Leadership of local dioceses of the ACNA and TEC agree to terms of settlement regarding diocesan property
On Monday, September 26, 2022, the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina (ADOSC) and the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina (EDOSC) announced a settlement agreement resolving the numerous outstanding legal issues between the two dioceses. While the settlement does not affect the remaining issues regarding the property rights of three parishes currently pending before the South Carolina Supreme Court, nor the betterments lawsuit by several parishes pending in state trial court, it does resolve all issues regarding diocesan and trustee property and assets.
We are thankful to have reached this settlement after extensive, good-faith discussions, marked by mutual respect and good will, that have been occurring between both dioceses since the South Carolina Supreme Court ruling in April. While this settlement has required sacrifices from all involved, finalizing these issues enables us to move forward in mission and ministry free from impending litigation.
The full details of the settlement have not been released but the Bishops did release certain elements, including:
Reflecting on the agreement, Bishop Edgar said, “This settlement agreement allows us to invest our diocesan energy, time, focus, and resources in gospel ministry rather than litigation. While the losses we have experienced, including those of St. Christopher and several of our parish buildings are painful, I am grateful that the work we have done has brought an end to litigation between our dioceses. I am grateful, too, for the willingness to work to avoid further litigation that Bishop Woodliff-Stanley showed throughout this process. These hard past few months were made easier by her kind and generous willingness to compromise to reach this settlement.”
Bishop Woodliff-Stanley echoed this sentiment: “From the very beginning of this process, I have been grateful for the gracious spirit of Bishop Edgar in doing just this work with us. I am grateful for his leadership and his generosity. While each diocese has had to leave things on the table to get to this moment, and while we experience pain over losses of some of the historic churches our members hold dear, even still, we have seen the Spirit at work in drawing us toward God’s redemptive way of love at every juncture.”
While we give thanks that the legal disputes at the diocesan level are being brought to a close, we nevertheless recognize that a number of our parishes await a final resolution of their legal concerns. It is our prayer that these issues will soon come to a resolution as well as we move forward together as a diocese into this next season of ministry.
What does this next season look like? For some, it will be full of new challenges – and opportunities – as they as they learn to minister outside the walls of their beloved church buildings. For others we’ll seek to pull together as a diocese and grow in our roles as supportive brothers and sisters. For all of us we’ll continue to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ and pursue the work of the gospel in South Carolina and beyond out from under the shadow of litigation with a renewed focus on our mission and ministry. Therefore, let us move forward prayerfully, in thanksgiving for this Spirit-led settlement, and in hope for the work of the Gospel and continued in-breaking of the Kingdom of God.
The Rt. Revd Chip Edgar, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina
The Revd B. Tyler Prescott, ADOSC Standing Committee President