THE FIRST DAY OF THE TRIAL
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.