Rectors Speak Out: Statements from those in the Litigation

“We are guarding our church and parish house, which our ancestors built and maintained quite apart from any financial support from The Episcopal Church. For nearly 200 years, this church has been gathering in this building to worship the Lord, and going from this building to love and serve, in the name of the Lord, our neighbors in the heart of Charleston. And now The Episcopal Church would take our building from us and hinder this ongoing mission?  We have received the Faith once delivered to the Apostles. It is not ours to alter, but rather to steward, and more importantly, to pass on to generations to come. It seems reasonable to expect that we should be able to do this without the threat of having our property taken from us by The Episcopal Church because we refuse to accept innovations which we find repugnant to the Faith once delivered.”

—The Very Rev. Peet Dickinson, Dean, The Cathedral of Saint Luke and Saint Paul, Charleston

“Though our hope that the theological differences between the Diocese of South Carolina and The Episcopal Church would be resolved without recourse to the courts seems to have been in vain, we are mindful yet that it is never too late for a miracle. Absent divine intervention, we will stand with the Diocese and upon the legacy of Anglican faith in this area which traces its heritage to 1767. The Church of the Cross will not be deterred from its mission and ministry in the name of Jesus Christ by this or any other matter. We are a great and growing diverse congregation of almost 1700 folks of all ages who know the power of the Holy Spirit, joyfully worship, humbly repent and gratefully thank the Lord for our many blessings. Those interested in partnering for the spread of the Gospel are invited to join us.”

—The Rev. Charles Owens, Rector, The Church of the Cross, Bluffton

“The issue for us is one of protection—the buildings and the land are assets for Gospel ministry. They were paid for by members of this parish—past and present. No outside group should determine their usage. Our Diocese and many of the parishes joining this suit pre-date the establishment of The Episcopal Church. Now, that same church has made plain its intent to claim our property. For me, Religious Freedom is at the heart of what we are willing to defend. My forebears—French Huguenots—left France in 1687 under immense religious persecution to come to the Carolina colony to freely practice their faith. Most of those original Huguenots are a part of the Anglican churches today that want that same freedom guaranteed.”
—The Rev. Shay Gaillard, Rector, The Church of the Good Shepherd, Charleston

“We have decided to take this drastic action in order to protect our name and property. The Church of Our Saviour was started over 30 years ago to serve Kiawah, Seabrook and Johns Island. The land, building and reputation were built by Islanders for themselves and those who would come here in the future. The Episcopal Church provided no financial support, no encouragement and no resource in this effort. In contrast, we are grateful to our Diocese for their help at every step of our growth. It is beyond imagining that The Episcopal Church has announced its intent to take our property and our very identity.”
—The Rev. Michael Clarkson, Rector, The Church of Our Saviour, Kiawah, Seabrook and Johns Islands

“We feel that we must take this action as TEC is already using our name, Diocesan seal and other marks of our identity to impersonate us publicly, and is organizing in South Carolina, all with the stated goal of taking over this Diocese and her parishes, including Prince George. Not to take action is simply bad stewardship of the Gospel and of churches like ours which were established and maintained over the centuries by our ancestors as centers of traditional, biblical Christian faith, and without any financial support from The Episcopal Church. This and many other parishes joining the suit are among the oldest operating churches in the nation. They and the Diocese of South Carolina pre-date the establishment of The Episcopal Church. Yet, TEC has declared its intent to take our property.”
—The Rev. Paul Fuener , Rector, Prince George Winyah, Georgetown

“In 1857, the parishioners of the Church of the Redeemer built our first building on Boulevard across from the railroad tracks. In 1891 they put the church on logs and rolled it to its present site on Russell St. Over the years they bricked it in and added other buildings and improvements. In all of these efforts, the Episcopal Church never gave them a dime. And they claim that they own our property now?  No way!  We in the Diocese of South Carolina, as well as here at the Redeemer, have always practiced a conservative, Bible-believing, traditional, orthodox faith. It is the Episcopal Church which has left the faith in the dust; they have changed, while we have remained faithful. Jesus Christ is Our Lord and Savior, and we follow Him in the power of His Holy Spirit as we strive to do ministry in His Name. All are welcome to join us in worshipping and serving Him.”
—The Rev. Dr. Frank E. Larisey, Rector, Church of the Redeemer, Orangeburg

“We are not bringing suit in an attempt to take anything away from the National Episcopal Church. We are seeking a declaratory judgment from the Courts as to who is the rightful owner of these historic buildings. We are trying to protect our church and other parish buildings, which were built and paid for by the sacrifice and labor of our founders and all who have worked and worshipped in this place for nearly 150 years. At no point in our history has the National Church contributed financially to the building or maintenance of any of our church buildings, facilities, or ministries. We simply desire the Court to decide and declare the rightful owners of this property. Many of our parishes and the Diocese of South Carolina pre-date the establishment of The Episcopal Church. Yet, the National Church has announced its intent to take our property. We are only trying to be good stewards of that which has been entrusted to us by those who have gone before and ensure that the mission and ministry of St. John’s Parish begun here in 1866 might continue for generations to come.”
—The Rev. Ken Weldon, Rector, St. John’s Church, Florence

“We at St Luke’s Church are seeking to protect our Sanctuary and buildings as well as our land. The land was granted to us by Sea Pines Development Company and all of our buildings were paid for by our church family with no help from any outside source, said Greg Kronz, Rector of St. Luke’s Church of Hilton Head. We are choosing to go along with the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina and are joining many other parishes to protect our Diocese and other parishes from potential take-over of property or litigation from the National Episcopal Church. Our church and a number of the parishes in our Diocese as well as our Diocese itself pre-dates the establishment of The Episcopal Church. Our Bishop, Mark Lawrence, called as Bishop of our Diocese, has endeavored to guard and protect the churches in the Diocese so that they have the freedom to practice our Christian Faith as Anglicans grounded in the word of God. We will not be threatened or held hostage by the possibility of changing our beliefs or losing our property.”

—The Rev. Greg Kronz, Rector, St. Luke’s Church, Hilton Head

“Ever since the Cornerstone of St. Michael’s Church was put into the earth in the 1700s, we have been ambassadors of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as a mission station on the corner of Meeting Street and Broad. A plaque on Meeting Street describes St. Michael’s as a ‘Monument to the past and a movement to the future.’  To be faithful to our ancestors and, at the same time, be a mission station today to our city and beyond, it means we can no longer participate in nor support The Episcopal Church whose teachings are contrary to the Bible and Book of Common Prayer. We also cannot allow The Episcopal Church to force us to adopt doctrines and policies that go against everything for which our Cornerstone stands.”
—The Rev. Alfred T.K. Zadig, Jr., Rector, St. Michael’s Church, Charleston

“We have historic and new buildings on our campus worth millions of dollars sacrificially paid for by members of St. Paul’s Summerville—none of these present buildings built between 1857 and 2003 received any financial contribution from The Episcopal Church headquartered in New York City. Like many of our fellow Low Country parishes, we are one of the oldest churches in the nation dating to our establishment in 1707 as a Church of England parish on the banks of the Stono River. We have re-located three times during our three centuries of existence following the inland 18th and 19th century population migration until settling at our present location on West Carolina Avenue in Summerville. Like the Diocese of South Carolina and other parishes we pre-date the establishment of The Episcopal Church by several decades. We will protect our property from any forced take-over by others. We are Anglicans of Scripture, Tradition and Reason and find the present trajectory of The Episcopal Church contrary to our Biblical beliefs as well as the Tradition established through the ages of how much latitude one is allowed to interpret Scripture’s plain sense.”
—The Rev. Michael Lumpkin, Rector, St. Paul’s Church, Summerville

“It is our responsibility to preserve and protect our historic buildings and holdings for the benefit of our congregation. The majority of what we have we inherited from the faithful that have gone before us, who paid for these treasures with their blood, sweat, tears, personal sacrifices and finances. The Episcopal Church has never given us financial support and we deny that they may have gained any right to our assets through some clever and deceptive declaration of their own device. The Protestant Episcopal Church of the Parish of St. Philip was created as a corporate entity in 1785 by the then-newly formed Legislature of the State of South Carolina, before there was a Diocese of South Carolina and before there was a national Episcopal organization. Our roots run deep in the cause for religious and political freedom and we are unwilling to abandon our precious heritage by capitulating to TEC even though they wield massive financial power and are determined to defeat us in the courts. We pray that God will protect us as He protected young David when he confronted the giant Goliath.”
—The Rev. Haden McCormick, Rector, St. Philip’s Church, Charleston

“Trinity was founded by faithful congregants in Myrtle Beach. It has been built by their own sacrifice of time and money without any aid from The Episcopal Church. While Trinity is one of the newer churches in the Diocese, many of the churches joining in the petition predate the formation of The Episcopal Church. Trinity is joining in this suit to preserve our freedom of conscience. We are not seeking to take anything from The Episcopal Church. We simply want the freedom to be faithful to Christ as we see fit without outside interference and we’re asking the courts to aid us in that. In Acts 25, the Apostle Paul was under persecution from the religious authorities of his day. He appealed to Caesar in the hopes that he would have a fair hearing from an impartial party. That is what we are doing here.”
—The Rev. Iain Boyd, Rector, Trinity Church, Myrtle Beach

“All Saints was founded in 1957 as a plant from St. John’s Episcopal Church and was financed, nurtured, and cared for by St. John’s, the community of Florence, and the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. In her 57 years, All Saints affiliation with the Diocese has never changed and our support of Bishop Mark Lawrence is unwavering. Joining the suit against The Episcopal Church is not just a show of solidarity, but a proclamation of our belief in the sacredness of scripture, the uniqueness of Christ, and the apostolic teaching we have received for almost 2000 years. Our actions today are also made in response to how The Episcopal Church has aggressively pursued in court those who have spoken out against their heretical views and the idea that they own our property and buildings. It is our belief and the belief of our Diocese that our property belongs to the parishioners of All Saints who have freely and sacrificially given of their resources so that All Saints can be a catalyst for the spread the Gospel in Florence and beyond.”
— The Rev. Karl Burns, All Saints Church, Florence

“We, the people of Saint James Church, James Island, believe that we are called by God to clearly, unequivocally, and completely disassociate ourselves from The Episcopal Church whose recent actions have called into question long-standing Christian beliefs. By joining this suit, we are not only demonstrating our support for the Diocese, but our continued commitment to the fundamental beliefs shared by our Bishop Mark Lawrence and other Anglicans around the world. Unfortunately, The Episcopal Church has been very aggressive in suing those who disagree with its unorthodox theology, however, there can be no question that our Parish property belongs to our members and not to some voluntary association that has abandoned the fundamental beliefs of Anglicanism. This suit will prove that point.”
— The Rev. Arthur Jenkins, Rector, Saint James Church, James Island