THINKING ANGLICANS

Diocese of South Carolina: confusing developments

Updated twice Thursday evening

Earlier reports were here, and also here.

Updates
Bishop Mark Lawrence has issued
A Message from Bishop Lawrence to the People of the Diocese of South Carolina which is also available as a PDF here.

…On Thursday, November 15, 2012, the following message to the people of the Diocese of South Carolina from Bishop Mark Lawrence was placed in the Charleston Post and Courier. The Bishop’s message reminds us that we are still here, where we always have been: a historic diocese remaining faithful to the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ and recognized as such by the vast majority of the Anglican Communion in spite of recent attempts to assume our identity by the new TEC Steering Committee…

ENS has published Presiding bishop’s pastoral letter to Episcopalians in South Carolina

Katharine, a servant of Christ, to the saints in South Carolina.
May the grace, mercy, and peace of Christ Jesus our Savior be with you all.
You and the challenges you are facing in South Carolina remain in my own prayers and in those of many, many Episcopalians. As the confusion increases, I would like to clarify a number of issues which I understand are being discussed…

——

The Episcopal Church has issued this Fact sheet: The Diocese of South Carolina dated 9 November.

The Diocese of South Carolina (i.e. the body headed by Bishop Mark Lawrence) has issued

And a rival diocesan website has appeared here. Its contents include:

The group South Carolina Episcopalians has issued numerous further documents, including

There are even more documents from other sources available here.

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JeremycseitzPat O'NeillLapinbizarre/Roger MortimerBill Dilworth Recent comment authors
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cseitz
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cseitz

A meeting organised earlier and now pointless, given the ensuing verdict of the DBB, is used as pretext for a request for confidentiality from the very party charged with canonical violations. This is where TEC officialdom now is. The ‘fact sheet’ reads like something out of Kafka.

Chris Smith
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Chris Smith

Bishop Lawrence knows very well that what he is attempting is going to fail with great consequences. Like others in America who have tried to steal property that does not belong to them, the Courts will rule in favor of the continuing diocese and the Presiding Bishop. This is shameful behavior on Bishop Lawrence’s part.

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

It was always clear that Mark Lawrence would behave this way -given the chance.

robert ian williams
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robert ian williams

The presiding bishop really went the extra mile with Lawrence and even allowed him not to be consecrated by herself. This is the reward you get when you accomodate. Church of England be warned!

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

One visit into a diocese is all that is required. The PB had already visited SC. So the chief consecrator was the Province Bishop (+E-Carolina). That is TEC polity.

The Church of England needn’t be warned regarding a polity that is not their own. Obviously.

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Mr Smith–where do you get this idea? You should read the SC Supreme Court decision. Like many states, it has concluded that a trust cannot be imposed by one party. The Dennis Canon is null and void in the State of SC. It is not even clear that those representing TEC actually believe they can seek to claim property; the only evidence of that is the use of the seal, but that happened, we are led to believe, locally. It may be more symbolic–if legally imprudent–than anything. Can one imagine what sums would be required to seek to get big… Read more »

Charlie P
Guest

The only warning to the Church of England here is the spectacle of what happens to a denomination that starts behaving like a dysfunctional married couple. The problem here is not “accommodation”, it’s the utterly self-indulgent posturing of both sides and the self-assurance of believing that the only future for your church is to purge it of those who don’t agree with you.

robert Ian Williams
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robert Ian Williams

The Pawleys Island case was allowed because the property had been handed over to the parish in 1900.It is an exception and South Carolina will not uphold the donation of quitclaims by Lawrence.

By the way Lawrence is liberal on divorce and re-marriage.He is first and foremost an opportunist. Sad he still gets his TEC pension.

Caelius Spinator
Guest
Caelius Spinator

In that alternate universe where I live in Charleston, SC, I believe I have just joined the local ELCA parish. I’d recommend disaffected Episcopalians in this universe to do the same.

Josh L
Guest
Josh L

Chris, the state of South Carolina has already ruled for a church that left the diocese. Those canons are void in South Carolina. Even if they were not, TEC would probably not sue, or even have the money left to sue, more than 60 churches only to have them stand empty. The only way out of this is to somehow reconcile with the diocese. This bishop is only temporary, but once the door is closed and they leave..it’s closed.

Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer
Guest
Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer

“That is TEC polity.” Sez who? Chapter & verse, please, Christopher Seitz. Assertions, as I believe I have remarked to you in the past, are not by their nature facts. It is my memory – and not a wandering or idle one one – that it was made very clear to the PB that she was unwelcome at Lawrence’s consecration.

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

I am no admirer of the so called polity of TEC. At best it is confused, at worse it is the source of much of the bitterness we have seen develop in the past decade and more. Still, it is theirs! Lawrence is himself a product of this bizarre polity. On another thread we were told that Lawrence was the least contumatious of the candidates on the ticket for the last election of a bishop, evidenced by the fact that the others have for some time been bishops of renegade groups. Just going on what Lawrence said about himself I… Read more »

Nat
Guest
Nat

Charlie P –

A few dissenting bishops does not “a dysfunctional married couple” make. it would be absurd to claim that this marks some sort of trend or large number. As to “purging” – hardly. No one is being made to leave, and few are.

Bill Dilworth
Guest
Bill Dilworth

“One visit into a diocese is all that is required. The PB had already visited SC. So the chief consecrator was the Province Bishop (+E-Carolina). That is TEC polity.” I think you are conflating two different functions of the PB – taking order for the consecration of a bishop does not seem to be married to the issue of diocesan visitations. The BCP rubrics do not make the PB’s role as chief consecrator contingent on whether or not the PB has already visited the diocese before. If she had wanted to, I’m pretty sure that she would have been the… Read more »

Tom Downs
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Tom Downs

Mr Williams, perhaps the readers in the CofE missed your warning. While the PB need not be the chief consecrator (though it is customary), in this case she was explicitly not welcome because of her gender. She is gracious and long suffering, so she did not stand on precedence. I suspect that you are warning them that writing accomodations into law for those who will not recognize the ordination of women or their right to headship could one day see an Archbishop of Canterbury explicitly made unwelcome in a similar manner. Regarding Mr C. Seitz, perhaps the readers should know… Read more »

Father David
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Father David

Is this the shape of things to come in the Church of England post Twenty-Eleven – or will “Respect” and being “Better Together” win the day?

Father Ron Smith
Guest

In the wake of the determination of former Bishop Lawrence’s discharge by The Episcopal Church from his leadership of the TEC Diocese of South Carolina, the loyal remainder of the original diocese have pledged themselves to re-form the diocese under a new Bishop and a new Standing Committee – at a meeting to be called in March 2013.

This news comes from the web-site of the continuing Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. Intentional Schism never did anyone any lasting good. Former Bishop Mark Lawrence has only himself to blame. (Perhaps ACI will join him?)

Andrew Godsall
Guest
Andrew Godsall

Father David there is a an entrenched theological prejudice against women that is deep seated in the culture of the Church. If the people behind Better Together really did believe that we would be better together then they would not now be very actively discouraging synod members like me from voting in favour of the legislation before us. Lindsay Urwin’s youtube piece in particular made me wonder if in fact ‘Better Together’ has any meaning at all beyond seeking to make people more sympathetic towards the deep seated prejudice. If Mark Lawrence ever believed in a church that was Better… Read more »

Jeremy
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Jeremy

Indeed it could be the shape of things to come in the Church of England.

Write discrimination into law, and the discriminators will have all the more reason to litigate.

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

“If she had wanted to, I’m pretty sure that she would have been the chief consecrator.”

I think that says it all.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

As I understand it, Bishop Lawrence has merely been inhibited, and remains in office (compare what happened to Bp Bennison in Pennsylvania). Fr Ron is jumping the gun I think. Only the House of Bishops, not the PB, can decide that he should be removed from office.

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Mr Downs, when the new version of TEC ends up with well under 1/2 million Average Sunday Attendance, and that day is soon, it will be due to its own inventions. 40% of its dioceses are now financially unsustainable. These are facts.

But this thread is not about how or why TEC is collapsing. It is about one diocese which is subject to incoherent Title IV adventures.

John Wirenius
Guest

C. Seitz is wrong, and R.I. Williams correct. The S.C. Supreme Court found “that the enactment of the Dennis Canon in 1979 did not act to create a trust interest in that parish’s property in the Diocese or in the national Episcopal Church (“TEC”).” It found so, however, on the very unusual fact pattern before it, in which All Saints had been given, in 1903, a quitclaim deed, “transferring any interest the Diocese may have had in the congregation’s property to All Saints Parish, Waccamaw, Inc. The Diocese did not retain any interest in the property, reversionary or otherwise.” The… Read more »

Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer
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Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer

“‘If she had wanted to, I’m pretty sure that she would have been the chief consecrator.’ I think that says it all.”

Not “all”, maybe, though it does say that the claim made above re “TEC polity” is incorrect.

Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer
Guest
Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer

In no way “the shape of things to come in the Church of England post Twenty-Eleven” since ownership of English church property is already determined by law.

Deacon Charlie Perrin
Guest
Deacon Charlie Perrin

Prior to Seabury’s consecration in Scotland and return to the United States there were no Bishops in the United States. What existed were a gathering former Church of England parishes that had been overseen by the Bishop of London. There were no Dioceses, merely fomer C of E parishes organized loosely by State. The first General Convention in 1785 was boycotted by Seabury because it wasn’t to be presided over by a bishop. By the Convention of 1789 there were only Seabury (CT), White (PA), and Provoost (NY) making up the House of Bishops. South Carolina had no Bishop until… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
Guest
Bill Dilworth

“Not “all”, maybe, though it does say that the claim made above re “TEC polity” is incorrect”

Not to put too fine a point on it, but it gives the lie to the implication that the PB did not go the extra mile with respect to +Lawrence.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“But this thread is not about how or why TEC is collapsing.”

It’s not even a thread about how ALL Christian churches in the developed world are collapsing!

“It is about one diocese which is subject to incoherent Title IV adventures.”

No, it’s about certain *persons* (particularly Mark Lawrence) in one diocese behaving in a schismatic fashion toward the national church, and the national church’s responding to the pleas for help from those faithful Episcopalians remaining in that diocese.

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Mr Wirenius — let me ask a very basic question. Are you claiming that the intention of officials at 815 is to have title to all church property in the Diocese of SC given to them by SC courts? St Philips, St Michaels, the Cathedral, and all the rest? Is this what this adventure is about? Because one hoped-for alternative could have been realism about that project, which would amount to saving vast sums of money required to get such an outcome (perhaps). Mr Rabbit, If the PB had clear canonical authority to enter the Diocese of SC and consecrate… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
Guest
Bill Dilworth

“There is a reason the C/canons read as they do on this matter.”

The rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer have the force of canon law (see Canon IV.1.1.d). The rubrics accompanying The Ordination of a Bishop read, “When a bishop is to be ordained, the Presiding Bishop of the Church, or a bishop appointed by the Presiding Bishop, presides and serves as chief consecrator” (p 511). The say in who acts as chief consecrator clearly falls to the PB.

John Wirenius
Guest

@ C.S. Seitz: Not at all. I have no idea of TEC’s intentions here, other than that it clearly (and rightly, in my opinion) does not intend to accept that a diocese can disaffiliate as a diocese, and that it will not waive its trust interest, created by the Dennis Canon and by S.C’s ratification thereof. What steps will TEC take? I have no crystal ball, though as an attorney who’s litigated breach of fiduciary duty cases, I think TEC has several meritorious claims. That doesn’t mean I think that’s the best way forward; I’m for a negotiated co-existence, with… Read more »

Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer
Guest
Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer

“The say in who acts as chief consecrator clearly falls to the PB.” Who nominated the bishop of E Carolina as principal consecrator.

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

See the Constitution Art II and sections 2 and 3. The BCP cannot give an authority to the PB he/she does not have in the constitution. This has been the long precedent. Griswold followed the constitution very carefully and did not extrude himself into any diocese’s affairs without express invitation. When in Canada, I work in a system with a Metropolitan. That system is very clear in constitutional declaration and constraint. Mr Wirenius. I am addressing the reality. You imply that the Dennis Canon is alive and well in SC and that as such the title to property is held… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

PS, further:
Canon 2.4 stipulates the duty of the PB to “take order” of the consecration of Bishops. I was present at the consecration of +ML. The chancellor of the PB was present to “take order” of the consecration, that is, registering it legally. In accordance with the Art just cited in the constitution, the requirement of three Bishops being consecrators was met. Mr Beers duly recorded the fact. By this means, +ML was consecrated. Where there are provinces with metropolitans/archbishops, the consecration of Bishops is undertaken according to that polity.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

cseitz said, “I am saying it will take vast sums of money to establish that notion in the state of SC. I am further saying that the adventure would be a fool’s errand. It will evacuate attendance at over 40 thriving parishes. It would be a public scandal, It would take years. And it would likely not succeed.” Mr. Seitz, I take it you are not a lawyer. Legally speaking, the shoe is on the other foot. If Bishop Lawrence thinks he can breach his fiduciary duty with impunity, he is being poorly advised. And if litigation is filed, the… Read more »

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

Josh L. gives away the last-ditch strategy of the embittered ultra-rightists in the Episcopal Church in his post: “Chris, the state of South Carolina has already ruled for a church that left the diocese. Those canons are void in South Carolina. Even if they were not, TEC would probably not sue, or even have the money left to sue, more than 60 churches only to have them stand empty. The only way out of this is to somehow reconcile with the diocese.” In other words, these recent actions are a calculated move by Bishop Lawrence and his Standing Committee to… Read more »

Cseitz
Guest
Cseitz

I continue to hold the view that a simpler way forward, one that would avoid the present costly and tragic wrangling, is for those wishing to have a metropolitan; property title held by a central body; rites for same-sex marriage, to undertake the constitutional amendment process necessary to give order and clear mission to this new denominational identity.

Those dioceses which prefer to operate with the C/C as now before us should be allowed to do that. Let there be an orderly separation.

Doug18
Guest
Doug18

“While the “national” Episcopal Church has married yesterday’s fads and is quickly becoming today’s widow”
Bishop Lawrence

Fads? The Bishop seems to be speaking the language of dog whistle. Perhaps someone sympathetic to him could explain precisely the “fads” to which he’s referring and could further explain why they’re fads.

Bill Dilworth
Guest
Bill Dilworth

“The BCP cannot give an authority to the PB he/she does not have in the constitution. This has been the long precedent. Griswold followed the constitution very carefully and did not extrude himself into any diocese’s affairs without express invitation.” How very odd that it took more than 33 years to find out that the 1979 BCP rubrics were in error. Come to think of it, how odd that it took more than 83 years to discover that the 1928 rubrics were mistaken, since they make no provision for anybody but the PB to be chief consecrator. And how odd… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
Guest
Bill Dilworth

“Canon 2.4 stipulates the duty of the PB to “take order” of the consecration of Bishops. I was present at the consecration of +ML. The chancellor of the PB was present to “take order” of the consecration, that is, registering it legally. In accordance with the Art just cited in the constitution, the requirement of three Bishops being consecrators was met. Mr Beers duly recorded the fact. By this means, +ML was consecrated. “ Has anyone disputed this? The question isn’t whether or not +Lawrence was consecrated properly – he obviously was. The question is whether or not the PB… Read more »

Cseitz
Guest
Cseitz

Not odd at all. You will search in vain for canonical requirement of. PB to consecrate. The language is not there.

It may be a custom and a courtesy. It need not happen and often does not.

Don’t confuse a visitation and consecration.

For ease of comprehension have a look at C of E. Colin Podmore has a good basic text. It shows the difference in polity.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“give order and clear mission to this new denominational identity”

…while you and Mark Lawrence continue to hold to The Faith Once Delivered By Christ and His Apostles. Yes, we *get* your talking-point, Cseitz. Merely repeating it ad infinitum won’t lead to any greater acceptance.

MisterDavid
Guest
MisterDavid

A view from the pews (from an Englishman in Charleston, SC). i. Schism is horrible. Please don’t use our difficulties to caricature people you do not know or to score political points. Thanks. ii. The Diocese is not a bunch of Neanderthal right-wingers and bigots. They’re not even particularly conservative, really, just the most conservative part of a very liberal national church. iii. The Episcopal Church would have a lot more integrity in inhibiting Mark Lawrence if they had shown any attempt to discipline those bishops and clergy who, by their own admission, had ceased to believe in such basic… Read more »

Chris H.
Guest
Chris H.

Charlotte, perhaps the quit claim deed move was for a slightly less evil purpose: to give each church the choice. Do we know it was Lawrence’s idea? Perhaps when the state decided for Pawley’s Island the vestries came to him and asked, or demanded them.Even if it were his idea, it still follows an idea that had better outcomes than the rest of these fights–ELCA’s splits. When ELCA made the choice for Gay priests,marriage, etc. churches had the choice to stay or go because many/most(?)parishes have the deed and can switch synods by their own choice/vote. Several switched to more… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Mr Dilworth, watching the squabbling going on over +GA’s decision re: blessings, in which you are a party, I can only reiterate. Kindly let the rest of us retain the C/C while you move forward with your progressive wishes. Do the necessary amending for the new TEC. “I continue to hold the view that a simpler way forward, one that would avoid the present costly and tragic wrangling, is for those wishing to have a metropolitan; property title held by a central body; rites for same-sex marriage, to undertake the constitutional amendment process necessary to give order and clear mission… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
Guest
Bill Dilworth

“You will search in vain for canonical requirement of. PB to consecrate.” Again, the rubrics of the BCP have the force of canon law: not complying with the rubrics is one of the things that can bring a bishop, priest, or deacon up on charges. Like it or not, the BCP is one of the constitutional documents of the Episcopal Church. If there were any real possibility that the PB could be unwillingly kept from acting on behalf of the Church at the consecration of a bishop, both the 1928 and 1979 books would say so, and provide contingency procedures.… Read more »

Maxine Schell
Guest
Maxine Schell

Oh, for Pete’s sake ! Until KJS & DBB took over TEC, NO ONE ever implied that the Presiding Bishop had metropolitan powers or that the Dennis Canon created a trust interest in parish or Diocesan property on behalf of the national church.

What is it you really want for SC . Empty churches that KJS can then sell to Islamists like she did a thriving parish in NY.

John Wirenius
Guest

Dr. Seitz: You claim that the lack of a right to secede is “obviously belied by events during the Civil War.” Well, there’s a morally impressive precedent, basing one’s conduct on that of the pro-slavery schismatics in the Confederacy. Also, the Northern Church did not accept the separation, so all your example shows is that the *claim*of a right to secede was unsuccessfully made, in defense of just about the worst cause in American history. Not really all that persuasive, quite frankly. As you are reduced to arguing that the transaction costs and scandal militate against litigation, I take it… Read more »

Billy Dilworth
Guest
Billy Dilworth

“Oh, for Pete’s sake ! Until KJS & DBB took over TEC, NO ONE ever implied that the Presiding Bishop had metropolitan powers or that the Dennis Canon created a trust interest in parish or Diocesan property on behalf of the national church.” I don’t think the Church is claiming that the PB is a metropolitan now, either. In SC she has done what the Canons mandated she do, rather than act on her own initiative. She is filling her role of carrying out the policies that GC, which passed the Canons, set. As far as the Dennis Canon is… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Mr Wirenius No one is asking secular courts to adjudicate the TEC constitution! That is precisely the burden of the amicus brief filed in TX and against the position of TEC litigants (who offend against the canons forbidding recourse to secular courts for this end). (BTW, all it takes is for dioceses to refuse to receive any canons it judges uncostitutional — the position of several visi-a-vis Title IV). Thank you for reiterating the position of ACI in respect of the First Amendment. The Civil War example clearly shows that dioceses may disassociate and have done. Show us all here… Read more »