South Carolina Diocese Votes to Split From Episcopal Church
By Anugrah Kumar
Christian Post Contributor
November 19, 2012|8:14 am
Despite the presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church writing a pastoral letter to the members of the South Carolina diocese to stay, a majority of parishes voted to leave the denomination over its ordination of gay clergy and acceptance of same-sex unions.
The vote took place at a convention organized by the South Carolina diocese leadership at St. Philip’s Church in Charleston on Saturday, Reuters reported. It followed the U.S. Episcopal Church’s certification last month that South Carolina Bishop Mark J. Lawrence, who had criticized pro-gay positions of the denomination’s hierarchy, had abandoned the church’s doctrine, discipline and worship.
It’s the fifth Episcopalian diocese in the country to leave the church’s national body, which is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Congregations in San Joaquin, Calif.; Quincy, Ill.; Fort Worth, Texas; and Pittsburgh, Pa., also left the church in recent years.
This could get interesting/messy fast! Based on what courts have done in CA and VA, if these seceding church congregations have deeds that assign their property to the national denomination should they leave it, they stand to lose their facilities. I think the deeds and court decisions are unconscionable - unjustly taking properties from people who have bought them and maintained them for decades or even centuries, and enriching the denomination that has done nothing to earn those properties - but the courts, so far, have decided otherwise. I doubt this is news to all these seceding congregations. While not colluding, all these seceding dioceses have created a situation where the denomination is being forced to choose between letting the congregations go, with their properties, or filing a large number of lawsuits - individually and collectively very expensive. Bishop Schorri and the higher ups of the Episcopalian Church have shown a vindictive willingness to go after leaders and congregations who won’t meekly go down the theologically liberal path with them. But this many lawsuits, even if (as is likely) won could prove a string of very expensive Pyrrhic victories. As for the seceding congregations, by now they should know the potential consequences of their actions. As convenient and comfortable as their facilities may be, they know that if they lose those properties, their life, as a church, is in Christ and in their (His) people. And if the denomination gets all those properties, not only will the acquisition process be expensive, but the denomination will have all these properties to maintain (and if they sell the properties, they would be selling into a depressed market and the sheer volume of sales will further depress the marketplace), since most of the congregation members will have left. The Episcopalian Church may find it has won Pyrrhic victories that will continue to be expensive!