Bishop appoints the Rev. William Coyne as the new Missioner for Returning Congregations

Bishop appoints the Rev. William Coyne as the new
Missioner for Returning Congregations

 Bishop Skip Adams has appointed the Rev. William Coyne as the new Missioner for Returning Congregations for The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, a new diocesan staff position created to assist parishes and missions that are returning to The Episcopal Church.

“This new ministry is a way for our diocese to manifest good care of God’s people, live out our Diocesan Vision, and always seek the goals of reconciliation and unity in Christ during this important time of transition,” Bishop Adams said.

As Missioner, Fr. Coyne will report directly to the Bishop, while developing teams and support systems around the diocese for the successful return of churches to The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC), which is the diocese of The Episcopal Church in eastern South Carolina.

“Bill Coyne brings great gifts to this position, both in his education and abilities and in his many years of experience at the parish and diocesan levels,” the Bishop said. “His passion for congregational vitality and service to God’s people will be a great blessing to everyone who will be working with him in the months ahead.”

“What does a 21st-century mission-focused congregation look like in the Episcopal Church in South Carolina?” Fr. Coyne said. “That is my priority question as we begin this transition time together.”

Scroll down to read ‘A Word from the New Missioner’

At least 28 parishes in the region are returning to TECSC under a South Carolina Supreme Court ruling in August 2017 in a lawsuit filed by a breakaway group. Prior to 2012, all the parishes were operating as Episcopal churches in the then-unified Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.

The transition moved into a new phase on Monday, when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the decision. The 1st Circuit Court of Common Pleas is now responsible for implementing the final ruling, a process which may take several months.

Fr. Coyne will be the chief diocesan contact person for every returning parish and mission, meeting with their leaders and identifying what is needed for an orderly return to TECSC. He also will help them with assessing their clergy and staff needs, determining their financial position, and setting up their governance and bylaws in accordance with church law.
One initial goal is for every congregation to be able to continue to worship on Sunday mornings without interruption through the transition period.

Fr. Coyne has served in TECSC since August 2015, when he was called as Interim Rector of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Charleston. He led that parish for two years through their successful call of a new rector last summer. In August 2017 he was named priest-in-charge of The East Cooper Episcopal Church, and will continue in that role alongside his new responsibilities.

Before coming to Charleston, he served for 15 years as Archdeacon of the Diocese of Western Massachusetts, where he was responsible for congregational development for 65 congregations. After retiring from that ministry in 2013, Fr. Coyne served in two interim positions in Western Massachusetts before he and his wife Janet moved to Charleston. The Coynes have three grown children and five grandchildren.

Fr. Coyne can be reached at or 843-614-0679.

A Word from the New Missioner

 I recently watched again the inspirational Ron Howard movie “Apollo 13” -- the story of a crippled spacecraft with astronauts Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert finding a way to survive a malfunction and return to earth. Mission Control in Houston is working just as hard to bring them home. The mission changed from landing on the moon to getting the astronauts safely home. The malfunction demanded innovation, creativity and teamwork to accomplish the new mission. There was a sense of urgency.

Remember this scene?

Several technicians in Houston dump boxes containing the same equipment and tools that the astronauts have with them in space onto a table.

A technician says “We've got to find a way to make this [square CSM LiOH canister] fit into the hole for this [round LEM canister]... using nothing but that” [pointing to the stuff on the table].

The Church needs to realize the mission demands a similar response to a new environment – we need innovation, creativity and teamwork for reaching new people and forming new disciples for Jesus. We need to take risks, make mistakes and ‘double down’ on our core mission.

At the end of the movie Jim Lovell (the voice of Tom Hanks) narrates the following: Our mission was called "a successful failure," in that we returned safely but never made it to the moon.

The Church needs similar ‘successful’ or ‘excellent’ failures – we try some new things to enlarge the Kingdom, plant new seeds of faith and hope in a malfunctioning world – and trust the results will bring us all… ALL – Home. This is the type of work we will do to welcome people, parishes and property returning to the Mission of The Episcopal Church.

The Rev. William Coyne
Missioner for Returning Congregations | 843-614-0679