By BRUCE SMITH
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Two Episcopal groups in eastern South Carolina are facing off in a lawsuit over church property, the church name and the diocesan seal. But first the courts must settle where the case will be heard.
The conservative Diocese of South Carolina that split with the national church last year has sued in state court seeking control of a half billion dollars in church property, as well as the diocesan identity.
The national church and about two dozen parishes and worship groups remaining with it had the case moved from state to federal court, saying it raised federal and constitutional issues. Then on Wednesday, the diocese that left asked a federal judge to send the case back to state court.
Their attorneys say the suit involves state claims.