South Carolina diocese secedes from Episcopal Church

Oct 29, 2012

Last week, the Diocese of South Carolina, which borders Brunswick County, formally severed ties with the Episcopal Church. 

Amanda Greene of Wilmington Faith and Values reports on how the move is affecting parishes in Myrtle Beach.

The Rev. Tom Woodle of Myrtle Beach’s The Well By the Sea says most of his parishioners and most of the diocese’s 60 churches feel the change was long overdue. 

The Diocese of South Carolina is the fifth diocese in the U.S. to leave the Episcopal Church.  The divide stems from theological differences over the ordination of openly gay bishops in recent years. Though theological tensions have been increasing in the last 10 years, Woodle says the last straw came when the national convention voted in a canon law provision saying a church cannot consider a person’s transgendered status in employment matters.

The diocese seceded after learning the national leadership had accused their leader, Bishop Mark Lawrence, of “abandoning the church” over parish property claims, among other charges. The national church suspended Lawrence’s duties as bishop pending a church trial.

Parishes in the diocese of South Carolina will decide whether to follow Lawrence or return to the Episcopal Church after an emergency meeting in November.