Tuesday, March 29, 2016


In the recent convention of the independent diocese of South Carolina (DSC), the task force on affiliation recommended the diocese join the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). The task force was set up two years ago when the members were hand-picked by Mark Lawrence. The task force's choice means Lawrence's choice. The diocese is supposed to be in "discernment" about whether to join ACNA, but this is a silly charade. Since he became bishop of the Episcopal diocese in 2008, the diocesan bodies have never rejected a recommendation of his. Some proposals have been tabled in convention (compassion for homosexuals; rector to control local property), but none has ever been voted down. A special convention will be called this fall to pass the first approval of the "affiliation" with ACNA. The second and last vote would come in March 2017 in the annual convention.

What is the ACNA? Let's look at origins, structure, history, and prospects.

ACNA's roots go back to the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a right-wing political action group of 1980 funded by deep-pocketed highly conservative foundations and organizations in the U.S. The longtime head of IRD was Diane Knippers, a conservative Episcopalian and member of the Truro Church of Virginia, a prime seedbed of opposition to the reforms of the Episcopal Church. First set up to promote President Reagan's foreign policy, the IRD turned to a domestic agenda at the end of the Cold War around 1990. It then focused on defeating and destroying forces of liberalism in American life. It soon moved to fighting social reform in three denominations prominent in America, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Episcopal. Knippers and two friends set up the American Anglican Council (AAC) in 1996 specifically devoted to fighting progressive reforms in the Episcopal Church, particularly equality for homosexuals. After the consecration of an openly homosexual bishop in TEC in 2003, AAC became the prime facilitator in the formation of an anti-homosexual church to take the place of the Episcopal Church in the Anglican Communion. AAC officers issued the infamous Chapman Memo in December of 2003 which laid out a blueprint for conservative Episcopalians to leave the Church and form a socially reactionary replacement church. The next month, under AAC's guidance, ten ultra-conservative dioceses of TEC formed the Anglican Communion Network, the framework for the future replacement church. Robert Duncan, bishop of Pittsburgh, was "Moderator," or head of this group. Of the ten dioceses in the ACN, five later voted to leave the Episcopal Church.

In 2008, Duncan was deposed from the office of bishop by the TEC House of Bishops for abandonment of the Communion. Shortly thereafter, in December of 2008, he led a convention of highly conservative elements called the Common Cause Partners (or Communion Partners) to set up a new church to be called the Anglican Church in North America. Its aim was to be the replacement church. It declared itself to be an Anglican "province" in formation with Duncan as its archbishop. Also in 2008 formed GAFCON (Global Anglican Futures Conference), a coalition of socially conservative Anglican primates of the Third World pledged to oppose rights for homosexuals in the Anglican Communion. GAFCON "recognized" ACNA, as the replacement church for pro-homosexual TEC, and Duncan as  "primate." In 2014, Duncan retired and was replaced as archbishop by Foley Beach, who, as Duncan, was consecrated largely by equatorial African Anglican primates well-known for their anti-homosexual rights stands.

The Archbishop of Canterbury made it plain that ACNA was not a part of the Anglican Communion. 

In January of 2016, the primates' gathering in Canterbury discussed the admission of ACNA to the Anglican Communion. They said in their communiqué that if ACNA wished to apply for admission to the AC, it would have to go through the Anglican Consultative Council. They also recommended to the ACC that they not admit ACNA to the AC. This effectively ended any chance ACNA had in joining the AC or of ever becoming the Anglican replacement province in the United States. It is interesting to note that the GAFCON primates in Canterbury abandoned ACNA in the meeting and in the communiqué even though Beach was present in the sessions. Thus, ACNA remains for the foreseeable future an independent church with friendly support of some of the primates of the Anglican Communion, but it is not, and almost certainly never will be, a part of the Anglican Communion.

The ACNA is governed by a Constitution and Canons, available on the Internet. The people of South Carolina would be wise to read and study this document before affiliating with ACNA. The C and C is a strange and contradictory mixture of local rights and central authoritarianism. On one hand, it says that local dioceses will retain their own structures, local properties remain in local ownership, and any diocese and local church may secede from the union at any time (the recipe for the inevitable disintegration of this union). On the other hand, it sets up an authoritarian government controlled by the archbishop and the bishops. All bishops have to pledge personal allegiance to the archbishop.

The government of ACNA is vested in four bodies. 1-"The Council" is the decision-making body deciding on policy and rules for the C and C. In The Council, each diocese will have one bishop, one other clergy, and two laity. 2-"The Executive Committee" formed by the Council as the "Board of Directors" is a committee of 12, 6 clergy and 6 laity and chaired by the archbishop. 3-"The Assembly" is a one-house Duma whose sole job is to ratify decisions of the Council. Each diocese gets seats for bishop, 2 clergy, and 2 laity. 4-"College of Bishops" whose power is to choose the next archbishop and approve new diocesan bishops. In sum. the government of ACNA is under the control of the archbishop and the bishops. It is an authoritarian and anti-democratic institution in which the laity have virtually no power.

The ACNA was created on a negative, that is, opposition to the social reforms of the Episcopal Church mainly on homosexuality, but also for equal rights for women. It should not be surprising then that ACNA's Constitution and Canons expressly forbid rights for gays and restricts those of women. Regarding homosexuality, the C and C has three points blocking rights for gays: 1-Title II, Canon 7, Section 1: "The Anglican Church in North America affirms our Lord's teaching that the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is in its nature a union permanent and lifelong of one man and one woman." 2-Title II, Canon 7, Section 6: Before a wedding in an ACNA church, the future husband and wife are required to sign a statement that marriage is a lifelong union of a husband and wife. 3-Title II, Canon 8, Section 2, "[ACNA] cannot legitimize or bless same sex unions or ordain persons who engage in homosexual behavior. Sexual intercourse should take place only between a man and a woman who are married to each other." The ACNA is also anti-feminist but less stridently. Title II, Canon 8, Section 3 condemns abortion as sin by declaring the sanctity of human life from conception to death (but it does not condemn the death penalty). The C and C also say only men can become bishops although individual dioceses may choose to allow women to be ordained as deacons and priests. 

The communicants of the DSC should also be aware of how joining ACNA will affect their choices of bishops in the future. Under Title III, Section 4, a diocese may nominate a bishop but is encouraged to select two or three names. However many, the name(s) will be sent to the College of Bishops who must vote by 2/3 to approve the new bishop. In other words, South Carolina can choose a nominee but he will have to get a vast majority approval of the ACNA bishops before DSC can consecrate their choice. If DSC's choice fails to get 2/3 vote, DSC has to start over on choosing a new bishop. Ironically, under a 2/3 rule, Lawrence would not be a bishop today as he received just over 1/2 in 2007 (TEC requires only majority approval). DSC's right to choose its own bishop will be severely restricted after joining ACNA.

Moreover, once a bishop is chosen, he must make an oath of loyalty to the archbishop: Title III, Section 5, "And I do swear by Almighty God that I will pay true and canonical obedience in all things lawful and honest to the Archbishop of this Church." The bishop of South Carolina must sear allegiance to the archbishop of ACNA (there is no oath of personal allegiance in TEC; TEC has no archbishop).

Is the Anglican Church in North America a "province"? No. The word "province" is usually defined as a sub-unit of a larger entity, as a province of the Roman Empire, or a province of the Episcopal Church. A province is not an separate entity in and of itself. ACNA certainly calls itself a "province" and DSC recognizes ACNA as a "province." However, in fact, ACNA is not a province of anything. It is an independent entity. The people of South Carolina should recognize this fundamental fact. It is shameful that DSC is still deliberately misleading its own communicants by continually repeating the myth that DSC would be joining a "province" in the Anglican Communion. The bald fact is that ACNA is not a province. Moreover, ACNA is not in the Anglican Communion. It is not part of the Anglican Communion. Facts are facts.

What are the advantages of DSC joining ACNA? There are obviously certain institutional advantages: pensions, insurance, clergy exchanges, and mutual programs and fellowship/support. The communicants of DSC should weight the pros and the cons of joining ACNA.

Given the uncertain future in the litigation, it is probably wise for DSC to link up with some larger body rather than continuing the sham of an oversight from the Global South. It seems to me that as time goes by, the chances that DSC will prevail in court fade. Day by day, odds turn more and more in favor that the state supreme court will come down on the side of the Episcopal Church. If the state supreme court gives TEC the diocese and all the property, the followers of Mark Lawrence who refuse to return to the Episcopal Church will need a lot of help in reorganizing. The ACNA is right there with a Diocese of the Carolinas. The chances are strong that the state supreme court will deliver its written opinion before DSC calls its special convention in the fall. If so, the delegates will have a lot more to talk about than affiliation. If the court does side with TEC, as I suspect they will, the sensible thing for the delegates to do is to make preparations to return to the church of their ancestors. After all is said and done, the Episcopal Church, and not ACNA, is the home of the Diocese of South Carolina. 


Saturday, March 19, 2016


Finally, there is something from the independent Diocese of South Carolina with which I wholeheartedly agree. In its summary of the recent convention, DSC gave a quote from the Rev. Shay Gaillard, "'I thought the convention was fantastic.'" Amen. Now, to be fair, I assume he meant fantastic in the sense of wonderful, marvelous, etc., as I am sure it was to him. However, "fantastic" also means: absurd, farfetched, nonsensical, incredible, unbelievable, unthinkable, unreal. This "fantastic" can be applied in large measure not just to the recent convention but to the last decade of DSC. The leaders have created a fantasy land for their followers in order to get them to follow their lead out of their ancestral Church, and now, to keep them out.

In my post of Mar. 15, "DSC Caught in its Own Web of Deceit," I showed how DSC has gone to great and, in my opinion, unethical lengths to make its faithful followers believe they are in the Anglican Communion when they are not, have not been since the schism of 2012, and will not be. The Anglican Church of North America is not a "province" of anything. Joining ACNA will not make DSC part of the Anglican Communion, or anything else except ACNA which is in fact a separate Christian denomination apart from the AC. This is just the latest magical fantasy promoted by the fantastic wizards of Coming Street.

Going down the whole list of individual fantasies would take a book--literally. And, I have written one, or nearly so. I am almost through with a manuscript of a scholarly history of the schism up to the start of the litigation in 2013. In my effort to be as complete as possible, I have compiled a detailed narrative already equal to a 600 page book with 1,878 footnotes. The chapter on the litigation will be probably another 100 pages. So this is going to be either a Gone-With-The-Wind length book, or pared down, or two volumes, or maybe a big e-book. Who knows? As Scarlett would say, I'll worry about that tomorrow.

Gaillard's remark started me to thinking again about my favorite fantasies coming out of the DSC camp. I am sure we all have our favorites. I guess my all time best because of its unintentional hilarity was the testimony DSC witnesses gave in the circuit trial in 2014 that the members of the Episcopal churches in South Carolina before the schism did not know they were in the Episcopal Church. I am still laughing at the absurdity.

So, I have jotted down my other favorite DSC fantasies, none as funny as the first. In fact, most are downright sad:

---The schism had nothing to do with homosexuality. (Gross disregard of a mountain of evidence.)

---The Diocese of South Carolina "disassociated" from the Episcopal Church but is still the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina and the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. (Oxymoron)

---Mark Lawrence abandoned the Episcopal Church but took with him the authority of bishop that the Episcopal Church gave him. (ditto)

---The "orthodox" (fundamentalists) are the only true Anglicans. ( The actual orthodoxy of Anglicanism is that it is a broad and tolerant collection of different views; no one is true while the others are false.)

---The Episcopal Church, and Katharine Jefferts Schori in particular, were out to "get" Mark Lawrence. (Wait for the book.)

---The Episcopal Church became heretical because it discarded the belief in the uniqueness of Christ and in the Trinity. (Absolutely and outrageously false.)

---The Episcopal Church forced the "orthodox" conservatives to leave the Church. (Most of them are in fact still in the Episcopal Church.)

---The Episcopal Church deliberately rewrote Title IV of the Canons in order to "get" Mark Lawrence. (No connection to reality.)

---The Episcopal Church made an unprovoked, Pearl Harbor style, "attack" or "assault" on the innocent Diocese of South Carolina in 2012. (The other way around. See the book.)

---Mark Lawrence was in the process of negotiating a peace settlement with the Episcopal Church when he was hit by a surprise attack in October of 2012. (ML had already secretly advised the Standing Committee they could "disassociate" the diocese from TEC; Standing Committee had already secretly drawn up a plan of separation. The schism was a premeditated plan by the DSC leadership.)

---The Episcopal Church never settles outside of court. (Last June the Episcopal Church offered an out-of-court settlement in South Carolina giving all the local properties to the parishes. DSC rejected it on the spot.)

There are too many DSC fantasies to list here completely. Unfortunately, the DSC has a well-established record of untruths, half-truths, and misinterpretations misleading its communicants. Thus, its outrageous insistence they are "in" the Anglican Communion is only another example in a long trail. Judging from the falling membership of the DSC, perhaps more and more people are seeing the truth. DSC lost a quarter of its membership in the two years after the schism (2013, 2014)(see Mar. 11, "The Decline of the DSC...). The figures speak for themselves. They cannot be made into a fantasy.

Fantasies have a way of running their courses. In time, truth emerges and exposes the fantasies to be just that. Sometimes the fantasies are harmless, but sometimes they can turn out to be catastrophic. For instance, the U.S. government justified attacking Iraq in the Iraq War because of a charge of weapons of mass destruction. This was a fantasy (even Donald Trump has said so). We now know the truth. There were no weapons of mass destruction. The fantasy was promoted by the neo-cons as an excuse for war. An enormous amount of death, destruction, waste of treasure, and creation of fanatical terrorists is the price we paid for believing this fantasy.

What is your favorite fantastic notion promoted by DSC? e-mail me.     

Friday, March 18, 2016

UGANDA BOLTS---AGAIN, 3rd edition

Stanley Ntagali, Anglican archbishop and primate of Uganda bolted from the primates' gathering in January when he did not get his demand to expel the Episcopal Church on the second day of the meeting. He left on the evening of Tuesday, January 12, the only primate to leave at that time. None of the other GAFCON/Global South primates followed him, although many left on Thursday evening before the end of the event. Ntagali quit in a pique that the Episcopal Church was not to be punished for what he considered its false teaching (equal rights for homosexuals).

The Canterbury Communiqué of Jan. 14-15 stated that the Episcopal Church was to have "consequences" (punishment) of being removed for three years from Anglican Communion decisions on doctrine and policy. This would include the Anglican Consultative Council.

The Anglican Consultative Council is to meet in Lusaka, Zambia, 8-19 April 2016.

Ntagali has announced that Uganda will not participate in the ACC meeting in Lusaka. ( www.anglicannews.org/features/2016/03/draft-programme-for-anglican-consultative-council-meeting-published.aspx ). He is withholding Uganda's three representatives from the gathering. This will make the second time in three months that Ntagali has bolted from the Anglican Communion structure.

The Programme of the eleven day conference is available at: www.anglicancommunion.org/media/214880/ACC-16-Programme.pdf .

The Anglican Consultative Council is a body of around 70 members from all of the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion. ( https://en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglican_Consultative_Council ) The apportionment of representation is based on a three tier system based on the sizes of the provinces. TEC gets 3 representatives as does Uganda. The function of the ACC is to gather, discuss, and disseminate information and to advise the provinces. It is the only one of the Four Instruments of Communion of the AC that has a constitution. The constitution makes clear it is an advisory body only with no power to enforce any decision on any province of the AC. It does not made doctrine or policy. The Canterbury Communiqué said TEC was banned from making doctrine and policy. These were not part of the ACC anyway.

The representatives of TEC have indicated they will attend and participate fully in the sessions of the Anglican Consultative Council next month. Besides, the primates' have no way to enforce their "consequences." The ACC is a co-equal Instrument of Communion that the primates' have no authority to control.

As of yet, there has been no word that any other Anglican province will boycott the ACC meeting in Lusaka. Once again, Uganda is going it alone.

Uganda has had a particular beef with the Episcopal Church of late, especially since last years' General Convention passed a resolution supporting LGBT persons in Uganda, a country notorious for its harsh legal punishment of homosexual acts. See Wikipedia for LGBT Rights in Africa.

What all this suggests is that GAFCON/Global South is not nearly as cohesive as we had imagined. Only one of their primates refuses to deal with TEC. Most of the rest went along with the slap-on-the-wrist decision for TEC in the primates' gathering in January. They also very clearly rejected the idea that the Anglican Church in North America would ever replace the Episcopal Church as the officially recognized Anglican province in America or even as a parallel province. The hopes of ACNA have been dashed, probably for good. This must be a terribly bitter blow to the schismatic Americans, such as those in South Carolina, who have pinned all their hopes on rescue from foreign primates. The cavalry is not going to arrive.

Ntagali seems to be the only one who really wants to kick TEC out of the AC. Of course, as we know, the Archbishop of Canterbury has established a precedent that the primates can establish the agenda for primates' meetings and make decisions by majority vote and enforce sanctions on the provinces the majority of primates deem to be in error. This is a very dangerous precedent for the future.

For the foreseeable future anyway, the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion continue on intact. The schismatic "diocese" of South Carolina will meet this coming weekend still outside of the Anglican Communion and likely to continue there forever. The primates gathering last January and the Lusaka meeting next month are bad news for the schismatics. They have been told resoundingly by the Anglican Communion that they are not Anglicans. They can call themselves whatever they wish. It does not matter. They can bring in all the African Anglican bishops they wish. It does not matter. When the schismatics in South Carolina cut themselves off from the Episcopal Church on 15 October 2012, they cut themselves off from the Anglican Communion too. No amount of phony "oversight" schemes will matter.

2nd EDITION (Mar. 10):   The archbishop and primate of Kenya has announced he will join Uganda in boycotting the Lusaka meeting of the ACC. That makes two primates refusing to send representatives to Lusaka. The equatorial African provinces have been in the lead in the hostility to American pro-homosexual reforms. It remains to be seen how many more of the regions primates will join the anti-American boycott of ACC and place themselves outside the constituted structure of the Anglican Communion.

3rd EDITION (Mar. 18): Nicholas Okoh, the archbishop and primate of Nigeria announced on Mar. 15 that Nigeria will join Kenya and Uganda in boycotting the Lusaka meeting of the ACC (homosexuality). However, his letter bears special and close reading: http://gafcon.org/2016/03/15/the-church-of-nigeria-anglican-communion-will-not-participate-in-the-upcoming-acc-meeting/ . While blasting the recent primates' gathering in Canterbury, he called for "Special Status" within the Anglican Communion for anti-homosexual provinces. He did not threaten to leave the Anglican Communion. This is a significant change in tone. The earlier primate of Nigeria was a leading force in getting the Lambeth 1998 statement condemning homosexuality, in opposing the US approval of an openly gay bishop in 2003, and in the creation of an anti-homosexual rival government in the Anglican Communion in 2008 called GAFCON. Okoh's new call for special status within the traditional Anglican Communion instead of threatening to bolt from AC could be a significant softening among the traditionally strongly anti-gay provinces of the Anglican Communion. If so, this could well be an unexpected result of the January primates' gathering in Canterbury.

The three equatorial Anglican provinces of Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda that have announced a boycott of the upcoming Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka are all notorious for their harsh legal treatment of homosexual acts. See Wikipedia, "LGBT Rights in Africa" ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Africa ). In southern Nigeria: 14 years imprisonment. In northern Nigeria: death penalty for men, whipping and imprisonment for women. In Kenya: 14 years imprisonment. In Uganda: 14 years imprisonment for men, 7 for women.

Okoh has been conspicuously active against rights for homosexuals. In 2011, he called for Nigeria to quit the United Nations: http://allafrica.com/stories/201106290729.html . See also the scathing condemnation in The Guardian, "Bishop Okoh's War on Homosexuality," www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2010/jul/26/archbishop-okoh-nigeria-homosexuality/ .  

As of now, 35 of the 38 Anglican provinces will be participating in next month's Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Lusaka, Zambia (Central Africa). If 35 do show up, this will be a significant defeat for the anti-homosexual rights faction in the Anglican Communion. It will also show the decline of the 2008 Jerusalem Declaration that tried to create a parallel government in the Anglican Communion called GAFCON and its allied group, Global South. GAFCON and Global South tried to split up the old Anglican Communion into two separate groups on the issue of homosexuality. The fact that Nigeria, arguably the most important province of that movement, is now signaling it will stay in the traditional Anglican Communion is a significant indication that the 2008 effort to break up the AC has run out its course in failure. Another sign that this is the case is that the primates' gathering in Canterbury last January flatly rejected the pretensions of the Anglican Church in North America, the anti-TEC proxy of GAFCON/Global South in the U.S. GAFCON/Global South recognized ACNA as the replacement church for TEC. The primates flatly rejected this notion. They said any application of ACNA to join AC would have to go through the Anglican Consultative Council. At the same time, with Foley Beach looking on, the primates recommended that the ACC not admit ACNA. This was the death knell of ACNA's chance of joining the AC. The primates' rejection of ACNA and Okoh's signal that he will not leave AC indicate the collapse if not death of the post-1998 anti-homosexual movement in the Anglican Communion led by the equatorial African provinces. They are now down to three hard-liners. Their influence is severely diminished. This may well mean that the traditional Anglican Communion has survived its own schism of 2008 as the hard-liners' allies are mostly backing away. The best the anti-homosexual faction could come up with two months ago in the primates' gathering was a slap on the wrist for TEC.

Perhaps this is why DSC has abandoned its go-it-alone track of the last 3 and 1/2 years. The foreign anti-homosexual faction on which they were counting has greatly declined. The only logical choice left for the independent DSC is to join the pretend province called the Anglican Church in North America. ACNA is not part of the Anglican Communion. It is an independent Christian church. It is not a province of anything, but it is a larger organization in the US that can give the schismatic DSC the only stability reasonably available. DSC is going to need all the help it can get if the courts rule against them and before DSC eventually returns home to the Episcopal Church.

My observation is that the issue of homosexuality is declining in American culture. Last year's Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in the U.S. and the Episcopal Church's acceptance of the same formed a turning point in which the institutions of the U.S. caught up with American society's changing cultural values. In the last few decades, American society moved from condemnation of homosexuality as immoral to acceptance of it as amoral, that is, inherently neither good nor bad, just another expression of sexuality. The most remarkable thing about last years' monumental events was the almost complete lack of backlash. 

As we have seen, the independent Diocese of South Carolina has suffered a significant decline since the schism of 2012. It lost a quarter of its communicants in the first two years. Given its anti-homosexual stance, it will see more of the same as society moves ever onward in the normalization of life for homosexuals. Acceptance of homosexuality is part of the great democratization of human rights in America, and indeed the world, after the victory of democracy in the twentieth century. ACNA and the independent DSC are both a backlash against the natural flow of history. Backlashes tend to be temporary reactions that melt away in time. Perhaps the recent events in the Anglican Communion are beginning to show just how out of the mainstream they are, even in a worldwide religion with a strong current of social conservatism. It may well be that the Anglican Communion, as the Supreme Court and TEC, has moved beyond the crisis over homosexuality into a new acceptance, however uneasy it may be, of our cultural differences. If this is true, it means classical Anglicanism has survived after all. The anti-homosexual factions' attempt to replace it with a self-proclaimed narrow and intolerant "orthodoxy" has failed. The early and ingenious Anglican divines who sculpted a great religion of reason, differences, and toleration would be proud.            

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


For years the leaders of the Diocese of South Carolina have misled their faithful communicants with misrepresentations about the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion in order to justify their own myopic view of Christianity. Now they have been caught red handed.

On March 12, the DSC website posted an article entitled "Diocese Considers Affiliation during 225th Diocesan Convention" ( www.diosc.com/sys/news-events/latest-news/723-diocese-considers-affiliation-during ). The original posting has been replaced. The announcement stated: "ACNA is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, whose membership now exceeds 85 million worshippers in 165 countries."

In fact, the Anglican Church in North America (ANCA) is not now, never has been, and never will be part of the Anglican Communion. This was made perfectly clear at the January primates' gathering in Canterbury. The primates rejected ACNA's bid for membership and said any application would have to go through the Anglican Consultative Council. Furthermore, the primates recommended against the ACC considering membership for ACNA. The way the ACC is composed precludes any vote to approve ACNA. The Anglican Communion has spoken loudly and clearly: ACNA is not in the Anglican Communion. DSC statement "ACNA is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion" was a deliberate falsehood.

This is not the first time DSC has falsely claimed to be part of the Anglican Communion, far from it. At the schism in 2012, the DSC leaders told their followers they were an "extra-provincial diocese" of the Communion. Absurd. Then, DSC announced an "oversight" scheme with the Global South primates that, once again, the DSC leaders claimed made DSC part of the Communion. Still absurd. That sham was so transparent that it could not even be described. These efforts, of course, were meant to make the long-suffering communicants of the DSC believe the fantasy that just because they had left the Episcopal Church, they were still in the Anglican Communion.

Now, DSC announced on Mar. 12 that it was, in all probability, going to join ACNA which is a "part" of the Anglican Communion.

The intrepid and ever-vigilant observer of DSC, Steve Skardon, saw the deceit right away and posted an article on his blog on March 12: "Breakaway 'Diocese' Looking to ACNA as its New Home." He wrote: "As usual, Lawrence and his lieutenants tried to confuse the delegates today by misrepresenting the nature of ACNA. They say it is part of the Anglican Communion, even though it is not recognized by any of the four Instruments of Anglican Unity that govern the Communion."

On Monday, March 14, Episcopal Café picked up the story and posted an article, "Breakaway Diocese Falsely Claims ACNA is Part of Anglican Communion," (www.episcopalcafe.com/breakaway-diocese-falsely-claims-acna-is-part-of-anglican-communion ). 

DSC's original article of 12 March "Diocese Considers..." suddenly disappeared from the DSC website taking with it DSC's claim of ACNA being "part" of the AC. DSC put in its place a new article, "Diocese Moves Forward 'Making Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age,'" under the same address: ( www.diosc.com/sys/news-events/latest-news/723-diocese-considers-affiliation-during-225th-diocesan-convention  ). The new article remarkably omitted any reference to ACNA being in AC. However, DSC could not keep itself from even more deceit. The article said, in reference to ACNA: "and provide us with a formal provincial identity." This implied ACNA was a province of the Anglican Communion. ACNA is not a province of the Anglican Communion, never has been, never will be. If it is any sort of "province," it is of its own making.

The communicants of DSC should not be fooled. If DSC joins ACNA, it will still not be in the Anglican Communion.

On March 14, Skardon posted another article showing DSC backing away from its claim that ACNA is part of the Anglican Communion, "Breakaways Back Off Claim that ACNA is in the Anglican Communion."

DSC should stop embarrassing itself by making patently false claims. They must know that others can see them immediately.

For a long time now, the DSC leaders have been obsessed with using the word "Anglican" and its variations, as "Anglicanism." It is as if they repeat them enough, the faithful will believe they are in the Anglican Communion. In his "Bishop's Address" to the convention, Lawrence said the word "Anglican" and variations a total of 28 times. The diocesan official report on the convention posted on its website used the "A" word 14 times. The resolutions lauding the Bishop's Address used it 11 times.

The basic problem here is that since leaving TEC, the majority of the old diocese of South Carolina have no identity, and no direction of where to go. This was the fault of the leadership. They were so focused on making a schism that they gave little thought on how the "diocese" would move into the future. (Images of the Iraq War.) In fact, DSC is not in the Anglican Communion and will not be in it until it returns to the Episcopal Church. Deliberately advancing misleading assertions reflects badly on DSC as it would on any Christian denomination. This time, the DSC leaders have been caught and exposed worldwide; and no amount of backtracking or covering up will help them until they come to grips with the reality of the tactics they have used to mislead their own people.



Monday, March 14, 2016

 OF 12 MARCH 2016

As we all know, outsiders were barred from attending the DSC convention last week. Only members of DSC churches were allowed into the secretive business meeting. That means I have no first-hand report to offer. However, the DSC office today posted several reports about the convention. Here are my thoughts about what is on the lines and between the lines of these Polyanna-esque reports.

The big news of the day concerns affiliation. DSC claimed to make a "disaffiliation" from the Episcopal Church in October of 2012. In the three and a half-years since it has not adhered to any larger body instead making the fantastical claim to being a non-provincial diocese of the Anglican Communion. Absurd. On leaving the Episcopal Church, it also left the Anglican Communion. When Mark Lawrence abandoned the Episcopal Church in 2012 he left behind the Holy Orders that made him a bishop in the Anglican Communion. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the official structure of the Anglican Communion do not recognize Lawrence as a bishop of the Anglican Communion or the independent DSC as part of the Anglican Communion.

So, what should DSC do about affiliation? It seems to me, and this is only my observation, that after the schism two competing tracks of affiliation appeared in DSC: 1-go it alone, and 2-join the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).

For three and a half years the promoters of Track # 1 prevailed. This track had actually started to develop much earlier, soon after Lawrence became bishop. In 2009, the diocese set up an Anglican Communion Development Committee. Kendall Harmon was the important figure in this. DSC began developing closer and closer ties with foreign conservative bishops who shared the same view of homosexuality. It even brought in a foreign bishop, Nazir Ali, to be a visiting bishop of DSC. Close ties were built with GAFCON and Global South, the chair of which, Mouneer Anis of Egypt, was a vocal supporter of Lawrence. After the schism, a peculiar arrangement was made between the Global South primates and DSC giving a sort of "oversight" for DSC. This deal was never even described. It was a sham meant to convince DSC communicants they were "in" the Anglican Communion. Perhaps the people in DSC who promoted this go-it-alone track entertained the delusion that DSC by itself was going to restore "orthodox" Anglicanism in North America with the help of conservative, i.e. anti-homosexual, bishops of the Third World. Well, after three and a half years, this track is being abandoned.

In 2014, DSC set up an affiliation task force. The members were hand-picked by Lawrence. They were charged with making a recommendation on affiliation in 2015, but failed to do so. Now, two years on they are recommending that DSC join ACNA. Since Lawrence picked the affiliation committee, it is inconceivable they would be going against his wishes. This says to me that Lawrence wants to join ACNA. If so, he has rejected the side of go-it-alone in favor of joining ACNA. Track #2 has displaced track #1. Since DSC operates in secret, one can only guess at how all this transpired.

The "discernment" on whether to join ACNA is only a formality. Of course DSC will follow the task force's (bishop's) wish. For many years the DSC convention meetings have been rubber-stamping Dumas almost completely devoid of differences of opinion. Today's announcement said a special convention will be called this autumn to pass the first resolution to join; and the second and final vote will come a year from now in the annual diocesan convention. Thus, a year from now DSC will be in ACNA---unless there are strange and unforeseen events coming out of the two cases in litigation now and likely to be settled soon.

Joining ACNA will actually help DSC no more than Track #1 did. ACNA is an independent denomination outside of the Anglican Communion. And judging from the primates' gathering last January it never will be part of the AC. DSC's insistence they are joining a "province" is as far a stretch as their claim of "oversight" from Global South. ACNA is not a province of the AC, never has been, never will be.

Too, there is the problem of diocesan arrangement in the ACNA. In 2012, the ACNA made Steve Wood, the rector of St. Andrew's of Mt. Pleasant, the bishop of its Diocese of the Carolinas [North and South Carolina]. Wood just happened to be one of the two also-rans when Lawrence won election as bishop in 2006. Is DSC to be absorbed into ACNA's Diocese of the Carolinas? Certainly not. Is ACNA supposed to divide its Diocese of the Carolinas in two? If so, how is Wood, in suburban Charleston supposed to serve as bishop of North Carolina? That does not seen plausible either. Is Wood supposed to resign and let Lawrence be the only bishop? Can anyone see that happening? Then, are the two dioceses supposed to operate in the same territory? Nonsensical too. So, how DSC is to operate as part of ACNA is anyone's guess.

ACNA is a loose gathering of various independent entities, as the old Reformed Episcopal Church, so keeping DSC independent will not be a problem, but ACNA does have an archbishop to whom DSC would be accountable. The Constitution and Canons of ACNA are available online. It is an authoritarian, undemocratic, constitution with a powerful House of Bishops. ACNA also has its own prayer book different from the TEC prayer book which DSC has steadfastly kept.

DSC does have to be cognizant of the fact that Lawrence is 66 years old this month. Choosing his replacement will be arriving in the foreseeable future.

Back to the recent DSC convention. The published reports really tell us nothing else. There was no mention of any business that transpired or of any resolution passed (other than the routine courtesy ones). We will have to wait for DSC to release the other important work of the convention.

Apparently the 800 pounder in the room was ignored---the litigation and how to pay for it. DSC is facing two major pending decisions in court, one in state and one in federal. The SC Supreme Court will probably release its decision within the next three months. The federal will follow. Given the hearing in the state supreme court last September, odds are the court will take a dim view of DSC's claims. If DSC loses in that court, the consequences for DSC could be catastrophic. It stands to lose the legal rights to the diocese and all the diocesan and local properties. Then, all this talk about affiliation will be much ado about nothing and the only sensible thing to do will be to bring the DSC back home to where it really belongs in its ancestral Episcopal Church. 



Friday, March 11, 2016


On February 20, 2015, I posted an article on this blog entitled "The Decline of the Diocese of South Carolina." ( http://episcopalschismsc.blogspot.com/2015/02/the-decline-of-diocese-of-south.html ) It showed that the DSC lost 10,000 members around the time of the schism and continued to lose both members and income.

Now, a year later, we have the new statistics of DSC for the year 2014 as published in the Journal...2015 that is available online at the DSC website under "Convention---Journals." The new data show the continuing decline of the schismatic diocese.

Reading and interpreting the figures can be a bit tricky. "Baptized members" is meaningless. That counts everyone that was ever baptized in or associated with the parish/mission. It is notoriously unreliable as a true reflection of membership, so should be discarded as a guide. Much closer to accuracy is "Communicants." This is the number of people who attended even one service in the year. 45 parishes and missions of DSC reported statistics for 2014.

Looking at the "Communicant" numbers for the 45 DSC parishes and missions in 2012, 2013, and 2014 we can see clear trends downward. Overall, DSC had 21,722 communicants in 2012, 17,611 in 2013 (down 19%), and 16,152 in 2014 (down 26% from 2012). Thus, in just two years, active membership in the parishes and missions of the schismatic diocese fell by a quarter. DSC has lost a staggering 5,570 communicants since the schism of 2012 (this is for the DSC churches only and does not count the parishes and missions that stayed with the Episcopal Church).

Looking at individual parishes and missions in DSC, we see some shocking declines. Of the 45 local churches reporting, 29 showed falling numbers. That was 64% of the diocese. 8 parishes and missions showed level numbers, 18% of DSC. 8 showed growth, 18% of the diocese.

Between 2012 and 2014, 12 churches showed severe decline, that is, more than 100 members in flat numbers, while 16 showed 20% or more decline. The biggest loser in numbers and percentage was Holy Cross of Sullivans Island, down
a whopping 1,540 members, or 61%.

Other massive declines between 2012 and 2014 occurred in St. Michael's of Charleston (-832 members, or -45%), St. Helena's of Beaufort (-773 members, or -45%), St. Philip's of Charleston (-542, or -20%), Old Saint Andrew's of West Ashley (-452, or -47%), St. Luke's of Hilton Head (-287, or -30%), Holy Comforter of Sumter (-279, or -53%), St. John's of Florence (-257, or -39%), Trinity of Myrtle Beach (-227, or -38%), Church of the Cross in Bluffton (-182), Christ Church of Mt. Pleasant (-150), St. James of James Island (-112). Other big losses happened in St. Paul's of Orangeburg (-51%), Redeemer of Orangeburg (-35%), Christ/St. Paul's of Yonges Island (-26%), St. Bartholomew's of Hartsville (-26%), St. Paul's of Conway (-21%), and Trinity of Edisto (-21%).

Only 3 of the 45 local churches of DSC showed significant gains 2012, 2013, 2014. Prince George of Georgetown, 450-500-625; Resurrection of Surfside, 282-351-360; St. Matthias of Summerton, 128-132-141.

Before the schism, Mark Lawrence was fond of calling the Episcopal Church a comatose patient on life support, that is, a dying institution. His implication was that the liberal reforms of the Church had caused its decline. It is true that Episcopal Church membership fell by half between 1967 and 2016. Many different explanations have been offered for this decline. However, if the theory is that"orthodoxy" leads to growth, this is disproven by the figures of the DSC since the schism. Quite the opposite. DSC has fallen by a shocking quarter in two years since the schism. And, even more troubling is a clear pattern of continuous decline.

In the last sixteen years, the once great Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina has suffered three schisms. One started in 2000 when former DSC bishop Fitz Allison and several other bishops ordained Chuck Murphy, rector of All Saints of Pawleys Island, and John Rodgers as bishops. They adhered to the Anglican primate of Rwanda and operated the Anglican Mission in America. All Saints parish voted to leave the Episcopal Diocese/Church in 2004. DSC Bishop Salmon went to court to apply the Dennis Canon but the state supreme court ruled (in 2009) that the property legally belonged to All Saints.

The second schism occurred in 2009-10. In May of 2009, the DSC Standing Committee approved a plan of St. Andrew's of Mt. Pleasant, to move $3.5m in property into a hidden trust. In March of 2010, St. Andrew's declared its independence from the Episcopal Diocese/Church, the second schism. This happened under Mark Lawrence's watch.

The third schism happened on October 15, 2012, when the DSC ruling clique declared "disassociation" from the Episcopal Church enacting a plan they had made much earlier. About 2/3 of the diocese followed this schism out of TEC.

The Diocese of South Carolina of the year 2000 now lies shattered in four parts: All Saints, St. Andrew's, DSC, and the Episcopal Church diocese. All Saints went through turmoil after its schism, following Murphy and AMiA under Rwanda until that turned into an ugly and embarrassing scene in 2012. All Saints fell into a pro-Murphy and anti-Murphy split with the antis carrying a majority. All Saints majority then joined the Anglican Church in North America. Murphy pulled out and took a couple hundred followers to start a new church called The Abbey at Pawleys Island. St. Andrew's joined the Anglican Church in North America. In 2012, its rector Steve Wood was ordained the bishop of the Diocese of the Carolinas of ACNA.

On today, the schismatic DSC opens its fourth annual convention. What is the state of this group now? Much of it lies hidden. The budget for 2016 has been released but was hidden in the documents on the DSC website. The budget for 2016 shows little change ( www.diosc.com/sys/images/documents/conventions/225_proposed_budget.pdf ). The resolutions to be presented for vote tomorrow have not been released publicly. Indeed, the convention is closed to outsiders. Steve Skardon and I will not be able to make our reports from the DSC convention this year as we did last year. DSC operates largely in secret. We have been banned from attending the meeting.

What we can know shows a troubled church. DSC is an independent entity, really its own individual church of around 15,000 members. It refuses to join any larger group. It steadfastly rejects membership in the Anglican Church in North America, the intended replacement for the Episcopal Church. DSC is not in the Anglican Communion and almost certainly will never be in the Anglican Communion. The recent primates' gathering in Canterbury in January made it very clear that there will be no change to the existing 38 province arrangement of the Communion. ACNA cannot get admittance to the AC. This also leaves the independent Diocese of South Carolina in limbo indefinitely. It is in nowhere going nowhere. And, it is bleeding members and income all the time. Moreover, its has faced millions in lawyers' fees while now looking at the real possibility that it is about to lose all in the South Carolina Supreme Court. Its future is grim and growing ever more so all the time.

The schism of 2012 seemed like a good idea to a lot of people at the time. In hindsight it was a disaster all around. It has accomplished nothing positive. It has brought division, loss, hardship, and pain to all parties. The DSC's persistent stand against equal rights for homosexuals is making it an irrelevant relic of the past increasingly ignored by younger generations. The schism was a scandal and a blight on the history of South Carolina.

NOTE:     Last year, I was able to use the section in the annual Parochial Report called "Plate and Pledge." It gave the figures for the local DSC parishes and missions showing how much people contributed to the churches. The data for 2011-13 for the DSC churches showed significant declines in two-thirds of the local churches.

However, DSC has deleted the "Plate and Pledge" reporting this year. Thus, one cannot know how much money people contributed to the DSC churches in the year 2014. We can only speculate on why the diocesan leadership would withhold the figures on giving for the year 2014. 

MUST READ:  Steve Skardon's analysis of the state of DSC, post of March 11, at www.scepiscopalians.com .  



Thursday, March 3, 2016

IN APPEALS COURT, MARCH 9, 2nd edition

The Episcopal and Anglican dioceses of San Joaquin will be back in court on Wednesday, March 9, in the California Fifth Court of Appeals, in Fresno. The Anglican diocese is appealing a lower court ruling that was in favor of the Episcopal Church.

San Joaquin is the southern part of the great central valley of California with cities as Bakersfield, Fresno, Modesto, Merced, and Stockton. In spite of exceptional and long-term drought, it remains one of the most bountiful agricultural regions of the world.

In December of 2007, the San Joaquin diocesan convention voted a second, and final time (first in 2006) to "disassociate" from the Episcopal Church. They declared adherence to the Anglican province of the Southern Cone and its archbishop in Argentina. Within the next few months, Bishop John-David Schofield of SJ was inhibited then deposed as a bishop by the House of Bishops. The majority of SJ followed Schofield and took the name Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin. The Episcopal Church reorganized the minority of the old diocese as the ongoing Episcopal Church diocese. ADSJ now has 41 local churches while EDSJ has 19. In 2009, ADSJ was a founding member of the Anglican Church in North America.

In 2008, the Episcopal bishop, Jerry Lamb, brought suit against Schofield claiming rights and property of the old diocese. On July 21, 2009, Judge Adolfo Corona, of the Superior Court of California, Fresno County, issued a decision completely in favor of the Episcopal side. He recognized that the Episcopal Church was a hierarchical institution with all that that entailed. Schofield appealed to the California Fifth Court of Appeals. On November 11, 2010, this court overturned Corona's decision remanding the case to be reheard under "neutral principles," that is, judging on property laws while treating the two side neutrally. The case went back to the Superior Court, Fresno County where Judge Donald Black held a hearing in January of 2014. The highlight of this was a videotaped deposition made by Schofield who had died in October of 2013. On May 5, 2014, Black issued a sweeping decision that was resoundingly favorable to the Episcopal Church. Black's decision was the strongest support for the Episcopal Church that any court in America has issued in any part of the litigation between dioceses and the national Church. He denied that a diocese could leave the Church. As for bishops: "Diocesan bishops are at all times subject to and bound by the Church's Constitution and Canons and Book of Common Prayer." Black ordered all rights and properties in question to be handed over to the Episcopal Church. In May of 2014 the Episcopal and Anglican bishops met to discuss a settlement but nothing came of it. The Anglican diocese appealed Judge Black's decision to the California Fifth Court of Appeals in April of 2015 claiming that Black did not follow neutral principles. Meanwhile the Anglican side continued holding the rights and properties. The appeal that the Anglican side made to the Fifth in April, 2015, is the matter before the court next week.

Apart from the diocesan litigation, numerous local churches have been the subject of court actions. One by one these have been settled on the side of the Episcopal diocese. The most notable of these was a Kern County court decision in 2013 to return the property of St. Paul's Church, Bakersfield, to the Episcopal bishop. In July of 2013, the Episcopalians made a triumphal reentry and festival celebration in St. Paul's. The Anglican congregation, that had been occupying the property since the schism of December 2007, left, and is now meeting as Trinity Anglican Church, in St. John's Lutheran Church, on Buena Vista in Bakersfield. On Dec. 3, 2014, Mark Lawrence ordained his son Joseph there.

Mark Lawrence was rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church of Bakersfield from 1997 to 2007 when he was elected and confirmed to be bishop of South Carolina. Lawrence had been a dean of the diocese of San Joaquin, and his parish was part of the schism movement. Lawrence wrote two public essays defending "dissociation" that became widely known before he was elected bishop of South Carolina. When he was being considered for bishop in 2006 and 2007, some pro-Church parties expressed their fear that Lawrence would lead the Diocese of South Carolina out of the Episcopal Church. They appealed to the bishops and standing committees not to give consent. There was widespread doubt in the Church about Lawrence's loyalty to the Episcopal Church. He failed to gain a majority of proper consent on the first election, then did win a majority of consents on his second election in 2007 allowing him to be consecrated bishop of South Carolina.

The California supreme court and local courts have been mostly favorable to the Episcopal Church in the various episodes of litigation there over the last many years. All signs point to an eventual decision in favor of the Episcopal diocese of San Joaquin.

The appeals court next week will have to review Judge Black's decision of May 2014 and decide whether his procedure and conclusions in the case were proper under the law. As we all know, the South Carolina supreme court, to a justice, had nothing good to say about Judge Goodstein's decision for its procedure and conclusions. It is not at all likely that this will happen in this matter in California.

The appeals court in California will probably deliver a written opinion on this appeal in the first half of June. Of course, that decision could be appealed to the California supreme court.

Odds are in California that the Episcopal Church will wind up with the rights and properties. No state in the union has been more favorable in court to the Episcopal Church.

Meanwhile, we await a decision of the South Carolina supreme court. March 23 will mark six months since the hearing. Six months is the average gap time between hearing and written opinion. Given the retirement of Chief Justice Toal (but still acting an interim justice) and the use of various temporary justices on the court, I suspect we will have to wait a few months longer for a decision.

For the Anglican take on the court hearing, see www.dioceseofsanjoaquin.net , "Bishop's Call to Prayer." 

2nd edition---(Mar. 10). The hearing was held yesterday, March 9, in front of three judges of the appeals court. The court's decision is expected within 90 days, that is, by June 9.