Comments: Diocese of South Carolina: confusing developments

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.

Posted by cseitz at Wednesday, 14 November 2012 at 3:49pm GMT

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.

Posted by Chris Smith at Wednesday, 14 November 2012 at 4:14pm GMT

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

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Wednesday, 14 November 2012 at 4:58pm GMT

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!

Posted by robert ian williams at Wednesday, 14 November 2012 at 6:04pm GMT

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.

Posted by cseitz at Wednesday, 14 November 2012 at 7:40pm GMT

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 historical churches like St Michaels or St Philips? Staggering sums.

It might be wiser to accept a situation where the few parishes wishing to stay simply associate with the Upper SC Diocese and leave it at that.

Posted by cseitz at Wednesday, 14 November 2012 at 8:02pm GMT

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.

Posted by Charlie P at Wednesday, 14 November 2012 at 8:27pm GMT

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.

Posted by robert Ian Williams at Wednesday, 14 November 2012 at 9:37pm GMT

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.

Posted by Caelius Spinator at Wednesday, 14 November 2012 at 10:47pm GMT

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.

Posted by Josh L at Wednesday, 14 November 2012 at 11:07pm GMT

"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.

Posted by Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer at Wednesday, 14 November 2012 at 11:33pm GMT

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 argued on this blog he ought not to receive the consent of bishops even if standing committees felt unable to withhold consent from a validly held election. There is no doubt on my mind that Lawrence would not have been accepted by the Holy Synod here, he has now gone his own way as was clear he would from the off.

It seems perfectly reasonable for TEC now to rally their loyal supporters and by any and all means to reassert their position in South Carolina. If Lawrence thinks they are acting illegally he can take them to law.

As to the legal advice offered by the likes of that shameful brood the ACI and others, lawyers whom I have watched misdirecting former Episcopalians over the past years, they seem nothing less than charlatans.

I cannot find a single piece of advice that has been upheld by a court.
South Carolina has some interesting precedents but I cannot believe the extraordinary hope that has been built on these, nor fathom the extraordinary series of legal decisions and actions Lawrence and his team have taken on that slim hope.

We have seen it before. I just wish the ACI and their like would have to pay the bills for Lawrence and his adherents .........

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Thursday, 15 November 2012 at 12:16am GMT

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.

Posted by Nat at Thursday, 15 November 2012 at 12:25am GMT

"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 chief consecrator.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Thursday, 15 November 2012 at 2:24am GMT

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 that he is part of a small group that spends its time constructing theological justifications for those who would subvert of destroy the Episcopal Church. His opinion regarding US law and the South Carolina Supreme Court's decision is thus naturally suspect.

Posted by Tom Downs at Thursday, 15 November 2012 at 3:12am GMT

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?

Posted by Father David at Thursday, 15 November 2012 at 6:20am GMT

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?)

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 15 November 2012 at 9:53am GMT

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 Together he would have recognised that the Presiding Bishop is, like him, a minister of Christ's sacraments rather than a member of a small club - which is the model for church he seems to favour and seeks to run.

Posted by Andrew Godsall at Thursday, 15 November 2012 at 11:09am GMT

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.

Posted by Jeremy at Thursday, 15 November 2012 at 11:36am GMT

"If she had wanted to, I'm pretty sure that she would have been the chief consecrator."

I think that says it all.

Posted by cseitz at Thursday, 15 November 2012 at 12:29pm GMT

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.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Thursday, 15 November 2012 at 12:37pm GMT

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.

Posted by cseitz at Thursday, 15 November 2012 at 12:40pm GMT

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 Diocese did not adopt the Dennis Canon until 1987. Thus, the South Carolina Supreme Court reasoned, "is an axiomatic principle of law that a person or entity must hold title to property in order to declare that it is held in trust for the benefit of another or transfer legal title to one person for the benefit of another. The Diocese did not, at the time it recorded the 2000 Notice, have any interest in the congregation’s property. Therefore, the recordation of the 2000 Notice could not have created a trust over the property."

SC affirmatively adopted the Dennis Canon, thereby ratifying the creation of the trust, which was in place when Bp. Lawrence took office, and began issuing quitclaim deeds.

A more full take by me, with a link to the case here: http://anglocatontheprowl.blogspot.com/2012/10/secession-transfers-and-transaction.html

Posted by John Wirenius at Thursday, 15 November 2012 at 1:30pm GMT

"'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.

Posted by Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer at Thursday, 15 November 2012 at 5:56pm GMT

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.

Posted by Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer at Thursday, 15 November 2012 at 6:00pm GMT

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 1795! So how can South Carolina pre-date the Episcopal Church as a diocese?

Posted by Deacon Charlie Perrin at Thursday, 15 November 2012 at 7:11pm GMT

"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.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Thursday, 15 November 2012 at 7:41pm GMT

"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.

Posted by JCF at Thursday, 15 November 2012 at 7:58pm GMT

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 the last Bishop, rest assure she would have done so. There is a reason the C/canons read as they do on this matter. The PB is not a metropolitan and never has been.

Posted by cseitz at Thursday, 15 November 2012 at 8:04pm GMT

"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.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Friday, 16 November 2012 at 2:24am GMT

@ 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 both parties retaining their interests in the property and making provision for the members of each side while time reveals where the Holy Spirit is leading.

I am addressing your incorrect characterization of the South Carolina Supreme Court's decision as holding the Dennis Canon inapplicable generally in South Carolina. It held that an entity, to create a trust, must hold title at the time it creates the trust, and that the nearly century old quitclaim deed had extinguished the Diocese's ability to create a trust.

Bp. Lawrence, by contrast, became bishop just about a quarter century after the trust was created, and has used his position as trustee to deprive TEC of that interest. Leaving aside the legal ramifications, that's quite unseemly, in my opinion.

Posted by John Wirenius at Friday, 16 November 2012 at 4:12am GMT

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

Posted by Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer at Friday, 16 November 2012 at 8:48am GMT

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 in trust by the national church. I am satying 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.

Of course negotiation would make sense. What you will not find is a concilation process for SC and its opponents. You will find it for the amicus Bishops where it makes little sense and is likely a bizarre face-saving device. Where it is needed, we have instead declarations like "no diocese may disassociate" -- a statement without foundation in the constitution and obviously belied by events during the Civil War.

Posted by cseitz at Friday, 16 November 2012 at 1:47pm GMT

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.

Posted by cseitz at Friday, 16 November 2012 at 1:57pm GMT

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 national Episcopal Church will win it.

The public scandal now will be nothing compared to the bitterness that will ensue when departing congregations find that despite all of Lawrence's scheming, and despite the right-wing bubble assuring them otherwise, they cannot take TEC's property with them when they leave.

That principle has been established in every other state where it has been tested. It will soon be established in South Carolina as well.

Five years from now, Bishop Lawrence will have led thousands of people on a trek to nowhere. Fool's errand indeed.

Posted by Jeremy at Friday, 16 November 2012 at 3:44pm GMT

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 bankrupt TEC.

That was what the earlier business of issuing quitclaim deeds to each church in the South Carolina diocese was all about. By forcing TEC to sue 60 parishes individually, Bishop Lawrence & Co. hope to bankrupt their mother church.

They can no longer hope to "win" or take over TEC, as they thought they would in 2002. They have lost every legal battle to date. They have no cards left in their hands and their downfall is nigh.

So now, in the true Wagnerian spirit, they plan to take the entire national church down in flames with them.

This is nothing if not daring, and entirely in the spirit of historic South Carolina actions. (See also under Ft. Sumter.)

I predict that even if TEC wins one of these suits, the individual church property will be found to have been deliberately encumbered by large mortgages and other forms of debt by the vestry, acting as "poison pill" devices.

This method of "sticking it to TEC" has been openly discussed on ultra blogs such as Stand Firm! for years. It constitutes fraud under the uniform state statutes, unfortunately, and might land some who have recommended or perpetrated it in serious legal trouble.

Posted by Charlotte at Friday, 16 November 2012 at 3:54pm GMT

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.

Posted by Cseitz at Friday, 16 November 2012 at 4:08pm GMT

"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.

Posted by Doug18 at Friday, 16 November 2012 at 5:35pm GMT

"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 that no one, as far as I know, has ever raised the idea that Canon I.2.4. was unconstitutional, in that it states that the the PB shall "Visit every Diocese of this Church for the purpose of: (i) Holding pastoral consultations with the Bishop or Bishops thereof and, with their advice, with the Lay and Clerical leaders of the jurisdiction; (ii) Preaching the Word; and (iii) Celebrating the Holy Eucharist." This stipulation has been in the canons since 1967.

Similarly, since when the House of Bishops meets it meets, perforce, in some diocese or other, you would think that something in the C&C would tell us what to do in the case of the bishop of the diocese in which it was held refusing to invite the PB.

If the Presiding Bishop really could be barred from a diocese, you'd think that any of these texts would have said as much, and provided procedures to follow in such an event. Clearly, the idea that diocesan bishops control the movements of the PB is not something that the Church entertained, at least before the beginning of the incumbent's term.

As far as the suspension of +Lawrence is concerned, the PB didn't "extrude" herself into SC's affairs, but carried out her duties as given in the canons - which is where the constitution says they are to be found. If ++Griswold did not take any similar action, surely it's because the canons didn't direct him to do so, not because he exercised more constraint than ++KJS.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Friday, 16 November 2012 at 6:01pm GMT

"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 delegated her authority as chief consecrator to another bishop as a concession to the bishop-elect.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Friday, 16 November 2012 at 7:45pm GMT

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.

Posted by Cseitz at Friday, 16 November 2012 at 7:55pm GMT

"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.

Posted by JCF at Friday, 16 November 2012 at 8:20pm GMT

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 credal beliefs as the Trinity.

iv. I wish none of this had ever happened, but I trust the Bishop a heck of a lot more than the Presiding Bishop.

Posted by MisterDavid at Friday, 16 November 2012 at 9:13pm GMT

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 conservative synods. Some I believe have gone to ELCA. Several others have stayed put even though they are more conservative than ELCA as a whole. They aren't running because they still have the deed and aren't afraid of the future. They can still hang in there and hope for the best or rest assured that their church is still theirs. The churches with the worst fights and most fear of losing parishioners were those that were owned by the Synod and couldn't switch. Those were the winner-take-all fights and the bitterness and hate was much worse in those cases.

Yes, the fight was loud and dirty like TEC's, but it was also shorter and the churches on both sides are rebuilding without as much hate and rancor as TEC. I can't help but think that a lot of acrimony could be averted if each parish had the right to think for itself what's best rather than depending on 815, who didn't pay a dime, to decide and take the property to pay for its own mortgages. Why do so many people outside the local area care? The building isn't theirs. Let the locals do what's best locally. Isn't that the Liberal explanation for breaking with tradition and ignoring conservative Communion members in other countries on gay rights, "We're doing it because it's right for us here"?

Posted by Chris H. at Friday, 16 November 2012 at 9:21pm GMT

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 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."

This would make much more sense and would be far less costly.

Posted by cseitz at Friday, 16 November 2012 at 9:23pm GMT

"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. Neither do. Nor do the Canons, for that matter.

"It need not happen and often does not."

Of course it need not happen. That's not, however, because the PB is prevented from being chief consecrator against her will, but because of collegiality. The PB delegates the role to someone else - it isn't taken from her.

"Don't confuse a visitation and consecration."

I'm not. I'm saying that if your argument - that the PB can do nothing in a diocese without the explicit approval of the diocesan bishop - were correct, it would be reflected in the canon mandating visitations. It is not.

Your attitude to the C&C puzzles me. You demand that anything relating to the PB be explicitly spelled out in the Constitution, ignoring that document's provision that the role of the PB is something to be defined in the Canons. On the other hand, you're perfectly willing to justify things like diocesan secession and "sovereign" bishops by reading them into the text of the Constitution. You seem to be both a strict constructionist and a liberal constructionist, depending on the issue and what you want the Constitution to say about it.

"Mr Dilworth, watching the squabbling going on over +GA's decision re: blessings, in which you are a party..."

If you're referring to the discussion at the Episcopal Cafe, I'm surprised at the characterization. I did make two comments on the issue - one in favor of the Bishop of Georgia's published SSB, and one observing that the framing of General Convention's SSB as a blessing, rather than a form of marriage, is the result of years of lobbying for just that result. If calmly expressing two comments devoid of rancor is being a party to squabbling, so be it.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Saturday, 17 November 2012 at 12:30am GMT

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.

Posted by Maxine Schell at Saturday, 17 November 2012 at 2:34am GMT

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 you realize that such a position is a dangerous one for the party transferring property away from another party whose interest is held in trust by the transferor? I would prefer an amicable resolution, but one that condones and effectuates Mark Lawrence's abuse of the trust reposed in him by the wider Church seems to me quite unacceptable.

Finally, as to your claim that the constitution of TEC has been violated, good luck with that. The Supreme Court in Jones v. Wolf, 443 U.S. 595, 602 held that the First Amendment does not allow secular courts to judge matters of doctrine or discipline, and that the "Amendment requires that civil courts defer to the resolution of issues of religious doctrine or polity by the highest court of a hierarchical church organization." Even if your contention were correct--which I don't concede, especially as your prior legal opinions have been verifiably incorrect--the secular courts have no jurisdiction.

Posted by John Wirenius at Saturday, 17 November 2012 at 3:06am GMT

"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 concerned, no one is *implying* it creates such a trust interest - the canon "explicitly says* that such a trust exists. I cannot for the life of me imagine what reading you could give to "All real and personal property held by or for the benefit of any Parish, Mission, or Congregation is held in trust for this Church and the Diocese thereof in which such Parish, Mission or Congregation is located" that excludes the existence of such a trust interest.

Posted by Billy Dilworth at Saturday, 17 November 2012 at 10:32am GMT

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 one C/C reference that confirms the most recent assertion of the PB that GC is required to rule on the diocesan capacity to disassociate.

As for the property reality in SC, I have yet to hear you or anyone else explain what kind of adventure it is to imagine as your goal the evacuation of 40 thriving parishes. For this is where the logic now takes one. The idea that the courts will just hand over the keys next Monday or in six months is risible. The litigation costs will be vast. And to what end? Empty churches.

There is another way. I will not repeat it.

Posted by cseitz at Saturday, 17 November 2012 at 11:26am GMT

"...all it takes is for dioceses to refuse to receive any canons it judges uncostitutional -- the position of several visi-a-vis Title IV..."

And, once again, I ask Dr. Seitz to indicate where in the constitution or canons of TEC a diocese is given this power. To refuse to receive a canon duly enacted by GC is to deny GC its role as the legislative body of the church, as defined in rhe constitution. If dioceses can refuse to accept any canon as unconstitutional, what is to prevent them from refusing all of them (and yet still claim to be an Episcopal diocese)?

If SC thinks Title IV is unconstitutional, the proper procedure is to move to have it amended or repealed at GC, not to ignore it. This is analogous, in the secular domain, to a state deciding that a federal law--say the child labor laws, as an example--is unconstitutional and refusing to enforce it.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Saturday, 17 November 2012 at 11:55am GMT

Mr Dilworth

"Implied" is this context means, lacking two parties formally agreeing to a trust. So an "implied trust" can be "explicitly stated" by one party, as in the TEC case. But it remains "implied" all the same, and certain states do not recognize this kind of trust arrangement. Rather, they look at title. The live feed from the Supreme Court of the State of Texas is probably still available and can be helpful at this point.

Btw, can you explain why the incumbent PB carries a crozier with obvious metropolitical insignia? The language of "Presiding Bishop" was not chosen or maintained adventitiously. White and Dykman make this very clear.

Posted by cseitz at Saturday, 17 November 2012 at 12:12pm GMT

For the benefit of English readers who may not be familiar with the history:

The Episcopal Church did not recognize the secession of the dioceses within the Confederate States of America any more than the US recognized the secession of the States. When the war ended the "absent" bishops (less Polk) were welcomed back and recorded in good standing, and the one bishop consecrated in the South was welcomed in as well -- just as if nothing had happened.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Saturday, 17 November 2012 at 12:51pm GMT

I'm glad we agree on the First Amendment analysis, Dr. Seitz. However, I'm not sure you understand its implications; unless SC (or ACI) can convince TEC that its constitution has been infringed, the argument is a non-starter--Jones v. Wolf makes clear that the denomination is the ultimate arbiter if constitutional or other polity issues, and I don't think there's any warrant for a diocesan to be treated as the highest juridical entity of the denomination. A passage from a letter from Rowan Williams is nice, but doesn't trump the canons.

SC, far from rejecting the Dennis Canon, affirmatively adopted and ratified it, so it is bound.

The Civil War example only shows that dioceses purported to secede, not that they did. The surrounding circumstances do not exactly legitimate that claim.

I won't go another round with you on the advisability of litigation and its costs. We agree they are deplorable, but where we differ is that I such things are smetimes necessary.

Posted by John Wirenius at Saturday, 17 November 2012 at 12:53pm GMT

"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..."

Let's be sure we have our facts straight.

If what you are saying is that General Convention could have declared that the southern dioceses not be seated after the end of the Civil War, that is correct. Several northern bishops wanted this outcome. The southern dioceses had disassociated and indeed drawn up their own constitution.

The point is that nothing could prevent them from doing so. The GC recognized this as a fact. They did not declare that they had the power to stop it. They didn’t. There is no legal recourse for that now, and there was not then.

You are confusing an unwillingness to declare them gone with the authority to constrain them from leaving. The former was their disposition (or at least that of the majority); the latter was not legally open to them. Hence the de facto reorganization that ensued unhindered.

What is so odd about the present situation, seen from the standpoint of the tragedy of the Civil War, is that TEC wishes to adopt a form of government, property title, and a theology of blessing same-sex marriage it has never had and is not constitutionally available in precise terms. But it could have these terms. All that is required is the constitutional work to achieve this in clear and unequivocal terms and nothing stands in the way of that.

Those dioceses that wish to retain the C/C in their present form ought to be allowed to do so. This is where the Civil War example is apposite in form but not in substance. Disassociation was formally possible, legally. But the substantive difference is over the status of the present BCP and the present Constitution. Some want a new BCP theology and practice and a clear property understanding in legal terms. Let them so construct them. Allow others the freedom to stand aside and to maintain the present BCP and C/C.

What is wrong with this? It is, as our ELCA friend points out, a lot less acrimonius and hugely less expensive. It is also more honest and equitable.

Posted by cseitz at Saturday, 17 November 2012 at 12:56pm GMT

Mr Dilworth. You speak of there being no contingency. Of course there is. The province bishop is the contingency and this is spelled out clearly. +E Carolina was the express contingency in the case of +SC.

Posted by Cseitz at Saturday, 17 November 2012 at 3:23pm GMT

"A courtesy" for sure, Christopher Seitz. But courtesy is pretty-well a one-way street in this game, isn't it?

Posted by Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer at Saturday, 17 November 2012 at 3:38pm GMT

Mr O Neil. Title IV was properly not received in its 2008 form
By several dioceses. That decision was vindicated, as if this were necessary, by the call now to review it, esp in respect of the role of the PB.

What is very disturbing legally speaking is that, in a period of called for review, Title IV continues to be used!

So thank you for your observations. They would lead to the conclusion that given 2012 developments at GC regarding Title IV, 2008 versions were faulty.

Posted by Cseitz at Saturday, 17 November 2012 at 3:38pm GMT

"Btw, can you explain why the incumbent PB carries a crozier with obvious metropolitical insignia?"

Easily. She does so because her predecessor did, as did his PB before him. And the one prior to that, as well. That the incumbent began the practice is an untruth oft repeated by some of her detractors. But please don't believe me; here are some easily accessible photos I found via Google (which is a wonderful thing):
http://archive.episcopalchurch.org/images/IS_25th_bishop_medres.jpg
http://www.episcopalarchives.org/e-archives/ENS/photographs/processed/86004_3.jpg
http://www.episcopalarchives.org/e-archives/ENS/photographs/processed/86004_2.jpg

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Saturday, 17 November 2012 at 4:13pm GMT

"The point is that nothing could prevent them from doing so. The GC recognized this as a fact. They did not declare that they had the power to stop it."

I think you are once again mistaking a charitable collegiality for an acknowledgement of defeat.

The Civil War split isn't as applicable as some might think. The reason the Confederate dioceses split was because they found themselves outside the Union; it did not make sense to them that they *could* be part of PECUSA when they weren't part of the USA. It was a reflection of the idea if the national Church, not an exercise in "sovereignty."

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Saturday, 17 November 2012 at 4:21pm GMT

I still maintain that this action by Bishop Lawrence is an act of outright theft. I believe in the end, the property will belong to the national church and the only "advantage" for those who leave is that they have created huge legal bills for the national church. This is shameful behavior and it will be seen as just that. Homophobia plays a large role in this story.

Posted by Chris Smith at Saturday, 17 November 2012 at 4:36pm GMT

With Tobias Haller, I hope all readers of this discussion will understand some of the local details--in particular, the historical echoes.

Recall that in the American Civil War, the United States divided over the issue of chattel slavery. The Civil War's immediate spark was when military forces of the state of South Carolina fired on federal (i.e., national) forces, at Fort Sumter.

Of course that was just the spark. For decades _before_ the American Civil War, South Carolina and other slave-holding states had contended that they could ignore federal law because, in their opinion, it was unconstitutional. In other words, the southern states were claiming the right to nullify national law.

Hence the name of a constitutional crisis--the Nullification Crisis--that South Carolina precipitated 30 years before the American Civil War. The United States Constitution of course has a Supremacy Clause that declares that federal/national law is supreme over state law.

In other words, as a state, South Carolina has engaged in a long series of attempts to defy national authority: the Nullification Crisis, the Civil War itself, and then resistance to the 20th-century civil-rights movement, with its federally mandated reforms of school desegregation, and voting rights for African Americans.

All this national history is in the background when the Diocese of South Carolina proclaims that national canons somehow do not apply to it, or that it has some ability to secede from the national church. Nothing could be further from the truth.

And history shows this. South Carolina has tried to play these nullification cards before. Every time, they prove to be losing cards. Dr. Seitz says "The Dennis Canon is null and void in the State of SC." That is exactly the sort of nullification that South Carolina has attempted in the past, and on which it has come to great grief.

More to the point, as John Wirenius says, to argue from South Carolina's history is the worst possible authority, because it is deeply suspect, morally speaking. Dr. Seitz calls the Civil War a "tragedy"? So it was, but it was also a victory, because it put an end to the tragedy of slavery. The American Civil War was the war that freed the slaves.

So any American who hears a summary of the current situation will immediately ask, "Wait a minute. South Carolina wants to secede _again_? Because they want to continue to _discriminate_?"

Whether Dr. Seitz doesn't know this history, or simply hopes that readers don't know it, is unclear.

But Dr. Seitz is actually, and astonishingly, linking Bishop Lawrence to the tradition of traitors who tried to leave the United States in order continue owning African-Americans as slaves.

Please continue, Dr. Seitz.

Posted by Jeremy at Saturday, 17 November 2012 at 5:38pm GMT

Where then or now is the legal canon that says GC must approve disassociation?

That is what this is about. The appeal to details secular re Civil War is a parlour trick and irrelevant. Stay on topic.

So is the PB in fact a metropolitan or were these croziers on special at Almy? Pretensions do not facts make.

Anyone wish to answer my question?

Posted by Cseitz at Saturday, 17 November 2012 at 6:06pm GMT

Dr Seitz, the canon to which you refer, listing the other bishops to whom the PB may delegate the role of chief consecrate, makes no reference whatsoever to the circumstances under which the delegation takes place, and certainly does not say that the veto of the bishop-elect can force such a delegation of the role. That the PB may delegate the role no one disputes. But you are claiming - in the complete absence of evidence - that there are circumstances under which the PB *must* delegate the role. No such circumstance is listed in the C&C or BCP.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Saturday, 17 November 2012 at 6:51pm GMT

Jeremy. This is a bit sad really. Can you not try to think clearly about the present wcclesiological and governance issues without resorting to demagoguery?

The topic is: what status did dioceses have at the time of the civil war and what authority did GC have vis a vis their disassociation?

That should not be hard. Unless you just want to avoid thinking through analogies where they are properly under discussion.

Posted by Cseitz at Saturday, 17 November 2012 at 9:41pm GMT

"The appeal to details secular re Civil War is a parlour trick and irrelevant. Stay on topic."

So your appeal to details religious in the Civil War is on-topic, but other aspects of Civil War history are irrelevant? (See your post in this thread of Friday, 16 November 2012 at 1:47pm GMT.)

Your logic is as bad as your history.

Posted by Jeremy at Saturday, 17 November 2012 at 11:48pm GMT

There is no constitutional article or canon law that says GC must approve the departure of a domestic diocese. But that silence stems from the fact that it is inconceivable. The Constitution, when ratified or acceded to, is meant to bind the dioceses into a "union" -- and the nuptial imagery is not accidental. One would no more expect a clause in the marriage rite providing for divorce. It is out of the question.

(I will add that the US Constitution is similarly silent on the possibility of secession -- and for the same reason: it is inconceivable for an entity desiring to "form a more perfect union" to provide for disunity in its founding document. The matter for the States was settled by the US Supreme Court in Texas v. White 1869.)

There is provision for non-domestic dioceses in other countries to be granted autonomy from TEC, as has happened in, for example, Mexico and Brazil. This is all part of the "national church" philosophy that forms an essential part of the thinking of the founders of the Episcopal Church.

Finally, the action of GC 2012 in referring questions on Title IV to a committee for study and an opinion should not be held to be more than that. The committee may find that there are conflicts with the Constitution, or they may not. The mere referral proves nothing other than that this is a matter of disagreement for which clarity is sought, and in the meantime Title IV is the law of the church.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Sunday, 18 November 2012 at 12:14am GMT

"Mr O Neil. Title IV was properly not received in its 2008 form
By several dioceses. That decision was vindicated, as if this were necessary, by the call now to review it, esp in respect of the role of the PB.

What is very disturbing legally speaking is that, in a period of called for review, Title IV continues to be used! "

So, what you're saying is that a legitimately passed provision should be ignored because it is "under review". Does that mean I can ignore the copyright laws because they are being challenged in the courts? A legal provision (either secular or religious) remains in effect until it is either amended, repealed, or declared unconstitutional. Nothing of the kind has occurred with respect to Title IV and there is certainly no assurance that it would be. Indeed, I would think the actions of those opposed to it, like Bishop Lawrence, would merely make it clear to the rest of us why Title IV is so necessary.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Sunday, 18 November 2012 at 12:28am GMT

Mr Dilworth -- No I am not. I am saying the C/C recognize that the PB being chief consecrator is a courtesy. If it were more than that, there would be no exceptions (as in other polities). The C/C maker it clear that the Province Bishop can do this equally well. So it was in SC.

So now we must wait to learn that all the clergy in SC will be deposed. To what conceivable end?

What a mess.

And no one has answered my or the ELCA contributor's question. It would be far preferable to let any diocese wishing to retain the present C/C and disassociate; and let those who wish to clarify in explicit terms metropolitan authority; title to property from a central hierarchy; ss blessings and marriage in the BCP, and so tailoring the C/C to that end. Let there be a separation.

But perhaps deposing all the clergy will bring that about by force anyway.

Posted by cseitz at Sunday, 18 November 2012 at 1:45am GMT

"So is the PB in fact a metropolitan or were these croziers on special at Almy? Pretensions do not facts make."

You seem confused by nomenclature. The pastoral staff that the Presiding Bishops of the Episcopal Church have carried since the time of Presiding Bishop John Hines is not a symbol of metropolitical jurisdiction, nor is the cross atop it only known as a metropolitan's cross. A more common name seems to be the primatial cross (judging from google hits) and many primates of the Anglican Communion carry it. For that matter, it seems to be favored by would-be Anglican Primates as well: https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/pnQ5YAceVCbfLv1M61E6Jw

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Sunday, 18 November 2012 at 2:13am GMT

"Mr Dilworth -- No I am not. I am saying the C/C recognize that the PB being chief consecrator is a courtesy. If it were more than that, there would be no exceptions (as in other polities). The C/C maker it clear that the Province Bishop can do this equally well. So it was in SC."

I believe you are mistaken about "other polities." In the Australian Church, according to its canons, the local Metropolitan or another bishop designated by him acts as chief consecrator. I don't think you'll find that the possibility of alternate chief consecrators means that the metropolitan's authority is a mere courtesy.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Sunday, 18 November 2012 at 12:52pm GMT

Last thoughts from me, as we've gone around the mulberry bush repeatedly.

First, relying on the unilateral action of the dioceses who purported to secede, without any juridical resolution of whether such a right existed, absolutely implicates the factual and moral context of the attempted secession. Since the Northern Church did not accept, acknowledge or ratify the attempt, and the Southern Church's representatives just showed up again, and were treated as if, nothing had happened, there is no authoritative written source standing as precedent resolving the validity of their effort.

In addition to the canonical argument made by Tobias Haller above, I'd point out that the Dennis Canon itself, by imposing a trust on all parish/diocesan property in favor of the national church implicitly bars secession by creating a powerful obstacle to secession--how do you do it, without violating the trust? And, before the invalidity of the DC is argued again, as the decision in Pawlenty's Island case notes, SC affirmatively adopted the Dennis Canon, waiving any claim as to its invalidity. In terms of church polity, it is bound, and no external court would review polity decisions by the denomination in any event, under Jones v. Wolf.

And so we are left with Dr. Seitz's last argument: "It would be far preferable to let any diocese wishing to retain the present C/C and disassociate; and let those who wish to clarify in explicit terms metropolitan authority; title to property from a central hierarchy; ss blessings and marriage in the BCP, and so tailoring the C/C to that end. Let there be a separation."

The present C/C have clarified the property point decades ago, in enacting the Dennis Canon; the argument that the PB has exceeded her constitutional functions is based on her crozier, not her actions, and South Carolina lost the same-sex marriage vote. So what this really is about is that SC was perfectly content to be a part of a hierarchical church as long as it could block other dioceses from treating our GLBT sisters and brothers equally. Having lost the vote, all its professed theological beliefs about church order go out the window.

Just like 1860, again.

No sale.

Posted by John Wirenius at Sunday, 18 November 2012 at 1:21pm GMT

The reality is now such that legal conjecture will give way to the revelation of TEC's specific undertaking vis a vis the Dipcese of SC. One can presume the deposing of clergy.
One might presume the creation of a new diocese. It seems to be ingredient in using the seal, etc.

Gaining title to the property will be a very time consuming affair. It will affect the lives of huge numbers of Christians worshipping today on parish churches. It will be distressing and it will give rise to manifold expressions of concern and anger and temerity in defense. This be be a far more dramatic, costly and protracted than anything we have witnessed heretofore.

I listened to the former ABC and TEC PB yesterday in Chicago. Ships passing in the night.

So it now goes.

Posted by Cseitz at Sunday, 18 November 2012 at 4:18pm GMT

"...the Southern Church's representatives just showed up again, and were treated as if, nothing had happened..."

The absence of any procedure for rejoining PECUSA after the Civil War argues pretty conclusively that the Southern Dioceses never left, doesn't it? If they had really and legally seceded, surely their rejoining PECUSA would have required their going through the regular admissions procedure - there certainly wasn't anything in the C&C that allowed erstwhile member dioceses to automatically rejoin based on their former status.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Sunday, 18 November 2012 at 7:09pm GMT

"....the creation of a new diocese"? No, the continuation of the same one.

Posted by Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer at Monday, 19 November 2012 at 12:33am GMT

Not "all the clergy in SC" will be deposed. Slightly more than 1/3 of the SC parishes and missions have not supported this course of action - this notwithstanding a quarter of a century of packing SC parishes with clergy disaffected with the national church. The diocese, like that of Pittsburgh, has a firm base on which to regroup.

Posted by Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer at Monday, 19 November 2012 at 12:44am GMT

"The diocese, like that of Pittsburgh, has a firm base on which to regroup."

This is what David Brooks has called 'epistemological closure.'

We are talking about 5 parishes at most. And there are no hold-outs which are solidly moderate- conservative, which you had in Pittsburgh (which does not compare favorably anyway). Grace would be the closest.

It is an easy thing to look up the ASA in SC. I'd suspect that in simple numbers, at least 80% of the worshippers in SC respect +ML's position or agree strongly with it, vis-a-vis the PB. Dislodging all of these people and putting them out of churches they have supported financially and spiritually is quite a prospect. They are easily larger, as a group, than 50% of what amounts to just a single TEC diocese.

This will be quite a debacle.

Posted by cseitz at Monday, 19 November 2012 at 12:49pm GMT

On SC and Pittsburgh:

Actually, of the four lawsuits involving withdrawing dioceses, Pittsburgh is the only one where the appellate courts have ruled, in this instance in favor of TEC. I defer to Dr. Gunderson's greater familiarity with the details of that lawsuit, but it's my understanding that the rulings for TEC have been based on the courts' interpretation of a stipulation made by Bishop Duncan and others in a previous lawsuit. Since there aren't any similar stipulations in the other three lawsuits, the Pittsburgh case really doesn't create a precedent for the other 3 cases (or for a future South Carolina case).
In San Joaquin, the trial court's ruling in favor of TEC has been appealed to the Court of Appeal. In Fort Worth, the trial court's ruling for TEC has been directly appealed to the Texas Supreme Court. In Quincy, the case is before the trial court.
It's quite possible that in all four lawsuits, the final decision will be in favor of TEC, but that hasn't happened yet. Even if it does, the South Carolina courts are not bound by decisions from courts in other states.
For those who wondered whether the SC Supreme Court's decision in All Saints Pawley Island was limited to that the specific set of facts in that case or was intended to have a more universal application: it looks like you'll soon have your answer. (Paul Powers at The Lead)

Posted by cseitz at Monday, 19 November 2012 at 12:56pm GMT

Apropos of nothing, ASA in the diocese has declined every year since Lawrence's consecration.

Posted by Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer at Monday, 19 November 2012 at 5:04pm GMT

"We are talking about 5 parishes at most."

According to the website of the Episcopal diocese (as opposed to the "sovereign" one), the count is eleven parishes.

Of course, the issue isn't the number of parishes remaining loyal to the Episcopal Church, but the actions of +Lawrence and his followers.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Monday, 19 November 2012 at 7:45pm GMT

The take of an Episcopal priest who has served for 40 years in the SC diocese. From yesterdays Charleston Post & Courier. http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_action=doc&p_theme=cpcb&p_topdoc=1&p_docnum=1&p_sort=YMD_date:D&p_docid=142A24C5CF7A5F30&p_text_direct-0=document_id=%28%20142A24C5CF7A5F30%20%29&p_product=CPCB

Posted by Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer at Monday, 19 November 2012 at 8:06pm GMT

"It is an easy thing to look up the ASA in SC. I'd suspect that in simple numbers, at least 80% of the worshippers in SC respect +ML's position or agree strongly with it, vis-a-vis the PB."

I'm not sure how Dr. Seitz comes to this conclusion just from looking at the average Sunday attendance in each parish.

If these parishes are anything like the three I have been familiar with in my time as an Episcopalian, the following things are true:

1. The people voting in parish meetings are not necessarily representative of the parishioners as a whole. Why? Because a quorum for a parish annual meeting is usually something like ten percent of the registered members of the parish, and it is usually only the most active and vocal members who will show up for what is, generally, a pretty boring hour or so on a Sunday afternoon after services.

2. The above means that those voting on all manner of things--including the calling of clergy, when necessary--are a vocal minority, self-selected, rather than chosen by a representative vote of the laity as a whole. My experience is that the vast majority of parishioners are completely unconcerned with these issues of polity in the national church, etc.

3. Therefore, the best Dr. Seitz can really say is that 80% of the vocal minority that serve on vestries and vote in annual meetings support Bishop Lawrence. He has no idea what opinions are held--if any--on these issues by the vast majority of quiet worshippers on a Sunday morning.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Monday, 19 November 2012 at 10:40pm GMT

Having run 10-15 SEAD and ACI events in EDofSC; having been resident during sabbaticals in Charleston, HHI and Sumter; having given clergy conference events during the 1996-2006 period; and having a second residence in the diocese:

I think I have a fairly clear sense of the demographics.

We now watch events unfold.

Posted by cseitz at Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 1:55am GMT

This note was sent to me from a "TEC loyalist" re parishes simply associating with the Upper diocese (as proposed in an ACI posting):

"I wrote a response to your query about whether TEC loyalists in South Carolina would welcome an arrangement with Bishop Waldo:

I think yes. We’ve only got 12 parishes, and maybe another half–dozen missions, and the “missions” are scattered in small towns where the only Episcopal church in the area has thrown in with Bishop Lawrence. I expect TEC to make an attempt to hold as much property as possible (a strategy I personally oppose), but even if some real estate is saved I don’t think we have the numbers to sustain a diocesan infrastructure. I’d be happy if the “Diocese of Upper South Carolina” became “The Diocese of South Carolina” (TEC). Where I live, the cathedral in Columbia, SC is just as far away as the cathedral in Charleston is now."

If only those running the litigation strategy from 815 would listen to this local voice. Perhaps he will persuade his fellow "loyalists" to push back against the standard procedure.

Posted by cseitz at Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 3:38pm GMT

I thought this post by Ronald Caldwell over at Episcopal Cafe was interesting. (His post follows.)

The Episcopal Church leadership has done a wonderful job in South Carolina keeping the church going without a break, much as it did in the four earlier cases of secession. This has done a great deal to boost spirits all around the diocese, especially in the small towns and cities scattered from Georgia to North Carolina. For many years now, the conservative ruling monopoly in DSC has presented only one side to the people in the pews. Unless they knew of the Episcopal Forum or read the blog of Steve Skardon they knew nothing except what they were told by the establised diocesan power structure all of which was attack TEC 24/7.. In most parishes the faithful Episcopalians were silenced or ignored. At long last, the many Episcopalians scattered across the lowcountry will have a diocese that represents and reflects all. Inclusivity is back. Thanks be to God.

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 3:48pm GMT
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