Presiding Bishop’s pastoral letter to Episcopalians in South Carolina

Posted Nov 15, 2012

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued a Pastoral Letter to the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.

The following is the November 15 Pastoral Letter from the Presiding Bishop.
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Katharine, a servant of Christ, to the saints in South Carolina.

May the grace, mercy, and peace of Christ Jesus our Savior be with you all.

You and the challenges you are facing in South Carolina remain in my own prayers and in those of many, many Episcopalians.  As the confusion increases, I would like to clarify a number of issues which I understand are being discussed.

1)  While some leaders have expressed a desire to leave The Episcopal Church, the Diocese has not left.  It cannot, by its own action.  The alteration, dissolution, or departure of a diocese of The Episcopal Church requires the consent of General Convention, which has not been consulted.  Examples of legitimate separation from The Episcopal Church include the dioceses of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines, which separated from The Episcopal Church in 1990 to form an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion.  Another is the Diocese of Liberia, which moved from The Episcopal Church to the Province of West Africa, by mutual consent, in the 1980s.  Both are now part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and continue in covenanted relationship with The Episcopal Church.  Nothing of the sort has transpired within the Diocese of South Carolina.

The decisions “announced” by leaders in South Carolina appear to be unilateral responses to anxiety about decisions made by General Convention and/or the actions of the Disciplinary Board concerning Bishop Lawrence.

The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina continues to be a constituent part of The Episcopal Church, even if a number of its leaders have departed.  If it becomes fully evident that those former leaders have, indeed, fully severed their ties with The Episcopal Church, new leaders will be elected and installed by action of a Diocesan Convention recognized by the wider Episcopal Church, in accordance with our Constitution and Canons.

2)  I want to urge every parishioner and cleric in South Carolina to recognize that, as long as you wish to remain in The Episcopal Church, no leader, current or former, can exile you, remove you, or separate you from it without your consent.  That decision is yours alone.  It is one reason why we have imposed checks and balances on the authority of members of the clergy, including bishops.  In our tradition decisions about the Church are not made unilaterally.

Disagreement about a variety of issues is normal in this Church, and has historically been considered a healthy sign of diversity.  Since the time of the early Church we have recognized that none of us is fully cognizant of the mind of God.  The major struggles of the first generation of Christians were over much-debated issues of inclusion – could the uncircumcised be full members?  Who could be baptized?

Please know that The Episcopal Church wants you to remain!

Your presence adds to the ability of this community to discern the will of God, even if you disagree vehemently with one or another resolution passed by a particular General Convention.  There will be another General Convention in less than three years, and another after that.  Never in the history of Christianity have all the faithful agreed about everything, and I doubt very much that we will come to full agreement about everything before we join the saints in light at Jesus’ Second Coming!

3)  A number of charges have been raised by these apparently departing leaders around actions by the wider Episcopal Church.  They fall into two areas – one having to do with Bishop Mark Lawrence, concerning his actions in South Carolina, and the other having to do with several bishops who filed statements about Episcopal Church polity (governance) in courts in Illinois and Texas.  These are entirely separate matters, governed by independent processes.

Bishop Lawrence was charged by several members of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina with having “abandoned the communion of The Episcopal Church” by making or condoning actions which repudiate the polity (violate the canons or rules) of The Episcopal Church.  These actions have to do with formally attempting to separate the Diocese of South Carolina, its congregations, and their property from the wider Episcopal Church without its consent.  The Diocese of South Carolina is a constituent part of The Episcopal Church, and that status cannot be altered without the action of General Convention.

The disciplinary processes of this Church carefully considered the matters with which Bishop Lawrence was charged, and the Disciplinary Board found that he had indeed repudiated the polity of this Church.  It then became my canonical responsibility and obligation to limit (“restrict”) his formal ability to function as bishop until the entire House of Bishops can consider these charges.  Bishop Lawrence has an extended period (60 days) in which he can repudiate those charges, and I stand ready to respond positively to any sign that he has done so.

The other matter concerns nine bishops of The Episcopal Church who have participated in court filings that deny the hierarchical nature of this Church.  Charges have been made by some Standing Committees and other bishops against those nine, and the parties involved are being asked to agree to seek conciliation under the disciplinary canons.  That means that those involved are trying to find a resolution that will end the disciplinary process.  I believe all involved see that as a positive endeavor.

4)  Clergy in the Diocese of South Carolina should be advised that they remain members of this Church until they renounce their orders or are otherwise removed by Title IV processes.  They may also continue to contribute to the Church Pension plan until such formal separation.  In any case, the contributions made while the member was active in The Episcopal Church remain vested in the plan and a pension may be drawn when the plan’s rules permit. The Episcopal Church will do everything in its power to support Episcopal clergy in South Carolina who wish to remain members of this Church.

5)  The same is true of all – The Episcopal Church will do everything in its power to support loyal Episcopalians who wish to remain members of this Church.  My desire, and that of most Episcopalians, is that every member of this Church find a home here that supports his or her spiritual growth in the love of God in Christ, and the love of neighbor.  The Episcopal Church has traditionally been broad and diverse enough to welcome and include a great variety of ways of pursuing that spiritual growth.  We want it to stay that way, because we believe that we have greater opportunity to discern the leading of the Holy Spirit when diverse voices are present.

At the same time, we recognize that an individual may decide that his or her spiritual growth means the individual needs to find another worshipping community.  After thorough discernment, if a person decides that the journey will lead elsewhere, our task is to bless and pray for that person.  Nevertheless, the saints have generally shown us that stability – remaining in relationship, even when it is challenging – is ultimately the healthier, if harder, choice.

6)  The Episcopal Church and its leaders are working hard to keep the doors and relationships open to all who wish to be part of this body.  We are far from perfect, but we do believe we have greater opportunity for repentance and redemption in dialogue with those who differ or disagree, because we believe God is likely speaking through those around us.  Together we pray in hope of discovering a fuller sense of God’s leading.

I give thanks for you and will pray for your decision making.  I remain

Your servant in Christ,

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

November 15, 2012


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Comments (130)

  1. Andy Hook says:

    I don’t always agree with the PB but I agree with this letter.

    1. The Rev. Patricia Drost says:

      I remain incredibly impressed with the centeredness amidst constroversy that our PB exhibits. We so need calm and cool logic in the face of so much hysteria. TEC has an historic opportunity to move firmly into the 21st century and to meaningful growth, and the SC contingent and its friends would only move us all closer to death as an outdated institution.

      1. John Snedeker says:

        He does have a way with words, doesn’t he. As in” Did God REALLY say?”

        1. Lawrence Elliott says:

          Only, he is a she!

      2. Julian MalaKar says:

        Only those Church survive who remain attached with the vine (body of Christ), Who is Alpha and Omega, and unchanged with time and space. But Episcopal Church changes with change of society, like any business entity for profit. People come to Church for spiritual hunger and nourishment comes from God not from society. Diocese of SC is a growing Church, and God will protect them as long remain faithful.

  2. Christopher Cleveland says:

    I strongly dislike the PB for her decision to mandate litigation over amicable seperation of departing parishes and her weak as water theology. Under her leadership TEC has fractured and lost thousands of members.
    However, this is the first statement of hers that I’ve read that leads me to believe she may in fact be a Christian and not a liturgical Unitarian. Unlike previous missives, this letter is pastoral, affirms Christ as Savior and seeks to promote peace.
    My hope is that we will see this side of KJS more often. Our church surely needs it.

    1. Richard Lamb says:

      From what I have heard, I can’t believe that the PB is going to be honest and above board with anything regarding the Dio. SC. It is hard for a leopard to change its spots, especially in such a short period of time. Don’t drink the kool ade

      1. Lawrence Elliott says:

        What made you think she was/is a leopard. Everything I’ve seen and heard says otherwise.

  3. Michael Burke says:

    This is well written and well considered. Spoken with Grace and clarity.
    Pray for the Church.

    1. I agree–a very well-written, prayerful letter.

      1. Cathy Sniderman says:

        I can only support this. We need to spend energy on reaching out to the suffering, not worrying about the sometimes “frozen chosen.”

  4. Carol McRee says:

    While this letter is probably the best writing from the PB, we all know she has no clue as to how the church is actually structured. Besides this is not to the entire diocese but only to her “loyalists”. Dioceses have indeed left. She needs to really read the Constitution and Canons as her previous actions make it clear that she has no understanding of them.

    1. Marc Kivel says:

      Carol, I would say that her understanding of the Church is significantly better than mine or yours. The Church is all the people, not just clergy or particular clergy. And if those who wish to leave truly believe God is on their side why not show their faith by leaving the property and money to the true Episcopal Church of South Carolina and let them find places where they can worship the Bible with integrity?

  5. Carol McRee says:

    Forgot to say. I think it is a bunch of half truths and lies put together to hopefully fool some people. Not working…… nuff said.

  6. Maxine Schell says:

    The Presiding Bishop and the people of SC are of two different religions.

    1. Earle Phillips says:

      As one of those “people of South Carolina” I wish to affirm my commitment to TEC and thank God for a Presiding Bishop who stands firm in all that TEC represents and who continues to verbalize the inclusiveness which is one of TEC’s three tenets. Understanding that, as you say, there are “people of SC” who are of a “different religion”, then it seems obvious that those people should, in fact, seek participation in a different religious organization to guide their spiritual path.

      1. Michael Raczynski says:

        The Bishop of South Carolina has graciously allowed every parish to decide for itself who they will affiliate with. No lawsuits and no ill will. If your parish wishes to remain with the TEC then they can. If only your PB would be so Christian when the majority have spoken.

        1. Marc Kivel says:

          Michael, if the folks who wish to leave the Episcopal Church will simply notify the Episcopal Diocese of SC where they can pick up the keys for all the property and find the parish books then I agree, no lawsuits required….

      2. Marc Kivel says:

        Episcopalians around the world are praying for the Episcopalians of South Carolina…many of us are wondering if the results of the just ended political campaign season may have contributed to the nastiness you’re being subjected to….

    2. sally fine says:

      THank God! Yes, we are different; we actually read and believe the Bible and The Book of Common Prayer!

    3. Michael Shirley says:

      Do we not pray that we all may be one? Do not speak for all Episcopalians in SC either. The Diocese of Upper South Carolina did not leave the Episcopal Church.

  7. I’m grateful for this letter–its clarity and its gracious tone. Bishop Katharine has presided in the aftermath and midst of great turmoil, and has led with courage and steadfast faith. Characterizing her theology as “weak as water” is unnecessary rhetoric and adds nothing to the discussion. Also, those who left did not do so because of her leadership, but because they disagree with the actions of General Convention. In that sense, they left because of the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies.

    1. The Rev. Robert C. Greanfeldt says:

      I am well into my fifth decade in orders in the Episcopal Church, and while we have had some very good Presiding Bishops in those years, I believe Katharine is the best I’ve known. Her combination of gracious strength is outstanding, and I can only be impressed by her combination, as well, of deep spirituality and impressive theological depth.
      We are fortunate to have her as our PB in this oh so difficult time in the life of our Church.
      I feel sorry for those members of the Church in South Carolina who have, with the mistaken guidance of so much of their Diocesan leadership, and I am praying for them and for those same leaders.

      1. Michael N Isham says:

        Well said, Honorable Reverend!

      2. Michael Raczynski says:

        But will you honour their decision to leave with the buildings they have built, the monies they have accumulated, and the souls they will surely care for in the same Christian manner they have for centuries? Will you instead stand with those who will resort to the courts to gain empty pews and sell those empty parishes to anyone but your Anglican brethren pocketing the money gained though you hurt the body of Christ?

        1. Marc Kivel says:

          You knew what you were doing and the potential costs involved by trying to replay the Donatist heresy therefore on what basis do you claim the right to keep that which was never yours but the property of the Church you’ve abandoned?

  8. Don McCleary says:

    Didn’t we all know the South Carolina situation would end this way?
    Please pray for those faithful Episcopalians in the Diocese of South Carolina who wish to remain.
    As for those who wish to leave “Go in Peace to Love and serve the Lord” but please leave the real property and the endowments of “The Episcopal Church” behind!

    1. Earle Phillips says:

      Amen.

    2. Michael Raczynski says:

      Why should they leave these things?

      1. Carol L Kent says:

        Because the monies given, the buildings purchased were done THROUGH the Episcopal Church. Not through any other church. It is the property of the Episcopal Church, as such should remain with it. It is the people who are choosing to leave – not the Episcopal Church who is leaving.

    3. Marc Kivel says:

      The mistake was trying to placate one wing of the Church by letting Mark Lawrence have a second whack at being named the bishop…

  9. Michael Strong says:

    I searched this letter in vain for a sign of Christian love. The PB seems unable to unite Christians who disagree. She apparently prefers to exercise the harsh discipline of Title IV with secret disciplinary processes. This is the same person who rejects Section 4 of the Anglican Covenant as being unanglican. I feel terribly ashamed of being associated with her at this time.

    1. Michael N Isham says:

      Me thinks that your idea of love is capitulation! Perhaps you should read St. Paul’s letters again; he was prone to tough love also.

    2. Roger Brown says:

      You oppose harsh discipline, and yet support Section 4 of the Anglican Covenant, which is about introducing harsh discipline on a communion-wide basis. This seems quite contradictory.

      Also, what disciplinary processes have been secret? This is a very public letter.

  10. Robert G. Harp PhD says:

    I was just thinking that day on which Bishop Lawrence is deposed ought not be far off, but then realized that he – through his egoism disguised as piety – has already deposed himself.

    So be it.

    1. Michael Strong says:

      “and you shall know they are Christians by their love” and TEC by its appetite for litigation and division. Have you wondered Robert G Harp why Bishop Lawrence’s Diocese unlike the rest of TEC has grown? Does the regular loss of dioceses appeal to you? Bear in mind Romans 12:19.

      1. Michael N Isham says:

        Please, please, please, Mr. Strong; kindly be honest with these statistics. Bishop Lawrence’s diocese is growing for the very same reason Eastern Michigan dioceses have been shrinking: population shift!! South Carolina has experienced significant increases in population and, God bless all of you, you have benefitted. Next thing, you’ll be saying that the hard-working bishops in population-loss dioceses are less that faithful Christians. The truth of the matter is that nearly all, if not all Christian churches are experiencing membership declines in North America. Most Americans could not give a whit for all of this sectarian hair-splitting.

        1. Michael Raczynski says:

          If you believe that Mr. Isham then that is fine. Most believe that perhaps preaching the Gospel the way it has been for two thousand years as perhaps the reason why they have grown. Either way, what was the Diocese of South Carolina is gone forever to the TEC even if the TEC manages to win every parish and every bank account it will gain nothing but empty buildings. Take those that wish to remain and be grateful. To those that wish to follow the path chosen by Bishop Lawrence the TEC should let them go as well, buildings, endowments, and all.

        2. Michael Strong says:

          Mr Ishan, please note that the Diocese of Los Angeles is declining despite its expanding population. It would in fact be interesting to correlate population growth with TEC decline, diocese by diocese and certainly help us to get to the ‘truth of the matter’. It would surprise me to learn that S Carolina had experienced a unique surge in population. However, I would worry about a hardworking priest anywhere whose accomplishment is an ever smaller church. The matter of ‘works’ is another debate altogether. It is encouraging to note the following http://anglicanink.com/article/church-england-will-not-break-south-carolina . The statement indicates a gratifying knowledge of the US, the history 150 years ago, of course ACNA today and by no means least of all, the broad generous and patient spirit of the Anglican Communion. Personally having been raised in England, I have saddened by the leadership’s failure to embrace diversity since I doubt whether we as individuals or as communities can grow spiritually without embracing diversity in our midst.

      2. Marc Kivel says:

        Dio of SC is one of several dioceses growing…I would guess he panders to SC self-righteousness and antebellum desires – folks flock where their views are validated….particularly those who watch Fox News for their world view

    2. Richard Lamb says:

      Wow

      Dr. Robert, Strong words. Not the Mark Lalwrence I have had the opportunity to know.

      1. Marc Kivel says:

        Did you know him before he joined the SC aristocracy?

    3. Earle Phillips says:

      I respect the fact that Bishop Lawrence has strong personal feelings about his view of the message of the scriptures but I am appalled by the arrogance of assuming that his views must be reflected by TEC or that TEC is, ipso facto, in error in its views. If a leader who has vowed to support an organization’s canons and rules finds that he/she cannot continue to do so, he/she should honorably depart from that organization and find another which he/she can support. I am personally offended that the leader of my diocese has assumed that he has a right/duty to impose his personal views upon my church.

      1. Marc Kivel says:

        Amen, Earle! If he wants to stay in the Church and teach and preach his POV, by all means…but when he took an oath and now says it doesn’t matter? He’s truly faithless

    4. Michael N Isham says:

      Amen! If I treated my boss as has Bishop Lawrence (“Hey boss, I know better than you, and I’m going to bad-mouth you in public”), she’d depose me too.

  11. The Reverend Canon Susan Russell says:

    Prayers ascend from Pasadena for the Diocese of South Carolina and in thanksgiving for the leadership of our Presiding Bishop — and in hopes that the DNA of Anglican comprehensiveness which allowed 16th century Anglicans to be in communion across protestant/catholic differences can be employed in the 21st century to choose diversity over division.

    1. Robert G. Harp PhD says:

      Amen, Susan.

    2. David Yarbrough says:

      Canon Robinson, I note that 16th Century Anglicanism, in addition to resulting in the likes of Cranmer and Ridley being burned at the stake, resulted in the theologically orthodox Puritans (whom we know as the Pilgrims) being forced into exile and ultimately to migrate to America.

      The rejection by Anglicanism and TEC of theological conservatives continues to this day.

      1. Michael N Isham says:

        And I believe that the “Pilgrims” subsequently hung Anne Hutchinson for being a Quaker! Hmmm, seems to be a habit of the age from which your example was unfortunately plucked.

        1. Peter Meyers says:

          That was Mary Dyer. Anne Hutchinson was the victim of a massacre by the Siwanoy in what is now the Bronx.
          This is a bit of an over-simplification of her story; but these are the salient points. Mary Dyer was once tarred and feathered and run out of Massachusetts on a rail by the Puritans (the Pilgrims we honor every year at Thanksgiving), and ordered never to return. The original charge was witchcraft (she reportedly had given birth to a headless monster with horns), but the real offense was preaching at all and preaching Quakerism to boot. Return she did, and along with two male companions, was hanged on Boston Common. According to witnesses, she was run up by the neck several times, each time given the opportunity to recant. The Puritans were reluctant to finish the job because she was reputed to have royal Stuart-Tudor) connections. Several times more she was freed with the warning never to return to the Massachusetts Bay Colony; and each time she returned to preach Jesus Christ as understood by the Friends (Quakers), the role of an inner light being the primary basis of faith, taking precedence even over the Gospel . There is a large statue of her in front of the State House in Boston, near to where she was hanged.
          And, oh yes, the Puritans used quotations from Sacred Scripture to augment their arguments against her. Nothing much new under the Sun, is there!?
          Peter Meyers
          Jackson-Vicksburg, Mississippi

    3. Christopher Cleveland says:

      Here is an interview with the PB that demonstrates her faulty Christology, low view of Sacred Scripture and gnostic understanding of salvation:

      salvation and the nature of Jesus.

      ADG: I want to ask you about a couple of other things you’ve said in interviews. One of those was in the 10 questions in TIME magazine about the small box that people put God in. Could you elaborate a little bit on your take on “Jesus is the way, the truth and the life” [a paraphrase of John 14:16]?

      KJS: I certainly don’t disagree with that statement that Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. But the way it’s used is as a truth serum, or a touchstone: If you cannot repeat this statement, then you’re not a faithful Christian or person of faith. I think Jesus as way — that’s certainly what it means to be on a spiritual journey. It means to be in search of relationship with God. We understand Jesus as truth in the sense of being the wholeness of human expression. What does it mean to be wholly and fully and completely a human being? Jesus as life, again, an example of abundant life. We understand him as bringer of abundant life but also as exemplar. What does it mean to be both fully human and fully divine? Here we have the evidence in human form. So I’m impatient with the narrow understanding, but certainly welcoming of the broader understanding.

      ADG: What about the rest of that statement –

      KJS: The small box?

      ADG: Well, the rest of the verse, that no one comes to the Father except by the son.

      KJS: Again in its narrow construction, it tends to eliminate other possibilities. In its broader construction, yes, human beings come to relationship with God largely through their experience of holiness in other human beings. Through seeing God at work in other people’s lives. In that sense, yes, I will affirm that statement. But not in the narrow sense, that people can only come to relationship with God through consciously believing in Jesus.

      1. This is exactly right. Amen.

      2. Michael N Isham says:

        I may be theologically deficient; however, your point is……………..?

    4. The Rev. Robert C. Greanfeldt says:

      And, again, Amen!

    5. Julian MalaKar says:

      Rev. Canon Susan, in general term diversity of opinion has its limit. Episcopal Church by simple majority of legislative body passed the new bill of amendment converting years old believe to be sin into make-believe virtue, which humankind does not have authority to amend and thus crossed the limit. Like all American must follow its constitution, to its entirety to enjoy benefits, all Christian should follow teaching of the Bible as a path to receive God’s love. The Bible is the source of knowing Jesus Christ, no one of this generation has seen Jesus. The difference of opinion between two groups is so wide that there is no point of return. Diocese of SC also like TEC by majority vote in diocesan legislative body passed the bill to severe with TEC. In this situation, TEC as body of Christ should say to Diocese of SC as every Sunday say “Go and serve the Lord”. But without property how could they serve the Lord? Conventional wisdom says mutual agreement as suggested in the Bible, is cheaper than paying lawyer fees, which create win-win situation, restore Christ’s peace and priceless.

      1. Peter Meyers says:

        In Strasbourg, France there is a large church building, St Pierre-le-Jeune, shared by Roman Catholics and Protestants (Lutherans, I believe). It was closed when I visited, but either they use different parts of the building or have services at different times and, I assume, share expenses on the physical plant.
        Maybe there can be a win-win situation in all this. I am praying for those who remain in the Episcopal fold and for those who believe they must leave. All are God’s children, beloved of the Lord. How can we do less!?
        Peter Meyers
        Jackson-Vicksburg, Mississippi

      2. Peter Meyers says:

        Julian,
        The US Supreme Court spends its days attempting to clarify the meaning of the US Constitution. There are ardent arguments on both/all sides. What seems self-evident and crystal clear to some is often murky and troubling to others.
        Consider slavery. As the American understanding of what it is to be a human being and what it means for a human being to be owned by another CHANGED over almost a century. Sad to say, not all churches were in the vanguard or those proclaiming slavery as immoral.; but eventually when the world changed, church teaching changed universally. Remember, both sides cited Sacred Scripture, chapter and verse. Because the citizens of free states could not understand the beliefs and practices of slave states, and vica versa, the USA got into one of the bloodiest wars in history with their brothers of the CSA. Let’s not emulate the firing on Ft. Sumter by either side. Let’s, all of us, ask with open hearts and in good faith Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with His Holy Spirit to be the very center of all that happens between the Episcopal Church and Bp Lawrence and his followers in South Carolina. We need a miracle to head off calamity. Pray for a miracle!

        1. Julian Malakar says:

          Peter, The Bible teaches very clearly that both “Slave” (worker) and “Master” (employer) are children of God and their master is God Himself. God’s commands for both master and slave were not less than present labor laws that save guard labor rights. Abraham had slaves. In other words hiring employees (the then slave) for agricultural production was not sin as frequently used by liberal group for their justification, oppose to having sex with same gender, clearly prohibited in the Bible and designated as sin. Those who encourage are also committing sin and would be subject to God’s judgment at Final Judgment Day including PB and those who voted for “Yes” amending God’s command. TEC encourage little faith on the Bible, but heavily relied on socio-political change of the world for survival of TEC as world institution.

          TEC, if not hypocrite in preaching diversification, they could accommodate Diocese of SC in umbrella of TEC by amending canon before striping authority of Bishop Lawrence, as Roman Catholic did in accepting Anglican Diocese in a special status. Sharing property proportionately as you suggested is one option for win-win resolution and restoring Christ’s peace both parties desperately need in principle of love your enemy, if they consider Church as a Body of Christ and set aside question of right or wrong to subject to God’s judgment at the end of the day.

      3. Marc Kivel says:

        Julian, let me be brief: the Diocese of SC is a creature of TEC, not the other way around no matter how much your Bishop might feel otherwise. The Church of Rome’s accommodation for Anglicans consists of allowing them to use the 1554 BCP in English and other “normative” Anglican rites; otherwise, they toe the Roman line. To say that TEC General Convention votes were simply political expediency not directed by the Holy Spirit is no different than saying that Peter’s vision of the sheet and the command to ignore the laws of purity in foods was simply a story he concocted to let the Gentiles into the Church! People will differ on this but only God knows.

        And btw, Paul isn’t Jesus, and to take what Paul says as Gospel is a HUGE error of theology and to then wish to separate the church into purists and impurists based on your theology is nothing more than a replay of the Donatist heresy…

        Look, you want to be a Southern Baptist with yells, bells and smells, by all means, enjoy. But do not try to argue the legitimacy of abandoning the Church because of a misinformed theology and a self-serving selection of verses from Paul.

        1. Michael Strong says:

          I thought the diocese of S Carolina existed before TEC. Paul was writing decades before the gospel writers and certainly met Peter, James and John and many others who witnessed the Resurrection. Hard for me to see that Paul writes erroneous theology. Finally Bishop Lawrence consistently claims that he wanted to stay in TEC. Furthermore apparently a year ago, the same minority complained to 815 and their complaint was rejected. Finally Marc your tone strikes me as angry and talking down, a characteristic I noticed of several liberals at the last Convention. Maybe conservatives are guilty of the same sin but there are just less of them, sad to note. Many of us would prefer TEC to be place that encouraged diversity and open mindedness. It is most unfortunate that this prospect seems most unlikely.

    6. Marc Kivel says:

      Amen

  12. Thank be to God for Katharine, our P.B. May she and all Christians of S.C. soon come to the time of being able to pray together.

  13. Carl Johengen says:

    It seems a shame that those who dislike and mistrust the PB hear what they wish to hear in this letter, and that those of us who respect and admire her leadership and calm presence find in this letter a refreshing absence of hysteria and emotion. Accusations that the PB is unenlightened about issues of EC or Anglican polity and theology don’t even pass the laugh test.

  14. David Yarbrough says:

    “Never in the history of Christianity have all the faithful agreed about everything, and I doubt very much that we will come to full agreement about everything before we join the saints in light at Jesus’ Second Coming!”

    Mrs. Schori, there IS a common point of all the faithful of Christianity – the centrality of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. Without this, there is no claim to Christianity.

    “The Episcopal Church has traditionally been broad and diverse enough to welcome and include a great variety of ways of pursuing that spiritual growth. We want it to stay that way, because we believe that we have greater opportunity to discern the leading of the Holy Spirit when diverse voices are present.”

    Except when TEC chooses to reject the voices who claim that the explicit words of Holy Scripture constitute the voice of the leading of the Holy Spirit.

    The vast majority of the membership of the Diocese of South Carolina are among the rejected. They seek to leave TEC on an amicable basis – but maintaining the organizational and financial integrity of the parishes where conservative members are in the vast majority, in a state where the Dennis Canon has been nullified by the South Carolina Supreme Court.

    It’s past time for TEC, Mrs. Schori, and the House of Bishops to follow the lead of the Presbyterian Church, USA, and establish a pathway for these parishes to leave TEC decently and in order. Not to do so communicates to the world that earthly treasures are more valuable than spiritual values, wastes scarce resources on legal fees and court costs, and creates an expectation that TEC can sustain major investment in physical plant (and associated mortgage debt) with the small remnant after the conservative members depart. This is unsustainable and represents poor stewardship.

    It would seem simple to reorganize the Diocese of Upper South Carolina to incorporate those few parishes in the Diocese of South Carolina who will choose to remain in TEC as well as future growth in the Downstate, and to allow the larger group of parishes the flexibility to affiliate with a Church which recognizes their views of Scriptural truth.

    The importance of the larger work of Jesus Christ in the world demands that we open our minds to these possibilities.

    1. Michael Strong says:

      I agree David, thank you. I also agree with Rev Canon Susan Rusell in wishing that TEC embraced diversity. Note however the enormous difficulty Elizabeth had in embracing diversity, numerous RC attempts on her life and the puritans girding themselves for the war and interregnum in the next century. It is worth reading the preface to the 1662 BCP but embracing diversity is far from easy. The Anglican Communion is still unique in embracing diversity, at least the C o f E is, but I simply do not see the PB up the task here in the US. The measure of her failure has to be the declining membership, an apparent refusal to hear, listen and embrace dissent, senseless litigation and the attitude evident on this board of ‘good riddance’. Go to a Convention and mention a minority (conservative) view; you will not see any attempt at dialog, simply angry contempt. Hopefully we are all Christians and take His commandments and the Great Commission seriously as David implies above.

    2. Michael N Isham says:

      In the late 1960s I listened to a barrage of “scriptural truth” at Bob Jones University (also in South Carolina by the way) on the inferiority of non-white races. Thankfully I was expelled from this arrogant claim of Christian orthodoxy and, thank the good Lord, I’m inclined to flee from Mr. Yarborough’s claim of orthodoxy. Good Americans seem inclined to eventually, if slowly, defeat the dictates of coercive expectations of thought and behavior, whether it be in the workplace, the polling place, or the worship place. While I wish all of my dogmatically “correct” siblings well, I also wish to be left to worship in peace without all of this rancor!

      1. Michael Raczynski says:

        And they also wish to be left in peace to worship as they chose, under the clergy they have chosen, in the buildings they have built and taken care of. Do they not have the same rights as you? If the majority feel that they want to remain with the TEC then they can. If they wish to leave then they should be allowed to do so.

        1. Carol L Kent says:

          But what of those in a building who have decided to stay? Should they be told , “tough luck, go find a new meeting place? Don’t you understand that it more than “allowing them to take their toys (buildings) and go. There are too many lives that are being fractured because of this. Any time there is a break up of this magnatude, people will be hurt, spiritual lives damaged and the end result is ALWAYS bitterness and acrimony.

    3. Peter Meyers says:

      David,
      You are putting a spin of the PB’s words that simply isn’t there. “. . . come to agreement about everything . . .” in no way denies the centrality of Jesus Christ to the Episcopal Church’s belief in and faithfulness to His Gospel.; nor does it imply that the break-away diocese is not acting in good faith. Peter and Paul had a bitter disagreement over the requirement of non-Jews wishing to be converted to Christianity to be circumcised. Their argument was mediated and the final decision was given by James, the brother of the Lord. Peter, honored by some as the first pope, was overruled by James. Oops! The point is: people acting in good faith may disagree strongly yet remain in communion if egos don’t poison the process.

    4. Marc Kivel says:

      Personally, David, I’d be in favor of all of the unfaithful who want to leave TEC being given first right of refusal to buy their houses for worship of the KJV, but unfortunately that’s not my issue to decide. It’s rather funny that you claim to be a Trinitarian Christian who upholds the equality of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost but only seem to accept your reading of the Bible as the Holy Spirit’s true teaching…you sure you’re not a Baptist who wandered in to TEC by mistake?

    5. Marc Kivel says:

      David, you write, “Except when TEC chooses to reject the voices who claim that the explicit words of Holy Scripture constitute the voice of the leading of the Holy Spirit.” TEC is via media which be definition does not make it Southern Baptist or fundamentalist. This is not news to anyone who has ever actually read the catechism in the 1979 BCP. While folks of your theological persuasion want to believe TEC holds a low opinion of Scripture, I offer the thought that it is the one who walks the words of Christ Jesus that holds Scripture in highest regards, not those who engage in bibliolatry…or choose to limit the Holy Spirit by their inability to witness to the Holy Spirit operating in the world today.

  15. Schism is a problem for everyone – not only the schismatics. This is something that will need to occupy the minds and hearts of those followers of Bishop Mark Lawrence who have decided to break away from TEC – on the grounds of their own understanding of the Love of Christ in the Gospel. To believe that God is not interested in those on the margins is to have mistaken the call.

  16. Landon Smith says:

    As i read the letter from the Presiding Bishop i was once again reminded why i am so thrilled to say she is my Presiding Bishop. I currently attend a parish who has a priest that is retiring, and dealing with the whole process of him retiring and keeping our parish together during that process, i am reminded how important it is to work as a cohesive unit. After having read several of the comments made by various people on here i am dissapointed to hear so many negative comments about the presiding bishop and also fail to see the Christianity in those comments. I cant imagine having the task of being the Presiding Bishop and im most grateful for the wonderful work that she has done in her tenure as pb. I continue to pray for the Episcopal Church and all of the parishes that are a part of this great church.

  17. Frank Riggio-Preston says:

    I find it so disappointing to sense a lack of understanding of Jesus’ time with outcasts, poor and the “other” when He walked this earth when some espouse the “true” words of Holy Scripture. For those of us who walked those roads with Christ 2000years ago, we are so knowledgable of every word from His mouth or from the exact words of God in the burning bush 7000 years ago to be assured we are so right. For those of us living in the 21st century, I am grateful to believe in a living God who loves each and evert child created in His image and able to express God’s unconditional love within the human understanding of love. Our PB leads a church filled with the diversity that filled Jerusalem on the day that the Holy Spirit came to this earth. Let us not change the intent of that day by insisting that diverse views and human kind are not welcome at the table. Amen.

  18. Benjamin Uchytil says:

    Well-stated, fair, and amicable. May our SC ‘family’ be responsive to our Presiding Bishop’s overtures.

    1. Michael Raczynski says:

      What overture other than throw out your bishop, standing committee, and turn over the keys to a very tiny minority?

      1. Marc Kivel says:

        There must be something in the SC water that groups of privileged self-righteous folks are forever fomenting rebellion AFTER having agreed to be part of something larger than themselves…

        1. What, no “firing on Fort Sumter” blasts? No mention of Mark Lawrence and his ecclesiastical Confederates? Most South Carolina Anglicans think the Episcopal Church went off the Christian rails decades ago. This controversy is being driven by a tiny minority who want to impose TEC’s “theology” on South Carolina and who are convinced that they and they alone have the right answer.

          Deal with it.

  19. John Harrington says:

    This letter is pretty skillfully designed to create doubt in the mind of some South Carolinians who may not be very analytically inclined, but I fail to see how it can make anybody grateful for Jefferts Schori’s pastoral leadership. Her fundamental assertions do not appear to be grounded on any theological or even legal principle, and she seems to arrogate authority to herself that she doesn’t have.

    On what basis does she say that a diocese cannot leave PECUSA by its own action? She cites no authority, and while there isn’t any explicit statement one way or the other in the constitution or canons, the canon lawyers, from what I have read, seem historically to have said the contrary. Moreover, she completely ignores catholic tradition, which, as the Abp. of Canterbury has pointed out, posits the diocese as the fundamental component of the universal church, and the province as a formality that performs certain functions but does not properly interfere with the relationship between the diocese and the whole church.

    And even if a diocese cannot “leave,” as she puts it, where does she get the idea that a new diocesan convention will elect new leaders acceptable to General Convention? How does she know what the diocesan convention will do unless (as is implied but unstated in the manner of a soviet suggestion as to the outcome of an election that hasn’t taken place yet) her office is going to organize the diocesan convention itself, which she has absolutely no power to do.

    Another incredibly disingenuous element of this letter is the PB’s completely unconnected leap from saying, on the one hand, that Bp. Lawrence had been charged with repudiating the “doctrine, discipline and worship” of the church, to saying, on the other, that the Disciplinary Board had found that he had repudiated the “polity” of the church, and then she defines “repudiating the polity” to mean, “violating the constitution and canons.” If she really thinks for one nanosecond that this is a valid legal argument, she is far more stupid than even I think she is.

    To be inhibited under the new canons (the unconstitutionality of which is, as the PB would say, an entirely separate matter), a bishop must “openly repudiate… the discipline of the church”, not violate its canons. “Discipline” is not defined in the canon, but it traditionally refers to the ordering of life in a holy manner, not to obeying every canon. The PECUSA catechism specifically says that a bishop’s duty is to “guard the faith, unity and discipline of the whole Church,” by which it means the whole catholic church throughout the world, not the Anglican Communion, much less PECUSA, much less PECUSA’s canons. Anyway, as far as I can see, Bp. Lawrence has not violated any canon, unlike, oh, just to take an example at random, Bp. Gene Robinson, who left a perfectly valid marriage because he decided that he had a natural “right” to have an intimate relationship with somebody else.

    Apart from the PB’s flimflam about what the canons actually say, I’m surprised that nobody has expressed outrage about the whole idea that a bishop could be inhibited from his duties for 60 days without a hearing or even notice that charges were pending. If such a procedure were enacted by Congress, it would be unenforceable as a violation of due process. Canon law is much more restrictive than the U.S. Constitution on what a legislative body can legitimately do. Traditionally, canons are not enforceable until they have been received by a long period of use and acceptance by the people subject to them. I believe the canon under which Bp. Lawrence was only adopted at the last General Convention, and certainly hasn’t been received by anybody.

    1. Marc Kivel says:

      John, what you don’t know or understand about the Episcopal Church suggests you’re either not a member, were once and didn’t quite get it, or are being disingenuous. Mark Lawrence was a dubious choice in the eyes of many but was allowed to be ordained bishop BY TEC in spite of concerns on the theory that he was a man of his word which it would appear is not the case. The sophistry in your post is immaterial – canon law is effective when it is voted – ask your Bishop. If you want to worship the KJV by all means do, simply leave the property and funds with the legitimate owners and go…

      1. John Harrington says:

        Mr. Kivel, I just saw your post. In case you’re still following this discussion, I’d invite you to specify what you find defective about my argument. The fact that Lawrence’s election was subject to approval by other ecclesiastical authorities does not mean that his responsibility and authority as bishop can be defined exclusively by General Convention. On the contrary, the Episcopal Church would have to abandon its claim to be a branch of the catholic church if it were to hold that the office and power of bishop are created by its own canons, and the Prayer Book catechism, which was approved by the General Convention, makes that clear. Anyway, you have not touched on the question of how Bp. Lawrence can be construed to have “repudiated the discipline of the Church” even within the literal meaning of the canon.

        As for whether PECUSA canons are, as you put it, effective when voted, the fact that you think the answer is a simple, “yes,” suggests to me that you don’t know much about canon law. The doctrine of reception is very ancient, and its applicability does not depend on its adoption by the authority to whose decrees it applies. You and the PB forget, I think, that the church, unlike the state, aims to be a perfect society and therefore its laws do not work the way civil laws do. Your attitude sounds a lot like that of the Republican senators who won’t confirm a Supreme Court justice unless he promises that he won’t let no durn furrin law affect his decisions. The church is universal and its nature and status in America depend on durn furrin law.

        In response to your personal comments, I see that I’m not the only person you have accused of being a worshipper of the KJV. Actually, if you’re interested in my reading habits, I use the RV and the NEB. My wife and I for a long time have been, and continue to be, major financial supporters of the liberal parishes in very liberal dioceses of the Episcopal Church of which we have been members. We have no claim on what we gave away, but neither does the PB or General Convention.

  20. Julian MalaKar says:

    I am glad that PB used biblical reference in bringing changes over scriptural teaching on human sexuality on same sex. But I have concerned how church leaders were convinced that this change is from God.

    In the past God revealed the truth of changes by miraculous sigh or thru God fearing people. We know from scripture how difficult it was for Jesus Christ to prove His identity as Son of God even to His Disciple. In case of inclusion of Gentile like us in God’s family without circumcision oppose to Jew’s tradition and believe, we know that St. Peter was convinced with vision of a large sheet that speaks that all God’s creation are pure and clean. In other word all human beings (inclusive) are pure and clean to receive Holy Spirit as long we repent and follow Christ’s command.

    To established the facts that Gentiles are also God’s chosen people and do not require circumcision, Holy Spirit came upon Cornelius and other gathering of the people convincing Council members in Jerusalem to accept the new changes omitting Circumcision making easy for Gentile to be baptized.

    But we know in our time changes came for an activity which is forbidden in the Bible. Episcopal Council is convinced by the testimony of Bishop Robinson whose life is not exemplary to any standard as well as from socio-political pressure, not from God. Question remain do we know our boundary for diversified believe for healthy spiritual life? Otherwise what’s coming next for changes of existing believe? May God bless all saints of the Church to be holy and acceptable to Him.

  21. John Barton says:

    Someone described the Presiding Bishop’s theology as “as weak as water.” There is nothing weak about water. Take Baptism, for example.

    1. Christopher Cleveland says:

      John Barton…
      Baptism is water and Word. Water, holy or otherwise, without the Word is just a bath.

      1. Marc Kivel says:

        How would you know that the Holy Spirit isn’t in TEC and the PB and you’ve just sinned against it?

        1. The Holy Spirit cannot exist in anyone or anything that denies the Christian faith as often as Kate and TEC do.

  22. Michael Strong says:

    Fr Ron Smith, I did not know that Bishop Lawrence had decided to break away from TEC. The last I heard, he wanted to stay.
    Obviously many many people support the PB, the majorities of the House of Deputies and Bishops at least. Do those who support her really support the declining membership and this type of expulsion? What do you think of the declining membership and the Great Commission? If the majority in a diocese want to leave TEC, do the PB supporters want them to leave as long as they do not take the real estate with them? Do you want that sort of cleansing? Do her supporters believe that the legalism or polity outlined in her letter fits in well with the spirit of the Anglican Communion? Have her supporters ever had a real dialog with conservatives listening with their heart and if so, how much were they prepared to concede (exercise restraint) in the interest of communion? Finally, I respect the liberal opinions and beliefs of the PB, but do her supporters want her to represent solely these opinions or to represent and welcome all US beneficiaries of the Anglican tradition in the name of Jesus Christ our King, a quality I would consider leadership? Yet, as I write this, I just sense that my questions will be seen as rhetorical criticism delivered in bad faith. . . .

  23. Ed Adcock says:

    Oh, the vitriol, the vitriol!
    The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, as recognized by General Convention, is alive and well! As far as I know the “Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth” associated with the Southern Cone (last I heard) is also alive.
    My only recommendation is that those who wish to stay with TEC, The Episcopal Church, PECUSA, or the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, etc. is: Stick it out! Stay in your parishes. Hold on to your offices and/or licenses.
    Bonnie Anderson told Fort Worth Via Media and friends to “Saddle your own Horse”. {A Fort Worth reference to a legendary Cowgirl.} For us: “TEC was ready, but was not the cavalry on the other side of the hill.” (Sorry, that may be too ’50’s Western Mythos.)
    For those who want to stay with TEC, stay the course. For those who want to leave TEC, but stay in the Anglican Communion, pay attention – the ABC is retiring; the Queen of England will install his replacement. For those who don’t know what TEC, PECUSA, PB, GC, AC, ABC means, doesn’t know a portion of our history – Why do you call yourself an Episcopalian?

  24. Vivian Varela says:

    Just want to say thank you for this clear message from PB Katharine. I don’t always agree with what people say and or do in the church but I have learned it’s best to stay and talk it out if you can.

  25. Petros Rodini says:

    Let us pray for TEC and its return to the Christian Faith as delivered by the Saints

    1. Peter Meyers says:

      Pretty sarcastic, Petros.

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