Thursday, March 5, 2015


The Diocese of South Carolina (DSC, the Lawrence diocese) recently released its new 2015 budget to present to the annual convention next week. At the same moment, it put out a call for an additional $300,000 for lawyers (see "For a Lapel Pin..."). This is an opportune moment to review DSC's income and expenses in recent years as reported in the journals of the annual conventions of DSC.

Annual Budgets

Reported actual figures:

2007 (last year before Bp Lawrence)

2008 (first year of Bp Lawrence)




2012 (last lear of unified diocese)

2013 (first year after schism)


2015 (proposed)

---DSC budget has dropped by a third since Lawrence became bishop.

---DSC had almost steady decline before the schism.

---DSC has leveled off since the schism.

Legal Expenses

Actual legal expenses as reported in DSC annual budgets:

2007 (last year before Bp Lawrence)








2015 (proposed)

---Lawrence reported spending $720,158 on legal fees in the five years of his episcopacy before the schism (2008-2012).

---Lawrence reported spending $1,159,365 on legal costs from 2008 to 2014.

---DSC claims it has spent $2,000,000 on legal fees. Nearly half that amount is not reported in the DSC budgets.

---The 2010 legal costs are relatively large but without explanation. This was well before the legal battles with TEC. 2010 was the first year in which Alan Runyan represented

---The 2014 legal costs are unrealistically low. This was the year of the 3 week circuit court trial in July.

---The 2015 proposal is low. This will be another year in courts, state and federal.

---There is no detailed accounting in the budgets of how the "Legal" funds were spent.

---The "Legal Defense Fund" is not reported in the DSC budget. There is no accounting of money raised or spent.


The DSC proposed budget of 2015 declines slightly from $2,173,711 in 2014 to $2,140,723 in 2015. The 2015 budget can be found on the DSC website. Here are my observations on this budget:

1---"Horizontal" is holding steady as the microscopic allotment of $3,800 for social justice remains in place. However, $20,000 is slated for "Hispanic Ministries" without defining the meaning. The only previous Hispanic ministry, the mission on Johns Island, has been disbanded. (The $3,800 is the tiny shred that keeps me from losing all hope for DSC.)

2---Struggling small churches are ignored. St. Paul's of Bennettsville, a parish on the edge, is at $9,500. Holy Apostles in Barnwell was cut to nothing. St. Paul's of Orangeburg was zeroed out. No explanation.

3---The Department of College and Young Adults was also zeroed out in favor of a $67,000 full-time chaplain at the Citadel.

4---Bishop Lawrence gets a raise in his salary package from $205,266 in 2014 to $219,341 in 2015. One should recall that Lawrence also gets the million-dollar episcopal residence for one dollar a year until at least the year 2020. I estimate the rent value on that property would be $48,000/year. Adding the $219,341 salary and the $48,000 housing gives a full income package at $267,341. The bishop's assistant, called the Canon to the Ordinary, has a salary package of $120,338. Thus, about one-fifth of the annual budget goes as income to the bishop and his assistant. [One should also recall that Lawrence has a virtually iron-clad life-time employment contract with the Standing Committee, even if he leaves the office of bishop.]

Summary and Conclusions

The tenure of Mark Lawrence has been disastrous to the grand old Diocese of South Carolina. From 27,000 active members it has dropped to 18,000. It split into three parts: St. Andrew's to Anglican Church in North America, the Episcopal Church part, and the DSC part still under Lawrence. In the DSC part, nearly 5,000 communicants fled from the local churches around the time of the schism (see "The Decline...").

Financially DSC started going down hill as soon as Lawrence arrived in South Carolina. Income is now at two-thirds of where it stood on his arrival.

Reportedly, some $2,000,000 has already been spent on legal costs. This is the same as the annual budget. These expenditures are unaccounted for. About half of these expenditures are not even reported in the annual budget. DSC's Legal Defense Fund is not reported in the DSC annual budget. There is no accounting of where the money is coming from or where it is going. The new appeal for $300,000 will also go to the Legal Defense Fund without accountability.

The legal costs of 2010 are interesting. Just before the end of 2009, the Standing Committee hired Alan Runyan as its attorney. This was in spite of the fact that DSC had, and still has, a lawyer called a chancellor, Wade Logan. Runyan attended almost all of the Standing Committee meetings and became virtually the lead lawyer for the diocese by January of 2010. It was a very active year for him even though Lawrence had not even been investigated yet, let alone charged with anything.

One should recall that DSC started the lawsuits with its filing of Jan. 4, 2013. Too, DSC has refused mediation. Besides, DSC bound 35 parishes into the lawsuits so that each one has to pay lawyers of its own. Both diocese and parish are having to pay legal bills. If any of the 40+ lawyers are working pro bono, we do not know who they are. Apparently, DSC has done nothing to hold down legal costs.

The costs of Lawrence's tenure will only increase. Two major court battles loom this year. The circuit court judgment is being appealed to the SC Court of Appeals. Any day now we will receive the official notice of the appeal. The federal court case is likely to be returned to the district court in Charleston to be reheard, and judged following the TEC-favoring Colorado River standard. All signs show there is much more to come in terms of legal costs. By the time this is all over, the old diocese of South Carolina will be devastated and its people exhausted in more ways than one.

The DSC annual convention meets next week in Charleston. The delegates would be wise to start asking some hard questions about where the diocese is now and where it is going, where their money is now and where it is going. We have already seen where DSC has been. It is a disturbing picture that no amount of blame-casting on the Episcopal Church can fix.

The Diocese of South Carolina belongs to its members. The clergy are hired hands who work for the people. It is time for the good people of DSC to take ownership of their property while there is still some to claim.