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Suit seeks to hold Bishop Lawrence personally liable for South Carolina’s secession: The Church of England Newspaper, December 13, 2013 December 18, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, the faction loyal to the national Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina, has filed a motion in state court seeking to add Bishop Mark Lawrence and three other diocesan officials as parties in the lawsuit over the control of church properties. The new pleading seeks to hold the breakaway leaders personally liable for the secession of South Carolina from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

On 25 November 2013 loyalists filed a motion alleging 18 causes of action against the four, the bishop, his canon to the ordinary, the current and former president of the standing committee , “including breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, conversion, trademark infringement and civil conspiracy.”

Supporters of the diocese have dismissed the motion as a last minute ploy to salvage the national church’s case against the breakaway diocese.

Canon lawyer Allan Haley, who has represented breakaway dioceses of Quincy and San Joaqui in their litigation with the national church, stated the pleadings were ridiculous.

“It should be obvious to almost anyone that priests who break their ordination vows, or who violate the Constitution and Canons of the Church or of one of its Dioceses, cannot be sued in the civil courts for those actions,” he said, “that is the entire purpose of Title IV (“Ecclesiastical Discipline”) of the Canons.”

“I fail to see, therefore, how the rump group could have authorized the motion to add additional parties to state any claim for breach of the Constitution and Canons — or indeed, for breach of any fiduciary duties owed to the Church whatsoever,” he said citing a recent decision by the California Fifth District Appellate Court that “such questions are ‘quintessentially ecclesiastical’ — they are issues ‘the First Amendment forbids us from adjudicating’.”

“I fail to see how this ‘Hail Mary’ pass has any chance of success in court,” he said.

However, the national church supporters said the motion was filed “because actions [Lawrence and the others] they took to ‘withdraw’ the diocese from [the Episcopal Church] were outside the scope of their legal authority and violated state law,” a press statement said.

Their actions amounted to a “conspiracy” to spirit away “the assets of the diocese and ‘deprive Episcopalians loyal to the Episcopal Church of their property rights’ by manipulating the corporate entity of the diocese,” the pleading alleged.


1. Carol McRee - December 18, 2013

Good luck to them! I think the best way to describe this *move* is DESPERATE!! Especially given Judge Goodstein’s refusal to add more parties to the lawsuit already in place. I doubt this will amount to much. However, I do look forward to hearing about their faces when they are faced with all the contempt charges (and possible fines) they are piling up by refusing to abide by Judge Goodstein’s Injunction against TEC’s remnant here in SC.

2. undergroundpewster - December 19, 2013

T’was not a “Hail Mary” but it is an attempt to invoke another entity altogether.

3. Will - December 26, 2013

I used to think that the Episcopal church filed these silly lawsuits for the one thing that seemed most important to them, Money. I now see them as more of a method of punishment to thousands of us who dared to question the authority and so called wisdom of Bishop Schori. The value of properties that they have managed to hold on to after the people who supported them fled the church have, in many cases, been sold for pennies on the dollar. They have lost far more dollars and cents from the loss of the huge number of God loving people who no longer place their tithes in the Sunday collection plates. It’s hard for me to believe that any of the former Presiding bishops of the US Church would have gone to such extents. Even the Bishop of the Diocese of Indianapolis, whom I consider to be one of the more liberal of the nations Bishops, simply let a small parish in Evansville, Indiana leave and associate themselves with the Diocese of Quincy.
Once these properties are sold, they will be in the same situation that many of the remaining Parishes in the Episcopal Church face. Past endowments, gifts and funds will be dried up as they are used for lawsuits, and just trying to stay afloat, as they have no means of making up for what they have lost in numbers of Sunday worshippers.
Sorry,but spell check is not available in this forum. My spelling may be incorrect, bu, I speak the truth and from both the heaqrt and the mind.
Will Ludwig
Franklin, Indiana

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