Category : * South Carolina

The Historic Diocese of South Carolina responds to the New TEC Diocese’s Motion on the Rehearing

Today The Episcopal Church (TEC) filed their reply, as requested by the Court, to the motions by the Diocese of South Carolina and 28 parish churches for recusal and rehearing in the South Carolina Supreme Court, regarding its recent ruling in Appellate Case No. 2015-000622.

On behalf of the Diocese of South Carolina, Rev. Canon Jim Lewis issued the following statement:

“Today’s filing by The Episcopal Church argues in essence, that the Diocese and its parishes waived their right to recusal, by not requesting it earlier, and that the Constitutional issues raised in their motions are negligible or mistaken.  The facts in this ruling, as it presently stands however, will not yield to such arguments.  Justice Hearn’s bias and conflict of interest is clear to any impartial observer.  The Constitutional issues for Freedom of Religion remain.  As our petition for rehearing stated: “These are serious issues for Respondents, Appellants and for all religious organizations in South Carolina. This Court should grant a rehearing.”  That continues to be our hope and Constitutional expectation from the Court.”


The Diocese is also providing the following background information and details:

•    In 2012, the Diocese of South Carolina, along with 50 of its congregations voted by an 80% margin to disassociate from The Episcopal Church.  In a complicated and sharply divided ruling consisting of five separate opinions, the S.C. Supreme Court appeared to rule on August 2 this year that parishes which had “acceded” to the national church are subject to a trust interest in their property by (TEC).

•    The Constitutional due process requirements of the 14th Amendment are clear.  No member of government should make decisions in matters in which they have a vested interest in the outcome.  The Justice in this ruling who provided the deciding vote is a member of a TEC parish, Diocese and its national church.  Under South Carolina law, that Justice is a legal party to this litigation.  The bodies to which this Justice belongs as a member would be the beneficiaries of a nearly $500 million property windfall if this ruling stands.  That is a massive conflict of interest.  And it is the responsibility of the judge, under the South Carolina Code of Judicial Conduct, to reveal that issue, not for a party in the case to challenge the propriety of their actions.

•    The expert affidavit testimonies of Nathan M. Crystal, Professor and Adjunct Professor of Ethics at the University of South Carolina and NYU Schools of Law and Lawrence J. Fox, Professor of Ethics at Yale University are unanimous in their conclusions.  The due process rights of the Diocese of South Carolina have been violated by these actions and the only appropriate response is for this Justice to be recused from further participation in this case and their opinion vacated.  As Lawrence Fox observes in his analysis, “This is not a close case.”  The violations of due process here are not subtle.  They are profound….

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

New Episcopal Church in South Carolina Diocese Files its Motion with the South Carolina Supreme Court on the Rehearing Request

You may find the 32 page pdf document here and the press release about it there.

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

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–An Introduction to the Prophets Series (Isaiah 6:1-8)

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology: Scripture

Jeff Miller–SC Supreme Court ruling against Diocese of South Carolina threatens religious freedom

In addition, the majority of the Supreme Court made this decision on the fate of over $500 million of property without a proper factual review of whether the various parishes actually acceded to the canons of the Episcopal Church. For example, there is no evidence that St. Philip’s ever did so. If the present decision stands, as one dissenting opinion states, this case will be “nothing less than judicial sanction of the confiscation of church property.”

In short, by judicial fiat, the majority opinion imposed on a group of South Carolina churches, a standard of property law that it has not, and would not, impose on any secular organization. It does not take a legal scholar to recognize the danger this court action creates for religious freedom, and freedom in general. For these reasons, motions for reconsideration have been filed.

Sadly, the most serious threat to freedom comes from the Supreme Court’s failure to give St. Philip’s and the other parties a fair, unbiased hearing. The Supreme Court justice who provided the deciding vote to the majority is an active member of the Episcopal Church. She, along with her husband, actively participated in the events that gave rise to this lawsuit.

The South Carolina Code of Judicial Conduct requires that a judge disclose any potential conflict of interest and then disqualify themself from the case unless the parties to the litigation agree to waive the conflict. That did not happen.

St. Philip’s and others have filed a motion for recusal which is supported by strong affidavits from two experts – a national and a South Carolina expert on legal and judicial ethics. These highly respected authorities conclude that judicial disqualification is necessary.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

Signers of the Nehemiah Network in Support of Religious Freedom for all, including the Diocese of South Carolina

As leaders in South Carolina’s religious community, we prize its long and rich history of religious freedom. The ability to gather freely and worship with those of common faith is what brought many of our ancestors to this land. The freedom to do so is a presumption on which all our ministries rest today. Whether we are colonial Anglican parishes, Huguenots, Baptists, non-denominational or any other religious tradition, we share this in common. It is what has made the rich tapestry of religious diversity in South Carolina possible. But we perceive that freedom is now in jeopardy.

The narrowly divided decision on August 2nd by the South Carolina Supreme Court would transfer nearly $500 million in church property from the congregations of the Diocese of South Carolina who created it for their ministry, to an unincorporated New York association who contributed nothing to its development. We believe this decision undermines multiple Constitutional protections we are compelled to speak out to defend.

The 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees to all people the “free exercise of religion.” That amendment also asserts that the government, including its courts, “shall make no establishment of religion.” This means that it cannot favor one religious group over another nor elevate non-religious over religious bodies by its treatment.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(The State) How a South Carolina Supreme Court decision threatens religious freedom


The court’s ruling violates these constitutional principles, creating a standard for property trusts that favors some organizations over others. The majority opinion suggests that an unincorporated association, merely by changing its bylaws, can claim the property of its members. It would be as if the U.S. Chamber of Commerce passed a rule claiming an interest in the property of every local chamber, with no explicit local agreement to that transfer of ownership.

There is no statute or common law in South Carolina supporting the validity of such a claim, yet that is what this ruling does. It asserts that there are different rules for religious versus non-religious entities. That is a disturbing precedent. As Justice John Kittredge observed in his dissent, “The message is clear for churches in South Carolina that are affiliated in any manner with a national organization and have never lifted a finger to transfer control or ownership of their property — if you think your property ownership is secure, think again.”

With freedom of association comes freedom to disassociate. Churches that freely associated with each other should be free to disassociate — and that disassociation should not cost them the very ministries that were established by local sacrifice. When the vast majority of…[parishioners] choose to disassociate (80 percent in this case) in keeping with state law and Supreme Court precedent, the courts should respect the decision.

There are also essential issues of fairness at stake in this case. A principle of the 14th Amendment is that no one in government should make decisions on matters in which they have a vested interest. In this ruling, the deciding vote was cast by a justice who belongs to a parish, diocese and national denomination that stand to gain tremendously from the outcome.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(The State) Chuck Croft Chimes in–SC Supreme Court got it wrong on Episcopal Church dispute

I am outraged by the recent S.C. Supreme Court decision that strips the title of 28 churches in the Diocese of South Carolina and awards them to the national Episcopal Church. As acting Justice Jean Toal wrote in a dissent: “The First Amendment prohibits civil courts from resolving church property disputes on the basis of religious doctrine and practice.”

Read it all.

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

(UP) On the situation in South Carolina between the historic Diocese and the brand new TEC Diocese

In conversations with clergy and pewsitters in the ACNA diocese it is clear that they are uncomfortable with the situation and some are losing sleep over the matter. I am glad to report that they are keeping God in the forefront, praying together, and fasting, while their legal team tries to right the injustice done by the South Carolina Supreme Court.

As an outside observer who has always believed that the Episcopal organization should let God’s people go, I pray that God will right the wrong, but I know that his answer to my prayer may not come in the form that I expect.

If my friends lose their buildings, I am confident that the new churches they build will be vibrant hatcheries for new disciples of Christ, whereas I cannot express the same confidence in the evangelistic abilities of TEc or its followers if they wind up with the old, empty church buildings.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina

A Prayer for those in Hurricane Irma’s path by the Rev. David Booman of Saint Michael’s, Charleston

O God, Master of this passing world, hear the humble voices of your children. The Sea of Galilee obeyed your order and returned to its former quietude; you are still the Master of land and sea. During this storm we turn to You, O loving Father. Spare us from calamity, keep us safe in the palm of your hands and help us walk in your footsteps with gratitude and praise in all things. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Posted in * South Carolina, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Spirituality/Prayer

The Latest on Hurricane Irma Watch–Track shifts a little South and West

Posted in * South Carolina, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Weather

The Latest on Hurricane Irma Watch–Track shifts Slightly West

There is still much uncertainty as to northward turn timing and direction.

Posted in * South Carolina, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Weather

Diocese of South Carolina Parish Priest Karl Bruns Writes his Parish–On Hurricane Irma and the Current Litigation

I want to thank all of you for your prayers last Wednesday as we held a diocesan wide day of fasting and prayer and ask that you continue to lift the Bishop, the legal team, the Standing Committee, the clergy and the lay ministers of the churches of the Diocese in your prayers.

Our appeal for a rehearing by the State Supreme Court was filed on Friday and later that evening, the news of our appeal was made public.  You can read more about the appeal here: http://www.diosc.com/sys/index.php, and you can read an analysis of the appeal at A.S. Haley’s blog; http://accurmudgeon.blogspot.com, and further information can be found at Anglican ink: http://www.anglican.ink/.

Basically there were two appeals made; the first was made on the grounds of violation of the state and federal constitutional guarantees as well as violation of 300 years of application of the natural principles of law by the courts in South Carolina.  The second appeal for a rehearing was made on the grounds that Justice Kaye Hearn failed to disclose her personal connections to The Episcopal Church (TEC), to the newly formed diocese that is known as The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC), and her membership at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Conway, South Carolina.

After the ruling was handed down on August 2nd, the Diocese of South Carolina and the joining churches, we were given fifteen days to appeal, and we were granted an additional fifteen days to respond.  Our motion to appeal was delivered on September 1st and TEC and TECSC will be given fifteen days to rebut our appeal.  They will probably ask for and be granted a fifteen day extension, meaning that the State Supreme Court would not make a ruling until the first of October.

The hurricane metaphor holds very true in our situation as after the first of October (or whenever the State Supreme Court decides what they will do), the tract of the timeline becomes very unpredictable.  I ask for your continued prayers and remind you to not only pray for wisdom and justice but to also pray for “the other side.”    Romans 12: 14 says that we are to bless (pray for) those who persecute us and that is what I strive to accomplish in my prayer life.  It is not too late for you to reach out to others and inform them of what is going on in our diocese and the unjust ruling that we have received and I encourage you to follow your conscience and act.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Parish Ministry, Weather

Overnight Hurricane Irma Computer Models Shift East

Posted in * South Carolina, Climate Change, Weather, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc.

A S Haley–Faults in the South Carolina Supreme Court Decision Laid Bare (II)

Rehearing is required, flat out, because respondents’ due process rights to a fair and impartial tribunal were grossly violated. But rehearing would be required in any event because the bias injected into the proceedings by Justice Hearn tainted not only her conclusions, but those of Acting Justice Pleicones and of Chief Justice Beatty, as well.

In a nutshell, the fault exposed by the petition for rehearing is this: there is no 3-2 majority, or any majority, of the Court that is united in favor of any reasoning for any result that is dispositive of the entire case. When a court has failed properly to dispose of the whole case before it, it must grant a rehearing to clarify what it meant by its original decision.

Let me restate that observation, in terms a lay person can understand. To have an effective decision from a court of law in which a panel of multiple justices participates, there has to be a majority of the participating justices who each concur in (agree with) the result that necessarily follows from that concurrence. And in this South Carolina decision, an analysis of the separate opinions shows conclusively that while three justices out of five may concur in one given result, they differ fatally in what process gets them to that result.

With no clear majority agreeing on the approach the Court (through its supposed majority) is laying out, the picture is the same as if three bettors at roulette won money when the ball landed on Red 34, because the first bet on “red”, the second bet on “even”, and the third bet on “34”. There is consensus only in result, but not in how you get there. And basic due process requires courts to explicate their reasoning for reaching a given result.

Read it all.

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

The Latest Update on the Track of Hurricane Irma

Posted in * South Carolina, Weather