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All Saints, Pawleys Island will decide whether to leave Episcopal Church USA

All Saints will decide whether to leave Episcopal Church USA

By Kelly Marshall
The Sun News
Myrtle Beach

The congregation of All Saints Waccamaw Episcopal Church will take a historic vote Thursday night when members decide whether to split from the Episcopal Church USA or join the conservative Anglican Mission in America.

The move comes during a turbulent time for the 264-year-old Waccamaw Neck church.

It has been engaged in a three-year fight with the diocese over ownership of church property and a recent attempt by Bishop Edward Salmon to remove 12 church leaders.

While other churches have disagreed with the appointment of an openly gay bishop in August and many have threatened to separate from the Episcopal Church USA, All Saints was one of the first churches in South Carolina to vote to leave and operate under an archbishop from a different province.

"I'm not aware of any other parishes that are doing that," said Bruce Mason, spokesman for the American Anglican Council. "Churches have been amazingly patient. We've been encouraging parishes to hang in there a little bit longer.

"We want to find a way for them to network with one another. There has not been a mass flight."

Members of All Saints disagree with the "liberal" stance taken by the Episcopal Church USA, said church spokesman Russ Campbell.

The bishop learned last month the church would vote to leave the union. He tried to remove 12 church leaders after he said they participated in "schismatic" actions. He said the church cannot remain part of the diocese if they are not part of the Episcopal Church USA.

The move was not successful because Salmon could not prove All Saints was a "distressed" or troubled parish," Campbell said.

Salmon also objects to a change in the church's charter reflecting its split from the national church.

Representatives from the diocese met Monday with leaders from All Saints, said Craige Borrett, president of the diocese standing committee.

He said the leaders discussed ongoing issues in the church. He does no t know if they will attend Thursday's meeting.

"I'm praying that God will work through the leadership to resolve this situation," he said. "I think the atmosphere at Monday's meeting was very positive and helpful to everybody."

If the congregation votes to leave the national church, Campbell said he does not know when the split would happen. After Thursday's vote, the church members will possibly change their church mission statement to reflect t heir split with the Episcopal Church USA.

"By leaving the communion, we leave the bishop in America and go to an orthodox bishop," Campbell said.

The church also is still battling an attempt by the diocese to claim 50 acres of church property.

That dispute went to court, which ruled in favor of All Saints, saying the diocese and Episcopal Church have no legal interest in the property.

All Saints was formed in 1745, before the Episcopal Church and the diocese were established, Campbell said.

The diocese appealed, and both sides await a ruling from the state appeals court.

END

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