Judge Rules Against Episcopal Church's Motion Against Breakaway South Carolina Diocese

A District Court judge in South Carolina has ruled against a motion by The Episcopal Church to try and gain the identity of a breakaway diocese.

Judge C. Weston Houck of the District of South Carolina, Charleston Division ruled last week that a motion by TEC against the Diocese of South Carolina will be denied. The motion came in response to Houck's decision last August to dismiss a federal lawsuit the Episcopal Church made against Diocese of South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence.

The Rev. Charles vonRosenberg, head of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, which is comprised of Episcopalians who opposed leaving the national denomination, filed the motion.

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"Again, it appears that Bishop vonRosenberg is using the motion to express his disagreement with the Court's ruling and to 'rehash' previously presented arguments," wrote Houck.

The Rev. Canon Jim Lewis of The Diocese of South Carolina told The Christian Post that this motion was one of many "repeated appeals" by TEC.

"TEC's repeated appeals of the trial Judge's decisions are obvious delaying tactics, just as the foray in the Federal Courts proved to be," said Lewis. "We look forward to the opportunity to finally try the case on the merits after all these needless, and expensive, delays have been addressed."

Last August, Judge Houck ruled that Rev. vonRosenberg's suit against Rev. Lawrence over alleged trademark violation was "denied without prejudice."

Houck noted that the vonRosenberg lawsuit conflicted with a nearly identical case filed earlier over the rightful control of the South Carolina Diocese's name and property.

"The state court action and this action involve overlapping, thus, presenting a clear entanglement threat," wrote Houck. "…a decision by this Court to grant Bishop vonRosenberg's desired injunctive relief concerning the use of the Diocese's service marks will be in direct contravention of a temporary injunction already issued by the state court."

As to the legal dispute over the name and property, Lewis of the South Carolina Diocese told CP that the judge overseeing that suit had scheduled the trial to be for some time in July.

"In the meantime, we plan to continue the ongoing discovery process necessary to prepare for that trial," said Lewis.

In November 2012, the Diocese of South Carolina voted overwhelmingly to leave The Episcopal Church due to theological differences and the national denomination's treatment of diocesan leader Rev. Mark Lawrence.

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