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. 

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