Legal Defense Fund

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The Diocesan Council, with support from the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, XIV Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina, established the Legal Defense Fund Committee to assist the Diocese in raising $2 million to underwrite the cost of litigation against The Episcopal Church (TEC).

In his charge to the Committee, Bishop Lawrence invoked Jesus’ words from John’s gospel, “in this world we will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” He encouraged the committee to be prayerful, creative, forthright, and affirming. He urged the group to acknowledge that our legal suit is a tempestuous battle against “the spiritual forces of evil” and advised the members to “put on the full armor of God” trusting in His righteousness and believing in His justice and judgment.

In accepting the charge, committee chair, Dr. Peter Mitchell noted, “If we believe God has a plan for everything and everyone – and we do – then it is God’s plan for this diocese at this time to engage in this mighty battle – a battle to proclaim the truth of Scripture, a battle to espouse a Christ-centered lifestyle, a battle to preserve religious freedom.”

Mitchell added, “What an amazing time to be a parishioner in this diocese, what an awesome time to be a priest. One hundred years from today, church historians will be writing about the events of 2012, 2013 and 2014 and they will describe these years as a time of rebirth, a time of renewal, a time of revitalization for our Diocese.”

1785 Society

The Legal Defense Fund Committee shares the joy and optimism associated with Judge Goodstein’s ruling. Despite a judgment that decisively supports our Diocese, TEC has announced it will continue to appeal. To underwrite the legal costs associated with the appeal, the Diocesan Council approved establishing The 1785 Society, reflective of the year our Diocese was founded. Learn more.

Committee Members Design Strategy

The members of the Legal Defense Fund Committee are Dr. Peter Mitchell (Prince George Winyah, Georgetown) as chair; Rector Jeffrey Miller (St. Helena’s, Beaufort); lay members Myron Harrington (St. Philip’s, Charleston); Elizabeth (Boo) Pennewill (Holy Cross, Sullivan’s Island); and Charles Waring (St. James, Goose Creek); Canon Jim Lewis, and Bishop Lawrence. The committee has met four times during the past three months to design a strategy and develop materials for a stewardship campaign.

Background Information

Visit our Media Room for Press Releases, FAQ's, a helpful timeline, biographies of our spokespersons, letters of support and more.

Take Your Stand

The Campaign to Proclaim and Preserve God's Word and Witness in the Diocese of South Carolina

In 1789, the four-year-old Diocese of South Carolina joined eight other Anglican dioceses in establishing The Episcopal Church (TEC), a voluntary association that grew from the missionary work of the Church of England. For two centuries, the Diocese of South Carolina was a dynamic part of TEC, providing Bible-based, Christ-centered, orthodox Anglican religious opportunities for hundreds of thousands of parishioners. However, during the past four decades, the relationship between the Diocese of South Carolina and TEC has been strained due to issues of theology and polity.

Unfortunately, decisions made by TEC along with statements and sermons by its leadership were making it difficult for the Diocese of South Carolina to remain associated with the denomination. Then, in October 2012, TEC manipulated polity and governance to declare that Bishop Lawrence had “abandoned The Episcopal Chuch.” When TEC attempted to remove Bishop Lawrence and replace him with a Bishop whose theology and polity was aligned with them, we withdrew.

Knowing TEC’s strategy of suing churches and seizing their property, our Diocese initiated litigation to protect the churches, rectories and other buildings that South Carolinians in our Diocese built, paid for, maintained – and in some cases died to protect – without any support from The Episcopal Church. We are engaged in a legal battle to preserve our autonomy so that the Diocese may continue to proclaim God’s word and witness in South Carolina.

A Time of Trial, Tribulation and Triumph

The act of disassociation is proving to be a source of renewal and revitalization for the Diocese, its clergy and parishioners. We enter the most pivotal and important time in our history with a sense of the Holy Spirit in our midst, providing calm, confidence, and courage. While the impending trial is disconcerting and saddening, we remember Jesus’ words, “in this world we will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.’ (John 16:33)

Rather than a time of tribulation, the current situation is a time of triumph – triumph of a Bible-based faith, triumph of a Christ-centered lifestyle, triumph of church polity embedded in Anglican tradition. Bishop Lawrence, the clergy and the laity of our Diocese enter this time and this legal battle strong in the Lord and His mighty power. We take our stand in the secular court clothed in the full armor of God.

Make no mistake. This court battle is for much more than the protection of our properties, it is to protect religious freedom, the transformative message of the Gospel, Scripture as the Word of God, the certainty that Christ died on the Cross for the forgiveness of the sins of the whole world and that “Christ did truly rise again from death and ascended into Heaven” as stated in the Articles of Religion (#4) of the Anglican Communion.

“Take Your Stand” Campaign

TEC’s history of litigation against dioceses and churches totals more than $22 million. We estimate the cost of preserving our Bible-based and Christ-centered principles to be $2 million. The Take Your Stand Campaign is a fundraising initiative, approved by the Diocesan Council and Bishop Lawrence, to secure the resources needed for our legal team. A Legal Defense Fund Committee has been empowered to raise the money.

The Campaign is centered on two key audiences: 1) churches continuing in the Diocese who we hope will raise more than half the funds we need, and 2) individuals and organizations with a great passion for our orthodox faith and our courage in championing the cause of religious freedom. Each parish in the Diocese has been given a requested contribution amount that collectively will secure over half the goal. The stewardship strategy will reflect the unique character and ethos of each parish. Because our legal case has attracted national attention, we’ve created a special link on the Diocese web site that provides extensive information and a way to donate money on-line or request contact from the Bishop or members of the LDF Committee.

The next two years will define the future of our Diocese and in many ways, the future of the Anglican Communion in the United States. The generosity of our parishes and parishioners, as well as supporters outside the Diocese will ensure that we present our best defense!
Thank you and God Bless you!