Breakaway Episcopal Diocese Says Church Property Won't Be Used to Host Gay Weddings

A banner bearing the seal of the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. | (Photo: SC Diocese)

A diocese that broke away from The Episcopal Church over theological differences and the treatment of its bishop has passed a resolution barring gay marriage ceremonies from being performed at its facilities.

The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, a church body that broke away from the liberal mainline church in 2012, passed the resolution earlier this month at their convention.

Known as Resolution R-4, the document was titled "A Resolution to Adopt a Standing Resolution on Marriage" and was passed in response to the current debate over marriage definition in the United States. The resolution also states that the diocese will only host weddings for couples (one man and one woman) "whose birth gender identities were respectively male and female."

" … [I]t is important in a time of cultural uncertainty, that the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina have a clear doctrinal expression of its position regarding the nature of Christian marriage as practiced by this church," noted R-4's one whereas clause.

Resolution R-4 went on to define marriage as having "only one meaning: the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture."

"The diocese will only recognize and solemnize marriages between a biological man and a biological woman, that is between two persons whose birth gender identities were respectively male and female," continued the resolution.

"Further, the clergy and staff of the diocese shall only participate in weddings and solemnize marriages between one man and one woman. The facilities and property of the diocese shall only host weddings between one man and one woman."

In November 2012 the diocese voted to leave the Episcopal Church because of the national denomination's apparent mistreatment of its bishop, the Rev. Mark Lawrence.

Another point of contention was The Episcopal Church's increasing acceptance of homosexuality over the past several years.

In January 2013, a lawsuit ensued over who had control of the diocesan name and property, the breakaway leadership or those in the diocese who remained loyal to The Episcopal Church.

Last month, Judge Diane Goodstein ruled in favor of the breakaway leadership, issuing an order that said they rightfully owned the approximately $500 million worth of church property.

Goodstein argued that the diocese owns all real and personal property, according the paperwork connected to the diocesan property.

"It is equally undisputed that there is nothing in the deeds of their real property referencing any trust in favor of TEC," reads the 46-page decision.

The Episcopalians loyal to the denomination, who call themselves The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, intend to appeal the ruling.

Resolution R-4 came as part of the Diocese of South Carolina's 224th Convention, held in Charleston on March 13-14.

Diocese Communications Director Joy Hunter wrote that Resolution R-4 was one of three overwhelmingly approved resolutions at the convention regarding marriage and sexuality.

"Resolution R-2 asked the Standing Committee to work with the Task Force on Marriage to develop marriage and employment policy recommendations to be acted upon, as needed, at the 2016 Diocesan Convention," wrote Hunter. "Resolution R-3 charged the Task Force to develop educational resources for parishes regarding marriage and gender identity also to be presented at the 2016 Diocesan Convention."

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