Dear Parish Family,
In many ways, it was a wonderful week; and, in some ways, not so much!
The life each of us lives is full of ups and downs; sometimes within the same day; sometimes, in a week, a month or a year. I had heard people say: "I sure hope that as we enter 2020, that it is better than 2019!" (or, fill in the blank! It could be said of a month or a year!).
Last week, we were dealing with the challenges of the Coronavirus, mixed reviews on the economy and unemployment, racial tensions running high, challenges to having various police forces funded or not, tension/dysfunction in our government, and we could probably list others in the world, or our own personal world!
But last week was wonderful in two ways for our Island and our Church: first, The Heritage Golf Tournament was a huge success! With the five best golfers in the world competing here (best field ever) along with predominantly great weather (a couple of rain delays....but the tournament didn't need to go into Monday!). The course, "touched up" in a few ways allowed for very low scores and exciting golf, and our Island looked great in many ways! This is probably why tourism is flourishing and Harbourtown had 240 rounds of golf reservations on Tuesday (first day after the tournament ended....unfortunately, I was not one of the 240).
Secondly, Judge Dickson ruled in favor of the Anglican Diocese and each individual parish, that we retain the property! To give you a little further explanation: In the late 1970's, the National Convention of the Episcoal Church approved what has been called "The Dennis Canon." It states, in effect, that the National Church had a "trust interest" in all of the properties and real assets of the individual Churches. It has been challenged through the years because, although the National Convention voted to approve it, the new Canon was never ratified by the various Dioceses and Churches throughout the country. I could go into a further explanation, but suffice it to say that this Canon, without ratification, has caused many churches throughout the country to forfeit their properties when they left the Episcopal Church and joined the Anglican Church of North America. This decision by Judge Dickson has called the "Trust" null and void; which means that The National Episcopal Church (TEC) does not own our property. This is wonderful news!! Our lawyer is very optimistic about the future.
This could proceed in one of three directions: 1) The Episcopal Church could accept the decision and not attempt to appeal to the South Carolina Supreme Court; 2) The Supreme Court of South Carolina could refuse to hear the case; or, 3) The appeal by TEC will be taken up by the Supreme Court of South Carolina. We are praying for one of the first two; but, even if the third scenario is the case, we are in a very good position. This is cause for rejoicing!
This process began for St. Luke's when the National Church took a step away from Scripture in 2003, and I, along with our Vestry, took a strong stand against the decision. In 2009, we changed the name of our church from St. Luke's Episcopal Church to St. Luke's Church, and it was ratified by over 99% of our parish in a vote in two consecutive Parish Annual Meetings. And, finally, our Diocese was forced to leave TEC and eventually joined ACNA (moving from The Episcopal Church to the Anglican Church of North America). It has been a long road with many challenges. We are not quite there, but very close. It has been a wonderful week!!
Let me encourage you to rejoice! Let me encourage you to pray! And, let me encourage you to keep invested in the ministry of St. Luke's through your prayer, your ministry, and your giving as we continue to ride the roller coaster of life in our Parish, Diocese, Community, Country, and World. May our Lord fill you with His joy and peace!!!
With love, in Christ,