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(RNS) A South Carolina diocese has declared itself “sovereign”
within the Episcopal Church, the latest salvo in a long-running skirmish
between the conservative diocese and the denomination.
The Diocese of South Carolina, which covers 47 parishes in the
eastern and coastal parts of the state, voted on Friday (March 26) to
assert the local authority of Bishop Mark Lawrence, particularly in
dealing with breakaway parishes.
Concerned that Lawrence would not fight to keep conservatives from
seceding with church property, the Episcopal Church hired its own lawyer
earlier this year. The 2.2 million-member denomination maintains that
local parish property is held in trust for the regional diocese and the
national church.
In a series of four resolutions, the South Carolina diocese declared
that Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has “no
authority to retain attorneys in this diocese that present themselves as
counsel for the Episcopal Church in South Carolina.”
The resolutions aim to put Lawrence in charge of the situation and
allow him to provide a “generous pastoral response” to dissident
parishes. Last October, Lawrence and the diocese said they would begin
to partially withdraw from the Episcopal Church because of its growing
liberalism, particularly its acceptance of homosexuality.
Addressing the diocese on Friday, Lawrence said he and Jefferts
Schori “stand looking at one another across a wide, deep and seemingly
unbridgeable theological and canonical chasm.” The two will continue to
talk, however, “even if it requires phone conversations from vastly
different area codes,” he said.
By Daniel Burke
Copyright 2010 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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