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Bishop Lawrence Writes Diocese Following Supreme Court Ruling
August 5, 2017, Eve of the Transfiguration
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
“I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” Psalm 16:8
Thursday evening Allison and I returned to Charleston. We were on vacation with family in California when the South Carolina Supreme Court issued the long awaited ruling. Obviously, it was not the favorable ruling we were seeking. Therefore, we returned home as soon as possible. Frankly, it is a grievous decision for us on so many levels. Perhaps you, as do I, have to fight despondency as I consider its many ramifications for us as a diocese, and especially for our congregations and clergy. For make no mistake—if this ruling stands how we carry out God’s mission and the ministries he has given us will dramatically change. You may already have received from previous diocesan communications, the diocesan website or from local news, the gist of the court’s conflicted 77-page opinion. Therefore, I will not rehearse it here. My purpose is more personal.
Today, thousands of Christians around the world are holding you, the congregations of the diocese, as well as our clergy and bishop in prayer. Even more specifically, yesterday Anglicans on this continent were lifting us in constant prayer. As you may know, we recently voted as a diocese to affiliate with the Anglican Church in North America, and this summer their Provincial Assembly joyfully received us as full members therein. What a comfort it is to know that our Archbishop, the Most Reverend Foley Beach, asked the bishops, clergy and laity of the ACNA to pray and fast yesterday on our behalf.
Archbishop Foley Beach Calls for a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Diocese of South Carolina
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Gospel:
South Carolina Supreme Court Releases Divided Opinion on Diocese of South Carolina and its Historic Property
A sharply divided court reverses portions of the lower court ruling
COLUMBIA, S.C. (August 2, 2017) – In a 77 page opinion, the South Carolina Supreme Court today reversed portions of an earlier lower court ruling. In February 2015, circuit court Judge Diane Goodstein ruled that the Diocese of South Carolina, its trustees and the 50 parishes -- representing 80 percent of the members -- that disassociated with the Diocese successfully withdrew from The Episcopal Church (TEC) in 2012, taking all their property, including churches, symbols and other assets. The ruling was the result of a three-week trial in 2014.
That court found that "the Constitution and Canons of TEC have no provision which states that a member diocese cannot voluntarily withdraw its membership." This ruling found that had there been such a provision, it would have violated the diocese's "constitutionally protected right" to freedom of association. "With the freedom to associate goes its corollary, the freedom to disassociate," Judge Goodstein wrote.
South Carolina State Supreme Court Ruling Announced
The issues in this case are complicated and our legal counsel is reviewing the ruling, its implications and deliberating the appropriate response.
We ask for your patience and call on of the clergy, laity and friends of the diocese to keep the matter in prayer.
Smoke Damage to Bishop's Residence