Category : TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

A Local Paper Article about the recent South Carolina Supreme Court Decision

On April 20, the state’s top court ordered that 14 of the 29 congregations that split from the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina were to hand over the properties to the Episcopal Church. It appeared that the court’s decision put an end to a decadelong legal battle over the ownership of dozens of church properties valued at roughly $200 million.

But in a stunning development Tuesday, the state’s top court did not deny petitions for rehearing submitted by seven of those churches. Instead, the court requested that the Episcopal Church respond by June 20 to the arguments made by the seven parishes.

The court’s order gives hope to some of the breakaway parishes, which fall within the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina umbrella, that they could, in fact, retain their valuable religious facilities.

“We are encouraged by the recent development from the South Carolina Supreme Court and are buoyed by the hope that seven more of our parishes might keep their properties,” said Bishop Chip Edgar of the Anglican Diocese. “But in all these legal matters, we are keeping our eyes focused on our Lord Jesus and the work he has called us to — to glorify God in worship and in our lives, to proclaim his name, to build up the church, and to love our neighbors as Christ loves us.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Robert Kunes Chimes in on the recent South Carolina Supreme Court Decision

From there:

The state Supreme Court got it right, and the state Supreme Court got it wrong when it came to the opinion issued last week regarding the former Episcopal Church parishes in South Carolina.

The court got it right when it quoted the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1979 case of Jones v. Wolf: “(The) constitution of the general church can be made to recite an express trust in favor of the denominational church.”

The state Supreme Court got it wrong when it relied upon the canons — not the constitution — of the Episcopal Church to determine that some of the parishes had “acceded” to the Dennis Canon.

Anyone who looks at the constitution of the Episcopal Church will find no provision in it addressing trusts for real estate owned by any church.

Such language is in the canons, which are analogous to an entity’s bylaws or operating rules, of the Episcopal Church but not in the constitution of the church, as required in the Jones v. Wolf decision.

The language was put into the canons because adopting those is a much simpler process that can be accomplished quickly.

ROBERT M. KUNES

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Church History, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Alan Haley Analyzes what happened in the Oral Arguments Wednesday before the South Carolina Supreme Court in the TEC in SC/Anglican Diocese of SC Case

If anything remained clear at the conclusion, it was this: the current Justices will have to do the homework of looking carefully at all the documentary evidence in the record in order to feel comfortable with any final ruling they make. There has been too much legal bias and posturing in the past — like the claim that All Saints Waccamaw was no longer the law in South Carolina, when it clearly was; or like the claim that the Court was required to “defer” to the unilateral decisions by ECUSA in matters of property law (as opposed to religious doctrine).

The reason for much of that bias and posturing, it has to be said, should be laid at the feet of the now recused, but in 2017 highly partisan, Justice Kaye Hearn — aided and abetted by retired Justice Pleicones. Together, their unified front against (former) Chief Justice Toal seems to have deprived her of the command of the law and the authority she wielded to great effect in achieving the unanimous decision eight years before, in the All Saints Waccamaw case. They appear to have determined that she not be allowed to treat ECUSA in the same fashion again, and alas, if that was their goal, they succeeded. Fortunately, that success may not be lasting, if the current justices prove up to the evidentiary task before them.

Trying to make the Court’s work less burdensome, by having the parties pare down the record, Chief Justice Beatty admitted at the end, had been a mistake. The complex cannot be made simple in that way. There will be no easy out for this Court, and I predict we will have to wait a good many months for a consensus to emerge. Given the facts as we all know them from the history of the last twenty-odd years, there is no reason, in my humble opinion, why there should not be another 5-0 decision in this case.

Read it carefully and read it all and make sure to take the time to follow the links.

Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(Historic Anglican Diocese of SC) South Carolina Supreme Court hears TEC appeal from Judge Dickson’s interpretation of the 2017 Collective Opinions in Church Property Dispute

…[Wednesday] the South Carolina Supreme Court heard the appeal of Judge Edgar W. Dickson’s interpretation of the high court’s 2017 ruling. On June 19, 2020, South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Edgar W. Dickson granted the motion by the Plaintiffs (The Anglican Diocese of S.C. and Parishes) for clarification and other relief related to the August 2017 ruling of the South Carolina Supreme Court. That ruling had the rare character of consisting of five separate opinions (the “Collective Opinions”). Judge Dickson’s clarification determined that the disassociated parishes and The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina are, “affirmed as the title owners in fee simple absolute of their respective parish real properties.”

The Episcopal Church’s (TEC) arguments at that time that the Dennis Canon alone, or the Canon in conjunction with various pledges of allegiance and the like were sufficient to create a trust under South Carolina law were rejected. Judge Dickson’s ruling clarified the Collective Opinions, explaining that, “the Dennis Canon by itself does not create a legally cognizable trust, nor does it transfer title to property.” This affirmed that those congregations that followed state non-profit guidelines for their disassociation from TEC retained all their real and personal property.

TEC appealed this interpretation of the Courts 2017 collective opinions in July 2020, not on the basis of Judge Dickson’s legal arguments, but only on the assertion that he had no authority to provide any interpretation. Their argument is that his only possible role was to simply enforce what they assert the Court had ruled.

In today’s hearing, the justices were very active in their questioning. The time allotted to both sides legal counsel was exceeded because of the extensive questioning.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Yesterday’s Oral Arguments Before the South Carolina Supreme Court in the long running between the brand new TEC in SC dispute with the traditional Anglican Diocese of SC

Watch and listen to it all (about 1.5 hours). For some crucial background information, please see all the information and links provided there. The single most important thing constantly to remember about the original 2017 ruling is then Chief Justice Toal’s statement: ‘As I stated at the outset, this is unfortunately a difficult case leading us to five
different, strongly-held opinions…we all write separately
‘ (footnote 72). For those who wish to reread the 2017 SC Supreme Court decision please see there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

South Carolina Supreme Court sets hearing date for TEC’s appeal from Judge Dickson’s interpretation of the 2017 Collective Opinions in Church Property Dispute

The Diocese disassociated from The Episcopal Church in the fall of 2012, along with 80% of its congregations and members. That action was taken in response to attempts by TEC to remove the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence as Diocesan Bishop. Litigation in this case began the following January. The Diocese and Parishes filed this action seeking a declaratory judgement to clarify the rights of the Diocese and its parishes. In February 2015, the Honorable Judge Diane Goodstein ruled that the Diocese and those parishes in union with it, “are the owners of their real personal and intellectual property and that [TEC and TECSC] have no legal, beneficial or equitable interest in the Diocese’s real, personal and intellectual property.” TEC and TECSC were permanently enjoined from using, assuming or adopting the marks of the Diocese.

Judge Goodstein’s ruling was appealed to the South Carolina Supreme Court, which ruled on August 2, 2017 in the form of five separate opinions. The lack of agreement among those five opinions required clarification. The Diocese and Parishes filed a Motion for Clarification on March 23, 2018.

In his ruling, Judge Dickson made several important conclusions of law. Chief among them was his ruling on the central issue of interpreting the Collective Opinions. As he noted in quoting former Chief Justice Toal, “The Court’s collective opinions in this matter give rise to great uncertainty, so that we have given little to no collective guidance in this case or in church property disputes like this going forward.” He concluded that, “This court must distill the five separate opinions, identify the court’s intent and produce a logical directive.”

With respect to parish property, the law of this case follows the precedent of All Saints Parish, Waccamaw (2009). In his deciding opinion, Chief Justice Beatty, “found that the Dennis Canon, standing alone, does not unequivocally convey an intention to transfer ownership of property to the national church…” In accordance with established South Carolina law, establishment of a trust interest must meet the standard of being “legally cognizable”. Judge Dickson concluded there is no evidence that any parish agreed to the Dennis Canon: “This court finds that no parish expressly acceded to the Dennis Canon” and “defendants failed to prove creation of a trust.” He further concluded, “TEC’s argument that their unilaterally drafted Dennis Canon created a trust under South Carolina law is rejected.”

Read it all and where necessary follow the links.

Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Brand new TEC in SC Diocese’s motion for reconsideration in Lawsuit with Historic Anglican Diocese of South Carolina is denied

Monday, July 13 Judge Dickson denied the TECSC Motion for Reconsideration of his ruling.  They promptly filed their Notice of Appeal and a further motion requesting the S.C. Supreme Court to take the appeal directly.

The Diocese continues to give thanks for the clarity of Judge Dickson’s ruling and forward progress towards the conclusion of this litigation.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Anglican Unscripted 606 – Legal Victories

Kevin Kallsen and AS Haley talk about the latest court victories for the ACNA. And, some of the challenges the US Supreme Court’s recent decisions will bring religious communities.

Posted in Anthropology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

The Brand New TEC Diocese in South Carolina gives a (very revealing) response to Judge Edgar W. Dickson’s ruling

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Language, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

A S Haley–The South Carolina Supreme Court Rebuffs TEC Again

How do ECUSA and its attorneys manage to contend that there are any “rulings” in the August 2017 decision capable of being enforced? By vastly oversimplifying the jumble of five separate Justices’ opinions, that’s how.

I have demonstrated in earlier posts just how divided and disunited were the individual Justices (including especially Justice Hearn, who had not yet seen fit to disqualify herself — on the ground that she was an active member of one of the parishes whose property was at stake in the case, and had earlier underwritten the effort by dissident Episcopalians to remove Bishop Lawrence from his position). It is logically impossible to derive any legal result from the five opinions other than that three of the Justices (including the one now disqualified) voted to reverse the trial court’s judgment.

So Judge Goodstein’s judgment awarding the property is now reversed. What comes next? Ah, that is the question — and one looks in vain for a mandate (direction) from any three of opinions as got what the Circuit Court should do on remand towards entering a new judgment. As Judge Dickson said at the outset of the arguments on the motions before him:

The Court: The first motion that I have today, going through the list that y’all gave me the last time y’all were here, and I think the one I am most interested in is the motion to decide what I am supposed to decide. The clarification motion, okay.

In response to the contention by ECUSA’s attorney, Mary Kostel, that the Court’s ruling as to who owned the property was “clear”, Judge Dickson responded: “We would not be here if it was clear.”

And indeed, as pointed out in Bishop Lawrence’s response to the petition for mandamus, just one day before filing its motion for enforcement with Judge Dickson, ECUSA had filed a brief in opposition to Bishop Lawrence’s petition to the United States Supreme Court for a writ to review the August 2017 decision of the South Carolina Supreme Court (p. 4):

On May 7, 2018, Petitioners [in the Circuit Court, i.e., ECUSA and its diocese] argued to the United States Supreme Court that it should not grant Plaintiffs’ Petition for Certiorari because the Collective Opinions were “a poor vehicle for review.” Brief of Respondents in Opposition to Petition for Writ of Certiorari, 2018 WL 2129786 at 23-26. Petitioners [ECUSA and its diocese] contended this was so because the Collective Opinions are based on an “incomplete record”, which “contains significant ambiguities.” Id at 2, 23. The Collective Opinions are “fractured not only in rationale but even on facts.” Id at 2, 9. The absence “of a majority opinion on the standard of review” creates “ambiguities” making it “difficult to discern which of the trial court findings stand.” Id. at 23-24.

This is just another example of ECUSA’s unabashed hypocrisy in making diametrically opposed arguments to different courts, depending on the occasion. (For another egregious example, see this post.) For the US Supreme Court, the jumbled South Carolina opinions were “ambiguous” and “difficult to discern”, but in the South Carolina Circuit Court, just one day later, all was suddenly “clear.”

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(Anglican Diocese of SC) South Carolina Supreme Court denies Petition for Writ of Prohibition by The Episcopal Church

The South Carolina Supreme Court announced yesterday that it has denied the Petition for a Writ of Prohibition submitted on February 21st by The Episcopal Church (TEC) and The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC), which sought to prevent Judge Edgar W. Dickson from ruling on the Diocese’s and parishes motion to clarify the Supreme Court’s earlier ruling. If granted, the petition would have prevented Judge Dickson from ruling on the case as he has indicated he was about to do. The Supreme Court’s order succinctly states: “Petitioners seek a Writ of Prohibition to prevent the circuit court from clarifying this Court’s decision in Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of S.C. v. Episcopal Church, 412 S.C. 211, 806 S.E. 2d 82 (2017). The petition is denied.”

This ruling by the Supreme Court allows Judge Dickson to proceed with clarifying the Court’s earlier August 2017 ruling, which was comprised of five separate opinions. That situation is unprecedented in the history of the court. This open-ended denial of the petition by the Supreme Court places no restrictions upon the appropriateness of Judge Dickson’s work in interpreting the meaning of the original ruling.

Ironically, this ruling comes almost exactly a year after TEC and TECSC filed a similar Petition with the high court for a Writ of Mandamus meant to force Judge Dickson to rule in the case. The Mandamus Petition asked the Supreme Court to require the Circuit Court to interpret the Supreme Court’s August 2, 2017 ruling favorably for TEC and TECSC. That petition was also denied by the Supreme Court in July of last year.

As before, the Prohibition Petition was an attempt to end run Judge Dickson’s exercise of his discretion in interpreting the August 2, 2017 decision in a manner that may differ from TEC and TECSC’s interpretation.

The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina welcomes this decision by the South Carolina Supreme Court affirming that the Circuit Court is the proper venue to resolve the many uncertain issues arising from the August 2, 2017 decision.

The Rev. Marcus Kaiser, President of the diocesan Standing Committee observed, “In this time, our focus is on caring for our people and praying for a world deeply rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, we are profoundly grateful that the Supreme Court has denied the request for a Writ of Prohibition, and hope this ruling helps move things along. We pray for Judge Dickson and the complex issues he has to deal with, even as we continue to focus on concerns far more pressing to most people.”

The brief in support of the motion by the Diocese to dismiss this Petition can be found on the Diocesan website, along with further background on the earlier Petition for Mandamus. The August 2, 2017, ruling by the Supreme Court may also be found here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

A S Haley–The Brand New TEC Diocese in South Carolina Attempts an End Run by filing a request with the SC Supreme Court in their lawsuit vs. the historic Anglican diocese of SouthCarolina

By invoking the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction over its inferior courts, the ECUSA parties at this point are demonstrating outright that they no longer have any confidence in Judge Dickson’s integrity to reach an impartial resolution of the puzzle presented to him by the five scattered opinions that came from the Court. Just as they requested the Court last June, ECUSA’s attorneys want to have the Court step in now and put an end to further delay in implementing what they claim was the Court’s “clear mandate.”

The problem is, the Supreme Court’s membership has changed since it rendered its fractured decision. Two of the then Justices (Toal and Pleicones) have retired from the Court, while a third (Hearn) belatedly recused herself from taking any further part in the case. That leaves only Chief Justice Donald Beatty and Justice John Kittredge out of the original panel, and those two were at odds with each other: the Chief Justice supported the official ECUSA line about the Dennis Canon, while Justice Kittredge was having nothing to do with any sort of remote trust that could be imposed on a parish’s property without its written consent.

Under those circumstances, the success of the petition filed by ECUSA will at the outset turn upon the view of it by the two new appointees to the Supreme Court: Justice John Cannon Few and Justice George C. James, Jr. If they agree between themselves on how to deal with the petition, their votes will carry the day by making the tally 3-1 (whether to deny the petition or to grant it). And if they disagree? The result (presuming that the C.J. and Kittredge are still at odds) would be a 2-2 tie, with the result that the writ could not issue.

Long and short of it: The Court will issue the petition restraining Judge Dickson only if the two new appointees both vote with the Chief Justice to grant the writ.

After all, there is nothing compelling the Court to be as impatient as ECUSA is to get a result; the Justices will each still collect their paychecks regardless of how they rule. And after all the time and effort Judge Dickson has expended to get to the point where he is now ready to take up ECUSA’s motions, one would think that the Court will be in no great hurry to take the case away from him, either.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

The brand new TEC Diocese in South Carolina Files a Petition for a Writ of Prohibition with the South Carolina Supreme Court in its Controversy with the Historic Anglican Diocese of South Carolina

Take the time to read it all (18 page pdf).

Posted in Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(GR) Terry Mattingly–After decades of fighting, United Methodists avoid a visit from Ghost of the Episcopal Future?

Wait a minute. The crucial language that the “practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” was just approved this past February? That hasn’t been the language in church discipline documents for many years before 2019 and affirmed in multiple votes?

But here is the most crucial point. What, precisely, are the “fundamental differences” that the United Methodists involved in these negotiations — leaders from left and right — cited as the cause of the upcoming ecclesiastical divorce? Was it really LGBTQ issues, period?

Consider this commentary from David French (an evangelical Presbyterian) of The Dispatch:

The secular media will cast the divide primarily in the terms it understands — as focused on “LGBT issues” — but that’s incomplete. The true fracturing point between Mainline and Evangelical churches is over the authority and interpretation of scripture. The debate over LGBT issues is a consequence of the underlying dispute, not its primary cause. …

Thus, at heart, the disagreement between the Evangelical and Mainline branches of Christianity isn’t over issues — even hot-button cultural and political issues — but rather over theology. Indeed, the very first clause of the United Methodist Church’s nine-page separation plan states that church members “have fundamental differences regarding their understanding and interpretation of Scripture, theology and practice.”

Ah, there’s the rub. Who wants to put “Scripture, theology and practice” in a news report — especially at NBC Out and similar structures in other newsrooms — when you can blame the whole denominational war over conservatives refusing to evolve on LGBTQ issues?

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Media, Methodist, Religion & Culture, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Central Florida, TEC Conflicts: Central New York, TEC Conflicts: Colorado, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut, TEC Conflicts: Florida, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, TEC Conflicts: Georgia, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles, TEC Conflicts: Milwaukee, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan, TEC Conflicts: Ohio, TEC Conflicts: Pennsylvania, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh, TEC Conflicts: Quincy, TEC Conflicts: Rio Grande, TEC Conflicts: San Diego, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Conflicts: Tennessee, TEC Conflicts: Virginia, TEC Departing Parishes, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The New TEC Diocese in South Carolina files yet another Petition against the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina

On November 11, 2019 the Episcopal Church in South Carolina filed yet another petition (41 page pdf) in Federal Court this time objecting to the Diocese’s use of the name The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina, as well as references found on the diocesan website pertaining to its history.

Our legal team, in conjunction with the Standing Committee are formulating a response.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Historic Anglican Diocese of South Carolina recent Legal Developments (V)–Diocese gives joint Notice of appeal of Judge Gergel’s Ruling

Posted in TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Historic Anglican Diocese of South Carolina recent Legal Developments (III)-An Update for St. Philip’s Church from Ben A. Hagood

On September 19, 2019, U.S. Federal District Judge Richard Gergel ruled that St. Philip’s Church, and the other parishes in our diocese that disassociated from The Episcopal Church (TEC), are free to continue using their historic parish names. The formal, legal name of our parish is “The Protestant Episcopal Church of the Parish of Saint Philip, in Charleston, in the State of South Carolina.” For some years, we have simply been known as “St. Philip’s Church.” Judge Gergel ruled that the historic inclusion of the word “episcopal” in our name does not constitute trademark infringement, trademark dilution, or false advertising as claimed by TEC and its affiliated diocese, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC).

In a separate, contemporaneous order Judge Gergel ruled that the seal and names of our diocese (specifically, “Diocese of South Carolina,” “The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina,” and “The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina”) infringe upon the trademarks of TEC and TECSC and that our diocese and all of its parish churches, including St. Philip’s Church, are permanently enjoined from using these marks or any mark confusingly similar. St. Philip’s is now complying with this injunction by discontinuing use of any of the enjoined names or marks. On September 20, our diocese changed its name to “The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina.” At this point, our diocese and St. Philip’s are reviewing these Orders with our litigation counsel to determine next steps.

The rulings in federal court arise from the case brought by TECSC and TEC, originally filed in 2013, against our diocese alleging trademark infringement, trademark dilution and false advertisement. In 2018 St. Philip’s, and the other parishes associated with our diocese, were added as defendants. It is important to note that this federal trademark and false advertising litigation does not affect the property ownership issues of St. Philip’s Church and the other parishes. Those issues currently remain in state trial court before Circuit Judge Edgar W. Dickson.

Judge Dickson has held two hearings on motions related to the property ownership issues. Last November he held hearings on a motion filed by us, our diocese, and associated parishes, seeking clarification of the South Carolina Supreme Court opinions. This motion includes our argument that the Supreme Court opinions concluded that those parishes that did not expressly accede in writing to TEC’s Dennis Cannon retain ownership of their property; that St. Philip’s Church, and the other parishes, never expressly acceded in writing to the Dennis Canon; and that no judge has made a finding of fact to the contrary. This motion is still under consideration by Judge Dickson.

This past July, Judge Dickson held a hearing in a separate state court case involving the property issues, a case brought under the state Betterments Act. The suit under the Betterments Act alleges that if TEC or TECSC is ultimately determined to be the owners of property held by our diocese and its parishes, including St. Philip’s Church, then the diocese and parishes are entitled to be compensated for all improvements made to the properties. On August 28th Judge Dickson issued an order rejecting TEC and TECSC’s motion that this Betterments Act suit should be dismissed. Judge Dickson has also ordered that all of the property ownership issues and other state court issues should be mediated by the parties. Mediation is currently scheduled for
September 26th.

–Ben A. Hagood, Jr.
Chancellor, St. Philip’s Church

Posted in TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Historic Anglican Diocese of South Carolina recent Legal Developments (II)–Statement from the New TEC Diocese

Read it all.

Posted in TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Historic Anglican Diocese of South Carolina recent Legal Developments (I)–Diocesan Statement

From there:

On Thursday, September 20 District Court Judge Richard M. Gergel ruled in favor of The Episcopal Church (TEC) and its local diocese, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC), in a federal trademark case. In the 73-page decision, Judge Gergel issued an injunction preventing the Diocese and parishes in union with it from using the names and seal of the diocese. These are: “Diocese of South Carolina”; “The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina”; “The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina” and The Diocesan Seal.

“We’re disappointed, of course,” said the Rev. Marcus Kaiser, Rector of the Church of the Holy Comforter in Sumter, who serves as the President of the Standing Committee, which also serves as the Diocese’s Board of Directors. “But changing our name doesn’t change who we are, or who we’ve ever been. It simply changes the name under which we operate.”

The Standing Committee met Friday morning and unanimously voted to adopt the name “The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina.” Although Counsel for both the Diocese and the Parishes who are studying the order believe it likely will be appealed, even erroneous orders still must be obeyed. “I am grateful,” noted Bishop Lawrence, “for the faithful response of our Standing Committee, the diocesan staff, and legal team in seeking to comply with this order. We work not in fear, for as St. Paul has reminded us, God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind.”

On August 28th , in one of two state cases regarding the ownership of parish and diocesan property, Judge Edgar Dickson issued an order adverse to TEC and TECSC. He rejected their request to dismiss the diocese and parish claims to recover the value of improvements to parish and diocesan real property under the Betterments Statute if it is decided that TEC has title to those properties. He also stated that he had yet to rule on motions before him concerning the question of whether the five separate opinions of the Supreme Court found that there has been any Diocesan or Parish loss of property.“The Court…recognizes that were it to rule against the Defendants [TEC and TECSC] on some or all of those motions, this betterments action could become moot….” “…the Court will consider, for purposes of ruling on the motion to dismiss only, that the betterments action is ripe.”

The state cases were ordered to be mediated by Judge Dickson which will be held on September 26th. That mediation, which had been scheduled for earlier this month, was postponed due to Hurricane Dorian.

Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Your Prayers Requested as mediation begins next week in the Mess between the Historic Diocese of South Carolina and the brand new TEC Diocese

Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

South Carolina Circuit Court Hears Arguments on Betterments Statute and Orders Mediation

From there:

St. Matthews, S.C. (July 23, 2019) – Immediately on the heels of The South Carolina Supreme Court on June 28,  denying the Petition for a Writ of Mandamus submitted by The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC), Judge Edgar W. Dickson promptly resumed proceedings on the related legal matters.  The hearing on the Betterments Statute issues, which had been cancelled in March when the petition for Mandamus was filed, was held today in the Calhoun County Courthouse in St. Matthews, SC.

The Betterments Statute, under South Carolina law, provides the means for a party making good faith improvements to property they believe they own, to be compensated for the value of those improvements, if a court makes a final determination that another party is the true owner.   Many of the parishes in the Diocese of South Carolina can trace their unbroken history back to the colonial era of the state. During that entire time, there has never been any question of their unencumbered title to property or legal identity.  All have proceeded throughout their history with the maintenance and improvement of their properties with these assumptions.

The motion previously filed by TECSC asked for the dismissal of the case, primarily on the basis that it had not been filed in a timely fashion and that they were not actually taking ownership of the churches but merely exercising their trust interest in the property. The Diocese maintained that the court needed to decide which, if any, of the 29 parishes agreed (acceded) to the Dennis Canon before it could decide whether this case should proceed. As to the eight parishes that TEC and TECSC concede did not agree to the Dennis Canon, Judge Dickson asked Diocesan counsel to submit proposed orders making the finding that those parishes did not accede to the Denis Canon.

The five separate opinions that constitute the Supreme Court decision resulted in a fractured ruling whose interpretation is currently under consideration by Judge Dickson.  The effort to force a particular interpretation of that decision was the essential purpose of the recent Petition for Mandamus filed by TEC and TECSC which was denied by the Supreme Court on June 28, 2019.

Judge Dickson took the motion to dismiss the Betterments case under advisement. He also ordered the parties to mediate all the issues raised in the two state lawsuits referencing the relatively recent Supreme Court order which requires mandatory mediation in civil cases.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

South Carolina Supreme Court Allows Parishes and Diocese to Intervene and Denies Writ of Mandamus Petition by The Episcopal Church

Columbia, S.C. (July 1, 2019) – The South Carolina Supreme Court announced today that it has denied the Petition for a Writ of Mandamus submitted by The Episcopal Church (TEC) on March 22, 2019, seeking to compel Judge Edgar W. Dickson to rule in their favor. The Parishes and the Diocese of South Carolina (Diocese) responded on March 26, requesting the Supreme Court’spermission to intervene. On April 12 they submitted their Return to the Petition.

Today’s action by the Supreme Court allowed the intervention of all the parties whose property TEC seeks and confirms the arguments presented in the Return which they filed. The intent of the Petition requested by TEC was to have the Supreme Court require the Circuit Court to interpret the
Supreme Court’s August 2, 2017 ruling as TEC wished it interpreted. The Parishes and the Diocese opposed the Petition essentially arguing that the issues were before Judge Dickson who was using the discretion afforded him by state law to resolve them.

Read it all.


Update: Those interested in the very new TEC diocese of South Carolina pr on this may find it there.

Posted in * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

The Long Road to Freedom: The Diocese of South Carolina and Parishes File 38 Motions for Summary Judgement

The Diocese of South Carolina (Diocese) continues on the long road to freedom from The Episcopal Church (TEC), filing motions for summary judgement in the now nearly six-year-old federal suit brought by its former denomination. Motions by the Diocese and its fifty-four parish defendants ask the Court to acknowledge, as a matter of law, they have neither infringed on TEC trademarks, diminished the value of those marks or harmed the denomination by continued use of names which have been in use before the denomination existed.

The current federal litigation was initiated by TEC in 2013, after the Diocese made the decision to disassociate from the national denomination it helped charter in 1789, five years after its own founding. The decision to leave was made in the fall of 2012 after denominational leadership attempted to wrongly remove its duly elected bishop. Over 80% of the congregations and their members affirmed that decision at a special Diocesan Convention in November 2012. TEC has never accepted that decision by 23,000 parishioners of the Diocese, continuing to litigate all such efforts by congregations and dioceses across the country wishing to free themselves from its control.

The original federal court complaint was initially against Bishop Lawrence alone, asserting that he continued to hold himself out falsely as a bishop of TEC, thus creating “confusion”. In April of this year the case was expanded to include the Diocese and all its congregations, even those formed after the disassociation who had no prior affiliation with the denomination. All are now charged with being party to the willful creation of confusion for attendees by virtue of using their historic names and continuing to conduct worship as they always have. These actions are alleged to mislead attendees to believe these are still TEC congregations.

Read it all and make sure to follow all the links.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Church History, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

The New TEC Diocese in South Carolina Press Release on Yesterday’s Court Proceedings in Orangeburg

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

The Latest Development In the Highly Contentious Court Battle Between the new TEC Diocese and the Historic Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina

Judge Dickson Will Determine What the Supreme Court Opinions Mean

ORANGEBURG, S.C. (November 19, 2018)  –  Today, in the Orangeburg County Courthouse the honorable Edgar W. Dickson, heard arguments from the Diocese of South Carolina and the Episcopal Church on motions directed to the ruling of the South Carolina Supreme Court.

The judge began by asking, “Who thinks this case will be resolved today?” When one person in the courtroom raised a hand the judge indicated he hoped they were pulling for South Carolina in their upcoming game against Clemson, and concluded, “Six judges have heard this case. I’m number seven. I hope that’s a lucky number.”

While five motions are presently before the court, Judge Dickson said, “the motion I’m most interested in” is the issue of what he has to decide.

Alan Runyan argued for the Diocese that given the lack of clarity in the five separate opinions, Judge Dickson had to first decide, what, if anything, the Supreme Court decided. The slide presentation summarizing his argument may be found here. Mr Runyan noted at the beginning of his argument  that the last statements by half the Supreme Court were that “We have given little to no coherent guidance in this case” and “The Court’s collective opinions give rise to great uncertainty” in “this matter of great importance.”

Tom Tisdale, counsel for TECSC and Mary Kostel, Counsel for TEC, presented their arguments which essentially repeated their prior assertions that “the decision has been made,” by the South Carolina Supreme Court, and all that was left was enforcement of the results.

It was obvious that Judge Dickson had problems with the argument that it is clear what the Supreme Court decided.

Addressing Mr. Tisdale, he asked, “How many times have you seen a Supreme Court decision with five separate opinions?” Mr. Tisdale acknowledged that it had never happened in the history of the court.

When counsel for TEC continued to assert that the result was clear, the judge replied,  “Like through a glass darkly.”

In commenting on the present ruling he observed, “Usually when I get something remitted it’s clear what I’m supposed to do.” In this case, however, interpreting the Supreme Court ruling will entail “trying to ferret out what they meant.”

In concluding he observed, “I have to decide and whatever is decided will be appealed by one side or the other.”

The Judge indicated he would be sending follow up questions by email for both sides.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Church History, Featured (Sticky), Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

A Day of Coming before the Lord

You may find the bishop’s letter about this there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Supreme Court, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(Local Paper) Churches nationwide eye pivotal moment this week in SC Episcopal dispute

For years, top legal minds have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to settle property fights between big national churches and breakaway congregations.

For years, they have been turned away before ever reaching the court’s marble steps.

Whether a South Carolina case becomes the one that finally lands in the high court is a question that soon will be answered. The case could make history and carry implications for disputes that have divided other religious denominations throughout the country.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Supreme Court of the United States Update on the Diocese of South Carolina Case

The new Episcopal Church Diocese in South Carolina and TEC have filed a motion to extend the time to file a response from March 29, 2018 to April 30, 2018. Interested blog readers may continue to follow the case there on the SCOTUS website.

Posted in * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Supreme Court, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Mediation Process between the Historic Diocese of South Carolina and the new TEC in SC Diocese Recessed Until January

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today a further session of mediation with Senior U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Anderson Jr. was conducted.  Mediation is now in recess until January 11-12 in Columbia.

The clergy of the Diocese are reminded that Judge Anderson is allowing no discussion, outside of mediation sessions, of what has been said there.

As the Diocese continues to faithfully journey through this process of litigation at multiple levels, I ask your continued prayers for wisdom and discernment on the part of the Bishop, legal counsel and all the Diocesan leadership.

In Christ’s service,

–The Rev. Canon Jim Lewis is Canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of South Carolina

Posted in * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Just a Reminder that the mediation Process between the Historic Diocese of South Carolina and the new TEC in SC Diocese started back today

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina