The issues of gay marriage and gay clergy are leading some Episcopal churches in Beaufort County and the state to disassociate or distance themselves from the Episcopal Church.
On Dec. 1, St. Luke's Episcopal Church on Hilton Head Island voted to remove all reference to "the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States, the Diocese of South Carolina, and any Canons associated therewith" from its charter, according to The (Charleston) Post and Courier.
The Rev. Greg Kronz, rector of St. Luke's, declined to comment on the decision.
Earlier this year, St. Luke's, The Parish Church of St. Helena in Beaufort and the Church of the Cross in Bluffton also condemned the national church's decisions on gays in the church. Attempts to reach the rectors of The Parish Church and Church of the Cross were unsuccessful.
In a document entitled, "Where We Stand," clergy and vestries from the three churches said the national church had "overturned the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman, and refused to abstain from the ordination of persons whose manner of life violates Christian tenets in practice for almost 2,000 years. These are actions we cannot condone."
Not all of the Episcopal churches in Beaufort County have condemned the national church.
The Rev. Richard Lindsey, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church on Hilton Head, said his church "remains a steadfast part of the Episcopal Church."
The actions to condemn the Episcopal Church come just weeks after the Diocese of South Carolina held a special convention to vote on five resolutions, one of which calls on the bishop and standing committee "to begin withdrawing from all bodies of the Episcopal Church that have assented to actions contrary to Holy Scripture, the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ."
The Vestry of Trinity Episcopal Church in Myrtle Beach also voted earlier this month to change its bylaws, removing reference to the Episcopal Church.
The Diocese of South Carolina oversees more than 70 parishes throughout the coastal half of the state. The Very Rev. Mark Lawrence, bishop of the diocese, wrote in an e-mail that he will remain open to counsel and conversation.