From South Carolina-
During opening days of a trial over the local Episcopal schism, leaders from more than a dozen area parishes testified that The Episcopal Church lacks legal interest in their properties worth millions of dollars.
Parish leaders aligned with Bishop Mark Lawrence, who left the national church in 2012, also testified that they had removed references to The Episcopal Church from their bylaws.
Various witnesses contended that their parishes are registered South Carolina nonprofit corporations, including some chartered in the mid-1800s, whose fates should be decided by state law rather than church law.
The trial, which began Tuesday and is expected to last two weeks, is being argued before Circuit Judge Diane Goodstein.
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