The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC) has begun working toward welcoming parishes back into the diocese and accounting for property following the Supreme Court’s declining to address the ongoing lawsuit between TECSC and a “breakaway” group of conservative Anglicans. (Read the Lead’s previous coverage here.) The first of these involves multiple conversations to be held around the diocese for those people in the 28 parishes affected by the SCOTUS non-decision.
“TECSC is offering the open conversations to provide information and answer questions for people whose churches are affected by recent court decisions giving control of the property of the Diocese of South Carolina and 28 parishes to The Episcopal Church and its recognized diocese, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.
“’We understand this is a time of great concern and confusion for people who care deeply about their faith communities,’ said the Right Rev. Gladstone B. Adams III, Bishop of TECSC. “We want to listen well and respond to their questions in order to offer a clear picture of how people can remain in their churches as part of The Episcopal Church.’”
There is a great deal of hope for these conversations to produce new life in the affected parishes. As expressed in the TECSC news blog entry quoted above, this marks the first step in a long process which will serve as a, “roadmap to reconciliation.” TECSC is the latest diocese which has had to discern the way forward following litigation over church property claimed by breakaway groups. It will be interesting to see how the precedents set in those other cases help to shape TECSC’s process.
TECSC has also asked a judge to order a full accounting of all assets held by the breakaway group:
The petition, filed July 10 with the Court of Common Pleas in the 1st Judicial Circuit, would affect the diocesan organizations and 29 parishes that the South Carolina Supreme Court decided in August 2017 must be returned to The Episcopal Church. All were plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in 2013 against The Episcopal Church and TECSC by the breakaway group led by Mark Lawrence.
The accounting would “allow this Court to equitably proceed in this matter” to restore property to The Episcopal Church and TECSC and compensate them for any loss in value of property since the split occurred in October 2012.
The case has been remitted to the 1st Circuit court so that the state Supreme Court’s decision can be executed. In May, The Episcopal Church and TECSC petitioned the court to implement the decision and appoint a judge called a “special master” to oversee the complex process of returning the property and assets.
The full text of the petition is online here.