Church members continue on following court ruling on separation from Episcopal diocese

Episcopal Church members continue on following court ruling on separation

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Episcopal churches in Charleston that separated from the national Episcopal Church had normal services on Sunday.

That's despite the fact that the state Supreme Court ruled that the church structures don't belong to the churches themselves.

For St. Michael's church, Sunday was business as usual.

"We are so happy to gather here together and to worship as we do every Sunday," said Elizabeth Scarbourough, a member of St. Michael's.

"I come every day. I come every Sunday," said Jeffrey Moll, another member of the church.

But this Sunday was a little different than most.

"This is the start of the next chapter of the book and that we go into finding out where go from here," said Frank Farmer, a church member of St. Michael's.

St. Michael's is one of 36 churches in eastern South Carolina that broke away from the Episcopal Church.

Last week, the state Supreme Court ruled that many of the churches themselves do not own the buildings where they hold service.

That means the people at St. Michael's could have to find a new place to worship.

"We're all gathering as a core congregation of St. Michael's Anglican Church, discussing what that means for us, and where we move from here," Scarbourough said.

The people at St. Michael's say that losing the property wouldn't necessarily be the end of the world.

For them, church isn't about the building. It's about the people and practices inside.

"The church is the people," Farmer said."I mean that's what we've been taught, that's what we believe is that the people are the church, and not the building."

Farmer moved to Charleston in 1993 and at that time he didn't know anyone.

That changed because of St. Michael's.

"I found a family there," Farmer said."I started going in 2000. And that's what I would say is my family."

A family he's confident isn't going anywhere.

"If that is the outcome, then we'll go somewhere else," Farmer said."It's not the end of the family, it's not the end of the service. We'll continue somewhere, we'll find somewhere else to go. It just won't be here."

The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of South Carolina are giving each other 30 days to decide where the lawsuit between the churches will go from here.

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