Tuesday, July 29, 2014


By Ronald J. Caldwell, PhD, Professor of History, Emeritus

In retrospect, day fourteen, Friday, July 25, was the most important and interesting of the trial, but one that ended abruptly on the most tantalizing points. I could only have wished for more time. The hanging, crucial questions revolved around when and how the diocese made its "disassociation" from the Episcopal Church and when and how Mark Lawrence made his renunciation of vows as an Episcopal bishop.

No doubt Runyan decided to put Lawrence on the stand as the last witness on the last day in order to make a final positive impression on the judge of the innocent local victim persecuted by an errant national organization. By afternoon, however, things were going a little off track as two big issues appeared before the judge: Lawrence's right to act "in good standing" as an agent for the corporation of the diocese, and whether collusion or fraud had occurred against Lawrence and the diocese. Either one of these was a mega-bomb that threatened to blow the case wide open at this very last minute and lead to many more days of trial proceedings delving into the detailed relationship of Lawrence and the Episcopal Church. Realizing that he had pulled himself and his client into the ocean, Runyan immediately scrambled the both of them back into the lifeboat and withdrew his questions. The judge, however, was not so quick to drop the matter. At long last, she seemed really concerned about Lawrence's role in the Church. In one of her last remarks, Judge Goodstein said to Runyan: "There was a renunciation on November 17, 2012, which would then mean that Bishop Lawrence may or may not have had authority to act as a managing agent of the corporation, so again I ask, were there any documents that were executed or actions were taken on Nov. 17, 2012 that have an effect on your argument that the diocese could and did end its accession to the Constitution and Canons of the Church?" This remark seems to reflect a certain desire for clarity in her mind about just what the disassociation and renunciation were, what they meant, and when they occurred. What they meant, of course, was the whole point of the trial. Runyan et al had just spent fourteen days arguing that the diocese was an independent corporation entitled to legal protection of itself and all its assets.

When and how the "disassociation" and renunciation occurred is not difficult to see. A simple review of the public documents reveals a clear picture. As I have pointed out in the post "How and When Did the Schism Occur?" the diocese's own documents held that the "disassociation" happened on October 17, 2012, retroactive to noon, October 15, 2012. Lawrence announced this many times, most notably in his address to the special convention on November 17, 2012. He told the delegates they were there to "affirm" this irrevocable act.

The matter of the renunciation is more problematical. When did Bishop Lawrence renounce his vows as a bishop in the Episcopal Church? Apparently, Lawrence never made a written renunciation of his rights as bishop or his membership in the Episcopal Church. Likewise, I have seen no evidence that he ever make a verbal statement directly renouncing his vows as a bishop. In short, there was no apparent de jure renunciation. However, in my opinion the evidence is very clear that he made a de facto renunciation and did so verbally to the Presiding Bishop by phone on October 17, 2012, retroactive to noon, October 15, 2012. At that time the diocese (and Lawrence certainly included himself in that as its bishop) unilaterally declared its complete and full separation from the Episcopal Church as an independent and sovereign corporation under state law. That meant, of course, that Lawrence was telling the Presiding Bishop, that he had abandoned the Episcopal Church as of October 15. That was the moment at which the diocese, including Lawrence left the Episcopal Church. Abandoning the Episcopal Church would obviously mean giving up his role as a bishop in the Church. Lawrence willfully and voluntarily left the Episcopal Church. He was not forced out. Afterwards, he saw no connection to the Episcopal Church and no reason to follow any rule of the Church; so he never issued a renunciation as called for in Church canons. He said it was all "irrelevant." By the time the special convention met on November 17 the disassociation and his renunciation were already a month old. Once the convention occurred, the Presiding Bishop moved. Seven weeks after his phone call to her announcing the diocese's, and his, removal from the Episcopal Church, the Presiding Bishop finally, formally accepted Lawrence's de facto renunciation of his vows as a bishop in the Episcopal Church (Dec. 5, 2012). Lawrence called this "superfluous." It appears clear to me that Lawrence renounced his vows when he removed himself from the Episcopal Church on October 15.

 Did Mark Lawrence have authority to act as the managing agent of the corporation after its purported disassociation from the Episcopal Church? That is one of the last questions that Judge Goodstein asked; and it was the best one of the whole trial. Unfortunately, I think it would take a great deal more evidence to answer that one than she heard in the trial. But it did suggest that Runyan's relentless hammering of the diocese's rights may not have overly impressed the judge. Runyan maintained that the diocese was always a sovereign and independent entity; therefore, the "disassociation" would have absolutely no effect on Lawrence's authority as the "managing agent" of the corporation of the diocese.

As for when and how the diocese "disassociated" and Lawrence renounced his vows, I think that can be answered fairly easily by examining the well-known documents. In my opinion, the historical records show no doubt that the diocesan leaders, including Lawrence, believed these things happened on October 15, 2012.   

Saturday, July 26, 2014


By Ronald J. Caldwell, PhD, Professor of History, Emeritus

The trial has ended, mercifully. Yesterday, Friday, July 25, was the fourteenth and final day of the trial. To say that this trial has been remarkable would be an understatement. And, finally, we have our three eye-witnesses to thank for their daily reports: Steve Skardon (www.scepiscopalians.com), Holly Behre (www.episcopalchurchsc.com), and the independent diocese (www.diosc.com). I highly recommend Behre's report from yesterday.

There was only one witness yesterday, Mark Lawrence. Lawyer Runyan put him on the stand as a surprise and then proceeded to go over his history as bishop of the dioceses. Lawrence testified that no one ever asked him to take the diocese out of TEC. They did not have to do that. He had made his attitude to TEC very clear in word and deed before he became bishop. He also said he tried to keep the diocese in TEC. I do not have space here to go into all of that. I'll just say that to me the facts strongly suggest a gradual removal of the diocese from TEC; and I think a longer explanation will make that clear. I am working on just such a manuscript. I do not believe that the removal of the majority of the old diocese from TEC was a random accident.

Runyan also implied in his questioning that TEC had not treated Lawrence fairly. It is absolutely not true that TEC treated Lawrence unfairly. The facts on this are very clear. Church leaders went out of their way to please Lawrence, all to no avail. The Presiding Bishop was foremost in this effort. It was Lawrence who broke away from the Episcopal Church, and he did so voluntarily when he announced such to the Presiding Bishop by phone on October 17. He made it retroactive to October 15 because of the standing committee resolution of October 2 that required the diocese, including the bishop, to "disassociate" from TEC upon "any action of any kind against The Bishop." The special convention of November 17 was only a formality to amend the diocesan constitution and canons. Lawrence could have stayed in TEC and even been cleared easily by the Presiding Bishop if he had sent her a letter of explanation. He refused.

As the judge ended the trial at 3 p.m., she said it would be at least ninety days before she gives a ruling. She also said, "this has been one of the joys of my life." It was an astonishing end to an astonishing fourteen-day trial.

Friday, July 25, 2014


By Ronald J. Caldwell, PhD, Professor of History, Emeritus

Yesterday, Thursday, July 24, was the thirteenth day of the trial. Thirteen may be significant as it was the most bizarre day yet. Judge Goodstein's behavior left everyone stunned, shocked and puzzled. I highly recommend reading Steve Skardon's report (www.scepiscopalians.com) as he give many details of the very strange day. Holly Behre's report for the Episcopal Church in South Carolina echoes this and also adds more information (www.episcopalchurchsc.com). The report from the independent diocese describes an entirely different day in court with not a word about Goodstein's peculiar behavior. I will not try to summarize the incident that Skardon and Behre have described so well. After the Judge's door-slamming tantrum and tense return to the desk, she abruptly adjourned court at 1:00 p.m. The trial is set to resume today probably for the last day.

Both sides have rested their cases. Yesterday and today has been reserved for rebuttal witnesses from the independent diocese. This morning's first witness is to be Mark Lawrence. He has been called by his own lawyers. Apparently the trial will conclude today. I imagine everyone will have all eyes on the judge after yesterday's most remarkable scene. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014


By Ronald J. Caldwell, PhD, Professor of History, Emeritus

Yesterday, July 23, was the twelfth day of the trial. Once again we have our three daily eye-witness reporters, Steve Skardon (www.scepiscopalians.com), Holly Behre (www.episcopalchurchsc.com), and the independent diocese (www.diosc.com). I recommend all three. Skardon's is most useful as a thoughtful description of the Judge's unchanging attitude. There was no significant change in the proceedings yesterday. Judge Goodstein made it clear again, as if that were necessary, that she is handling this trial on the basis of "neutrality." She sees it only as a property dispute between two parties under state law. She has made it abundantly clear that she has no interest in the governmental structure, much less religion, of the two entities. That all but guarantees a ruling squarely on the side of the independent diocese which has the huge advantage of actual possession of the incorporation and the properties in dispute.

Bishop vonRosenberg testified yesterday trying to describe the organizational structure of the Episcopal Church and the way in which the Church went about reorganizing the diocese after the old administrative structure left the Church en masse. Goodstein apparently regarded all of this as unimportant. The independent diocese reported that the Rev. Kronz testified and directly contradicted the earlier written deposition testimony of Rev. Rickenbaker who said that Kronz and Rev. Fuener approached him in the bishop's search process and asked if he would take the diocese out of the Church intact and with the property. Rickenbaker filed an affidavit last December and made an official deposition for the court this month. Either Rickenbaker or Kronz must be incorrect as they are directly contradictory of each other. I am not aware that Kronz has filed an affidavit or a deposition giving his claims.

The trial drags on through today and most likely into Friday before it will mercifully come to an end. I think we all know by now just what that end will be. It has "appeal" written all over it. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


By Ronald J. Caldwell, PhD, Professor of History, Emeritus

Yesterday, Tuesday, July 22, was the eleventh day of the trial. Yet again, we have our three daily eye-witness reports, from Steve Skardon (www.scepiscopalians.com), Holly Behre (www.episcopalchurchsc.org), and the independent diocese (www.diosc.com). And, once again, the first two are long, detailed, and useful.

The trial yesterday seemed to be only marking time. It was more of the same in the well-established pattern of the trial: Church lawyers trying to get witnesses and documents admitted while independent diocesan lawyers aggressively interrupting, delaying, blocking and keeping the judge on course. 

There were two witnesses yesterday, one in person and one by written deposition and not in person. Mark Duffy took the stand. He is head of the Episcopal Church archives in Austin TX. He tried to introduce documents from the Church archives relevant to the case, but independent diocesan lawyers objected continuously and succeeded in blocking most of them. The judge's rationale for disallowing them was to remind everyone yet again that this is a case on neutrality and not on hierarchy. Neutrality means that the matter is treated as a property issue where both sides are treated equally, or neutrally. Hierarchy would mean that the court would have to recognize the superiority of the Episcopal Church over the local diocese. Judge Goodstein has repeated almost daily that she is conducting this trial on neutral principles alone. In my mind, that means beyond a doubt that she will rule in favor of the independent diocese. She as much as said so on Monday when she told the Church lawyers they could take up what they wished on appeal. 

The second witness was not present in  person. He was Rev. Thomas Rickenbaker, a retired priest now living in the upstate. He made a deposition in June stating that two members of the bishop's search committee talked with him about the possibility of becoming a candidate for bishop of the diocese of South Carolina during the search in 2005-06. He said they told him point blank that they were looking for someone to take the diocese out of the Episcopal Church intact and with the property in hand. (One should recall that the committee wound up nominating three candidates, all known to be prominent opponents of the Episcopal Church. Two left the Church rather soon thereafter. The third, Lawrence, left the Church in 2012. In order to achieve consents in 2007, he had repeatedly assured nervous standing committees around the country that he had no "intention" of leaving the Church. In order to be consecrated bishop in 2008 he had taken an oath before God and the public that he would conform to the discipline of the Episcopal Church.)

The trial could conclude today, or possibly tomorrow. It appears doubtful that the most important witness in the room will testify. For whatever reasons, both sides have refused to call Mark Lawrence to the stand. Whether Episcopal bishop vonRosenberg will testify remains to be seen.

As more evidence of the Episcopal Church side looking ahead beyond this pre-determined trial, word came yesterday that the Episcopal Church diocese, called the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, has filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the Episcopal Church diocese of Ft. Worth in its recent appeal to the Court. The Presbyterian Church (USA) and the United Methodist Church also joined in support of the Episcopal diocese. Of course, a Supreme Court ruling on the matter would have a great impact on ongoing litigating in South Carolina and elsewhere.

It has been interesting to observe the way the two sides have handled public relations during the trial in St. George. The independent diocesan side has issued only brief daily reports with little helpful information about the daily proceedings. Their echo chamber on the Internet has also downplayed the trial carrying relatively little about it. After they shredded the first Church witness, McWilliams, they all but ignored the rest. Monday's star witness, Walter Edgar, barely got a mention anywhere in the anti-Episcopal Church blogosphere. On the other side, the pro-Church party has given us long and detailed daily reports and have tried to make the most of it. They have not gotten very far on the Internet because their echo chamber is much smaller and quieter. Why the difference in the way the two sides reported the trial? Two reasons: the trial will be decided by one person, Judge Goodstein, not by a jury and certainly not by the public; and, all signs, from Jan. 4, 2013, point to a foregone conclusion. Thus for the independent diocesan side, there was no reason to roil the waters let alone make a public relations campaign. I think everyone knows how this trial will end. It's just a matter of time before, as Judge Goodstein said, the Church attorneys will make an appeal.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


By Ronald J. Caldwell, PhD, Professor of History, Emeritus

Monday, 8 p.m.:    As we await our three daily eye-witness reports from the courtroom in St. George, there is one preliminary bit of news to report. The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (www.episcopalchurchsc.org) has just made a post that today's star witness was Dr. Walter Edgar. As everyone knows, Edgar is the greatest living authority on South Carolina history. He is also a devoted and very active Episcopalian in South Carolina who is intimately familiar with the inner workings of the Church. A copy of Edgar's comments is now available on the ECSC website. It is 12 pages long. One should also recall that Edgar submitted an affidavit made on February 17, 2013, and filed as part of the ECSC court papers of March 7, 2013, in the United States District Court in Charleston. It is also readily available on the ECSC website.

Edgar reviews the key events in the history of the relationship between the diocese and the Episcopal Church from 1790 to the late twentieth century. I highly recommend these articles, particularly the one released today. It destroys two favorite myths of the independent diocese side 1-that the diocese existed before the Episcopal Church and always remained an independent and sovereign diocese above the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, and 2-the ridiculous assertion made by numerous witnesses in the first week on the Lawrence side that the Episcopal Churches of lower South Carolina were never in the Episcopal Church. 

Tuesday, a.m.:    We now have the daily reports from the courtroom, Steve Skardon's (www.scepiscopalians.com), Holly Behre for the Episcopal Church in South Carolina (www.episcopalchurchsc.org), and the independent diocese (www.diosc.com). I highly recommend the first two as they are long and detailed.

If anyone thought last Friday's dignified proceedings and judicious demeanor would continue, they could forget that right away on Monday morning. The old trial and its judge reappeared as the proceedings moved into the tenth day on Monday, July 21. By all accounts, yesterday was the most tumultuous, and revealing, of the trial so far. And, it all had to do with the appearance of the best-known witness yet, Dr. Walter Edgar, universally admired and respected as the greatest living historian in South Carolina and practically a household name in the state. It was clear from the start that the defendants (Church) were anxious to get his esteemed opinions on the record while the plaintiffs (independent diocese) and their friend, the judge, were equally anxious to keep him off the record at least on issues of hierarchy and religion (he was supposed to talk about a hierarchical church without mentioning hierarchy or religion). Judge Goodstein very clearly showed her hand as she said about Edgar: "At the end of the day, what difference is it going to make? Because here is where my head is: if he is going to testify as to the hierarchical nature of the Church, I get that. I don't need to hear any more about that. It's not going to help me. We won't enforce a hierarchical relationship in this case. You can take that up on appeal...I mean, IF you appeal.(Skardon's report)" Does anyone need any more evidence on how this trial is going to end? Runyan et al are in control now as they have been since they set the agenda on Jan. 4, 2013.

Edgar took the stand at 10:20 a.m. He was allowed to start testifying at 1:45 p.m. That alone speaks volumes about what went on in the courtroom yesterday. Even when he did speak he was instructed not to offer opinions on the meanings of documents or to speak on hierarchy or religious issues. He was interrupted endlessly on objections sustained by the judge. Nevertheless, in spite of every roadblock imaginable, Edgar did testify on the stand for hours and offered powerful evidence of the dependent ties of the diocese to the national church throughout history. Meanwhile the Church lawyers succeeded in getting thousands of pages of documents into the trial record. It seems to me that Edgar's was the strongest testimony given yet on the Church side. It authoritatively demolished the plaintiffs' claim that the diocese existed independently outside the structure of the Episcopal Church from the start in the 1780's. It showed that the plaintiffs had had every reason to fear Edgar's testimony. They had no reason, however, to fear the outcome of this trial.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


By Ronald J. Caldwell, PhD, Professor of History, Emeritus

UPDATE (1 p.m.):  Steve Skardon has made his daily report, a bit belatedly, on his blog www.scepiscopalians.com . It is a lengthy and thoughtful analysis of the day's proceedings that I highly recommend. Thus, we have two very helpful reports from day nine.

(Original post:) Yesterday, Friday, July 18, was the ninth day of the trial. As of this writing (9 a.m. July 19) we have only one usable daily report, Holly Behre's for the Church diocese (www.episcoaplchurchsc.org) . Steve Skardon's has not appeared yet; and the independent diocese has posted a useless account of three sentences, all irrelevant propaganda [later in the day a new, longer report was posted]. If our reporters have grown fatigued, I think we can all understand. It must test the patience of a saint to sit through nine days of this unfunny circus. So, special thanks to Behre for her long, detailed, and insightful report.

Yesterday's session was only half a day. Court adjourned at 12:45 p.m. to resume on Monday morning. The defense (TEC and ECSC) continued its witnesses with two, the Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel III, and Patricia Neumann. Daniel spoke a long time about the organizational structure of the Episcopal Church, particularly the relationship between the national Church and its dioceses. When a diocese joins TEC it is required to accede to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. The central governing body of the Church is the General Convention. In order for a bishop to have authority in any one diocese, the majority of the bishops and standing committees of the whole Church must agree to recognize that bishop. A bishop gets his or her authority from the Church as a whole, not from a single diocese. Therefore, dioceses cannot exist outside the constitutional structure of the Church. The only way a diocese can leave the Church is by resolution of the General Convention. On cross-examination Daniel pointed out that the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church do not have a provision forbidding a diocese from leaving the Church, but such a rule is implied in the whole process. Neumann was another witness for a local parish. She described her experiences in Trinity Church on Edisto Island.

The main issue of the day was the treatment of some 2,000 pages of documents that the Church lawyers are trying to get into the record of the trial proceedings. The independent diocesan lawyers are trying to block as many as possible. The judge, perhaps reconsidering her injudicious outbursts against the Church lawyers of the day before, seemed to lean to the Church side when she asked those lawyers to bring in witnesses who could explain the documents to her, particularly on what they mean for the relationship of the national Church and the diocese. 

This seemed to be the best day for the Church side. Daniel was an important witness and apparently bolstered the Church lawyers' case. It should be recalled that outside of Bishop Andrew Waldo of Upper North Carolina, no bishop tried harder to make peace and reconciliation with Mark Lawrence before the schism than did Daniel, who was then the bishop of eastern North Carolina. He was the lead consecrator for the installation of Lawrence as bishop in January of 2008. As the head of Province IV, the southeastern U.S., he tried to work with Lawrence on settling down issues. When Lawrence defiantly rejected the Dennis Canon and issued the quit claim deeds, it was Daniel who led a delegation of neighboring bishops to go to Charleston in December of 2011 to try to reconcile this most provocative action. Lawrence, and the standing committee behind him, completely rebuffed the bishops' pleas and dismissed any idea of changing policy.

The independent diocesan lawyers are trying to make the issues 1-that the diocese existed before the Episcopal Church and did not surrender its sovereignty to the Church and 2-the diocese had the right to leave the Church because the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church have no provision against it.

A basic problem is how one defines the term "accession." The Diocese of South Carolina acceded to the C and C of the Episcopal Church until its purported secession in 2012. I define "accession" as acceptance of. The diocese accepted the C and C in its totality. In so doing it had to accept the ultimate sovereignty of the Church. In doing this, the diocese could not remain a separate, independent, self-governing entity. That would be a contradictory impossibility.

As for the idea that a diocese can leave because there is no provision against it, one should also consider the same in the U.S. Constitution. There is no provision in the U.S. Constitution that forbids a state from seceding from the union. Can a state secede? Well, we have been over that. Of all people, the citizens of South Carolina ought to be able to answer that. They tried it and suffered a calamity. South Carolina lost more than any other Confederate state. One quarter of all men in SC between the ages of 18 and 35 were either killed or wounded, the highest casualty rate of any southern state. Her cities were reduced to ashes. Her economy collapsed. The state has never really recovered. Of course, it is implicit in accepting a higher authority that one becomes subject that that authority. It does not have to be spelled out in specific terms in the constitution because it is the constitution. The people who wrote the constitution could not possibly have foreseen every imaginable exigency. That is why they set up courts to interpret the constitution and the law by reading into them what is not explicit.

Friday, July 18, 2014


By Ronald J. Caldwell, PhD, Professor of History, Emeritus

Yesterday, July 17, was the eighth day of the trial. And, once again we have three accounts from our longsuffering reporters Steve Skardon (www.scepiscopalians.com), Holly Behre (www.episcopalchurchsc.org), and (Jan Pringle?) the independent diocese (www.diosc.com). First, thanks to Jan or whoever at the independent diocese for giving us more substantial detail and less spin--and thanks for dropping off the last two propaganda points from the daily report. We started with four, now down to none. We are moving in the right direction. So once again, a big thank you to our three sets of eyes and ears in Saint George; and keep up the good work.

Yesterday's session was a continuation of the defense presentation of its witnesses. It was apparently a rather tumultuous day in which the judge lost her cool on one more than one occasion. Her tenor has changed noticeably since the Church side started its presentations. The biggest disruption came when the Church tried to place on the stand Robert Klein whose name, for whatever reason, was not on the official witness list (read Behre and independent diocese for the opposite accounts of why his name was not on the list). To say the judge became upset with the Church side is to put it mildly. Most of the morning was spent on contentious, if not acrimonious, back and forth between lawyers and between lawyers and judge. In the end, the court refused to allow Mr. Klein to take the stand. After a delay of hours, the defense did get on the stand Leslie Lott, another legal expert, but once again the judge lost her cool when she realized the witness did not have all the notes and documents the judge thought she should have had. Then, things calmed down a bit as three Episcopalians took the stand to describe their experiences in their local parishes during the schism: Rebecca Lovelace of Conway, Eleanor Koets of Summerville, and Frances Elmore of Florence.

Yesterday's session was a reality check for anyone who needed it. It should bring one back to what this trial is all about. A simple review of the "Chronology" section of this blog shows that Judge Goodstein has granted the independent side practically everything it has asked and granted the Church side very little it has asked. Indeed, the fact that the trial is in this court with this judge is not a random accident. Alan Runyan joined Lawrence's legal team in late 2009 soon after the All Saints Waccamaw decision and quickly became the lead lawyer. This son of Baptist missionaries and former Southern Baptist deacon became a tireless advocate for localism, that is rights for local parishes, and for the local diocese against the Episcopal Church. Within three weeks after the schism occurred (Oct. 15, 2012), the standing committee directed Runyan to begin preparing legal proceedings "to protect" the assets of the pre-schism diocese against the Episcopal Church. Two months later, (Jan. 4, 2013), the diocesan lawyers brought suit in this court with this judge against the Church.

Apparently, Runyan and the other diocesan lawyers had learned well from the first four cases of seceding dioceses (San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, Quincy, Ft. Worth) in 2007-08, that had not gone so well for the independent dioceses. The South Carolina lawyers resolved to handle things differently. They became much more aggressive. They chose a court and went to court first before the Church side had time to reorganize and get prepared for legal action. It was a brilliant pre-emptive strike. They set the agenda. They did not wait to be attacked and have to fall back into a defensive position. In this case, it is the Church that is on the defensive. Moreover, they brought local parishes (now 35) into the litigation and bound them to the court actions.

It seems to me that the outcome of the present trial is a foregone conclusion. Therefore, it appears to me that what is going on in this trial is not about the trial itself, it is about the appeal. The independent diocesan side has the upper hand now. Both sides are thinking primarily about the appeal that they both know is inevitable. It appears to me that the Church lawyers are trying to get in as much expert testimony and relevant documents as possible into the record and the independent diocesan lawyers are trying to block that. In an appeal, the original court record will be very important. So, good Episcopalians, do not lose heart. The Church lawyers may actually be doing well to lay a strong groundwork for a successful appeal. In my opinion, that's what really matters now.  

Thursday, July 17, 2014


By Ronald J. Caldwell, PhD, Professor of History, Emeritus

We now have our three daily eye-witness reports on the court proceedings of the seventh day of the trial, yesterday, Wednesday, July 16: Steve Skardon (www.scepiscopalians.vom), Holly Behre for the Episcopal Church in South Carolina (www.episcopalchurchsc.org), and (Jan Pringle?) for the independent diocese (www.diosc.com). In my opinion, the best of these is Behre's. It is long, detailed, well-organized and well-written. It tells us a good deal about the days events. The worst of these is the independent diocese's report. It is a brief three paragraphs that is almost entirely propaganda. Under its sensationalist headlines, it offers very little of substance. This is regrettable because in the first week, when the independent diocese was presenting its witnesses, the diocese produced some informative reports. However, since the Church side has taken over all we are getting from them is over-the-top propaganda. Therefore, I hesitate to recommend this as a credible source of information on the trial. Note to independent diocese--give us more details and less spin. We already know your talking points by heart. What we out here in the hinterland want to know are the details of the daily trial proceedings. The others have spin too, but it is much less obvious and it is accompanied by a good amount of information. So, lets have more detail and less spin, everybody.

Only one witness occupied the stand yesterday, Martin C. McWilliams, Jr., a professor of law at the University of South Carolina. The focus of his testimony apparently revolved around the original state charter of incorporation of 1973. The charter specifically said that the diocese was incorporated as a non-profit institution in South Carolina under the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. In a nutshell, McWilliams believed the original charter is still in effect because the attempt to amend it in 2010 was improper and illegal. Behre did an excellent job in summarizing his testimony. I will refer you to her report at ECSC. Skardon wrote that the diocesan attorneys turned up the volume in cross-examination of McWilliams and actually chipped away at some of his testimony but did not touch his basic points. If we are to believe the independent diocesan report, a completely different McWilliams testified that the diocesan constitution and canons are superior to the Church's. They gave no specifics to back up the headlines.

The trial resumes today, Thursday, July 17, as the Church side continues presenting its witnesses. The trial is certain to last into next week although we cannot know yet an exact day of conclusion.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


By Ronald J. Caldwell, PhD, Professor of History, Emeritus

Judging from remarks on the Internet, there seems to be some confusion on just when and how the schism occurred. Actually, the documents are clear and are readily available to anyone online. A simple review of these should clear up this issue.

The diocesan website, www.diosc.com, presents a treasure trove of original documents and other sources on the history of the schism. Look under convention, media, and news for the various postings. They can all be easily and freely downloaded. For this, we should all be grateful to the diocesan staff. The most important source of all is Lawrence's bishop's diary that was printed in the annual journal of 2013 for the year 2012. Next is a collection of documents the diocese posted as a news release on Oct. 17 (erroneously listed as Oct. 15) called "Episcopal Church Takes Action..." Through these and other original sources one can get a clear picture of when and how the schism occurred.

As background, two separate movements were going on by the summer of 2012. I have seen no evidence that the people involved in the one knew about the other. One movement was the internal development in the diocese toward disassociation. The other movement was the work of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops.

In the second, the Disciplinary Board received a complaint from a committee of fourteen persons in the diocese. The Board investigated the evidence then voted by majority on September 18 that Lawrence had abandoned the Episcopal Church. I am not aware of any evidence that Lawrence knew about this until he was informed by the Presiding Bishop on October 15.

In the first movement, the internal actions, a few background factors should be recalled. Earlier diocesan conventions had passed resolutions removing diocesan accession to the canons of the Episcopal Church (including the Dennis Canon), and had kept only a conditional accession to the Constitution of the Church. They had also voted to remove all references to the Church from the corporate charter that had originally said the diocese was incorporated "under" the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. Moreover, the convention had given the bishop the sole authority to interpret the constitution and canons of the diocese. It was clear the diocese saw itself as a sovereign and independent entity. In addition, Bishop Lawrence had issued quit claim deeds to all parishes in the diocese.

The final crisis began in July of 2012 with the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. The Convention approved two controversial measures, the blessing of same-sex unions and equal rights for transgendered persons. Lawrence vehemently protested these and staged a dramatic walk-out from the House of Bishops. He returned home to lead a diocesan reaction.

On August 21, Lawrence met with the standing committee and announced a secret plan for himself and the diocese. I have not seen any evidence of what was in the secret plan. Shortly thereafter, through Bishop Waldo, of Upper South Carolina, Lawrence agreed to meet with the Presiding Bishop in New York City on October 3.

On September 18, Lawrence and his lawyers met with the standing committee. The committee submitted to Lawrence a formal request for an interpretation of Canon XXXVII that addressed the right of the diocese to disassociate from the Episcopal Church. On September 21, Lawrence issued a brief statement that he and the standing committee were in agreement on a secret plan.

On October 2, Lawrence met with the standing committee and presented to them his 16-page judgment on the questions they had asked. He said that disassociation was legal. He also said it could be done by any of three parties, the diocesan convention, the bishop, or the standing committee. Upon this advice, the committee proceeded to pass a resolution unanimously: "[DSC] withdraws its accession to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church and disaffiliates with the Episcopal Church by withdrawing its membership from the Episcopal Church. The decision shall be effective immediately upon the taking of any action of any kind by any representative of the Episcopal Church against The Bishop." 

The next day, October 3, Lawrence met in New York with Waldo and Jefferts Schori. I have seen no record of the discussion in the meeting. It was announced that Lawrence would meet the Presiding Bishop again on October 11. I have seen no evidence that Lawrence told Waldo or Jefferts Schori about the standing committee resolution of October 2.

Owing to a funeral, Nick Zeigler's in Florence on Oct. 11, the meeting of Lawrence and Jefferts Schori that had been scheduled for Oct. 11 was moved to Oct. 22. On Oct. 9, Jefferts Schori called Lawrence to ask for a meeting in Atlanta on Aug. 13. Lawrence declined the offer.

On October 10, the Presiding Bishop received from the Disciplinary Board the official certification that the Board had found Lawrence had abandoned the Episcopal Church. At noon on Monday, October 15, Jefferts Schori called Lawrence and told him she had placed a "restriction" on his ministry effective noon of Oct. 15. She asked him to keep it confidential until their Oct. 22 meeting. I have seen no evidence that Lawrence told Jefferts Schori about the standing committee resolution at this time.

Under Church rules Lawrence had two choices at that point. He could send a letter of explanation of his actions to the Presiding Bishop who then had the discretion of removing the restriction and restoring the bishop to his full rights. Or, he could wait until the next House of Bishops meeting to be tried by the bishops.

Lawrence chose neither. He immediately called his Council of Advice to spread the word among his inner circle and then went about his bishop's duties as if nothing had happened. For the next two days he huddled with his lawyers, top clergy, and Council of Advice.

On Wednesday, October 17, Lawrence called the Presiding Bishop and told her confidentiality was impossible because of the standing committee's resolution of October 2. Apparently, this was the first time she knew of the resolution. The resolution had gone into effect at noon on Oct. 15, the moment Lawrence was the subject of "any action of any kind." It meant that the diocese had "disassociated" from the Episcopal Church as of noon, October 15, 2012. It was either in this call, or shortly thereafter, that Lawrence cancelled the scheduled meeting with Jefferts Schori on Oct. 22. It was not rescheduled.

Soon after the call of the 17th, on that afternoon, the diocesan office released a large number of documents in a press release on its website "Episcopal Church Takes Action..." A cover letter in it announced the diocese had "disassociated" from the Episcopal Church and had called a special convention. The convention was necessary under the canons that required a convention to make the canonical changes necessary to finalize the disassociation.

The special convention was attended by the large majority of parishes and missions of the old diocese. It voted overwhelmingly to make canonical and constitutional changes removing all references to the Episcopal Church. They continued recognition of Lawrence as the one and only legal bishop of the diocese. Lawrence declared "we've moved on" out of the Episcopal Church and into an extra-territorial diocese in the Anglican Communion.

On December 5, the Presiding Bishop called Lawrence to inform him that she had accepted his renunciation of orders in the Episcopal Church and had released him from all orders in the Church immediately. Lawrence had not sent a letter of resignation or renunciation to the Presiding Bishop. The Presiding Bishop did this, on advice of the heads of the Church's provinces, as a result of Lawrence's words and deeds which she judged to be abandonment of the Episcopal Church.

These I believe to be the salient facts around the moment of the schism. The section I have written on Aug-Sept-Oct 2012 in my manuscript runs to forty single-spaced pages with 150 footnotes.

These are the conclusions I draw as my own personal opinions:

1-The schism occurred at 12:00 p.m., Monday, October 15, 2012 upon the unilateral action of the standing committee of the diocese which took this action on the advice of the bishop.

2-The decision to enact the removal of the diocese from the Episcopal Church came from a small group of people, perhaps no more than Lawrence, the lawyers, and the standing committee.

3-The decision was secret among the small group. Only later and after the fact was it revealed to the Presiding Bishop, all the clergy of the diocese, and the public.

4-The diocesan leadership used the crisis of Lawrence's "restriction" to enact the previously held secret resolution.

5-Lawrence chose to remain as the bishop of the diocese which claimed to leave the Episcopal Church on Oct. 15. This meant he left the Church at the same time.

6-The special diocesan convention was called on Nov. 17 only to finalize a disassociation that had already been made by amending the constitution and canons.

7-The Presiding Bishop officially deposed Lawrence as a bishop of the Episcopal Church on December 5, 2012, seven weeks after he had gone along with the diocesan leadership out of the Church.

8-I would not agree that in August-September-October of 2012, Lawrence, or anyone else in the diocesan leadership did all they could to keep the diocese in the Episcopal Church.

If anyone knows of any original documents that would change any of these conclusions, please let me know of them. I welcome new information.

As always, I encourage everyone to e-mail me with your comments (the good, the bad, and the ugly):  ronaldcaldwell1210@gmail.com .  



By Ronald J. Caldwell, PhD, Professor of History, Emeritus

Yesterday, Tuesday, July 15, was the sixth day of the trial. As usual we have three eye-witness accounts of the day's proceedings, from Steve Skardon (www.scepiscopalians.com), Holly Behre (www.episcopalchurchsc.org), and the independent diocese (www.diosc.com). I highly recommend that everyone read these three reports from yesterday. The first two (Skardon and Behre) are long and detailed. They are also a stark contrast to the third (diosc). The two sides interpreted the events in polar opposite ways. If was as if two different trials were proceeding in the same room. That also makes the reports much more interesting reading. I think everyone grew weary from the seemingly endless repetition of the well-rehearsed parade from the Runyan side that mercifully ended yesterday. No one can improve on the three reports from yesterday; and I certainly would not try.

All I can offer is a brief summary of the reports. First, the plaintiffs concluded their presentation of witnesses with the six remaining parishes. Then, in the afternoon, the defendants (Episcopal Church and Episcopal Church in South Carolina) opened their presentation of witnesses. They called three witnesses to the stand, Armand Derfner, a renowned constitutional law expert, Dow Sanderson, rector of Church of the Holy Communion, Charleston, and informal dean of the Anglo-Catholic party in South Carolina, and Warren Mesereau, layman formerly of Church of Our Savior on Johns Island. Derfner's testimony naturally involved issues of law in the pre-schism diocese. Apparently, he was interrupted so frequently by Runyan that he could hardly finish a point. Mesereau spoke of how pro-Church information was squashed by the anti-Church parishes, Our Savior in this case. Finally at one of Runyan's frequent objections, Judge Goodstein apparently became a bit impatient with him and said "I've heard lots of testimony that people acted 'because of the treatment of Bishop Lawrence,' in the interest of fairness, ought they be allowed to go into some of that discussion?" Runyan backed down, perhaps mindful of a basic rule among lawyers in the courtroom: never, never antagonize a friendly judge.

By far the most powerful and important testimony of the day came from the Rev. Sanderson. My research tells me that for years before 2011, Sanderson was considered an insider in the ruling clique of the pre-schism diocese. When the Presiding Bishop journeyed to Charleston for her ill-fated visit in February of 2008, Sanderson was the third act in the choreographed performance meant to diminish her, after Bishop Lawrence who preached and read to her from the Bible, and Kendall Harmon, who made a sharp criticism of some of her actions. In the end, of course, Sanderson chose to remain in the Episcopal Church. That must have been a shock and great disappointment to the ruling establishment. The reports yesterday gave opposite interpretations of Sanderson's testimony. Skardon and Behre reported it as showing Lawrence and his allies pre-planned the schism. The independent diocesan report said he testified that Lawrence tried hard to keep the diocese in the Episcopal Church. We will have to wait until the full transcript of the trial is released to get Sanderson's word-for-word testimony. That should occur within a couple of days after the trial is over. For now, it is hard to imagine that a pro-Church witness would get up on the stand and testify for the anti-Church party.

Thus, the trial has changed. The plaintiffs have ended their presentations. The defendants have begun their list of witnesses. These are obviously not repetitive and not rehearsed, and therefore, much more interesting. Also, the lawyers' interjections have become much more contentious as Lawrence's lawyers have greatly raised the frequency of objections to questions and responses. Even the judge got impatient at these interruptions. I expect we will see an easing off in this tactic.

Today, the defense continues presenting its witnesses. It looks as if the trial will run well into next week. Again, a big thank you to our three courtroom reporters who are doing a wonderful job of keeping us informed even if they are throwing in a certain amount of understandable spin. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


By Ronald J. Caldwell, PhD, Professor of History, Emeritus

We now have three eye-witness reports on the fifth day of the trial, Monday, July 14, 2014. We should all take a moment and express our gratitude to Steve Skardon, Holly Behre, and (Jan Pringle?) for their daily accounts. They are the eyes and ears of those of us who cannot be present in the courtroom. I say a big thank you to all three!

Day five was a continuation of the plaintiffs' (independent diocese) presentation of witnesses from local churches. Representatives from thirteen churches took the stand yesterday to repeat over and over the obviously pre-planned and rehearsed vaudeville act, some with unintentional hilarity. Apparently the repetition was mostly tedious and wearisome. The attorneys did made an agreement to speed up matters by allowing documents to be submitted to the court in batches rather than by very time-consuming individual submission. The plaintiffs did not end their list. They have five more witnesses from local parishes to take the stand today (Tuesday) before the defendants (TEC and ECSC) can start their presentations. We can expect that the Church side will begin its presentation of witnesses today. It will be most interesting to see whom the defendants have called to appear on the witness stand. I expect everyone is waiting to see if the most important person in the room will be sworn in on the stand. If so, I hope our reporters will give a detailed account of his testimony. It is bound to be fascinating. Apparently Judge Goodstein has recognized that the trial may well drag on into next week, a third week in order to give the defendants' equal time. She had planned to finish up by Friday the 18th. That appears to be impossible now.

Skardon reported that the main ever-recurring theme of the witnesses was that their local parishes had never been part of the Episcopal Church. In my opinion, that thought is simply laughable, even if a bit sad in its overreach. However, we have to bear in mind that the testimony is not for us. The testimony is for the benefit of one person, the one judge who is sitting behind the big desk in the courtroom. She alone will render the decision in this case. It is helpful to remember that everything going on in the courtroom is meant to favorably impress the judge.

Amid the humdrum of the repetition, there were several points mentioned in the reports that jumped out at me. One was a report that Canon Jim Lewis (assistant to Bp Lawrence) put pressure on one local church to join in the lawsuit. There had been rumors that diocesan officials pressured local churches to join in, but this is the first hard evidence I have seen that the stories were more than rumors.

Another interesting item was that the land that Good Shepherd stands on in West Ashley was deeded to the church on the condition that the church remain subject to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. Also, apparently Our Savior on Johns Island had a similar stipulation, but the witness from there said that Our Savior never disassociated from the Episcopal Church because it was never part of the Episcopal Church (I'm scratching my head).

Then, there was the testimony of Ann Hester Willis, senior warden at monumental St. Michael's in Charleston. (According to documents of the Standing Committee, Willis was the committee member who moved the adoption of the resolution in the Oct. 2, 2012 meeting "withdrawing accession to Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church and withdrawing membership in the Episcopal Church, effective upon 'taking of any action of any kind' against the Bishop." It passed unanimously. It was this resolution that Lawrence announced to the Presiding Bishop on Oct. 17 as the purported legal basis of the disassociation which under the terms of the resolution would be noon of Oct. 15, the moment the "action" was taken.) Willis made the apparently unintentionally hilarious comment that no one in the leadership of St. Michael's had ever read the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. One might wonder why people felt the necessity to leave officially an institution in which they were never a part (still scratching my head).

On one last small point, thank you to Jan, or whoever is writing the independent diocese's daily reports. The original four propaganda points at the end of the report are down to two in Day Five, the least offensive ones (the Diocese was founded in 1785, and the Diocese has been recognized by Anglicans). The two sides are opponents but they should not be enemies. Reducing the shouting on both sides is a step in the right direction. I think when all this unpleasantness is over, everyone (including myself) should be able to look back and say we all did our best to be Christians.  



Sunday, July 13, 2014


By Ronald J. Caldwell, PhD, Professor of History, Emeritus

Friday, July 11, was the fourth day of the trial. We now have three first-hand reports, one from Holly Behre of the Episcopal Church diocese (www.episcopalchurchsc.org), one from the independent diocese (Jan Pringle?) (www.diosc.com), and one from Steve Skardon (www.scepiscopalians.com). All were fairly long and detailed. All seemed to convey a feeling of tedium and restlessness in the courtroom, at least from the judge. The day saw the continuation of the parade of prepared witnesses from the secessionist parishes, now eighteen in all,  from Trinity, Pinopolis; St. David's, Cheraw; St. Helena's, Beaufort; St. Bartholomew's, Hartsvile; Trinity, Myrtle Beach; St. Matthew's, Darlington; and St. James, James Island (Charleston). They all had the same "identical" rehearsed testimony to be repeated yet again. Behre reported that the majority of the witnesses actually said they never considered themselves part of the Episcopal Church. This was stunning as well as puzzling. It should leave one wondering just what church they thought they were in. Historically speaking, the idea that the local Episcopal Churches in South Carolina were never in the Episcopal Church is too absurd to take seriously. 

Apparently, after a while Judge Goodstein had had enough of this Ground Hog's Day. She asked the attorneys to agree on stipulations to "undisputed facts." The lawyers agreed to meet over the weekend and make agreements to expedite matters by court time on Monday. This should move things along at a faster pace next week, the last week set aside on the court docket for the trial. The independent diocese side expressed gratitude for this even though their side was in charge and had caused the situation in the first place.

The independent diocesan report on the day also gives a quote from Judge Goodstein that should give pause to the Church side. She was reported to have said "There's been too much focus on the justification for why they did what they did. As it stands now we're not a hierarchical state, we are for neutrality." If this quote is true and this is the judge's working viewpoint, her apparent inclination is to follow the independent diocese's arguments. It seems to me that the entire Church case rests on the principle of hierarchy, of national sovereignty over local parts and diocesan sovereignty over parishes. This thought also found emphasis in Skardon's report. He suggests the judge may have shown her hand in her rather off-handed statement, that she has already made up her mind.

It is interesting to note the myths listed as usual at the end of the independent diocese's news release. They have been altered. Gone was the offensive untruth that TEC had adopted a radical fringe theology. (Thank you Jan, or whoever was responsible for removing that remark.) There was no mention of theology. Their presentation in court is trying to avoid it. Instead we still get the usual spin that the diocese left TEC because of the way Lawrence was treated, 80% of the people approved, and the diocese has been "recognized" by Anglican provinces around the world.

Thus, what is the summary about the first week (4 days) of the trial? The proceedings were mostly predictable humdrum with little fireworks, apparently a bit tiresome. If the reports are true that the judge is following neutrality and not hierarchy, and she continues to do that, then it seems to me the logical outcome would be a decision favorable to the independent diocese. However, it is still too early to draw that conclusion. First, the plaintiffs (independent diocese) must conclude their presentation early next week, then the defendants (TEC and ECSC) must be given equal time to make their case and bring in their witnesses. That part should be very interesting.

Who is winning the public relations battle? We are getting more and longer reports on the trial from the Church side. It appears to me the independent diocesan side is not happy with the present flow of information. But then public relations is not really the issue here. The trial is non-jury. It will be decided by one person alone, Judge Goodstein. So, there is not much point in either side carrying on a propaganda campaign for the benefit of the court.  


Friday, July 11, 2014


By Ronald J. Caldwell, PhD, Professor of History, Emeritus

Yesterday, Thursday, July 10, was the third day of the trial. Once again we have three first-hand reports from courtroom observers: Steve Skardon (www.scepiscopalians.com), Holly Behre (www.episcopalchurchsc.org/july-2014-trial-in-state-court.html), and the independent diocese (www.diosc.com). These reports give us a good deal of information about the proceedings of the day. Behre's report is most useful for describing the framework of the plaintiffs' (independent diocese) courtroom strategy. Once again, the anti-Episcopal Church report was rather brief, suggesting that side was not very pleased with the day.

Day three continued the pattern from day two of witnesses testifying for the individual parishes that claimed to have left the Episcopal Church, this time Alonso Galvan for the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul; St. Luke's on Hilton Head; Holy Comforter in Sumter; Resurrection in Surfside; Pinckney Thompson of Redeemer in Orangeburg; and Allie Walker of St. John's in Florence.
The point of all the testimony was that all of these local churches had removed ties to the Episcopal Church on the assumption that it was perfectly legal to do so.

The blockbuster news of the day was that the Douglas Trust at St. John's of Florence, an estate trust worth $2.7 million, had been left to St. John's on the stipulation that St. John's remain an Episcopal Church in communion with the Church of England. St. John's congregation voted in December of 2012 to leave the Episcopal Church and to adhere to Mark Lawrence, who was no longer an Episcopal bishop. The non-Episcopalian majority continues to occupy St. John's property. That group is not in the Episcopal Church and not in communion with the Church of England. They may be in violation of the Douglas Trust. Therefore, one might imagine it is only a matter of time before the Episcopal Church diocese is in court claiming the Douglas Trust for the Episcopal Church in Florence. The Episcopal Church part of old St. John's withdrew to meet separately and adopted the name of St. Catherine's. It is the only church in Florence that is part of the Episcopal Church.

Obviously the parade of witnesses yesterday was planned and coached. They all said basically the same things on why they left the Episcopal Church, their talking points: that the Episcopal Church was against them, that Mark Lawrence was badly treated by the Episcopal Church, that they had to choose between the diocese and the Episcopal Church, and that the Episcopal Church would "seize" their property if they did not fight for it. In my view, all of this is historically incorrect.

The witnesses were repeating the points that the diocesan leaders had so successfully ingrained in the diocese for years before the schism. For these myths see the posting "The Myths of the Independent Diocese." For the assertion that Lawrence was mistreated, see the posting "The Second Day of the Trial."

All of the people who took the stand yesterday reflected the effectiveness of the old diocesan leaders' public relations campaign. Bishop Lawrence was a tireless, devoted advocate for his views. He traveled endlessly around the diocese carrying his message to clergy and laity everywhere he went for years before the schism. This campaign reached its high point in 2012. From January to July, Lawrence carried out a busy schedule of local church stops conducting numerous bishop's forums, vestry meetings, classes and the like. After the General Convention of July 2012 he accelerated the campaign of bonding with the people for the rest of the year. The energy and stamina of this one-time undefeated wrestler were truly astonishing. He was astoundingly effective and successful.  


Thursday, July 10, 2014


By Ronald J. Caldwell, PhD, Professor of History, Emeritus

Yesterday, Wednesday, July 9, was the second day of the trial. We have three eye-witness reports of the day's proceedings, one from Steve Skardon (www.scepiscopalians.com), one by Holly Behre for the Episcopal Church in South Carolina (www.episcopalchurchsc.org/july-2014-trial-in-state-court.html), and one presumably by Jan Pringle for the independent diocese (www.diosc.com). The first point that jumps out from these reports is that it must have been a better day for the defendants (Episcopal Church) than for the plaintiffs (independent diocese) because Pringle's report is a total of five terse sentences while Behre's is long and detailed and Skardon's is even longer and quite reflective. If it had been a good day for Lawrence, his side likely would have published a long, wordy account heavy on victorious spin.

Day two continued the plaintiff's presentation of witnesses, Lewis's continuation from day one, then Robert Kunes, for the board of trustees, then Craige Borrett and other spokespersons from local secessionist churches such as All Saints, Florence, Christ/St. Paul's, Yonges Island, Christ the King, Pawleys Island, and St. Andrew's, Mt. Pleasant. The witnesses talked mostly of the mechanics of church rules and procedures intending to show that the old diocese was an independent and sovereign entity not beholding to the Episcopal Church.

Skardon's thoughts on the day were most interesting. He pointed out that Runyan's obvious strategy was to make the case one of polity rather than theology. Polity would be matters of church government, primarily relating to property in this instance. This would allow the court to proceed under neutral principles. If the trial becomes one of theology, that is, religious beliefs, the court would have to defer to the Episcopal Church under the terms of the Serbian Orthodox ruling which said that civil courts must not seek to interpret internal institutional matters of religion. Runyan's side is doing everything to keep the trial away from matters of beliefs. Too, Skardon pointed out, the independent diocese's lawyers do not want to do anything to offend the sensibilities of the judge who is of a non-Christian religion. So far they must be doing well because Goodstein apparently sustains most of Runyan's objections. Since Lawrence's lawyers do not want to make this a trial about religion they must make it about institutional unfairness. Lawrence and the diocese must be made to be the innocent victims of wrongdoing by an outside institution.

Was the Episcopal Church unfair to Mark Lawrence? Let's look at the public historical record. These are points I offer:

1-The Presiding Bishop bent the rules to give extra time in 2007 for standing committees to get their consents in so that Lawrence could become a bishop in the Episcopal Church. He probably would not have become a bishop without her help.

2-Jefferts Schori visited Charleston in February of 2008 only to endure three hours of hostile harangues from Lawrence and other diocesan leaders in a closed (but video-recorded) meeting. She never returned their vitriol or even complained.

3-Lawrence usually attended the regularly scheduled meetings of the House of Bishops and of the Province IV bishops. In both groups he was invariably treated with the utmost of kindness and indulgence (even he said so). At the end, when he staged his "walk-out" at the 2012 General Convention, the bishops gave him their full attention and all the time he wanted. Several implored him to stay.

4-The Presiding Bishop met in person with Lawrence several times and talked with him on the phone on numerous occasions. She even called him several times after the schism. The records show that Lawrence voluntarily left the Episcopal Church and was deposed only after he very publicly abandoned the Church.

5-When Lawrence presided over the diocesan conventions in 2009 and 2010 that resolved to "distance" itself from the Church, the Presiding Bishop took no action against him. She tried to give him all the room he needed while still maintaining her constitutional responsibilities.

6-The Disciplinary Board for Bishops investigated Lawrence in 2011 on charges of abandonment and found insufficient evidence. The DBB tried to give Lawrence the benefit of the doubt in honor of his oft-repeated vow that he did not intend to leave TEC.

7-The Disciplinary Board investigated Lawrence a second time, but only after he had issued the quit claim deeds that the Board believed contradicted Episcopal Church law. This time, they voted abandonment.

8-The Presiding Bishop was required to place a "restriction" on Lawrence (Oct. 15, 2012). She tried to keep it confidential in order to work out a peaceful settlement in private. Lawrence refused the confidentiality, refused the restriction, and called her (Oct. 17) to announce he and the diocese had left the Episcopal Church as of Oct. 15. He cancelled the future meeting with her in spite of her repeated attempts to keep the talks going. She gave Lawrence seven weeks leeway. He made it very clear in word and deed during this time that he had left the Church. The Presiding Bishop accepted his renunciation of orders on Dec. 5, 2012. Reality is that Lawrence voluntarily left the Episcopal Church. He was not forced out.

The historical record, open to everyone, is very clear. The Episcopal Church was abundantly fair to Mark Lawrence.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014


By Ronald J. Caldwell, PhD, Professor of History, Emeritus

We now have three reports on the first day of the trial, one from Steve Skardon, one from the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, and one from the independent diocese.

The independent diocese's report (www.diosc.com) gives us information that begs a response. Of course, one will be coming in court next week from the defendants, but for now I would like to make a few comments on this report.

1-the trial is "to protect" the assets of the independent diocese. Lawrence knew that under Episcopal Church law, that he swore to uphold in 2008, all local properties were held in trust for the Episcopal Church and her diocese. The diocese recognized this for many years, until 2011. In fact, when Lawrence became bishop, the diocese was in court, along with TEC, trying to enforce the Dennis Canon in the All Saints Waccamaw case. That case was not settled until September of 2009. The independent diocese brought suit in court to try to convince the judge to rule that the local and diocesan properties of the old diocese belong to the independent diocese. TEC argues that Church law requires the properties to be held by the Church and her diocese.

2-Logan testified that the diocese is a self-governing body in which the Episcopal Church is not involved in election of officers or disposition of property.
In fact, the diocese acceded to the Constitution of the Episcopal Church until its purported "disassociation" on Oct. 15, 2012. Lawrence became a bishop only after he was approved by the majority of standing committees of the dioceses of the Episcopal Church and after he took an oath of conformity to the discipline of the Church. The Dennis Canon is the well-known Church law on property and the one the diocese promoted throughout the All Saints Waccamaw case, to September 2009. Dioceses of the Episcopal Church are not independent entities outside the scope of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.

3-Lewis said votes to "disassociate" came from 90 percent of clergy and delegates. Actually, records show that the decision to "disassociate" was made by 12 people, the standing committee, on October 2, 2012 if any action of any kind was taken against Lawrence. This vote was put into effect on October 17, when Lawrence informed the Presiding Bishop by phone that he could not keep confidentiality because of the standing committee's resolution that went into effect on the 15th. He made it retroactive to October 15, the moment Lawrence had been told by the Presiding Bishop that she had placed a "restriction" on his ministry. The schism happened on October 15 apparently unknown to anyone outside the ruling clique of the old diocese. The "disassociation" was done at that time. The act was later passed on to the clergy and laity. It was rubber stamped on Nov. 17 by a special convention which met to vote to amend the diocesan canons.

4-Lewis said the diocese existed in 1785 outside the Episcopal Church. In fact, a state convention in South Carolina in 1785 organized an association of remaining Anglican churches. It helped draw up the founding constitution of the Episcopal Church in 1789 and acceded to the constitution and canons of the Church. South Carolina did not become a diocese until 1795 when it received its first bishop. The diocese never thought of itself outside of the Episcopal Church until Lawrence and his allies led a "disassociation" in 2012.

5-the diocese of SC disassociated from TEC only after TEC tried to remove its bishop. In truth, Lawrence voluntarily left the Episcopal Church when he told the Presiding Bishop on the phone on October 17 about the standing committee's resolution that he claimed went into effect on the 15th. The resolution declared that the diocese would automatically remove itself from the Episcopal Church if any action were taken regarding Lawrence. He followed this up by word and deed for the next seven weeks after which the Presiding Bishop accepted his renunciation of orders and deposed him as a bishop in the Episcopal Church. The Disciplinary Board measures and follow-up related to the bishop only, not the diocese. 

6-the diocese of SC represents 80 percent of the 30,000 members of the pre-schism diocese.
Actually, the pre-schism diocese numbered around 29,000. 2,000 people left with St. Andrew's of Mt. Pleasant. Around 7,000 remained in the Episcopal Church. Also, forty per-cent of the pre-schism clergy remained with the Episcopal Church.

7-TEC "embraced...a radical fringe scriptural interpretation that makes Christ's teachings optional for salvation." Where's the proof of this outrageous accusation?

8-the independent diocese is "recognized" by Anglicans around the world. It is indeed "recognized" by some Anglican prelates in some Third World countries. It is absolutely not recognized by the Anglican Communion that recognizes only the Episcopal Church in the U.S.