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 . 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 ( . 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.