The Supreme Court of South Carolina has rejected a motion that Justice Kaye G. Hearn recuse herself from a property case involving the Diocese of South Carolina (ACNA) and the Episcopal Church in South Carolina. The court also rejected a motion to rehear the case.
The court’s decisions leave the U.S. Supreme Court as the last option for the Diocese of South Carolina.
The Rt. Rev. Gladstone B. Adams III, bishop provisional of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina has issued this response:
We give thanks for the clarity that the State Supreme Court’s decision provides and we are grateful for the thoughtful and difficult work the justices have undertaken in this case.
From the time this lawsuit was filed against the Episcopal Church, the hope of reconciliation has been our guiding principle. We believe this is what the Lord Jesus would expect of us and it is consistent with the teachings of St. Paul who said in his second letter to the Church in Corinth, “All this is from God, who reconciled himself to us in Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” We renew our commitment to this hard work of reconciliation in the days to come.
We understand that the many people in the parishes affected by this ruling may be experiencing pain, fear, and confusion. Let me say to all that the Episcopal Church in South Carolina is committed to finding a path that will allow the people of God to continue to live their lives as a part of the Anglican Communion in and through the Episcopal Church. As a former Bishop of South Carolina, William Alexander Guerry, said more than 100 years ago, “If we are to be truly catholic, as Christ himself is catholic, then we must have a Church broad enough to embrace within its communion every living human soul.”
The Episcopal Church seeks to be an expression of faith in Christ that welcomes all to his expansive Table. Our prayer is that every person in every parish of the Diocese will join in working and praying together to bring healing to the Church, the Body of Christ, in this part of South Carolina.
The Rev. Canon Jim Lewis, canon to the ordinary of the Diocese of South Carolina, has issued this response:
We are deeply disappointed the Court did not see fit to recuse Justice Hearn. Her personal interest in the outcome of this litigation, beyond the normal matters of law, has clearly influenced its outcome. That is unfortunate not only for the Diocese but for all the citizens of this State with concerns for a fair and impartial judiciary. We also find it disturbing that the weight of the Constitutional concerns raised was not given further opportunity to be addressed. Church property ownership in South Carolina is now gravely complicated.
Given the gravity of all these concerns, we will now give serious consideration to seeking review by the U.S. Supreme Court. We believe the number and character of the issues at stake in this ruling merit review by the high court. Because of the long road of litigation that has brought us to this day, all the parties to this case will need to take counsel together before deciding our next steps.
We remain confident that God is at work in even these circumstances to redeem and use them, as He does all things, for His glory and the building up of His Church.