Thinking Anglicans


Kelvin Holdsworth offers us 8 Things the Churches Could Learn From the collapse of HMV and Should churches use e-mail? Or indeed blogging?

Valerie Tarico writes for Salon that Religion may not survive the Internet.

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times about A chance to witness to the vision.

Jody Stowell writes about An Ordinary Radical Event.

Paul Lay writes for History Today about Beyond Belief.

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House of Laity meeting – press reports

The Church of England website has this press release about this afternoon’s debate.

House of Laity rejects vote of no confidence
18 January 2013

The House of Laity, meeting in Church House, Westminster today, rejected a motion of no confidence in its Chair, Dr Philip Giddings, with 47 voting for the motion and 80 voting against.

The motion was brought by Mr Stephen Barney, a lay canon of Leicester Cathedral, who said he had lost confidence in Dr Giddings as Chair of the House of Laity following Dr Giddings’ speech in the debate on women bishops legislation in November. In a letter to all members of the House of Laity before the debate, Mr Barney said, “Whatever we decide, I hope it will contribute to resolving this issue in the long term, for the flourishing of all.”

After the vote, Dr Giddings told the House: “Mr Chairman I am grateful for that vote of confidence but I need to, in a sense, take my medicine. There are clearly a substantial minority of the House who do not have confidence in me. I intend to continue in office but I shall take careful advice from colleagues about how we proceed from here. And in particular I think we need to have some kind of debate about what are the expectations of chair and vice chair in matters of this kind. I hope and pray that we can now put this behind us and the temperature can be lowered and that we can seek to work together for the sake of God’s mission to this country.”

There are several online press reports of the debate.

Madeleine Davies and Ed Thornton in the Church Times House of Laity bid to oust Giddings fails

Sam Jones in The Guardian Female bishops: house of laity chair survives no-confidence vote

Lauren Turner in The Independent Women bishops: Church leader Dr Philip Giddings wins confidence vote

BBC Church of England no-confidence vote defeated

John Bingham in The Telegraph Spectre of gay bishops feud returns amid Church debate on women

Matthew Davies of Episcopal News Service England’s laity rejects ‘no confidence’ vote in their chair

Christian Today Church of England: Philip Giddings survives lay vote

Andrew Brown of The Guardian has this comment: God’s hand in General Synod politics.


House of Laity meeting – outcome of the debate

The motion before the House was:

That this House have no confidence in Dr Philip Giddings as Chair of this House.

Immediately before the vote was due to be taken, a motion to pass to next business (and thereby cancel the vote on the main motion) was moved, but overwhelmingly lost.

The main motion was defeated with 47 votes in favour, 80 votes against and 13 recorded.

After the debate Dr Giddings said that he would continue in office, but that there was a need for a debate on the role of the chair of the house.


"awash with misconceptions"

The Anglican Mainstream website carries this editorial (reprinted from New Directions): Special meeting of the House of Laity. It starts:

We are appalled by the news that there is to be a special meeting of the House of Laity of the General Synod to have a vote of no confidence in the Chairman of the House of Laity, Dr Philip Giddings. Dr Giddings spoke up for proper and fair provision for those who in conscience cannot accept the ordination of women to the episcopate. He has been accused of impartiality, a charge not levied against those leaders in other Houses who spoke out firmly in favour of the legislation and indeed in one case against any provision whatsoever for us.

and later continues:

In response to Bishop Jonathan Baker’s fine reflection on the vote in synod the website ‘Thinking Anglicans’ has been awash with misconceptions and in some cases simple untruths. Many commentators have become fixated with the idea that there is a See of Ebbsfleet. Given that Ebbsfleet is a suffragan see of the Archbishop of Canterbury and on the official advert declaring a vacancy in the see it was called the See of Ebbsfleet, one wonders why people are getting so irate. It is of course because they dislike what the See of Ebbsfleet and indeed the other Catholic sees stand for. They dislike the sense of coherence around a bishop that has grown up in our constituency. They cannot understand the world in which we operate, supporting one another and meeting together, because we share a common faith and a common vision. [emphasis added]

Unlike the Anglican Mainstream website, we are open for comments.


more comments on the European court decisions

Law and Religion UK Frank Cranmer Chaplin, Eweida, Ladele and McFarlane: the judgment

Cif belief Mark Hill Lillian Ladele is the real loser in Christian discrimination rulings

Guardian Joshua Rozenberg Balancing Christian and gay rights isn’t easy – give Strasbourg some credit

Law and Lawyers Eweida and others v UK ~ a look at what is being said? which in turn has links to several further articles.

Also, from the Guardian Local Government Network, Phil Allen What a religious discrimination ruling means for local government.

And the International Business Times has this: Full Gay Rights Threaten Christians in Public Life, Says Anglican Mainstream.


House of Laity meeting

David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK looks ahead to tomorrow’s meeting with these Questions for the House of Laity (and the Church), and suggests that members of the House of Laity might ponder the following:

  • What will be achieved by holding this debate?
  • Is this a responsible use of Church resources?
  • Has the issue been discussed in the parishes/deaneries/dioceses other than between members of the House of Laity? If not, on what basis are the views of these groups to be represented?
  • What message is the meeting likely send to those outside the Church (and to those within who were not consulted)?
  • How does this fit into the bigger picture of: a] the ordination of women into episcopate; and b] synodical governance?

But do read the whole article.


Comments on the European court decisions

This morning there are many more articles commenting on the decisions announced yesterday in Strasbourg.

Editorial Religious freedom: Strasbourg’s balancing act
Cif belief Andrew Brown The BA Christian case was judged rightly, and a true test of tolerance

Editorial: Strasbourg performs a double service for us
Jerome Taylor A loss for the Christian lobby: the ECHR ruling reinforces the crucial point that religious rights don’t automatically trump the rights of others

Editorial: A new intolerance is nudging faith aside
Graeme Archer Is the ECHR the enemy of Christians? Or their friend?

Liberty Court of Human Rights delivers common-sense judgment on religious freedom and equal treatment

Theos European Court judgements send wrong message about religious freedom, says Theos

Evangelical Alliance Religious beliefs need common sense protection – response to European Court judgement

Religion Law Blog has Eweida and Others – First Views

Head of Legal has Strasbourg judgment: Eweida and others v UK

The Telegraph has Eric Pickles: Christian cases ‘should not go to Strasbourg’

More links available via Ekklesia at Commentary on the Strasbourg judgement: Eweida & Others v. the UK


House of Laity meeting


As Friday’s meeting of the House of Laity of the General Synod approaches with its motion of no confidence in Dr Philip Giddings as Chair of the House, James Townsend looks ahead to the meeting with Philip Giddings – the mood of the House is yet to settle.

Townsend is a lay member of Synod from the diocese of Manchester. He predicts “a reasonably high turnout of between 75% and 79%”, and his soundings suggest that the voting on the no confidence motion will be close.


Anglican Mainstream has published House of Laity Meeting on Friday January 18 with views from Bishop Jonathan Baker, Canon Stephen Barney, Peter Ould, Tom Sutcliffe and Stephen Trott.


European Court rejects all but one discrimination claims


The judgment of the European Court of Human Rights is now available in the cases of Ms Nadia Eweida, Ms Shirley Chaplin, Ms Lillian Ladele and Mr Gary McFarlane.

In brief, only Nadia Eweida won her case.

See the full text of the judgment at this page, or download a PDF file here.

The court’s own press release is over here (PDF).

Telegraph John Bingham Christian wins right to wear cross at work

BBC British Airways Christian employee Nadia Eweida wins case

Guardian Owen Bowcott BA worker’s rights were infringed by cross ban, European court rules and Ruling on Christian’s right to wear cross ‘does not trump other human rights’

The Archbishop of York has issued a statement: Wearing religious symbols at work.

The National Secular Society has issued a statement.

And the British Humanist Association has issued this statement.

Rosalind English has written at UK Human Rights Blog Strasbourg rules against BA on crucifix issue.

Church Times Gavin Drake British Airways wrong in cross case, says European Court in landmark judgment


ACNA comments on bishops in civil partnerships

The Anglican Church in North America included this comment in its latest Communique:

We noted the communication of the House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) concerning the recent decision of the House of Bishops in the Church of England to allow those in civil partnerships to be eligible to serve as bishops. This impacts both the doctrine of marriage and that of episcopacy. The Nigerian bishops wrote:

When the Church of England failed to exercise its legal and moral right to opt out of the civil partnerships legislation in 2005 warnings were given in England and around the Anglican Communion that this was a first step towards the recognition and institutionalization of behaviour contrary to the plain teaching of scripture and reaffirmed for all Anglicans by the 1998 Lambeth Conference in its Resolution 1.10. Sadly those warnings were ignored and we now face the next step in a process that could very well shatter whatever hopes we had for healing and reconciliation within our beloved Communion….

As a House of Bishops, while we acknowledge that we all fall short of God’s call to holiness, we dare not compromise the clear teaching of our Lord on faithfulness within Holy Matrimony and chastity outside of it. Sadly we must also declare that if the Church of England continues in this contrary direction we must further separate ourselves from it and we are prepared to take the same actions as those prompted by the decisions of The Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada ten years ago.

The College agreed with the principle articulated in the Windsor Report that “what affects the communion of all should be decided by all.” The experience in North America has been that that the theological departures from historic Anglican norms have brought devastating consequences. The admonishment from the Nigerian Bishops will, if heeded, avoid further anguish.


Civil partnerships and bishops: Global South Anglican statement

A statement has been issued from the Primates of the Global South of the Anglican Communion:

We, Primates of the Global South of the Anglican Communion, are deeply concerned and worried by the recent decision of the Church of England’s House of Bishops which approves that clergy livingin civil partnerships can be candidates to the episcopate.There is already an ambiguity regarding civil partnerships per se. We learnt that most civil partnerships, according to the Office for National Statistics in the UK, take place among the most sexually active age group. In addition dissolutions of civil partnerships are now increasing especially in the last few years. This puts into question the motives behind this civil partnership and adds to our confusion in the Global South.

When the Church of England allowed civil partnerships in 2005, they said that “The House of Bishops does not regard entering into a civil partnership as intrinsically incompatible with holy orders, provided the person concerned is willing to give assurances to his or her bishop that therelationship is consistent with the standards for the clergy set out in Issues in Human Sexuality.” Now, with allowing candidates for episcopacy to do the same, to whom should they give assurances? Clarification on this point is needed.

Sadly, both the decision to permit clergy to enter civil partnerships and this latest decision which some call it a “local option,” are wrong and were taken without prior consultation or consensus with the rest of the Anglican Communion at a time when the Communion is still facing major challenges of disunity. It is contrary to “the inter-dependence” which we try to affirm betweenchurches within the Communion. Moreover, it does not only widen the gap between the Church of England and Anglicans in the Global South, it also widens the gap between the Anglican Communion and our ecumenical partners. Further, it jeopardizes the relationship between us Anglicans living in the Global South and followers of other faiths, and gives opportunities to exploit such departure of moral standards that this type of decision may provide.

The Church, more than any time before, needs to stand firm for the faith once received from Jesus Christ through the Apostles and not yield to the pressures of the society! In other words, the Church needs to be “salt” and “light” and to present a distinctive message from that of the secular world around us.

We strongly urge the Church of England to reconsider this divisive decision.

+ Mouneer Egypt
The Most Revd Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis
Bishop of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa
Chairman, Global South Primates Steering Committee

++Nicholas Abuja
The Most Revd Nicholas Okoh
Primate of All Nigeria Bishop of Abuja
Vice-Chairman, Global South Primates Steering Committee

++ Ian Maritius
The Most Revd Ian Ernest
Primate of the Indian Ocean Bishop of Mauritius
Hon. General Secretary, Global South Primates Steering Committee

++Bolly Kuching
The Most Revd Datuk Bolly Lapok
Primate of South East Asia Bishop of Kuching
Hon. General Treasurer, Global South Primates Steering Committee

++ Stephen Yangon
The Most Revd Stephen Than Myint Oo
Primate of Myanmar Bishop of Yangon
Member, Global South Primates Steering Committee

++Eluid Nairobi
The Most Revd Dr. Eluid Wabukala
Primate of Kenya Bishop of Nairobi
Member, Global South Primates Steering Committee

++Bernard Matana
The Most Revd Bernard Nhatori
Primate of Burundi Bishop of Matana
Member, Global South Primates Steering Committee

++Hector Chile
The Most Revd Hector “Tito” Zavala
Primate of the Southern Cone Bishop of Chile
Member, Global South Primates Steering Committee

++Henri Kinshasa
The Most Revd Kahwa Henri Isingoma
Primate of Congo Bishop of Kinshasa
Member, Global South Primates Steering Committee



Mark Vernon writes for The Guardian Spiritual, but not religious? A dangerous mix.

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes writes about Normality and Deviance.

Jill Segger writes for Ekklesia about Much ado about bishops: time for a more humane dispensation?

Mark Beach writes for the Church Times about New ecumenism at work.

Paul Vallely writes in the Church Times that They want people to be ashamed.


House of Laity meeting

Madeleine Davies in the Church Times looks ahead to next week’s meeting of the General Synod’s House of Laity with Lay rebel explains his Giddings challenge.

Another letter to members of the House of Laity about next week’s meeting has reached us; this time from Tony Berry, a lay member from Chester diocese.

Dear Fellow member of Synod;

We are to debate a motion of no confidence in the chair of the House of Laity at our meeting on the 18th of January.

There appear to be three areas of concern; Leadership, Representation and Accountability. The debate on the Women Bishops measure provides a kind of critical incident through which these may be viewed. The comments below follow the three issues.

It may be that the chair of the House of Laity is not expected to be a leader or to exhibit leadership. In the debate the chair (having as I understand it) voted in July 2010 for the clause defining the principle of provision by delegation (itself carried by 393 to14) and voted to send the measure to the dioceses, then chose to be led by the minority in speaking and voting against the measure. This after the measure had had a ringing endorsement from the dioceses and the support of more than 2/3 of lay people.

In his speech he (three times) used the phrase “there must be a better way” without giving any indication of what he might have had in mind. It would have been an act of leadership (given the lay votes in the dioceses to at least given some indication of what a better way might be. Instead there was emptiness, an emptiness that was widely shared.

[continued below the fold]



Civil partnerships and bishops: Church Times report

Ed Thornton in the Church Times has this report: Civil partnerships: ‘We should have shown workings’.

…Speaking on Monday, Bishop Paterson said that the group – whose other members were the Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Revd Christopher Foster, and the Bishop of Dorchester, the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher – had produced a 20-page report for the House of Bishops in May last year.

The group’s report examined three questions: should the moratorium be maintained or not? If not, should there be any additional requirements made of candidates for the episcopate that would not be made of those seeking a parish appointment? If so, what should those additional requirements be?

Bishop Paterson said that although the group “did make a proposal”, he could not say what it was. In addition, it had assumed that it would be asked to produce a final report. In May, however, the House of Bishops standing committee took over responsibility for the review.

The standing committee produced a shorter document, which was discussed by the Bishops when they met in December at Lambeth Palace. The Bishops issued a paragraph, included in a summary of decisions, on 20 December, which “confirmed that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate”.

Bishop Paterson said: “It is fair to say that what came out at the end did not represent the fairly considerable amount of work by our group and the standing committee. But something had to be said by the end of the year, because it had been promised…”


Election of the Archbishop of Canterbury

News from Canterbury
The link (a 3 MB pdf file) also includes photographs.

TO ALL AND SINGULAR CHRISTIAN PEOPLE whom the underwritten shall or may in any way concern ROBERT ANDREW WILLIS DL, DCL, DD DEAN of the Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Christ Canterbury GREETING in the Lord Everlasting

WE DO MAKE IT KNOWN to you universally by these presents that the See of Canterbury being vacant by the resignation of The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Rowan Douglas Williams late Archbishop and Pastor thereof We the College of Canons aforesaid by virtue and authority of The Queen’s Licence granted to us for the Electing another Archbishop and Pastor of the said Church assembled together in our Cathedral on this Tenth day of January in the year of Our Lord Two thousand and thirteen and making a College of Canons there and observing the Laws and Statutes of this Kingdom and the ancient customs of the Cathedral Church in this behalf to be observed did elect THE RIGHT REVEREND JUSTIN PORTAL WELBY, Master of Arts, by Divine Permission Lord Bishop of Durham, to be Archbishop and Pastor of the said Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Christ Canterbury

[signed] Robert Willis


Readers are referred to the Appointment Of Bishops Act 1533 for the background to this news. They may also find this press release from Lambeth Palace helpful: Bishop Justin now Archbishop of Canterbury Elect.


House of Laity meeting – Gavin Oldham letter

Archbishop Cranmer has written on his blog an article entitled The revenge of the liberal laity. In it he quotes the full text of a letter from Gavin Oldham, a lay General Synod member from the diocese of Oxford. In it Oldham explains why he will be voting for the vote of no confidence in the chair of the House of Laity at the meeting of the House next week.

Here is the letter.

Dear friends in Christ,

On 18 January the House will be debating a ‘No Confidence’ motion in its Chair, a motion which has arisen directly from the General Synod debate on women bishops in November. I have given my support to the motion being debated, and it is my intention to support the motion on the day unless by the grace of God there is clear evidence of change.

I owe it to my friends in the House who voted against the women bishops’ legislation to explain why I have given my support, and how my views have changed since that day in November. Let me first explain that I have been a member of the General Synod since 1995 representing Oxford diocese: as does Philip Giddings, who I have been fortunate to regard as a friend over these last 17 years. I am also a member of EGGS, as he is and, although I have been a consistent supporter of women bishops, I regard myself very much as an Evangelical, albeit one who places a high importance on the place of reason alongside scripture and tradition.

This is not in any respect a personal issue.

[continued below the fold]



Civil partnerships and bishops – latest comments

Updated 4.15 pm

The Bishop of Salisbury has issued this statement: The Church of England and the criterion for episcopacy.

…The other, chaired by the Bishop of Sodor and Man, considered the implications of civil partnerships in relation to the episcopate, something which had not been dealt with explicitly in the pastoral statement on Civil Partnerships issued in 2005.

In December the House of Bishops confirmed that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate.

This information has been available since the Summary of Decisions of the House of Bishops was posted on 18th December. It is good deal less dramatic than has been presented in the media in the last few days.

It might be helpful to note that other criteria are also used in the selection of bishops. The substance of this is contained in the service for the ordination and consecration of bishops…

Church Society has issued this press release:

Civil Partnerships and Christian Leadership

The church is open to all people, whatever their sexual orientation, to respond to Jesus’ call to “Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark chapter 1 verse 15). We stand in firm agreement with the church’s clear and biblically-faithful statement that sex is exclusively for heterosexual marriage.

We recognise how pastorally unhelpful the existence of civil partnerships is for gay, lesbian, and bisexual disciples in our congregations who are positively committed, in response to God’s word, to celibacy and fleeing sexual sin daily. Like many heterosexual believers, some have given up long-term relationships in their pursuit of Christ-like godliness in this area, often with great pain and immense difficulty. Our prayers are with them, and we would ask the whole church to be sensitive and supportive, as they look to Christ Jesus our only Lord and Saviour.

In this context, we do not believe that church leaders at any level should confuse and undermine the call of the gospel — to deny oneself and follow Jesus — which unfortunately would be the case if those who have chosen a different path by entering civil partnerships are permitted to undertake authorised public ministry in the church.

Church Society Council

Canon Chris Sugden has quite a lot to say about the topic in this article.

Savi Hensman has written at Ekklesia about how Uganda archbishop highlights Anglican differences on sexuality.

The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has issued this statement: The Church of Nigeria Responds to the Church of England Bishops and Civil Partnerships. Full text below the fold.



Succession to the Crown Bill 2

Updated to add yesterday’s Questions in the House of Commons

Frank Cranmer and David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK have published a follow-up article on the Succession to the Crown Bill: La Reine (ou le Prince) le veult?. We covered the earlier article here.

The new article looks at the proposal that an heir to the Crown should be allowed to marry a Roman Catholic, and what the Canons of the Roman Catholic Church have to say about such a mixed marriage. It also includes links to press reports that the Prince of Wales and the Bishop of Leicester (convenor of the Lords Spiritual) have expressed their concerns about the proposal.

However The Telegraph reports that Nick Clegg reassures Prince Charles and Church of England over royal succession. This refers to an answer that the Deputy Prime Minister gave in the House of Commons yesterday. It was one of several Topical Questions (and answers) that can be read in Hansard. I have extracted the ones about the Succession to the Crown Bill below.

Sir Alan Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed) (LD): I congratulate my right hon. Friend on bringing forward legislation on the succession to the Crown. However, does he think that it is necessary to push it through in one day as if it was emergency terrorism legislation, when Parliament has a job to do to ensure that it is correctly drafted and that any concerns or unforeseen difficulties are addressed properly?

The Deputy Prime Minister: Making a small, concise amendment to an Act that has been on the statute book since 1701 is hardly acting hastily.

Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab): 1700.

The Deputy Prime Minister: I am being corrected by the historians on the Opposition Benches. None the less, this is something that has been on the statute book for more than 300 years. Let us remember that this is a very specific act of discrimination against one faith only. The heir to the throne may marry someone of any religion outside the Church of England—Muslim, Hindu and so on—but uniquely not a Catholic under the terms of the Act of 1700 or 1701. This is a precise change and it is being co-ordinated precisely with all the other realms that have to make the identical change in their legislation.

Mr Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight) (Con): Can the Deputy Prime Minister assure the House that the Succession to the Crown Bill will give the public confidence that the relationship between Church and state will be unaltered, even if a future monarch should marry a Roman Catholic and the ensuing child is a Catholic?

The Deputy Prime Minister: I can give the hon. Gentleman complete reassurance that the provisions in the Bill will not in any way alter the status of the established Church in this country and the monarch as head of that Church. We have had monarchs who have married Catholics. I think Queen Anne of Denmark was married to James I of Scotland—I may be corrected by our historian, the hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant), from a sedentary position. There is absolutely nothing in the provisions that will alter the status of the Church in the way feared by the hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr Turner).

Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con): I wish the Deputy Prime Minister a happy new year. Was one of his new year resolutions to decide that, if he thinks a policy is right, it should be rushed through in a day? Will he answer properly a question he has been asked before? Why will the succession Bill be rushed through in a day under emergency legislation procedures? Those procedures should be used only for emergency legislation, which the succession Bill is not.

The Deputy Prime Minister: I wish the hon. Gentleman a happy new year too—and Mrs Bone. It is important to stress that the Bill is not a capricious legislative initiative on behalf of the Government. It was solemnly agreed at the Commonwealth summit in Perth by all the Commonwealth realms. It has also been subject to extensive discussion between officials in the Cabinet Office and the royal household, and between Governments and officials of this country and of the Commonwealth realms. We have said that we will take the lead in setting out the legislative provisions for the other Commonwealth realms. The legislative change is very precise, which is why we are keen to proceed as quickly as possible.


Archbishop of Canterbury website

The website for the Archbishop of Canterbury has been updated to refer to Justin Welby.

The content from the time of his predecessor Rowan Williams has been archived here. I’ve tried a few old links and it looks as if they all correctly redirect to the archive site.


Lawsuit filed in South Carolina against The Episcopal Church

See this press release: Diocese Seeks Declaratory Judgment to Prevent Episcopal Church from Seizing Local Parishes and “Hijacking” their Identities.

St. George, SC, January 4, 2013 –The Diocese of South Carolina, the Trustees of the Diocese and congregations representing the vast majority of its baptized members today filed suit in South Carolina Circuit Court against The Episcopal Church to protect the Diocese’s real and personal property and that of its parishes.

The suit also asks the court to prevent The Episcopal Church from infringing on the protected marks of the Diocese, including its seal and its historical names, and to prevent the church from assuming the Diocese’s identity, which was established long before The Episcopal Church’s creation.

“We seek to protect more than $500 million in real property, including churches, rectories and other buildings that South Carolinians built, paid for, maintained and expanded – and in some cases died to protect – without any support from The Episcopal Church,” said the Rev. Jim Lewis, Canon to the Ordinary. “Many of our parishes are among the oldest operating churches in the nation. They and this Diocese predate the establishment of The Episcopal Church. We want to protect these properties from a blatant land grab.”

The Diocese of South Carolina was established in 1785 as an independent, voluntary association that grew from the missionary work of the Church of England. It was one of nine dioceses that voluntarily joined together to form The Episcopal Church in October 1789, which eventually became an American province in the worldwide Anglican Communion, also a voluntary association.

“When the Diocese disassociated from The Episcopal Church we didn’t become a new entity,” Canon Lewis explained. “We have existed as an association since 1785. We incorporated in 1973; adopted our current legal name, ‘The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina,’ in 1987; and we disassociated from the Episcopal Church in October of 2012. The Episcopal Church has every right to have a presence in the area served by our Diocese – but it does not have a right to use our identity. The Episcopal Church must create a new entity.”

The Diocese of South Carolina is made up of 71 parishes with approximately 30,000 members. Of those, 22,244 members have decided to remain with the Diocese and 1900 are undecided. Fifty Three Hundred say they want to be with The Episcopal Church with nearly half of those from one church in Charleston. While the Diocese has disassociated from The Episcopal Church, it remains a part of the Anglican Communion.

Though theologically more conservative than the leadership of the national Episcopal Church, Bishop Lawrence has for five years struggled to keep the Diocese intact and in The Episcopal Church, even as some 200 parishes and four other dioceses nationwide disassociated. The parishes and dioceses have disagreed with The Episcopal Church’s recent interpretation of scripture, which is widely considered to be unorthodox by most of the world’s 80 million Anglicans…

And there is this letter from Bishop Mark Lawrence.

There is a long version and also a short version of a document entitled Stewardship of the Gospel – Stewardship of the Diocese.

And there are other materials and letters of support from elsewhere in the Anglican Communion and beyond over here.