Main Menu

Audio/Video Library
About Us
Building for Christ
Clergy Directory
Church Directory
Contact Us
Diocesan Office
Diocesan Structure
Global South
Parochial Report
Staff Directory
Our Seal
Visiting Bishop
Bishop Lawrence
About Us
Statement of Faith
Job Openings
Anglican Partnerships
Bishop Lawrence
Bishop's Schedule
About Bishop Lawrence
Bishop's Messages
Anglican Missional Partnerships
Commission on Ministry
Diocesan Council
Ecclesiastical Court
Finance Department
Liturgy and Worship
Provincial Affiliation
Standing Committee
Jubilate Deo
Photo Gallery
Submission Guidelines
Photo Albums
Treasurers' Tips
Contact Us
Staff Directory
Clergy Directory
Church Directory
Search for Church
Contact Us
Convention Information
Convention Information
Convention Workshops
Convention News
Convention Nominations Sought
Convention Journals
Convention Notes
Convention Archives
Convention Audio and Video Files
Delegate Certification Form
223rd Convention Media
Delegate Information
Donate Now
Diocesan Council
Standing Committee
Statement of Faith
Anglican Leadership Institute
St. Christopher
Canterbury House
Porter Gaud School
SC Episcopal Home
Voorhees College
York Place
Job Openings
Legal Defense Fund
Legal News & Media
Ministries & Departments
1670 Legacy
Addiction Recovery
Anglicans for Life
Anglican Relief and Development Fund
Brothrhd of St. Andrew
Christian Faith Formation
Young Adult Ministry
Daughters of the King
Faith Encouragement Ministries
Hispanic Ministry
Kairos Prison Ministry
Order of Saint Vincent
Social Ministries
St. Luke - Physician
Men's Ministry
Women's Ministry
Youth Ministry
News & Events
Jubilate Deo
Submission Guidelines
Latest News
Job Openings
Photo Gallery
Media Room
Diocesan Calendar
Audio/Video Library
Resources - Clergy
Cursillo Application
Ordination Process
Supply Clergy
Sabbatical Guidelines
Parochial Report Forms
Visitation Customary
Pension Information
Job Openings
Benefits & Compensation
Child Abuse Prevention
Commission on Ministry
Resources - General
Background Check
Diocesan Forms
Diocesan Payroll Plan
Disaster Preparedness
Hurricane Preparedness
Letter of Agreement Rector
Medical Insurance
Ordination Process
Parish Audits
Parochial Report
Parochial Report Forms
Prayer Calendar
Risk Management
Vestry Handbook
Safeguarding God's Children
Treasurer's Office
Dio. Audited Fin.l Stmts.
Clergy Compensation
Clergy Salary Worksheet
Declaration of Intent
Employee Classification
Parish Audits
Pledge Report
Sample Housing Resolutions
Treasurers' Tips
Housing Allowance Worksheet
Overtime Rules
Parochial Report Forms
Make a Payment

Who's Online Now

We have 158 guests and no members online

Diocese argues to South Carolina Supreme Court that a lower court decision dismissing outside claims on local church property is consistent with state law and constitutional precedent.

COLUMBIA, SC (Sept.  23, 2015) – The Diocese of South Carolina today argued to the state Supreme Court that a judge’s February ruling that the Episcopal Church (TEC) has “no legal, equitable or beneficial interest” in the Diocese’s properties was correct and consistent with South Carolina law.
The argument came as the Diocese defended against the latest appeal by TEC, which seeks to seize local property. The denomination’s filings seek control of the Diocese’s 314-acre St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center, the Diocese’s historic identity, its accounts and the properties of 50 congregations that joined the Diocese in disassociating from the denomination in 2012.
During today's appeal hearing, the Diocese and TEC would normally have had 20 minutes to present respective arguments, however due to the number of questions, more time was taken because of the vigorous debate.
“We are hopeful the Supreme Court will protect the fundamental constitutional right of South Carolina institutions and residents to choose with whom to associate,” said Rev. Jim Lewis, canon to the ordinary of the Diocese. “The lower court made clear that the Diocese could leave TEC and take its property.  We hope this decision concludes the expensive, distracting efforts by TEC to use what feels like endless appeals to delay the inevitable outcome.”
The History of the Dispute
The dispute began when TEC attempted to remove the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence as bishop in the fall of 2012.  The Diocese immediately disassociated from TEC, an action affirmed by its Diocesan Convention in November 2012.  At that time 50 of the 72 congregations that made up the Diocese at the time and 80 percent of its members supported the disassociation.
TEC immediately attempted to claim the identity of the Diocese, with a rump group calling itself the Steering Committee using the Diocese’s registered service mark and announcing meetings of the diocesan clergy.  In response to the attempted identity theft, the Diocese sought legal protection for the Diocese, its property and that of its congregations. 
On Jan. 29, 2013, TEC agreed to a court-imposed temporary injunction preventing its further use of the Diocese’s identity.  The final ruling by Circuit Court Judge Diane Goodstein, which supported the Diocese’s request and rejected TEC claims, made that initial injunction permanent and dismissed the TEC arguments "with prejudice".
The Legal Background
TEC’s legal arguments can be distilled down to two related propositions.  It claims to be a "hierarchical" church, with complete control of the entire organization located at its very top, much like the Roman Catholic Church, which is led by the pope.  It claims that, as a "hierarchical" church, the establishment clause of the Constitution prevents any court from challenging its ecclesiastical decisions. 
Courts in South Carolina, Illinois, California and Texas have repeatedly found there are multiple and significant problems with these assertions in this case.
The first is the fact that TEC's organizational structure is irrelevant to this case.   The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled clearly and repeatedly that in property matters like those involved here, courts may decide them using what is known as neutral principles of law, which means the court may not apply special conditions or rules that are different than those it would apply in normal property disputes. 
An example of neutral principles was the 2009 decision of the All Saints Parish Waccamaw case by the South Carolina Supreme Court.  The court said judges may decide the matter applying the customary laws of property ownership.  The same principles were applied in the case of the Diocese.
Under neutral principles of law, several further crucial legal principles apply.  First, it does not matter if TEC were hierarchical or not. That should be irrelevant under neutral principles of law. Second, TEC has no interest in the real, personal or intellectual property of the Diocese because no trust interest has been established to give it such a claim.  Under South Carolina law, an express trust requires a written declaration signed by the party conveying that interest.  No such document was ever executed by the Diocese or any of its parishes to convey anything to The Episcopal Church. 
Similarly, though TEC has asserted trademark infringement as an issue in this case, the only infringement considered at trial was the denomination’s unauthorized use of the Diocesan service marks.  The real issue was who has the rights to control the Diocese, TEC or those who have continuously been its leadership, in unbroken succession, all the way back to 1785.

 Let's Connect!

like us on facebook

Visit Bishop's Blog

enews head from

Sign up for our e-newsletter.

View past issues of e-newsletter.

Latest News

Death of the Rev. John Foster, III
Thu, December 21, 2017

The Rev. John Foster, III
September 30, 1957 - December 21, 2017 Please keep the family and loved ones of the Rev. John Foster in your prayers. John d [ ... ]

latest news+ Full Story
Congregational Reporting Begins January 1
Wed, December 20, 2017

The Congregational Reporting  (a.k.a. parochial reports) process is about to begin for the churches in our diocese. The process will be [ ... ]

latest news+ Full Story
Other Articles