Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Grace and peace to you, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Today, (April 20, 2022) the Supreme Court of South Carolina published their opinion on the matter of our legal dispute with the Episcopal Church over property owned by parishes, the diocese, and the Trustees of the diocese. The court affirmed Judge Dickson’s ruling for some parishes and reversed his findings for others.
The ruling raises many issues that will have to play out in the coming weeks before any actions are taken, so our first response must be to quiet our hearts before the Lord as we pray for grace to meet the days ahead. Some of our churches are relieved that the court ruled their property does indeed belong to them. Some are grieving deeply, as the courts ruling went the opposite direction. If we take seriously St Paul’s admonition to rejoice with those who rejoice while we weep with those who weep (Romans 12.15), we will find this to be a season marked by both, regardless of how it affects us personally. So, lift each other up in prayer as we enter the complex emotions of these days.
Finally, I urge you to remember that when Jesus, early in his earthly ministry, first entrusted the mission of the gospel to his disciples he sent them out with, “…nothing for your journey, no staff, no bag, no bread, no money… not even a change of clothes!” (Luke 9.3) We must remember that while we have enjoyed the benefits of rich resources for gospel ministry, none are actually required. The Lord has provided—and always will provide—all we need to proclaim the gospel, bind up the brokenhearted, heal the sick, set the captives free, do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with our God. The ministry of this diocese to a confused and broken world is dependent on God’s mercy and call, not on our property and resources.
I ask your prayers for those of us who are called to lead as we sort through the difficult decisions of the days ahead.
The Rt Revd Chip Edgar