Wednesday, October 17, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: Episcopal Church takes hostile action against Bishop Lawrence of South Carolina: Declares "abandoment" from TEC; Special Convention called

UPDATE:  AnglicanTV has posted all of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina videos on their front page.  It makes for very interesting viewing.  Am still wondering though why the Episcopal Church released a defensive piece out of its ENS site so soon.  Perhaps it is because a lot more people watched the live happenings at General Convention then ever before in history?  


There are just no words.  From here:

On Monday, October 15, 2012, Bishop Mark J. Lawrence, the 14th Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina was notified by the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, that on September 18, 2012 the Disciplinary Board for Bishops  had certified his abandonment of The Episcopal Church. This action by The Episcopal Church triggered two pre-existing corporate resolutions of the Diocese, which simultaneously disaffiliated the Diocese from The Episcopal Church and called a Special Convention. That Convention will be held at St. Philip’s Church, Charleston, on Saturday, November 17, 2012.

Bishop Mark Lawrence
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. 
A timeline of these events and their associated documents may be found below. 
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. The Diocese has not received a signed copy of the certification and also remains uninformed of the identity of those making these charges. 
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.

The Certification of Abandonment is here.  Read the documents here.

At a time like this, what else can we do but sent out a  special dedication to a fellow Bob Dylan fan - you know who you are. 

High water risin’, the shacks are slidin’ down
Folks lose their possessions—folks are leaving town
Bertha Mason shook it—broke it
Then she hung it on a wall
Says, “You’re dancin’ with whom they tell you to
Or you don’t dance at all”
It’s tough out there
High water everywhere

Read more:


Tregonsee said...

It will be interesting to see how many Quislings they can fine. I don't think this is what "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." was referring to.

BabyBlue Anglican said...

The Episcopal Church is in a major structural crisis (as we saw at General Convention this summer) and is losing members and finances by the boatload. Is there not a better way for the Episcopal Church to deal with their massive internal issues then to search for a scapegoat to pin their problems on?


Andy Terry said...

Meet TEC's Emmanuel Goldstein.

Kevin said...

Sad, not unexpected, but sad. Prayers for DioSC and + Lawrence in this time.

RalphM said...

Interesting comment bb, it reminds me that every dictatorship periodically invents some grave peril as the reason to take away more liberties from its citizens.

Anonymous said...

Does Truro have a radical reconciliation team they could send to DioSC to work things out between them and 815?

Anonymous said...

Could someone please tell me in English and not in Episcobabble what Lawrence is supposed to have done? I am a cradle Episcopalian and way over-educated, and no one will say what PRECISELY he is being charged with. Incidentally, I also live in South Carolina, so you can imagine this is of some importance to me. Thank you in advance!

BabyBlue Anglican said...

You can read what Katharine Jefferts Schori and her gang have targeted him for in this document here:

When I was a Christian Scientist we used the same words as Christians - but those words were all redefined. The same thing has happened in the Episcopal Church. We use the same or similar vocabulary but the meanings of the words have been redefined. It is very difficult then to have "conversation" because we cannot agree on the meaning of the words. This can continue for quite some time until those redefined words become actions.

We see here in this debacle that Bishop Schori and her allies - faced with a rebellion in her own ranks (the House of Deputies voted overwhelmingly to sell off her home and offices) - the leadership must deflect from the laity how severe the crisis is that the church now faces. So they will now throw millions of dollars at litigation they will not win (Charleston, South Carolina is not Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) and drive the church into the ground.

It is sad, sad, sad.

Anonymous said...

I am very sorry to see this. The two sides had put themselves in a position where self-executing, contingent resolutions of the Diocese have led to a kind of self-expulsion from TEC at a time when TEC would very much benefit from having the continuing voices of people like Bishop Lawrence. It is somewhat reminiscent of the spring-loaded treaty structure that tumbled Europe into The Great War.

On the other hand, the quitclaim deed stunt really made Bishop Lawrence's continued tenure as a Bishop completely indefensible. There may be legitimate legal issues, particularly in South Carolina, as to the degree to which the Diocese has property interests in parish facilities. However, by issuing the quitclaim deeds, the Bishop purported to extinguish whatever property interests did exist (be they nil or plenary). That a Bishop could act so radically and mischievously (or permit the organs of his Diocese to do so) on a subject very much in controversy not only within his Diocese, but around the country, cannot be tolerated in any kind of national church structure. Prior to that point, Bishop Lawrence and other clergy of like mind within the Diocese of South Carolina should have resigned and gone on to a more comfortable alignment within another denomination. I'm sure many of the parishioners would have followed him.

It will take years to sort this out.



Lapinbizarre said...

Thanks, Scout. To me, striking "Thou shalt not steal" from the Commandments has a distinctly revisionist aroma.

Anonymous said...

The quitclaim deeds were not a "stunt" just because TEC does not like them. There are no property issues in South Carolina - their Supreme Court has spoken, just like the Virginia Supreme Court has spoken (well, I gather some personal prpoerty issues remain, but not real property).

What this is is just more evidence that an orthodox believer is not welcome in TEC anymore. It is a place where you can follow the new thing, or you will be invited to leave. And if you don't leave, you will eventually be kicked out. That is the face of TEC.

And by this action, TEC will be further isolated from most of the Anglican Communion, little of which is even in communion with it anymore.

Anonymous said...

This is not about church politics as much as it is about homosexual sex and that is Baal worship, plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

RE Anon 0924's comment: If the ruling of the South Carolina State Supreme Court with regard to one parish were of clear universal applicability across the state, the quitclaim deed gambit would have been unnecessary. I suspect, however, that the ruling was regarded as having turned on some peculiar historical facts that related to that specific parish and that it might not suffice to justify taking other property out of the hands of continuing Episcopalians. The Bishop and the Standing Committee, entities one can reasonably assume would act as stewards of the interests of the Diocese, by issuing quitclaim deeds, purported to divest the Diocese of any interest it might have in parish property throughout the Diocese. It is an extremely radical step, particularly given the legal issues that have sprung up around the country on this point. It does not seem to me that a Bishop with continuing devotion to his Church could have countenanced such a step. Again, I wish that ways could be found to keep Bishop Lawrence on board, but it seems fairly clear that, in his mind and conscience, he long ago decided that he could not serve within the structure of the national church. I can respect that decision, but it is a decision that requires him to leave once he reaches that conclusion. It appears, at least from the outside looking in, that a number of people within the Diocese, lay and clergy, long ago decided to separate themselves from TEC, but stayed in place to diminish or eliminate the ability of those who might not elect to leave to continue to worship as Episcopalians in properties around the Diocese.


Anonymous said...


You do not see it as at all possible that Bishop Lawrence's motivation in issuing the quitclaim deeds was actually to keep his diocese together?

Here's the line of reasoning that makes sense to me,

1) The Bishop and many of the churches in the diocese interpreted the SC Supreme Court ruling as meaning that churches that held their own deeds could leave TEC. Whether that interpretation is right or wrong is an entirely different discussion: it appears to be their interpretation.

2) There were a number of parishes in DoSC that were planning to act on that interpretation and leave DoSC and TEC.

3) Bishop Lawrence issued the quitclaim deeds as a means of reassuring those parishes that the TEC would not succeed in any attempt to steal their properties (again, probably their view of the situation, right or wrong), and that they could safely stay in the DoSC, i.e., TEC, as the DoSC did the hard job of differentiating itself from TEC's "new things" while staying within TEC.

So, from that point of view (the validity and wisdom of which I'm sure you would argue with), Bishop Lawrence's actions were aimed at fulfilling his fiduciary and pastoral duty of keeping the DoSC unified as much as possible while remaining part of, although differentiated from, TEC.

I have seen nothing from Bishop Lawrence to contradict this interpretation. From the outside looking in, it appears to me that he has done everything he can to keep his flock together inside TEC, even in the face of the facts that many of his flock want to run as far from TEC as possible and that many in TEC want to see them gone (sans money and property, of course).

Anonymous said...

Anon 1105 - you've raised an interesting and thought-provoking hypothesis. It would be nice if you were correct, although if you are correct, the place we stand now is all the more tragic. However, I think the weakness in your theory is that, had there been wisdom in this approach from the standpoint of holding the Diocese together within the Episcopal Church, the Diocese could have convinced the national church of that wisdom and there could have been some sort of collaborative approach to the probably of incipient fleeing parishes. As it is, the quitclaim approach was unilateral from within the Diocese and appears to be at lest as likely an effort to effectuate a universal divestiture of Diocesan property. I think the effect was likely to embolden separatists within the Diocese and to make them feel that the Diocese would support schismatic initiatives. I also think that if the motivation had been as you suggest, there would have been a lot more contemporaneous expression of that sentiment at the Diocesan level at the time. Nonetheless, full marks to you for offering a more edifying justification than the bare facts would indicate.


One daughter's perspective said...

I have heard my bishop, Mark Lawrence, say he never felt more like our bishop than on the morning after he and his Chancellor had sent quit claim deeds to every parish in the diocese. Here is an interesting bit of info I learned from another South Carolinian via FB. That is the majority of the parishes have indeed filed their quit claim deeds with their respective counties.

SC Blu Cat Lady

One daughter's perspective said...

I have some interesting posts about the situation at my blog, One Daughter's perspective-

SC Blu Cat Lady

John said...

I would think your headline should read- The Episcopal Church reacts to hostilities.

Anonymous said...

I think 6:49's statement is a fairly accurate reflection of the beliefs and feelings of the current clergy of the Episcopal church. Many, many are not welcome in the church anymore and the Episcopal church wants them to leave. That's the kind of place Episcopalianism is now. Love is a lawsuit and differing opinions not tolerated. I think the clarity is helpful.