Sunday, September 7, 2014

The trial... was it worth it??

Once the injunction was put in place, it was inevitable that litigation would ensue... which it did. The nearly two week trial ended in late July (25th). AS we have come to expect, Ronald Caldwell, revisionist blogger associated with TEC-SC has his own view of how the trial went that he has posted at his own blog under the title: Is it worth it? You may go to his own blog (The Episcopal Church Schism in SC) to read it as we will no longer link to his blog. Otherwise, read on to get our (my hubby and mine) viewpoint and sometimes humorous *fisk* of his comments.

Now that the three-week trial of the Diocese of South Carolina vs. The Episcopal Church (TEC) and The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC) ended on July 25th, the distinct and very different reactions of both sides could not be clearer. From the Diocese of South Carolina comes this very nice and balanced summary of the events of the trial

While it can be read in its entirety at the link above, here are few of the more important statements from the Diocese of SC.

1) Judge Diane Goodstein’s last words reiterated what she said throughout the trial: “The case will be decided on neutral principles of law", which means that the judge must apply the law to this case as it would any other – making no adjustments because it involves a religious organization. TEC and TECSC have opposed the application of neutral principles; essentially arguing that the judge [Judge Goodstein] should defer to their view on the issues since they are a religious organization.

2) “Attorneys for the Diocese, led by Alan Runyan and Henrietta Golding, meticulously presented evidence showing the Diocese and its congregations, many of whom predated and helped to form TEC, existed and operated independently from the denomination and took the proper legal steps as independent corporations to separate from the denomination, an unincorporated New York association.”

3) The matter of money: “When Nancy Armstrong, Diocesan assistant treasurer, replied to Duffy’s testimony, it was revealed that during the 200+ years of their association with TEC, the Diocese and the parishes voluntarily had given TEC $117 for every dollar received from them in grants of loans AND of that dollar, 70 cents had gone to support institutions and causes separate from the Diocese or its parishes.” Summary: The Diocese gave much, much more to TEC than it (or its parishes) ever received from TEC. 

4) The matter of TEC’s own canons: 

Part 1- “One of the most memorable moments in the trial came on the ninth day when Diocesan    attorney Alan Runyan placed copies of the 2009 and 2006 Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church on the witness stand and asked Bishop Clifton Daniel, who’d been called as a witness for TEC, to “turn to the page in those documents where it says a diocese cannot withdraw from the Episcopal Church and read it to us.” ” Bishop Daniel could not and made a remark about how long it would take to find such a page and Runyan rephrased the question. “Is there a page or a phrase, or a sentence, in either of those that says, ‘a diocese may not leave The Episcopal Church without the consent of the General Convention?’” Bishop Daniel answered, “I don’t believe so, but I may be wrong.” “I’m sure it will be pointed out if you are!,” replied Runyan.

Part 2-“Runyan asked Bishop von Rosenberg if his asking a court to interpret this [Dennis] canon to make it apply to the property at issue in the case was not, in itself, a violation of the very same canons. Bishop von Rosenburg said, “I do not have that knowledge, no sir. Runyan then showed him a canon from the same document, which stated: 

“No member of the Church, whether lay or ordained, may seek to have the Constitution and Canons of the Church interpreted by a secular court, or resort to a secular court to address a dispute arising under the Constitution and Canons.”  Runyan then asked him, “Bishop, before today did you know about this paragraph?” The Bishop replied, “No, sir.”

Overall the trial experience can be summed up in Bishop Lawrence’s own words from his letter to the diocese:
“But I need to say, and can hardly say it enough, undergirding it all—felt at times in palpable ways—the prayers and intercessions from tens of thousands of the saints within the diocese and around the world upholding us in prayer. Some of these intercessors came to the courtroom to pray while testimonies and cross-examinations were taking place. Others of you prayed from home, perhaps on a lunch break, or while driving to and from your work place.  Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” “My prayer is that our Lord will use this season to prepare us for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead as we seek to reach our communities for Jesus Christ— Making Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age here in South Carolina and around the world.” 

Contrast this with the account penned by Ronald Caldwell, a blogger associated with TECSC.
“We have just gone through fourteen days of a shameful and disastrous scene in what was once known as the most sedate, reasonable, rational, and beautiful of all major denominations. The venerable old establishment church in South Carolina has reached a new low. It lies shattered and broken on the floor of Courtroom D of the Dorchester County Court House in St. George. Will it ever recover? Will its wounds ever heal? Will it ever return to its ancient glory as the premiere religion of the establishment society of South Carolina?This is an open letter to the majority in that once grand old church, people who have felt the need to leave their ancestral home in the Episcopal Church. Your side will "win" this trial. But when all is said and done, what will you have won? I ask you to consider: Is it worth it? Look at what has happened. Look at the cost and ask yourself, Is it all worth it? I ask you to consider the following factors:”
OK ...... but before we get to these so-called “factors”, lets consider the tone of these questions. I would say that these questions come from someone who is more concerned with the institutional history of TEC than the actual truth of the Christian Gospel. 
  1. I don’t see how the old “establishment church” in South Carolina “lies shattered and broken” since the Episcopal Church has not been an “establishment” church since the days after the Revolutionary War over 200+ years ago. The idea of an “established” church was destroyed by the war fought for  our independence from England. SO any “shattering” was done loooong, looong time ago. This trial has nothing to do with that. The first red herring from Ronald Caldwell. 
2. Will it recover? recover from what? Will TEC recover from the recent heresies passed by General     Convention? Possibly but it depends on what the faithful will do to recover the ancient Anglican faith as received from the Apostles.

3. Will the wounds ever heal? Yes but again it will depend if the faithful repent of their heresies from being part of TEC, a heretical denomination that does not seem willing to stray from their heretical ways. 

4.  Was it worth it? Yes, ABSOLUTELY  it is worth it to protect our name, trademarks, assets and properties from being stolen as has TEC has tried to do in other dioceses via long drawn out law suits.

NOW, on to these so-called “factors” mentioned by Mr. Caldwell.  Quotes from his blog are in red.
Our comments in blue.

1- The causes of the “split”: 
     Caldwell: “The old diocesan leaders said the diocese had to leave TEC because of theology, polity, and sexuality. On theology, they said TEC had abandoned the belief in the uniqueness of Christ. On polity they said TEC had acted illegally under its own rules. On sexuality they said TEC was forcing everyone to accept same-sex marriage and transgendered clergy. None of this was true.”

     Actually with these statements, Caldwell is partially correct. The Diocese of SC did indeed fact leave over theology and polity.  1) In 2006, TEC’s General Convention could not pass a resolution that affirmed the uniqueness of Christ. To many in the diocese, that is indeed a change in its theology from the long held position of TEC which had followed in the tradition of its founders and a long-held and foundational belief of  many Anglicans worldwide.  2) As was pointed out in the trial, bringing a lawsuit in a secular court to force them to interpret the Dennis Canon in a way favorable to TEC is indeed a violation of its own canons.  From TEC’s own canons: 
    “No member of the Church, whether lay or ordained, may seek to have the Constitution and Canons of the Church interpreted by a secular court, or resort to a secular court to address a dispute arising under the Constitution and Canons.” 

    However, if we had wanted to leave over the homosexuality issue, the diocese could have left in 2003 when Gene Robinson was made a bishop but the diocese did not. So Caldwell is wrong- we did NOT leave over sexuality. We did leave because of changes to TEC’s theology and polity.

    Caldwell: On theology, they said TEC had abandoned the belief in the uniqueness of Christ. In fact, TEC has never changed its theology of the uniqueness of Christ. That would take action by the General Convention. It will never happen. On government, TEC operates under a Constitution and Canons which it follows by detailed directions”

   Too late, Ronnie.  The General Convention could not affirm the uniqueness of Christ back in     2006.  You are so last week…. so behind the times! 

   “On sexuality, TEC has allowed diocesan bishops to choose whether or not to have the blessing of same-sex unions. That is not marriage.”

    If it’s not marriage, what is it?  If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, swims like a duck                      and quacks like a duck…. Come on, you know the answer to this.

 “As for transgendered clergy, all ordinations are at the discretion of the local bishop. He or              she cannot be forced to ordain anyone.

    Perhaps not, but the bishop will get his or her ass sued for discrimination, and will be deposed as      fast as the PB can engineer it. The Canons be damned! 

2-  Caldwell: “The leaders also said that DSC was forced to leave TEC because Bishop Lawrence was mistreated.” 

    That is indeed true and the immediate reason the diocese left in 2012. If TEC had not tried to remove our duly elected bishop, we would not have left. However, the standing committee was prepared for such an eventually as that is indeed TEC’s game plan- illegally depose the bishop then get rid of the standing committee and freeze all the bank accounts so they can not be used by the actual diocese. That has been the game plan in all the other lawsuits against the dioceses that have left TEC. 
    Caldwell: “Moreover, the leaders said they had to go to court first because they were about to be attacked by TEC.” 

Yes, exactly correct. Ronnie, we know you have selective memory, but really..... have you forgotten abut your TEC loyal group calling for a clergy day using the name and seal of the Diocese and misidentifying itself to clergy that it was the diocese?  Remember that? Ronnie, what are you reading and/or drinking? We all know TECs litigation game plan. Seize the bank accounts first and then plan the litigation strategy! In other cases against dioceses where TEC has deposed the bishop and then sued to obtain all properties (both parish and diocesan),  I can write with reasonable certainty that these dioceses did indeed feel attacked by TEC’s leadership. It was TEC who decided to enlarge the lawsuit by trying to sue individual parishes and vestry members. 

     Documents show that the Standing Committee planned the schism by unanimous and secret     resolution on Oct. 2, 2012 before Lawrence was even informed that he had been certified with abandonment. It was put into effect on Oct. 17, retroactive to Oct. 15. Lawrence refused all efforts of the Presiding Bishop to resolve the crisis after that. In fact, the leaders, and Lawrence, voluntarily left the Episcopal Church. Lawrence was not mistreated. The diocese was not pushed out.

Never mind that the Disciplinary Board for Bishops met and certified Bishop Lawrence’s “abandonment” on September 18th using two of the three charges that he was accused of and cleared of back in 2011, and that he and Bishop Waldo met with Jefferts-Schori on October 3rd to negotiate a peaceful way forward.  Bishop Lawrence was informed on October 15th, nearly a month after the certification.  So who was negotiating in good faith and who was  not?? That doesn’t bother  Ronnie, NOPE..... not one bit! 

They did go to court and initiated the first lawsuit, on Jan. 4, 2013 before TEC even had time to reorganize the diocese. There was no sign that TEC was about to attack anyone.” 

Actually not true. TEC loyal group already had plans in place for a standing committee long before January. I gather you must have not gotten that information but it was *published* on St. Stephen’s (Charleston) website. 

3- The old diocesan leaders led the majority to abandon the church of their forbearers and ancestors, a church they had been a part of for 225 years. A great deal of the historic economic, political, and social establishment of South Carolina proudly called themselves Episcopalians. With the possible exception of Virginia, no state in the country was more attached to the Episcopal Church.

Ronnie, you can barely manage history. Obviously, you slept through math. 2014-1785= 229             years. We were considered part of TEC even during the Civil War (ie the Late Unpleasantness) when SC joined the Confederate States of America. However, it needs to be pointed out that the Diocese of SC has existed for 229 years. Let us do the math once again for you ...... 2014 -1785 = 229 not 225.

4- Caldwell: The old diocesan leaders have developed an institutional structure in the diocese that is far more authoritarian than it has ever been. The bishop has been given the sole power to interpret the constitution and canons of the church, to appoint the deans, and to appoint and dismiss all clergy. The clergy have been given control over local property. For years now, all of the important diocesan councils and committees have been monopolized by like-minded people. For years they have routinely voted unanimously on resolutions. For years they have controlled all public relations in the diocese. Diocesan conventions have become rubber-stamping dumas. Power rests at the top.

Ronnie… Ronnie…Ronnie… Sigh… We all know you want to think that power rests with General Convention.  However, the hierarchy stops at the diocesan level. Have you forgotten that dioceses have their own constitutions and canons?  Oh, yeah. You’re from Alabama. How does your diocese there take care of these matters?  Do they ask General Convention permission to do everything or do they have their own canons? You’d like to think that it’s all handled by General Convention. How many times do you have to be told this? Please take the time to read the actual Diocesan canons instead of imagining what you want them to say. Many committees of the diocese are elected by the diocesan convention delegates who are in turn elected by their parishes. So the elected representatives of every parish and mission in the diocese are “like-minded people”. Is that necessarily a bad thing? If they are all committed Christians, I don’t see that as a problem. Also, I gather you do not consider them representative of the diocese even though those who voted for those currently in “power” were from every mission and parish in the diocese. The delegates of the diocese have acted in a very democratic way with each and every convention. 

Caldwell: “Since Lawrence became bishop in 2008, the diocese of 29,000 has lost about one-third of itself. 2,000 people left with St. Andrew's of Mt. Pleasant. About 7,000 people remained with TEC. Forty percent of the clergy remained with TEC. DSC has 52 local churches, TEC has 30. Exact communicant numbers are impossible to know. DSC claims 80% of the old diocese (or 26,000), a figure that is certainly exaggerated. Two-thirds is more realistic.”  

     In January 2013, the diocese numbered around 30,000 communicants. Actual numbers are not difficult to obtain as accurate records are kept at the diocesan office from records sent in by every mission and parish in the diocese (including those who are no longer in union with the diocese). Official records show that 52 parishes (which account for about 80% of the active communicants in the diocese) remain in union with each other and Bishop Lawrence forming the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. Only 20 parishes remained with TEC. Given that 80% of 30,000 is 24,000 that means only about 6000  (20%) remained with TEC. There have been a few new congregations planted on both sides by those who wanted to either remain in the diocese or TEC. So, I would say that exaggeration is  exactly what TECSC’s numbers are. They are claiming about 20% more communicants that is possible even with some growth, there is no way they could claim 7000 communicants! I gather Mr. Caldwell is about as good at math as he is as a historian- in other words….. not particularly reliable. 

5-The economic cost has been and continues to be great. The diocese shows declining revenues. Local parishes are challenged to keep up income. Meanwhile, 35 local churches have joined the lawsuit, each with lawyers to pay. There were 40 lawyers attending the trial. The trial lasted 14 days. If each lawyer charges $100/hr (a very conservative figure) and each trial day had 8 hours, that amounts to 112 hours and $11,200 per lawyer. 40 lawyers would cost $448,000. And this is just trial time. It does not count the many hours of lawyers' preparations. A fair estimate for this trial would push a million dollars.

    We are not sure where Caldwell gets his numbers for revenue but that is certainly not the depiction given by the latest budget passed by Diocesan Council. Revenues are steady and not declining. Yes, a trial costs a great deal of money but don’t let Caldwell fool you. TECSC has borrowed considerable amounts of money (tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands) from TEC simply so it can exist and pay its bills. They, too, have lawyers that need to be paid- not to mention their costly “expert witnesses” which cost them millions of dollars! I wonder how TECSC is going to pay all these legal costs when they lose the trial.  Also, lets not forget about all the sanctions that could be imposed on them for repeatedly ignoring the injunction against them. Sanctions alone could be in the thousands of dollars.

6- The ill will that has been generated goes deep and will likely last quite a while. Before the trial, Lawrence called his opponents "the spiritual forces of evil." Alan Runyan et al went after their courtroom opponents with hard-hitting aggression. Genteel Episcopalianism disappeared in the dust. Memories last.

     Such is true if you believe Skardon’s diatribes.  TECSC was so *genteel* in renouncing the ordination of and deposing 103 diocesan clergy. Along with the several hundred clergy  already deposed by TEC. Quite true.... memories do indeed last for a very long time which is why Bishop Lawrence said that he does not see a reconciliation with TEC in the near future. Many in the diocese do not want reconciliation with a heretical national church. While Caldwell may describe Runyan’s behavior as “hard-hitting aggression", here is how our bishop described the behavior of the lawyers during the trial. 

    “I’m glad to say our legal team led by Mr. Alan Runyan and Ms. Henrietta Golding, supported by a stellar cast of attorneys from the various congregations across the diocese, presented a strong case and did so in a professional, forthright, and convincing manner.  The teamwork was marvelous to observe and was only exceeded by what seemed to be the outstretched arm and the mighty hand of God moving again and again in a most timely manner.”

     Also, only attorney Mary Kostel (representing TEC) was reprimanded by Judge Goodstein for her demanding and unrelenting behavior towards the judge who excused her from the courtroom so local attorneys could explain privately to her about appropriate behavior for attorneys in a courtroom.

    So, in summary, despite what Ronnie thinks. We are genteel and, YES, We still believe Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).  We still use the right fork…. and the right rite! 

7- Many local churches have suffered the heartbreak of separation. This is especially true in small cities and towns. Friend has left friend, neighbor has left neighbor as long-term relationships have fallen victim. One has only to speak to the people caught in this to see their pain and anguish.

    Yes, this situation is very sad that these people thought they had to leave their parishes when in reality they did not. They left voluntarily. No one was forced to leave! One must not forget the sadness expressed by many in the Diocese when it was made known the identities of those who had charged Bishop Lawrence the first two times.  The realization that a dozen of  communicants along with two clergy had brought charges was indeed a very sad day and the memory of which will last for a very long time. However, from what I have seen and heard from around the diocese- from people in small missions to large parishes- is that they are getting on with their work and are continuing programs with incredible zeal and much happiness now that they are free from TEC’s reach. There is an air of liberty and freedom in Christ now that we are free from TEC’s heretical leadership. 

8- All of this has done great damage to the work of the Kingdom of God in lower South Carolina. Both sides have had to devote so much time, money, attention, and energy into the separation that too much has been lost along the way. This is no way to do Christ's work in the world. Besides, how can a church at war attract new members? People want to go to church for solace and comfort, not for conflict. Most people already have enough of that in their lives.

    Granted the split has done some damage to some missions and parishes but many people, even in those damaged parishes, are still involved in proclaiming the Gospel and reaching new believers. Are they attracting new members? The diocese of South Carolina has attracted new members since 2012 and continues to do so.  Here’s an idea for you. Why don’t y’all start a new diocese? Would not that be a better way to spend your time and attention rather then suing several dioceses into oblivion. (PSST: Have you heard? The results of the lawsuits against the dioceses are not going your way).

9- a)The old diocesan leaders have led the majority off to drift into nowhere. What has happened in South Carolina is unique to South Carolina. When Lawrence staged his dramatic pre-planned walk-out from the House of Bishops in July of 2012, not one other bishop joined him. Not one bishop has followed him since then. Not one other diocese has gone along with South Carolina. Why is South Carolina unique? It's because of the leadership that long ago began deliberately distancing the diocese from the Church. It was a revolution from the top down. Not being a popular revolution, it has not been replicated anywhere else.

     Where has the diocese drifted? We are not quite sure what Caldwell means with this statement. Perhaps he does not realize that their retired “bishop” Charles von Rosenberg is not recognized by the majority of the Anglican Communion as the bishop of South Carolina. That title belongs to +Mark J. Lawrence who was elected and remains the XIVth  bishop of South Carolina.

From the diocesan website: 
The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina, received a letter of support, dated December 14, 2012, from the Steering Committee of the Primates of the Global South of the Anglican Communion. The show of support, signed by The Most Revd Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis, Primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East; The Most Revd Nicholas Okoh, Primate of All Nigeria; The Most Revd Ian Ernest, Primate of the Indian Ocean; The Most Revd Datuk Bolly Lapok, Primate of South East Asia; The Most Revd Stephen Than Myint Oo, Primate of Myanmar; The Most Revd Dr. Eluid Wabukala, Primate of Kenya and The Most Revd Hector “Tito” Zavala, Primate of the Southern Cone recognizes Bishop Lawrence's Episcopal orders and his legitimate Episcopal oversight of the Diocese of South Carolina within the Anglican Communion.  

Part of the text of the letter follows:

“Our Dear Bishop Mark, 

Greetings in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ! 

We, the Steering Committee of the Primates of the Global South of the Anglican Communion, were very sad to hear that the Presiding Bishop of TEC has interpreted your address to the Diocesan Convention on 17 November 2012 as a renunciation of your ordained ministry.

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.”

[Bold is mine].

This one letter recognizes our legitimacy as part of the Anglican Communion by the largest group of primates in the Anglican Communion representing a majority of Anglicans in the world today.  Notice they did not give their recognition to Charles von Rosenberg and his group of parishes that go by the name TECin SC.

b) The alternate primatial oversight scheme with the Global South is a meaningless sham meant to fool communicants into believing they are in the Anglican Communion. The leaders have not even explained how it works. A discernment committee is at work to decide on new affiliation, but the committee were all hand picked by Bishop Lawrence who has steadfastly refused to join the Anglican Church in North America, the supposed replacement structure to take the place of TEC. The independent diocese has no identity. It is not in the Anglican Communion. It is not recognized by the Archbishop of Canterbury or by the official structure of the AC, nor will it ever be.

    Actually, the idea of Primatial Oversight comes from an idea proposed at the Primates Meeting at Dar es Salaam, 2007  where a “robust scheme of pastoral oversight” was called to “provide individuals and congregations alienated from The Episcopal Church with adequate space to flourish within the life of that church in the period leading up to the conclusion of the Covenant Process.” So you can see that the origin of the idea lies within the Anglican Communion. It is not something *cooked up* by Bishop Lawrence or the Diocese of South Carolina to give us *credibility* as Anglicans. The idea of primatial oversight was put forth at the most recent steering committee meeting of the Global South Primates. Here is the quote from their Feb. 2014 statement: “We decided to establish a Primatial Oversight Council, in following-through the recommendations taken at Dromantine in 2005 and Dar es Salam in 2007, to provide pastoral and primatial oversight to dissenting individuals, parishes, and dioceses in order to keep them within the Communion.” 

    On Aug 21st, 2014, The Diocese received this announcement about our acceptance of their offer of Primatial Oversight.  Here is part of that announcement:
     “Recognizing the faithfulness of Bishop Mark Lawrence and the Diocese of South Carolina, and in appreciation for their contending for the faith once for all delivered to the saints, the Global South welcomes them as an active and faithful member within the Global South of the Anglican Communion, until such time as a permanent primatial affiliation can be found.”
Yours in Christ,
The Most Revd Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis
Primate of Jerusalem & the Middle East
Bishop of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa
Chairman, Global South Primates Steering Committee

The Most Revd Ian Ernest
Primate of the Indian Ocean Bishop of Mauritius
Hon. General Secretary, Global South Primates Steering Committee
    As we just explained, the diocese of South Carolina and our bishop Mark J. Lawrence is now recognized by the largest group of Anglicans in the world wide Anglican Communion and is considered a member of that group (the Global South) within the Anglican Communion. 

    Where is the document from the Archbishop of Canterbury saying that he no longer recognizes the Diocese of South Carolina? There is no such document to which Caldwell can refer to because it does not exist. It is TEC-SC that is not recognized by the majority in the world wide Anglican Communion. 

    So what if no other bishop joined him in leaving the House of Bishops at General Convention? Was that his point? No. Where does Caldwell get his information?? So far, no other diocese has left but given that trial results in South Carolina and other states like Texas and Illinois are looking very favorable for the dioceses that have left, other dioceses might very well leave. Only time will tell. 

     c) Thus, the good communicants of the old diocese should ask themselves, Has it been worth it? Is it worth it now? Look at where you have been, where you are now, and where you are going. Why are you better off now than you were two years ago? Why do you think you will be better off in the future? Again, Is it worth it?

   The answer is simple. YES, ABSOLUTELY YES!! We will continue to make Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age!! 

Friday, August 15, 2014

A response to Ronald Caldwell on the Episcopal Church schism in SC, The 1970s

Recently, Ronald Caldwell, retired history professor has decided that the truth of why the schism in the Diocese of South Carolina happened would be the focus of his blog The Episcopal Church Schism in South Carolina. That is fine but he really needs to restrain himself to actual facts and not partake in a bit of revisionist screed. 

He has written a couple of posts dealing with the split in the diocese. I will start with his post about the timeline of how the Diocese of South Carolina split into two separate entities, one that remains the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and the other which is a group of parishes that have decided to remain loyal to The Episcopal Church. This other group has taken the name, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.  Just an FYI. Mr. Caldwell has a very different position of the timeline as he is not a South Carolinian and did not live in the diocese during the timeline of any of these events. As far as I know, Mr. Caldwell still does not live in SC. UPDATE: Mr. Caldwell did live in SC for three years about 10 years but is not currently living in SC. However, that does not change my response/rebuttal to his timeline/chronology. Ok with that bit of background let's get to the actual post and my response to it. 

This post will highlight events in the 1970s. Important events in other decades will come in future posts but now you have some of the background to the actual events of the diocese's "schism". 


Nov. 14---The State of South Carolina issued a Certificate of Incorporation to The Protestant Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina: "The purpose of the said proposed Corporation is to continue the operation of an Episcopal Diocese under the Constitution and Canons of The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America."

ODP:      Ok. So what? The Diocese of SC filed with the state of South Carolina to become an incorporated entity in the state. This will become important in later discussion about the trial. However, when one looks at Mr Calwell's timeline, I immediately struck by how he leaves out those decisions by TEC's own general convention that were important in the schism. It would be more accurate to say that the schism began decades ago with the increasingly progressive and revisionist changes to TEC's canons by the action of deputies at various General Conventions which Mr. Caldwell simply does not discuss in his chronology at his blog. However, no accurate history of the schism would be complete without understanding these changes in TEC. Also, events at the national and international level are very important for understanding the background to the schism in South Carolina and some of these events will be mentioned as necessary for accuracy.  

1974:  One of the first moves by the progressives was the non-canonical “illegal” ordination of several women as priests in this year. In that same year, Integrity was founded – an organization to promote issues of concern to the homosexual community within the Episcopal Church. Integrity has been actively influencing the actions of General Convention ever since that time. 



--- What is now known as Trinity School for Ministry Ambridge, Pennsylvania, was established as a conservative, evangelical school in the Episcopal/Anglican tradition. Mark Lawrence was an early alumnus. In time, many strong ties developed between Trinity and the Diocese of South Carolina and numerous alumni moved to serve as priests and deacons in the diocese. These ties became strongest in the episcopate of Mark Lawrence.

ODP:   Again. SO what? Trinity School for Ministry is indeed a seminary in the Anglican tradition and Mark Lawrence is among its early graduates.  Is that somehow important to the events of the schism? Caldwell does not give us any information or an opinion. 



---GC passed AO69 declaring homosexual persons to have "full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church."

ODP:   Notice that Mr. Caldwell fails to mention some other resolutions passed at that very General Convention in 1976. Resolution B005 (allowing the ordination of women) was passed at the 1976 General Convention making the canons in accordance with the *already* established practice of ordaining women in TEC. This “do it and then worry about the canons later” approach has been the basic game plan of  TEC’s progressives ever since then. 

     This year also saw the ordination and consecration of  The Rev. John Shelby Spong as the diocesan bishop of Newark despite his denial of the basic tenets of Christian faith (including the bodily Resurrection of our Lord). The uproar over his consecration as a bishop lead to an international conference in St. Louis in Sept. 1977 of Anglicans and Episcopalians that were tiring of TEC’s progressive lurches to the left. My mother and her best friend were there as two laity of the over 1,600 bishops, clergy and lay people at the conference. These concerned Anglicans and Episcopalians adopted a statement of principles, called the “St. Louis Affirmation”, to guide them and others in the establishment of a new Anglican jurisdiction in which traditional Anglicanism would be maintained. Initially named the “Anglican Church of North America”, the jurisdiction has expanded from one diocese, Diocese of the Holy Spirt based in Denver, CO,  to two jurisdictions, the Anglican Catholic Church and the Anglican Province of Christ the King.


---The General Convention (GC) of the Episcopal Church (TEC) passed Resolution 3:  "There should be no barrier to the ordination of qualified persons of either heterosexual or homosexual orientation...we believe it is not appropriate for this Church to ordain a practicing homosexual..." Forty-four bishops signed a statement rejecting the resolution.
---GC also adopted the Dennis Canon into the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church: "All real and personal held in trust for this Church and the Diocese..." The Diocese of South Carolina renewed this as the first article in its Constitution and Canons every year until the DSC convention of Oct. 15, 2010 voted to remove it from the diocesan Constitution and Canons.

ODP: Notice that Caldwell again fails to mention other resolutions passed by TEC's General Convention in 1979. In 1979, TEC’s General Convention passed two other resolutions which are important to understanding the background of the schism within TEC and South Carolina: 1) Resolution A053 which reaffirmed “the traditional teaching of the Church on marriage, marital fidelity and sexual chastity as the standard of Christian sexual morality. Candidates for ordination are expected to conform to this standard.”; 2) Resolution A133 approved a revised edition of the Book of Common Prayer (second reading) now called the Book of Common Prayer 1979 (BCP 1979),  and  yes, the resolution now known as the Dennis Canon – which supposedly put all church property in trust for ECUSA and the dioceses. Therefore, no individual parish could sell their property, or leave ECUSA taking their property with them. However, there is still some question that this resolution was actually passed as there is no archival material that one can point to showing the actual vote and passage of this resolution. For a very interesting report by George Conger+ who has researched the question of whether the Dennis Canon was actually and correctly passed at the 1979 General Convention, see George's blog, Conger: The Religious,Political, and Cultural Information of George Conger. Click on the "Dennis Canon-Updated" tab to read a very interesting account of his research efforts concerning the passage of the Dennis Canon. This canon has been a large part of the lawsuits against parishes and dioceses that have left TEC including the Diocese of South Carolina. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Excellent article from the Anglican Communion Institute!

Written by: 
Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Bishop Pierre Whalon’s recent essay, “Polity Politics,” offers a critique of the amicus curiae brief submitted to the Texas Supreme Court by ACI and seven bishops of The Episcopal Church. Surprisingly, there is much with which we agree in this essay, especially the conclusion Bishop Whalon reaches at the mid-point that “on the face of it, the seven bishops are right.” He goes on to assert that although we are right “on the face of it,” we are nonetheless ultimately wrong in light of his interpretation of TEC’s history, Constitution (which he never quotes) and ordination vows. While we disagree with him on these latter points, it is useful to start with the common ground where Bishop Whalon’s observations support the perspective expressed in the amicus brief.
Common Ground
First, Bishop Whalon observes correctly that while “hierarchy is natural” each denomination exhibits it “in wildly different ways.” In this broader context, he finds TEC’s form of government “idiosyncratic.” We agree with this because it underscores the basic point of the amicus brief. Bishop Whalon’s observations about TEC’s idiosyncratic governance are based on his readings of 2000 years of church tradition and 200 years of TEC history. He puts these interpretations forward in an effort to go beyond what is true on “the face of it” to opine more fully on “what a hierarchy is.”
It is important to stress that the document Bishop Whalon critiques in his online essay is a legal argument filed in a court of law. We welcome the opportunity to engage in a lively online debate on these important issues and to discuss them in church meetings and journals. But it is not the role of the civil courts to delve into this fascinating topic, sort through multiple issues of church history and attempt to analyze properly each of the “wildly different” church polities. This becomes an imperative when the civil courts confront a form of church government that is admittedly “idiosyncratic.” The courts must stop at what is true on the face of it or go no further. That, in a nutshell, is the primary argument of the amicus brief.

These are the first three paragraphs in the article. It really is an excellent summary of the points and arguments in the amicus brief and how it applies to dioceses today and in particular The Diocese of South Carolina. 

Today is the Feast Day of St. James of Jerusalem.....

One of today's readings in Forward Day by Day is from Acts 15:12-22. Remember that story? Here is the commentary from FDbD:

James was the leader of the believers in Jerusalem. The members of that community were mostly Jews who believed in Jesus and had been baptized. The few baptized Gentiles among them had been required to convert to Judaism, be circumcised, and keep the Mosaic Law in its entirety.  Paul and Barnabas had a different experience in their missionary work in Greece and Asia Minor. Their converts were mostly Gentiles and had not been required to become Jews in order to become believers.

This caused dissension between the two groups (sound familiar?). The first ecumenical council was held in Jerusalem to settle the dispute. Both sides presented their case; amazingly, they listened to each other. Even more amazing, James and the elders of Jerusalem changed their minds and agreed with Paul (Notice they did NOT sue them over this difference but LISTENED). It took real courage for them to leave their comfort zone and break bread with people who were not observant Jews.

What can James and other first-century leaders teach the church today?

Pray the Diocese of Iran (Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East).

My answer: Simple:
1) LISTEN to those with whom who have disagreements/disputes! I mean really listen not just hear and then re-state your arguments.
2) Do NOT sue those who disagree with you!
3) Do NOT "abandon" fellow believers just because they disagree! <sarcasm on> Well done, TEC! Nothing like "abandoning" 29,000 fellow believers with a stroke of the pen. Well done,+KJS)<sarcasm off>

Sunday, October 21, 2012

To all the world...: Episcopal Church Hits Bottom, Keeps Digging.

 To all the world...: Episcopal Church Hits Bottom, Keeps Digging.  This post from one of the church's most faithful priests and seminary professor, Robert Munday (Nashotah House). A must read as it has a wonderful letter from a priest in the diocese to his parish. Thanks,  Father Munday!  May your ministry be blessed as well!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Going, going......... gone?!

Why title this post "going, going, gone?!"? Who is going ? And where are they going? Good questions all!

According to the Diocese of South Carolina's website, some very important moves have been made by the national Episcopal Church against the Diocese. The diocesan website has links to several articles and many linked documents which should be read for complete understanding. Here, in this post, I will give a brief overview of recent events concerning the diocese.

1) From the Diocese of South Carolina website:
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. 

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. (update: we do know the names of the accusers- see below part 3).

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 resolve our differences peacefully. These actions make it clear The Episcopal Church no longer desires to be affiliated with the Diocese of South Carolina. (bold is mine). 

Please be sure to read at least some of the linked documents as they are important for understanding these recent events.

2)As stated above, there will be a special convention of the diocese on Saturday, November 17th. The business to be transacted at this meeting shall be the nature of an appropriate response to the recent actions taken against Bishop Mark Lawrence by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, to include any relevant constitutional and/or canonical changes. For more information, please visit the diocese's website.

3) We now know that these most recent accusations against Bishop Lawrence were made by 14 people     ALL of whom who are members of the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina.  Of the 14 accusers, 12 are laity and 2 are clergy (retired).  A recent article written (also on the diocesan website) by Canon Jim Lewis of the Diocese is an excellent summary of what we know about these 14 people whom I list below:

The 12 lay communicants include: 
Robert R. Black
Margaret A. (Peg) Carpenter and Charles G. Carpenter
Frances L. Elmore
Eleanor Horres
John Kwist and Margaret S. Kwist
Barbara G. Mann and David W. Mann
Warren M. Mersereau
Dolores J. Miller
Robert B. Pinkerton
M. Jaquelin Simons
Mrs. Benjamin Bosworth Smith
John L. Wilder and Virginia C. Wilder

The clergy who were named are:
 the Rev. Colton M. Smith
 the Rev. Roger W. Smith

4) Canon Jim Lewis gives a brief but excellent summary of the recent Forum actions against the diocese.  What follows is from his excellent article in the diocesan e-newsletter. 

“Now that the names of those responsible for bringing accusations against Bishop Lawrence before the Disciplinary Board for Bishops is known, it is instructive to consider what that list reveals.

1. All of the 14 are presently members of the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina.
2.     They represent six of a total of 21 current Board Members of the Forum.
3.     They come from five parishes and one unaffiliated congregation [St. Mark's Port Royal is NOT in union with the diocese] with half the lay members indicating they are parishioners of Grace Church, Charleston. [my note: The other parish with 4 lay accusers is St. John's, Florence. So TWO parishes account for 10 of the 12 laity]
4.      Of the 12 laity, eight represent four married couples.
5.      The legal representative of the group, who presented their case to the disciplinary board for     Bishops, is also a member of the Forum Board and is married to Forum Board member and fellow accuser, Bob Black. That means at least 1/3 of their Board was actively engaged in this project.

Despite their assertions to the contrary, this is clearly a group comprised of the primary leadership of the Forum. To attempt to claim the Forum is not responsible for these actions is disingenuous at best.  It is also clearly not a group representative of a large portion of the diocese. It is representative of a very narrow slice of what is a small group in a handful of parishes. They have nothing like the broad, concerned constituency they proclaim. 

For the opinions of others on these events, I recommend the following blogs/websites:

1)  Titus One Nine is one of the best blogs of Anglican news there is. This is the personal blog.  The Rev. Canon Kendall Harmon, Canon Theologian of the Diocese of South Carolina. Titus usually has 
diocesan news posted very quickly. 

2) From a legal perspective and from an attorney who is also a Church canon lawyer, there is none better than the Anglican Curmudgeon. The Curmudgeon has several posts concerning the Diocese of SouthCarolina. It may take a bit of looking thru the extensive archives but the posts are there. He has two recent posts concerning these events.

3) Probably one of the most widely read blogs in the Anglican blogosphere is Stand Firm which has 6 posts about the events in the Diocese of South Carolina.

 Happy blog reading! Please keep yourself informed about what is happening in the diocese. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Choosing the next Archbishop of Canterbury.....

This decision is an important one for the future of the World Wide Anglican Communion (aka WWAC). This is also a decision that does not seem to be coming easily to the Crown Nominations commission which is charged with finding a suitable candidate for the Prime minister to give to the Queen to approve.

 There has been quite a bit of discussion on various Anglican blogs including Stand Firm in Faith, one of my favorite blogs in Anglican blogland. Here is a recent post from Standa Firm about  how the Crown Nominations commission is deadlocked without no decision in sight  or from here over at Peter Ould's website. Here is Kevin Kallsen and George Conger of Anglican TV on what is happening or ....... not happening from Anglican Unscripted episode 51.

Why is it that some Anglicans have such a difficult time making important decisions????