January 4, 2013
Dear Christ-St. Paul’s Parish Family,
Today we joined with the Diocese of South Carolina and the Trustees of the Diocese and some 20 plus other congregations in a lawsuit filed today in a South Carolina Circuit Court seeking a declaratory judgment against The Episcopal Church to protect the Diocese’s real and personal property and that of its parishes, including Christ-St. Paul’s. The parishes participating in the suit, along with the other supporting parishes, represent 74 percent of the members in the Diocese.
The suit asks the court 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 Episcopal Church from assuming the Diocese’s identity, established long before The Episcopal Church’s creation.
Our vestry unanimously voted to join in this action to not only protect our property, but the properties of the Diocese and the other congregations. When the Diocese disassociated from The Episcopal Church it didn’t become a new entity, The Diocese of South Carolina was established in 1785 as an independent, voluntary association that grew from the missionary work of the Church of England. It was incorporated in 1973; and adopted the current legal name, ”˜The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina. While the Diocese has disassociated from The Episcopal Church, it remains a part of the Anglican Communion.
The Episcopal Church has spent more than $22 million on legal action, filing at least 75 lawsuits against the four other dioceses and 200 congregations that have disassociated from the church. The suits have sought to seize the property of local parishes. Today’s suit is pre-emptively filed to protect diocesan and parish property in the wake of our disassociation.
As you know the Episcopal Church has already begun an effort to adopt the Diocese of South Carolina’s identity by calling for a convention to identify new leadership for the Diocese and creating a website and other material using the Diocesan seal.
We joined with our Diocesan family in taking this legal action to protect the legacy of generations of faithful Christ-St. Paul’s members and especially for future generations of worshipers, who want to follow Jesus, place their trust in His Word and remain faithful to His teaching as we received them in our Anglican heritage. Unfortunately to do that, we must do so outside The Episcopal Church.
This Sunday we will have a special Adult Forum following our Big Breakfast, where I, our chancellor, and members of the vestry can address any questions you might have. I ask your continued prayers for Bishop Lawrence, the other clergy and congregations in our Diocese, our vestry, Fr Kendall and me.
Faithfully yours in Christ,
(The Rev.) Craige Borrett is rector, Christ Saint Paul’s, Yonges Island, South Carolina.