US Supreme Court denies petition to review Episcopal Church property case

US Supreme Court denies petition to review Episcopal Church property case
St. Michael's Church in downtown Charleston

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The United States Supreme Court has decided it won't hear a case concerning who has the rights to Episcopal Church property in South Carolina.

An August 2017 ruling from the South Carolina state Supreme Court stated that church structures don't belong to the churches themselves and instead belong to the larger church as a whole. The South Carolina diocese left the Episcopal church in 2012, leaving the future of many parishes in limbo after the ruling.

St. Michael's is one of 36 churches in eastern South Carolina that broke away from the Episcopal Church. How the ruling Monday affects the control of those church properties has yet to be ironed out.

The state supreme court had previously ruled that 29 church properties which were part of the 36 parishes breaking away from the Diocese in eastern South Carolina, belonged to the nationally affiliated church, not the breakaway group.

Those properties are worth an estimated $500 million dollars, and include St. Michael's Church and St. Philip's Church in downtown Charleston, along with the popular Camp St. Christopher on Seabrook Island.

The 2017 ruling also stated that seven of the breakaway parishes, including St. Andrew's in Mount Pleasant, are allowed to keep their property because they did not accede to the canon.

The next step includes a meeting of diocesan leaders on June 12 when they will discuss what's ahead for the breakaway group which left the Episcopal Church in 2012.

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