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TEC appeal dismissed in SC: The Church of England Newspaper, April 4, 2014 April 11, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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A South Carolina appeals court has dismissed the appeal of the Episcopal Church and its allies in the Diocese of South Carolina, seeking review of a lower court order rejecting the national church’s demand that attorneys for the diocese turn over copies of their correspondence with the Bishop of South Carolina, the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence.  A spokesman for the diocese stated they were “grateful” the court had dismissed the appeal. “Their strategy of using legal motions to delay court decisions caused eight months to be wasted when they asked the federal court to override the state court injunction. As in that matter, the courts sided with the Diocese of South Carolina,” Canon Jim Lewis said. The ruling renders moot a motion filed by the diocese last month for the state Supreme Court to take jurisdiction over the appeal and return the dispute to the trial docket, which is scheduled to adjudicate the case in July.

South Carolina accepts archepiscopal oversight from Global South: The Church of England Newspaper, March 28, 2014 April 11, 2014

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The 223rd annual convention of the Diocese of South Carolina has voted to accept an offer of temporary archiepiscopal oversight from the Global South Primates Steering Committee. On 15 March 2014 the delegates voted unanimously to accept the offer made in the February Cairo Communique of the GS Primates, while also aligning itself with the GAFCON movement. In his speech to the convention, the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence said “this will give us gracious oversight from one of the largest Ecclesial entities within the Communion: one wihc includes Anglicans from a diverse body of believers from Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, South America, the Indian Ocean and many, many others.” In 2012 the diocesan convention voted to quit the Episcopal Church in response to disputes over doctrine and disciple with the New York based national office, which led to moves to dismiss Bishop Lawrence from the ministry.

Plea to hold bishop liable for secession from the Episcopal Church dismissed: The Church of England Newspaper, January 17, 2014 January 27, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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A South Carolina court has dismissed a motion brought by the national Episcopal Church to add in his personal capacity, Bishop Mark Lawrence, and three diocesan officials to the lawsuit over the Diocese of South Carolina’s properties.

On 30 December 2013, Judge Diane Goodstein dismissed the Episcopal Church in South Carolina’s argument that Bishop Lawrence and the other church leaders should be made personally responsible for the secession of the diocese from the national Church. The court found there was no reason to single out specific members of the clergy for a vote taken by the diocese as a whole.

The court also dismissed a request by the national Church for an order barring loyalists in the diocese from saying they were the true Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. The matter has been set down for trial in July.

Diocesan spokesman Canon Jim Lewis said: “We are grateful that Judge Goodstein dismissed this most recent effort to harass our people with time-consuming, expensive litigation,” adding the “the judge’s decision ends the legal fishing expedition and forces all to focus on the only issue that matters: whether our religious freedom is protected.”

Suit seeks to hold Bishop Lawrence personally liable for South Carolina’s secession: The Church of England Newspaper, December 13, 2013 December 18, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, the faction loyal to the national Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina, has filed a motion in state court seeking to add Bishop Mark Lawrence and three other diocesan officials as parties in the lawsuit over the control of church properties. The new pleading seeks to hold the breakaway leaders personally liable for the secession of South Carolina from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

On 25 November 2013 loyalists filed a motion alleging 18 causes of action against the four, the bishop, his canon to the ordinary, the current and former president of the standing committee , “including breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, conversion, trademark infringement and civil conspiracy.”

Supporters of the diocese have dismissed the motion as a last minute ploy to salvage the national church’s case against the breakaway diocese.

Canon lawyer Allan Haley, who has represented breakaway dioceses of Quincy and San Joaqui in their litigation with the national church, stated the pleadings were ridiculous.

“It should be obvious to almost anyone that priests who break their ordination vows, or who violate the Constitution and Canons of the Church or of one of its Dioceses, cannot be sued in the civil courts for those actions,” he said, “that is the entire purpose of Title IV (“Ecclesiastical Discipline”) of the Canons.”

“I fail to see, therefore, how the rump group could have authorized the motion to add additional parties to state any claim for breach of the Constitution and Canons — or indeed, for breach of any fiduciary duties owed to the Church whatsoever,” he said citing a recent decision by the California Fifth District Appellate Court that “such questions are ‘quintessentially ecclesiastical’ — they are issues ‘the First Amendment forbids us from adjudicating’.”

“I fail to see how this ‘Hail Mary’ pass has any chance of success in court,” he said.

However, the national church supporters said the motion was filed “because actions [Lawrence and the others] they took to ‘withdraw’ the diocese from [the Episcopal Church] were outside the scope of their legal authority and violated state law,” a press statement said.

Their actions amounted to a “conspiracy” to spirit away “the assets of the diocese and ‘deprive Episcopalians loyal to the Episcopal Church of their property rights’ by manipulating the corporate entity of the diocese,” the pleading alleged.

Trademark violation lawsuit against Mark Lawrence dismissed August 23, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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A federal court has dismissed the trademark lawsuit brought by the Rt. Rev. Charles vonRosenberg against the Rt Rev. Mark Lawrence, ruling the dispute over who may call himself bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina is a matter to be decided by the state court.

On 23 August 2013 Senior U.S. District Court Judge Weston C. Houck held “[t]he sum of all disputes and conflicts arising in the wake of the Diocese’s estrangement from [the national Episcopal Church] are more appropriately before, and will more comprehensively be resolved, in South Carolina state court.”

In a statement released after the decision as handed down, Bishop vonRosenberg  said he was “disappointed at the recent legal developments,” but added “we recognized that our journey involves many, many more steps than only this one.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Unforced Episcopal errors from the Wall Street Journal; Get Religion, April 15, 2013 April 16, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Press criticism, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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Even the best newspapers will drop a brick now and again. And today’s piece in the Wall Street Journal about the Episcopal wars in South Carolina is a real stinker.

I’ve been reading the Journal since the early 1980s when I went to New York to work as a floor clerk at the Commodities Exchange for Drexel Burnham Lambert. In those far off misty days of my misspent youth (the lark’s on the wing, the snail’s on the thorn, Reagan’s in the White House, God’s in His heaven, all was right with the world) I would start at the back of the paper every morning and work forward after I had finished with the futures prices.

As my life and interests took a different path (no more filthy lucre for me) I began to enjoy the paper’s forays into religion, art, literature and other highbrow genres. The Wall Street Journal has consistently done a fine job in covering these topics bringing a depth of knowledge and balance to its reporting — and is one of the best written, best edited English language newspapers in the business.

Hence my disappointment with today’s article entitled “Church Fight Heads to Court: South Carolina Episcopalian Factions Each File Suit After Split Over Social Issues”. The story gets just about everything of importance wrong. The lede misrepresents the underlying issue. It begins:

Episcopalians along the South Carolina coast are battling in court to determine which of two factions owns an estimated $500 million in church buildings, grounds and cemeteries, following an acrimonious split last year over social issues.

The leadership and about two-thirds of the members of the Diocese of South Carolina, based in Charleston, broke away from the national Episcopal Church last November over its blessing of same-sex unions, ordination of gay clergy and its liberal approach to other social and theological issues.

No, that is not what happened. In South Carolina the diocesan convention voted to withdraw from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church after the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church suspended the Bishop of South Carolina with the intent to depose him (remove him from the ministry). Yes, South Carolina has opposed the innovations of doctrine and discipline introduced over the past two generations — and I guess you could say, taking the long view, that social issues were subsidiary issues — but last year’s split was in response to specific actions taken by the leadership of the national church.

Farther down the article some of the details about the South Carolina fight are presented and the story gets the facts back on track.

In South Carolina, bad blood between the diocese and the national church has been building for about 15 years. It reached a breaking point last summer, when the bishop and other leaders of the diocese walked out of the triennial General Convention in Indianapolis, following the national church’s approval of policies on blessing same-sex unions. The walkout triggered a series of events, including the national church’s removal of the Rt. Rev. Lawrence as bishop, and subsequent lawsuits.

(A hint that the writer is not au courant with religion reporting is the “Rt. Rev. Lawrence” — proper style is to use the first name after the Rt Rev and then Bishop or Dr if you want an honorific before the last name.)

The story also collapses the time line of the Episcopal wars and is written as if the South Carolina lawsuit is new news when the latest lawsuit was filed about six weeks ago.

The schism in South Carolina is one of many that have erupted over the past decade between local Episcopal parishes and dioceses and their national church—particularly since the election of a gay bishop in 2003. Thousands of conservative members left their churches over such issues around the middle of last decade, a time some Southern churchgoers call “the Great Unpleasantness,” the same euphemism once used for the Civil War. Other mainline Protestant denominations also have struggled with issues related to homosexuality, with many congregations moving to leave the Presbyterian Church USA after its leadership voted to allow openly gay clergy.

The split between liberal and conservative Episcopalians has been around for almost 40 years and has witnessed dozens of lawsuits between congregations and diocese. Beginning in 2006 the national church headquarters entered the fray spending upwards of $24 million (this in addition to the fees paid out by the dioceses and parishes). Nor did the fight begin in 2003  — GetReligion‘s tmatt has written extensively on this point and I need not restate the accurate Anglican timeline here.

The reporting on the lawsuits — the purpose of the article — is dodgy as well. The article reports the diocese filed a lawsuit in December in state court, with the explanation “The group says it shouldn’t have to turn property over to a church that it believes has drifted from Biblical principles.” Well that was one of the issues — but the bulk of the pleadings and the central issue before the state court was who was the true Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina?

This is followed in the article by the response of the national church affiliated faction:

A group representing the one-third of diocesan congregants still aligned with the national Episcopal Church have joined it in filing suit in federal court, arguing the property must remain with the national church. The national church, which says it is the one upholding Biblical teachings by wrestling with difficult questions as a community, believes the suit should be heard in federal court because it argues the dispute involves the First Amendment; a hearing is expected later this spring on whether the matter will go to federal or state court.

No. This is not true either. On 31 January lawyers representing the national church faction agreed to the entry of a preliminary injunction against their client (called a temporary injunction in South Carolina) promising not to use the name, marks and insignia of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina pending the outcome of the state court proceedings.

On 6 March the national church faction brought a complaint based on the federal trademark law known as the Lanham Act (15 U.S.C. Sections 1051 et seq.) against Bishop Lawrence claiming it, not Bishop Lawrence and his faction were the true diocese. It asked the federal court to block the January state court order  in favor of Bishop Lawrence and his group. Bishop Lawrence, they argued, was infringing on their trademarks. And last week, back in state court, the attorneys for the national church filed their answer to the original lawsuit.

Religious freedom and the First Amendment are all well and good, but it would have behooved the Journal to read the pleadings rather than the press hand outs.

The choice of legal commentary is one-sided — and also manages to pawn off further frauds onto the reader while managing to omit one of the crucial elements in the story.

How the fight will be resolved is difficult to tell. The national church has prevailed in 12 similar disputes in state supreme or appellate courts since 1980, said Martin Nussbaum, a Colorado specialist in church property law who isn’t involved in the South Carolina matter.

Some religious scholars say such schisms are hurting the church’s image and distracting attention that could be devoted to reversing a decline in church membership. “Once we’re through the issue of property and gay people, the real issue is how can this church change its way of being?” said Frank Kirkpatrick, the author of “The Episcopal Church in Crisis: How Sex, the Bible, and Authority are Dividing the Faithful.”

This is untrue also. While a number of lawsuits between dioceses and parishes have gone to state supreme courts, with the diocese prevailing in many of them, in South Carolina the state supreme court ruled the other way and held the church’s national property rules, called the Dennis Canon, were of no legal effect in South Carolina. In other words, if a parish has clear title to its property in South Carolina, it can take it with it if it leaves its diocese or denomination. Omitting this crucial legal precedent in the story was most unfortunate.

It should also be added that the appellate courts have not adjudicated the issue of whether a diocese may withdraw from the national church. Attorneys for the national church have argued the legal precedents from outside South Carolina governing the relationship of the parish to the diocese should govern the relationship of the diocese to the national church. The diocese’s lawyers in South Carolina have argued this relationship is not comparable.

One might also add, contrary to the assertion in the article about declining membership, that until these lawsuits erupted the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina was one of the few Episcopal diocese to see a growth in membership over the past decade.

So far I’ve pointed out mistakes of fact, significant omissions, and unbalanced commentary — let’s look at tone. The deafness of this article — its cluelessness — can be illustrated by this line;

The breakaway group, which still calls itself the Diocese of South Carolina, continues to operate from the diocesan headquarters and retains control of many of its most recognizable parishes, including St. Michael’s, in Charleston, established in the 1750s.

The breakaway group still calls itself the “Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina” — not merely the “Diocese of South Carolina”. The “Episcopal” name, and from it the control of assets, is the question before the courts.

Not a good outing I’m afraid from the Journal.

Update: I neglected to mention a further flaw. The photo of the church used with the article is captioned as St Michael’s Church in Charleston — the photo is actually of St Helena’s in Beaufort. Hardly a fatal flaw, but I suppose it does help to pack all your errors into one story.

First printed in Get Religion.

Disloyal Episcopalians are murderers and terrorists, Jefferts Schori claims: The Church of England Newspaper, February 10, 2013 p 7. February 14, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has denounced her opponents in South Carolina as terrorists and murderers, saying those who opposed her view of church order were “wolves” and false shepherds leading the flock astray.

The 26 Jan 2013 “outrageous” remarks have changed the game in the South Carolina diocesan fight, her critics charge.  What had been a dispute over property has become an ideological war with those who do not conform now being branded as evil.

Speaking to national church loyalists at a special convention held 26 Jan 2013 at Grace Church in Charleston, Bishop Jefferts Schori began her remarks with the story of a glider pilot who had entered restricted airspace in South Carolina and found himself harassed by local officials.

“I tell you that story because it’s 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.

“It’s not too far from that kind of attitude to citizens’ militias deciding to patrol their towns or the Mexican border for unwelcome visitors. 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,” the presiding bishop said.

Bishop Jefferts Schori also denounced what she saw as the arbitrary and capricious usurpation of power by local church leaders stating: “Power assumed by one authority figure alone is often a recipe for abuse, tyranny, and corruption.  That’s why Jesus challenges us to think about how the shepherd acts.  The authentic ones don’t sneak over the wall in the dead of night.  They operate transparently, and they work cooperatively with the gate-keeper himself.”

Canon Phil Ashey of the American Anglican Council stated  her remarks were “just over the top,” Canon Ashey said, adding that her “anger was not in keeping of any leader of any Christian church.”  He called upon the presiding bishop to apologize for remarks.

South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence told The Church of England Newspaper the presiding bishop’s remarks were not likely to help matters.

“One of the things I said to the Presiding Bishop when last we spoke is that if she and I could refrain from demonizing one another, regardless of what others around us are saying, we might get somewhere. Based on the words and argument of her recent sermon for the New TEC Diocese in South Carolina, I guess she wasn’t able to do it,” Bishop Lawrence said.

A spokesman for the Presiding Bishop declined to elaborate on the speech stating “As for the Presiding Bishop’s sermon, she did not identify any group in her sermon.”

Legal win for breakaway American diocese: The Church of England Newspaper, February 3, 2013 p 6. February 7, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina scored a significant victory in its fight with the national Episcopal Church last week after a South Carolina court issued a Temporary Restraining Order forbidding the national church and its allies in South Carolina from using the name, symbols or seal of the diocese.

The 23 Jan 2013 order handed down by Judge Diane Goodstein of the First Judicial Circuit Court blocked the national church from holding a rump meeting of the diocese on 26 January, forcing loyalists to gather as the “Episcopal Church in South Carolina” rather than the “Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina”.

Canon lawyer Allan Haley noted that Judge Goodstein’s order had been “granted ex parte as a matter of urgency, and holds in place only until the Court can hear argument on a preliminary injunction pending trial of the matter” and will expire on 1 Feb 2013.

Mr. Haley stated that he expected the national church’s attorneys to offer a vigorous challenge to the TRO at the 1 Feb hearing. “But it would appear that the court has already found most, if not all, of the case against them,” he added.

On 4 Jan 2013 the trustees of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and 15 congregations filed suit against the national church alleging that its agents had committed identity theft by using its name, symbols and seal and by holding out the Presiding Bishop the “steering committee” of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina as the lawful diocesan ecclesiastical authority.  The complaint further alleged the national church had slandered the title to diocesan and congregational property by stating it held an interest in all church property in South Carolina.

An amended complaint filed on 22 Jan, which added 16 additional congregations as plaintiffs, also asked for a TRO from the court.  In its request for the TRO the diocese alleged that at the loyalists special convention Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and her supporters “intended to make unauthorized corporate changes” to the diocesan constitution and canons, thereby causing the diocese harm.

The diocese stated by this order: “The judge effectively prevents TEC, a voluntary association, and the parishes who support it, from claiming to own or operate the Diocese of South Carolina, an entity that it insists it owns but whose very existence predates The Episcopal Church.”

Bishop Charles vonRosenberg, who was elected at the special convention to lead those Episcopalians in South Carolina who would remain with the national church, told the Church of England Newspaper: “Our intention is to carry out our duties on behalf of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina when we meet at the special convention, and at the same time, we intend to continue to take care in using language which might be offensive to others.”

However others in the loyalist faction called the judge’s decision “bizarre” and suggested improper influence may have been used to sway her decision. The diocese’s lawsuit to protect its name and assets was “unprecedented”, “vindictive” and “mean spirit[ed]” it said, adding that Bishop Lawrence was unfit to serve in the Christian ministry and denounced the majority factions as being “the anti-gay diocese.”

The loyalist faction turned their ire on the judge as well. “Andrew Platte, an attorney for several of the plaintiff congregations and the PECDSC Incorporated, is a recent law clerk for Judge Goodstein and has taken a important role in the recent legal attacks on Episcopalians in the Diocese. He is an associate in the firm of Speights and Runyon, which played a significant role in convincing parishes in the Diocese that the Episcopal Church might be preparing to take their property away.”

Bishop vonRosenberg, however, took an irenic approach to the conflict.  Speaking to the State newspaper, the provisional bishop-designate for loyalists in South Carolina said there was hope for reconciliation. “While we have diverged at this point in history on our paths, one day those paths will converge once again,” the bishop said.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 64: February 3, 2013 February 4, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, Church of Nigeria, Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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In this week’s episode of Anglican Unscripted your host discuss the adventure (misadventures) of Presiding Bishop Jefferts-Schori as she descended onto the city of Charleston last week. Allan Haley examines the legal details of the preemptive strike launched against TEC and Schori and how this battle was won. There is also much international news with stories on Egypt and Nigeria and no AU is complete without a story from Canterbury with Peter Ould – this time he talks about the coming wave of Same-Sex Marriage in England . Tweet #AU64 Comments to AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com

TEC attorneys will not contest South Carolina restraining order: Anglican Ink, January 31, 2013 January 31, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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A South Carolina court has made permanent the temporary restraining order entered on 23 Jan 2013 in the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina case.  On 31 Jan 2013 Judge Diane Goodstein issued a Temporary Injunction that supplanted her Temporary Restraining Order which forbade any person or entity from claiming to be or using the name, symbols and seal of the diocese save for Bishop Mark Lawrence and the officers of the diocese.

Attorneys for the Episcopal Church declined to contest the TRO at the hearing scheduled for 1 Feb 2013.  The Temporary Injunction will stand until the litigation is concluded, however, either party may petition the court to modify or remove the ban.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Presiding Bishop denouces schismatics as terrorists and murderers: Anglican Ink, January 29, 2013 January 29, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, South Carolina.
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A spokesman for Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has denied suggestions that her sermon denouncing as terrorists and murderers those who did not share her views on the polity of the Episcopal Church was directed at Bishop Mark J. Lawrence or the members of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.

Speaking to national church loyalists at a special convention held 26 Jan 2013 at Grace Church in Charleston, Bishop Jefferts Schori characterized her opponents as “wolves” and false shepherds.

She denounced the arbitrary use of power in church affairs, stating: “Power assumed by one authority figure alone is often a recipe for abuse, tyranny, and corruption.  That’s why Jesus challenges us to think about how the shepherd acts.  The authentic ones don’t sneak over the wall in the dead of night.  They operate transparently, and they work cooperatively with the gate-keeper himself.”

The presiding bishop also shared a story of a glider pilot who had entered restricted airspace in South Carolina and found himself harassed by local officials – a situation not unlike the dispute between the diocese and the national church she observed.

“I tell you that story because it’s 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. It’s not too far from that kind of attitude to citizens’ militias deciding to patrol their towns or the Mexican border for unwelcome visitors. 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,” the presiding bishop said.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

South Carolina loyalists defy ban on using diocesan name and shield: Anglican Ink, January 25, 2013 January 25, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The loyalist faction within the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina has unleashed a torrent of abuse against Bishop Mark Lawrence and the diocesan leadership as well as Judge Diane Goodstein following her order of 23 Jan 2013 blocking them from using the name, symbols or seal of the diocese.

Compliance with the court’s order has also been spotty. On Wednesday, Bishop Charles vonRosenberg told Anglican Ink the loyalist group would comply with the court’s order, and a spokesman for the South Carolina steering committee, Holly Behre, told the Associated Press they would honor Judge Goodstein’s ruling and will adopt a name that will comply with the spirit of the court order until the matter is resolved.

However compliance with the Order, which went into effect at 5:11 pm on Wednesday has been slow. The group’s website www.episcopalofsc.org did not remove the shield or the claim to be the Episcopal Dicoese of South Carolina until later Thursday.

As of our going to press, the loyalists group’s fundraising site, scstewardship.com, continues to display the diocesan shield and holds itself out to be the true Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, in apparent disregard of Judge Goodstein’s order which stated in part: “No individual, organization, association or entity, whether incorporated or not, may use, assume, or adopt in any way, directly or indirectly, the registered names and the seal or mark of The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Court blocks loyalist convention for Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina: Anglican Ink, January 23, 2013 January 24, 2013

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Diane Goodstein

Judge Diane Goodstein

The First Judicial Circuit Court in South Carolina has issued a Temporary Restraining Order forbidding any “individual, organization, association or entity” from using the name, symbols or seal of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina – save for Bishop Mark J. Lawrence and the trustees of the diocese.

The 23 January 2013 order handed down by Judge Diane Goodstein effectively blocks the Episcopal Church and its allies from electing a bishop and standing committee for the minority faction loyal to the national church for the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.

However, canon lawyer Allan Haley notes the ruling does not prevent those in the diocese who wish to remain affiliated with the national Episcopal Church “from meeting, but they will have to adopt a different name.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Restraining Order filed against Episcopal Church in SC case: Anglican Ink, January 23, 2013 January 23, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The First Judicial Circuit Court in South Carolina has issued a Temporary Restraining Order banning Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and her allies from using the name, symbols of identity of the “Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina”.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

15 more parishes join lawsuit against the Episcopal Church January 23, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence

The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina reports that 15 further congregations have joined it in their 4 Jan 2013 lawsuit against the national Episcopal Church.

The 22 Jan statement reported that of the dioceses congregations, 31 had joined the lawsuit against the national church, 13 congregations were supporting Bishop Mark Lawrence and the diocese against the national church but had not yet joined the litigation, nine missions and two parishes had not declared how they would act, while eight parishes and eight missions had indicated they would remain affiliated with the national Episcopal Church.

“We are saddened that legal action is necessary to protect our members from an organization that uses the threat of legal action as a cudgel to keep its parishes in line,” Bishop Lawrence said.

First printed in Anglican Ink.

South Carolina dispute goes to court: The Church of England Newspaper, January 13, 2013 p 6. January 17, 2013

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The Diocese of South Carolina has filed a lawsuit against the Episcopal Church seeking a ban on the use of its name and seal by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and her allies, and asking the civil courts to confirm that it had lawfully withdrawn from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

The 4 Jan 2013 complaint filed in the First Judicial Circuit Court in Dorchester County by the trustees of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and 16 parishes asks the civil court settle the legal and ecclesiological question of the locus of authority in the Episcopal Church.  Since taking office in 2006, Bishop Jefferts Schori has argued authority in the church is vested in the General Convention and her office, rejecting the traditional view that authority resides in the dioceses with limited powers delegated to the national church.

The 65-page complaint addresses similar issues before the Texas Supreme Court which is reviewing the case of the Diocese of Fort Worth and lower courts in California and Illinois addressing the secession of the dioceses of San Joaquin and Quincy.

The pleading alleges three causes of action by the diocese against the national church. It alleges the national church has claimed the “right to ownership and possession” of $500 million of diocesan and congregational property; the national church has unlawfully used the diocese’s name and registered service marks; and that the national church “persons under its direction and control” had appropriated the diocesan seal.

Mr. Thomas Tisdale, Bishop Jefferts Schori’s attorney in South Carolina, declined to comment on the pleadings.  A spokesman for the presiding bishop told the Church of England Newspaper “the Episcopal Church has not received the legal papers in any such lawsuit in South Carolina and therefore cannot comment at this time.”

The pleading asks the court to step into the dispute between South Carolina and the national church following months of skirmishing that have included the 17 Oct 2012 suspension and subsequent dismissal of Bishop Mark Lawrence from the ministry by Bishop Jefferts Schori, the 15 Nov 2012 secession of the diocese, and the creation of a loyalist group in the diocese, acting under the authority of the presiding bishop, that has claimed the name, rights, property and interest of the diocese.

In a press statement reporting the news of the lawsuit, the diocese said it acted to prevent the national church from “hijacking” its name and assets.

“Like our colonial forefathers, we are pursuing the freedom to practice our faith as we see fit, not as it is dictated to us by a self-proclaimed religious authority who threatens to take our property unless we relinquish our beliefs,” Bishop Lawrence said.

The Rev. Jim Lewis, Canon to the Ordinary of South Carolina stated “many of our parishes are among the oldest operating churches in the nation.  They and this Diocese predate the establishment of The Episcopal Church. We want to protect these properties from a blatant land grab.”

“We have existed as an association since 1785. We incorporated in 1973; adopted our current legal name … in 1987; and we disassociated from the Episcopal Church in October of 2012. The Episcopal Church has every right to have a presence in the area served by our Diocese – but it does not have a right to use our identity.  The Episcopal Church must create a new entity.”

Anglican Unscripted Episode 62: January 6, 2013 January 7, 2013

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Just when you thought it was safe to watch online Videos again… In this week’s Episode Kevin and George give some behind the scenes information regarding the next Gafcon. They also talk about invisible Christian Persecution this Christmas season and the Anglican World before and after the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson. Peter Ould discusses the recent Church of England news about Bishops in Civil Partnerships and Allan Haley tackles the real effect of the latest news from the Diocese of South Carolina. Comments to AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com Tweet #AU62

South Carolina fires first salvo in legal battle with TEC: Anglican Ink, January 5, 2013 January 5, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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Bishop Mark Lawrence

A South Carolina court has been asked “Who and what are Episcopalians and how is that church organized?” after the Diocese of South Carolina filed a lawsuit yesterday against the national Episcopal Church.  The 65-page complaint asks the court to issue an injunction banning Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and her allies in South Carolina from using the name or presuming to act on behalf of the diocese and further asks the court to affirm the legality of the diocese’s secession from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America.

Filed on 4 January 2013 in the First Judicial Circuit Court in Dorchester County by the trustees of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and 16 parishes, the complaint asks the civil courts to adjudicate the same general questions currently before the Texas Supreme Court in the Diocese of Fort Worth case. South Carolina has asked the court to legal scrutiny Bishop Jefferts Schori’s claim the Episcopal Church of the United States of America is a hierarchical body with final authority vested in the national church.

Yesterday’s action follows a generation of sparing between liberals and conservatives in the Episcopal Church over issues of doctrine and discipline.  However, the legal and ecclesiological issues of diocesan autonomy and national authority arose in 2006 after Bishop Jefferts Schori was elected presiding bishop. Unlike her predecessor Frank Griswold who told the Diocese of Louisiana that ultimate authority rested in the diocese, Bishop Jefferts Schori has argued that ultimate authority resides in the General Convention and in her office.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Anglican Communion ignores Mark Lawrence’s deposition: Anglican Ink, December 20, 2012 December 21, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina

The leaders of the Global South coalition of Anglican provinces have written to Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina stating they do not recognize the validity of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jeffert Schori’s purported deposition of him from episcopal office and the ordained ministry.

In a letter dated 14 December 2012, Archbishop Ian Ernest of the Indian Ocean, Bishop Mouneer Anis of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya, Presiding Bishop Tito Zavala of the Southern Cone, Archbishop Stephen Than Myint Oo of Burma, and Archbishop Bolly Lapok of Southeast Asia said:

“We want to assure you that we recognize your Episcopal orders and your legitimate Episcopal oversight of the Diocese of South Carolina within the Anglican Communion.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

South Carolina schism descending into farce: The Church of England Newspaper, December 16, 2012 p 6. December 13, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has defrocked the Bishop of South Carolina, writing on 5 Dec 2012 that she had accepted the “voluntary renunciation of ministry” of Bishop Mark J. Lawrence.

However, Bishop Lawrence has responded that he felt no “need to argue or rebut” the accusations and actions as they were ridiculous.

In her press release announcing the move, Bishop Jefferts Schori said that acting under the terms of Title III, Canon 12, Section 7 the Presiding Bishop “has accepted the renunciation of the ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church of Mark Lawrence as made in his public address on November 17 and she has released him from his orders in this Church.”

Bisho Lawrence responded: “Quite simply I have not renounced my orders as a deacon, priest or bishop any more than I have abandoned the Church of Jesus Christ—But as I am sure you are aware, the Diocese of South Carolina has canonically and legally disassociated from The Episcopal Church. We took this action long before today’s attempt at renunciation of orders, therein making it superfluous,” the bishop said.

The announcement released by the church’s press office, the Episcopal News Service, said “pastoral outreach to Lawrence had been ongoing for a period of several years, including up to the time he announced his intentions” to withdraw from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

“Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori along with members of her staff took steps to work with Lawrence.  In addition, repeated attempts by the Bishops of Province IV and notably Bishop Andrew Waldo of Upper South Carolina were made to discuss the situation with Lawrence and to offer help in achieving a resolution.”

Bishop Lawrence’s oral statement to the 17 Nov 2012 meeting of his diocesan convention that: “We have withdrawn from that Church that we along with six other dioceses help to organize centuries ago;” and “We have moved on. With the Standing Committee’s resolution of disassociation the fact is accomplished: legally and canonically;” was evidence of his having abandoned the ministry of the Episcopal Church.

However, the presiding bishop’s claim to have received the renunciation of Bishop Lawrence is at odds with the language of the canon.  The canon used to depose the bishop without trial states: “If any Bishop of this Church shall declare, in writing, to the Presiding Bishop a renunciation of the ordained Ministry of this Church, and a desire to be removed therefrom, it shall be the duty of the Presiding Bishop to record the declaration and request so made.”

Canon lawyer Allan Haley observed that “Bishop Lawrence (a) did not address any writing to the Presiding Bishop; (b) did not renounce his ordained Ministry; and (c) did not request to be removed from that Ministry. The elaborately crafted press release from the Public Affairs Office is simply a poor attempt to cover over a huge, public lie.”

That “huge, public lie has been told simply for the sake of the Presiding Bishop’s and ECUSA’s own convenience,” he said.

Members of the Presiding Bishop’s Council of Advice supported the use of the abandonment canon against Bishop Lawrence even though he met none of the criteria for its use.

The ends of removing Bishop Lawrence from the ministry of the Episcopal Church justified the means taken by the presiding bishop, Bishop Dean Wolfe of Kansas told The Church of England Newspaper. “I believe, and Canonical experts confirm, this (along with a variety of other statements made by Bishop Lawrence) constitutes renunciation,” he said.

On 8 Dec 2012 a group of national church loyalists in the Diocese of South Carolina known as the “steering committee” reported that Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori would “convene” a special meeting of the diocesan convention to elect a “provisional bishop” to replace Bishop Lawrence.

In their press statement, the steering committee explained that “Episcopalians in the diocese are without a bishop after the Presiding Bishop accepted the renunciation of Mark Lawrence on December 5 and released him from ordained ministry. The announcements by local church leaders that they have left The Episcopal Church has left the Diocese with no Standing Committee, which normally would lead a diocese in the absence of a bishop.”

This assertion, however, has been rejected by the diocese. South Carolina civil law and the canons of the Episcopal Church do not permit the presiding bishop to “declare” a standing committee to be vacant.

Under South Carolina civil and canon law, a quorum of clergy and lay delegates to the convention must be present for its actions to have legal force.  If only those 5 to 12 congregations who have expressed reservations about the withdrawal of the diocese form the national church attend the convention, any action taken will be void under civil and canon law.

However, appeals to the rule of law and church order have so far not halted the presiding bishop’s campaign against conservatives in the Episcopal Church. Objections to similar “rump” conventions held in Fort Worth, San Joaquin and Quincy and extra-canonical defrocking of bishops have gone unheeded by the wider Episcopal Church.  However, the Texas Supreme Court is expected to rule shortly on the legality of the loyalist group in Fort Worth claiming it is the true Episcopal Diocese.

Canonical legerdemain and unlawful usurpation of authority by the presiding bishop in the aim of a political agenda were a sad commentary on the moral state of the Episcopal Church, Bishop Lawrence observed.

The presiding bishop would go to any lengths to exterminate dissent and would twist words to achieve her purposes. “She and her advisers will say I have said what I have not said in ways that I have not said them even while they cite words from my Bishop’s Address” to the South Carolina special convention, he said.

But Bishop Lawrence reported that he was “heartened” by the support he had received by the “vast majority” within the diocese and from the “majority of Anglicans around the world” who have “expressed in so many ways that they consider me an Anglican Bishop in good standing and consider this Diocese of South Carolina to be part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. “

“So we move on—onward and upward,” Bishop Lawrence said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Mediation plea for South Carolina crisis: The Church of England Newspaper, December 9, 2012 p 6. December 12, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, South Carolina.
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The Episcopal Church’s embattled conservatives have called upon Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bishop Mark Lawrence to engage in mediation to resolve the impasse over the secession of the Diocese of South Carolina.

On 14 Nov 2012, 12 bishops released a statement expressing their grief over “recent developments in the life of the Episcopal Church, specifically in the Diocese of South Carolina” called “upon all concerned to seek a non-juridical solution to these difficult matters, and not to be limited by our canonical procedures.”

“Our hope, indeed our prayer,” the Communion Partners coalition said, was “that this painful moment in the life of the church will lead us to new and creative ways to discover Christ’s reconciling love, and to live together in one Body in the midst of our differences.”

In a paper released last week, the Anglican Communion Institute urged the parties to take up the conflict resolution programme created by the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG).

Formed by the Archbishop of Canterbury following his Advent Letter to the Primates in December 2007, Dr. Rowan Williams asked the WCG to advise him how best to implement the recommendations of the Windsor Report, how best to carry forward the Windsor Process in the life of the Communion, and to consult on the “unfinished business” of the Report. At the Lambeth Conference 2008, it offered a series of initial Observations to the meeting to facilitate conversations.

The ACI stated the WCG recommended that in cases of theological dispute between a diocese and province “a provisional holding arrangement” for the diocese be crafted that would “enable dialogue to take place and which will be revisited on the conclusion of the Covenant Process.”

The ACI argued that there was a window of opportunity open to resolve the crisis. In his address to the South Carolina special convention which affirmed the diocese’s withdrawal from the General Convention, Bishop Lawrence said he remained open to meeting with Bishop Jefferts Schori to “seek new and creative solutions.”

“We suggest that the concept already proffered by the Windsor Continuation Group and accepted in principle by the Communion’s Instruments (and by TEC’s Presiding Bishop) might offer one possible creative solution,” the ACI said. “Litigation could be avoided, those dissenting in the diocese could receive immediate pastoral care from the Diocese of Upper South Carolina, the current status quo in South Carolina would be recognized and contained, and hope for eventual reconciliation not completely abandoned.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s office has declined to respond to queries about the split in South Carolina, but sources report that Dr. Williams and Bishop Justin Welby have been in contact with the principals in the dispute.  Neither South Carolina nor the national church offices have responded publicly to the proposal so far.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Jefferts Schori to convene a special convention for South Carolina: Anglican Ink, December 8, 2012 December 9, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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Katharine Jefferts Schori

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has called a special convention of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina for 26 January 2013 to elect a provisional bishop.

On 8 Dec 2012 the “steering committee” of South Carolina, a group of lay and clergy members of the diocese loyal to the national church announced that Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori would “convene” the gathering at Grace Church in Charleston.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 59: December 7, 2012 December 7, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Anglican.TV, ARCIC, Church of England, The Episcopal Church.
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This first week of Advent George and Kevin discuss the latest news from the Diocese of South Carolina and the unlawful actions of the Presiding Bishop. Your two favorite commentators also tackle the final Advent letter from Archbishop Rowan Williams and they share some sage advice for Bishop Justin Welby. Sadly, our third story was removed during editing in reaction to the tragedy today in London with the suicide of the Kate Middleton’s Nurse. Comments to AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com #AU59

Also: Please keep AU Contributor Allan Haley in your prayers this week as he and his family are grieving the death of Allan’s sister.

South Carolina’s sorrow and pity for Katharine Jefferts Schori: Anglican Ink, December 5, 2012 December 6, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, South Carolina.
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The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence

The Bishop of South Carolina has received the news of his removal from the ordained ministry with sorrow, and a little pity. On 5 Dec 2012 the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church announced that she had accepted the voluntary renunciation of the ministerial orders of the Bishop of South Carolina.  However, Bishop Mark J. Lawrence reports the presiding bishop’s actions have no canonical significance.

On the fourth anniversary of her deposing Bishop Jack Iker by the same canonical maneuver, Bishop Jefferts Schori announced she had deposed Bishop Lawrence. The Episcopal News Service reported that pursuant to Title III, Canon 12, Section 7 the Presiding Bishop “has accepted the renunciation of the ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church of Mark Lawrence as made in his public address on November 17 and she has released him from his orders in this Church.”

However, the presiding bishop’s claim to have received the renunciation of Bishop Lawrence is at odds with the language of the canon.  The canons states:

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Waldo offers his support to TEC loyalists in South Carolina: Anglican Ink, December 3, 2012 December 3, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Secession, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The Rt. Rev. Andrew Waldo

The Rt. Rev. Andrew Waldo

The Bishop of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina has offered his support to national church loyalists in the Diocese of South Carolina in their battle with Bishop Mark Lawrence.

In his 2 Dec 2012 Advent letter to the church, Bishop Andrew Waldo did not offer ecclesiastical oversight to the 5 to 12 South Carolina congregations that did not back the 17 Nov 2012 vote for secession, his offer of pastoral support lays the ground work for their absorption in to his diocese.

Bishop Waldo wrote this “Advent find South Carolina Episcopalians with an open wound, our armor pierced by our inability across diocesan boundaries to navigate the challenges of living and staying together in disagreement.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 58, December 2, 2012 December 2, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican.TV, Church of the Province of Central Africa, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church, Zimbabwe.
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This week Kevin and George talk about the Artificial Ecclesiastical Diocese of South Carolina (AEDOS) and some of the miscommunication between it’s leadership. They also talk about International stories from Canada and Egypt. And what episode won’t be complete without a story about Legal Violence in Zimbabwe? #AU58 Comments to AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com

Presiding Bishop taking charge in South Carolina: Anglican Ink, November 29, 2012 November 29, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori

A gathering of national church loyalists has learned that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is backing their move to claim the mantle of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.

The presiding bishop’s attorney told the 15 Nov 2012 meeting of TEC loyalists   the national church had been preparing for the fight with Bishop Lawrence and the majority faction in the diocese for some time.  However assertions made at the meeting that the former Bishop of East Tennessee will be intervening on behalf of the presiding bishop supplant Bishop Mark Lawrence were unfounded.

The Rt. Rev. Charles vonRosenberg told Anglican Ink his officiating at public worship as a priest in the jurisdiction of the Diocese of South Carolina was permitted under a license he held by Bishop Mark Lawrence, while his actions as a bishop were of a pastoral nature. The retired bishop said the had been given “no special or particular authority” to exercise episcopal office in South Carolina.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

South Carolina withdraws from the Episcopal Church: The Church of England Newspaper, November 22, 2012 November 26, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The Diocese of South Carolina has withdrawn from the Episcopal Church of the United States.

Delegates to a special meeting of the diocesan convention held on 17 November at St Philip’s Church in Charleston voted to affirm the disaffiliation of the diocese from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church taken last month by the Standing Committee and its bishop, the Rt Rev Mark Lawrence.

The split comes after years of theological and political disputes between the conservative diocese and the liberal hierarchy of the national Church over issues of human sexuality, the nature and person of Jesus, and the doctrines of marriage. Issues came to a head at the 77th General Convention last July when the diocesan delegation and Bishop Lawrence withdrew from the Convention after it adopted provisional rites for the blessing of gay marriages.

Writing to the diocese on 15 November, US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said the Convention had no authority to remove the diocese from the General Convention. “The alteration, dissolution, or departure of a diocese of The Episcopal Church requires the consent of General Convention, which has not been consulted,” she said.

However, the Church’s constitution and canons are silent on this point, and the question of diocesan secession is currently before the state courts of Texas, California and Illinois.

Saturday’s vote is the second time the diocese has withdrawn from the General Convention. During the American Civil War the diocese left the Episcopal Church to join the Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America. In 1868 the diocese rejoined the Episcopal Church of the USA – the last “Confederate” diocese to do so.

However, Bishop Mark Lawrence told his diocese that this time round the diocese would not affiliate with any other Anglican body, but for the time being would be an extra-provincial diocese of the Anglican Communion.

“We have heard from Archbishops, Presiding Bishops, and diocesan bishops from Kenya to Singapore, England to Egypt, Ireland to the Indian Ocean, Canada to Australia,” Bishop Lawrence told the diocese.

“They represent the overwhelmingly vast majority of members of the Anglican Communion and they consider me as a faithful Anglican Bishop in good standing and they consider this diocese as part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church,” he reported.

Bishop Lawrence told The Church of England Newspaper he had been in conversation with bishops of the Church of England who were “eager to help in various ways.” However, he declined to say more, noting it was best to say nothing more at this time. But South Carolina Episcopalians were conscious they were “surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses praying for us, supporting us, interceding on our behalf with the martyrs,” the Bishop said.

A quorum present, three resolutions were brought to the convention for action. The first affirmed by voice vote the disaffiliation from the national Church taken by the standing committee and bishop. The second approved by voice vote amendments to the diocesan constitution removing all references to the national Church.

A third resolution that amended the diocesan canons to remove references to the national Church was approved by a vote by orders with 71 clergy in favour and three abstaining, while in the lay order it was passed with 47 in favour and five abstaining.

Those abstaining told CEN their congregations had not yet decided on what course of action to pursue. Approximately 12 congregations were not present at the meeting and of those, some are known to be active members of the faction loyal to the national Church.

In a press conference held at the close of the meeting, the canon to the ordinary, the Rev Jim Lewis said: “For the sake of clarity, the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina is our legally incorporated identity. We have been the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina and remains so.”

First printed in the Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican Unscripted: November 24, 2012 November 25, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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This week Kevin and George talk about the Diocese of South Carolina and the response to their vote to leave the Episcopal Church. Peter talks about the recent vote for Women Bishop in the Church of England and Allan Haley discusses the legal ramifications facing the Diocese of South Carolina and the Episcopal Church. And as always there is much much more in Episode 57. #AU57 comments to anglicanunscripted@gmail.com — Thanks to all who sent money for George’s new camera — sadly Kevin told George the wrong settings for HD…

Communion sponsored mediation proposed for South Carolina: Anglican Ink, November 21, 2012 November 21, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church, Windsor Continuation Group.
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The Most Rev. Bernard Ntahoturi

Resolution of the South Carolina standoff would best be served by an international intervention of the type proposed by the Anglican Communion’s Windsor Continuation Group, the Anglican Communion Institute (ACI) said last night in a paper released on its website.

The American-based church think tank has proposed the national Episcopal Church and the Diocese of South Carolina take up the recommendations of the Windsor Continuation Group formed by Dr. Rowan Williams.

The ACI stated the WCG recommended that in cases of theological dispute between a diocese and province “a provisional holding arrangement” for the diocese be crafted that would “enable dialogue to take place and which will be revisited on the conclusion of the Covenant Process.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Church of England will not break with South Carolina: Anglican Ink, November 19, 2012 November 20, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, Anglican Ink, Church of England, South Carolina.
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The Church of England has declined to accept Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori’s assertion the Diocese of South Carolina may not withdraw from the Episcopal Church.  Nor will Saturday’s vote by the South Carolina Special Convention affect the standing of its clergy with the Church of England at this time, General Synod learned today.

Speaking for the church’s Council for Christian Unity (CCU), Bishop Christopher Hill said the Church of England sought to maintain good relations with all sides in the Episcopal Church’s civil war and would take no “hasty” actions at this time.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Church coup in South Carolina: The Church of England Newspaper, November 18, 2012 p 7. November 19, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church has backed an ecclesiastical coup against the Diocese of South Carolina and has purported to have prorogued the standing committee of the conservative evangelical diocese. A “Transitional Committee” in South Carolina loyal to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has formed a “steering committee” to act in the place of the diocese’s officers – its ecclesiastical authority – and has pledged to “continue” the Episcopal Church in South Carolina.

On 11 Nov 2012 the steering committee announced that it was now in charge. “We write to assure you that The Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina is continuing,” under the authority of a “steering committee of faithful Episcopalians” who will “reorganize our continuing Diocese over the next few months. This committee will serve as the broad-based group in the Diocese that communicates with the Presiding Bishop during this period when the Diocese has no functioning ecclesiastical authority.”

The loyalist faction, writing in the name of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and acting under its seal,  said that at a March convention they would “begin the work of selecting a bishop, a new standing committee, and forging ahead with our missions and ministry.”

Last month Bishop Jefferts Schori suspended South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence with the intent to depose him from office within sixty days.  By using the church’s “abandonment canon”, created in the Nineteenth century to remove from the church’s roster clergy who had “gone over to Rome”, Bishop Jefferts Schori need not bring Bishop Lawrence to trial or prove the charges.

The diocese, however, does not recognize the authority of the church’s new disciplinary canons introduced last year. It also adopted a “poison pill” amendment to its constitution and canons so that if the national church attempted to remove its bishop for political reasons, the diocese would automatically withdraw from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church.  The 15 Oct 2012 announcement by the presiding bishop that she had suspended Bishop Lawrence, under South Carolina civil law, removed the diocese from the General Convention.

National church loyalists in South Carolina have been working in concert with New York and two retired bishops living in South Carolina: Charles vonRosenberg of Eastern Tennessee and James Buchanan of Western Missouri.

On 3 Nov, an advertisement affixed with the diocesan seal was placed in two newspapers by the clergy and vestry of two congregationsstating the “Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina” “will continue” as part of the Episcopal Church with “new leadership and a new Bishop.”

On 7 Nov the same group, claiming now to be the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina wrote to the clergy of the diocese inviting them to attend a “clergy day” with Bishop vonRosenberg where they would receive a report from “the Steering Committee.”

A spokesman for the presiding bishop’s office told the Charleston Post & Courier it was in her authority to act as Bishop Lawrence had been suspended and she had removed the standing committee removed from office.

However, in a paper released on 11 Nov, the Anglican Communion Institute noted the actions taken by the presiding bishop and the loyalist group violated civil and canonical law.  The Episcopal Church has “no canonical basis for the actions that the Presiding Bishop and pro-TEC local parishes appear to be taking.”

The ACI further stated the “absence of any canons authorizing what the Presiding Bishop and others are doing is proof that TEC is operating under a profoundly flawed understanding of the church’s polity.”

Canon lawyer Allan Haley has argued this latest action may be a step too far, as the national church’s actions cannot be defended by reference to civil or church law. The South Carolina Supreme Court has repudiated the church’s national property canon in the state, he notes and the “Dennis Canon is as dead as a doornail in South Carolina, and so are any thoughts of an implied trust on diocesan property based on other Church canons and past relations”

“Moreover, the Diocese of South Carolina is organized as a corporation under South Carolina law. That fact guarantees its own independent, legal identity in the State’s courts and before all of its executive and legislative bodies, officers and agencies. For the Bandit Bishop and her minions to try to appropriate that identity for their own nefarious purposes is fully akin to what would be called ‘identity theft’ in any other context,” he said.

Bishop vonRosenberg told The Church of England Newspaper the loyalist faction would meet on 15 Nov – two days before the diocese gathers in a special convention to respond to the suspension of their bishop.  He denied that his support for the dissident group was fomenting schism or a violation of canon law. “A group of loyal Episcopal priests felt the need to gather, for mutual support.  They asked me to offer a homily during the liturgy they will share.  I had previously been licensed in this diocese by Bishop Lawrence.  I certainly felt able to respond to the invitation affirmatively, and I look forward to being with that group.”

“I imagine that things will become clearer soon.  I hope so, because there is much confusion at this point,” Bishop vonRosenberg said.

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

South Carolina quits the Episcopal Church: Anglican Ink, November 19, 2012 November 19, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Anglican Ink, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence

The Diocese of South Carolina has withdrawn from the Episcopal Church.

On 17 Nov 2012 delegates to a special meeting of the convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina endorsed resolutions affirming the withdrawal of the diocese from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church made last month by the Standing Committee and adopted resolutions amending the constitution and canons to delete reference to the national church.

“Ask yourself how long do I want to spend my time, my soul and my energy in a resistance movement that has proven so fruitless,” Bishop Mark J. Lawrence asked the convention. “We have spent far too many hours and days and years in a dubious and fruitless resistance to the relentless path of the Episcopal Church,” the bishop said, saying it was now time to “move on.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Presiding Bishop asks Mark Lawrence to recant: Anglican Ink, November 15, 2012 November 15, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, South Carolina.
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The Rt. Rev. Daniel Martins

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has told the Bishop of Springfield she has not declared the ecclesiastical authority of South Carolina to be vacant.  However, she has conceded her staff has been working with dissidents in the diocese to appointment new members to replace those no longer recognized as exercising legal authority over the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina by the national church.

A spokesman for the diocese said she was unaware of any current vacancies on the board.

Writing on his blog, Confessions of a Carioca, the Rt. Rev. Daniel Martins stated he had been “contacted by “the Presiding Bishop” concerning his call for a halt to hostilities between the national church and the Diocese of South Carolina.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Unlawful acts will have consequences, Bishop Lawrence tells 815 loyalists in South Carolina: Anglican Ink, November 15, 2012 November 15, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence

The national Episcopal Church and its loyalists in the Diocese of South Carolina will be held accountable for violating civil and canon law, Bishop Mark Lawrence has told the members of his diocese.

In a pastoral letter released on 15 Nov 2012 endorsed by 35 rectors and vicars, Bishop Lawrence urged members of the diocese to hold fast to the faith once delivered to the saints.  The crisis in the national Episcopal Church had been brought about by a perfect storm – a “convergence” of revisionist “theology, morality and polity”, he wrote, that has taken place over the past 25 years “within The Episcopal Church.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Upper South Carolina calls for cease fire in Charleston: Anglican Ink, November 12, 2012 November 13, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, South Carolina.
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Bishop Mark Lawrence

The Standing Committee of Upper South Carolina has urged the Presiding Bishop to abort the national church’s legal campaign in South Carolina and wage peace with Bishop Mark Lawrence.

The 2 Nov 2012 letter urging a cease fire in the war between the national church and South Carolina may well be too late to avert a crisis.  A group claiming to be the true Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina has formed and through its “transition committee” has announced that they believe the members of the South Carolina standing committee have impeached themselves, and have taken up the legal name and seal of the diocese as their own.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Presiding Bishop backs ecclesiastical coup in South Carolina: Anglica Ink, November 11, 2012 November 12, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Canon Law, Property Litigation, South Carolina.
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Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has declared the ecclesiastical authority of the Diocese of South Carolina vacant and has backed a faction within the diocese that is seeking to fill the “vacuum” created by the suspension of Bishop Mark Lawrence.

The loyalist “Transitional Committee” has also declared the South Carolina Standing Committee to be vacant and has formed a “steering committee” to act in its place.

On 11 Nov 2012, the steering committee announced that it had taken charge of the diocese. “We write to assure you that The Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina is continuing,” they said, noting they had formed a “steering committee of faithful Episcopalians” to “reorganize our continuing Diocese over the next few months. This committee will serve as the broad-based group in the Diocese that communicates with the Presiding Bishop during this period when the Diocese has no functioning ecclesiastical authority.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Global South backing for South Carolina: The Church of England Newspaper, November 4, 2012 p 6. November 8, 2012

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The leaders of the Global South coalition of Anglican archbishops have written to the Bishop of South Carolina offering their prayers and support in his battle with the head of the American Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

On 25 Oct 2012, Archbishop Ian Ernest of the Indian Ocean, and the Presiding Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Bishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt wrote to Bishop Mark Lawrence from Singapore, where they were attending the installation of the Rt. Rev. Rennis Ponniah as 9th bishop of the diocese.

“We were saddened, but not surprised, by the news of your inhibition and possible deposition by the TEC. We all want to assure you and the Diocese of South Carolina of our continuing prayers and support. We thank God for your stand for the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ! We are proud that you are willing to suffer for the faith once delivered to the saints,” the archbishops wrote.

“Please be assured that we are with you, and that our Lord is also proud of you and our brothers and sisters in the Diocese of South Carolina,” they said, in their letter of support from the primates of Nigeria, South East Asia, Myanmar, Congo, the Southern Cone, Kenya and the Sudan.

On 15 Oct Bishop Lawrence was informed by Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori that the Disciplinary Board for Bishops had recommended he be suspended from the ministry for having abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church.  The announcement from New York came amidst negotiations between Bishop Lawrence and representatives of the national church over the diocese’s place within the church in light of the vote by General Convention to implement rites for gay marriages.

Fearful the national church would seek to compel it to conform to its innovation in doctrine and discipline, in recent years South Carolina had amended its constitution and canons – adopting a provision that disaffiliates the diocese from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church should its bishop be subject to theological persecution through an attack via the disciplinary canons.

The effect of the presiding bishop’s announcement was to trigger the disaffiliation canon, such that the Diocese of South Carolina and its 29,000 members withdrew from the church.

On 19 Oct Bishop Lawrence met with the clergy of the diocese to discuss the situation. He told The Church of England Newspaper that he was unable to comment at that time as to what steps would be taken by the diocese.  However, a special convention of the diocese has been called for 17 Nov 2012.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Diocese of South Carolina kicked out of the Episcopal Church: The Church of England Newspaper, October 28, 2012 p 6. October 31, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The Diocese of South Carolina has been pushed out of the Episcopal Church of the USA. The involuntary secession of the 29,000-member diocese comes as charges have been brought against its bishop, the Rt Rev Mark Lawrence for “abandoning” the communion of the Episcopal Church.

On 17 October 2012 a statement printed on the Diocese’s Website said that two days earlier Bishop Lawrence had been notified by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori that on 18 September 2012 “the Disciplinary Board for Bishops had certified his abandonment of The Episcopal Church.”

Two retired priests and 14 lay members of the diocese, who are also members of the pro-national church pressure group the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina, brought three charges against Bishop Lawrence.  The Disciplinary Board of Bishops found that Bishop Lawrence had failed to “guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church.”

The bishop was accused of not ruling out of order a motion presented to the 2011 diocesan convention to amend the diocesan constitution; not dissenting from their adoption by the convention; and  advocating their passage in his pastoral address to the convention.

Rather than bring Bishop Lawrence to trial and allow him to present a defence or legal challenge to the complaint, the board used a Nineteenth century canon designed to remove clergy from the ministry without trial after they had joined the Catholic Church.  However, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has used the abandonment canon to discipline bishops who do not share her interpretation of the church’s doctrine and discipline — abandoning the communion of the church now meant being in disagreement with the presiding bishop.

Canon law expert Allan Haley notes the first two charges brought against the bishop raises the issue of double jeopardy as they were heard by the disciplinary board in 2011 and rejected.  Mr. Halley added the third charge “shows how the Board has erased the distinction between the individual acts of a Bishop and the corporate acts of a Diocese. The real complaint is with what the Diocese did, and not with someone who spoke in favor of the resolutions.”

The diocese reported that Bishop Lawrence had been in talks with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori after the Disciplinary Board had returned its verdict of guilty on 18 September to “find a peaceful alternative to the growing issues between The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of South Carolina.”

The diocesan statement noted: “We feel a deep sense of sadness but a renewed sense of God’s providence that The Episcopal Church has chosen to act against this Diocese and its Bishop during a good faith attempt peacefully to resolve our differences. These actions make it clear The Episcopal Church no longer desires to be affiliated with the Diocese of South Carolina.”

South Carolina’s diocesan constitution and canons do not recognize the authority of the disciplinary canons inaugurated by the national Church in 2009. The diocese had adopted a “poison pill” defence against the contingency of a theologically motivated attack by liberal clique currently controlling the Church’s offices in New York.

The diocese is also protected by South Carolina law. The state’s Supreme Court has struck down the national Church’s property rules, the “Dennis Canon”, holding they have no legal effect in the state.  While the national Church has set aside a $3million war chest to fund litigation, canon law experts tell The Church of England Newspaper it is unlikely to prevail in a fight to seize church property.

The diocese noted “this action by The Episcopal Church triggered two pre-existing corporate resolutions of the Diocese, which simultaneously disaffiliated the Diocese from The Episcopal Church.”

On 19 Oct 2012 Bishop Lawrence met with his clergy in private session to discuss the charges brought by New York.  A spokesman for the diocese told CEN a statement would be released shortly on the meeting, while Bishop Lawrence declined immediate comment.

A special convention has been called for 17 November 2012 in Charleston.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 53, October 19, 2012 October 20, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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Despite the retirement of news producing Bishops like Benison and Robinson, there is no news vacuum in the Anglican Communion this week thanks to the efforts of Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts-Schori. From Islamic led church burnings in Zanzibar to Kangaroo Court fraud deep within the Episcopal Churches new Disciplinary Board — your Anglican Unscripted Crew covers it for you. Comments to anglicanunscripted@gmail.com #AU53

South Carolina expelled from the Episcopal Church: The Church of England Newspaper, October 18, 2012 October 18, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, South Carolina.
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The Diocese of South Carolina has been pushed out of the Episcopal Church of the USA. The involuntary secession of the 29,000-member diocese comes as charges have been brought against its bishop, the Rt Rev Mark Lawrence for allegedly “abandoning” the communion of the Episcopal Church.

On 17 October 2012 a statement printed on the Diocese’s Website said that two days earlier Bishop Lawrence had been notified by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori that on 18 September 2012 “the Disciplinary Board for Bishops had certified his abandonment of The Episcopal Church.”

The diocese reported that Bishop Lawrence was “notified of these actions taken by the Episcopal Church between two meetings, one held on October 3 and one to be held on October 22, which Bishop Andrew Waldo of the Upper Diocese of South Carolina and Bishop Lawrence had set up with the Presiding Bishop to find a peaceful alternative to the growing issues between The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of South Carolina. The meetings were to explore ‘creative solutions’ for resolving these issues to avoid further turmoil in the Diocese and in The Episcopal Church.”

The diocese noted that “two of the three charges had previously been determined by a majority vote of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops in November 2011 not to constitute abandonment,” however protections against double jeopardy are not given to defendants in Episcopal ecclesiastical proceedings.

The diocese added that it had not been served with a “signed copy of the certification and also remains uninformed of the identity of those making these charges.”

It stated: “We feel a deep sense of sadness but a renewed sense of God’s providence that The Episcopal Church has chosen to act against this Diocese and its Bishop during a good faith attempt peacefully to resolve our differences. These actions make it clear The Episcopal Church no longer desires to be affiliated with the Diocese of South Carolina.”

South Carolina’s diocesan constitution and canons do not recognize the authority of the disciplinary canons inaugurated  by the national Church in 2009, and it is unlikely the bishop will make a formal response to the charges — thereby recognizing their jurisdiction over him.

However, the diocesan convention has adopted defence measures against the contingency of a theologically motivated attack by liberal clique currently controlling the Church’s offices in New York and adopted resolutions to protect its independence.

The diocese is also protected by South Carolina law. The state’s Supreme Court has struck down the national Church’s property rules, the “Dennis Canon”, holding they have no legal effect in the state.  While the national Church has set aside a $3million war chest to fund litigation, canon law experts tell The Church of England Newspaper it is unlikely to prevail in a fight to seize church property.

The diocese noted “this action by The Episcopal Church triggered two pre-existing corporate resolutions of the Diocese, which simultaneously disaffiliated the Diocese from The Episcopal Church.”  A special convention has been called for 17 November 2012 in Charleston to discuss a way forward for the diocese.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Silence from South Carolina on secession: The Church of England Newspaper, September 30, 2012 p 5 October 2, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Church of England Newspaper, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence

The Bishop of South Carolina has written to the clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina saying the diocesan leadership has made a decision on whether it will recommend secession from the Episcopal Church, but urged his clergy to hold fast as it would not be prudent to announce what it plans to do at this time.

In his 22 Sept 2012 announcement, Bishop Mark J. Lawrence wrote the diocesan “Standing Committee and I were in agreement on a course of action regarding the future of the Diocese of South Carolina and the challenges many of us face because of decisions by the recent General Convention of the Episcopal Church.”

“However, for many reasons it was then and is now, imprudent to reveal that course of action.”

On 11 July 2012, South Carolina’s four clergy and four lay deputies to the Episcopal Church’s General Convention said that that “due to the actions of General Convention” they “cannot and will not remain on the floor of the House and act as if all is normal.”

After addressing the bishops during their private session on 11 July, Bishop Lawrence withdrew from the House of Bishops as well, saying he was acting in pastoral solidarity with his deputation. “I am not leaving the Episcopal Church, but need to differentiate myself” from the actions taken this week by the General Convention, he told Anglican Ink.

Upon his return to South Carolina, Bishop Lawrence called a meeting of the clergy to discuss the implications of the General Convention vote and the place of the diocese in the wider life of the Episcopal Church.  The bishop asked his clergy not to take any precipitous steps but wait until after his return from vacation at the end of August, when the diocesan standing committee and council would review their options.

In his latest letter, Bishop Lawrence said “Things are progressing—we have not stopped or dropped the ball. Please know that I understand the level of anxiety and concern of many in the diocese. Nevertheless I must ask you all for your continued patience and prayers as we seek to deal wisely and carefully with a fluid situation that requires great discernment and sensitivity on a regular basis. I will communicate to you the details at the very earliest moment such a communication is prudent.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

No decision from South Carolina on secession from the Episcopal Church: Anglican Ink, September 22, 2012 September 22, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Anglican Ink, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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Bishop Mark J. Lawrence

The Bishop of South Carolina, the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence has written to the clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina urging them to hold fast, as no decision has so far been made by the diocese in response to the actions of the 77th General Convention in Indianapolis.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

South Carolina mulls secession: The Church of England Newspaper, August 12, 2012 p 5. August 15, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Church of England Newspaper, South Carolina.
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The Diocese of South Carolina is on the brink of secession from the Episcopal Church, following the 77th General Convention’s vote to permit a local option on same-sex blessings.

At a 25 July meeting of the South Carolina clergy, Bishop Mark Lawrence said he no longer sees a place for the diocese in the General Convention and announced he would spend the next 25 days praying as to what his, and the diocese’s, next steps might be.

At last month’s General Convention in Indianapolis, the Episcopal Church voted to endorse provisional local rites for the blessing of same-sex unions. Some dioceses have interpreted the vote as permission to authorise their clergy to perform gay marriages in states that recognise such unions. Bishop Lawrence and six of the eight members of the South Carolina deputation to the Convention withdrew from its proceedings after the gay blessings vote, perturbed by what they saw as abandonment by the Episcopal Church of the universal witness of the Church on the purpose and meaning of Christian marriage.

In a letter prepared on 30 July by the canon to the ordinary of South Carolina, the Rev Jim Lewis, a summary of the clergy meeting was shared with those unable to be present.

Bishop Lawrence summarised the remarks he gave to the House of Bishops in private session when he announced his withdrawal. By voting for the “adoption of authorised provisional rites to bless same gender relationships, the doctrine, discipline and worship of this Church have been profoundly changed,” the Bishop said.

“He told the Bishops that the magnitude of these changes was such that he could no longer in good conscience continue in the business of the Convention. In fact, he was left with the grave question of whether he could continue as a bishop of an institution that had adopted such changes,” the letter said.

Canon Lewis wrote that “since that time, and in the gathering of the Diocesan Clergy, the Bishop stated that he believes the Episcopal Church has crossed a line he cannot personally cross. He also expressed to the clergy that though he might act one way if he were a priest in a diocese, as a Bishop he feels deeply his vow before God to faithfully lead and shepherd the Diocese of South Carolina. Both dimensions of this dilemma weigh upon him at this time.”

Bishop Lawrence urged the clergy not to take any precipitous actions in the coming weeks and asked “for a period of grace as he prayerfully seeks the face of the Lord, and asks for God’s direction,” the letter said.

“Upon his return at the end of August he will meet with the Standing Committee and the clergy of the Diocese to share that discernment and his sense of the path forward.”

Should Bishop Lawrence recommend the Diocese withdraw or distance itself from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church it is likely that a large majority will follow him. However a small number of congregations and clergy are self-identified supporters of the national Church and will likely instigate civil and canonical legal proceedings against the bishop and departing clergy should they secede.

Should Bishop Lawrence recommend staying, it is likely that a number of the Diocese’s parishes will unilaterally withdraw.

In the neighbouring Diocese of Georgia, one parish has already announced its decision to quit the Episcopal Church. Last week the rector and vestry of St John’s Episcopal Church in Moultrie announced they were resigning their offices and would form St Mark’s Anglican Church under the oversight of the Anglican Church of North America.

The Rev William McQueen, the former rector of St John’s, told The Church of England Newspaper that the vestry had turned over the keys of the church to the bishop and would meet for the time being in a chapel provided by a local Baptist church. He expected all of the congregation would leave St John’s.

“We have disagreed with The Episcopal Church for a long time, most notably over the issues of women’s ordination, the national Church’s stance on abortion, certainly the events of 2003 and beyond, but most importantly the erosion of the historic catholic faith surrounding who Jesus Christ is, and the authority and interpretation of Holy Scripture,” Fr McQueen said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Lawrence writes to South Carolina: Anglican Ink, July 15, 2012. July 15, 2012

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The 77th General Convention has endorsed sexual, liturgical and doctrinal anarchy, the Bishop of South Carolina declared in a letter to the diocese dated 15 July 2012.

The Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence stated the 77th General Convention that met from 5-12 July in Indianapolis had been an exercise in “incoherency”, and urged members of the Episcopal Church in his diocese to pray for discernment as to God’s will for the church in the coming days.

Some good had come from the church’s triennial meeting of General Convention, the bishop said, and he had taken “encouragement from the resolutions that were passed regarding needed structural reform, and for the intentional work in the House of Bishops on matters of collegiality and honesty.”

Yet this may have been too little, too late, and was “akin to a long overdue rearranging of the furniture when the house is on fire.”

The bishops cited four actions taken by the convention that he believed stood “in direct conflict with the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this church has received them.

While the convention had turned aside the call for an “Open Table” – removing the requirement that those receiving the Eucharist be baptized, it was nonetheless an ill portent and “moves the Church further down the road toward encouraging the communion of the unbaptized which departs from two thousand years of Christian practice. It also puts the undiscerning person in spiritual jeopardy.”

He also voiced objection to the adoption of Resolution A049 which authorized provisional local rites for the blessing of same-sex relationships.  “I will not authorize the use of such rites in the Diocese of South Carolina. Such rites are not only contrary to the canons of this diocese and to the judgment of your bishop, but more importantly I believe they are contrary to the teaching of Holy Scripture; to two thousand years of Christian practice; as well as to our created nature,” Bishop Lawrence said.

The Episcopal Church “had no authority” to change the “sacramental understanding of marriage as established by God in creation and blessed through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. It has no authority to do this either by revising the marriage rite to include same-sexpartners or by devising some parallel quasi-marital sacramental service,” he said.

Nor had the General Convention thought through two resolutions, D002 and D019, which “mark an even further step into incoherency.”

These two “open the door to innumerable self-understandings of gender identity and gender expression within the Church; normalizing ‘transgender,’ ‘bi-sexual,’ ‘questioning,’ and still yet to be named – self-understandings of individualized eros.”

The consequences of adopting this resolution for the local church were such that “I fail to see how a rector or parish leader who embraces such a canonical change has any authority to discipline a youth minister, Sunday school teacher, or chalice bearer who chooses to dress as a man one Sunday and as a woman another.”

The convention’s vote to allow the question of gender to be “self-defined, self-chosen” led to “sheer sexual anarchy” and would not be countenanced in South Carolina.

Over the coming month the bishop said he would meet with clergy and church leaders to discuss the questions: “How are we called to live and be and act? In this present context, how do we make Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age?”

“I ask that you keep me and the councils of our diocese in your prayers as you shall be in mine,” Bishop Lawrence said, adding that “we have many God-size challenges and, I trust, many God-given opportunities ahead.”

First printed in Anglican Ink.

South Carolina not seceding from the Episcopal Church: Anglican Ink, July 11, 2012 July 11, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Anglican Ink, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The Bishop of South Carolina is not leaving the Episcopal Church, but has withdrawn from the 77th General Convention meeting in Indianapolis out of pastoral concern and respect for the members of his diocesan deputation and over his personal disquiet over the church’s authorization of gay blessings.

On 11 July 2012 the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence said, “I am not leaving the Episcopal Church, but need to differentiate myself” from the actions taken this week by the General Convention, he told Anglican Ink.

At the start of the afternoon private session of the House of Bishops, the South Carolina church leader said he “spoke at some length” to his colleagues about “why his deputation left the floor” of General Convention.

On 11 July 2012, the South Carolina’s four clergy and four lay deputies released a statement saying that “due to the actions of General Convention” the deputation had concluded “that we cannot and will not remain on the floor of the House and act as if all is normal.”

At the start of the debate the previous afternoon on Resolution A049 “Authorize Liturgical Resources for Blessing Same-Sex Relationships”, the Very Rev. David Thurlow of South Carolina present a minority report from the traditionally minded members of the convention’s liturgy committee who objected to the authorization of gay blessings.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

South Carolina walks out of General Convention: Anglican Ink, July 11, 2012 July 11, 2012

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The Rev. John Burwell and Mr. Lonnie Hamilton monitoring General Convention on behalf of the absent deputation from South Carolina

The  Bishop and Deputation of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina has withdrawn from the 77th General Convention.

On 11 July 2012 the lay and clergy deputies released a statement confirming their withdrawal.

“Due to the actions of General Convention, the South Carolina Deputation has concluded that we cannot continue with business as usual. We all agree that we cannot and will not remain on the floor of the House and act as if all is normal.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Anglican Unscripted: February 1, 2012 February 3, 2012

Posted by geoconger in AMiA, Anglican Church of Rwanda, Anglican Church of the Congo, Anglican.TV.
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Your intrepid hosts discuss the troubles with the Anglican Ordinariate of late. They also give some commentary on Bishop Lawrence’s address on the Future of Anglicanism from the Mere Anglicanism Conference last week. Allan discusses the current budget struggle between Bishop Sauls, Dr. Jefferts-Schori and Bonnie Anderson. And Peter Ould ponders a Church/State split in England.

Anglican Unscripted, December 12, 2011 December 13, 2011

Posted by geoconger in AMiA, Anglican Church of Rwanda, Anglican Ink, South Carolina.
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Kevin and George discuss the interesting responses coming from South Carolina, TECs meddling into the Anglican Ordinariate, and your Hosts briefly talk about the situation with AMiA and the Province of Rwanda.

Charges dismissed in Lawrence case: The Church of England Newspaper, December 2, 2011 p 7. December 7, 2011

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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Episcopal Church’s Disciplinary Board for Bishops has dismissed charges of abandoning the communion of the Episcopal Church levelled against Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina.

The 22 November 2011 decision avoids a constitutional crisis in the Episcopal Church, canon lawyers tell The Church of England Newspaper, as it removes an immediate threat for conservative bishops of being dismissed from the Church if they do not kowtow to the will of the majority.

On 28 November 2011, Bishop Dorsey Henderson, the president of the board, released a statement saying the disciplinary board was “unable to make the conclusions essential to a certification that Bishop Lawrence had abandoned the communion of the Church” at their meeting last week.

On 5 October Bishop Lawrence and the president of the South Carolina standing committee released a statement saying they had received a communication from Bishop Henderson stating that “serious charges” had been lodged against the bishop in the form of a 12-count, 63-page indictment brought by unnamed accusers from his diocese.

Independent canon lawyers questioned the propriety of bringing charges of abandoning the Episcopal Church against Bishop Lawrence. The Anglican Communion Institute criticised the fast-track investigation, noting the canons did not allow the board to dispense with the rules of procedure in the interests of a speedy resolution.

In an interview with Anglican TV, canon lawyer Allan Haley stated the prosecution of the case presented problems for the national Church. The Episcopal Church “has no constitutional court to decide this issue” of a conflict of laws and should it take action against Bishop Lawrence and South Carolina, it could not enforce its decisions through the civil courts, he said.

In his statement explaining the reasons for dismissing the charges, Bishop Henderson stated the abandonment canon under which the Bishop had been charged, could be used only in three situations. “By an open renunciation of the Doctrine, Discipline or Worship of the Church”; “by formal admission into any religious body not in communion with” the Church; and, “by exercising Episcopal acts in and for a religious body other than the Church …”

“Applied strictly,” Bishop Henderson said, “none of these three provisions was deemed applicable by a majority of the Board” in the case of Bishop Lawrence.

The board also addressed the question of whether actions of a diocesan convention, that could be construed as an abandonment of the Episcopal Church and its discipline, was grounds for taking legal action against a bishop. “A majority of the members of the Board was unable to conclude that they do,” he said.

Bishop Lawrence had “repeatedly stated” that he was not leaving the Episcopal Church, nor did he want South Carolina to quit the Church. He sought only a “safe place within the Church to live the Christian faith as that diocese perceives it.”

In his view, Bishop Henderson stated that: “I presently take [Bishop Lawrence] at his word,” and added that he hoped the bishop would grant dissenters in his diocese the degree of latitude Bishop Lawrence hoped to receive from the national Church.

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