St. Philip's Episcopal Church in Charleston was organized in 1681 and is the oldest church in South Carolina. (Photo via Flickr, by Spencer Means, Licensed CC.)

The U.S. Supreme Court last week declined to hear an appeal from South Carolina’s anti-LGBTQ splinter Episcopalian diocese. The splinter group had sought to retain ownership of several pieces of property owned by the more LGBTQ-inclusive national Episcopal Church.

South Carolina’s former Episcopal diocese separated from the national church in June 2012. Their bishop and members broke from the national church due to its more LGBTQ-affirming practices and beliefs. Since then the group has sought to keep ownership of several churches and other properties — many of them hundreds of years old and of significant historical value.

The breakaway group’s lawsuit was filed in 2013. A local court ruled in favor of the breakaway group, but the national church appealed to the state Supreme Court. South Carolina’s high court found in favor of the national church.

On June 11, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the breakaway group’s appeal for that state decision.

“We are grateful for the clarity that this decision offers, and hopeful that it brings all of us closer to having real conversations on how we can bring healing and reconciliation to the church, the body of Christ, in this part of South Carolina,” Episcopal Church in South Carolina Bishop Provisional Gladstone B. Adams III said in a statement. “Our path continues to be one of reconciliation and love, for love is the way of Jesus.”

The Supreme Court’s decision doesn’t mean that South Carolina church property will immediately be returned to the national church. The state Supreme Court will have to enforce the ruling. The national church has asked the court to appoint a special master to oversee the property transition.

Read more via the Episcopal News Service.

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.