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Episcopal Church petitions for accounting of church assets

Staff Report //July 16, 2018//

Episcopal Church petitions for accounting of church assets

Staff Report //July 16, 2018//

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The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church in South Carolina have petitioned the 1st Circuit Court of Common Pleas to order a full accounting of all assets held by the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina.

“This is necessary in order to determine what compensation defendants are entitled to as a result of plaintiffs’ wrongful possession and control of the assets since October 2012, and any wrongful disposition of the assets leading up to their departure,” the petition (.pdf) says.

The Diocese of South Carolina, led by the Right Rev. Mark Lawrence, broke away from the Episcopal Church in 2012, along with several dozen Anglican parishes. The S.C. Supreme Court ruled in August that the breakaway group must return 29 church properties to the Episcopal Church, including St. Philip’s Church on Church Street and St. Michael’s Church on Broad Street.

The state Supreme Court denied a petition for a rehearing in November, and the federal Supreme Court denied a petition for a hearing last month.

The Episcopal Church’s petition for an accounting, filed July 10, would “allow this court to equitably proceed in this matter” to return the property to the Episcopal Church and compensate it for any loss in value since the diocese broke away.

The petition asks that the Diocese of South Carolina be required to turn over all audit reports; audited financial statements and audited managed investment accounts; bank statements; budgets; data on fund transfers; and information on legal fees and related expenses since Jan. 1, 2008.

The church asked the court to appoint Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP in Charleston to conduct the accounting.