South Carolina continuing Episcopalians meet to plan their future

Delegates elect leadership, change name to comply with court order

By Mary Frances Schjonberg
Posted Jan 26, 2013

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The Rt. Rev. Charles vonRosenberg, newly elected bishop provisional of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, promises during a Jan. 26 gathering at Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, to “observe, and to the utmost of my power, fulfill, the responsibilities and obligations of this office, striving in all things to be a faithful shepherd to the flock of Christ.” ENS photo/Mary Frances Schjonberg

[Episcopal News Service – Charleston, South Carolina] Meeting in a town nicknamed the Holy City because of its founders’ religious tolerance and in a church that has survived the Civil War, great storms and an earthquake, Episcopalians in South Carolina turned to face their future.

Continuing Episcopalians from around what is known as the Lowcountry portion of South Carolina met Jan. 26 at Grace Episcopal Church, which was festooned with flowers and overflowing with people. Many participants expressed the desire for healing and new beginnings.

The day began with Holy Eucharist, during which Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told the congregation in her sermon that “we all have a responsibility to be shepherds, to help others find their way through the gate of abundant life.”

Referring to the Good Shepherd portion of the Gospel of John, she urged Episcopalians who encounter people who have left the Episcopal Church to “consider that some of the sheep may think they’re listening to the voice of the Good Shepherd.”

“Some are also simply exhausted. What about the sheep who aren’t in the fold, who don’t know there is a feast to be found, rest for the body and soul, and partners who are willing to wrestle with the dictates of petty deciders or wolves who masquerade as sheep?”

Jefferts Schori told the story of a glider pilot who local authorities accused of flying too near a nuclear power plant and then arrested, despite lacking any authority to take him into custody. She said the story was “indicative of attitudes we’ve seen here and in many other places.”

“Somebody decides he knows the law and oversteps whatever authority he may have to dictate the fate of others who may in fact be obeying the law – and often a law for which this local tyrant is not the judge,” she said.

“Most of us don’t live in a world where one person is the ultimate decider – because, over and over again, we’ve discovered that better decisions are made when they’re made in communities with appropriate checks and balances,” Jefferts Schori said. “Power assumed by one authority figure alone is often a recipe for abuse, tyranny and corruption.”

However, she said, “the question is less about who’s right and who’s wrong in the midst of the current controversies.”

“It’s more about how we deal with those who disagree – the other sheep in the flock and the variety of shepherds around us,” she said.

Noting “God’s feast doesn’t need ‘keep-out’ signs,” Jefferts Schori said: “The banquet table is spread with abundance for all, even though it’s hard to join the feast if you’re busy controlling the gate.”

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Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori exchanges a fist bump with Hank Mengedoht, 6, while his brother, Teddy, 8, looks on Jan. 25 during a reception with her at Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Their mother, Katherine, said she and her husband, Dan, brought the boys and their 20-month-old sister, Georgia, to the event “to show support” for the leadership of the Episcopal Church. ENS photo/Mary Frances Schjonberg

She drew loud applause and a standing ovation as she concluded her sermon by saying that Jesus already was in charge of the gate, “and the word is out: ‘Y’all come! Come to the feast!’”

The full text of her sermon is here.

Later in the meeting, the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, told the gathering that “the House of Deputies and the entire church are covering you with prayer as you renew, reorganize, reorder, refresh, reconstitute and, indeed, resurrect the Episcopal Church in South Carolina.”

Jennings suggested to participants: “When it may seem as if the great breadth of conviction, experience and practice among Episcopalians threatens to overwhelm your longing for unity and clarity,” remember the Jan. 26 gathering and “the communion of saints that has gone before you.”

“I hope you will be convinced, as I am, that our Anglican comprehensiveness is our particular gift from God and a great blessing for the Episcopal Church in South Carolina,” she said. “Follow the Anglican middle way, and it will guide you between extremes in the company of Christians from all walks of life and all gifts of the Spirit.”

The full text of her remarks is here.

The day’s business

Lay and clergy delegates from nine parishes, 10 missions and eight “continuing parishes” were seated for the meeting. The term “continuing parishes” refers to congregations in which some but not all members have followed Bishop Mark Lawrence out of the Episcopal Church. Also among the more than 600 registrants were members of four “worshipping communities” that are in the process of organizing, as well as members of other congregations that are discerning whether to remain in the Episcopal Church.

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A sign outside Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, featuring the newly adopted name of the continuing Episcopalians in that part of the state reflects a prohibition against the group using the diocesan seal. ENS photo/Mary Frances Schjonberg

Jefferts Schori declared a quorum, and the meeting’s first order of business was to act with what attorney Thomas Tisdale called “an abundance of caution, and with the desire to comply” with a Jan. 23 temporary restraining order that prevented the group from using the diocesan seal and the names “The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina,” “The Diocese of South Carolina” and “The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.”

The group agreed to use the name “the Episcopal Church in South Carolina” in place of what Tisdale, later elected chancellor, called “what we believe is our true and lawful name.”

A hearing is set for Feb. 1 on South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Diane S. Goodstein’s order preventing any “individual, organization, association or entity” from using registered names and marks that are claimed by Lawrence and 24 other leaders associated with him. More information about the lawsuit is here.

The delegates at Grace Church chose by acclamation retired Diocese of East Tennessee Bishop Charles vonRosenberg to be their bishop provisional. Jefferts Schori installed vonRosenberg during the meeting and turned over the running of the meeting to him.

A bishop provisional has all the authority and responsibilities of a diocesan bishop but typically serves for a set period of time and is meant to be a bridge into the time when the diocese is ready to elect a diocesan bishop or make other decisions about its future.

The Episcopalians needed a new episcopal leader because Jefferts Schori said Dec. 5 that Lawrence had renounced his orders. She and her Council of Advice agreed that, in a Nov. 17 speech to a special diocesan convention, Lawrence said the diocese had left the Episcopal Church a month earlier on Oct. 17 when she restricted his ministry after the church’s Disciplinary Board for Bishops had certified to her that he had abandoned the Episcopal Church “by an open renunciation of the discipline of the church.”

The day the board’s decision was announced, the diocesan Standing Committee said that the action “triggered two pre-existing corporate resolutions of the diocese, which simultaneously disaffiliated the diocese from the Episcopal Church and called a special convention.” Lawrence asked for and received affirmation from those at the Nov. 17 gathering of that departure.

Thus the remaining Episcopalians needed a new bishop and a slate of lay and clergy leaders, which also was elected on Jan. 26.

VonRosenberg, 65, has long ties to South Carolina. He and his wife, Annie, already live in the Daniel Island community of Charleston, where he retired in 2011 after serving for 12 years as bishop of East Tennessee. Since October, he has served, along with retired Bishop John Buchanan, on a voluntary basis as adviser to the steering committee that formed in October.

“Here we are, a group of people committed to the Episcopal Church, some sadly displaced from their spiritual homes, others finding new life in exciting times – and a bishop who thought he had retired,” vonRosenberg told the gathering. “Here we are facing an uncertain future and relying on others for strength and support, and depending on God’s grace for the tomorrows that await.”

He urged rebuilding the Episcopal Church in South Carolina upon the foundation of what he called the “Christly virtues” of humility and love, beginning with seeking forgiveness “for our failure to achieve Christian unity in our times.”

VonRosenburg told the participants that, “as followers of Jesus Christ, we need to recognize that other sincere Christians – former Episcopalians – have chosen a path different from ours. Theirs is a path committed to Jesus as they understand that faith.”

The full text of vonRosenberg’s address to the meeting is here.

At a later press conference, the bishop suggested that healing could begin when, instead of talking over each other’s heads, people began to find hope in their previous relationships.

“My hope,” he said, “is that as people realize that the ones who are perhaps on a different side at this time are not demonic, [that they] are not unchristian but have chosen a different way.”

The bishop said “as we come to that point and confront each other as people, that’s where our hope lies and where, I believe, reconciliation begins.”

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The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, talks with two women Jan. 25 during a reception at Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. ENS photo/Mary Frances Schjonberg

Indeed, not everyone who attended the Jan. 26 meeting, or the nearly 500 who attended a reception with the presiding bishop the previous evening, has decided where he or she will end up.

Cheves Leland, delegate to the meeting from St. James Episcopal-Santee, told ENS that her congregation was in discernment about its affiliation. St. James is a “small congregation in a small village” whose members do not all agree about which direction to take, she said.

She has often voted opposite from the congregation’s other delegate. “We say our votes are divided, but we are not,” she said.

Whatever the congregation decides, the decision will affect everyone, Leland said.

“We really don’t want to split and have people leave,” she said. “I believe there is a place for everybody in the church and with God.”

Julie Walters, the director of children’s ministries at Grace, knows she stands in the Episcopal Church, just as her ancestors did six generations ago when they help to found Grace, she said. But she finds herself set against her Episcopal neighbors. She has been defending herself “in the grocery store and on the tennis court” against accusations by other Episcopalians who she said were “only hearing one side” of the story.

“It just shocks me,” she said, adding, “I hate this fight more than anything else.”

The fight, she said, is not about liturgical changes or changing interpretations of Scripture.

“It’s a fight about rule breaking … we had the same fight over women” being involved in church leadership, said Walters, whose godmother was, as Walters put it, the first female “vestryman” at Grace and was a target of disagreement.

Elizabeth Jones told ENS Jan. 25 that she had a simple wish for the weekend: “that this is the beginning of the healing.”

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service.


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Comments (130)

  1. Hank Otto says:

    Charleston is actually called the holy city not because of religious tolerance but because in the old city you can see a steeple from wherever you stand. In early times we were perhaps running second only to the Plymouth Colony in intolerance. Perhaps we surpaased it in our 1705 Church Acts which made the Anglican Church the official church of the Colony. It was pretty strict. If you were not married in an Anglican Church, your children were declared bastards.

    Lets pray that an ambassador without portfolio starts to circulate between Lawrence and von Rosenberg and an equitable solution can be reached without the financial, spiritual and emotional warfare that is in the making now

    Other than that, good article. Good reporting. Great factual data. Little spin. You don’t often see that in the press anymore.

    1. Grant Carson says:

      “Most of us don’t live in a world where one person is the ultimate decider – because, over and over again, we’ve discovered that better decisions are made when they’re made in communities with appropriate checks and balances,” Jefferts Schori said. “Power assumed by one authority figure alone is often a recipe for abuse, tyranny and corruption.”

      Oh, my good bishop, do you realize what you said?

      1. Chris Walchesky says:

        Pot meet Kettle.

    2. Harriott Cheves Leland says:

      Point of clarification historically and very briefly. No one has been able to pinpoint exactly why Charleston became known as the Holy City. There are numerous theories.
      Early Carolina was actually tolerant of various denominations and religions, except, early on, members of the Catholic Church. Hank’s comment about marriage and bastards must refer to the political differences between the English and French in Carolina before 1700, but naturalization as Englishmen was at issue, not religious beliefs. The Church Act set up the parish system in the colony, bu did not ban any other denominations or religions (except that Catholics were still not welcomed until much later). The Congregationalists, Anabaptists, French Protestants and others all had churches and Jewish settlers were free to worship, although they could not hold office or vote openly.

      1. Hank Otto says:

        It’s hard to disagree with Chevis on historic matters in SC. So I shall stand corrected.

  2. Daniel New says:

    ‘“Somebody decides he knows the law and oversteps whatever authority he may have to dictate the fate of others who may in fact be obeying the law – and often a law for which this local tyrant is not the judge,” she said.’

    Tyrant: ‘an absolute ruler unrestrained by law or constitution, [one] who exercises absolute power oppressively or brutally [and] an oppressive ruler in the harsh use of authority or power.’

    Bishop Lawrence and the standing committee have acted according to, and entirely within, the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Diocese and the civil corporation laws of South Carolina. The person making the comments in the referenced quote above habitually act without the Constitution and Canons of The PECUSA; makes up the rules as she sees fit.

    Therefore, who is the tyrant?

    1. jackie adams says:

      Former bishop Lawrence and his standing committee have acted according to, and entirely within, the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Diocese as they have rewritten them. There are and will be issues of disagreement among members of a large group. The question is, must these disagreements lead to a schism? Either you work together in spite of your differences, or it’s “my way or no way”, which seems to be what’s happening here.

      1. John M Stevenson says:

        Obviously rewritten to suit one’s ends rather than live by them.

        1. Daniel New says:

          And what precisely, Mr. Stevenson, prevents an Episcopal diocese from rewriting their constitution and canons? Please cite your source for such a prohibition.

          As for living by ones by-laws, you may wish to study the C&Cs of General Convention and understand how many either ignore or misinterpret them to suit their own situation.

          1. John M Stevenson says:

            Ooh, such umbrage. My apologies if I touched a nerve.

          2. John M Stevenson says:

            Forgot to mention that as a member of a Standing Committee, I (one of seven out of 12) voted to consent to give Lawrence a chance the second go-round in 2007 after he assured our Bishop that it was not his intent lead the EDSC out of ECUSA (we all voted against the first time around, for obvious reasons). I was even an apologist on his behalf, given what he had to deal with in that Diocese (I and others here have followed your web site – source) and I continue to wonder if he was duped or co-opted.

          3. Daniel New says:

            It wasn’t Saul’s intent to become St. Paul.

          4. John M Stevenson says:

            Marked difference twixt Paul and Lawrence.

          5. John M Stevenson says:

            … And , just to add, Paul was loyal to and supportive of the “church” in Jerusalem, irrespective of initial differences with Peter. And both Peter and Paul came to the revelation that God shows no partiality.

          6. Daniel New says:

            You commented that Bishop Lawrence “assured our Bishop that it was not his intent lead the EDSC out of ECUSA” to which my followup comment was to point out that intentions, at times, change with circumstance. I have no doubt that +Lawrence was sincere in his stated position at the time of the second round of approvals.

            If anyone has been “duped or co-opted” it is most certainly not the members of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.

            The reference to Saul was to point to a church leader who definitely changed with circumstances (Damascus Road).

          7. John M Stevenson says:

            re:”duped or co-opted” … Certainly not those in attendance at Grace Episcopal on January 26th.

  3. Chris Walchesky says:

    Actually according to the Constitution and Canons of the Diocese of South Carolina, a quorum was NOT present. Just because I call the sky green doesn’t make it so.

    But then again, this is a new entity and not the diocese that has shepherded this land for 225+ years. The bylaws of this new Episcopal assembly in South Carolina are new as well.

  4. Alex Gossett Shifflet says:

    I can’t express the love and hope that I felt at the special convention yesterday at Grace Episcopal Church. The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori is such a beautiful person filled with love. Also, I welcome The Right Reverend Charles G. vonRosenberg with open arms. It is time to move forward and I’m so proud to be apart of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina!!

    1. Bryan Hunter says:

      “Love and hope”? You mean like when the presiding bishop likened those of us who made the difficult decision to walk apart from TEC to the school shooter and to homicidal terrorists? I’ve heard of “tough love” before, but I think describing the presiding bishop’s words as loving tortures all logic. To his credit, Bishop vonRosenberg sounds conciliatory and seems to be holding out the olive branch. It remains to be seen, but if it were left up to him and Mark Lawrence, I think an amicable parting of ways could be possible, but judging from her past actions, the presiding bishop will have none of that, and her words on Saturday certainly offer no “hope” that she will act in differently towards South Carolina than she has anywhere else. Of course, the vonRosenbergs live here, side beside with Mark Lawrence and those who remained in the Diocese of South Carolina. The presiding bishop doesn’t. Very poor taste for her to come down from New York, stir up the ant hill, and then leave it to those of us who live here to clean up the resultant mess. Remember the day when, if nothing else, Episcopalians at least had good manners? Bad form, Bishop Jefferts Schori.

      1. John M Stevenson says:

        My, my … the vilification continues. Cannot anything resembling Christian charity be said by those who “disaffiliated”?

        1. Nicholas Forde says:

          How about Mrs. Jefferts Schori’s own words: “It’s not terribly far from the state of mind evidenced in school shootings, or in those who want to arm school children, or the terrorism that takes oil workers hostage.”

          I really thing the lady is unhinged.

          1. walter combs says:

            John Stevenson:

            The Presiding Bishop Likens Bishop Mark Lawrence to Adam Lanza. This was completely inappropriate, spiteful, delusional, lacking anything resembling Christian charity. Do we really have any hope for reconciliation with those who have left us with this kind of rhetoric being spouted by our Presiding Bishop? When I read the address she gave to the special convention I was ashamed of what TEC has become. My wife and I have about had it with TEC.

          2. John M Stevenson says:

            Walter Combs: Please re-read what she had to say without preconceived notion or bias, and be kindly.

  5. F.W. Atkins says:

    If Rt. Revd. Mark Lawrence is a tyrant, how come he allows these schismatics to leave his diocese, and keep their properties. Those who stay with the true historical diocese have done so without any threats or coercion, whilst the PB continued a vindictive campaign of litigation. She is the one who appears to have an idiosyncratic interpretation of the Constitution and Canons.

  6. Theodore Nutcracker says:

    I am amazed at the pictures – the church looks empty. According to the story above, it appears that they had less than 100 delegates and only 8 churches out of over 70 (in the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina). From the press I was reading I thought this was some big deal and all these churches would show up and support the restart. There must be more to the story than the press is reporting.

    1. Margaret Carpenter says:

      The pictures you are looking at were taken after the meet-and-greet had finished. The church at the Eucharist was filled to overflowing. People had to be seated in an adjacent room to watch on a close circuit TV. In the church we were joyfully squashed together.

  7. Susan Kearney says:

    With all due respect to those who have chosen to leave The Episcopal Church, I truly do not understand how one can claim that the Diocese that changed their Constitution and Canons to eliminate The Episcopal Church, in violation of Mark Lawrence’ holy vows to uphold The Episcopal Church, can claim to continue to be The Episcopal Diocese of SC. We are not a new entity, but a group of Episcopalians continuing to uphold the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church. I understand disagreeing with The Episcopal Church but I don’t understand how people can leave and then feel betrayed by those of us who choose to stay. I pray for all of us every day that God will help us regain our Christian Unity. God’s Peace.

    1. Jane McFaddin says:

      Amen!

    2. David Yarbrough says:

      It’s interesting to note your blurring of distinctions between the Standing Committee, Diocesan Convention, and Bishop Lawrence.

      Mark Lawrence didn’t singlehandedly change anything. The standing committee – elected representatives of the Diocese – made these changes. The Diocese in convention called Mark Lawrence to the episcopate – TWICE – knowing his integrity and where he stood. My point is that, while Bishop Lawrence is the chief operating officer, the Standing Committee and Diocesan Convention are at least coequal as agents of change.

      And I note that Bishop Lawrence’s ordination vows include the promise to “boldly proclaim and interpret the Gospel of Christ”, and the promise to guard faith as well as unity.

      While you may be “a group of Episcopalians continuing to uphold the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church” as you perceive them, you are clearly in the minority among Christians in the Anglican tradition in South Carolina.

      1. Marc Kivel says:

        Well I appreciate that some folks in South Carolina seem to prefer being Anglican rather than American Episcopalians – rather like their forefathers preferred to secede rather than work things out as part of the Union – I offer the thought that Mr. Lawrence was only made bishop after loudly protesting his willingness to be bound by the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church and inasmuch as he walked away from the institution which raised him to the episcopate he is in my mind illegitimate and I question the validity of his orders and acts as he seems to be a Donatist heretic not a legitimate bishop…thoughts?

        1. Hank Otto says:

          Ok. Lets take a step back from both sides and consider a hypothetical and this is just a hypothetical so no one read anything in to it. Suppose a bishop agrees to be bound by the constitution and canons of a hypothetical church. Then suppose that church decides that Christianity is not the way and that Islam is a better course of action. The church accordingly changes its canons and constitution to reflect the change. However the bishop is deeply convicted in Christianity as are his parishioners. Can the bishop legitimately walk away from the church and continue to minister to the remnants who also wish to be Christian? It’s ok to say no or yes or nothing at all. However whatever your answer it has implications. Those who follow Bishop Lawrence say yes. Those who back TEC may say no or may say yes under the hypothetical. If the say yes under the hypothetical then justification is a matter of degree and that is the slippery slope. If they say no then they undercut the presiding bishops comments about preserving assets for the purposes that the donors gave them for no one who knows anything about South Carolinians would ever even bother to make the argument that it would have been acceptable for any SC donor from 1685 until today to see their gifts go to a Moslem based faith. There is no easy answer. But …. It will be a hell of a lot cheaper for all of the purple people to agree to a position freeze, 40j the case and try to have a settlement that includes an accommodation for all involved in SC rather than a slash mark in the win column

  8. Carol McRee says:

    Susan, You do not understand what happened. The Diocese of South carolina has disaffiliated from TEC which is our right to do so. Those left in TEC can NOT claim our name. That is ILLEGAL. Please choose a new name that is distinct and does not cause confusion with either diocese in the state of South Carolina.

    We don’t feel betrayed at all. We knew what was coming down the pike and have taken steps to remedy the confusion from those like yourselves who have tried to steal our name and identity and cause deliberate confusion. It is clear that your group is just out for a major power and property grab. Sad. TEC is all about real estate and power. I will close with our bishop’s vision for us. Making Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age.

  9. Margaret Carpenter says:

    I think you have this backwards, Carol.

    1. Bryan Hunter says:

      No, she doesn’t, Ms Carpenter. With all due respect, Carol is spot-on.
      I wish the forming diocese currently operating as The Episcopal Church in South Carolina all the best. I assume in the future the provisional diocese will follow the Constitution and Canons of TEC and actually officially form the diocese according to the organization’s own set procedures. It will be interesting to see what permanent name is chosen for the new diocese once this is done.

      1. Dave Thomas says:

        The current Episcopal Church in South Carolina will be known by it’s rightful name (The Diocese of South Carolina) once the dust clears from the lawsuits. Just because the former bishop of SC and some of his followers have left and taken things with them on their way out certainly doesn’t mean the courts won’t give it all back to the rightful owners in the end. The schismatics property-grab is perfect evidence that it was all about power and money to begin with.

        It’s just a shame that both sides are going to end up spending huge sums of money on this disagreement. I would hope that representatives of both sides could sit down and work something out to benefit all concerned, but I really can’t see former bishop Lawrence and his followers giving an inch until forced by the courts (blowing millions of other people’s money in the process).

        1. David Yarbrough says:

          This includes $24 million that Dr. Schori and her chancellor have spent in legal fees on behalf of TEC for their own “property grabs” in Fort Worth, Quincy, San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, Northern Virginia, and elsewhere, in addition to South Carolina.

          Dr. Schori’s two-faced behavior in dealing with Bishops Lawrence and Waldo is reprehensible and further indicative of the power issue.

      2. Ronald J. Caldwell says:

        Sorry admirers of Lawrence but the group that left the Episcopal Church is not the Episcopal diocese. Courts all around the country have confirmed that the Episcopal Church is an hierarchical institution entitled to manage its own affairs. The Church has a Constitution and Canons holding that a diocese cannot enter or depart from TEC without approval of General Convention. The people who voted on Nov. 17 to leave TEC did not take any diocese with them. The Episcopal diocese remained in TEC and has now been reorganized and reinvigorated with a new bishop. The titles and emblem of the diocese were protected before the Lawrenceites departed TEC. They stay with the diocese, not with the people who left the diocese. So, its the people who left TEC who will have to form a new diocese and they are free to call it whatever they wish except the titles already reserved for the Episcopal Church diocese. “Anglican Diocese of South Carolina” will probably be the name chosen as this is the pattern in the other breakaway groups.

        1. Hank Otto says:

          Well I can tell there are few lawyers on this page. Mr Caldwell is correct about the legal cases. However look at the cases and you will see very deep legal variances as to why the courts decided as they did. As a SC lawyer, our approach is quite different. California has a state statue that controlled the issue. SC does not. Texas was an open field and they swung toward TEC. This is a guess and I would not wager money on it, but after watching the Texas Supreme Court arguments I think they will probably reverse. If Texas falls perhaps Virginia will too. I definitely think Virginia will wait on Texas before rendering an opinion. However the Texas oral arguments or rater court examination seemed to come directly from the SC All Saints Waccamaw case. For those not familiar with that case the SC Sup Ct shot down both diocesan trust and TEC Dennis Canon trust theories in favor of a break away parish. So I think everyone should really consider refraining from puffing up like blowfish and making such certain claims about who is or who is not. The SC Sup Ct will answer it in due time unless the parties back off and start COMPROMISING on legal issues. Both sides can do that honorably without compromising an ounce on theology.

  10. Julian Malakar says:

    “God’s feast doesn’t need ‘keep-out’ signs,” Jefferts Schori said: “The banquet table is spread with abundance for all, even though it’s hard to join the feast if you’re busy controlling the gate.” she concluded her sermon by saying that Jesus already was in charge of the gate, “and the word is out: ‘Y’all come! Come to the feast!’”

    We all know that present crisis arises from the question which group is following principle of Gospel, Christ ministered being God incarnated, two thousand year before.

    Sermon stated above by PB indicating heaven’s gate is wide open for all, no restriction implied, where as we find in the Gospel parable, given by Jesus Christ referring nature of Kingdom of Heaven, that in a wedding banquet, when invited special guests were unable to attend banquet for personal business, King invited everybody to fill up banquet table. But later King was surprised to find that some people came even without proper dress (moral code). Angrily King throw undressed people into hell (Matthew 22: 1-14). We know from Jesus’ teaching Heaven’s gate is actually narrow not wide open as preached, like wheat field weeds are taken out from the field to allow wheat plant grow healthy and produce abundance yield. In the parable we learnt many are invited but few are chosen. In PB’s sermon lacks important cautionary note for Kingdom of Heaven, we all looking for and invest our busy time going to Church. Christianity is passing thru a difficult time with modern ideology contrary to principle of Church teachings, bottom line: United we stand, divided we fall.

    1. Scott Turner says:

      Julian,
      Read the parable of the wheat and the tares, I believe the judgement is God’s alone. The Church should err on the side of mercy. Everytime the Church has taken God’s exclusive role of judgement into its own hands, a new period of broken witness begins. What is going on here is exactly the witness that turns the unbeliever into, well, a well-justified unbeliever. Christians who cannot stay in communion while in disagreement have defied the Lord’s prayer that we all may be one. Is disobedience corrected by schism or is schism a way to silence the influence of those who hear a different leading from the Spirit than one’s own? Moral and ecclessiastical certainty is a terminal condition for those who see now in a glass darkly.

      1. Julian Malakar says:

        Scott,
        There is no doubt in any Christian’s mind about Christ alone is the Judge in the Judgment Day and He would separate the Sheep and the Goat (Matthew 13: 31-46), the Wheat and the Tares (Matthew 13: 24-30).

        The role of the Church (Body of Christ) is to prepare its sheep like us to grow healthy spiritually providing godly nourishment, so to face the Judge at Judgment Day. The question that separate both schools of thought (so called “Traditional” and “Liberal”) whether homosexuality is healthy nourishment help develop spiritual growth that comes from God or toxic food from evil, forbidden to consume since beginning of creation like forbidden fruit in Eden Garden. Only the Holy Bible could provide the answer not the Science or present culture of a society. It is matter of life and death situation of human souls in eternity, rely heavily on Church teaching on virtue and vice. And Science has little knowledge or no knowledge about souls of human and God. Choice is ours accepting or rejecting new idea initiated based on personal experience on homosexuality, which never happened before. But dispute still could amicably be settled with the light of Christian environment to glorify God as both parties acknowledge Jesus Christ is Son of God and abstaining abusing each other.

  11. Steven Long says:

    The PB is losing her grip on reality. Calling Bishop Lawrence a tyrant and comparing his actions to terriorism is over the top. Maybe she forgot to take her meds.

  12. Calling the Presiding Bishop a tyrant ignores the fact that multiple committees and commissions had a hand in this saga. the PB’s Council of Advice concurred with her actions. The Title IV Board of Review delivered its findings. The PB has next to no power on her own–she is empowered by the consent of the bodies that are canonically empowered to do so. If she were really a tyrant, her life would be a lot easier–she could have just removed Lawrence, Bennison, and other troublesome bishops years ago and saved herself the aggravation.

    The situation also ignores the fact that the EPISCOPAL Diocese of South Carolina fully and unreservedly assented to the Constitution and Canons of the The Episcopal Church at TEC’s founding, and repeatedly thereafter, even after the “Dennis canon” was passed. To then vote to disaffiliate is like a McDonalds franchise saying “we aren’t going to follow the rules of McDonalds, we’re not going to pay them any money, but we’re going to keep the name, the logo, and all that goes with it. Oh, and we’re the REAL McDonalds!” It might also be likened to South Carolina refusing to follow any federal laws (taxation, etc…) but still referring to itself as a state. You cannot have a diocese independent of a national church body. That’s now now the system works. Sorry folks. If you are within The Episcopal Church, then you are subject to its rules. If you are not, leave the keys on the table and go, but don’t think you can have it both ways.

    I also don’t agree with calling Bishop Lawrence a tyrant and comparing his actions to terrorism, but we now have a church system that is highly anxious and reactive–and few are thinking clearly or speaking thoughtfully.

    1. John M Stevenson says:

      🙂

      1. John M Stevenson says:

        Another well-said comment.

  13. Scott Turner says:

    Go see the movie, “Lincoln.” He steadfastly refused to accept that the South had in fact created a separate nation, rather people in the South were in a rebellion that should be ended so that the legitimate governments of the states could be reformed as part of the Union. I don’t recall that the Southern States agreed with that interpretation or appreciated Lincoln’s efforts to maintain the Union. The view of schismatics toward our Presiding Bishop remind me of that period of history. I don’t know how you can be the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina if you are not part of the Episcopal Church or have use of anything pertaining to The Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA if you have violated the Constitution and Canons of such and have disaffiliated from it.

    1. Hank Otto says:

      I do not think I will go see the movie Lincoln for two reasons. I don’t particularly like him and I don’t think Hollywood is a great portrayer of reality. That having been said I think that you are right in that the situation is a good analogy to provoke introspection. Somehow I think this will become a “posting debate” but I really am hoping that will give pause for thoughtful perspective.

      What would have happened if Lincoln had lived. There are widely divergent opinions. All pi in the sky because he didn’t. All we can know is what he did when he was alive. He did a lot of very bad things. Out if it a good arose which was the termination of the institution of slavery.

      Lincoln basically said might makes right. To win the war he said I shall suspend the constitutional writ of have as corpus without congressional authority which I have no right to do. I shall remove and imprison for the duration of the war any Maryland politician who does not agree with me and they shall have no recourse because I have illegally suspended the right of habits corpus. Now that the US Sup Ct is calling me out on the things, I shall issue an arrest warrant for the Chief Justice. It matters not that there is not one shred of legal authority which I can present to hold the south in violation of US law or the Constitution because might makes right and I have the army behind me. Not only shall I disenfranchise an Ohio politician who wants to promote peace with the south, but I shall toss him across the Mason Dixon line into the Confederacy and strip him of his citizenship like a medieval king while grossly abandoning my inaugural oath to DEFEND the Constitution. I am a convicted abolitionist but I shall abolish slavery even though the constitution at that time guaranteed it and gave me no authority to do so BUT I will only abolish it in the South and not in Maryland and Deleware. Of course later on I will go ahead and violate those two loyal states rights by proclamation no need to change that portion of the constitution that guaranteed it. Now I have to figure out what to do with these emancipated slaves. I don’t want them loitering around and even I the great abolitionist do not see them fit for positions of equality ….. So we shall pack them off to British Honduras. What do you mean her majesty is not thrilled with the idea. Don’t think I won’t pop her in the pokey and keep in mind that when she gets there she will stay there because I am the only president in history to ever unlawfully suspend the writ of habeas corpus. Yes George Bush did it but he was just a me wannabe. He wimped out and got congressional approval making it legal

      These are facts. Might makes right. Even though I am a southerner I concede he did well for his side. The cost – he sold his soul to the devil. The only thing that makes us Americans as a nation is the constitution. It is a human good to which all citizens can gladly accede because of its protections. The worst presidential transgressors against it, with Franklin D and W trying to compete for second was Lincoln.

      All perhaps good in a war. Not too much what you want in the church. We inn SCreally believe rightly or wrongly that the presiding bishop is the Lincoln you reference. We are preparing to repel boarders. Lincoln is what we expect to come at us. We will not roll over. The strange thing is that while we are done with 815 we would really prefer to part amicably.

      I know there is good in Lawrence and you are wrong about him. Perhaps we are wrong about the presiding bishop. Personally I would love to see them prove us all wrong and reach an accord. Union is gone. Pax among ourselves is there for the taking. It will not be found in a court of law. Trust me. I am a lawyer!

  14. Bruce Garner says:

    Having watched this situation unfold for nearly 20 years, I marvel at how well Bp Lawrence managed to isolate people in the diocese from any outside information, discussions, data, etc. (Note that the same pattern was followed in Pittsburg, Ft. Worth, San Juaquin, Quincy, etc.) This mess began with Fitz Allison who persuaded Kendall Harmon that John Calvin had not completed the reformation and it was Kendall’s work to now finish it.

    Aside from all of that, I have always been appalled at the rudeness of male clergy from the first point the Presiding Bishop made her first visit to SC. The audio recordings make me ashamed of my southern brothers who I know were taught better manners by their mothers. Whether you like the guest in your home or not, ordinary manners dictate that you be polite to the guest at a minimum. It has been a southern tradition that women were treated with a great deal of respect. My own mother would have swatted me hard if I didn’t behave accordingly. The mothers of the boys at that first meeting would be ashamed of their sons.

    Despite what you may hear, the Diocese of SC did not/does not/can not leave The Episcopal Church. The General Convention is the source of authority and only it can allow a diocese to leave the Episcopal Church (olr join in the case of new dioceses). And despite what you hear the teachings of the Episcopal Church are not deviations from either Scripture or what was allegedly handed down by the Apostles. Scripture has ALWAYS been subject to interpretation. One need only read the passage from Nehemia that was yesterday’s OT lesson. It even uses the words “interpret” with regard to the law of Moses and in the context of culture and larger narrative. Anyone who really thinks we have not been interpretting Scripture in the light of tradition, reason and culture is very much in denial of reality.

    Mark Lawrence et al have one interest: making sure that what they call their diocese is in the full control of white males, middle aged and older and presumably straight. They just cannot grasp the concept that the world or the church is no longer run by straight white men. Look at who makes up the clergy in the break away group. How many are of color? How many are female priests? (There are female deacons I believe but they are at the authority of their bishop and generally do as told.)

    This is a game begun decades ago. Unfortunately my dear friend Ed Salmon had a chance to bring sanity to the situation but either could not or chose not to do so. We all pay the consequences of Fitz Allisons fantasies and what he has wrought.

    As always, I will keep a seat at the table for all, even those who think they have left The Episcopal Church. They are my sisters and brothers in Christ. Unfortunately, the same is not reciprocated.

    Judgment has always belonged to God and God alone. I will let God tell me when I stand before the throne of grace whether or not I have been a good servant. As best as I have been able I have followed God’s primary commandment: Love God and love my neighbor as myself. There were no exceptions to those who I am to love….even if I would like there to be!

    Bruce Garner
    L5 Atlanta
    Former Member, Executive Council

    1. John M Stevenson says:

      🙂

    2. Earle Phillips says:

      Amen!

  15. John M Stevenson says:

    Out of curiosity, now that the EDSC has “disaffiliated” from ECUSA, what will you be using as BCP and Hymnal? Baptismal vows? Catecheses for the young? Training for those to be confirmed? Other forms of formation? Everything else appears to have been intentionally thought out and acted upon in during the past ten years (+/-). Just how absolute is this “disafiliation”? Are not these worth asking about?

  16. E. T. Malone, Jr. says:

    As a journalist who has written both for Episcopal News Service and the Episcopal Journal about events in South Carolina for the past several years, and as a priest who was for almost a dozen years Secretary of Convention in the Diocese of North Carolina, I have followed this on-going saga closely.
    I have one technical question that I wish someone could answer. Regarding the convention held this past weekend in Charleston, it seems to me impossible that the continuing Episcopalians could have had a canonical quorum of either lay delegates or clergy. I read in the ENS story that the Presiding Bishop “declared” that there was a quorum. What was the basis of that declaration? If those desiring to remain in the national Episcopal Church do not admit that the parishes and clergy committed to Lawrence have left the church, then those parishes and clergy must be included in the number needed for a quorum. It can’t be both ways. A true quorum would have to be a majority of all parishes and all clergy in the diocese. Without a quorum, no official acts can be taken, or legislation enacted, bishops elected, or canons or bylaws revised.
    I assume that the Presiding Biship cannot simply make up canon law on the spot. In my diocese, the number of duly elected lay delegates and clergy present at this weekend’s Charleston meeting would have been clearly insufficient to conduct business, and insufficient to represent the will of the diocese as a whole. Can anyone out there enlighten me on this?

  17. From reading the excerps of the messages given at the special assembly in Charleston, it seems Bishop Van Rosenburg was doing damage control after the PB’s unloving remarks in her so-called sermon. I think Bishops Lawrence and VanRosenburg should be allowed to work on the property settlements, etc. rather than the National Church enriching the lawyers again as they did in Virginia by litigation against SC. Bishop Lee in Virginia was doing a good job negotiating with the churches that left that diocese until he was ordered by the PB to litigate. I wonder where all of this money is coming from that TEC is using for litigation. One would think that TEC would be transparent about this. I am still in TEC, but I don’t like the way I see committed Christians who disagree treated. I was in the Diocese of SC in the late eighties and found it to be a very loving diocese. Ihope something can be worked out amiably.

    1. Earle Phillips says:

      It was Mr. Lawrence et al who instigated suit against TEC, not the other way round as your statement suggests. If you are sued, you must respond. However, I agree with your question in one sense….. I wonder where all of this money is coming from that Mr. Lawrence et al are using for litigation? Being a South Carolinian and looking at the names of some of the law firms involved with Mr. Lawrence’s suit, all I can say is that I hope those who have decided to leave TEC and file suit against TEC have either VERY deep pockets or VERY wealthy benefactors.

  18. Sally Rowan says:

    Bruce Garner wrote: “Anyone who really thinks we have not been interpretting Scripture in the light of tradition, reason and culture is very much in denial of reality.”

    The original “legs” of the church were Scripture, reason and tradition. “experience” was added as a 4th leg, but experience can warp badly. If someone was abused by their father, calling God “Father” might be inconceivable. What is needed is NOT renaming God, but healing for that person. Is it easily achieved? No. Is it worth working for? Yes.

    1. John M Stevenson says:

      The so-called 4th leg rightfully should be subsumed under Reason because our reasoning stems from our experiences. Besides, a 3-legged stool does not wobble as would a 4-legged stool. It was non-Anglican writing in the NYT that presumed to add a a4th leg. 🙂

  19. Kathleen Chipps says:

    Those who have left The Episcopal Church should take on the name The Episcopal Church of Mark Lawrence. And the clergy who have left either lied (perhaps with their fingers crossed behind their backs) or were non compos mentis because at their ordination they were asked, “Will you be loyal to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received them? And will you, in accordance with the canons of this Church, obey your bishop and other ministers who may have authority over you and your work?” The answer includes “and I do solemnly engage to conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the [Protestant] Episcopal Church[in the United States of America].” This does not mean you can then write your own rules. To use a sports analogy, it isn’t your ball field, it isn’t you bat, it isn’t your ball, and it isn’t your base. You are part of something much larger than yourself. If you don’t want to play nicely, then leave, but don’t try to take what is not yours, even when your bishop writes new rules and expect the larger community to suddenly say “What a great idea!” Writing your own rules doesn’t change the larger community’s. By the way, you who have left have often commented on TEC spending $22 million. Would you be so kind to as to tell the rest of us what the break away groups have spent? Or is that a secret you can’t/won’t reveal because it will embarrass you and your like-minded friends? Fair is fair. When you say that those who continue in The Episcopal Church that they could not afford to maintain big church buildings, you don’t seem to believe that with God, all things are possible.

  20. Ronald J. Caldwell says:

    The article above is good but does not quite convey the atmosphere of the convention. I attended. It was a grand and glorious celebration of new life, Easter on steroids. The building was packed to overflowing (into the courtyard) for a magnificent Eucharist and diocesan special convention. The entire meeting was upbeat, optimistic, positive. The whole congregation (except Lawrence’s spy) burst forth in unbridled enthusiasm in loud, joyous demonstratrions again and again, for the great Presiding Bishop, for the bishop provisional, and most of all for the vote to restore all ties to the Episcopal Church. The man next to me leaned over and said “We are Episcopal again!” I could not answer for the lump in my throat. Many a tear of joy was shed on smiling faces throughout that wonderful and historic day. Although the unchristian ambush by the Lawrence party through the Dorchester court kept the convention from using its actual names and emblems, the clear implication in all of the convention’s work was that this was the continuing Episcopal church diocese of South Carolina. The overwhelming joy, happiness, enthusiasm, and friendliness of that day will remain with me for years to come. To those who think the Episcopal Church in the low country is dead or will shrivel into nothingness, I say look again. The Episcopal Church is very much alive and well in its ongling diocese of South Carolina through the lives of thousands of devoted and loyal Episcopalians who have incorporated compassion, justice, and mercy in their lives and are proud to make their stand for indiscriminate inclusivity.

    1. John M Stevenson says:

      Well said, M. Caldwell.

    2. Hank Otto says:

      I wish you all well. Among you are my friends and family. I hope you wish us well too I hope the presiding bishops message of hope for South Carolinians includes us. I hope that you are right in that we prematurely jumped the gun and entered into protective litigation ill advisedly. I fear not but really hope so. I had to leave my church because they stayed with TEC. I was not happy about it. My family was not happy about it. Majority rules. I wish them well and hope when this is over we can celebrate mass together again somehow. I found another church where the majority also ruled – overwhelmingly in favor of PEDSC. I swear I think every one of us would agree to paint the seal on every TEC church in sc if TEC would let us worship as we please without an unnecessary fight for the institutions our forebears left to us. ( and I am sure that no one in their right mind is ever going to suggest that historic South Carolinians would have given a dime in support of modern TEC positions) and if we could work that out, we sheep would be glad to call ourselves the diocese of the international house of anything but episcopalians or whatever TEC thinks is a good name for us.

      Probably not going to happen.

      I wish y’all well in your spiritual journey anyway. There is not a shred of facetiousness in that sentiment I promise you. I hope that is not mistaken to mean that we are remotely prepared to back down or flinch from the fight that is coming. But wouldn’t it be nice not to have to?

      1. Ronald J. Caldwell says:

        Yes, Hank that would be nice. Unfortuinately it was PECDSC in its manic push for legitimacy that first sued in court, for everything, all the property. Of course, they said it was “preemptive” (the same thing Dubya said about Iraq and its imaginary weapons of mass destruction). Then, PECDSC went to court again and got the judge to issue an ex parte (no lawyer on the TEC side was notified ahead) surprise-attack order of Temporary Restraining Order just days before the Episcopalians were to meet. So what is TEC supposed to do, roll over and play dead? Not gonna happen.

        1. Bryan Hunter says:

          Mr Caldwell, I don’t intend to be uncharitable, but most of what you’ve written on this thread is pure rubbish. The Diocese of South Carolina sought a declaratory judgement from the Circuit Court of South Carolina. It does not seek any monetary damages, compensatory damages, punitive damages, etc. All it seeks is for the South Carolina Court to affirm its rightful claim to the corporate identity that it lawfully registered in the state of South Carolina and the property that it, and the parishes within it, legally own. I’m very sorry for you that the facts of the case do not match your personal expectations, which I can see is quite disappointing, but the decent thing to do is to be a gentleman about it by accepting the fact that legally the Diocese of South Carolina under Bishop Mark Lawrence is in the right and TEC is not. It doesn’t make you less of a person. But you do risk diminishing yourself by being dishonest about the facts.

        2. Hank Otto says:

          Ok I can see your point as a layman. As a lawyer it means something different to me. A TRO and an injunction are merely tools to hold things in place during litigation and have no real impact on the final outcome. It is not a bad idea in this case. There is nothing significant about the TRO being ex parte. Almost all TROs are ex parte. That is why SCRCP 65 mandates a hearing on it within 10 days so the other side gets due process of law. I have obtained TROs and I am sure Tom Tisdale has too. Not a big deal and I discourage people on our side from making a big deal of it because it has nothing to do with the merits.

          Secondly whether we are right or not we claim the name and seal of the Diocese. There was no secret that the TEC people were using the seal and planning to reorganize. Past practice across the county also told us that immediately following they were going to hit us with a suit. If you were on our side strategically, holding the positions that we do, would you wait quietly in the corner for bombs to start falling?

          I don’t expect TEC to roll over. None of us expect TEC to alter its approach to property disputes. It is not a manic push for legitimacy. It really is preemptive.

          I understand why there is a lot of emotion in your posts. I share it on the other side but have to choke it back very frequently. A lot is at stake. The point I am making is that it does not have to be an all or nothing and BOTH sides need to realize it.

          So here is my question. Does it hurt the MISSION of either church to have the majority of each congregation decide whether to go with the side they elect. Certainly that will have more going with Bishop Lawrence than TEC. But if we can get past that do you think we can worship in peace and not interfere with one another. Of course TEC will have a Diocese in SC. So will we. If we can strike accord on the essential issues then the name issue which is wiggling everyone out will almost de facto work itself out

  21. Tod Roulette says:

    Please, if your conscience says you cannot stay. Leave in Peace and don’t steal the assets of the larger body you willingly gave. GodSpeed but don’t take what belongs to the larger church body. This Southern ‘break the union’ and narrowly interpret the word of God is sad in the 21st Century.

    1. Hank Otto says:

      I join a club. I lend them the use of my office building to meet in. I paid for the building. I keep it repaired. I pay the taxes and insurance on it. I keep the electrics on. I decide to leave the club. When I try to go to work the club tells me I cannot enter. They tell me the building is no longer mine because they voted that the property of the members automatically becomes the property of the club. Who stole the property? Was Christian charity present in the clubs actions?

  22. Ken Armstrong says:

    Seems there is a lot of heat and anger and not much light or understanding. The historic properties and traditions of the past Diocese of South Carolina are just as precious and inspring to the continuing members as they are to those who are leaving. The national church would be failing in its duty if it did not do all it can to retain them for future genearations.
    As to the issues that caused the separation, ultimately they are of little importance in God’s realm. Jesus accepted and ministered to all who came to him. While he told the sinful to repent he accepted them. If we hope to grow in God’s image and grace we must do the same. You cannot hope to change those you refuse to include. Jesus commanded us to love one another and did not ask us to judge whom we will love. As a member of the upper SC diocese, I pray daily for the best outcome of this conflict and ask God to help us to discern and fulfill his will for us.

    1. Julian Malakar says:

      “You cannot hope to change those you refuse to include.”
      Mr. Ken,
      For information to many, Christian Church refuse to include “immoral sex” such as homosexuality as virtue but not the persons, repeat not the persons, who are prisoner to urge of the body, because we all are sinner. But problem arises when TEC transformed homosexuality from vice to virtue, which Church do not have authority.

  23. Ronald J. Caldwell says:

    The specific and fundamental issue at stake between the two sides here is that of sovereignty, or ultimate power. The Episcopal Church is now and has always been an hierarchical institution. It claims that it has sovereignty and that its Constitution and Canons incorporate all the dioceses. Likewise, power on the local level rests in the diocese which has authority over the local churches. This includes the Dennis Canon which holds that all local property is held in trust for the diocese and the Episcopal Church. The group calling itself the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina (PECDSC) says that it has self-sovereignty and is not subject to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. Moreover, the bishop issued quit claim deeds to all local parishes relinquishing all diocesan claims to the properties.

    Sovereignty is one item. It cannot rest equally in two bodies. One is sovereign and the other is not.

    Ironically, this was the identical issue in SC before the Civil War. The state declared its right to nullify national laws, asserted its sovereignty in “states rights” and finally voted to secede from the Union as a sovereign state. The state claimed too that it predated the Union and that there was no clause in the US Constitution prohibiting secession. The issue was the same, sovereignty. The original issue of the Civil War was whether sovereignty rests in the national government or in the states. The issue at hand is the same.

    When a state or a diocese joins the national body it has to accept the constitution of the larger body as supreme. That is the mutual deal. The Diocese of South Carolina acceeded to the Constitution and Canons of the Episciopal Church; the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence swore an oath of allegiance to the Episcopal Church within his ordination as bishop. Both the diocese and the bishop accepted the sovereignty of the national body. Then, by voting to sever ties to the Episcopal Church on Nov. 17, 2012, the majority of the old diocese reneged on its obligations and declared its independence. They asserted local sovereignty over national.

    This issue has been before the courts around the country for many years now. One breakaway diocese case has been settled, that of Pittsburgh. The Episcopal Church prevailed. The other three are in court on appeal, but along the way produced a strong and clear ruling in Fresno on the very issue of sovereignty. Whether on the national level or the diocesan level, courts have overwhelmingly sided with the Episcopal Church.

    The one and only example where a local entity prevailed in a final settlement was All Saints Waccamaw where the SC Supreme Court ruled in favor of the local parish against the diocese. The PECDSC, which ironically lost the case, now pins all its hops on this very case.

    In the view of the Episcopal Church a diocese cannot withdraw (or join) from TEC without approval of the General Convention. Thus, the vote on Nov. 17 was illegal and the group that left did not take a diocese with them. Individuals left but the diocese did not leave. The diocese remains in the Episcopal Church. The names of the diocese apply to the Episcopal diocese and were protected when the diocese was under the C and C of the Episcopal Church. Those names and emblems belong to the diocese, not to the people who left the diocese. These will be the points the lawyers will make in court.

    Judge Goldstein has already shown favoritism to PECDSC and may well rule in favor of PECDSC. At any rate, whoever loses will certainly appeal the case and it will drag on for years. One may wonder why this particular court in this particular county was choden by PECDSC.

    Meanwhile, the two sides are busy organizing and moving forward. Bishop vonRosenberg will issue a letter to all clergy of the old diocese calling on their adherence to the Episcopal Church with 60 days to respond. Those who do not adhere will be deposed from ministry in TEC. The property issue meanwhile is in court and will likely be there for years to come.

    So what we have here are two very different legal views. These will go to court and be argued at length, as they have already been around the country. What will happen in SC remains to be seen. Meanwhile friends have parted, local churches broken up, extended families dissolved, and Christians are reduced to practicising what they were long ago admonished not to do, sue each other in court. It’s a sad, even scandalous state.

    Yet another irony is that on the issue of gender equality and rights, the country has moved on. A sea change has occurred in the last few years, as in the last election, so that numerous states and localities now allow same gender marriages and are moving toward full equality of rights for all people. Even the US military has agreed to allow women to fight in combat. The country has moved on and the Episcopal Church is trying to minister to the changes clearly going on in society. That is the larger issue at stake here, whether to minister to societal changes (TEC) or condemn them (PSCDSC). I know on which side I stand, proudly for indiscriminate inclusivity.

    1. John M Stevenson says:

      Again … well said, Mr. Caldwell.

    2. Rev. Paul Hartt says:

      “That is the larger issue at stake here, whether to minister to societal changes (TEC) or condemn them (PSCDSC). I know on which side I stand, proudly for indiscriminate inclusivity.”

      “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” (Mt. 7: 13.)

      Don’t you think the Gospel of our Lord Jesus is a little more demanding than “indiscriminate inclusivity”?

      1. Ronald J. Caldwell says:

        In my understanding of the Gospels, Our Lord was the great champion of indiscriminate inclusivity. He reached out to everyone from the lowest dregs, the lepers who were grateful, to the highest, the prince who turned away. I cannot think of a single example of when he excluded anyone (even Judas). Indeed, his followers tended to be the ones shunned, cast out, marginalized, maligned, discriminated against. And can anyone cite one word Jesus ever said about homosexuality? In my view, Jesus was the very personification of God’s love and mercy for everyone, no one excluded.

        1. Cyndee Lowe says:

          Our Lord said to go and sin no more, not continue in sin and it’s fine. He also spoke on the subject of marriage and the Truth of the Bible.

        2. Julian Malakar says:

          Ronald,
          There must be exclusivity in accepting one over other as long there is two spiritual power working over our day to day life constantly “Good” and “Evil”. In the rule of law, court reject one party over other who does not comply with existing law and existing law varies with time and space. But God Almighty is unchanged with time and space, because He does not spin around anything like we do, earth moves around the sun and we have years and different seasons. God does not have years. There is no “Traditional/Liberal” in the eyes of God. God says that we are either with Him or against Him and we cannot serve two masters.

          In the context of homosexuality, many emphasized the word “inclusive” for the sake of validating of new idea. But they forget that all Christian believe like TEC, that God’s abundance love (not sexual) for forgiveness of our sins is inclusive, all human are invited to His banquet table with thankful (repentance) mind accepting Jesus Christ as Son of God and loving God and neighbor with righteous works. Any question about righteousness of God, we should consult the Bible with faith, prayer, reasoning and personal experience in relationship to God. Unfortunately no one asked Jesus when He was ministering, whether or not same sex marriage is sinful when He answered purpose and righteousness of heterosexual marriage, selection of mate and God’s blessing for family. In other word, people of Jesus time knew the answer reading scripture story about Sodom and Gomorra and Jesus did not talk about it.

          But despite new innovation about God’s love for forbidden sexuality known for years, still I am confident, we could get answer from God in this turmoil situation in the light of Jesus Christ, whose birth day we celebrated little over one month and read about PB’s Christmas message about the light, to settle the property issue in the spirit of fellowship under one God. To spread the gospel, both parties agree, need property and they were “One Body” before this new innovation. God’s settlement is win-win and court’s settlement is win-loss, costs money and time as Mr. Ronald said well above. Christ’s peace in all understanding be for both the Church.

        3. Milton Finch says:

          So true, Ronald. It is written in the Bible that Jesus invited the disciples to a gay bar and demanded that his disciples lay down and party with the ones there. I am sure it is written!

        4. Rev. Paul Hartt says:

          I believe there is a confusion in this view of the beginning with the end. Too many in TEC misunderstand “indiscriminate inclusivity” as the end of the Gospel rather than the means into and beginning of the Gospel.

          1. Milton Finch says:

            So true, Paul. The problem arises when those invited to the table try to turn the table into their own. They leave out that problematic “turning from one’s unregenerate ways”.

          2. Rev. Paul Hartt says:

            For all of us, the wide end of the funnel leads to the “narrow gate.” Thank God that “with God all things are possible.” Thank God for the Cross. “Indiscriminate Inclusivity” as practiced in TEC simply makes light of the eye of the needle for us all.

  24. Bishop Andrew Gerales Gentry says:

    When I hear people on either side of this drama citing “ordination vows” forgive me but as a Non Episcopalian I can’t help but ask “are you seriously bringing up ordination vows” when you have bishops as well as priests rejecting the historic Creeds, the Incarnation, the Divinity of Christ , the uniqueness of Scriptures and Holy Tradition with impunity but yet if some people, clergy and bishops decide to leave you accuse them of “violating their ordination vows”! Really! So help me understand this for it appears you can be an agnostic, a New Age devotee, a deist like your PB, reject the doctrine of the Divinity of Jesus and the Trinity and that is not a violation but if you leave and wont to keep what you have paid for with your own money and sweat you are violating your vows! If this a correct reading of what constitutes nullification of vows then is it not therefore correct to assume that there is no longer any “core doctrine” of the Episcopal Church except what is relative to the particular bishop, priest or deacon?
    Regardless of what ultimately happens, and I would not count my chickens before they hatch if I were PECUSA, the spectacle unfolding in South Carolina is very bad press for Episcopalians of whatever “jurisdiction”. What it is saying to people who have little or no regard for religion is that religious people are the worst kinds of people and for those who are people of faith it is saying money and property is more important than belief and practice.

    1. John Neir says:

      Bishop Gentry, to which denomination do you belong ?

      1. Bishop Andrew Gerales Gentry says:

        Mr Neir I was ordained deacon and priest in the Eastern Church. I was ordained bishop for an Intentional Eucharistic Community and am now retired. The IEC movement is a result of former Roman Catholics attempting to live and practice the reforms of Vatican II and later as an ecumenical community. There are several thousands IECs here and in Europe.

        1. Hank Otto says:

          You know there is a lot of truth in what he says.

          1. Bryan Hunter says:

            Amen, Bishop Gentry. How quickly we lose sight of the truth of what you say. Those on both “sides” (it pains me to write that) should bow in humility before the powerful truth you have written there. As a brother in Christ, I thank you.

  25. walter combs says:

    The Presiding Bishop Likens Bishop Mark Lawrence to Adam Lanza. This was completely inappropriate, spiteful, delusional, lacking anything resembling Christian charity. Do we really have any hope for reconciliation with those who have left us with this kind of rhetoric being spouted by our Presiding Bishop? When I read the address she gave to the special convention I was ashamed of what TEC has become. My wife and I have about had it with TEC.

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