Thursday, June 30, 2016

An Historical Reflection

Yesterday, both heirs of the old Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, the independent Diocese of South Carolina and the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, announced the death of resigned Bishop Edward Salmon simultaneously. Both claimed Bishop Salmon as their own. Both have scheduled memorial services in the respective cathedrals. This summarizes the legacy of Bishop Salmon, a man for both sides.

Bishop Salmon served as diocesan bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina from 1990 to 2008. I have described his episcopate extensively in my manuscript of a history of the schism in South Carolina. It is far too much to repeat here. I will try to summarize his legacy in some thoughts and give some appropriate excerpts from the text, minus the footnotes.

Salmon was one of four bishops figuring prominently in the manuscript, Temple, Allison, Salmon, and Lawrence. Of the four, I found Salmon to be the most complicated and most difficult to characterize yet in a strange way symptomatic of the modern history of the diocese.

Gray Temple (Bishop 1961-1982). Excerpts:

Bishop Temple succeeded well in leading the diocese through the minefield of racial integration, new prayer book, and women's equality in the 1960's and 70's. Difficult in themselves, these were made even harder by some of the largest and most influential parishes in the diocese that were also strongly conservative and resistant to change...Temple narrowly escaped a racially-inspired parochial revolt against the diocese and the national Church and only belatedly guided the diocese to restore its full contribution to the national Church. More than once Temple had to remind quarrelsome communicants that the diocese was part of the Episcopal Church, and the Church was governed by the General Convention. To the diocesan convention of 1967 he said: 'The General Convention is to the Dioceses what Congress is to the State legislature. Each Diocese governs its own affairs through its annual convention, but only under over-all policy and law set by the General Convention.'
When Bishop Temple retired in 1982 after twenty-one years in office, he could look back in satisfaction in many ways. He had succeeded in bringing the diocese well through four major crises in the national Church: civil rights, new prayer book, women's ordination, and homosexuality. Even at great difficulty, he had steadfastly kept the diocese loyal to the Episcopal Church. In addition, he had accomplished an impressive list of internal works. And, while managing all these, he guided the diocese to remarkable growth. When he arrived in 1961, the diocese had 20,133 baptized members and 13,995 communicants with a budget of $1,265,511. When he retired, in 1982, the diocese had 25,096 baptized members and 19,188 communicants with a budget of $2,400,064. Thus, in Temple's tenure, the diocese grew 17% in membership, 29% in communicants, and nearly 100% in budget. A case can be made that Gray Temple was the greatest bishop in the history of the Diocese of South Carolina.

Temple was succeeded by Bishop Christopher FitzSimons Allison (1982-1990). Two bishops could hardly have been more different.

Bishop Allison, on the other hand, was an ideologist, an ardent Evangelical who had already defined himself as a distinctly conservative academic theologian. His main concern as bishop seemed to be to promote his concept of religious and moral purity in the Episcopal Church. As bishop, he could use the diocese as a platform to do that in the wider church. By the time of his episcopacy, race, women, and prayer book were dying issues. The only one left unresolved in the Episcopal Church was homosexuality. Thus, Evangelicals as Allison, with their Anglo-Catholic allies, made the issue of homosexuality their last stand for "orthodoxy" as they called it. They poured all their energy into this last ditch effort to preserve whatever they believed remained of moral purity in the Episcopal Church. In his zeal, Bishop Allison guided the Diocese of South Carolina on a decidedly right-wing turn, defining the diocese as a bulwark against the encroachment of what conservatives saw as evil homosexuality. He brought in all the clergy he could from Trinity seminary leaving behind him an indelible and permanent ideologically conservative phalanx in the diocese. Allison won enough victories to feel he had accomplished much in his goal, even if the internal state of the diocese declined and weakened. Overall, he left the diocese with one great legacy: ideological purity takes precedence over institutional loyalty. He firmly established this as the ongoing underlying principle to guide the Diocese of South Carolina after him; and it would be the one the would propel the diocese all the way to schism twenty-two years later.
For the first time since the Civil War, the Diocese of South Carolina sustained a significant decline in membership and income. Baptized membership in the Diocese fell three percent in Allison's tenure, from 25,096 to 24,221. Communicant numbers declined four percent, 19,188 to 18,418. Income fell a drastic twenty-two percent, from $2,400,064 to $1,865,338.

When Salmon became bishop in 1990, he inherited a diocese that had been formed over a long period of history, brought to flower under Temple in the 1960's and 70's, than narrowly redefined rightward under Allison in the 1980's. The underlying tension he would have to struggle with was between loyalty to and hostility to the Episcopal Church. This presented the tightrope that Salmon had to walk for eighteen years. Salmon was an innately conservative and practical man who essentially agreed with the moral opposition to some of the reforms of the Episcopal Church, particularly on homosexuality. He was not an ideologist. He was also a resolute Churchman who considered schism anathema. Opposition versus loyalty was his dilemma. It remained so from 1990 to the end of his life. In the long run, loyalty won out. He died a resolute Episcopalian.

By Salmon's time, the conservative clergy formed the dominant force in the diocese. This power would actually grow and strengthen during his episcopacy. On the far-right were the anti-Episcopal firebrands led by the Rev. Chuck Murphy, rector of All Saints, Pawleys Island. Salmon's relationship with Murphy was, well, tumultuous to say the least. Murphy led the formation of First Promise, in 1997, that was strongly suggestive of schism. Then, in 2000, resigned Bp Allison and others ordained Murphy a bishop, much to the chagrin of Salmon, and many others. Murphy also colluded with the Anglican primate of Rwanda in 2000 to set up a clearly schismatic group called the Anglican Mission in America, based at All Saints. Salmon was not amused.

With this began Salmon's nine year struggle to enforce the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, namely the Dennis Canon which held that all parish property was held in trust for the diocese and the national Church. All Saints went to court, eventually for the property and for its independence from the diocese. This went up the chain of state courts to the state supreme court. In 2009, that court ruled entirely on All Saints' side recognizing their independence and ownership of the property. His enforcement of the Dennis Canon reflected Salmon's loyalty to the national Church. An essential difference between Salmon and his successor, Lawrence, was that the latter ignored the Dennis Canon in 2009 and eventually gave all the parishes quit claims that relinquished any right the diocese had to the local properties. This blatant violation of the Church's Dennis Canon led to the formal charge of Lawrence's abandonment of the Church as determined by the Disciplinary Board for Bishops in 2012.

With a strong force pulling him to the right, Salmon tried hard to please the dominant conservative clergy coalition in his diocese while still holding out for loyalty to the Episcopal Church. He went so far as to go to the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2003 to seek a path toward alternative primatial oversight. He was a founding member of the Anglican Communion Network, an alliance of ultra-conservative dioceses looking for alternative oversight. The core of the ACN later declared independence from the Episcopal Church, but did so without any support, or recognition, from Salmon.

Salmon was vexed by the internal struggles in his diocese, so much so, that he set up a committee of reconciliation under Dow Sanderson. It met off and on for a couple of years until it was clear the conservatives were not interested in reconciliation with the Episcopal Church.

In spite of all the dissention, even turmoil, Salmon guided the diocese in remarkable growth and development:

In January of 2008, at long last, Bishop Salmon could make plans to hand over the leadership of the diocese to his successor after almost eighteen years as bishop. In assessing his tenure from 1990 to 2008, one can see remarkable growth in the diocese: baptized membership up 30% from 24,221 to 31,559; communicant numbers up 50% from 18,418 to 27,670; and budget income up 60% from $1,856,338 to $2,995,289. And, this was in spite of the fact that All Saints of Pawleys Island, one of the largest parishes in the diocese, had left the Episcopal Church in Salmon's term.

A major incident that was difficult to reconcile with Salmon's loyalty to the Episcopal Church was his handling of the choice of his successor. In 2004, he set up a selection system that virtually guaranteed that his heir would be one openly hostile to the Episcopal Church. The selection committee was unanimously and highly conservative (no member from Episcopal Forum or any pro-TEC church). There is evidence that they deliberately chose a candidate they knew would lead the diocese out of the Episcopal Church. Indeed, in time, the last three finalists selected by the committee all left the Church. If Salmon walked a tightrope for eighteen years, he finished by tilting far to the right side.

Salmon's dilemma of balancing conservative criticism with Church loyalty continued on after his retirement in 2008. On the side of criticism, he went so far as to file amicus briefs in court in support of the anti-Episcopal Church sides in Quincy and Fort Worth. He was the only bishop to do this in both cases. This led to a "Conciliation Meeting" in 2013 in which Salmon signed an "Accord" in which he expressed "regret" for his action in court and promising not to repeat it. On the other hand, he was the champion of the Episcopal Church when he was Dean-President of Nashotah House. At his invitation, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori preached a sermon at the House on May 1, 2014. Ultra-conservatives exploded in rage against Salmon, many demanding his resignation. He stood his ground, as he said, for reconciliation. This was his last great act.

As far as the schism of 2012 in South Carolina went, I found no evidence that Salmon ever even hinted at support for the breakaway. Nor did I find any effort on his part to minister to the secessionists after the schism, as retired bishop suffragan William Skilton did.

As his last significant act, Salmon attended the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 2015. To be sure, he spoke out against the reform for same-sex marriage, but true to himself he never entertained the thought of leaving the Church of his life. 

In the end, Salmon died balancing his conservative principles with his love of the Episcopal Church. He, of course, was not alone in this dilemma; and he was, and is, a model for many others trying to struggle with tidal changes sweeping over them. This is his legacy.   

Sunday, June 26, 2016


Readers, please indulge me in a moment of unabashed parental pride. Here is the most beautiful bride in the world, my daughter, and my new son-in-law.

Miss Elizabeth Anne Caldwell and the Rev. Mr. Philip Grantham Emanuel wed on June 25, 2016, in Holy Cross/Faith Memorial Episcopal Church, at Pawleys Island, South Carolina. The service was conducted by the Rev. Alex Barron.

Elizabeth is a reference librarian at the Florence SC public library and Phil is a supply priest with the Episcopal Church in South Carolina serving several missions and worshipping communities in the north of the diocese.

At the family dinner following the wedding I offered the following toast that I will now share with you:

As some of you know, I have a blog about the Episcopal Church schism in South Carolina and am writing a history of the schism which is mercifully nearly finished. The state supreme court decision will make a closure. The schism has been a terrible thing. It has left so much hurt and division. It is a dark cloud hanging over the church history of South Carolina. But every dark cloud has a silver lining. Our silver lining is that the schism brought together Elizabeth and Phil. Without the schism they probably would have never met. They met when Phil was serving as a supply priest at St. Catherine's of Florence. So here's to silver linings. Here's to Phil and Elizabeth.

Elizabeth used to be a communicant of St. John's of Florence. I happened to be visiting Elizabeth when Bishop Lawrence appeared at St. John's for a "bishop's forum" on October 28, 2012. Lawrence had been suspended from all ministerial rights 13 days earlier but had disregarded the Church authority, (that he had vowed to obey at his consecration). He proclaimed to an adoring crowd, "I am no longer an Episcopalian." They later gave him a standing ovation. We knew then St. John's was no longer Episcopalian either. After the service, we stood by the Episcopal Church flag in St. John's and promised we would return when the Church returned. Shortly thereafter St. John's congregation voted to abandon the Episcopal Church. Elizabeth then joined a dozen or so other resolute Episcopalian refugees from St. John's to start a house church that became a worshipping community that became a mission of the Episcopal Church diocese. St. Catherine's of Florence is now a large and vibrant community devoted to the Christianity of indiscriminate inclusivity. The wonderful people of St. Catherine's and their priest, the Rev. Jeff Richardson, are all my heroes and I would trust my life to any one of them.

I am sure my readers, friend and foe, will want to join with me in expressing very best wishes to my daughter Elizabeth, and her husband Phil.

Thursday, June 23, 2016


One has to give Foley Beach a little credit here. He is trying valiantly to spin the best out of a disastrous year for his organization called the Anglican Church in North America. This is, of course, an impossible task, but we can still admire his creative efforts.

The Anglican Church in North America was set up in 2009 as an alliance of homophobic Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic bishops, who had left the Episcopal Church over equal rights for women and homosexuals, and equatorial African bishops absolutely opposed to rights for homosexual persons. Their goal was to have the reactionary ACNA replace the progressive Episcopal Church as the province of the Anglican Communion in the United States.

The ACNA was backed by GAFCON (Global Anglican Futures Conference) and Global South, self-made alliances of conservative/fundamentalist Anglicans in Third World countries. Their goal was to split the Anglican Communion and remove the majority of communicants, which GAFCON/GS represented into a rigidly socially and culturally conservative new Communion. Without a hint of irony, the rebels called themselves the "orthodox" and the establishment the "revisionists." This would be laughable if it were not so serious. GAFCON and GS have never had any official recognition by the Anglican Communion.

The Anglican Communion is a loose confederation of 38 independent churches called provinces. They are tied together by the "Four Instruments of Communion": the Archbishop of Canterbury, the meetings of the 38 primates, the decennial Lambeth conference, and the Anglican Consultative Council (the only chartered assembly of the AC). GAFCON and GS have no place in this arrangement. They have no right to set the rules of the AC as they have no authority to declare anyone "in" or "out" of the AC.

Both Mark Lawrence and Foley Beach have at least implied that the ACNA is a province in the Anglican Communion. When Lawrence addressed the assembled parish of Old St. Andrew's on Feb. 10, 2013, he told them: "There is already the Anglican Church in North America, which is a province that is recognized by 22 provinces of the Anglican Communion." He used the words "province" and "Provincial" 13 times and "Anglican" and "Anglicanism" 15 times in his talk. It was no wonder that after the schism of 2012, many followers of Lawrence continued to believe they were in the Anglican Communion and would soon join a province of the AC. Neither of these was true. No doubt, the consensus of opinion in the independent Diocese of South Carolina now is that by joining ACNA they will be joining a province of the Anglican Communion. Absolutely untrue.

Beach's fantasy goes on. Yesterday he told the assembled ACNA leaders at St. Andrew's in Mt. Pleasant; "The Anglican Church in North America is in Full Communion [with] the vast majority of Anglicans around the world." Read his address here . While his statement is technically true, its implication that it is a province in the AC is not true. In his speech yesterday, Beach repeated the words "province" and "provincial" 18 times. (BTW, in another part, Beach backed off his earlier claims about participating fully in the primates' gathering last January in Canterbury: "I was invited, and with the rest of GAFCON and Global South Primates, attended the Canterbury gathering in good faith." Absent was the claim that he did more than just attend.)

In fact, this has been a disastrous year for the Anglican Church in North America. At the primates' gathering in January, the GAFCON/Global South primates (22 of the 38 provinces) could not form a common front to promote ACNA. The primates failed to muster a majority to expel the Episcopal Church, not even a majority to kick TEC out of AC for just 3 years. All they could come up with was a slap on the wrist for TEC called "consequences" which amounted to almost nothing and could not be enforced anyway since the Four Instruments are co-equal branches. Even so, GAFCON/GS abandoned ACNA on the spot as Beach watched on, no doubt in dismay. The primates agreed that if ACNA wanted to join AC, it would have to apply to the Anglican Consultative Council. What is more, the primates added a statement discouraging ACC of ever considering such an application. That was where GAFCON/GS abandoned the ACNA. That was the moment when the 2009 stratagem of getting ACNA to replace TEC in the Anglican Communion died. Why the 2009 alliance collapsed so suddenly and unexpectedly in January of 2016 remains something of a mystery, but apparently the majority of GAFCON/GS primates no longer saw enough to be gained by backing ACNA against TEC.

When the Anglican Consultative Council met in Lusaka in April of this year, only 3 of the provinces boycotted the meeting in protest of TEC's inclusion. The GAFCON/GS provinces attended in mass. They did not raise the issue of admitting ACNA to the AC. It was dead. Their abandonment of ACNA in the Anglican Communion was complete. In fact, the ACC would not even validate the primates' limp "consequences" imposed on TEC. The primates are planning to move ahead with the old Anglican Communion as it prepares for the next Lambeth Conference.

ACNA is not now, never has been, and never will be a province of the Anglican Communion. Lawrence and Beach can use the words Anglican and Province all they wish. It does not matter. ACNA certainly has a right to exist and live its life as it desires, but it does not have the right to claim to be a province of the Anglican Communion. When the majority of the old Diocese of South Carolina voted to leave the Episcopal Church, they also left the Anglican Communion. They are now wandering lost in the wilderness. It remains to be seen whether this excursion in the desert will last forty years before the exhausted travelers return home to the Church and Communion where they belong.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


Four days ago, the world solemnly remembered the worst racially motivated massacre in South Carolina since the Civil War. From the independent Diocese of South Carolina came silence. From its bishop came silence.

Nine days ago, the world reeled in horror at the news of the worst mass murder by guns in American history. From the independence Diocese of South Carolina came silence. From its bishop came silence.

On the other hand, the Episcopal Church and its dioceses and bishops spoke out loudly and firmly to condemn the killings. The first case was apparently motivated by racism, the second by homophobia. The bishop of Central Florida, Greg Brewer has been particularly conspicuous in condemning the murders in Orlando and in denouncing homophobia. St. Luke's Episcopal cathedral in downtown Orlando (I was once a communicant there, many, many years ago) has become a center of mourning for the victims. Brewer's predecessor was John Howe who was Bishop Lawrence's strongest ally in the southeastern United States. In the end, however, Howe and his successor knew that their homes were in the Episcopal Church. Both abandoned Lawrence after he abandoned them.

In the run-up to the schism of 2012, three social issues shook the Episcopal Church: civil rights for African Americans, equal rights for women, and liberty and equality for homosexual persons. After the schism, the Episcopal Church in South Carolina has continued to struggle energetically for all of these. The schismatic diocese has neglected all of these. On racism, after the Emanuel massacre of June 17, 2015, Bishop Lawrence called for prayers. That was all. There was no diocesan program to address racism in what was arguably the most racist state in the United States. Likewise, there has been no diocesan effort to advance the status of females in diocesan life. As for homosexuality, not only did the diocese completely ignore the Orlando massacre in a gay nightclub, it has worked to ensure that non-celibate homosexuals have no rights let alone equality in its realm. The Diocese of South Carolina has established a rigidly vertical religion that cares little or nothing about righting the wrongs in the horizontal world all around it.

Before the schism, Lawrence and the other diocesan leaders preached that the Episcopal Church was declining because of its turning away from "orthodox" religion. The actual figures from the DSC itself show a precipitous decline of the diocese since the schism. The 45 parishes and missions of the DSC reported 21,782 communicants in 2012, 17,611 in 2013, and 16,152 in 2014. In two years, DSC lost 26% of its membership. In personal money contributions, more than half of these parishes and missions saw declines. If "orthodox" religion is supposed to grow, there is something wrong in South Carolina. In terms of membership and income, the DSC is obviously in relentless decline.

The misfortunes of the DSC aside, Mark Lawrence has certainly done well materially. As a young man, this son of a postal worker and store clerk who worked his way through college probably could not have imagined his mid-life good fortune in South Carolina. On March 17, 2010, the DSC Trustees secretly passed a resolution to give him ($1/yr) the million-dollar diocesan-owned bishop's residence until the year 2020. Even better for him, the standing committee passed another secret resolution, on Feb. 1, 2011, to give Lawrence virtual lifetime employment at $200,000/yr, even if he were removed as bishop (he would remain as "chief executive officer" even if someone else were bishop). These two acts of the standing committee were publicly revealed in the documents uncovered in the trial of July 2014. At present, Lawrence's compensation package from DSC totals around a quarter of a million dollars a year.

Also revealed was his position on the Board of Trustees of the Corporation of the Trustees. There were two corporations, one of the diocese and one of the Trustees. On March 17, 2010, the By-Laws of the Trustees were change to make the Bishop of DSC the president of the corporation. On January 4, 2013, the by-laws were changed again to make "Mark J. Lawrence," and not the bishop, the president of the corporation. This apparently made him president of the corporation of the Trustees of the diocese for life.

It is fair for the 15,000 or so members of the independent Diocese of South Carolina to ask if they are getting their money's worth. What they are getting is a church that is more and more disconnected from the real world around them and apparently indifferent to the wrongs done to others.

Lawrence and his allies made a major point before the schism of claiming to follow the Scriptures and denouncing TEC for not doing so. In fact, Lawrence told a parish assembly at Old St. Andrew's on Feb. 10, 2013, that the traditional classical Anglican model of the three-legged stool of Scripture, Reason, and Tradition was really a one-legged stool of Scripture because the other two derived from Scripture. This created a completely vertical religion of faith between one person and one God.

There is a passage from Scripture that everyone in the Scripture-revering DSC should recall: James 2:14-17:

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,' but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (NKJV)

Faith without works is dead.

There was, there is, a deadly silence from the independent Diocese of South Carolina.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016


The aftermath of the Orlando Massacre of June 12 tells us a lot about the schism in South Carolina. How so?

In the past half-century, the Episcopal Church was on the cutting edge in America for civil rights for racial minorities, for equality of women, and for full rights for homosexual persons. The old Diocese of South Carolina had to respond to this. On the first issue, civil rights, Bishop Temple finally succeeded in establishing equality for blacks in the diocese, a century after the Civil War. On the second, Bishops Allison and Salmon slowly and unenthusiastically allowed a few women to be ordained. Bp Lawrence, who came from a diocese that had never ordained a woman to the priesthood, ordained 2 women to the diaconate before the schism. Before the schism women were never given a majority on any important diocesan body, never placed at the head of any body, and invariably made the secretaries of whatever groups they were in. The few women clergy allowed in, were never allowed to serve as rectors of any large or medium sized churches. On the third issue, homosexuality, well, we all know that story. When the  2012 General Convention approved of a liturgy for the blessing of same sex unions and of transgendered clergy rights, Bp Lawrence stalked out of the House of Bishops, went home and, vloilĂ , the DSC broke away from TEC on October 15, 2012.

It should have come as a surprise to no one then that at the schism, the majority of blacks, women clergy, and homosexuals of the old diocese remained with the Episcopal Church although Bp Lawrence seemed puzzled by this in his speech to the secessionist convention of Nov. 17, 2012.

So, how have the three issues impacted on the two dioceses since the schism of 2012? On race, in the Episcopal Church diocese (ECSC) blacks have served as the heads of important diocesan bodies. Bp vonRosenberg was planning to develop a diocesan-wide anti-racism program based on the DeWolf family experience when the Emanuel Massacre of June 17, 2015, occurred. After the murders, ECSC contributed generously to public programs promoting equality for blacks. The diocese also carried out its extensive plan of anti-racism training using the DeWolf narrative. On the other side, the independent diocese (DSC) has yet to move blacks into any positions of leadership in diocesan bodies. After the Emanuel Massacre, DSC called for prayers (more payers for June 16 at the Cathedral). I have scoured the DSC newsletters and newspaper and have found no other response beyond prayers from DSC. Apparently DSC has done nothing to go beyond praying. This is indicative of DSC's strictly vertical orientation of religion. It appears that racism was not and is not important to the leaders of DSC, or at least not important enough to actually do something about it. Ironically, however, they have paraded through the diocese a constant stream of African bishops, all of whom seem to have one bond with DSC, opposition to rights for homosexuals.

Concerning women, ECSC committed itself to full equality for women across the diocese. For the first time in the long history of the old diocese, a woman has been placed as "second in command," the archdeacon, the Ven. Calhoun Walpole. Over at DSC, women continued to endure second-class status. The first resolution the DSC passed after the schism was to oppose the right of women to control their own bodies. They are still the secretaries, never the chairs. Lawrence did consent to ordain one woman to the priesthood (she was terminally ill). He has ordained 2 more women to the "vocational diaconate." Apparently, there is not a single female postulant for Holy Orders in DSC. At DSC, it's a man's world. Or, perhaps one should say a world of "discriminate exclusivity."

As for equal rights for homosexuals, ECSC has quite the brilliant record particularly in the approval and establishment of the blessing of same-sex unions and of same-sex marriage. After the Orlando Massacre, Bp vonR condemned the crimes (see here ) and clergy and laity rallied to public events of solidarity. On the DSC side, the leaders have continued to fight against equality for all people. Since Sunday's mass murder in an Orlando gay nightclub, there has been a deafening silence from DSC, not a word of sorrow, not a hint of concern. This is sad but not surprising. After all, it was just last year that DSC passed 3 resolutions opposing equality for homosexuals.

Human rights are also Christian rights. We are here to uphold and promote the dignity and equality of all of the children of God. The Episcopal Church has championed freedom, justice, and equality for a long time now. ECSC has admirably carried out this mission. No one should wonder now at the difference between the two dioceses. No one should wonder too that ECSC is alive with spirit and growth while DSC is searching and struggling, even losing a quarter of its communicants in its first two years.



Tuesday, June 14, 2016


Carolina Grace, Gold for the Soul; Strength in Weakness 2016 has just been published. It is available online here . (Also find a link here .) Edited by the Ven. Calhoun Walpole, it is a collection of 25 short works such as poems, essays, histories, and experiences, all written by communicants and clergy of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina. What impressed me the most about this collection was its sense of joy, optimism, faith, and love. There is not a shred of bitterness, recrimination, blaming, cynicism, or other hint of negativism. This is the church at its finest. Sometimes it takes travail to bring out the best in us. Franklin Roosevelt suffered a terrible blow of adversity that left him paralyzed in his legs. Yet, he rose way above that to make two monumental achievements, the New Deal that lifted the nation out of the Great Depression and the victory in the Second World War. A man in a wheelchair was by far the greatest president of the twentieth century.

And so the 7,000 intrepid communicants of the Episcopal Church diocese of South Carolina have risen above adversity too. Half the articles are written by people at Grace Church Cathedral which is fine. We all love Grace Church, the great beacon that led the way to reorganization and rebuilding. An article I especially recommend is Layton McCurdy's account of "Charleston Hospital Workers' Strike, 1968-69, pages 11-15. South Carolina had two outstanding incidents in the civil rights movement of the 1960's, the Orangeburg Massacre (1968, patrolmen fired on an unarmed crowd killing 3 and wounding 27), and the Charleston hospital workers' strike. 400 African American workers at two Charleston hospitals went on strike. After several months, the strike was settled by a compromise between the workers and William Huff (father of the Rev. Christopher Huff, now of St. George's of Summerville), the vice president of the Medical College Hospital. The workers received most of their demands and the white authorities grudgingly accepted the settlement.

We should all hold nothing but admiration for the resolute Episcopalians in the small cities, towns and rural areas between the Georgia and North Carolina state lines. Forced out of their churches by people who denounced "indiscriminate inclusivity," the Episcopalians who refused to give up on indiscriminate inclusivity left their home churches and banded together to keep the faith. In this collection we have the experiences of eight of these resolute people: Rick Stall of Messiah in Myrtle Beach, Virginia Wilder of Good Shepherd of Summerville, Nancy Gault of Okatie, Daniel Ennis of St. Anne's Conway, Jane Hart Lewis and Janet Clark of St. Catherine's of Florence, Anne Nietert of East Cooper, and Jonathan Coffey of St. Mark's Port Royal. Their stories were my favorite parts of the collection.

One has only to read Carolina Grace to see just how alive and well the Episcopal Church is in eastern South Carolina. Like the phoenix, it has risen to a glorious new life that shines through every page of this new collection.