Bishops of The Episcopal Church’s southeastern province issued an open letter Thursday in support of local worshippers who remained loyal to the national church after the majority of area parishes chose to leave it last fall.

The letter came as the bishops met this week at Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston. On Wednesday, local Episcopalians told the bishops about the painfulness of the split and of moving forward after their home parishes chose to leave the national church.

“We rejoice having heard that the Spirit is healing and urging you forward in love driven action. And it was clear to us by your words and prayers that neither vengeance nor bitterness has any place with you,” said the letter signed by 23 bishops.

Growing contention over theological and other differences culminated when 49 area parishes left the national church in October with Bishop Mark Lawrence, who leads The Diocese of South Carolina.

Parishes that remained with the national church are led by Bishop Charles vonRosenberg under The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.

Issues of diocesan leadership, names, trademarks and property remain disputed in ongoing court cases.