Tuesday, March 31, 2015


On today, March 31, 2015, the United States Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Richmond, overruled Judge C. Weston Houck's decision in the U.S. District Court in Charleston. It sent the case back to District Court for rehearing.

On January 28, 2015, the Fourth Circuit held a hearing on the Episcopal Church in South Carolina's appeal of Judge Houck's decision. Houck had dismissed the case under right of abstention since a parallel case was already being litigated in state court. (See post of Jan. 30, 2015: "January 28, 2015: A Day of Destiny.") The audio version of the hearing is available online. The justices made it clear in the hearing they did not agree with Houck's decision. (See also Chronology: August 23, 2013; Sept. 16, 2013; Jan. 14, 2014; Feb. 5, 2014)

Several points immediately jump to mind about this decision, all favoring the Episcopal Church side:

1-the Fourth acted expeditiously. They got their order out in two months after the hearing. This suggests an air of urgency to set the matter straight.
2-The judgment was unanimous. It was written by the chair of the three judge panel, Judge Diane Motz who has a brilliant and long record and who has been on the bench of the Fourth for more than twenty years. The other two judges completely agreed. To them the matter was clear-cut.

3-They rejected Judge Houck's decision about as strongly as they could. They found his reasoning totally unconvincing. They disagreed with his whole work and found nothing in its favor. 

4-The judges made it clear the Colorado River principle must be used in this case. The Brillhart/Wilton rule is not acceptable. The Colorado R. rule demands that the federal court exercise jurisdiction except for extremely narrow circumstances which must be justified as the exception to the rule.

5-The judges made it abundantly clear the District Court must either prove the "exceptional" circumstances to allow abstention or must hear the case. It cannot simply abstain because a parallel case was pending. 

These are the highlights of today's ruling:

"Because we conclude that Colorado River...which permits a federal court to abstain only in 'exceptional' circumstances, properly governs the abstention decision in this action seeking both declaratory and nondeclaratory relief, we vacate the stay [Houck's] order and remand [send back to District Court] for further proceedings [rehearing]." (p.3)

"We have identified six factors a court must consider in making this decision [to abstain]. The district court did not consider any of these factors..." (p. 7-8)

"Colorado River permits a court to abstain only in the rare circumstance in which the needs of judicial administration are so pressing as to supersede the court's otherwise 'virtually unflagging obligation' to exercise its jurisdiction..." (p.9)

"The Brillhart/Wilton standard therefore provides a poor fit for causes of action over which a federal court generally must exercise jurisdiction..." (p. 9)

"We now join several of our sister circuits in holding that Colorado River, not Brillhart/Wilton, must guide a court's decision to abstain from adjudicating mixed complaints [declaratory and nondeclaratory]..." (p. 9-10)

"Nothing in the record in this case indicates that Bishop vonRosenberg's request for injunctive relief is frivolous or designed to avoid application of the Brillhart/Wilton standard. Accordingly, the Colorado River standard governs the abstention question here." (p.11)

"Because the district court did not apply this abstention standard [Colorado R.], we must vacate its stay order and remand for a determination whether such 'exceptional' circumstances are present in this case." (p. 11-12)

What does today's decision mean for the future?

The U.S. District Court in Charleston will rehear the case. There may be another judge to replace Houck this time. The court will have to follow the Colorado River rule and will have to take vonRosenberg's charges very seriously. In this, the court has to come up with an extremely compelling reason not to adjudicate the case. It seems likely the court will proceed with a rehearing following the Colorado River principle and render a decision. If it does proceed, it will ultimately have to decide whether or not vonRosenberg is the legal bishop of the Episcopal diocese of South Carolina. That is the point of the original lawsuit (see Chronology, March 5 and 7, 2013) in which vonR charged that Mark Lawrence was fraudulently claiming to be the Episcopal bishop. In short, the court will decide whether vonR or Lawrence is the legal and legitimate bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. Given today's decision, odds are better than ever that vonR will win out in federal court.

Today's action by the federal court in Richmond is the best news in litigation the Episcopal Church side has had since the schism occurred two and a half years ago. It may well be that the momentum will shift to the federal court where the Church side will have the advantage. One has only to survey the Church litigation in the last decade to see that. Nevertheless, the state court track will continue as the case makes it way to the state supreme court. What interplay the two federal and state court tracks will have remains to be seen. All of this is new ground as SC is the only one of the five breakaway cases being litigated in local and federal courts at the same time.

Episcopalians should be encouraged by today's news.

See also the news release:  www.episcopalchurchsc.org/news-release-march-31-2015.html . This has a link to today's court order. 


Friday, March 27, 2015


On Mar. 24, lawyers of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina asked the South Carolina Supreme Court to take over the church case. On that day, they filed two court actions. One was a "Notice of Appeal" to the South Carolina Court of Appeals. This asked the appeals court to rule on Judge Goodstein's orders of February 3 and 23 that went completely against the Episcopal Church side. The second was a "Motion to Certify" with the South Carolina Supreme Court. This requested the transfer of the case from the state appeals court to the state supreme court. If the supreme court grants this request, the case will go directly to the highest court in the state for judgment. Since these were two formalities for hearing, the forms did not contain a brief, or explanation of the case. That will come later, probably as soon as a decision is made on where the case will be heard. We have a good idea of what the brief will say by reading the 182-page appeal of the Episcopal Church side to Judge Goodstein on Feb. 13. There is a good chance the state supreme court will respond favorably.

The SC Supreme Court has already been involved in the Episcopal Church issue twice. In September of 2009, it rendered the famous All Saints/Waccamaw ruling that found a local parish (All Saints, Pawleys Island) to be the owner of its property and not the diocese. The Diocese of South Carolina did not appeal this judgment to the US Supreme Court. The local Episcopal congregation from All Saints did file an appeal with the US Supreme Court, but the diocese refused to help and the congregation decided to make a settlement deal with the breakaway parish thus ending the appeal before the Supreme Court had a chance to respond. In fact, Bishop Lawrence and the Standing Committee are on record as having abandoned the Dennis Canon four months before the All Saints ruling when the Committee approved St. Andrew's of Mt. Pleasant's request to move several millions of dollars worth of property into a ironclad trust beyond the reach of the diocese and the Church. At that time, the diocese still officially acceded to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, and specifically to the Dennis Canon. That canon required all property to be held in trust for the Episcopal Church and its diocese. By ignoring the Dennis Canon, the diocesan leadership signaled to all parishes that they too could ignore the Episcopal Church rules.

The All Saints decision was controversial. It was for one parish only. That parish had a long, unique, rather complicated history of property records. The Episcopal Church side still holds that the decision was limited to the parish and cannot be applied to the whole diocese. The anti-Episcopal Church side still holds that the court overruled the Dennis Canon in the entire state. At any rate, the decision was the last word. It is the only case in the US where a local parish won a final judgment against the Episcopal Church diocese.

The SC Supreme Court has already been involved in the case of the two warring dioceses. On Feb. 6, 2014, the independent diocese's lawyers asked the state supreme court to assume the ECSC appeal to the state appeals court. ECSC appealed Goodstein's ruling allowing DSC to keep secret the correspondence between Lawrence and Runyan. On April 4, 2014, the state supreme court responded and ordered the appeals case moved to itself. On May 7, 2014, the SC Supreme Court issued a ruling denying the Episcopal Church appeal. Thus, there is certainly plenty of precedence for the SC Supreme Court now to take the case directly.

What will be appealed is Goodstein's ruling of Feb. 3, 2015. In my layman's opinion, this ruling is a gross violation of the neutral principles rule. That rule strictly forbids a court from interfering in the internal workings of a religious institution. A judgment must be rendered entirely on local property laws with the two sides being treated "neutrally." Yet Goodstein's order is replete with remarks on the internal relationship between the Episcopal Church and the diocese; and in every instance finding in favor of the diocese. In fact, the order reads as if it were a brief of the anti-Episcopal Church lawyers. Considering the various court rulings around the country in the five breakaway cases, Goodstein's is the most extreme in favor of the secessionist diocese. She made the stunning judgments that the Episcopal Church was a congregational institution and that dioceses were always independent and self-governing entities. These can be easily refuted even by a simple survey of Church history. They are non-historical views. At any rate, I see these as over-the-top violations of the First Amendment

There is a reason the First Amendment is the first in the US Constitution. That is because the founding fathers regarded religious freedom to be the greatest of all liberties. It still is. For that reason, there is a good chance the US Supreme Court will take a case of the Episcopal Church, that is, one that has been settled in a state supreme court. The justices may also want to clear up boundaries between the deference and the neutral rights principles. In the past the Court has rendered both judgments but lower courts have had widely different interpretations of how to apply those principles. There is a need for a clear-cut definition of these guidelines.

A wild card in South Carolina is the role of the federal courts. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals is likely to send the case back down to the District Court in Charleston. If the Fourth directs the application of the Colorado River rule, the Episcopal Church side will have the advantage in the rehearing. In this case, Bishop vonRosenberg is suing for recognition as the one and only legal and legitimate bishop of the Episcopal diocese. He is charging trademark infringement, in other words, that Mark Lawrence is fraudulently claiming to be the Episcopal bishop. 

At this point it is impossible to predict how the state supreme court will act if and when it takes the Church case. Originally, I assumed they would simply rubber-stamp Goodstein's decision, but the more times I reread that decision, the more I am struck and dismayed by its non-historical rationales and judgments on Church structure. From my perspective, Goodstein's highly partial ruling is far removed from the mainstream of judicial thought on Episcopal Church cases around the country. Moreover, I see it as a clear-cut violation of the First Amendment and specifically the neutral principles rule. Since these are fundamental to the law in the state of South Carolina, surely the justices will at least consider Goodstein's highly contentious ruling with great seriousness.      


Thursday, March 19, 2015


A few days have elapsed since I posted my reports on the Diocese of South Carolina's (the Lawrence diocese) convention of Mar. 13-14. Since then, DSC has posted on its website several articles about it including Lawrence's address, an explanation of it, the text of the resolutions, and a public relations blurb. Here are some additional thought I have about the convention:

1. The convention overall was meant to be a pep rally for the faithful. Every diocesan group imaginable gave glowing reports, and every one with a video. I got video burnout. All of the reports seemed to be "Ministry of..."It was all vertical religion without a hint of the Social Gospel. It was all about bringing souls to Christ and nothing about social justice.

2. As Steve Skardon has pointed out, Lawrence talked of taking the church outside of the diocese. In his presentation on "Affiliation," Lawrence said he had been talking with "frustrated laity" in the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina. We know that he has already been sending clergy into that area to serve dissident "Anglican" congregations. Lawrence also said one Episcopal Church in the "southeast" had contacted him asking to join his diocese. Evidently, Lawrence sees himself as one on a special mission. The Episcopal bishops in the southeast had better take notice.

3. In the convention and in the public relations initiative since, DSC has put on a cheery, optimistic face of dynamic growth that does not square with the figures. In his address, Lawrence stressed all sorts of development in the diocese. Statistics show that DSC has lost a third of its members and a third of its income since he became bishop in 2008. At the time of the schism, 10,000 communicants quit the diocese, about half staying with the TEC churches and half leaving the DSC churches. All but a few of the DSC local churches have taken a hit in membership and income since the schism. Some of the smaller congregations are on the ropes. DSC is down to 18,000 communicants from a high of 27,000 in 2008. No amount of forced perkiness, as "Breath of Fresh Air" can mask the grim reality of decline.

4. DSC remains a white male bastion. The handful of African American clergy and lay delegates were all but lost in the assembly that never addressed issues of minorities. There were also several women clergy. But, when the new clergy were announced, all were males. The fact is, Lawrence has not ordained a woman to the priesthood and has ordained only two women to the diaconate, and that was years ago. Moreover, no woman appeared at the podium to give a report from a major committee.

5. DSC has no accountability. The budget of 2015 was ratified by the convention without discussion. "Legal" expenses had only one line. The Legal Defense Fund gave no details. Its income and outflow remain mysteries. At one point, Lawrence asked everyone who had contributed to the Fund to stand. No one stood. What this meant is anyone's guess. DSC said it has spent $2,000,000 on legal expenses (without details). However, the published budgets of DSC show a total legal expenditure of $1,159,365 in the Lawrence years (2008-to 2015). That leaves a gap of over $800,000 unaccounted for in the budget. Where did the money come from? Where did it go? The members of DSC ought to start asking some questions before they keep pouring money into DSC fund. There is a glaring need for transparency in DSC's legal spending.

6. Lawrence has reversed his claim that the legal victories were God's will. After Judge Goodstein's decision in February, 2015, DSC issued a press release declaring the outcome to be the product of God's will. Lawrence issued a letter in which he invoked God's will three times. Indeed, before the trial as DSC tried to raise money, he called his courtroom opponents "the spiritual forces of evil." However, in his address to the convention, Lawrence declared "this current legal victory should not be seen as a divine vindication of our position in this struggle." Why the reversal? Perhaps it has to do with money. If one believes God will prevail anyway, then why give money?

7. The most curious change of tune, however, was on the issue of homosexuality. Since the schism, over two years now, Lawrence and the DSC have taken pains to deny the schism had anything to do with homosexuality. The last two conventions of DSC ignored the topic of homosexuality. Then, all of a sudden last Saturday, the delegates were handed five resolutions, three dealing with homosexuality.

     The resolutions are available on the DSC website. Notice that in her public relations release, Joy Hunter never used the terms homosexuality, marriage equality, or same-sex marriage. We are supposed to believe these only deal with "marriage." If DSC is still trying to disguise its homophobia, it won't work. Everyone can see what is happening here.

     DSC's return to homosexuality is a bit surprising given that Lawrence approved of Les Hill's appearance in the diocese last year. Hill was the openly homosexual Trinity School for Ministry teacher who maintained that homosexuality is inborn. This contradicted the conservative view that it is learned, not innate. Now we can see that Hill was only an aberration, not a change of direction for DSC.

     Why the sudden return to homosexuality after so long an absence? It possibly goes back to the close tie between DSC and the Anglican Communion Institute. ACI is a highly conservative "think tank" that churns out reams of articles invariably critical of the Episcopal Church. It is based in highly conservative Dallas, whose bishop, James Stanton, is a longtime staunch conservative and sometimes leader of the rightwing coalition in the Episcopal Church. ACI started in the wake of the Gene Robinson affair of 2003 on the initiative of a controversial priest named Don Armstrong. He was charged with embezzling several hundreds of thousands of dollars from his church. He pled no contest, and ACI cut him off. ACI was then incorporated in Dallas in 2008 by Christopher Seitz, president, Philip W. Turner III, vice president, and Ephraim Radner, senior fellow. All three are prominent conservative Episcopal theologians who have written extensively and relentlessly critically of the Episcopal Church. Apparently they aim to steer the Church to the right from within. Most of their papers are pseudo-academic pieces without citations, really only glorified anti-Episcopal Church propaganda. ACI was a devoted defender of Lawrence in the run up to the schism. In fact, Alan Runyan contributed to it on the question of the Title IV reforms. The ACI think tank is supported by outside contributions which remain a mystery.

     The tie between DSC and ACI is a strong and long one. Two members of the ACI board are from South Carolina, one being former bishop Salmon. Last Saturday, Lawrence made a point of giving thanks to ACI for all they had done for DSC. He did not elaborate. Since there is little accountability in DSC we may never know the money ties, if any, between the ACI donors and DSC. If there is an $800,000 gap in DSC spending, who filled this gap?

Lately, the ACI leaders have been on a public crusade against marriage equality. In November of 2014, Seitz and Radner created "The Marriage Pledge" in the online First Things (www.firstthings.com/marriage-pledge). Everyone was invited to take the pledge. It said clergy would not sign "government provided marriage certificates." Thus, if a couple wanted to marry in the church, they would have to have a separate civil ceremony. This is obviously meant to be a slap at the "government" for allowing same-sex marriage that is now legal in 37 states and in all probability will soon be stamped with approval by the U.S. Supreme Court. If the aim is to hurt the government, that is silly. The ones being hurt are the couple who must have two ceremonies. This is a foolish and immature stunt by supposedly intellectual leaders of ACI. Even though they opened the pledge to laypeople, only 430 people have signed up. Not one on the list is from South Carolina. Most are fundamentalists and Catholics. Obviously this misguided ploy has had very limited appeal.

The ACI's crusade against marriage equality is a bit late. The war is over. The country has moved on. Then why make such a bid deal of it at this time? There may well be a big deal coming up in the Episcopal Church, possible this summer. The main Presbyterian denomination has just ratified same-sex marriage, to start this summer. The General Convention of TEC meets this July. It is bound to take up the issue of same-sex marriage in some form. As of now, same-sex couples can only get a blessing in the Episcopal Church. Thus, it may be that the Marriage Pledge is really meant to put pressure on the Episcopal Church to back off. If so, it won't work.

Nevertheless, it is possible that ACI is the source of the three resolutions in DSC forbidding marriage equality. Actually, the resolutions were really pointless and unnecessary. Twenty-three years ago, in 1992, the DSC convention passed the same resolution: "Genital sexual expression is to be understood and taught as God's gift exclusively for men and women united in Holy Matrimony." Besides, the civic state cannot require a church to marry a couple. Marriage in the church is always up to the church. Anyway, it is unimaginable that any clergyperson in Lawrence's diocese would ever dare to preside over anything for homosexuals. Thus, the whole business of these three resolutions was frivolous. It may be that the resolutions were drawn up to please ACI which had been helpful to DSC, just how helpful we do not know. Too, they may well have been motivated by the need to keep people making contributions to the legal fund. What the resolutions really tell us is that the issue of homosexuality is still the glue that holds together this severed entity. It is rather sad that it has to keep beating a dying horse to keep itself together.


Two and a half years into the schism, we can see that DSC has achieved a certain level of success. It is still there. It fought a brilliant legal campaign and prevailed spectacularly in local court. It has a certain amount going for it. It has earned an appreciable amount of respect. Nevertheless, I see three large problems looming over it that must be addressed, and sooner rather than later:

A. IDENTITY. It calls itself "The Episcopal Diocese" and labels itself "Anglican." Neither is true. It is not part of the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Communion. It just does not make common sense to have an Episcopal church outside of the Episcopal Church or an Anglican church outside of the Anglican Communion. This is only confusion. Hence, the need for identity. Just what is the Diocese of South Carolina? On this, the leadership has been missing in action.

B. AFFILIATION. Now, Lawrence calls his group an "extraterritorial" diocese of the Anglican Communion. Nonsense. It must affiliate with a province of the AC in order to be in the AC. If it joins the Anglican Church in North America, it will still not be in the AC. ACNA is not a province of the AC. If it adheres to a legitimate overseas Anglican province, it is likely to have the same problems that previous attempts experienced (think Chuck Murphy). Yet, Lawrence was somewhat critical of Global South and ACNA in his talk last week. Obviously, he and his committee on affiliation are having a great deal of trouble coming to a decision. They have been working on this for a year. How long should it take?

C. ACCOUNTABILITY. Millions of dollars are flowing through DSC for legal costs without public accountability. Members of the diocese have a right to know where the money is coming from and where it is going. It is time for transparency.

DSC is an authoritarian regime where power is concentrated at the top, mainly in the hands of the bishop. Historically, authoritarian regimes work as long as they are two-way streets. People are willing to put all their trust in a leader as long as they think they are getting enough in return. I detected signs of discontent in last Saturday's convention. Numerous people spoke out in the meeting questioning the resolutions they were being expected only to approve blindly. When one person asked for the removal of one sentence, Bishop Lawrence was forced to reassert control over the convention which he did. All is not well in this authoritarian state. 

No one can know where all of this is going for DSC. Only time will tell that. But I do believe that DSC has some serious problems which will have to be reconciled if it is to remain a viable entity. Either those solutions come from the present authority or they will come from the people who actually make up this church.

Monday, March 16, 2015

2nd ed. update

2nd ed. update, Mar. 18: DSC has published the resolutions online at www.diosc.com/sys/images/documents/conventions/15_dio_conv_res_passed.pdf

Original post:     DSC has not yet published the resolutions from last Saturday's convention on its website. Therefore, I will provide the most controversial one here. In all, five resolutions were proposed and passed, but only one produced any significant discussion: Resolution R-4, "A Resolution to Adopt a Standing Resolution on Marriage."

God wonderfully creates each person as male or female. These two distinct, complementary genders together reflect the image and nature of God. (Gen. 1:26-27). Rejection of one's biological sex runs the grave risk of rejecting the image of God within that person [revised as: Rejection of one's biological sex opposes God's purpose in creation.]

The term "marriage" has only one meaning, the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture. (Gen. 2:18-25) God's good intention for us is that sexual intimacy is to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other. (1 Cor 6:18; 7:2-5; Heb 13:4.) For the blessing and protection of our families, particularly our children, God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman.

Because God has ordained marriage and defined it as the covenant relationship between a man, a woman, and Himself [revised: between a man and a woman.] The Diocese will only recognize and solemnize marriages between a biological man and a biological woman, that is between two persons whose birth gender identities were respectively male and female. Further, the clergy and staff of The Diocese shall only participate in weddings and solemnize marriages between one man and one woman. The facilities and property of The Diocese shall only host weddings between one man and one woman.

The point of the resolution was very clear: to defend "traditional" marriage and reject marriage equality. However, the resolution raised more questions than it answered due to its poor preparation and wording. At least eight people came to the microphone to raise thoughtful questions about the resolution. Perhaps the cleverest was one sharp woman who said under this, if a man and a woman each has a sex change operation they could still have a marriage in the diocese. This gave the presenters the deer-in-the-headlights look and no answer (I did not know that Alan Runyan could be rendered speechless). Another pointed out the obvious, this is a diocesan policy but weddings always take place on the parish level; each parish will have to make its own policy.

But, it was the third sentence of the first paragraph that raised the most difficulty. It is disconnected from the rest of the resolution and has no scriptural reference, both of which Marshall Huey pointed out as he made his motion for the removal of the sentence from the text of the resolution. As I said before, his motion for a vote produced the moment of high drama in the meeting as it was obviously a direct challenge to Bishop Lawrence who is well-known as a vociferous critic of transgendered rights. That was when the purple-robed bishop strode to the floor microphone and made an emotional appeal to the assembly all around him. He said, "This entire resolution is awkward" [an understatement]. He went on that he had walked out of the House of Bishops in 2012 for this very reason, [protest against rights for transgendered persons and blessing of same-sex unions]. Then, he read from the Bible and gave a scriptural reference to insert into the text. Lawrence said God made each person male or female "to protect us from confusion." The vote to remove the sentence then failed 155-31 [43 votes abstained; note that a total of 229 later voted on whether to adopt the resolution. If 31 voted against the sentence and 43 abstained, then 74 delegates failed to support Bishop Lawrence. That would be nearly a third of the convention not affirming the Bishop's request]. Someone immediately called for an end of the discussion and a vote. With the revised text, a vote was taken on the resolution that was adopted 216-13. 

As I said, I think the handling of this resolution was important for two reasons. First, the assembly actually started an open and honest discussion of a large and difficult issue. At least a half-dozen people raised problems with it and objections to it. This kind of free, open, fair deliberation is what DSC has needed for years. If this had occurred all along, there may well have been no schism. Problems could have been solved in a reasonable, rational way for compromise on contentious issues. The fact was, however, a limited group of fanatical ideologues in the old diocese cut off every one else's opinion leaving them nowhere to go. The ideologues monopolized all the apparati of the old diocese at least after the Robinson episode in 2003. The Episcopal Forum tried to make an open dialogue free to everyone, but the ruling clique only declared them the enemy and blocked them for any avenue of influence in the diocese. Critics had nowhere to go except to the national Church for help. That is what led to the two investigations of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops, the second one finding Lawrence should be charged with abandonment of communion. If the dissidents had had some way to make themselves heard and respected within the old diocese, that investigation might not have happened.

The second important point of that resolution was the sudden and unexpected challenge to Lawrence. Everyone in the room knew that Lawrence wanted that sentence to remain. He appeared to be thrown a bit off base forcing him to reassert his control over the house which he did. He carried the day but only after he had proven the point and only after 31 people had defied his expressed wish (and 43 others had abstained).

DSC is still hung up on the issue of homosexuality as it has been for many years now. It just cannot seem to get away from it however much the leaders may deny the obvious.

Meanwhile, and somewhat ironically, the Forum is sponsoring a seminar this Saturday at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, on Anson Street, in Charleston on the very issues that DSC has denounced and dismissed in dramatic fashion in every way possible. Bishop Lawrence used to be sneer at "indiscriminate inclusivity" [equal rights for gays]. Alright, the Episcopal diocese is now proud to stand for that very principle, indiscriminate inclusivity. The seminar next Saturday on homosexuality and the Church should be a rewarding and enlightening event. The approaches of the independent diocese and the Episcopal Church diocese on the issue of human sexuality speak volumes about their attitudes of Christianity, exclusivity versus inclusivity.

(Be sure to read Steve Skarson's remarks on the convention at www.scepiscopalians.com)        

Saturday, March 14, 2015


Mar. 14 ,7 p.m.:

The third annual meeting of the post-schism Diocese of South Carolina (the Lawrence diocese) is over. It was in Charleston on Mar. 13 and 14. Steve Skardon and I attended the "Affiliation" workshop on Friday afternoon conducted by Mark Lawrence and Kendall Harmon. We also attended the business session today that started at 9 a.m. (I left at 4 p.m. when only a few routines items were left.). Here is the first edition of my report on the convention. I will fill in more later when I have more time.

The three big issues facing this convention beforehand were: 1-money to pay legal costs, 2-affiliation, 3-what to do about the resolution from last year giving the rector control of the local property; it had been tabled at last year's convention. There was no resolution of any of these.

On money, there was only a report of the Legal Defense Fund which was pushing its new "1785" campaign to raise $300,000. The chair said they actually expect another 3-4 years of litigation and that this 300K was only for this year. Of course, that begs the question of how they are going to raise the money for the other years. There are already signs of donor fatigue in DSC. Nothing else was mentioned about legal costs or the previously published budget.

The issue of affiliation was the strangest topic in the convention. Bottom line---nothing was decided. No resolution was offered on affiliation. One may recall that last year's convention arranged to set up a special committee (appointed by Lawrence) to study affiliation and present a report this year. The committee's report was no report. For the moment, DSC will continue as is, in limbo. However, talks have been scheduled with leaders from the Anglican Church in North America. Also, a bishop from Chile is coming for a visit representing the Global South. Neither means anything. In his talk on Friday, Lawrence said there was no future in affiliation with Global South, and he showed an attitude critical of ACNA. It seemed to me he talked in circles and gave no clear picture at all as to where DSC should go. Steve Skardon and I speculated he was ready to declare DSC its own province, or perhaps a separate church, but this did not occur in Saturday's business session. There, the committee on discernment spokesman said the study would go on and they would possibly call a special convention in the fall to vote on affiliation, or perhaps wait until next year's convention. It sounded as if the whole issue was still entirely up in the air with no consensus in sight. What is going to happen with affiliation is anyone's guess.

On the third question, the tabled resolution from last year, there was no mention at all. It was as if it had never existed. A tabled resolution should have been reintroduced or withdrawn, but in fact nothing happened concerning the highly controversial resolution to give the rector control over the parish property. Apparently, this idea is dead. The diocesan leaders obviously had strong second thoughts about it, as they should have.

No, the big issue in this convention was none of the three above. It was homosexuality (are you surprised?). The proposed resolutions were kept secret until the last minute in the session, to my knowledge the first time this had ever occurred. When they were distributed, five were given. Three of the five dealt with the issue of homosexuality. If anyone out there still thinks this schism was not about homosexuality, well here you are. Read the resolutions. The other two resolutions were only minor formalities (one of bonding for treasurers, the other to change the canons to drop Sewanee).

The three resolutions were, one to direct the Standing Committee to draw up a policy on (traditional) marriage [to oppose marriage equality]. A second directed the diocesan "Task Force on Marriage" to draw up resources for parishes [opposed to marriage equality]. The third was to adopt a standing policy of the diocese on marriage [opposed to marriage equality]. All three defined marriage as only between one man and one woman. The first two resolutions sailed through with barely a ripple. The third, however, and much to my surprise, actually developed into the start of a thoughtful discussion of gender and marriage. Mr. McFarland (sp?) of St. David's in Cheraw said the harsh language in the resolution would needlessly "alienate" some people, and besides no one can know God's purpose. I was on the edge of my seat, but more was to come. Discussion arose about one particular sentence: "Rejection of one's biological sex opposes God's purpose in creation." This statement was disconnected from the rest of the text which was about marriage as between a man and a woman. Anyone who has been following Lawrence's talk about sexuality knows he is highly concerned about the subject of transgender. No aspect of homosexuality agitates him the way that one does. The sentence was obviously a reflection of Lawrence's thought.

To the microphone came the Rev. Marshall Huey, of Old St. Andrew's. He boldly declared the sentence should be deleted from the text and made a motion to call a vote to do that. The whole room went dead silent. Everyone knew what this meant. Lawrence's face turned somber. He silently picked up his Bible, quietly slipped out of his seat on the dais, and strode around the edge of the room to get in line for the microphone. All eyes turn to him. Silence fell. He opened the Bible and started reading a text to defend the sentence. Then he quietly asked the assembly to keep the sentence in the resolution and returned to his seat on the platform. The most dramatic moment fell upon the assembly. A vote was called to remove the sentence from the resolution. 31 people (17%) voted to remove it. 155 (83%) voted not to remove it. Lawrence had won the day,  but not solidly. To my knowledge this was the first vote ever in which a sizeable  minority went against his explicit request. It was a breath-taking moment. Still, there was no question that this was Lawrence's convention, this was Lawrence's diocese. But, the fact that he had to reassert himself to make the point was significant in itself. Bishop Lawrence had been challenged to his face by his own followers, to my knowledge, the first time ever, or at least the first time in public. 

As I said before the convention, my fondest wish was for someone to actually question the wisdom of one of the proposed resolutions. It was an unexpected thrill that it actually happened. As small and limited as it was, it was nevertheless a little crack in the solid block of the Lawrence diocese. Of course, I could be making too much of this. In the future it may mean nothing at all, but for this little brief moment, there was a  whiff of questioning of Lawrence's thought. Marshall Huey is my hero of the day. I thank him for restoring a tiny spark of hope in me for the future of DSC.

Why the return of the issue of homosexuality? After all, Lawrence and his supporters have said repeatedly since the schism that the "disaffiliation" had nothing to do with homosexuality. My guess, and this is only my speculation, is that it has to do with raising money for legal costs. Homosexuality worked before to stir up people to donate for court costs. It can work again. Besides, what other issue do they have to rile up people? They have to have something to keep the same people giving money for lawyers. Regardless, what this proves is that the schism was very much about the issue of homosexuality. It still is.  

A couple of other observations: one, I sensed a slight wistfulness of the loss of the tie to the Episcopal Church. The business session opened with Morning Prayer from the Episcopal Church Prayer Book. The Church was mentioned over and over throughout the meeting. Breaking up is hard to do, even in a love-hate relationship. The other observation I had was this group is still very much the ship lost at sea. It is floating aimlessly in nowhere, going nowhere. And, I felt a little longing among the faithful for some direction, some aim, some goal in sight. Instead, the leaders provided none of this, only mumbo-jumbo that amounted to nothing. It struck me as a bit sad. It is so much easier to tear down than to build up. And, after all, none of this had to be. This schism was entirely avoidable.

(Be sure to read Steve Skardon's remarks on the convention at www.scepiscopalians.com)     


Friday, March 13, 2015


The annual meeting of the Diocese of South Carolina (the independent diocese of Mark Lawrence) is today and tomorrow in Charleston. The featured event this afternoon is a "workshop" given by Lawrence and his ally Kendall Harmon on the topic of "affiliation." The independent diocese has been desperate ever since it left the Episcopal Church to have some form of legitimacy. Last year the convention passed a resolution recognizing some sort of tie to the "Global South," a self-made coalition of Anglican primates, mostly in Africa, united in opposition to rights for homosexuals. The tie was never described, explained, or otherwise justified. Lawrence himself said in a TV interview he did not clearly understand how it would work. One can only wait and see what Lawrence and Harmon have to say about DSC's next creative off-the-wall scheme of "affiliation." The problem is that since it left the Episcopal Church, DSC has also left the Anglican Communion. DSC has no official connection to the Anglican Communion, something the Archbishop of Canterbury has affirmed more than once recently.

As of this writing (Fri., Mar. 13, 7:30 am) DSC has not released the proposed resolutions that will have to be voted on tomorrow. This is the first time in memory the diocese has not published the proposed resolutions in advance of the convention. This can only leave one suspicious about the reasons for withholding the most important work of the assembly. Apparently, the proposed resolution will be sprung on the delegates only at the last minute. Wonder why?

Two controversial issues will arise in the resolutions, possibly the reasons for the secrecy. One is affiliation. The committee of affiliation will present its report and no doubt make a resolution to enact the recommendation in the report. The other is the fate of last year's resolution to give the local rector control over the parish property. It was tabled at last year's meeting. By the rules, it has to be brought up again this year in some fashion. Only when the proposed resolutions are released (presumably tomorrow) will we know what the ruling clique intends to do about these two controversial points.

I am going to today's workshops and tomorrow's business meeting as a "visitor." I will post a report here on the happenings on late Saturday the 14th. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


The third annual convention of the independent Diocese of South Carolina (by law aka the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina, otherwise the Lawrence diocese, the schismatic diocese, the secessionist diocese, the orthodox diocese [insert your own term here]), meets this Friday and Saturday in Charleston. The sessions inexplicably will not be in the 1100-seat cathedral but a stone's throw away in the 700-seat St. Matthew's Lutheran Church and around the corner in the commercial venue of the Charleston Music Hall on John Street.

What should we expect in this year's convention?

For a change, the convention is open to visitors. I have registered as a visitor, as has Steve Skardon. We will be there to attend Friday's "workshop" of Mark Lawrence and Kendall Harmon on "Affiliation" and Saturday's business session. We have been informed we cannot bring in recording devices, but that the whole thing will be videotaped and presumably put online. I will take copious notes, a skill I developed a long time ago. I will post a report of the convention on this blog as soon as I return to Florence on late Saturday.

As usual, the proposed resolutions have not been published, or at least have not been posted online. It is the habit of the diocesan leadership to make up the resolutions in advance and to divulge them only at the last minute and present them as a fait accompli for instant approval of the compliant assembly. It works every time. There is no discussion, let alone debate or dissention. Resolutions are routinely passed quickly either unanimously, or nearly so. The convention is never a deliberative body, only a rubber-stamp for the ruling clique which normally runs around 20 people. My fondest wish is for someone, anyone, to actually stand up and question the wisdom of a proposed resolution before it is railroaded through. Dare I wish for this year?

Without the unseen proposed resolutions, there are three major issues at hand: 1-money, 2-affiliation, and 3-the rector's control of the local property. On the first, we are likely to hear nothing at all. The budget gives only a general figure for legal expenses. The money being raised for lawyers is being handled by a separate account called the Legal Defense Fund. It is not in the budget and has no accountability. Its records are secret. Money is likely to remain the elephant in the room. (See the post, "Money Problems...". I'll be looking for the lapel-pin wearers.) 

On # 2, affiliation, we can expect to receive a proposed resolution from Lawrence's hand-picked committee on affiliation. You can rest assured it will follow Lawrence's wish. So far, he has been allergic to the Anglican Church in North America (Steve Wood's crowd in SC). If DSC fails to join ACNA, it will be the only one of the five secessionist dioceses to do so. This leaves it with a problem of where to go. The Global South "oversight" arrangement announced last year was nonsense. It was not even explained, let alone justified.

On #3, the rector's control of the parish property, Proposed Resolution C-3, "Authority of the Rector," was introduced in last year's convention and then mysteriously tabled before a vote. The resolution would give the rector (who now serves under the singlehanded control of the bishop) authority over the local property. We will have to wait and see whether this is reintroduced, kept tabled, or brought up in another form. It is rare for a proposed resolution to be tabled; and there was no public explanation of this last year. Giving the rector control of the local property is a very serious point because the whole schism was supposedly about local ownership of the property. Rector/bishop control over the local parish property will undercut a major rationale for the "disaffiliation" from the Episcopal Church.

On another note, tomorrow marks the one-and-a-half-year anniversary of this blog. In that time, it has received 42,300 "hits," with 4,300 in the last month alone. I am still amazed at the high level of interest in the topic of the schism in South Carolina (and flattered that so many people care to read what I have to say about it). It is the goal of this blog to present as much information on the schism as possible. If the readership is any indication, it has succeeded at its goal, I am pleased to say. I hope I have added to the knowledge on this subject so that people are better able to make up their own minds about their attitudes toward what has happened in the grand old diocese of South Carolina. 

My attitude is admittedly pro-Episcopal Church. I see the schism as a disaster that should never have happened. It was the wrong thing to do, and for the wrong reasons; and I firmly believe history will bear me out. Furthermore, I do not believe this counter-revolution in SC is sustainable in the long run.

Some people have asked why I do not allow comments on my blog. Good question. First, I do not have time to manage them. Given the tenor of many comments out there, I would have to screen the remarks. I do not have time to do that. Secondly, there are plenty of websites available for people to express their opinions. It may come as a surprise to some, but I do have a life outside the subject of the schism. I have a large botanical garden with hundreds of shrubs, trees, grasses, perennials, bulbs, vines, palms, ground covers etc. Gardening is the best therapy in the world. I am also an avid train fan and go on numerous long distance train trips for fun (My bumper sticker says: "I'd Rather Be on the Train"). I am intentionally away from the world and my blog sometimes for days at a time. I also have a family with which I happily spend a lot of time.

I am looking forward to continuing this website into the future as long as it is useful to the public. I cannot say keeping this blog has been a pleasure (there is too much pain in this schism), but it definitely has been rewarding, helpful to me, and gratifying. Thank you for sharing your time and interest with me.    


Friday, March 6, 2015


As I related in my recent posts, "What Caused the Schism in South Carolina?", the issue of homosexuality was the direct cause of the schism. It derived from broader underlying causal factors emanating from fundamentally different philosophies of religion. I called the two sides "vertical" and "horizontal." The vertical side tends to be individualistic preferring to focus on the one-to-one relationship rising upwards from human being to God. Vertical Christians also tend to be socially conservative. They see the world around them as the product of the Divine Will, to be accepted by human beings. In the last half-century, vertical Episcopalians and Anglicans have resisted as much as they could the reform movements being aided by the Episcopal Church and indeed being incorporated into the life of the Church. In the U.S., the Episcopal Church championed the rights of African-Americans, women and homosexuals. While most social conservatives grudgingly went along with equal treatment for blacks, they resisted and delayed the incorporation of women into the full life of the Church until they had lost the cause (although the dioceses of San Joaquin, Quincy, and Ft. Worth adamantly refused to ordain women). It was on the last issue, homosexuality, that they decided to pull away from the Church. Yet, it was only after a woman was elected Presiding Bishop that the majorities in five strongly conservative dioceses voted to leave the Episcopal Church.

Before the October 2012 schism in South Carolina, and for a short time afterwards, the DSC leadership were very much up front about their opposition to rights for homosexuals. One has only to glance over the "Chronology" post here to see that. Once the schism was made, however, the leaders no longer had any need of the issue and promptly dropped it, disowned it, and even denied it. They began to make the ludicrous claim, repeating it ever since, that their "disaffiliation" had nothing to do with homosexuality. Lawrence now calls it only a "distraction." That claim is patently ridiculous and is easily refuted by the overwhelming body of historical evidence in the public record leading up to the schism.

At this point, we can only speculate on the causes of the DSC's about-face on homosexuality. In American society as a whole, the issue of homosexuality is all but dead. Thirty-seven states now have legal marriage equality. Odds are that the U.S. Supreme Court will validate this in a big way by mid-year. The fight for equal rights of homosexuals is over. The social conservatives lost. The leaders of DSC may have won the battle by removing the majority from the Episcopal Church, but they have lost the war. Indeed, the whole western world has experienced a sea-change in social norms in accepting and affirming full liberty and equality for homosexual persons. It has been one of the fastest and most astonishing social reversals in all of human history. It was only a few decades ago that homosexuality was a taboo subject and doctors regarded it as a psychiatric disorder. And, only a few years ago, far right-wing funders were pouring money into Church groups fighting against rights for homosexuals (see Jim Naughton, "Follow the Money."). It may well be that these deep-pockets counter-revolutionaries have realized the futility of throwing good money after bad. It may be they have thrown in the towel on homosexuality. There are other social battles out there still raging. One of them is the rising and promising campaign to ban abortion.

The topic of a woman's right to choose an abortion is a far more complicated one than that of homosexuality. It involves many more contentious aspects such as causes of pregnancy, length of the pregnancy, parental knowledge, counseling and so forth. It is not a simple issue where liberals are for it and conservatives are against. There are very many areas of gradation and differentiation in the views of abortion. Yet, it remains an issue of women. 

Abortion itself has been around forever, but it was only after the Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade in 1974 that abortion became part of the larger social war going on. The birth control pill and the women's liberation movement of the 1960's had already put the women's rights movement in place. To the movement, Roe v. Wade was the icing on the cake because it allowed a woman to choose whether or not to carry out a pregnancy. For the first time, a woman was given legal control over her reproductive rights. The opposition, however, latched onto the abortion issue and defined it as a moral question, one of taking a life. They began a campaign to repeal Roe v. Wade, or at least undo it on the local level. They changed the dynamic of the equal rights movement for women by defining abortion as a moral rather as an individual rights issue. The women's movement has had a hard time counteracting the right-wing momentum against free choice. Yet, at base, abortion in the context of contemporary America is really about the freedom and equality of women. 

What social conservatives wanted down deep was to defend what they saw as a fixed and God-given society. They wanted women to remain only in their traditional roles as wife and mother. By latching on to the abortion issue they could remove at least some part of a woman's freedom to escape the bonds of the old roles. The strategies and tactics in their war against abortion have shown some success around the country as many local laws have been passed restricting abortion rights. Having failed on the homosexuality issue, they are sensing victory in the war against abortion. 

As social conservatives looked back, they could see they had lost the campaigns against race and sexuality, but they had not quite lost on the issue of women's equality. That was the one area they could still hold out hope for resistance, at least on the issue of a woman's right to control her own body. As soon as the DSC leaders had made the schism, they dropped homosexuality and turned to women's rights. Of course, on this they had to be much more subtle and quiet considering that fifty-one percent of the population is female, and so is a much higher percentage of church membership. They could hardly afford to alienate women.

The DSC fight against abortion started immediately after they left the Episcopal Church. The mention of abortion had been all but non-existent before the schism when they needed to keep the focus on homosexuality. They did not want to spoil the stew by adding too many ingredients to the pot. Once they made the break, however, they were free to go after whatever subject they wished. At the first DSC annual convention after the schism, the first resolution offered was a formality to finalize the separation. Then, the next resolution was on abortion. R-2 was offered to the assembly by a long list of sponsors representing a who's who of the ruling clique. It strongly condemned abortion without qualifications and established an anti-abortion chapter in the diocese. Naturally the delegates enthusiastically rubber-stamped it. This established in DSC a prominent anti-abortion campaign. For instance, the last issue of Jubilate Deo carried two major articles denouncing abortion in no uncertain terms.

The present-day campaign against abortion is really part of a broader reaction against the movement for women's equality. DSC has been traditionally unfriendly to women in roles of clerical and lay leadership. This was true long before Lawrence's time. However, the whole conservative wave swelled under Lawrence's leadership. After all, he had come from a diocese that had never ordained a woman. When Lawrence arrived in South Carolina, he found already in place a small group of women priests and deacons. He could not do anything about that. He would have to accept them, but he did not have to encourage or widen the role of women in the diocese any more than he wished. 

During Lawrence's tenure in South Carolina, which began on Jan. 26, 2008, he has ordained only two women, both as deacons. One was Martha Horn whose husband was a priest of the diocese. She had already been on course for ordination when Lawrence arrived. The other was Ann Boutcher, of St. Paul's in Conway. Neither has been elevated to the priesthood. To my knowledge, Bishop Lawrence has never ordained a woman to the priesthood, nor has he recommended a woman for seminary on track to be a priest. Even as late as 2012, in his address to the annual diocesan convention in March, Lawrence said: "The commitment to understand the ordination of women and now the blessing of same-sex unions, as fundamentally issues of justice---and not theology---has likewise been and will continue to be destructive of our common life as Episcopalians." Lawrence put women's ordination and the blessing of same-sex unions in the same breath. That speaks volumes.

The DSC clergy list shows 37 priests and deacons moving into the diocese in Lawrence's tenure, to December of 2013. Three of these were women, one priest and the two deacons, Horn and Boutcher. The present clergy list on the DSC website shows 142 priests and deacons. Of the resident clergy, 4 priests and 6 deacons are women (7% of the total). Nationwide, one-third of all TEC clergy are women. Of the 4 women priests in DSC, not one heads a medium or large parish. Moreover, no major governing council or committee of DSC has ever been headed by a woman, nor has any ever had a female majority. Also, very few major parishes have ever had a woman senior warden.

The ruling clique in DSC is all white male, always has been. No woman has ever been included in the inner circle of decision-makers. Women have served, and still do, on the Standing Committee and the Diocesan Council but they are always a minority (and of course always the secretary). In my research on the history of the schism, I found only one case in which a woman on the Standing Committee dared to even suggest a hint of questioning of male authority. On May 30, 2009, several months before the state supreme court handed down its All Saints/Waccamaw decision, St. Andrew's parish in Mt. Pleasant asked the Standing Committee for approval of a scheme to transfer millions of dollars worth of property into an iron-clad trust beyond the reach of the diocese and the Episcopal Church. This was in blatant violation of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, particularly the Dennis Canon. At the time DSC officially adhered to these. Committee member Lydia Evans made a motion to table the appeal awaiting legal explanations. The Committee voted down her motion. Suddenly, Bishop Lawrence offered a prayer of "discernment" after which the Committee promptly passed a motion to accept the appeal from St. Andrew's. So much for women's influence in DSC (and so much for the Dennis Canon).

It is abundantly clear that the leaders of DSC are against equal treatment for women in the diocese. In the parallel universe of social reactionaries, blacks would stay on the sidelines, women would stay at home, and gays would stay in the closet. In the real world, society has moved beyond all of this. America has incorporated into itself tremendous changes in the last half-century. Freedom, justice, and equality have been given, at least to a measure, to the long discriminated against social elements of blacks, women, and homosexuals. I say, thank God. It is long overdue. 

Bishop Lawrence, and many other conservatives, apparently believe that an absolute order of truth has been handed down unchanged throughout the centuries and we have to maintain that order. In fact, Christianity is an evolving religion. It was three hundred years before the basic doctrine of the Trinity appeared. It was a thousand years before priests had to be celibate. It was twelve hundred years before the doctrine of Transubstantiation was established. It was fifteen hundred years before the idea of justification by faith alone took hold. It is just not true that Christianity is an inflexible religion handed down unchanged through history. In fact, adaptability is part of the genius of Christianity. It has been a major part in making the success of Christianity.

The Diocese of South Carolina treats women as second-class communicants. Women actually make up more than half of the membership of the diocese. How long these women will tolerate this discrimination remains to be seen.                

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.