TEC Witness Admits Diocesan Constitution, Canons Trump Those of the National Church
ST. GEORGE, SC, JULY 15, 2014 –An expert witness for The Episcopal Church (TEC) undermined claims by the denomination that its rules supersede those of local dioceses in the Diocese of SC, during day-long testimony in the trial to protect local diocesan and church property from seizure by TEC and its local subsidiary, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC).
Martin McWilliams, a law professor at the University of South Carolina, was called by TEC and TECSC to testify as an expert witness. McWilliams spent considerable time explaining his credentials as a corporate governance expert and said that because the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina incorporated the constitutions and canons of the national church in its own corporate charter, it is governed by those constitutions and canons.
However, on cross examination by the diocese’s attorneys, Alan Runyan and Henrietta Golding, he acknowledged that the diocese – while it may incorporate the national rules – is, in fact, governed by its own documents. He further acknowledged there is no rule in either the national canons and constitutions, nor in the diocese’s own constitutions and canons that prohibits the diocese from amending its corporate documents. He also said that the diocese was within its legal rights to amend its articles of incorporation.
McWilliams was the only witness called.