NEWS BLOG - AROUND THE DIOCESE - Events, Resources, Services

posted Jun 15, 2016, 2:30 PM by CalvaryEpiscopal Church   [ updated Mar 28, 2019, 9:42 AM by joan bonaparte ]

The official dates for our next Diocesan Convention have been set: November 15-16 at the Mariott Hotel in North Charleston. The churches of the West Charleston Deanery will be the co-hosts for our 228th Convention, which is the annual "business meeting" and family reunion of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.The official "Call to Convention" will go out in August, with more details and information on how to register.

Staff Transitions


PictureHolly Votaw
Holly Votaw, Diocesan Director of Communications, has notified Bishop Skip Adams that she will be moving to North Carolina this spring. The Bishop and Diocesan Council are in the process of reviewing this part-time position and its job description with a goal of opening a search process for a new Director of Communication in the next few weeks.

Mrs. Votaw will continue to serve as Director of Communications throughout the transition, working remotely via computer and internet in coordination with the Bishop and diocesan staff. She also plans to be present at diocesan events such as the Renewal of Clergy Vows, Diocesan Clergy Conference at Kanuga, and the Under One Roof II conference on May 18, where she will be one of the presenters. People can continue to contact her for communication needs at or 843-345-8011 (mobile).

Mrs. Votaw and her husband, the Rev. Alastair Votaw, will be making their home in the Pisgah Forest community near Brevard, NC. She has served as Director of Communications for the diocese since January 2013. An announcement will be made to the diocese when a formal search process begins.

Your prayers and presence are requested as two candidates for Holy Orders from our Diocese, Lauren Kay and Charles Jenkins, are to be ordained to the transitional diaconate on Saturday, June 15 at 11 am at Grace Church Cathedral in Charleston. Charles is completing his studies at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., and Lauren is preparing to graduate at the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas. Please keep them both in your prayers as their ordination date approaches.
Our planning team for Under One Roof II is making plans for a great diocesan-wide resource day on Saturday, May 18 at Porter-Gaud Episcopal School in Charleston. Co-chairs Nancy Ezell Suggs (center) and Warren Mersereau (right) held a planning meeting today with staff liaison the Rev. Bill Coyne, Missioner for Returning Congregations, at the Diocesan Office.

Every parish and mission inThe Episcopal Church in South Carolina is asked to send a team of clergy and laypeople, staff and volunteers, to learn, share experiences and resources, and network with others. Some 20 workshops are being planned in the areas of leadership, administration and finance, Christian formation, welcoming ministry, communications, and more.

Registration will include coffee and lunch. Please save the date, and watch for registration information coming soon!
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC) and The Episcopal Church today filed a petition asking the South Carolina Supreme Court to order the Dorchester County Circuit Court to enforce the high court’s 2017 decision and return control of diocesan property and 29 parish properties to The Episcopal Church and its local diocese, TECSC.
The Petition for Writ of Mandamus asks the high court to require Circuit Judge Edgar W. Dickson to take action and execute the decision that the justices remitted to Judge Dickson 16 months ago.
The disputed properties currently are under the control of a group led by Bishop Mark Lawrence that left The Episcopal Church in 2012 and then sued the church in an attempt to keep the property. The delay in enforcing the high court’s decision is continuing to cause harm to TECSC, the petition says.

“The extraordinary remedy sought [a writ of mandamus] is therefore necessary given the long delay and misdirected undertaking of the Circuit Court to attempt to revisit the merits, while the property to which Petitioners are entitled is being wasted, misused, and depleted,” the petition says.

“That property includes unique real estate, historic buildings, and artifacts that cannot be replaced, along with accounts held in trust that are being depleted as this litigation is being improperly prolonged,” the petition says.  With no action taken by the court on requests for enforcement, “petitioners have no adequate remedy other than to seek a writ from this Court.”

The state Supreme Court issued a decision in August 2017 to return the diocesan property and 29 parishes to the Episcopal parties. In November 2017, that decision was remitted to Judge Dickson to be executed. The Episcopal Church and TECSC have filed motions asking the court to return the property and assets, and have also requested a full accounting. 
No action has been taken on those requests. To date, the court has held one scheduling conference and one hearing on a motion for “clarification” filed by the breakaway group.
The petition filed today emphasizes that the state Supreme Court sent the decision to the Circuit Court on “remittitur” rather than on “remand.” A remittitur means the circuit court “has a duty to follow and enforce the mandate from [the Supreme Court’s] final and dispositive decision.”
“The Circuit Court has unduly delayed and appears to be reconsidering the case on its merits, exceeding its jurisdiction on remittitur,” the petition says.
Attorneys for the breakaway group have told Judge Dickson that that decision is too unclear to be enforced. However, the petition notes that the breakaway group repeatedly acknowledged that the decision was final in the legal documents they filed trying to get the decision reversed: First when they asked the state Supreme Court for a rehearing, and again in their unsuccessful petition to the United States Supreme Court.
For example, in their petition for rehearing to the state Supreme Court they stated about the ruling: “As a result, the majority would transfer the real and personal property of South Carolina religious organizations” to The Episcopal Church. The high court, in denying the rehearing, expressly stated that “the opinions previously filed in this case reflect the final decision of this Court.”
Under South Carolina law, a petition for a writ of mandamus has to meet four criteria, and the petition spells these out and notes how each condition has been met:
  • A duty of the court to perform the act.
  • The “ministerial” nature of the act, a legal term meaning that it is directly commanded by law.
  • The petitioner’s specific legal right for which discharge of that duty is necessary – in this case, the right to the diocesan and parish property awarded by the Supreme Court ruling.
  • A lack of any other legal remedy.
Parishes whose property is subject to the Supreme Court’s August 2017 ruling are:

All Saints, Florence
Christ Church, Mount Pleasant
Christ-St. Paul’s, Yonges Island
Church of the Cross, Bluffton
Epiphany, Eutawville
Good Shepherd, Charleston
Holy Comforter, Sumter
Holy Cross, Stateburg
Holy Trinity, Charleston
Old St. Andrew’s, Charleston
Church of Our Saviour, John’s Island
Redeemer, Orangeburg
Resurrection, Surfside
St. Bartholomew’s, Hartsville
St. David’s, Cheraw
St. Helena’s, Beaufort
St. James, James Island
St. John’s, John’s Island
St. Jude’s, Walterboro
St. Luke’s, Hilton Head
St. Luke and St. Paul, Charleston
St. Matthew’s, Fort Motte
St. Michael’s, Charleston
St. Paul’s, Bennettsville
St. Paul’s, Summerville
St. Philip’s, Charleston
Trinity, Edisto Island
Trinity, Pinopolis
Trinity, Myrtle Beach
The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church took a "deep dive" into the Way of Love, discussed the upcoming Lambeth 2020 Conference, worshiped and shared fellowship together at their spring meeting at Kanuga Episcopal Conference Center in Hendersonville, NC March 12-15. Bishop Skip Adams attended this meeting with fellow bishops from across the Church. Here are some links to Episcopal News Service coverage of the meeting:

House of Bishops opens spring meeting with exploration of the Way of Love (March 12)

The Way of Love's scope expands beyond The Episcopal Church at HOB Meeting (March 13)

Bishops consider response to Lambeth decision not to invite same-sex spouses (March 14)

Bishops object to Archbishop of Canterbury's decision; majority of bishops say they will attend (March 15)

A "Mind of the House" Resolution from the House of Bishops (March 15)

Music around the Diocese: Spring 2019


Churches in our diocese are observing Lent and Holy Week and celebrating Easter with a variety of musical events. Please save this link and check back as we add new events to the calendar through the spring.

March 24: Mid-Lent Celtic Evensong
Holy Cross Faith Memorial, Pawleys Island, 5 pm.
Join the HCFM Parish Choir for a special Celtic Evensong featuring harpist Rebecca Nissen. 

March 24: Lenten Recital & Evensong
All Saints, Hilton Head Island, 4 pm.
A contemplative service based on Plainsong chant, sung by the Chamber Choir. Evensong
begins with a 30-minute organ recital.

April 7: Lenten Choral Evensong
Grace Church Cathedral, Charleston, 4 pm.
Grace's St. Gregory Choir will sing this service of Evening Prayer set to music for the Fifth Sunday in Lent.

April 14: Chilcott Requiem
All Saints, Hilton Head Island, 4 pm
A concert of music for Holy Week, sung by the Parish Choir, featuring the Chilcott Requiem with a woodwind chamber orchestra and organ. A $20 donation is suggested.

April 28: Choral Evensong
Grace Church Cathedral, Charleston, 4 pm. 
Grace's St. Gregory Choir will sing this service of Evening Prayer set to music on the Second Sunday of Easter.

May 30: Choral Evensong for the Feast of the Ascension
All Saints, Hilton Head Island, 7 pm. 
This service, sung by Voci Sacre in the Hay Chapel, celebrates Jesus' Ascension.

More than 80 youth and adult leaders spent the weekend at Camp St. Christopher on Seabrook Island for Happening #1 March 1-3, the restart of Happening for youth in our diocese, and plans are already under way for Happening #2 in 2020.

Happening is a spiritual retreat for high school students, a youth led experience that has been offered in many Episcopal dioceses for decades. Our diocese held Happening retreats until around 2001.

Last year, a pair of old high school friends, Jay Hart and Ian Bonnet, who had participated in Happening together in the late 1980s began working to restart and renew Happening for The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, hoping 
to make Happening possible for their own high school-age children.

With support from the diocese and with leadership from clergy, staff and youth at Grace Church Cathedral, they formed a team that spent months working to offer Happening to youth from all across our diocese. Mr. Bonnet and Mr. Hart served as Lay Directors for Happening #1.

The Episcopal dioceses of Atlanta, Upper South Carolina and North Carolina also played a big part in this effort, sending teams to support this weekend's event as well as welcoming our youth to their own diocesan Happening events for training. In addition to a big youth presence from Grace, youth from St. Thomas, North Charleston; St. George's, Summerville, St. Stephen's, Charleston; and Calvary, Charleston participated.

A Happening Weekend includes talks done by the youth, lots of singing and praying, and a few surprises along the way. 

Mark your calendars for March 27-29, 2020 for Happening #2. If you are interested in helping, or have stories of your own Happening experience to share, please be in touch with Andrea McKellar, Diocesan Ministry Developer, at

The next diocesan youth event is the Bishop's Lock-In at Grace Church Cathedral April 12-13. For details on that and other upcoming opportunities for youth, check out our youth page at and on Instagram at @tecscyouth.
View and share photos in our Facebook Page album here.

More than 150 clergy and lay leaders gathered under the ancient oaks of Middleton Place near Charleston on February 28, walking the ‘sacred ground’ where enslaved Africans and white Europeans lived and died for generations, and where their descendants continue to grapple with their shared history and the present-day realities of race and discrimination.
The Diocesan Racial Awareness Day brought together people from the 31 congregations of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, as well as guests from other dioceses and other denominations.

The focus of the day was a viewing of the one-hour film produced by Middleton Place called Beyond the Fields, which includes dozens of interviews with descendants of enslaved people and owners who lived and worked at the historic plantation.

Middleton Place offers a unique opportunity to share that history. Its foundation has worked for decades to research and tell the story of its African and African American residents, including the work of slaves in its demonstration areas, and opening Eliza’s House, a former slave dwelling, as a museum house in 1990. Since 2000 Middleton has offered tours focusing on the everyday life of enslaved people. Beyond the Fields, first as a book published in 2008 followed by the documentary film, are part of that ongoing commitment. Much more information is available at , including a link to watch the documentary online.
“It was significant that we met at Middleton Place for our conversations regarding racial healing and reconciliation,” said Bishop Skip Adams, who attended as a participant. “Being on the grounds where plantation life flourished and where we know so many enslaved people lived and worked was not lost on any of us.

“My hope is that God uses our time together for the ongoing healing of our diocese and nation, conformed more and more to the mind of Christ, and as we participate in the grand sweep of justice in history,” the Bishop said.

Ongoing training in racial reconciliation, justice and healing are required for Episcopal Church clergy and staff and highly encouraged for all others under actions adopted by General Convention. But as the group assembled around tables to begin the day, Bishop Adams said that while those requirements are important, the Racial Awareness Day represents something more.

“This is not just about fulfilling commitments or checking a box. It’s about building a culture of awareness about who we are called to be as a people of God,” he said.

Archdeacon Callie Walpole, who organized the event on behalf of the diocese, offered thanks to Middleton Place for hosting, including Tracey Todd, CEO of Middleton Place and producer of the film Beyond the Fields, and Charles Duell, Middleton’s Steward and a member of St. Stephen’s, Charleston.

The facilitator for the day’s conversations was the Rev. Dr. Kylon Middleton, pastor of Mount Zion AME Church in Charleston and executive director of the Charleston Illumination Project. He reminded participants that as they walk around the historic plantation, “you are on sacred ground.”

Dr. Middleton is also a partner with Archdeacon Walpole in the Episcopal/AME Book Study hosted each Tuesday at Grace Church Cathedral. Many members of that study attended the Middleton event.

“Every week there is a collision at the intersection of Glebe and Wentworth,” Dr. Middleton said, describing the book study. “And it is a good collision, because we come together weekly grappling with tough issues of systemic injustice, racial disparities, embedded inequities in our culture.... We feel there is a moment where we are illuminated. We don’t necessarily have to agree, but we are at least enlightened and we are aware, and we are better for having sat together and talked one with another.”
“I don’t know if you’ve ever been ‘the other,’ but it’s certainly not a good place to be,” Dr. Middleton told the group. “We have come to combat and stamp out those othering experiences that exclude, that marginalize, that push to the periphery those who have historically been left out.”
To drive home that point, at one point in the discussion, he asked participants to identify one individual at each table who was different from everyone else at their table -- for example, the only woman, the only clergy person – to serve as the leader and spokesperson.

After Noonday Prayer and a lunch of fried chicken, barbecue, collards and other regional favorites, participants had time to walk the grounds of Middleton, reflecting and writing in journals.

Several churches sent teams of clergy and lay leaders to the Racial Awareness Day. A group of 15 attended from Holy Cross Faith Memorial Episcopal Church in Pawleys Island, including their priest associate, the Rev. Donald Fishburne.
“As a Charleston native, I felt during the pilgrimage day not so much guilt or shame, but sorrow and heartache for the cruelty of the past that continues to find expression even today,” Fr. Fishburne wrote afterward in a report for his church newsletter.
The Episcopal Church on Edisto team was joined by the Rev. Chick Morrison, pastor of New First Missionary Baptist Church, the historically African American congregation that worships next door to the Edisto Episcopalians, and has given them use of their historic sanctuary for the past six years.
Pastor Morrison told the group during the discussion period that while understanding the past is important, it’s also important to look toward the future. “We don’t fight fire. We fight fire with love,” he said.

After the event, Archdeacon Walpole offered the following reflection:

“The Reverend Dr Kylon Middleton, AME minister and Director of the Charleston Illumination Project, who facilitated our Racial Awareness Day at Middleton Place, calls the grounds at Middleton ‘sacred.’ It might seem incongruous (perhaps anywhere but in South Carolina) to hold a racial awareness day at a plantation known as America’s oldest landscaped gardens, where thousands of enslaved Africans toiled ceaselessly to make South Carolina Britain’s wealthiest colony. The film Beyond the Fields produced by Middleton Place delves into this history, featuring numerous Middleton descendants and local personalities speaking in strikingly non-dramatic, matter-of-fact, tones about a divergent but shared heritage and the pressing task for us all today to seek unity in diversity – and truth. The past is not dead but rather confronted and acknowledged—on the way to a future of full redemption –transformation – communion.”
PictureBishop Rob Wright
 The Rt. Rev. Robert C. Wright, 10th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, will be the keynote speaker at our 2019 Diocesan Clergy Conference May 6-8 at at Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, NC. 

Held annually, the conference is an opportunity for all clergy of the diocese to pray together with Bishop Adams and one another, sharing in fellowship and Sabbath time. 

(Diocesan clergy, register for the conference at this link)

Bishop Wright was elected in 2012 to serve the Diocese of Atlanta, which covers north and middle Georgia and embraces 110 worshiping communities. He had previously served as rector of St. Paul’s, Atlanta, and on the staff of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City.

Since becoming bishop, Bishop Wright addressed the Georgia legislature about gun control, spoke up for Medicaid expansion and has been a vocal and active opponent of the death penalty in Georgia. In commemoration of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, he prayed with a City of Atlanta sanitation crew before taking an early morning shift on the back of a city garbage truck. In January 2015, he was named among the 100 Most Influential Georgians by GeorgiaTrend magazine.

Bishop Wright was born in a Roman Catholic orphanage in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and was adopted at 9 months of age. After graduating high school, he served five years in the U.S. Navy. While attending Howard University in Washington, D.C., he worked as a child advocate for two mayors. He earned an M.Div. from Virginia Theological Seminary, and he has been awarded honorary doctor of divinity degrees by the Virginia seminary and Sewanee: The University of the South.

He is married to Beth-Sarah Wright, Ph.D., and they have a grown daughter and four school-age children. To see Bishop Wright's detailed biography, click here.

PictureThe Rev. Dr. Gary Mason
The Rev. Dr. Gary Mason, the director of a conflict transformation organization in Northern Ireland where he has played a key role in the peace process, will visit Pawleys Island and Charleston this month for three speaking engagements March 20, 21 and 24.

At each event, Dr. Mason will share learnings and engage in conversations about racial awareness and reconciliation, as well as reconciliation among Christian groups. Dr. Mason, who is aware of the Racial Awareness Day held February 28 in our diocese, will be available to stay after each of his appearances to answer questions and engage in dialogue. 

All are welcome to attend each of these events:

Wednesday, March 20
In Pawleys Island, Dr. Mason will speak at 10 am in the Waccamaw Library, 41 St. Paul Place. Please register by email to

Thursday, March 21
In Charleston, Dr. Mason will speak at 12:30 pm at Grace Church Cathedral's Third Thursday luncheon. Please contact Bunny Martin at 843-723-4575 or to reserve a spot. The cost of the lunch is $10.  

Sunday, March 24
Dr. Mason will lead the 10 am Adult Education program at St. Stephen's, Charleston, and will be the preacher at the 11 am service. 

Dr. Mason, a Methodist minister who spent 27 years in parish ministry in Belfast, has an intense story to tell. He played a key role in the Northern Irish peace process. He was a leader in establishing Skainos in Belfast, an urban center built in a post-conflict society as a model of co-existence. His work facilitating negotiations among Protestant ex-combatants, paramilitaries, and government officials was formally recognized by the Queen in 2007.

Dr. Mason directs a conflict transformation organization based in Belfast called "Rethinking Conflict." In 2009, his church was the stage from which Loyalist paramilitaries announced their weapons decommissioning. 

Dr. Mason has lectured in political and academic forums throughout Europe, South Africa, the Middle East, and the United States on lessons from the Irish peace process. He has been interviewed on CNN, BBC, ITV and various radio programs. He holds a PhD in Psychology from the University of Ulster, completed his theological studies at Queens University, and earned a Bachelor’s in Business Studies from the University of Ulster. He also holds an honorary doctorate from Florida Southern College for his role in peace building in Ireland.
He is a Senior Research Fellow at the Kennedy Institute for Conflict Intervention at Maynooth University in Ireland. He is an Adjunct Professor at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, lecturing on reconciliation, peace building, the history of the Northern Ireland conflict, racism, sectarianism, and conflict transformation.

Dr. Mason also is a faculty advisor and partner to the Negotiation Strategies Institute, a Harvard University program on negotiation.  

Read an Episcopal News Service report about Dr. Mason's visit to the Carolinas.

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC) will host a public Open Conversation in Florence on Sunday, March 17 from 3:00-4:30 pm at Cross and Crown Lutheran Church, 3123 W Palmetto St, Florence, SC 29501.
TECSC is offering the Open Conversation to provide information, listen, and answer questions about the life and ministry of our diocese and faith communities.
Led by Bishop Skip Adams of TECSC, the Open Conversation will include other clergy and lay leaders, including Archdeacon Callie Walpole and the Rev. Bill Coyne, Diocesan Missioner for Returning Congregations.

The event is open to the public, and will be of special interest to people who attend Episcopal/Anglican churches in the region, including those affected by the 2017 state Supreme Court decision to return the property of the Diocese of South Carolina and 29 parishes to The Episcopal Church.  

“We hope people will bring their questions and concerns to this Open Conversation,” said Fr. Coyne. “It’s an opportunity to engage with one another with an open heart as we walk the road toward reconciliation together.”

Information regarding the meetings is posted on the TECSC web page. For more information, view A Historical Timeline of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina and the Frequently Asked Questions.

Clergy Transitions


Voorhees College and the Rev. Dr. James Yarsiah have announced that he will conclude his service as Voorhees Chaplain and Vicar of St. Philip’s Chapel at the end of this semester. Fr. Yarsiah was called to Voorhees in 2011 and was instrumental in restarting the Canterbury Club, bringing the Voorhees Choir to General Convention in 2015 and reaching out to the Denmark community through annual Thanksgiving baskets. The college is beginning its search for the next chaplain of the college.


The Rev. Jon Coffey has announced that his last Sunday at The Episcopal Church in Okatie will be March 3. He has served as priest-in-charge of the congregation for the last two years through a time of growth and discernment.


The Rev. Mike Jones will be serving as interim at The Episcopal Church in Okatie while the congregation searches for its next priest-in-charge. Mike has previously served at Okatie during short periods since the congregation organized in 2013.

This article was graciously shared with members of the Fellowship of South Carolina Bishops, written by Dan O'Mara, Communications Coordinator of the South Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Nearly 100 people gathered in Allendale to share their hopes and concerns about the future of Allendale County schools – and what that means for the future of their children, grandchildren and the community as a whole.

At the “Listening Post” event – hosted February 11 by the Fellowship of South Carolina Bishops’ Public Education Initiative – parents, educators and local residents told bishops and other church leaders about their frustration, anger and disappointment at the state of their school system, which the state Department of Education took control of in June 2018.

Almost person-for-person, however, they also delivered a message of hope, confidence in the future and support for local schools, teachers, administrators and – most of all – for the children themselves.

“No matter where I go, I defend Allendale,” said Valaree Smith, who represents Allendale and four other counties on the State Board of Education. “We’ve got to love where we live, and don’t let anybody talk about our house.

“When you have that passion for your community, and start valuing education again, and start teaching your children to value education – that’s when change takes place.”

The Fellowship of South Carolina Bishops is a special ecumenical relationship among churches led by bishops of the African Methodist EpiscopalAfrican Methodist Episcopal-ZionChristian Methodist Episcopal, Episcopal (The Diocese of Upper South Carolina and TECSC), LutheranRoman Catholic and United Methodist churches.

The bishops collectively have been advocating for public education since April 2014, when they issued a joint pastoral letter pledging “our commitment to support the full flourishing of public education in South Carolina.” They expressed concern after the state Supreme Court in November 2017 dismissed a landmark school equity lawsuit, filed in 1993 to force the General Assembly to improve educational opportunities in the state’s poorest public schools.

The Fellowship has scheduled two “Public Education Advocacy Days” for Feb. 19 and March 21, during which training will be offered for those who want to advocate on behalf of children and their education, and attendees – including bishops, other church leaders and volunteers – will go to the State House and lobby their own elected representatives on the issues.
The Rev. Jason Roberson recently returned from attending the annual meeting of the board of directors of the Dominican Development Group (DDG) in Santo Domingo. The Episcopal Church in South Carolina is a companion diocese of the Dominican Episcopal Church, and Fr. Roberson, who is Assistant Rector at Holy Cross Faith Memorial Episcopal Church in Pawleys Island, has been appointed by Bishop Adams to serve as our diocesan representative on the DDG board.  

Over the past 20 years, our diocese has had a consistent presence on the DDG board as well as with mission work in the Dominican Republic. For more information, visit the DDG website, or the Dominican Episcopal Church website, For information about diocesan mission opportunities in the Domincan Republic, please email Fr. Roberson at

The Rev. Jason Roberson (back row, third from left) with members of the DDG Board, including the Rt. Rev. Moisés Quezada Mota, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Dominican Republic (center in Bishop's collar).

U.S. District Court Judge Richard M. Gergel has set May 1 as the earliest date when a trial could begin in the federal false-advertising and trademark infringement lawsuit against a breakaway group that left The Episcopal Church.

The order, issued Wednesday, represents a two-month extension from the previous schedule the judge set in August, which had called for a trial "on or after" March 1.

Currently, Judge Gergel is considering several complex motions seeking summary judgment in the case. A motion for summary judgment is a request for the court to rule that the other party has no case, as a matter of law, because there are no facts at issue. If summary judgment is granted, a trial would not need to take place.  

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina and The Episcopal Church have asked the court to issue a ruling and call a halt to the “pervasive” public confusion caused by a group that broke away from the church, yet continues to use Episcopal names and marks.

The lawsuit, known as vonRosenberg v. Lawrence, was filed in March 2013 by Bishop Charles vonRosenberg, who was the only bishop recognized by The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina at that time. Bishop vonRosenberg retired in 2016, and his successor, Bishop Gladstone B. Adams III, was added as a plaintiff in the case. The Episcopal Church and its local diocese, TECSC, also joined the case as plaintiffs.

In April 2018, Judge Gergel ordered the expansion of the lawsuit, adding as defendants to the case the diocesan organization and trustees who are operating under Bishop Mark Lawrence, and the 54 parishes that followed him after the 2012 split. Those groups have been operating under the names “The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina” and "Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina," and the confusion created by that is part of the trademark infringement and false-advertising claims.  

In a separate case in state court, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled in August 2017 that property of the diocese and 29 parishes must be returned to The Episcopal Church and TECSC. That decision resulted from a state lawsuit filed by the breakaway group in 2013 against The Episcopal Church and TECSC.

Dr. Myers named to work with Commission on Ministry



Bishop Adams has named clinical psychologist Dr. deRosset Myers, Jr. to work with the Diocesan Commission on Ministry, performing evaluations required during the discernment process for people who are seeking to enter or return to the ordained ministry of The Episcopal Church.

In making the announcement, Bishop Adams expressed gratitude on behalf of the diocese for the work of Dr. Amy Webb of Holy Cross Faith Memorial, Pawleys Island, who recently retired from the post, having served the diocese and the Commission on Ministry since 2013.

Dr. Myers earned his AB in Sociology from Princeton University and his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of South Carolina. He completed his internship at the Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois, and a post-doctoral residency in pediatric oncology at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Dr. Myers is an Associate Professor in the Department of Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. He worked with hospitalized children and adolescents at the W.S. Hall Psychiatric Institute and with adults, children, and adolescents as outpatients at the University Specialty Clinics for the 25 years. He has been active in the W.S. Hall Psychiatric Institute pre-doctoral Clinical Psychology Internship Training Program where he served as Director of Training from 2005 until 2010 when he joined Lake Psychological Services, a small private practice in Columbia. He also sees patients at the Bishop Gadsden Retirement Community in Charleston and has conducted evaluations of candidates for holy orders for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston for the past 20 years. 

Dr. Myers is married to Felicity Myers, who is also a clinical psychologist; they live on Wadmalaw Island. Dr. Myers is a lifelong Episcopalian whose brother and father-in-law are priests. The Myers are members of Grace Church Cathedral in Charleston.

Andrea McKellar, center, with Bill Campbell, Executive Director of Forma, and Director for Formation, Youth and Young Adult Ministries for The Episcopal Church.
Diocesan Ministry Developer Andrea McKellar recently returned from the 2019 Forma Conference and has written this report.

I had the pleasure of spending a week in Indianapolis in January at the Annual Forma Conference. Forma is the Network for Christian Formation for the Episcopal Church and beyond. This year’s conference theme was “Formed to Proclaim: Conversations on Liturgy and Evangelism.” This was my sixth year attending the conference and I love the diverse group of voices from across the Episcopal Church it brings together. (Many people in our diocese attended the 2018 Forma Conference that our diocese hosted in Charleston.)

Some of the highlights that I want to share from the 2019 Forma Conference:
  • My main take-away was when the Rev. Paul Fromberg, one of the speakers who is the Rector of St. Gregory’s of Nyssa in San Francisco, said that church should not be comfortable. That isn’t to say that church isn’t and shouldn’t be comforting, but to live our lives like Jesus we have to be always working to change the world. Sitting comfortably in our pews and not engaging the outside world is not the work of the Jesus Movement. That resonated with me and I see that good work happening in our diocese and hope to encourage even more of it.
  • Dr. Catherine Meeks of the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing in Atlanta was part of a Q&A one of the evenings about her life and work. I highly recommend it, especially to those who will be attending the Racial Awareness Event later this month. You can watch it online here.
  • Lauren Kay, seminarian from our diocese at Seminary of the Southwest, was one of the 15-minute speakers. Their talk can be seen starting at the 6:30 minute mark on the video here.
  • - So many people want to hear about what is going on in our diocese. The prayers, love, and support that we receive from the wider Episcopal Church is ongoing.

​Next year’s Forma conference will be in Atlanta on January 20-24, 2020. I hope you will mark your calendars and plan to join me for another inspiring event.
Clergy renew their ordination vows with Bishop Adams at the 2018 liturgy at Calvary Episcopal Church in Charleston.
​Each year in Lent, the clergy of the Diocese gather with the Bishop to renew their ordination vows and bless the oils used for baptism and healing. Everyone is invited to attend this special service of Holy Eucharist and join in praying for our bishop, priests and deacons.

Please save the date for Tuesday, April 2 at 11 am at St. George's, Summerville. Clergy are invited to vest in choir dress (cassock, surplice and tippet).

Clergy Transitions


The Rev. Paul Gilbert has announced he will retire from active ministry and conclude his service as priest-in-charge of The Episcopal Church on Edisto effective June 2. Fr. Gilbert has served at Edisto since August 2015 and has been active in ordained ministry for more than 40 years. Previously he served in our diocese as director of the Little School at Grace Church Cathedral and as a priest associate at Grace.

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina is inviting church leaders from several communities in our diocese to attend a gathering in Summerville on Saturday, March 2 as part of the planning for the return of 29 area churches to The Episcopal Church.

The meeting is designed specifically for "parallel leaders" those who serve congregations in areas where there are churches affected by an August 2017 state Supreme Court decision. The Episcopal congregations being invited to send parallel leaders to the meeting include Good Shepherd, Summerville; Messiah, Myrtle Beach; St. Francis, Charlestton; St. Catherine's, Florence; The Episcopal Church on Edisto; The East Cooper Episcopal Church in Mount Pleasant; and the Cheraw Episcopal Worship Group.

"These congregations are presently actively engaged in God's mission in communities where a congregation – people, property, and purpose – will be returning to TECSC," says the Rev. Bill Coyne, Missioner for Returning Congregations for the Diocese.

"This is an opportunity to share best practices, concerns, hopes and dreams, and next steps," Fr. Coyne says.

The goal of the diocese is for there to be no interruption in worship when the returning churches come back, Fr. Coyne says. Beginning on the very first Sunday, the doors will be open with an Episcopal priest leading worship.

At the Parallel Leaders' Meeting, each congregation will be asked to tell its story and share its journey of faithfulness since the split in the diocese occurred in 2012-13. Leaders also will talk about their plans for engaging with returning Episcopalians.

The meeting will take place at Church of the Good Shepherd, 119-B West Luke Ave., Summerville from 9:30 am-12:30 pm. To learn more about the meeting and register to participate, please contact Fr. Coyne at or 843-614-0679.
Join with other diocesan leaders on Thursday February 28, 2019 at Middleton Place, 4300 Ashley River Road, Charleston. Registration and coffee will begin at 9:30 am. The program will begin with the showing of the film at 10:00 am followed by discussion with a panel including various persons featured in the film Beyond the Fields, a powerful one-hour documentary produced in late 2017, which debuted on PBS, depicting the story of slavery and the story of America and its 21st century impact.  The film raises important questions for our own day as well as our future.

Tracey Todd, CEO of Middleton Place, and executive producer of the 60-minute documentary that debuted in late 2017, notes, "It was time to take the interpretation of the slave experience and bring it to a new medium, with new insights from present-day historians, researchers, preservationists and historic site interpreters, along with descendants of the Middleton family and of African Americans with roots at Middleton Place. They provide a much needed and fresh perspective on what life was like here when slaves built and sustained Middleton Place, Charleston, and, for that matter, the economy of the entire region.” 

Speakers and facilitators include, among others, The Reverend Dr Kylon Middleton, Pastor of Mt Zion AME Church in Charleston and Project Leader of the Charleston Illumination Project and Co-Founder of the Clementa Pinckney Foundation, as well as a number of persons featured in the film.
The day will include time for personal retreat and reflection and the opportunity to walk the grounds at Middleton Place, concluding at 4:00 pm. Registration is $25 per person and includes lunch.

Registration is now open here.

Download a flyer to share with your congregation.

Episcopal Church parties respond to defendants' motions in Federal Lawsuit


The Episcopal Church and The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC) on Friday, January 11 filed briefs with United States District Judge Richard Gergel, responding to the motions filed by the Lawrence Diocese and its Parishes.
Each brief, or “Memorandum of Law,” supports a different aspect of the matters before the court: Joint Opposition to Parish Motions, Joint Opposition to Expert Exclusion Motions, Joint Opposition to Genericness Motion, TEC Opposition to Lawrence Diocese Motion, and TECSC Opposition to Lawrence Diocese Motion.
The state Supreme Court decided in August 2017 to return diocesan and parish property to The Episcopal Church and its local diocese, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.
​The Rev. Dr. John DeWitt Stonesifer has been called as the Interim Rector at All Saints, Hilton Head Island. He will begin his work with All Saints in February.
While a priest for over three decades, John has focused on serving as a professional interim priest for the last 18 years, working with over 20 parishes in Maryland, Kentucky, Delaware, New York, West Virginia, Illinois and New Jersey.
John graduated from Clemson University, and from there went on to study at Virginia Theological Seminary in 1984.  Upon graduation he served in parish ministry for six years; and then for nine years for two Episcopal Schools as chaplain, assistant to the head of schools, and leader of religious curriculum – earning his M.B.A. during that time.  Now his emphasis is on interim ministry and clergy coaching.
John and his wife of 34 years, Susan, recently took up residence in New Castle, Delaware. They have two grown children. In his free time, John enjoys playing music in a band (he’s a drummer) and taking part in the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR). We look forward to welcoming him to The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.

Ribbons for knitting group at Calvary


​A knitting group that meets at historic Calvary Episcopal Church in Charleston is celebrating the achievements of its members and the fellowship that their weekly meetings have fostered. The group gathered in December for an informal Christmas party and to view an array of handcrafts that their members entered for judging at the recent Coastal Carolina Fair.

Led by Pat Williams, a knitting expert who offers instruction to the group, Calvary members earned 22 ribbons at the annual fair.

The knitters also are taking on new projects to benefit others. Calvary's Priest-in-Charge, the Rev. Matt McCormick, has connected the knitters with the Medical University of South Carolina to create special blankets used for the burial of infants.

​The group meets every Tuesday afternoon at 2 pm at Calvary, and is always looking for new students and members. They recently welcomed a new member from nearby St. Mark's Episcopal. For information contact group member Andrea Lawrence at 
New adult education opportunities are beginning in January in churches around the diocese. Here are some of the offerings. (If your church would like to add to this list, please email

All Saints, Hilton Head Island
A Thursday book study will begin January 10 and run through April 18 at 11 am, based on the book Naked Spirituality: A Life with God in 12 Simple Words by Brian McLaren. The group will discuss a different word each week. Details and a schedule are available here.

Grace Church Cathedral
"History of the Christian Church" – On Wednesdays from January 23-February 27, from 12:00-1:30 pm, the Very Rev. Michael Wright and Steve Rhodes will lead six classes at Grace  focusing on the history of the Christian Church during the medieval era, based on Diarmaid MacCulloch’s Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years. Lunch is provided.​

Holy Cross Faith Memorial, Pawleys Island
A Community Book Study organized by the Health & Well Being ministry, led by Rev. Jason Roberson and Rev. Johnny Ford, will meet Thursdays at 5 pm at Holy Cross Faith Memorial beginning January 3 and continuing through February 7. The group will discuss The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander.  Joining the community onversation are House of God Church and St. Peter's Lutheran Church. 

St. Stephen's, Charleston
"Global Mission in The Episcopal Church" is the title of a January series on Sundays at 10 am starting January 6 at St. Stephen's, Charleston. Session 1 will be an overview of global mission in the Church. On January 13, parishioner Magi Griffin will share her experience as a long-term Episcopal missionary to Tanzania. January 20: The Rev. Adam Shoemaker shares his experience as a Young Adult Service Corps missionary to Brazil. January 27: The Rev. Jason Roberson of Holy Cross Faith Memorial, Pawleys Island will talk about our diocese's companion relationship with the Episcopal Church in the Dominican Republic. Child care is provided.

The new year brings a new calendar of musical events to churches around our diocese. Here's a listing of events planned in early 2019. Save this link and check back as we add new events to the calendar through the spring.

January 18: Classical Guitar Concert
 All Saint's, Hilton Head Island, 12 pm. 
Acclaimed guitarist Dr. Brian Luckett of Jacksonville, Florida performs a varied program of classical guitar. A $20 donation is suggested.

January 20:
Organ Dedication Concert
​with 'Deux Voix' 

St. Mark's, Charleston, 4 pm.
The concert will feature the trumpet-organ duo Deux Voix.

January 20: 'Music for the Seasons' Winter Concert 
St. Stephen's, North Myrtle Beach, 4 pm. 
The program features Kim Carey (flute) and Roberta Rowland-Raybold (piano, harpsicord and organ). A reception will follow. Details here.

February 3: Choral Evensong 
Grace Church Cathedral, Charleston, 4 pm.
Grace's St. Gregory Choir sings this service of Evening Prayer set to music for the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple (Candlemas).

February 8: Handel & Bach Concert 
All Saints, Hilton Head Island, 7 pm.
Featuring Handel’s Organ Concerto in G minor, Op 4. No. 3 & Bach’s Solo Cantata for Soprano Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen sung by Rebecca Flaherty; both with chamber orchestra. A $20 donation is suggested.

February 22: All Saints on Broadway
All Saints, Hilton Head Island, 6:30 pm. Members of the parish choir will perform an
array of music from Broadway. Hors d’oeuvres and beverages will be served during the performance. Tickets are $25.

March 3: Mardi Gras Blues Choral Evensong
St. Stephen's, Charleston will offer a Mardi Gras Blues Choral Evensong on the last Sunday of Epiphany, with a New Orleans-style band and choral works by William Dawson and Jester Hairston. A festive Mardi Gras reception will follow. 

March 24: Lenten Recital & Evensong
All Saints, Hilton Head Island, 4 pm.
A contemplative service based on Plainsong chant, sung by the Chamber Choir. Evensong
begins with a 30-minute organ recital.

April 7: Lenten Choral Evensong
Grace Church Cathedral, Charleston, 4 pm.
Grace's St. Gregory Choir and St. Nicholas Choristers will sing this service of Evening Prayer set to music for the Fifth Sunday in Lent.

April 14: Chilcott Requiem
All Saints, Hilton Head Island, 4 pm
A concert of music for Holy Week, sung by the Parish Choir, featuring the Chilcott Requiem with a woodwind chamber orchestra and organ. A $20 donation is suggested.
The Reverend Bob Diehl, a retired priest who served as supply clergy for several congregations in our diocese, died this morning after a prolonged illness following heart surgery in October.

The combined congregations of Good Shepherd and St. George’s in Summerville will celebrate his life with a requiem Eucharist at St. George’s, 9110 Dorchester Rd., on Friday, December 21 at 11:00 am. (Please note the time of the service, which has been updated from the initial announcement.)

Fr. Diehl and his wife the Rev. Jane Diehl, a deacon, have been attending Church of the Good Shepherd. Born in Detroit on December 29, 1941, he was ordained in 2008 and was canonically resident in the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan.
Rest eternal grant him, O Lord; let light perpetual shine upon him.

Episcopal Church parties seek summary judgment in federal lawsuit

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC) and The Episcopal Church have asked the U.S. District Court to grant motions for summary judgment and call a halt to the “pervasive” public confusion caused by a group that broke away from the church, yet continues to use Episcopal names and marks.

The motion asks U.S. District Judge Richard M. Gergel to prohibit false advertising and the use of confusing names and marks by the breakaway group and its affiliated churches. A motion for summary judgment is a request for the court to rule that the other party has no case, because there are no facts at issue.

“The public confusion resulting from Defendants’ conduct is pervasive,” according to a memo filed by TECSC on December 7 in support of the motion. “It is undeniably causing irreparable harm to The Episcopal Church, and more locally, to TECSC and its Bishops. All that the Plaintiffs seek in this action is declaratory and injunctive relief, not damages (for which they could easily make a case).”

The lawsuit, known as vonRosenberg v. Lawrence, was filed in March 2013 by Bishop Charles vonRosenberg, who was the only bishop recognized by The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina at that time. Bishop vonRosenberg retired in 2016, and his successor, Bishop Gladstone B. Adams III, was added as a plaintiff in the case. The Episcopal Church and its local diocese, TECSC, also joined the case as plaintiffs.

In April, Judge Gergel ordered the expansion of the lawsuit, adding as defendants to the case the diocesan organization and trustees who are operating under Bishop Mark Lawrence, and the 54 parishes that followed him after the 2012 split. Those groups have been operating under the names “The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina” and "Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina," and the confusion created by that is one facet of the trademark infringement and false-advertising claims. The court has set a target date of March 1, 2019 for a trial to begin.

The federal case is aimed primarily at resolving federal trademark infringement and false-advertising issues raised by the split. In a separate case, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled in August 2017 that property of the diocese and 29 parishes must be returned to The Episcopal Church and TECSC. That decision resulted from a state lawsuit filed by the breakaway group in 2013 against The Episcopal Church and TECSC.

The memo filed December 7 by TECSC cites the state Supreme Court's 3-2 ruling that TECSC, not the group led by Mark Lawrence, is the true Episcopal diocese in the eastern half of South Carolina.  According to the memo, TECSC has the right to all the diocesan names and marks, including the historic seal of the Diocese of South Carolina.

"The use of all of the diocesan names and marks, and the goodwill that arose from such use over many years, inured to the one and only historic diocese at issue. That goodwill in the diocesan names and marks cannot be divvied up, pursuant to the following well-established principles of trademark law," the memo says.

The Episcopal Church filed a separate Motion for Summary Judgment and a supporting memo on December 7. “Defendants have purported to disaffiliate from the Church, but continue to use the names they used when they were part of the Church and/or continue to hold themselves out as belonging to the ‘Episcopal’ diocese led by the ‘Episcopal’ bishop. These actions are not only likely to cause confusion, but, as we detail below, have caused confusion over and over again,” the memo says.

Defendants in the breakaway group also have filed counterclaims and motions with the federal court in connection with the case.