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Anglican Diocese of South Carolina

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Anglican Diocese of South Carolina
Ecclesiastical provinceAnglican Church in North America
Congregations53 (2018)[1]
Members20,763 (2018)[1]
CathedralCathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul, Charleston
Current leadership
BishopMark Lawrence
Location of the Anglican diocese of South Carolina

Location of the Anglican diocese of South Carolina

The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina is a diocese of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). The diocese covers an area of 24 counties in the eastern part of the state of South Carolina. In 2018, it had 20,763 baptized members and 53 parishes.[1] The see city is Charleston, home to the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul.

The Anglican Diocese formed in 2012 when the historical Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina split into two groups after a long period of conflict over theology and authority within the Episcopal Church. Bishop Mark Lawrence and a majority of the members of the historical diocese left the Episcopal Church but continued to claim diocesan property, including church buildings, and to be the continuation of the historical diocese. The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina joined the ACNA in 2017.

A minority of the members of the historical diocese remained affiliated to the Episcopal Church and called themselves the Episcopal Church in South Carolina. This group also claimed the right to the name and property of the historical diocese. On August 2, 2017, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that 29 parishes and the St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center were the property of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina and must be returned but that seven other parish properties were owned by the Anglican Diocese.[2]

On September 19, 2019, a federal court ruled that the trademarks and names "Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina" and "Diocese of South Carolina" were owned by the Episcopal Church and its affiliates in the state. Following this decision, the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina adopted its current name.



From the 2000s until 2012 a large number of clergy and laypeople in the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina became more and more dissatisfied with decisions made by the Episcopal Church, and increasingly supported Anglican realignment. Similar controversies occurred in four other Episcopal Church dioceses: San Joaquin, Fort Worth, Quincy, and Pittsburgh. Although some clergy and parishioners in the diocese supported the decisions made by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, they were in the minority,[citation needed] which was generally not the case with most other Episcopal dioceses. Since 2008, a number of developments heightened tensions between the diocese and the Episcopal Church.

Mark J. Lawrence was consecrated and installed as bishop of the Episcopal diocese on January 26, 2008, after being elected twice.[3] The polity of the Episcopal Church requires that a majority of standing committees and diocesan bishops give consent to the election of any diocesan bishop. Because of "canonical deficiencies" in several dioceses' responses, the first election was declared void, requiring a second election.[4]

The old diocese opposed actions of the Episcopal Church that it viewed as contrary to scripture (see Homosexuality and Anglicanism). After the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church passed resolutions DO25 (opening "any ordained ministry" to individuals in same-sex relationships) and CO56 (concerning the blessing of same-sex relationships), the South Carolina diocese responded by holding a special convention on October 24, 2009.[5] That convention passed a resolution authorizing "the Bishop and Standing Committee to begin withdrawing from all bodies of the Episcopal Church that have assented to actions contrary to Holy Scripture, the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this Church has received them ... until such bodies show a willingness to repent of such actions." It also declared "Resolutions DO25 and CO56, to be null and void, having no effect in this Diocese, and in violation of our diocesan canon."[6][7]

The old diocese attempted to distance itself further from the actions of General Convention in October 2010 and February 2011. At these consecutive diocesan conventions, accession clauses to the canons of the Episcopal Church were removed from the diocese's constitution. This was in response to revisions of Title IV, the canons of the Episcopal Church governing the ecclesiastical discipline of priests and bishops. The old diocese claimed the revisions gave the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church too much authority in internal diocesan affairs.[8] While Lawrence stated that he did not intend to lead the old diocese out of the Episcopal Church, 12 allegations made by an anonymous party charged that the bishop had "abandon[ed] the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church." Following an investigation in the fall of 2011, the Disciplinary Board for Bishops announced on November 28 that Lawrence's actions did not constitute abandonment.[9]

In November 2011, the diocese generated more controversy when it issued quitclaim deeds to all parishes in the diocese, thereby surrendering any claim that it might have over parish property. Under the canons of the Episcopal Church, parish property is held in trust for the diocese and the Episcopal Church as a whole; however, South Carolina's diocesan chancellor defended the quitclaim deeds by citing a recent state Supreme Court ruling that the Episcopal Church's property canon was not binding on All Saints Parish in Pawleys Island. He also cited the fact that before 1979, the Episcopal Church never claimed ownership of parish property.[9]

In the aftermath of the 2012 General Convention, which voted to allow the blessing of same-sex unions, there was speculation that the old diocese was heading for secession. Bishop Lawrence was reported to have said that he personally "no longer sees a place for the diocese in the General Convention."[10]

Disaffiliation from the Episcopal Church (2012–2013)

With tensions growing between the historical diocese and the larger Episcopal Church, that diocese's standing committee passed two corporate resolutions on October 2, 2012. The resolutions were designed to conditionally disaffiliate the diocese from the Episcopal Church and also call for a special diocesan convention. These resolutions were to take effect if the larger church took disciplinary action against Bishop Lawrence or other diocesan leadership.[11] Bishop Lawrence was notified on October 15, 2012, by the Presiding Bishop that on September 18 the Disciplinary Board for Bishops had certified his abandonment of the Episcopal Church, thus ostensibly triggering the two resolutions passed earlier.[12]

The special convention was held in Charleston at St. Philip’s Church on November 17, 2012. The convention voted to affirm the disassociation and amend the diocesan constitution and canons to remove all references to the Episcopal Church.[13] The Diocese of South Carolina was the fifth diocese voting to leave the Episcopal Church in a trend known as Anglican realignment.[14] The diocese's actions were supported by the steering committee of the primates of the Global South of the Anglican Communion and by the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans.[15][16] The steering committee also recognized Lawrence as a bishop over a diocese "within the Anglican Communion."[17]

In contrast, the Episcopal Church denied the legitimacy of these actions, stating that its canon law does not allow a diocese to unilaterally withdraw from the Episcopal Church.[18] The church re-organized leadership for its continuing diocese of parishes that wanted to remain within the Episcopal Church.[19] On January 26, 2013, that continuing diocese held a special convention to elect Charles G. vonRosenberg, retired Bishop of East Tennessee, its provisional bishop.[20] The Episcopal diocese was known by the name "Episcopal Church in South Carolina" during a 2013-2019 legal dispute over the rights to use the name "Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina."

Legal battle over property (2013–2020)

Both groups claimed ownership of the pre-schism Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina's assets and identity. On January 4, 2013, the departing diocese filed suit in South Carolina court against the Episcopal Church to "protect the Diocese’s real and personal property and that of its parishes" and to "prevent The Episcopal Church from infringing on the protected marks of the Diocese, including its seal and its historical names, and to prevent the church from assuming the Diocese’s identity."[21]

After an ex parte hearing, a South Carolina judge issued a temporary restraining order against the Episcopal Church at the request of the departing diocese on January 23, 2013. The temporary restraining order prevented the Episcopal Church from using the registered names "The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina', "The Diocese of South Carolina", and the "Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina." It also included the seal of the diocese.[22]

On February 3, 2015, a South Carolina Circuit Court judge ruled that the departing diocese under Lawrence's leadership was entitled to the property and registered names and trademarks. The ruling affected over $500 million in church property.[23] On May 15, 2015, the Episcopal Church in South Carolina filed an appeal of that decision to the South Carolina Supreme Court.[24] In addition, Bishop vonRosenberg filed a related false-advertising lawsuit in federal court claiming Bishop Lawrence was falsely representing himself as a bishop of the Episcopal Church.[25]

On August 2, 2017, the South Carolina Supreme Court issued a split decision that effectively returned the property of 29 parishes and the St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center to the Episcopal Church in South Carolina.[2] Each of the five justices wrote separately. Two justices would have returned all the property in dispute to the Episcopal Church in South Carolina. Two justices found that 29 parishes were the property of the Episcopal Church due to their adoption of the Episcopal Church's Dennis Canon (a church bylaw meant to impose a trust on parish property), while seven parishes that did not adopt the Dennis Canon should be allowed to keep their property. One justice would have allowed all of the breakaway parishes to retain their property.[26]

As a result of the mixed opinion, 29 parish properties and St. Christopher Camp were required to be returned to the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, while the remaining seven parishes in the lawsuit were judged to own their properties. The decision did not settle the question of who owned the name "Diocese of South Carolina" and intellectual property because one justice did not participate in that portion of the decision. That left a 2-2 tie and the lower court's ruling remained in place on that issue.[2] The Anglican diocese unsuccessfully attempted to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.[27]

In a separate federal lawsuit known as vonRosenberg v. Lawrence, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel ruled in favor of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina on September 19, 2019.[28] The ruling returned the diocesan trademarks, including the diocesan seal and the names "Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina" and "Diocese of South Carolina" to the Episcopal Church and its South Carolina diocese. The ruling also declared that the Episcopal diocese, not the ACNA diocese, was the legal successor to the Historic Diocese.

On June 19, 2020, First Circuit Judge Edgar W. Dickson reversed the 2017 judgement and ruled that the breakaway communities could retain their properties.[29] The Episcopal Church in South Carolina vowed to take the matter back to the South Carolina Supreme Court.[30]

Joining the Anglican Church in North America

At its annual convention in March 2014, the diocese voted to join the global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans. It also voted to accept temporary "primatial oversight" from Anglican Communion bishops in the Global South, an action which Bishop Lawrence stated brought it "an extra-provincial diocesan status, gracious oversight from one of the largest ecclesial entities within the Communion."[31] According to the Anglican Communion's official website, the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina is not part of the Anglican Communion and does not have extra-provincial status.[32]

The diocese held a two-day meeting in April 2015 at St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center examining "possible compatibility" with the Anglican Church in North America.[33] An "Affiliation Task Force" recommended affiliation with the ACNA at the diocesan convention on March 12, 2016. The affiliation would have to be approved by two future conventions of the diocese.[34]

The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina voted unanimously to affiliate with ACNA at their annual Convention, held in Summerville, on 11 March 2017. ACNA's Provincial Council voted unanimously to formally receive the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina at ACNA's Third Provincial Assembly, meeting in Wheaton, Illinois, on 27 June 2017.[35][36][37]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "2018 Parochial Report Statistics" (PDF). Anglican Diocese of South Carolina. Retrieved May 15, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Hawes, Jennifer Berry; Parker, Adam. "State Supreme Court rules The Episcopal Church can reclaim 29 properties from breakaway parishes". Post and Courier. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  3. ^ [1] "South Carolina re-elects Mark Lawrence as bishop"][permanent dead link] Episcopal News Service, 4 August 2007
  4. ^ [2] "South Carolina election voided due to canonical deficiencies in responses"][permanent dead link] Episcopal News Service, 15 March 2007
  5. ^ General Convention Resolutions C056 Archived April 24, 2012, at the Wayback Machine and D025 Archived 2011-05-12 at the Wayback Machine, General Convention 2009 Legislation Archived 2011-04-23 at the Wayback Machine, accessed 29 April 2011.
  6. ^ "Four of Five Resolutions Overwhelmingly Passed at Special Convention" Archived 2011-07-26 at the Wayback Machine, Diocese of South Carolina, accessed April 28, 2011.
  7. ^ [ Archived 2011-07-26 at the Wayback Machine [Resolutions Offered at Special October 24, 2009 Covention"], Diocese of South Carolina, accessed April 28, 2011.
  8. ^ Adam Parker, "Episcopal Diocese of S.C. looks to future", The Post and Courier, 27 February 2011, accessed 29 April 2011.
  9. ^ a b Mary Frances Schjonberg (28 November 2011), "Disciplinary Board dismisses abandonment complaint against South Carolina bishop", Episcopal News Service, accessed May 1, 2011.
  10. ^ "South Carolina mulls secession: The Church of England Newspaper, August 12, 2012 p 5". August 15, 2012. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  11. ^ "Excerpt from October 2, 2012, minutes of the Diocese of South Carolina Standing Committee and Board of Directors meeting. Accessed January 7, 2013" (PDF). Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  12. ^ "Episcopal Church Takes Action Against the Bishop and Diocese of SC" Archived 2014-10-29 at the Wayback Machine, Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, accessed October 17, 2012.
  13. ^ "Special Convention Approves Canonical and Constitutional Amendments Regarding Disassociation" Archived 2012-12-01 at the Wayback Machine (November 17, 2012). Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.
  14. ^ McLeod, Harriet (November 17, 2012). "South Carolina Episcopalians break away from U.S. church". Chicago Tribune. Accessed November 18, 2012.
  15. ^ Letter from the Global South of the Anglican Communion to Bishop Mark Lawrence, 14 December 2012. Accessed January 7, 2013.
  16. ^ "Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans Letter of Support" (PDF). Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  17. ^ ""Steering Committee Primates of Global South Recognize Lawrence's Legitimate Episcopal Oversight," Diocese of South Carolina, 14 December 2012". Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
  18. ^ Episcopal News Service (November 15, 2012). "Presiding Bishop's Pastoral Letter to Episcopalians in South Carolina".
  19. ^ "Fact Sheet: The Diocese of South Carolina" (November 9, 2012). The Episcopal Church. Accessed November 18, 2012.
  20. ^ "Charles vonRosenberg elected Provisional Bishop" Archived 2012-12-30 at the Wayback Machine, the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina (continuing). Accessed January 27, 2013.
  21. ^ Jan Pringle (January 4, 2013), "Diocese Seeks Declaratory Judgment to Prevent Episcopal Church from Seizing Local Parishes and "Hijacking" their Identities" Archived 2014-04-08 at the Wayback Machine, Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. Accessed January 7, 2013.
  22. ^ Temporary Restraining Order, January 23, 2013, pp. 6-7. Accessed January 25, 2013.
  23. ^ "Court rules breakaway SC Episcopal churches can keep $500 million in property" Archived February 4, 2015, at (February 4, 2015), The State. Accessed February 4, 2015.
  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 13, 2015. Retrieved July 13, 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  25. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 13, 2015. Retrieved July 13, 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ "Federal judge rules in favor of Episcopal Church in South Carolina in trademark infringement case". Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  29. ^, Rickey Ciapha Dennis Jr. "SC judge rules breakaway Diocese in Episcopal split can keep properties". Post and Courier. Retrieved August 18, 2020.
  30. ^ Release, Press (June 19, 2020). "Episcopal Church in South Carolina statement on today's court loss". Anglican Ink © 2020. Retrieved August 18, 2020.
  31. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 13, 2014. Retrieved April 9, 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  32. ^ Anglican Communion Office. "Anglican Communion: Member Churches". Anglican Communion Website. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  33. ^ "Anglican Church in North America". Retrieved October 5, 2015.
  34. ^ Conger, George (March 13, 2016). "South Carolina Considers ACNA Affiliation during 225th Diocesan Convention". Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  35. ^ "Anglican Church in North America". Retrieved June 28, 2017.
  36. ^ "Anglican Church in North America". Retrieved June 28, 2017.
  37. ^ Hunter, Joy. "Diocese of South Carolina - Diocese of South Carolina Received by the Anglican Church in North America". Diocese of South Carolina. Archived from the original on June 28, 2017. Retrieved June 28, 2017.

Further reading

  • Caldwell, Ronald J. (August 2017). A History of the Episcopal Church Schism in South Carolina. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock. p. 530. ISBN 9781532618857.
  • Childs, Margaretta P.; Leland, Isabella G. (October 1983), "South Carolina Episcopal Church Records", The South Carolina Historical Magazine, 84 (4): 250

External links

This page was last edited on 30 December 2020, at 19:31
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