Today, May 24, 2023, in a unanimous order, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled on the pending petitions and motions before it regarding the remaining three parish properties still in dispute. Today’s order denied all such actions, returning to its earlier decision from August 17, 2022. Two will remain with the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina and one will be returned to the Episcopal Church in South Carolina.
In response to the August ruling, the Church of the Good Shepherd (Charleston) had filed a petition for rehearing, asking the Court to reconsider facts in the case that had resulted in the Court ruling that the Episcopal Church (TEC) maintained a trust interest in their property. That determination has now been affirmed by the Court and the parish will enter into settlement discussions with TEC to resolve the transfer of property and all other remaining issues.
The Episcopal Church on its part had also filed both petitions for rehearing and motions for relief from judgement regarding Old St. Andrews (Charleston) and Holy Cross (Stateburg). The August 17 ruling had affirmed Anglican parish control of those properties. Today’s decision affirmed that outcome for both those congregations. In today’s order, the Court said, “After careful consideration of both petitions for rehearing, the court is unable to discover that any material fault of principle of law has been either overlooked or disregarded, and hence, there is no basis for granting a rehearing.” The court on similar grounds denied the motion for relief of judgement as well.
The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina is grateful to see the final legal issues in these property disputes resolved and the rights of Old St. Andrews and Holy Cross affirmed. They join the other twenty-five parishes whose property rights were confirmed by the earlier rulings. To come to the conclusion of all litigation is a welcome blessing.
While grateful for these good gifts, we mourn the loss of property for Good Shepherd that this order dictates. Like the other seven congregations who received adverse rulings, Good Shepherd will continue on in faith. As their rector, the Rev. Will Klauber assured his congregation today, “The Lord will provide for us a community. He will provide facilities and space for his ministry to continue. We rest assured that Jesus is still seated at the right hand of the Father, and his Spirit is still with us as we navigate these uncharted waters.” This coming Sunday, we will celebrate Pentecost and the outpouring of God’s Spirit to build his Church. We remain confident that his work will continue apace through the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina and its 54 parishes and missions.