Breakaway Anglicans Can Keep Churches Worth $500 Million, Rules South Carolina Judge

Diocese of South Carolina not required to give properties and name back to national Episcopal Church.
Breakaway Anglicans Can Keep Churches Worth $500 Million, Rules South Carolina Judge
Image: Courtesy of Diocese of South Carolina
Bishop Mark Lawrence

In the "land and building wars" long fought within mainline denominations, the denomination usually wins. But this week, a South Carolina judge ruled that bishop Mark Lawrence and 36 South Carolina parishes had the right to leave The Episcopal Church in 2012 and take with them $500 million in property.

“In all of TEC’s governing documents, no rule exists prohibiting the withdrawal of one of its member dioceses,” Circuit Court Judge Diane Goodstein wrote in her opinion. As such, she wrote, TEC defendants have no legal or other right to the plaintiffs’ “real, personal, and intellectual property.”

The ruling mirrored an Illinois decision, in which the Diocese of Quincy was allowed to keep its property and funds for the same reason: The national denomination didn’t have a policy that kept dioceses from withdrawing their membership. Last month, the Illinois Supreme Court refused to hear the denomination's appeal.

The Diocese of ...

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