June 11, 2018
Jesus said, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.”
We learned today that the Supreme Court of the United States has denied the petition for writ of certiorari that was requested by the Diocese of South Carolina, St. Philip’s Church, and twenty-eight other aligned parishes. Though we are disappointed with this decision, our attorneys will be pressing forward. There remain two actions in the Dorchester County Court of Common Pleas, both of which regard the property rights of the Diocese and its parishes.
In one, the remittitur case, we will seek a specific evidentiary inquiry as to whether or not St. Philip’s and twenty-eight other parishes actually acceded to the terms of the Dennis Canon. The Dennis Canon was found by the S.C. Supreme Court to have created a trust interest over the church properties, with the Episcopal Church as the trust beneficiary. In the other, the Betterments case, we will seek recovery, under a South Carolina statute, of the value of certain improvements on the respective church properties.
There is also a federal court trademark action, brought by TEC and the Episcopal Church in South Carolina against our Diocese and its parishes, which seeks damages for the alleged improper use of the term “Episcopal” and other related relief. So, though the Supreme Court of the United States could have ended most or all of this litigation by agreeing to hear our property rights case, its unwillingness to do so will cause us to continue the litigation in the state and federal court systems in South Carolina. We will continue to keep you apprised of any additional developments in both the state and federal litigation.
In the meantime, let me assure you there is no cause for despair! The Lord’s Easter victory is evidence that our Heavenly Father’s plans and purposes cannot be thwarted. God is sovereign over the affairs of men and nations, and He has us right where He wants us—in a posture of dependence. As we have throughout this entire legal process, we will continue to be faithful to Jesus Christ and His call to preach the Gospel. We will NOT be distracted from the mission of the church no matter what comes our way!
One of the hymns we sang this past Thursday put it best…
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace all-sufficient shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine!