U.S. District Court Judge C. Weston Houck has denied a motion asking him to reconsider his decision in August to abstain from and dismiss a federal lawsuit against Mark Lawrence.
Attorneys for the Right Reverend Charles G. vonRosenberg, Bishop of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, filed the motion on September 16, asking Judge Houck to give further consideration to specific facts and legal principles and apply them in reconsidering his ruling. The motion was a required step before the decision could be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, according to Thomas S. Tisdale, Jr., Chancellor of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina. Mr. Tisdale said the ruling is being reviewed and a decision on an appeal will be made soon.
The federal lawsuit, vonRosenberg v. Lawrence, was filed in March, seeking to keep Bishop Lawrence from representing himself as the bishop of the diocese and asking the court to find that only Bishop vonRosenberg, as The Episcopal Church’s recognized bishop, should control the name and marks of the diocese.
A separate case is in state court in Dorchester County: a lawsuit filed in January by former church leaders and parishes in eastern South Carolina who say they have “withdrawn” from The Episcopal Church. It seeks control of the name, seal and properties of the diocese under state law that governs nonprofit corporations. The group continues to call itself “The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina,” and recognizes Mark Lawrence as its bishop.