A circuit judge on Friday denied local Episcopalians who remain loyal to the national church rights to use the registered names and seal of the Diocese of South Carolina.
Circuit Judge Diane Goodstein issued a temporary restraining order Jan. 23 that blocked The Episcopal Church and its continuing parishes in eastern South Carolina from using the diocese’s registered names, seal or marks.
That continuing group, temporarily calling themselves The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, asked Goodstein on Friday to lift her order and to allow them to use the disputed names and seal.
However, Goodstein said in court that she will leave the temporary injunction in place. A written ruling will follow.
The majority of local parishes and clergy, including Bishop Mark Lawrence, disassociated from The Episcopal Church last fall over theological and administrative disputes with that national church. Lawrence’s group filed a lawsuit against The Episcopal Church to retain control of property and identifying titles and marks.
“I’m encouraged by this ruling for the clarity it allows us in continuing with the mission and ministry of the diocese,” Lawrence said after Friday’s hearing.
The continuing diocese is led by Bishop Charles G. vonRosenberg who was installed three days after the temporary restraining order was issued.
“The name describes us and is us — and we should be able to use it,” said Holly Behre, spokeswoman for the continuing diocese. After Goodstein files her written order, the continuing diocese will decide its response, Behre added.
The entire lawsuit is likely to be heard some time next year, officials on both sides said.
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