Complex issues have been at stake in the Circuit Court trial in St. George between THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH and the breakaway group recently incorporated as “THE PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF SC, INC.“ I offer perspective from a continuing Episcopalian in the pew.
Yes, property rights are involved, but the central issue is “WHO IS THE REAL EPISCOPAL CHURCH?” When former clergy and parishioners chose to leave The Episcopal Church, they still claimed to BE the Episcopal Diocese of SC. They also claimed that the continuing, historic Episcopal entity here was not the real Episcopal Diocese of SC. Yes, mind-boggling!
Whatever one’s faith affiliation, there’s never been confusion about which churches in town are Episcopal. Recent SJS photograph shows the marble plaque “St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Founded 1829,” welcoming Episcopal worshippers and visitors for over 150 years on W. Carolina Avenue in Summerville. For generations, Episcopalians there have given faithfully of time, talent, and treasure for the worship and ministry of the Episcopal Church. Their affiliation was clear, with no confusion that they were giving to and through the Episcopal Church. Until now.
Former Bishop Mark Lawrence with a group of clergy and individual parishioners chose to leave The Episcopal Church. Neither U.S. nor Episcopal Church law prohibits anyone from believing and worshipping as they please. People who reject The Episcopal Church’s doctrine and discipline are free to affiliate elsewhere. Of course. But the governance and property of the denomination they leave continue on, along with its name and identifying seal. Of course. A simple illustration: Divorce disputes might contest property and child visitation, but can you imagine a spouse filing restraining orders denying the other from being called by their historic family name?
If you are still confused... who wouldn’t be?... remember that this confusion didn’t exist before the breakaway group left The Episcopal Church. And legally, co-opting the name and seal of a group you leave (thereby causing confusion in public perception) means trademark infringement.
In my famously ‘states-rights’ home-state, I’d be surprised if the judge here rules in favor of The Episcopal Church. Whatever the ruling, this dispute will continue into higher courts. I do not question the earnest faithfulness of worshippers on either side of this sad schism. But I’m still shaking my head at the logic of the root arguments. Maybe you are too.
Whatever your confusion, “THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH WELCOMES YOU.”
Theater for all, but not all at once
So, it seems the recent Tony Award production was just too much for about 2 percent of Summerville theater patrons. As season ticket holders for more than 20 years, we have seen a lot of plays at the Summerville theater. Did we love every single one? Of course not. But we have always admired, enjoyed, and promoted their efforts, and we thank them for many years of entertainment.
The FTP’s website states clearly what they are about: “The Mission of The Flowertown Players, Inc. is to produce and present quality community theatre, to encourage and promote educational and literary performing arts projects for all segments of the tri-county population, and to provide a venue for thespians, artists, technicians and other creative people to practice their craft”... and they do an excellent job in doing just that. Will every person love every single production? Probably not... Will there be some that are thought provoking and outside your personal comfort zone? I hope so! Kudos to FTP for including ALL segments of society. More please! And - without censorship or the threat of withholding funds.
Patrons are responsible for their own choices ... if it is not to your taste, please stay home and wait for the next production... But, don’t try to control the choices of other adults. Town Council is suggesting withholding funds for the theater - who are following the guidelines of their published Mission Statement. I hope they will vote with all segments of the Lowcountry population in mind.
On Saturday, July 26th, our son Kyle Robert Martin of Summerville was laid to rest in the Summerville Cemetery at approximately 12:30 PM. The Parks funeral home chapel was filled to capacity and there were well-wishers and mourners standing outside. I estimate 350 people in attendance. Additionally, I estimate the funeral procession was no less than 80 vehicles in length. A procession this long delayed and stopped traffic in both directions at the height of the day. However, I heard no horns, saw no angry faces, nobody tried to cut the through the column and many people waved and wished us well. Thank you Citizens of Summerville, thank you John Parks and thank you Peace Officers of Summerville for according our son respect on his last journey.
Jeff & Maureen Martin
Virginia Beach, Va.
Michael & Barbara Stewart