Circuit Court Judge Diane S. Goodstein has ruled that a breakaway group that sued local Episcopalians over control of the Diocese of South Carolina has the right to hold onto the name and property of the diocese.
The judge’s decision was issued late Tuesday afternoon, more than 6 months after the conclusion of a three-week trial in St. George in July. The lawsuit initially was filed by the breakaway group in January 2013 against The Episcopal Church and its local diocese in eastern South Carolina, which is known as The Episcopal Church in South Carolina. TECSC includes 30 parishes and mission churches in the region who have remained part of The Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion.
“We have understood from the beginning that this lawsuit was mounted after years of planning by individuals who were intent upon taking the diocese and its property out of The Episcopal Church,” said Holly Behre, Director of Communications for TECSC. “We have also understood that defending ourselves will be a long legal process."
"We are considering all the issues raised by the Court Order and plan to recommend to the Church to engage the appeal process as appropriate," said diocesan Chancellor Thomas S. Tisdale. "The result of the recent trial was not unexpected and road ahead in the judicial system is clear to us."
The Right Reverend Charles G. vonRosenberg, Bishop of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, said the ruling represents one step on a long journey. “Our biblical heritage tells of journeys experienced by faithful people. Those journeys often were difficult and filled with setbacks, but people of faith were called to persevere on the way."
“Perseverance is our call and intention, on this journey in our day,” the Bishop said.
The bishop said history also contains many examples of justice being delayed. “The Episcopal Church in South Carolina believes that such is the situation we now must endure for a while, as we continue on this journey."
Read the judge's order here.