I received an email from The Very Rev”d John Barr containing the following note and prayer. I commend them both to you.
Today, June 6, attorneys representing the Diocese of South Carolina will go before a federal judge to request our case be moved back to its original venue in the South Carolina state court system. Our sense is that this hearing might well be a critical crossroads. We believe that the original venue of state court—where the Diocese and its parishes have sought a simple declaratory judgment as to whether we have title to our own property and whether we are the Diocese of South Carolina—is the true venue where the question should be settled.
Ultimately, of course, God owns the property. The gospel never changes; his promises are indestructible; and our high calling as Christ’s disciples is bright and undiminished. We see through a glass darkly, and God’s perfect will for us is sovereign, but we are asking you to pray for the return of this litigation to state court. No doubt, God will work his purposes out whatever the legal venue. The apostle Paul reminds us, “I have learned to be content in all circumstances…”
Gracious Lord, we pray that your will would be done on June 6. May we want what you desire. Speak your words alone through Alan Runyan and the other attorneys who represent us. May the courtroom be filled with the pleasant aroma of Christ, and at the end of the day, protect this Diocese and its parishes that we might bring the redemptive power of the biblical gospel to the South Carolina low country and beyond. Let not our fear of outcomes tarnish our joy or deter us from the mission you have given us. Teach us to bless and never curse those on the other side of this conflict. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. And make us victorious over-comers wherever this road leads. For we ask it all in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
7.30 PM UPDATE:
Attorneys for the diocese (of South Carolina, i.e., those loyal to +Mark Lawrence) asked Houck on Thursday to move the case back into state court.
“Under federal law, there is no basis for federal jurisdiction,” attorney Alan Runyon said. He said property issues and the use of the diocesan name can be resolved under state law and don’t raise any constitutional issues.
He argued that under the South Carolina Nonprofit Corporation Act, a nonprofit’s membership in a large group is voluntary and it can end the association if it wants. “That doesn’t change because they are religious organizations,” he said.
But Matthew McGill, representing the diocese of parishes remaining with the national church, said the case concerns the First Amendment protections of freedom of religion.