“We want you to know this: the legal process continues. We will be filing a motion for a rehearing from the Supreme Court”
The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina will challenge last week’s decision by the state’s Supreme Court awarding over two dozen of its congregations to the national Episcopal Church. In a statement released on 7 Aug 2017, the diocesan standing committee said they would seek a rehearing before the court, and were pursuing other legal remedies.
On 2 Aug 2017 the South Carolina Supreme Court in a 3-2 ruling partly overturned and partly upheld an earlier District Court ruling that had favored the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina over the national church. The majority reversed the 3 Feb 2015 lower court ruling on the trusteeship of 29 of 36 disputed parish properties. A final ruling would affect more than $500 million in diocesan and parish properties.
The ruling has come under sharp legal and ethical criticism, with Anglican Ink’s legal Allan Haley writing the decision was tainted by a “massive conflict of interest” by one of the justices.
Last week diocesan leaders told AI they were stunned by the decision, and would meet with their legal counsel on 7 Aug 2017 to review the ruling. The Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence announced he would meet with his clergy on 8 Aug 2017 to explain the situation.
One senior diocesan official, who was speaking off the record and not on behalf of the diocese, explained the leadership’s initial task was to understand the implications of the ruling, which contained five separate opinions, and to reassure the diocese. “No one is going to be locked out of their church this Sunday,” he said.
Following the meeting of the standing committee, the diocese released a statement saying it would continue to pursue all legal remedies and would seek a rehearing by the court.
The statement read:
A Message from the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina
August 7, 2017
The Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina, having met together with our bishop, The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, in Charleston this day, sends to all of our brothers and sisters of the diocese our love and our greetings in the name of Jesus Christ. We are so profoundly thankful for all who have fasted and prayed for our diocese and our Standing Committee during the past week from across South Carolina, throughout the Anglican Church in North America, and among all the faithful in global Anglicanism.
We have spent this time together in prayer and discussion regarding the decision by the South Carolina Supreme Court last Wednesday. In light of the conflicting opinions issued by the court, we met with the legal counsel for our diocese and have approved a strategy on how we go forward seeking clarity. We want you to know this: the legal process continues. We will be filing a motion for a rehearing from the Supreme Court, the deadline for which is September 1st. We are convinced there are compelling reasons to make this motion. There will be other avenues along with and following that action.
Finally, while we cannot tell you what tomorrow brings, we want to reiterate three things that you already know. First, again, the legal process continues. Second, we are stronger together. Third, we will continue in all circumstances our God-given mandate of making biblical Anglicans for a global age. Know that we love you, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and that we remain,
Yours in Christ Jesus,
The Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina
The Rev. David Thurlow, President
The Very Rev. Craige Borrett
The Rev. Karl Burns, Vice-President
The Very Rev. Peet Dickinson
The Rev. David Dubay
The Rev. Marcus Kaiser
Mr. Alonso Galvan
Mr. Gerry Graves
Mrs. Susan McDuffie, Secretary
Mr. Foster Smith
Mrs. Anne Walton
Mr. Brandt Shelbourne