Thursday, June 6, 2013

SC Lowcountry Episcopalians set to return to court Thursday; pension dispute aired

From South Carolina-

Lowcountry Episcopalians who are battling over the right to claim title to the history and property of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina return to court Thursday to argue where the case should be heard.

Bishop Mark J. Lawrence and a majority of clergy that split from The Episcopal Church (TEC) last year want the case returned to state court, where they have received favorable rulings.

Clergy and congregations continuing with the national church — now operating under the name, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina — believe the dispute involves trademark infringement and First Amendment questions. They want a federal judge to determine what congregations rightfully belong to the centuries-old Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.

At issue is millions of dollars in church property that the national Episcopal church believes should remain within its hierarchy. District Judge C. Weston Houck will hear the arguments in Charleston, although no ruling is expected.

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