by Jennifer Berry Hawes, Post and Courier Newspaper, Jun 15 2015.
The Episcopal Church and its local diocese have pitched a settlement offer that would allow 35 parishes that defected in 2012 to take roughly $500 million in church properties with them in a bid to end the long-running ecclesiastical split that has reached the state Supreme Court.
The parishes haven’t formally responded, but a high-ranking cleric said the olive branch will not be accepted. “It was unanimously rejected by all the parties to the litigation,” the Rev. Jim Lewis said.
The offer to end a protracted legal battle would include some of Charleston’s most historic colonial parishes: St. Philip’s and St. Michael’s churches in downtown Charleston, Old St. Andrew’s in West Ashley and Christ Church in Mount Pleasant. In exchange, the national church would keep the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina name and identifying marks, along with St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center, the bishop’s residence and trust funds worth several millions…
The S.C. Supreme Court set Sept. 23 to hear arguments in the lawsuit. “We are a hearing away from this case being settled for good and for all. It seems prudent to see that to the end,” said Lewis, canon to the ordinary for the Diocese of South Carolina, a group led by Bishop Mark Lawrence that left the national church in 2012…
Acrimony between the feuding groups goes back years and even decades as progressive and traditionalist wings of The Episcopal Church splintered over scriptural interpretations related to everything from women’s ordination and homosexuality to the nature of salvation.
In all, five dioceses nationwide left The Episcopal Church, the American province of the global Anglican Communion. In 2012, Lawrence and two-thirds of parishes in the Diocese of South Carolina, which spans the eastern half of the state, announced they were leaving and then sued the national church, arguing the diocese voluntarily joined the national church — and can leave as freely. They claim rights to the parishes’ properties along with the diocese’s name and identifying marks.
The global Anglican Communion’s official website lists The Episcopal Church and The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, which vonRosenberg heads, as its recognized members. Therefore, Lawrence has been committing false advertising by presenting himself as bishop and should be stopped, partly because the similarity in diocesan names is confusing, the complaint contends. That case is ongoing.
“It is our hope to reconcile and that we can redirect money and expenses used in legal battles toward the mission of the church and greater fulfillment of what we are called to do,” vonRosenberg said..
Read more at … http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20150615/PC16/150619613/1180/episcopal-church-makes-settlement-offer-to-let-parishes-take-500-million-in-property