Press Statement from the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina:
One of America’s Oldest Dioceses Files Lawsuit to Prevent The Episcopal Church from Seizing Local Parishes and ‘Hijacking’ their Identities Lawsuit filed to defend more than $500 million in property from ‘blatant land grab’ as TEC seeks control of Diocesan holdings and parishes.
“Like our colonial forefathers, we are pursuing the freedom to practice our faith as we see fit, not as it is dictated to us by a self-proclaimed religious authority who threatens to take our property unless we relinquish our beliefs.” Bishop Mark Lawrence
St. George, SC, January 4, 2013–The Diocese of South Carolina, the Trustees of the Diocese and congregations representing the vast majority of its baptized members today filed suit in South Carolina Circuit Court against The Episcopal Church to protect the Diocese’s real and personal property and that of its parishes.
The suit also asks the court to prevent The Episcopal Church from infringing on the protected marks of the Diocese, including its seal and its historical names, and to prevent the church from assuming the Diocese’s identity, which was established long before The Episcopal Church’s creation. We seek to protect more than $500 million in real property, including churches, rectories and other buildings that South Carolinians built, paid for, maintained and expanded – and in some cases died to protect – without any support from The Episcopal Church,” said the Rev. Jim Lewis, Canon to the Ordinary.
“Many of our parishes are among the oldest operating churches in the nation. They and this Diocese predate the establishment of The Episcopal Church. We want to protect these properties from a blatant land grab.” The Diocese of South Carolina was established in 1785 as an independent, voluntary association that grew from the missionary work of the Church of England. It was one of nine dioceses that voluntarily joined together to form The Episcopal Church in October 1789, which eventually became an American province in the worldwide Anglican Communion, also a voluntary association. When the Diocese disassociated from The Episcopal Church we didn’t become a new entity,” Canon Lewis explained…
Also, for those interested:
A Message to Clergy in the Diocese of South Carolina Regarding the Declaratory Judgment
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
By now you are aware that today the Diocese of South Carolina, the Trustees of the Diocese and congregations representing the vast majority of its baptized members filed suit in South Carolina Circuit Court against The Episcopal Church to protect the Diocese’s real and personal property and that of its parishes.
We have developed a number of background resources you may find helpful in explaining this situation to your parish. These items include:
A letter from Bishop Lawrence – in the form of a bulletin insert
Stewardship of the Gospel – Stewardship of the Diocese (a theological reflection)
A Media Release
List of Plaintiffs Participating
Glossary of Terms
Timeline of Events
Letters of Support/Articles of Interest
These may all be found here.
If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact me.
In Christ’s service,
–(The Rev. Canon) Jim Lewis is Canon to the Ordinary of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina