THE SHIP IS STILL ADRIFT
By Ronald J. Caldwell, PhD, Professor of History, Emeritus
The independent diocesan website (www.diosc.com) has posted two letters, both dated August 21. The first is from the chair and the secretary of Global South. It announces "welcome" to the independent diocese for accepting Global South's offer of "pastoral oversight" from the Global South's "Primatial Oversight Council." One will recall that the independent diocesan convention last March unanimously approved a last minute resolution to "accept" the offer of Global South for primatial oversight. The resolution was railroaded through the convention to be rubber-stamped as "providential." The deal was concocted just days before the convention by Lawrence and Mouneer Anis, a close ally of Lawrence, primate of the Anglican province of Jerusalem, and chair of a self-created group of Anglican primates calling themselves "The Global South of the Anglican Communion." It is a coalition of mostly African and south Asian Anglican primates bonded by opposition to social changes coming from the First World, namely equality of rights for women and for homosexual persons. It is closely related to GAFCON which is a shadow government created in 2008 to split the Anglican Communion into "liberal"(Anglo-centric) and "orthodox" (South-centric) branches. A goal of GAFCON is to replace the Episcopal Church by the Anglican Church in North America as the official Anglican entity in the United States.
The second letter posted yesterday was from Bishop Lawrence to "receive with gratitude" the letter from Anis and Ernest.
The resolution passed last March was meaningless. It had absolutely no detail let alone definition of the meachanism of such a thing as "primatial oversight." The new letters are no more enlightening. They clarify nothing. Is the "oversight" from one primate or a group? The convention resolution said the independent diocese could remove itself from the deal at will. How was this "oversight"? What were the obligations of the independent diocese to the oversight primate(s)? What were the obligations of the oversight primate(s) to the diocese? Not one of these questions was addressed.
In reality this is not even a slightly veiled sham. It is nonsense. From the start of the schism, the leaders of the independent diocese told their faithful they are the true Episcopalians of the low country and they are members of the Anglican Communion. Neither was true. This oversight scheme is meant to fool communicants into believing they are part of the Anglican Communion. Global South and GAFCON are self-made groups that are not officially recognized by the Anglican Communion or the Archbishop of Canterbury. They have no authority in the Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Church is the only legitimate branch of the Anglican Communion in the United States. Period.
Meanwhile, a diocesan "discernment committee" is supposedly at work seeking a permanent link between the independent diocese and the Anglican Communion. First, this committee was hand-picked by Lawrence. It is inconceivable that they would not follow his wishes. Secondly, the group supported by GAFCON in the U.S. is the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). Lawrence has steadfastly refused to join this group for reasons not apparent. The independent diocese is the only one of the five breakaway diocesan groups not to join ACNA. Why not? Of course, ACNA already has a diocese of the Carolinas and it just happens to be headed by Steve Wood, of St. Andrew's in Mt. Pleasant, a rival of Lawrence in the race for bishop in 2006-07.
Alas, the independent diocese is still an anchorless ship adrift at sea in the middle of nowhere going nowhere. How long will the trusting passengers implicitly follow a captain and crew lost at sea?
See the thoughtful essay by Steve Skardon on all this at www.scepiscopalians.com .