S.C. Episcopal Diocese Claims a Victory in Secession Struggle

Religion Today

S.C. Episcopal Diocese Claims a Victory in Secession Struggle

The breakaway Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina has won the latest round in its fight to secede from the national church, the Religion News Service reports. A South Carolina judge on Jan. 23 issued a temporary restraining order that prevents the national church from using the name or seal of the diocese, which espouses a more traditional theology and disapproves of the national church's acceptance of same-sex marriage and gay bishops. The order, as diocesan officials understand it, essentially tells the national church it may not preside over the existing diocese. "We believe what the judge has said is what we have been saying for quite some time," said Jim Lewis, a top aide to Bishop Mark Lawrence. "The Episcopal Church is more than free to establish a new diocese in South Carolina. What the ruling says, though, is that they can't do that and claim to be us." Though 44 of the 71 parishes in the diocese support secession, according to the diocese, Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has said that differences of opinion within the church should be tolerated but unilateral secession is not permitted. Secession must be approved by the church's General Convention, she said, which next meets in 2015.


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