THE PROBLEM WITH DSC'S AFFILIATION "DISCERNMENT"
The Diocese of South Carolina's website has posted a report from the clergy conference of 14 September concerning the diocesan discernment of affiliation with the Anglican Church in North America. The diocesan task force on affiliation was created two years ago and hand-picked by Bishop Lawrence. Last March, it recommended affiliation with ACNA. This guarantees it will join ACNA. The DSC has never denied anything to Bishop Lawrence.
In reading the report, I see a major problem. The diocesan leadership is promoting the assertion that the ACNA is a localized institution ruled from the ground up (read the report here ). The idea that power in ACNA rests at the bottom is not true. Communicants of DSC need to understand this before they affiliate.
In the circuit court trial of July 2014, the witness on the stand for St. Michael's of Charleston amused some listeners by declaring that no one in the leadership of that parish had ever read the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. Well, the Constitution and Canons of ACNA are freely available on the Internet for everyone to read at ACNA>Governance. I highly recommend that every communicant of DSC read them. You can find them here ).
I have already made two posts about the DSC affiliation with ACNA:
March 29, 2016---"South Carolina and the Anglican Church in North America."
April 28, 2016---"A Cautionary Note for the DSC."
The idea that DSC will govern itself is simply not true and can be understood by a careful reading of the governing structure of the ACNA. The ACNA is misleading in suggesting that power rests at the bottom by incorporating the principles that local entities will own their own properties and will have the right to secede from the ACNA at will. One should recall that DSC voted to leave the Episcopal Church under the claim it was too authoritarian. The issues of property and the right of secession were major points in the litigation against TEC, such as the circuit court trial of 2014. If communicants assume they are joining a group that will achieve local rule, they are mistaken.
The ACNA is actually an authoritarian organization with power concentrated at the top. At the very top is an archbishop. TEC has no archbishop. Every bishop in ACNA is required to swear personal loyalty to the archbishop. Bishop Lawrence will be directly responsible to a superior authority. Most importantly, the people of DSC will lose control over the choice of bishops. This recently happened in Pittsburgh. A diocese may elect a bishop, but he (women cannot be bishops in male-chauvinist ACNA), cannot take office until approved by two-thirds of the bishops of ACNA. This gives those bishops near dictatorial power over DSC's choice of new bishops. In TEC new bishops are usually approved by at least half of the diocesan standing committees, a much lower bar. In short, the people of South Carolina will lose control over their right to choose their own bishop. Again, if these people think they are getting local control they are sadly mistaken. Yes, they will have their local properties and yes, they can withdraw from ACNA at will, but while in ACNA, the people of South Carolina will follow the will of the bishops of ACNA. This is far more authoritarian than TEC ever was. The irony here is rich. I urge the good people of South Carolina to read the C and C of ACNA.
Of course, joining ACNA is problematical in other ways. It is not now and almost certainly will never be a province of the Anglican Communion. ACNA is a 2009 creature of an alliance between an anti-homosexual rights minority of ex-Episcopalians in the U.S. and like-minded Anglican archbishops in equatorial Africa. It was formed to promote a reactionary social policy of opposition to the rising demand for equal rights for homosexuals and equality for women. The Third World fundamentalists who formed GAFCON aimed to break up the Anglican Communion into two groups. They failed. In the primates' gathering at Canterbury last January, they collapsed. They managed to get only a slap on the wrist for TEC. At the same time they abandoned ACNA. They said if ACNA wanted to join the Anglican Communion it would have to go through the Anglican Consultative Council. That was the kiss of death. GAFCON abandoned ACNA. ACNA is now out in the cold where it is almost certainly going to stay. DSC's joining ACNA will not make it part of the Anglican Communion.
Bottom line--DSC is not now in the Anglican Communion. It will not be in the Anglican Communion after it joins ACNA. GAFCON has abandoned ACNA. To be in the Anglican Communion, DSC must return to the Episcopal Church.