Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, is leading a meeting in South Carolina on Saturday to elect a temporary bishop and new clergy for churches that will remain with the denomination.
Schori's visit to Charleston comes three days after a state judge issued a temporary restraining order that says the breakaway Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina is the only group that can use the name or the seal of the diocese.
The conservative diocese had split from the national church over theological differences including the Episcopal Church's approval of same-sex marriage and gay bishops.
During Saturday's meeting at Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston, Rev. Charles Glenn vonRosenberg will be elected as Provisional Bishop of the remaining parishes in South Carolina.
Bishop vonRosenberg retired in 2011 after serving for 12 years as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee. He and his wife, Annie, already live in Charleston, where he has volunteered to advise the Steering Committee to help reorganize the Diocese since October.
"Our task, when people decide to leave, is to bless their journey and pray they find a fruitful place to pursue their relationship with God," Schori told The Associated Press. "In the meantime, we're going to do what we feel called to do in the Episcopal Church."
The Episcopal Church reported that 44 of the 71 parishes in the diocese support succession. However, Schori noted that dioceses that want to leave the national church must first seek approval from the General Convention, which next meets in 2015.
A circuit court will hear arguments in Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina succession case on Feb. 1.
The diocese is suing for the right to keep its name and a half-billion dollars in property.