Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Clifton Daniel writes a letter

This letter is incredible.  It's not a friendly letter from brother bishops swapping howdies and catching up with the latest - it's a freakin litigation document.  Wake up, Church. 

December 5, 2011

The Right Reverend Mark Lawrence
The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina
126 Coming Street
Charleston, South Carolina 29413

Dear Mark,

I write to you following the regular annual meeting of the bishops of Province 4, gathered this year in Memphis,Tennessee. We missed you and understood your need to stay at home and close to your diocese.

The meeting covered a variety of topics: the Denominational Health Plan; the beginning of a search process for a new dean of the School of Theology at Sewanee; the upcoming Provincial Synod in June and the General Convention in July; ministry to retired clergy and their families; Daughters of the King; a prison ministry network in our province; ongoing concerns about the sin of racism in our world and church; and immigration, among other topics.

We also considered, with some concern, recent publicly reported actions regarding quitclaim deeds given to parishes in the Diocese of South Carolina. Since we have had no direct communication from you regarding these reported actions, we determined that it is our duty as bishops of this province to address these concerns in direct communication with you, as Jesus exhorts his followers in Matthew's Gospel (18:15-20), and in accord with our ordination vows regarding the unity and governance of the church. What we seek in the coming weeks is a face-to-face meeting with you and and a representative group of your fellow Bishops Diocesan of Province 4 in order to have a clarifying conversation and to address the concerns raised among us:

A. We have heard and read reports that you have given a quitclaim deed to each congregation in your diocese. Is this true? If this report is true, under what canonical authority did you proceed? Did you involve the Standing Committee and are the members of the Standing Committee in accord? Who signed the deeds? Would you provide a sample copy of a deed and the letter of explanation that accompanied it?

B. In order to better understand your action, the Bishops of Province 4 gathered in Memphis respectfully request that you meet with several of your fellow Provincial Bishops Diocesan in Charleston, or elsewhere if you desire, to discuss what has been noted above. We make this request in a spirit of collegiality and fellowship as well as out of concern for the people of the Diocese of South Carolina and concern for the well-being of The Episcopal Church.

I have contacted you earlier today by telephone and shared with you the content of this letter, as well as seeking a date in the very near future for our proposed meeting. I will send you an email and hard copy of the letter. I am also releasing this letter to Episcopal news organizations today after our conversation.

Faithfully yours,


Clifton Daniel, 3rd
Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina
Vice President of Province 4 of The Episcopal Church

So much for the Title IV dismissal.  Clearly 815 is worried.

And on that note:

UPDATE: Canon to the Ordinary Jim Lewis has responded to Bishop Daniel's letter:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Yesterday, December 5, the Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel, acting as Vice President of Province IV of The Episcopal Church, contacted Bishop Lawrence to request a meeting with other bishops of the Province to discuss the release of quitclaim deeds by the Diocese of South Carolina. The letter, which the Province IV Bishops released to the media, posted here, requests a detailed explanation of the actions of the Bishop and Standing Committee, as well as the occasion for a personal meeting between Bishop Lawrence and a representative group of Province IV bishops to discuss their concerns.

That meeting will be held on the afternoon of December 14. In addition, the Standing Committee of the Diocese is drafting a response to this new development. While the significance of this request will take time to become clear, I commend it to you as a subject for fervent prayer as a Diocese while we wait for the clarity which time will bring.

In Christ's service,

The Rev. Canon Jim Lewis
The Rev. Canon Jim Lewis
Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina
Canon to the Ordinary

Read it all here.  One thing is very clear - attempts keep being made (most recently with the Province IV bureaucrats now attempting to fill in the hole left by the sudden abandonment of the ill-fated Title IV charges) to isolate Bishop Lawrence from the elected leadership of his diocese - and South Carolina just won't play.

Listen to what Phil Ashey of the AAC says:


Andy said...

Wow, strip the thin veneer of cordiality and the threatening tone of this ultimatum becomes visceral.

Lapinbizarre said...

Intrigued by how Mark Lawrence, in his eagerness to distance his diocese as far as is possible from the hierarchical model, has effectively painted himself into the corner of Congregationalism.

Anonymous said...

Faced with a lawless national church, congregationalism would seem a better choice.


DellPhilSnyder said...

Lapinbizarre - The Church structure is indeed hierarchical - up to the diocesan level. No one person had any authority over an individual bishop. It is true that the House of Bishops can discipline on of their own, but no one person can tell a bishop "do this" or "don't do that." If the Church were truly hierarchical to the national level, then +KJS would not need another bishop's permission to celebrate in his or her diocese.

So, +South Carolina is not moving to congrationalism, but is "living into" the constitution and canons of TEC.

Phil Snyder