Tuesday, February 24, 2015


(with update Feb. 24, 1:00 p.m.)
On Feb. 20, I posted a page about the diocesan and parochial statistics published by the Diocese of South Carolina (the Lawrence diocese) entitled "The Decline of the Diocese of South Carolina." The big news here was the surprising revelation that around the time of the schism nearly 5,000 members left the parishes and missions that adhered to Lawrence in the schism. Combined with the 5,000+ that remained with TEC, this comes to a total of around 10,000 people of the old diocese who refused to go along with the schism. If one adds the 2,600+ who had left DSC earlier with St. Andrew's of Mt. Pleasant, one sees that at least 12,500 communicants have left the Diocese of South Carolina since Mark Lawrence was installed as its bishop, Jan. 26, 2008. In its latest figures, DSC is reporting 17,999 communicants. This conclusively disproves the DSC leaders' claims that they have a solid 80% of the pre-schism diocese. They have a majority to be sure, but it is far from being the solid and overwhelming majority they have claimed all along. Their own data disprove their own myths.

In retrospect, the statistics I relayed in my post may have been confusing because I covered two time periods, one overlapping the other. One was the seven year period of 2007-2013. That spanned the whole period of Lawrence's tenure including the whole calendar year after the schism of Oct. 2012. The second time period I addressed was the last three years of the earlier seven year period, 2011-2013. 2011 was the last calendar year before the schism. 2013 was the first calendar year after the schism. By looking at these sets of data, we can see the immediate effects of the schism on church membership in the parishes and missions that went along with the "disaffiliation"from the Episcopal Church. This is the most important period of measurement.

For clarification, I will relay the numbers of communicants from the statistical tables for the years 2007, 2011, 2013. These figures are for the parishes and missions that adhered to Bp. Lawrence in the schism:

1---2007   2---2011   3---2013

Parishes and missions reporting losses from 2011 to 2013:

---Holy Cross, Sullivans Is.  (1,216---2.540---1,204)

---St. Michael's, Chas.  (1.481---1,847---1,196)

---Old St. Andrew's, W. Ashley  (630---962---529)

---St. Philip's, Chas.  (2,341---2,677---2,321)

---St. Helena's, Beaufort  (1,490---1,737---1,384)

---St. John's, Florence  (498---652---375)

---Trinity, Myrtle Beach  (635---595---383)

---Holy Comforter, Sumter  (676---525---399)

---Cathedral, Chas.  (329---305---189)

---St. James, James Is.  (575---612---500)

---Church of the Cross, Bluffton  (1,482---1702---1,600)

---Christ Church, Mt. Pleasant  (1,039---925---829)

---St. Paul's. Conway  (389---270---175)

---Trinity, Pinopolis  (185---184---95)

---Holy Cross, Stateburg  (138---177---93)

---Redeemer, Orangeburg  (314---265---208)

---Trinity, Edisto  (160---183---137)

---St. Bartholomew's, Hartsville  (183---169---135)

---All Saints, Florence  (219---144---119)

---Good Shepherd, W Ashley  (206---302---290)

---St. Paul's, Bennettsville  (74---61---52)

---St. Barnabas, Dillon  (46---47---39)

---St. Paul's, Orangeburg  (35---39---31)

---Holy Trinity, Grahamville  (154---98---93)

---St. David's, Cheraw  (122---113---110)

Between 2007 and 2013, 32 missions and parishes lost members while 9 gained in the whole period. Two of the 32 lost about half of their membership (Trinity, Pinopolis and St. Paul's of Conway). Several others lost nearly half their active members: the Cathedral, All Saints of Florence, and Holy Trinity of Grahamville.

Between 2011 and 2013, 25 missions and parishes lost members while 15 gained in the three year period.

13 parishes and missions lost members steadily 2007-2011-2013:  Cathedral, Christ Ch. of Mt. P, St. Paul's of Bennettsville, St. David's of Cheraw, All Saints of Florence, St. Bartholomew's of Hartsville, Advent of Marion, Holy Comforter of Sumter, St. Paul's of Conway, Trinity of Myrtle Beach, Redeemer of Orangeburg, Holy Trinity of Grahamville, and Trinity of Pinopolis.

2 parishes reported steady rises: St. Matthew's of Darlington and Prince George Winyah of Georgetown. 

Communicant totals for the DSC (parishes and missions that followed Bp. Lawrence):

2011:     21,863  (Reported number of 26,976, minus the 5,113 in the parishes and missions that remained with TEC)

2013:     17,999

Bottom line:  2/3 of the members of the old diocese remained in the churches that adhered to Bp. Lawrence.

The trend 2007-13 was downward for most DSC churches.


UPDATE Feb. 24 1:00 p.m.     The DSC is still in denial about the reality of its own statistics. Today Canon Lewis issued a news release claiming DSC has 80% of the members of the old diocese and that it is TEC that is in decline. Canon Lewis would do well to read the DSC's own statistical charts for the years 2011 and 2013. DSC's communicant membership dropped 35 % around the schism. This makes TEC's experience look positively rosy. Bishop Lawrence used to be fond of asserting that TEC was "a comatose patient on life support." Right now I think we can all see which is the patient in jeopardy. DSC is bleeding profusely. Let's get our facts straight. They are in plain sight in DSC's own statistical charts.