg and the Episcopal Church as the legal holders of that policy. Almost all their expenses in this case have been and will be covered by the Church Insurance Company of Vermont.

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Robert Martin

There is so much rancor, mistrust and dare I say it, hatred on both sides of this conflict. It is a terrible poison in the Body. The unceasing attacks and defenses and ripostes and reposts and clarifications and the desire to see the other side belittled, humiliated, etc. Obviously these are not fruits of the Spirit no matter how well composed the verbal finery.

Jeremy Bates

The level of emotion is not surprising.

After all, 30+ parishes left a diocese, essentially on the theory that the national church was being too nice to gay people.

Such an enterprise requires fear and mistrust–of gay people, of the national church, or both.

Meanwhile, the culture has moved in precisely the opposite direction.

This in turn tends to generate, among those who disagree with the culture, what we might call last-faithful-remnant rhetoric.

Cynthia Katsarelis

Jeremy nails it.

I don’t have hatred towards Mark and the breakaways, but they have a shocking reservoir of hatred towards me and my LGBTQ sisters and brothers. Shocking. They HATE me. And that’s a basis for living into the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and taking all the stuff with them?

I have deep appreciation for TEC for standing with me and my wife and our LGBTQ brothers and sisters and affirming us as human beings and children of God our Creator.

Paul Powers

“The case will probably go on to Federal court where most rulings have favored the Episcopal Church.”

The state-court lawsuit is now before the SC Supreme Court. Assuming the state Supreme Court doesn’t send it back to the trial court for a “do-over,” the next step will be for the losing party to take it to the U.S. Supreme Court, if they agree to hear it. The last time they agreed to hear a church property case was in 1979.

There’s a separate federal lawsuit concerning the use of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina’s name and seal under federal trademark law. That’s a separate issue from the property issues before the state Supreme Court (although the two issues are obviously related). Thus, it is possible that +Lawrence’s diocese will end up with the property, while +vonRosenberg’s diocese will be awarded the name (or vice versa).

Jeremy Bates

“Assuming the state Supreme Court doesn’t send it back to the trial court for a “do-over,””

That of course is exactly what the Fourth Circuit just did with the federal case.

The scenario of one side ending up with the property, and the other side ending up with the name, would involve different outcomes in different legal systems, each charged with applying the same federal law.

That kind of disuniformity is exactly what the Supreme Court of the United States exists to prevent.

Jeremy Bates

It’s a real shame that this settlement was rejected.

At this rate, the breakaway parishes could find themselves forever defined by their opposition to ordaining a gay person as bishop.

It seems an excellent way to consign one’s parish to the dustbin of history.

Professor Christopher Seitz

Tisdale and 815 disagreed over insurance compensation issues–publicly and awkwardly–and one must wonder what kind of offer is being extended by Tisdale but not clearly by TEC qua TEC.

Today is also a SC of SC deadline for brief submission.

I suspect the background to this story will come out in time.

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