Reader commentary on the split within the Episcopal Church

Editor's note: Following a recent post on this site about the dispute between the national Episcopal Church and a local group of churches, a reader sent in the below commentary and clarification about the split.

Please allow me to (respectfully) correct two key factual errors in your article today, "In Episcopal dispute, both church groups lay claim to diocese name."

In the intro to The Post and Courier article you commented that "A split between the national Episcopal Church and 'an offshoot local group' is continuing with both sides now claiming they are the only side authorized to use the name the Diocese of South Carolina."

First, the historic Diocese of South Carolina is not a local "offshoot group." The Diocese is one of the oldest in the country. It was established in 1785, four years before the Episcopal Church (TEC). As a matter of fact, they helped establish TEC as a volunteer association, not a hierarchical organization.

The second major issue that needs to be corrected in the continuing article in the The Post and Courier, Mr. Parker wrote that the "four other dioceses that disassociated from The Episcopal Church have lost their court cases against the Episcopal Church affirming the argument that the church is hierarchical and that property is held in trust according to canon law." Only one of those cases, the one involving Pittsburgh, has been decided and the decision had nothing to do with the hierarchical authority of the Episcopal Church. That outcome hinged on an agreement that the Diocese of Pittsburgh entered into voluntarily before the matter went to court.

The cases in San Joaquin, Ft. Worth, Quincy, and of course, South Carolina remain undecided.

Let me bring another interesting fact to your attention. The Diocese of South Carolina has a total of 30,000 members in various parishes. Of these, 80% have voted to stay with the Diocese, 18% with TEC and 2% still undecided. I think that pretty much says where the majority of people stand. Our Diocese has been growing for the last several years (10.7% since 2000) while the national church's membership has declined by 17.6%. You have to ask yourself why.