Beaufort Episcopal churches join lawsuit following split with national church

Flickr user Ken Lund

Update: The suing churches have been given a temporary claim to the name.

In 2012 the group of Episcopal churches from the coastal region of South Carolina voted to sever ties with the national Episcopal group, and now a legal battle has emerged over name marks and property rights. 

On Friday three Beaufort County churches joined the lawsuit: The Parish Church of St. Helena, Bluffton's Church of the Cross, and Hilton Head's St. Luke's Church.

“We have existed as an association since 1785. We incorporated in 1973; adopted our current legal name, ‘The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina,’ in 1987; and we disassociated from the Episcopal Church in October of 2012", said Rev. Canon Lewis. "TheEpiscopal Church has every right to have a presence in the area served by our Diocese – but it does not have a right to use our identity. The Episcopal Church must create a new entity.”

It's the rights to the use of the name "The Diocese of South Carolina", and firm legal ownership of some $500 million worth of property and buildings that the group is hoping to clear up with the lawsuit.

The Island Packet offers a solid report with more details (read that here) and you can read a press release from the group over the lawsuit below. 

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