The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a petition for writ of certiorari by the Diocese of South Carolina led by the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence.
Both the Episcopal Church in South Carolina and the Diocese of South Carolina have posted responses to this step.
From the Diocese of South Carolina:
The Rev. Canon Jim Lewis observed, “We are disappointed the Court chose not to resolve a serious division in the lower courts, though our case was a providential opportunity to do so. The essential issue of what the Court means by “neutral principles of law” will remain unresolved for now.”
The Diocese of South Carolina will now return to our state courts, where the case has been remitted to the Dorchester Courthouse where it originated. An element of TEC’s argument for the United States Supreme Court to deny our petition was the “fractured” nature of the South Carolina Supreme Court’s ruling. Constitutional issues aside, the Diocese believes the conflicted nature of the current State Supreme Court ruling is virtually unenforceable as written. Interpretation and implementation of that ruling, given its five separate opinions, with no unified legal theory even among the plurality of the court, means there are still significant questions to resolve.
The Diocese remains confident that the law and the facts of this case favor our congregations. We plan to continue to press both to their logical conclusion, even if that requires a second appearance before the South Carolina Supreme Court.
Statement by the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, Diocesan Bishop: “While, obviously, we are disappointed that the Court did not review this case, our hope remains steadfast in our Heavenly Father. There are many unresolved legal questions which remain before the State Court as well as matters for prayerful discernment as we seek to carry out the mission to which we are called in Jesus Christ. We shall seek his guidance for both.”
From the Episcopal Church in South Carolina:
“We are grateful for the clarity that this decision offers, and hopeful that it brings all of us closer to having real conversations on how we can bring healing and reconciliation to the Church, the Body of Christ, in this part of South Carolina,” said the Right Rev. Gladstone B. Adams III, Bishop of TECSC.
“Our path continues to be one of reconciliation and love, for love is the way of Jesus,” Bishop Adams said.
Today’s decision does not cause an immediate change in the physical control of the properties, according to Thomas S. Tisdale Jr., Chancellor of TECSC. It is now up to the state’s 1st Circuit Court of Common Pleas to execute the lower court’s decision.
TECSC and The Episcopal Church on May 8 asked the state court to place diocesan property and assets under control of TECSC’s trustees, hand over ownership of property of the 28 affected parishes to The Episcopal Church and TECSC, and appoint a Special Master to oversee the transition.
… “It happens that today is the day we remember St. Barnabas, and in the prayer assigned for today we note that he sought not his own renown, but the well-being of God’s Church. May we do the same.”