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. 


  1. This timeline of the decline of the Episcopal church seems so obvious to everyone except those who are driving the sheep over the cliff.

  2. Dear "One Daughter": Thank you for giving attention to my blog. Good luck on yours, One small correction: I lived in South Carolina from 2000 to 2003 when I was assistant head of the South Carolina Room of the Charleston County Library. I still maintain a second home in SC and am there often. Another tie we have--my wife is also a Daughter of the King, in fact president of her local chapter. Best wishes on your "critique". You have a long way to go. You seem to have much to say and a need to say it. Fondest regards, Ron Caldwell