South Carolina Supreme Court says lower court will resolve enforcement of church property decision

Posted Jul 1, 2019

[The Episcopal Church in South Carolina] Saying it is “confident” that the 1st Circuit Court will act “in an expeditious manner” to resolve the case, the South Carolina Supreme Court has denied a petition from The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC) and The Episcopal Church that asked the court to order enforcement of the 2017 decision to return control of diocesan property and 29 parish properties to The Episcopal Church and TECSC.

In an order signed June 28, the Supreme Court denied a petition for writ of mandamus that asked it to require Circuit Judge Edgar W. Dickson to take action on the decision that the high court remitted to Dickson for enforcement nearly 2 years ago.

Because Dickson “is in the process of scheduling hearings on the matters filed in the circuit court, we are confident that (the judge) will resolve the petition to enforce the judgment, as well as any related matters that are pending, in an expeditious manner,” the order says.

The order was signed by Chief Justice Donald W. Beatty and Justices John W. Kittredge, John Cannon Few and George C. James Jr. Justice Kaye G. Hearn did not participate.

The disputed properties currently are under the control of a group led by Bishop Mark Lawrence that left The Episcopal Church in 2012 and then sued the church in an attempt to keep the property.

TECSC and The Episcopal Church filed the petition for writ of mandamus on March 20, noting it was seeking such an “extraordinary remedy” because the delay in enforcing the high court’s decision is continuing to cause harm to the church and its diocese.

To date, the Orangeburg-based court has held one scheduling conference and one hearing on a motion for “clarification” filed by the disassociated group. Another hearing that had been scheduled for March 27 was cancelled a few days beforehand, and the court has not set a new date.