Sunday, July 24, 2016


We have had too much gloom and doom lately. It is time we had a dose of optimism for a change. Let's look afresh at why we are Episcopalians. My friend Jill Campbell Pike posted this on Facebook on July 22. Having gotten her permission, I want to share it with you here. Right now, we all need to hear these words. We can all relate to her love for her local parish and the Episcopal Church. Thank you, Jill, for this:

"Thoughts on the Episcopal Church have been buzzing around my brain of late. Throughout the past year, I have become so much more aware how deeply I depend on the congregation of St. Luke's and on the liturgy of the Church to support me. There is no way I would have made it this far to be this sane without those two things.

Why the Episcopal Church? Why wouldn't the Methodist Church or a Baptist church, or a Catholic Church do just as well? There are loving congregations which exist in those denominations just like they do here at St. Luke's. The short answer is that the Episcopal Church has/does what I need, and the other churches do not. Because I have been regular in attendance these almost 40 years, the 1978 BCP has carved it sown groove into my brain, to be reminded that it is good to praise and thank God for everything in my life, the good and the bad. I NEED to kneel and to say the Prayer of Confession regularly. It is healthy for me to be confronted with those things done and left undone in my life which did not honor God. Besides reminding me of my humanity and my humility, this act is one done corporately, so that I am confessing my sins right along with the next person in my pew, right along with the whole congregation. This means that I am reminded in almost every service that I am not alone in either sinning or in receiving God's forgiveness.

I NEED to hear Scriptures read and explained to me. I need to hear sermons which challenge me and my view of the world and my personal theology. It helps me to grow. I also NEED that sequence of Episcopal worship, of every service: Scripture study (readings & sermon), confession, absolution, reconciliation, and, at last, the shared table.

Someone in a Bible study long ago taught me that one does not eat with one's enemies. You just don't. It's not safe to relax, let down your guard, and eat in their presence. That is why the juxtaposition of the verses in Psalm 23 where God prepares a table for me in the sight of my enemies is so powerful; the enemies are not invited, and I am protected from them as one of God's own. The breaking of bread in the context is, at least to me, one of THE most intimate acts in which one can participate. We do not bare ourselves physically, but emotionally, spiritually, and then are bound together in that intimacy into the family of God. Church is about finding/being a safe place for this.

Being reminded that God will sanctify my life is both a comfort and a challenge. It's a comfort to know that he still loves me despite my failings, and it's a challenge to live into my future life in the direction of His will for me.

And finally, how could I worship without beauty? The Episcopal Church has the most beautiful services I have ever experiences in a lifetime of attending churches. They appeal to every sense, sight, sound, touch, smell, and even taste. There is an intentional language with beautifully crafted words and phrases to express precisely how we love and praise God, and how he loves us in return. And that language does not change! It remains, like a bulwark, like a touchstone, for us to remember just where we stand in this world. The words of the prayer book were painstakingly crafted with prayer and intellect so that we might be led along a path toward God. They are not changed or improvised. They are not redefined or translated. They stand to echo the same structure and the same concepts as other Episcopalians in other churches around the world.

I believe that the Book of Common Prayer has done more to sustain the foundation of Christianity than any other book except the Bible. And the reason it has been able to do this is because each book has been created with such prayer and humility to stand the test of time and worship. After that, it's up to us to live our lives in such a way that we do not contradict it."


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

(as of July 19, 2016)

The majorities in five Episcopal Church dioceses voted to leave the Church between December of 2007 and November of 2012. In each case, the secessionist party claimed to own the old diocese, its legal rights and its property. On the other hand, the Episcopal Church claimed it reorganized and continued each diocese and that its entity owned the rights and property of the old diocese. In each of the five cases, two opposing dioceses squared off against each other in court. Legal actions ensued in every one of the five cases. The Church initiated the lawsuits in some instances, the separatist entities in others. More than eight years into the secession movement, where does the litigation now stand? We will look at each individual case: 1-Pittsburgh, 2-San Joaquin, 3-Quincy, 4-Fort Worth, and 5-South Carolina.


On Oct. 24, 2003, Calvary Church of Pittsburgh and St. Stephen's of Wilkinsburg filed suit in state court to prevent the officers of the Diocese of Pittsburgh from transferring any property in violation of the TEC Constitution and Canons. This was settled on Oct. 14, 2005 in a "Stipulation" agreement between Calvary and Bishop Robert Duncan stating that property held by the diocese would continue to be held by the Episcopal diocese. The Stipulation determined all future litigation in this diocese.

In 2008, the diocesan convention voted a second and last time to leave TEC. The secessionists look the name Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh leaving the loyalists as the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.

In January of 2009 the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh sued in state court for the property.

On October 6, 2009, the state court in Pennsylvania ruled that the Episcopal Church diocese was the legal and legitimate diocese and entitled to all that entailed. The court also ruled that all assets (money and property) belonged to the Episcopal Church diocese.

The Anglican diocese appealed the state court ruling to the PA Court of Appeals on Nov. 9, 2010. This court rejected the appeal in February of 2011. It reaffirmed this decision in March of 2011 by rejecting an appeal for a rehearing.

In March of 2011, the Anglican diocese appealed to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. On Oct. 17, 2011, that court denied the appeal leaving the lower court decision to stand. The Anglican diocese decided not to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Case closed. Decision of Oct. 6, 2009 definitive. Church side won.


In December of 2007 the diocesan convention voted to leave TEC. The secessionist diocese later took name of Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin.

On July 21, 2009, the (state) Superior Court of California, Fresno County, ruled entirely in favor of the Episcopal Church diocese and ordered all properties to be returned to the Episcopal Church diocese. Judge Adolfo Corona ruled TEC was a hierarchical church and the diocese was bound by its Constitution and Canons. The Anglican diocese appealed.

On November 11, 2010, the California 5th District Court of Appeals overturned the July 2009 decision and remanded the case to Superior Court to be reheard under "neutral principles." The case returned to the Superior Court, Fresno County.

Judge Donald S. Black held a trial, Jan. 6-13, 2014 in the 5th District Court, Fresno following the Appeals Court direction on neutral principles. On May 5, 2014, Judge Black ruled entirely in favor of the Episcopal Church diocese and ordered the turnover of all assets to the Episcopal diocese. As Judge Corona, Judge Black ruled TEC to be hierarchical and the diocese and bishop to be bound by TEC. He said a diocese cannot leave the Church.

The Anglican diocese appealed Judge Black's decision to the California 5th District Court of Appeals on April 2, 2015. The Episcopal diocese asked Judge Black, on April 7, to enact his earlier order for the return of the assets, but he refused. The appeals court heard oral arguments on March 9, 2016. On April 15, 2016, it issued a unanimous opinion upholding Judge Black's decision.

On April 20, 2016 the Anglican diocese filed for a rehearing in the appeals court. The court rejected it on May 4. On May 13, ADSJ filed a petition with the California Supreme Court which has until July 14 to give a response. If that court refuses to hear the case, Judge Black's 2014 decision will stand as the law. On July 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of California announced its denial of petition, thus ending the case.


In November of 2008 the diocesan convention voted a last time to leave TEC. Majority later took name Anglican Diocese of Quincy (ADQ).

In January of 2009, Church lawyers got the bank to freeze the diocesan funds of $3.5m.

Mar. 30, 2009, ADQ sued in state circuit court for the legal rights and the assets. On March 3, 2010, TEC filed a counterclaim for judgment. On December 16, 2011, the (state) 8th Judicial Court, Adams County, Illinois, ruled in favor of the Anglican diocese under "neutral principles." Judge Thomas Ortbal ruled that TEC was not hierarchical.

Judge Ortbal conducted a trial in April and May of 2013. On Sept. 6, 2013, he issued a decision in favor of the Anglican diocese. Ortbal took a strict construction approach. Since the TEC Constitution and Canons did not expressly give the national Church control of the dioceses and did not expressly forbid a diocese from seceding, TEC could not prevent a diocese from leaving with the property. He ruled that an endowment fund and properties belonged to the Anglican diocese.

The Episcopal diocese (now in Diocese of Chicago) appealed to the Fourth District Court of Appeals of Illinois on Oct. 15, 2013. On June 18, 2014, a hearing was held before a three judge panel of the appeals court. On July 24, 2014, the appeals court issued a judgment upholding the lower court decision entirely in favor of the Anglican diocese.  It too said TEC was not hierarchical.

The Episcopal diocese appealed to the Illinois state supreme court. On November 26, 2014, the Illinois Supreme Court denied the petition to review the lower court decision. This left the orders of the 8th Judicial Court of 2011 and 2013 in place.

The Episcopal diocese made an appeal to the 8th Judicial Court, Adams County, to freeze a portion ($800k) of the assets of the old diocese now controlled by the Anglican diocese. On February 20, 2015, Judge Mark Drummond of this court rejected the Episcopal diocese's request and admonished the diocese to respect the earlier orders.

The Episcopal Church side appealed Drummond's Feb. 20, 2015 order to the Illinois Fourth Court of Appeals. On May 13, 2016, this court issued an opinion entirely upholding Drummond's decision of 2015. The Appeals court opinion can possibly be appealed to the Illinois supreme court.

In all probability, litigation has ended for Quincy with a complete victory for the secessionist side. The courts ruled consistently that TEC is not hierarchical and that the local diocese was entitled to the rights and property following neutral principles.

It has been asserted that the Quincy decisions set the precedent for the rest of the country. The California court explicitly refuted this in its decision of April 15, 2016.


The majority of the diocesan convention voted to leave TEC in November of 2008. Both the majority and the minority continued using the names and symbols of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

On April 14, 2009, the Church diocese filed suit in the 141st District Court, Tarrant County, Fort Worth, seeking to recover the rights and property of the old diocese. On January 21, 2011, Judge John P. Chupp, of the (state) 141st District Court, Tarrant County, Texas, issued a decision entirely in favor of the Episcopal Church side. He ruled TEC to be hierarchical and ordered the secessionist side to hand over the assets.

Fort Worth became the first case to be litigated in state and federal court. In July of 2010, the Church diocese registered the old names and insignia in the U.S. Patent Office. A few weeks later the Church diocese went to the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division, Judge Terry R. Means. It charged secessionist bishop Jack Iker with violation of the federal Lanham Act that protects trademarks. On January 6, 2011, Judge Means issued a stay in proceedings pending the resolution of the case in state courts. (Both sides still use the identical name.)

The secessionist side appealed Judge Chupp's ruling to the Texas Supreme Court, bypassing the usual course to the appeals court. This court held a hearing on Oct. 16, 2012. On August 30, 2013, the Texas Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of the separatist diocese. The majority ordered the case be sent back to the 141st District Court for rehearing following the "neutral principles" rule under strict guidelines. They also declared that the Dennis Canon could not be enforced in Texas because the Canon did not expressly forbid a diocese from revoking it (even though a diocese has to accede to TEC's C and C). The four justices in the minority ruled the case should have been dismissed because it was not appealable to the state supreme court.

In June of 2014, the Episcopal diocese filed a request with the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari, that is, a request that the Supreme Court rule on he judgment of the Texas Supreme Court. On November 3, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition perhaps because it had not been resolved in state courts.

On February 20, 2015, Judge Chupp, of the 141st District Court, held a hearing lasting one and a half hours.

On March 5, 2015, Judge Chupp issued a terse order of four sentences granting all to the separatist diocese. He gave no explanation although he directly reversed his 2011 decision.

The Church diocese appealed Chupp's last ruling to the Texas Second Court of Appeals, in Fort Worth. Three justices heard oral arguments on April 19, 2016. In the hearing a justice asked two questions, one about interfering in an ecclesiastical issue and one observing the state supreme court had not rendered a decision only a remand.

We are awaiting the impending decision of the appeals court. It is impossible to tell which way this court will lean.


Ft. Worth is a strange and curious case. It has had polar opposite ruling, from the same judge. At first, Judge Chupp ruled very clearly and strongly in favor of the Episcopal Church diocese. There was no doubt in his mind about this case. However, the state supreme court changed everything. In Texas, the nine seats of the state supreme court are elected state wide. Given politics in Texas, this guarantees a unanimous and conservative Republican bench in the state supreme court. Even so, the anti-Episcopal Church party barely squeaked by in a split decision. The majority more or less ordered Chupp to reverse his decision. He had already said in his order that he had considered neutral principles and that they did not matter in this case. It seemed that Chupp was none too pleased in the higher court action. Apparently he only grudgingly complied. He held as brief a hearing as he could (1 and 1/2 hours) and immediately issued an order that was as terse as imaginable, just one short page. His last sentence was that it could be appealed. He gave not one word of explanation. The impression one gets is of a judge following orders from above but only against his better judgment.


South Carolina has had two avenues of litigation, state and federal.

In state court, the secessionist diocese acted first and chose the venue. It sued the Episcopal Church in the court of its choice, the (state) Circuit Court, in Dorchester County (Judge Diane Goodstein). From the first, the judge there ruled in favor of the secessionists. A fourteen day trial was conducted in July of 2014, highly favorable to the secessionists. The judge handed down her decision on Feb. 3, 2015. It appeared to have been written by the secessionists' lawyers. It found all in favor of the separatists and against the Episcopal Church. Although it purported to follow "neutral principles" the order often made judgments on the internal working of the Episcopal Church. The judge later refused to reconsider her decision.

On March 24, 2015, Church lawyers filed an appeal with both the state court of appeals and the state supreme court. On April 15, 2015, the state supreme court agreed to hear the appeal.

On September 23, 2015, the SC supreme court held a hearing on the appeal of the circuit court order. The tenor of the hearing was quite critical of the lower court decision.

In federal court, the Episcopal Church diocese brought suit in March of 2013 claiming its bishop and not the separatists' bishop was the legal and legitimate bishop of the diocese of South Carolina. Judge C. Weston Houck, in the U.S. District Court, in Charleston, dismissed the case in favor of the prior litigation in the state court.

The Episcopal Church side appealed the District Court decision to the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Richmond. A hearing was held in January of 2015. On March 31, 2015, the appeals court overturned Houck's decision and redirected the case to be heard under the Colorado River rule of narrow bounds. On Sept, 21, 2015, Judge Houck issued an order to stay the proceedings until the resolution of the state case. On Oct. 19, 2015, TEC lawyers appealed Houck's order to the Fourth Court of Appeals, in Richmond.

We are awaiting two court decisions: 1-the SC Supreme Court ruling on the appeal of the circuit court order, and 2-the appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals on Judge Houck's deferral.


South Carolina is important among the five cases in several ways. It is being litigated simultaneously in state and federal court. It is also the only one to bind the individual parishes into the lawsuit against the Episcopal Church so that both secessionist diocese and its (35) parishes are part of the same suit against TEC and its diocese. More than forty lawyers are participating on their side. Too, to my knowledge, it is the only one in which the secessionists got to choose their own court venue (a wise preemptive strike, and stunningly successful as it turned out). The DSC lawyers adopted a highly aggressive scheme against TEC even months before they entered the first lawsuit in contrast to the earlier four cases where the lawyers were slow to act. For instance, SC is the only one of the five cases where the Episcopal Church diocese has been legally banned from using the name of the Episcopal Diocese (in 3 of the 5 cases, the secessionists have adopted the name "Anglican Diocese of..."). Only in Ft. Worth and SC do the secessionists continue to call themselves "The Episcopal Diocese of..." In Ft. Worth, the Episcopal Church diocese uses the same name as the secessionists. Not in SC where the Church diocese has had to adopt another name (Episcopal Church in South Carolina). This is because the DSC lawyers struck early and convinced their judge to grant an injunction controlling the name. This is symptomatic of the more aggressive course of strategy and tactics employed by the secessionist diocese in SC.

The pending state supreme court decision is impossible to know, of course, but signs in the hearing of Sept. 23, 2015, showed a strong criticism of the circuit court decision and its underlying rationale.

The federal case is open to speculation. The 4th Circuit has already virtually ordered Judge Houck to proceed under certain guidelines. He refused pending the state court decision.


Three cases have now been settled, Pittsburgh, Quincy, and San Joaquin. Is there a consensus of court opinion on the right of a diocese to withdraw from the Episcopal Church and retain the local property?

There is no consensus.

Pittsburgh was settled simply by the Stipulation of 2005 that stated all property would be held by the Episcopal diocese. This was a unique case. No other diocese had such an agreement.

Quincy was settled by courts that consistently followed strict  construction. They found the Church did not have explicit authority over dioceses and property.  The key decision here was Judge Ortbal's September 6, 2013, ruling:

There is no explicit provision in TEC's Constitution and Canons specifying the office or body having supremacy or ultimate authority over the acknowledged Ecclesiastical Authority of a Diocese...
There is no provision in TEC's Constitution and Canons which require prior approval of a diocesan constitution and canons. There is no express prohibition against withdrawal of a diocese...there is no explicit or clearly delineated expression of TEC's claim that the General Convention is the ultimate authority or judicatory of the Church.
the court finds that DOQ met its burden of proof, in its case in chief, that it has title and ownership of the accounts and deed titled in the Trustees. Reviewing its actions under neutral principles of law, DOQ established its withdrawal from association with TEC was compliant with the applicable corporate charter, bylaws, as amended, as well as the not for profit corporation laws.

In reference to the Dennis Canon, Ortbal said:

The court does not find that the law of Illinois would establish an implied trust based upon the evidence before the court. The court has concluded that the supreme and ultimate authority of the General Convention over the property of the DOQ cannot be constitutionally determined.

In the case of Fort Worth, the Texas Supreme Court ruled similarly in its August 30, 2013, decision:

The corporation was incorporated pursuant to Texas corporation law and that law dictates how the corporation can be operated, including determining the terms of office of corporate directors, the circumstances under which articles and bylaws can be amended, an the effects of the amendments...We conclude that this record fails to show that, as a matter of law, the trustees had been disqualified from serving as corporate trustees at the relevant times.

Concerning the Dennis Canon the court said:

even assuming a trust was created as to parish property by the Dennis Canon and the bylaws and actions of a parish non-profit corporation holding title to the property, the Dennis Canon "simply does not contain language making the trust expressly irrevocable."

In other words, the Texas court said the diocese could discard the Dennis Canon because there was nothing in the Canon to prevent it from being revoked. This was a novel interpretation.

In the matter of San Joaquin, the key court ruling was Judge Donald S. Black's ruling of May 5, 2014:

The pivotal issue here, however, is whether Scofield's attempted transfers of real and personal property to the Anglican Diocese Holding Corporation, after Schofield was deposed as bishop of DSJ, were valid.

Black went on to rule that the transfers were not valid:

On such matters of religious polity and governance, this court must defer to the determination made by the Church. Thus, Bishop Lamb became the incumbent of the property-holding corporate entities. Schofield's property transfers, then, were ineffective because he did not have the authority or title necessary to effectuate the transfers. Because the property was not validly transferred to the Holding Company, title must remain with the Plaintiff Diocese and Church.

The California Fifth District Appeals Court agreed in its decision of April 5, 2016. However, this court backed away from the Dennis Canon:

Further, courts will not imply a trust on church property. Implying a trust almost invariably puts the civil courts squarely in the midst of ecclesiastical controversies, in that every dispute over church doctrine that produces strongly held majority and minority views forces the court to determine the true implied beneficiaries of the church entities involved. The court would be required to determine which faction continued to adhere to the "true" faith. This is something a civil court is not permitted to do.

If a common picture is emerging it is that courts are viewing property ownership in local terms and avoiding the Dennis Canon. However, this resulted in diametrically opposed rulings in Illinois and California both claiming to follow neutral principles. The difference boiled down to whether the courts saw the local diocese as independent (Quincy) or not (San Joaquin). Although claiming neutrality, courts are still judging the structure of a religious institution but doing so in very different ways.

What does all this mean for the impending decision in South Carolina?

The hearing in the SC supreme court was last September 23. The justices almost certainly met a couple of weeks later and arrived at a decision in the case. Then began the writing phase. When the court's decision is released it becomes permanent. Until then, the written decision(s) are fluid and can be changed. The justices and their clerks are free write what they please in both majority and dissenting opinions until all the justices are satisfied their work is finished. Thus, they could now use the new California opinions in what they are presently writing.

Lack of a national judicial consensus on the right of a diocese to leave the Episcopal Church and leave holding the local properties makes the upcoming South Carolina decision even more important as a guide to a national standard on the issue.




Wednesday, July 13, 2016

2nd edition

The Supreme Court of California has denied the petition of the Anglican diocese for review of the church case. This means total victory for the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin!

At 5:04 p.m., PDT, the CA Supreme Court emailed me this notice:

"The following transaction has occurred in: DIOCESE OF SAN JOAQUIN v. GUNNER, Case S234572. Supreme Court of California, 2016-07-13, Event Description: Petition for Review Denied."

This means the Superior Court decision of Judge Donald S. Black stands as the final word on the dispute between the Episcopal and Anglican dioceses of San Joaquin. Black ruled entirely and completely for the Episcopal side.

I will return soon with more information on this very important development.

2nd EDITION, July 14 a.m.---   Bishop Eric Menees of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin yesterday posted a gracious letter to his diocese acknowledging the end of the legal road for them. He said, "Now is the time for us to begin the process of handing over the properties." At long last, and after seven exhausting years, the legal war in San Joaquin is over with a complete failure of the schismatic group in court. Read Menees's letter here . 

This means three of the five cases of schism have been settled legally. The Episcopal Church prevailed in two: Pittsburgh and San Joaquin and the schismatics won in one: Quincy. Two cases are pending: South Carolina and Fort Worth. The SC Supreme Court should rule any time on the case they heard last September 23. The Fort Worth case is before the state appeals court there with future unknown. If the SC ruling is a clear-cut decision it will be the most important of all because it will be the first time a state supreme court has issued an opinion on the great issues at hand.


Monday's vote in the Anglican Church of Canada was historic in many ways. All three houses voted by more than two-thirds majority to allow same-sex marriage in the Church. This is a stunning victory for democracy, human rights, the Anglican Church of Canada, and the Anglican Communion and its significance should not be lost on anyone. The reality is that the tidal wave of history is bringing democratic equality over civilization starting with the First World. In the big picture, this is really something that has been going on for more than two centuries. The vote in Canada is just the latest evidence of the march of the rights of man (and woman).

Canada is the second of the 38 Anglican provinces to adopt same-sex marriage in the church, after the American Episcopal Church. On the civil side, same-sex marriage has been sweeping the world in the last fifteen years, now legal in many countries.

Parts of the Anglican Communion have responded to the issue of homosexual rights/same-sex marriage differently. In general, the First World provinces are moving to adopt this while Third World countries, particularly in Africa, are maneuvering to stop it. The conventional institutional structure of the Anglican Communion leans to the First World. Third World Anglicans created GAFCON in 2008 as an anti-homosexual rights sub-structure in the AC. They tried to split off the "anti" side from the old Communion but failed. One of their aims was to have their proxy in America, the anti-homosexual rights Anglican Church in North America, to replace the pro-homosexual rights Episcopal Church as the legitimate Anglican province in America. This stratagem collapsed and died in early 2016. The primates' gathering in January ruled that if the ACNA wanted to join the AC, it would have to go through the Anglican Consultative Council and recommended that the ACC not admit the ACNA. A few weeks later, at the meeting of the ACC in Lusaka, there was no effort to get ACNA into the AC. GAFCON is now in disarray trying to decide what to do next.

Meanwhile, First World provinces are moving toward adopting same-sex marriage. There is an excellent summary of the 38 provinces' stands on this issue in Wikipedia here . It looks as if the next province to approve, after the U.S. and Canada, will be Scotland. On June 10, "The Scottish Episcopal Church took the first step towards allowing same sex marriage when its General Synod approved a change to the Church's canon on marriage." See the article about this in the Anglican News Service here . There are signs that Ireland too is on the way to allowing same-sex marriage in church (see the Wikipedia article above). Moreover, there are clear signs that England will be joining the parade. It is just a matter of time. See the revealing article about the Church of England in The Telegraph here . Although this movement is spearheaded by First World provinces, others are moving too. In 2017, the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil will discuss changing its canons to allow same-sex marriage. There have also been rumblings of change in New Zealand, Australia, Southern Africa, and other places.

This is not to say that the whole Anglican Communion is in process of adopting equal rights for homosexual persons. No doubt GAFCON/Global South, created to oppose this, will continue to fight for a long time to come before they too are overwhelmed by the irresistible tide of history. However, it appears to me that the steam has gone out of their crusade which is now on a downward slope. The momentum in the worldwide struggle for equal rights for homosexuals has definitely shifted. The "pro" side now has the initiative as shown by the American Episcopal Church vote of last year, the primates' gathering of January, the ACC meeting of April, and the Canadian vote of Monday. The GAFCON side is back on its heels and scrambling to make a coherent response to this onslaught. The primate of Uganda's attempt to lead an anti-American revolt fizzled out in the primates' gathering. He managed to get only two allies to join him in boycotting the ACC meeting in April.

Where does the schismatic Diocese of South Carolina fit into all of this? Answer=it has no fit. It is about to join the Anglican Church in North America but that will not change anything. The ACNA is an independent denomination not part of the Anglican Communion. It never has been and never will be as revealed in the events of this year. One may suppose that DSC will continue to be "recognized," whatever that means, by its anti-homosexual-rights friends abroad. What use is that? The way GAFCON/GS abandoned the ACNA, the DSC should not count on them. Bottom line=DSC continues to drift without meaning or identity while the world moves on beyond them. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


In a stunning turn of events, the Anglican Church of Canada today announced that the actual vote on July 11 in fact approved of the measure to allow same-sex marriage in the Church. Read the just-released report from CBC News  here . The vote on Monday was counted incorrectly and "The error was discovered after delegates requested a detailed hard copy of the electronic voting records." Upon inspection of the actual votes, Archbishop Hiltz announced that the measure had gained the 2/3 required in each of the three houses and therefore was approved. However, the measure has to be approved by the next synod in 2019 before it becomes church law.

Monday, July 11, 2016


Stand by for news about to break concerning the case of the rival dioceses of San Joaquin. The California state supreme court is expected to rule by Thursday, July 14, on whether it will accept the appeal of the Superior Court decision of 2014. It is possible the court will extend the deadline, but there has been no word about this so far.

The Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin is appealing to the CA supreme court for review of the May 5, 2014, judgment by Donald Black, of the Superior Court of CA. Black ruled completely and entirely for the Episcopal Church side with sweeping judgments such as "Diocesan bishops are at all times subject to and bound by the Church's Constitution, Canons and Book of Common Prayer." He also said, "Because a diocese is a geographical construct of the Church, it makes no sense that a diocese can 'leave' the Church." Black ordered all assets handed over to the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. In all of the five cases of schism, Black's ruling was the strongest on the side of the Episcopal Church.

Black's decision, and order, were put on hold, however, when the Anglican side appealed to the CA Fifth Court of Appeals. That court ruled unanimously on April 5, 2016, in favor of the Episcopal diocese, hence the Anglicans' appeal to the state supreme court.

If the California supreme court refuses to take the case, Judge Black's decision and order of 2014 will stand as the final word. The Anglican diocese will then have to turn over to the Episcopal diocese all of the assets of the pre-schism diocese that it still retains. This would end seven years of destructive litigation in San Joaquin, and end it in a complete victory for the Episcopal Church. It would be the second major defeat for the schismatics, after that in Pittsburgh. Of course, we are all anxiously waiting to see if South Carolina will be the third.

I think it is unlikely the CA supreme court will take this case. The issue was thoroughly adjudicated in the lower court, and reviewed by the appeals court. The decision was clear, precise and unanimously upheld on appeal. Anyway, the CA supreme court has consistently sided with the Episcopal dioceses in the breakaway parish cases.

For more information on this see the Anglican diocesan website's letter of May 13, 2016 here .

If the Episcopal diocese prevails this week, it will be the biggest legal victory for the Church side since the Pennsylvania settlement (Oct. 11, 2011, PA supreme court rejected Anglicans' appeal). The CA action probably will not affect the South Carolina proceedings, however, because the SC supreme court hearing was last September. In all likelihood these justices made their decision(s) soon afterwards and are now in the writing stage.

Stay tuned for imminent news from California. It should arrive by Thursday. I will relay here the news of the CA supreme court's action as soon as possible.

Saturday, July 9, 2016


On July 6, 2016, the independent Diocese held a memorial service for the late bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, Edward Salmon. A report and pictures are available here . The "sermon" in the half filled cathedral was given by the Rev. Dr. Kendall Harmon. His forty-minute presentation is available on audio at the above mentioned site. Having listened to his words, I can say that Harmon's perception of the life and work of Bishop Salmon did not square with what I found in my historical research of the schism in South Carolina. 

Harmon's talk dwelled much on himself, albeit tied in with Bishop Salmon (one learns more about Harmon than Salmon). To hear Harmon tell it, Salmon was a great supporter of his. He made some other curious implications too that are not appropriate to discuss here such as the assertion that he (Harmon) and Salmon turned around a troubled St. Paul's of Summerville. In my historical research, I found the relationship between Salmon and Harmon was actually quite complicated.

What offended me the most was not Harmon's self-absorption or his particular interpretation of history, it was his repeated implication that Bishop Salmon supported and still would support the schismatic "diocese" of South Carolina. It seemed to me that he tried to use Salmon to affirm and promote what the schism had done, what is was doing, and what it planned to do in the future. On the subject of "affiliation" (DSC is about to affiliate with the Anglican Church in North America), Harmon said, "If Ed were here." he would tell the independent diocese to "make the right decision," "stay connected," "make sure everyone is on board," and stay "in love with one another as we go forward." On hearing this, I was aghast.

Harmon did not give one example of Salmon's approval of or support for the schism of 2012 or of what the schismatic diocese did afterwards. This was because Salmon never, ever said a word in public of approval or support for the Diocese of South Carolina to break away from the Episcopal Church. Salmon had plenty of opportunities to give aid to the Lawrence diocese. He never did. To say that he would now tell the schismatics to "go forward" is in my view wrong-headed and malicious to the memory of Bishop Salmon.

Bishop Salmon was a lifelong Episcopalian and die-hard loyalist of the Episcopal Church. He was a great critic of the Church, particularly on homosexuality, but he never, ever advocated schism from the Episcopal Church. In fact, he fought against it all he could. He was pained and hurt by much of what he witnessed in the Episcopal Church in his late years, but he never entertained the idea of ever leaving the Episcopal Church.

Although Harmon  said the words "church" and "churchman" often he did not once utter the word "Episcopal." He did use the word "Anglican" once trying to paint the schismatic diocese as somehow Anglican although it is not part of the Anglican Communion.

The most galling stretch of Harmon's self-serving imagination came at the end of his talk. Referring to Mark Lawrence's imagery in the recent diocesan convention of putting the ship of the diocese "into the wind" of discernment, Harmon dared to speak for Salmon. Harmon said Salmon would say something like: "Are you putting her into the wind high enough?" I think Salmon would have been appalled at this and any other suggestion of his support for schism.

Harmon also had the nerve at least to imply that Salmon would approve of the schismatic diocese's global reach. He said Salmon would say it was "good" that the diocese is thinking globally. In fact, Salmon had plenty of opportunity to say this and the other things, but he never did. Again, there is not one public record of Salmon ever supporting what the schismatics did in South Carolina.

It seemed to me that Harmon tried to use the memory of Bishop Salmon to justify what Harmon and the other diocesan leaders of the old Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina did after Salmon left in 2008. As bishop, Salmon spent eighteen years fighting to promote his conservative understanding of Christianity in the Episcopal Church that he loved. The people who followed him in power in the Diocese of South Carolina did not share Salmon's love of the Episcopal Church. As soon as he was gone, they began moving to lead the diocese out of the Episcopal Church as soon as they conveniently could.

In his Memorial "Sermon," Harmon apparently tried to use the memory of Bishop Salmon to defend what the schismatics had done in Salmon's old diocese. In my opinion and my judgment as a student of the history of the schism, to say the least, any attempt to use the life and witness of Bishop Edward Salmon to validate schism against the Episcopal Church would be a serious misuse of history and a discredit to the honored memory of the thirteenth bishop of the Episcopal Church Diocese of South Carolina.

I have already posted on this blog two entries on Bishop Salmon. Readers may refer to them for more of my historical reflections on Bishop Salmon and his episcopate.

The schism in South Carolina is an ongoing disaster. The schismatic leaders succeeded in taking roughly two-thirds of the old diocese out of the Episcopal Church in October of 2012. It has been downhill for them ever since. They lost 25% of their membership in the first two years. They saddled their misled communicants with two sets of huge legal bills, one for the diocese and one for the individual parishes. By their own reports they spent two million dollars on lawyers right away. Meanwhile, the leaders could give their communicants neither meaning nor identity. At nearly four years out now, the schismatic diocese is still a rudderless ship lost at sea. Anyone who listened to the state supreme court hearing last September knows the renegade "diocese" is probably going to be on the losing end of the pending court decision. At this moment, any attempt to cloak this disaster in the mantel of the honored memory of the larger-than-life bishop who came before them and abhorred the very idea of schism not only smacks of desperation, but also sad delusion.  

Wednesday, July 6, 2016


The South Carolina Supreme Court issued one decision today on a matter other than the church case, Smith v. D.R. Horton, Inc. Today's ruling, however, is interesting to note. First of all the court heard the oral arguments in this case on March 3, 2015. That means a 15 month gap between hearing and written decision. At that rate, the Episcopal Church case will see a written decision in December of 2016, five months from now.

Another possibly significant sign in today's decision is the court split. Former Chief Justice Toal wrote the majority opinion and was joined by justices Beatty and Hearn. Justices Kittredge and Pleicones dissented and Kittredge wrote a dissenting opinion that was twice as long as Toal's majority opinion. Remember that these were the same five justices who heard the Church case on September 23, 2015, and will issue written opinion(s) at some point.

I still imagine that we are in for a long wait on a written decision in the church case. But then, nobody knows.

See today's written decision here .

Sunday, July 3, 2016


The Rt. Rev. Edward Salmon was bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina from 1990 to 2008. After him came Bishop Mark Lawrence who led the majority of the diocese out of the Episcopal Church creating the schism of 2012. It is fair to ask, What relationship did Bishop Salmon have with the schism?

Salmon's episcopate can be divided into three periods, 1-1990-1997, 2-1997-2003, 3-2003-2008.

The war over homosexuality. The issue of whether homosexuals should be allowed ordination in the Episcopal Church first appeared in General Convention of 1976. In 1979, GC passed a resolution opposing ("not appropriate") the ordination of open homosexuals. Throughout the 1980's this held as GC passed resolutions defending traditional marriage. The conservatives believed they had won the day and had put the issue to rest.

The issue exploded around 1990 when Bishop Spong, of Newark, ordained an open homosexual and his assistant bishop, Walter Righter, ordained another deacon and priest. There were two sides of the issue. "Antis" argued that homosexual acts were immoral and non-celibate homosexuals must not be allowed into Holy Orders. The "Pros" held that homosexuality was amoral, that is, neither innately good nor bad, and that human rights gave homosexuals entrance into Holy Orders. The Episcopal Church was divided roughly into thirds, one-third Anti, one-third Pro, and one-third neutral. The war was between the Antis and the Pros to win the majority.

Bishop Salmon joined the war immediately on the Anti side. The first big showdown came at the General Convention of 1991. As it turned out, the GC did not censure the bishops of Newark, and did not interfere in the ordinations (as GC had done by declaring the first women's ordinations as "irregular'). Failure to act gave de facto approval of the ordination of homosexuals. This was the real turning point in the war but it was far from apparent at the time.

The next GC, in 1994, quietly  passed resolutions holding that homosexuals could not be denied ordination and setting up a path to the blessing of same-sex unions. These passed almost under the radar. Salmon and the other conservatives protested but could do nothing else. This really solidified the victory the Pros had won in 1991.

Having failed to stop GC on homosexuality, the hard right of the bishops hauled Bishop Righter to ecclesiastical court. Salmon supported this. The court, however, ruled on May 15, 1996, that the Church had no doctrine on the ordination of homosexuals; and therefore homosexual persons could not be denied the right of ordination. This was really the end of the war. It was a total victory of the Pros. But still this was not apparent at the time.

In 1996, the American Anglican Council, a right-wing political action committee was set up to oppose the rise of rights for homosexuals in the Episcopal Church. In the 1997 GC, the AAC led the defeat of a resolution that would have led to a liturgy for the blessing of same-sex unions. GC continued to define traditional marriage. With this, the Antis believed they had won the war. It would be a few years before the reality of what had actually happened settled in on people like Salmon. By 1997, the conservatives believed they had staved off the Pros, but in reality it was the Pros who had won years earlier. The Episcopal Church never had a full and open discussion about homosexuality. It solved the problem through the back door by saying homosexuals could be ordained because there was nothing to stop them from being ordained. This in effect established the principle of the amorality of homosexuality, something the die-hard ultra-conservatives would never accept.

Walking the tightrope. Having fought the good fight against homosexuality and having been lulled into the false security of superiority, Salmon turned to pressing problems within the Diocese of South Carolina, namely a pending revolt from the far-right clergy. In 1997, the Rev. Chuck Murphy, long at angry odds with Salmon, led a conference that set up First Promise, a group that at least implied schism from the Church because of its pro-homosexual stand. In 2000, a group of renegade bishops ordained Murphy a bishop in full violation of the rules of the Episcopal Church. At the same time Murphy created the Anglican Mission in America under the auspices of the primate of Rwanda. The danger Salmon faced was how much this schism would carry over into the rest of the diocese.

Salmon took a firm hand against Murphy and his parish All Saints. In 2000, All Saints went to court to claim ownership of the parish property. Shortly thereafter they declared independence from the diocese. Salmon went to court to enforce the Dennis Canon against All Saints. This asserted that the diocese and Episcopal Church held trust over the property. Eventually, the South Carolina supreme court ruled in 2009 that All Saints was legally independent and the sole owner of the property. Salmon had to worry all along about what ripple effect All Saints might have on the rest of the diocese.

In the period of 1997-2003, Salmon played down his differences with the Episcopal Church as he fought against secession from it. There were several opportunities for him to fight new battles against the Church but he mostly backed away. He was alarmed at a proposal introduced in the diocesan convention of 2000 in which the diocese would threaten schism from the Episcopal Church. The proposal was tabled. Salmon also set up a reconciliation committee to try to hold the opposing factions of the diocese together.

Thus, Salmon devoted most of his energy in the years 1997-2003 to trying to stabilize and unify the diocese and its relationship with the national Church.

The period of unity came to a screeching halt in 2003 when the Episcopal Church affirmed its first non-celibate homosexual bishop, Gene Robinson. This was a tremendous shock to the Antis who had allowed themselves to be lulled into thinking they had put aside the issue of homosexuality in 1997. The reality of what had really happened between 1990 and 1997 suddenly came crashing down on them. They learned, really for the first time, that the Pros had won the war long ago. Now it was too late to do anything about it.

To say that Salmon and the other Antis were outraged would be putting it mildly. No doubt they were angry too at themselves for getting into this situation. The far-right exploded into action against the Episcopal Church.

In the Diocese of South Carolina, the anti-Episcopal Church party, long steaming over Church social reforms, solidified their control of the diocese. On August 18, 2003, Salmon met with the Standing Committee and formed an authoritarian system insulating the diocese from the national Church. They agreed to nullify acts of the Church with which they disagreed (shades of antebellum days). They called a special meeting of the diocesan convention to take a definite stand against the Episcopal Church. This was a landmark point:

If we can pinpoint a "turning point" in which the Diocese of South Carolina moved clearly to an "anti" attitude toward the Episcopal Church, it would be the special convention of October 3, 2003. Although its regard for the national Church had been declining over many years, the diocese had maintained an identity as an integral part of the Episcopal Church. From the special convention onward, this would not be the case. It would increasingly see itself as an outsider diocese with only tenuous ties to the national Church. The conservative viewpoint was well established in the diocese for good. They saw religion as absolute and unchanging truth. This must be taken to a world in need of redemption which occurred in a vertical posture of salvation between one person and one God. They believed the Episcopal Church had gone wrong by developing horizontal religion and becoming too much a part of the sinful world. They believed there were no absolutes in the Church any more, only relativism.

Salmon declared to the special convention that the Episcopal Church had set up a new religion.

Salmon threw in his lot with the ultra-conservatives. In November, he joined several others to go to the Archbishop of Canterbury in search of alternate primatial oversight. The Archbishop kept hands off. Actually, the Episcopal Church made three different offers of alternate oversight for dioceses that did not want to accept the Church reforms. In every case, the ultras rejected the offers. The problem was that the ultras wanted a foreign primate while the Episcopal Church could not allow this under its Constitution and Canons.

Nevertheless, South Carolina joined a dozen ultra dioceses to form the hostile Anglican Communion Network. The Chapman Memo, from the American Anglican Council, laid out a blueprint for diocesan schism from the Episcopal Church. Finally, after the election of Jefferts Schori as Presiding Bishop in 2006, the core of the ACN began moving to schism. Four dioceses passed majority votes to leave the Episcopal Church. Salmon, however, would not bring up such votes in South Carolina.

By this point, Salmon may simply have been exhausted. In 2003, he was 69 years old. He had been fighting for a long time. He had fought against the Church on homosexuality for many years, only to see the Pro side win a sweeping victory. He had been fighting his own schismatics and trying to hold together a diocese that was ever moving rightward. By 2005, he was also getting word that pro-Episcopal Church parishes as St. Stephens of Charleston and Holy Cross/Faith Memorial of Pawleys Island were ready to leave the diocese. It may have been that he was tired of fighting losing wars. Perhaps this was why he eventually surrendered to the dominant conservative force in the diocese and turned over to them the choice of a new bishop.

On April 6, 2004, Salmon went to the Standing Committee and reminded them that he had to retire at the end of 2006 (age 72). He set up a selection process that in effect guaranteed the conservatives would chose his successor. He and the Committee set up a search committee of 12 people, 3 chosen by Salmon, 3 by the Standing Committee, 3 by the Diocesan Council, and 3 by the diocesan convention. They also said no nominations would be accepted from the floor. All nominations would go through the search committee.

Suffragan bishop William Skilton was removed from any consideration and forced into retirement (end of 2006). The committee refused to take a consultant from the Episcopal Church. They also refused to allow the 2006 General Convention to vote on their choice. They waited until after the GC to announce their nominees and to hold an election.

The search committee turned out to be solidly conservative: Rev. Greg Kronz was the chair. He was an acquaintance of Mark Lawrence's from Pittsburgh days and fellow Trinity alum. Others: Frances Fuchs, of St. John's on Johns Island, Rev. Frank Limehouse, soon replaced by Rev. Jeff Miller, rector of St. Helena's of Beaufort, Rev. Craige Borrett, of Christ/St. Paul's of Yonges Island, Rev. Paul Feuner, of Prine George, Georgetown, Anthony Kowbeidu, of St. Andrew's of Mt. Pleasant, Rev. John Scott, of Epiphany of Eutawville, Rev. David Thurlow, of St. Matthias of Summerton, John Bowden, of St. Paul's of Orangeburg, Lydia Evans of St. Philip's of Charleston, Martha Flowers of St. Bartholomew's of Hartsville, and Keith Lackey, of Holy Communion of Charleston. Apparently, every one of these people later left the Episcopal Church. All went with Lawrence except Lackey who departed with the group from Holy Communion to form an Ordinariate community. Salmon and the diocesan ruling clique made no attempt to balance the selection process.

According to the sworn testimony of the Rev. Thomas M. Rickenbaker, the search committee wanted only candidates promising to take the diocese out fo the Episcopal Church. The Rev. Dow Sanderson testified in the circuit court trial that Jeff Miller told him Lawrence was chosen in order to lead the diocese out of the Episcopal Church.

The search committee received upwards of fifty nominations. They liked none of them. At the first of May of 2006, with time running out, they contacted retired Bishop Alden Hathaway, Mark Lawrence's bishop from Pittsburgh days, and asked him to contact Lawrence and request he submit his name for consideration. Hathaway did. Lawrence did. In effect, the committee chose Lawrence to be the next bishop. Lawrence was well-known through his stand against Robinson in the 2003 GC and from his article calling on the Episcopal Church to submit to the will of the worldwide Anglican Communion. After he was nominated he issued another essay defending disassociation from the Episcopal Church.

Last minute efforts to slide in a local candidate were swept aside. The Revs. John Burwell and Dow Sanderson were quickly dismissed as possibilities.

We cannot know the relationship between Bishop Salmon and the search committee during the search time. The minutes of the search committee, if they existed, were not produced in the circuit court trial. We do know that the search committee operated in almost complete secrecy.  We cannot know from the existing public documents what if any effort Salmon made to get another candidate. In the end, the committee submitted three names. One left the Episcopal Church within a couple of months, one a couple of years later. The other was Lawrence.

It would not be accurate to say that Salmon wanted the Diocese of South Carolina to leave the Episcopal Church. He opposed schism. This leaves us with a puzzle of why he handed over the selection of his successor to what he knew to be a conservative coalition bitterly hostile to the Episcopal Church. It could be, as I said before, he was simply exhausted. It could be too that his defense of the Episcopal Church had eroded greatly after the shock of the Robinson affair. Perhaps he no longer had the will to defend the Church at home. Perhaps he just resigned himself to allow the dominate force of the diocese to control the diocesan destiny even if there were clear warnings of schism ahead.

Thus, there were three periods of Salmon's episcopacy. The first was his war against ordination of homosexuals, the second his fight to keep the diocese together, and the last a sort of final clash between the first two. While he personally opposed schism from the Episcopal Church he could not or world not set up an apparatus to guarantee that the diocese would remain in the Episcopal Church. A few years after Salmon's departure, the anti-Church forces controlling the diocese succeeded in doing what Salmon had not wanted them to do.

Could Bishop Salmon have kept the Diocese of South Carolina from voting to leave the Episcopal Church? I doubt it. The force of combative conservatism, great when he arrived in 1990, only strengthened thereafter. In a way he supported this trend and in a way he did not. After 2003, the hostility to the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of  South Carolina was so pervasive and the power of the anti-Episcopal Church clergy so thorough in the diocesan bodies that I doubt any bishop could have changed the diocesan trajectory. Nevertheless, schism was not inevitable. Nothing in human history can be declared "inevitable" because God endowed people with free will to make their own decisions, for good or ill. Every day of our lives we make countless choices that impact on what happens to us. Perhaps in the end, Salmon simply decided just to let the diocese be itself and trust the future to man and God. He surrendered the future of the diocese to a rather small ring of clergy who had come to monopolize power in the diocesan governing bodies. He knew them to be thoroughly adversarial to the Episcopal Church. He did not know, had no way of knowing, that the people in power would eventually lead the  majority out of the Episcopal Church, but he must have known he was taking a big risk. 

So, how can we answer the original question of the relationship between Salmon and the schism? Salmon did not want schism. He never gave any public support for what happened in 2012 and after. He wanted the diocese to remain in the Episcopal Church but the forces pushing the diocese out of the Church were too strong for him to stop.