The loyalist faction within the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina has unleashed a torrent of abuse against Bishop Mark Lawrence and the diocesan leadership as well as Judge Diane Goodstein following her order of 23 Jan 2013 blocking them from using the name, symbols or seal of the diocese.
Compliance with the court’s order has also been spotty. On Wednesday, Bishop Charles vonRosenberg told Anglican Ink the loyalist group would comply with the court’s order, and a spokesman for the South Carolina steering committee, Holly Behre, told the Associated Press they would honor Judge Goodstein’s ruling and will adopt a name that will comply with the spirit of the court order until the matter is resolved.
However compliance with the order, which went into effect at 5:11 pm on Wednesday has been slow. The group’s website www.episcopalofsc.org did not remove the shield or the claim to be the Episcopal Dicoese of South Carolina until late Thursday.
As of our going to press, the loyalist group’s fundraising site, scstewardship.com, continues to display the diocesan shield (as shown above) and holds itself out to be the true Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, in apparent disregard of Judge Goodstein’s order which stated in part: “No individual, organization, association or entity, whether incorporated or not, may use, assume, or adopt in any way, directly or indirectly, the registered names and the seal or mark of The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina.”
The order further stated that Bishop Mark Lawrence, the officers and key employees of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina were exempt from this order, which would remain in effect until the 1 Feb 2013 hearing.
The loyalist faction responded to the ruling with outrage, calling the judge’s decision “bizarre” and based upon an ignorance of the facts and canon law. They also suggested improper influence may have been used to sway her decision. The Episcopal Forum of South Carolina website told its supporters the “injunction claims Lawrence and his anti-gay 'diocese' are being harmed when the continuing Dxxxxxx of Sxxxx Cxxxxxxx refers to itself as 'The Diocese of South Carolina'." (The obscuring of the name is found in the original posting.)
The diocese’s lawsuit to protect its name and assets was “unprecedented”, “vindictive” and “mean spirit[ed]” it said, adding “The bizarre ruling will likely not affect the election of The Right Rev. Charles G. vonRosenberg as the new Bishop of South Carolina at a Special Convention in Charleston, though Goodstein’s ruling may mean delegates or the Presiding Bishop will have to mumble or otherwise not speak the name of the Diocese, which he will lead.”
The loyalist faction turned their ire on the judge as well, noting the decision was granted ex parte, without the lawyers from the national church being present. It stated: “Andrew Platte, an attorney for several of the plaintiff congregations and the PECDSC Incorporated, is a recent law clerk for Judge Goodstein and has taken a important role in the recent legal attacks on Episcopalians in the Diocese. He is an associate in the firm of Speights and Runyon, which played a significant role in convincing parishes in the Diocese that the Episcopal Church might be preparing to take their property away.”
The loyalist faction also denounced Bishop Lawrence, saying he was unfit to exercise the office of bishop due to his personal misconduct. “Since his departure from the Church, Lawrence and his allies appear to have done little but obsess over those among his former communicants who chose to remain in the Episcopal Church. Lawrence is the first bishop of the Diocese to launch such a bitter assault on the very people who elected him their chief pastor and spiritual leader.”
However, Bishop vonRosenberg appeared to be taking a less confrontational approach to the dispute, and has so far avoided ad hominum attacks on those who have seceded from the national church. Speaking to the State newspaper, the provisional bishop-designate for loyalists in South Carolina said there was hope for reconciliation. “While we have diverged at this point in history on our paths, one day those paths will converge once again,” the bishop said.