Tuesday, October 18, 2016



In last March's convention of the Diocese of South Carolina, we were told that a special convention would likely be called in the Fall of 2016 for a first vote on DSC's joining the Anglican Church in North America. There has been no mention since then about a special convention. Fall is well under way and there has been no word about a meeting. It takes a couple of months to arrange such a convention. It looks as if there will be no special convention to vote on affiliation this Fall. What's the problem?
There must be two votes before DSC can affiliate with any larger group. If the regular annual convention in March of 2017 votes to join ACNA, another convention must vote the same. The application would presumably come before the bishops of ACNA in their June 2017 conference. If DSC does not call a special convention before the March 2017 annual convention , it will have to do so between March and June in order to be accepted into ACNA on June.
Bishop Lawrence has made it very clear that he wants DSC to join ACNA. He held a clergy conference last month on that very subject. No one could have missed the point. The recommendation to join ACNA came last March in the annual diocesan convention from the task force on affiliation. This task force was hand-picked by Lawrence. It is unimaginable that DSC would not go along with Lawrence's wishes.
Bishop Lawrence has presided over 10 conventions of the DSC. There have been dozens of resolutions passed, perhaps a hundred in all, most either unanimously or nearly so. Of all the many resolutions called up for vote, only one has even been defeated. That was a proposed resolution from the Revs. Craige Borrett and Kendall Harmon in March of 2009 to suspend the General Convention, that is for DSC to boycott the 2009 General Convention. The clergy voted it down. That is the one and only resolution ever defeated by vote in one of the 10 conventions led by Lawrence. (It showed that the clergy of DSC were not quite ready to leave the Episcopal Church. The diocesan leadership was to change that attitude quickly.) I found only three proposed resolutions that were tabled, that is, suspended. One was "The Rubric of Love" in the October 2009 special convention. It expressed "love" and support for homosexuals. It caused a near melt-down of the convention; and the diocesan leadership, seeing the chaos, called for a vote to table. It passed 182-117. Next year that resolution was "withdrawn" i.e. killed. So much for "Love" for homosexuals in DSC.
Another proposed resolution to be tabled was the Rev. Shay Gaillard's call to support "Anglicans for Life" an anti-abortion group. The leaders of the March 2012 had that one tabled so as not to muddy the waters they were preparing for the great issue of the homosexuality. The General Convention of 2012 was about to meet and was expected to give green light to a liturgy for the blessing of same-sex unions. Gaillard's proposal was tabled, but brought back in the first secessionist convention, in March of 2013, in Florence, for passage. The last proposed resolution to be tabled came in 2014 when the diocesan leaders put forth one to give the local rector control over the parish property. That one was tabled and mysteriously disappeared never to be heard from again. No explanation of it has ever been put forth.
The closest a diocesan convention has ever come to going against the wish of Lawrence was in March of 2015 when a proposed resolution on marriage came up carrying a sentence condemning transgender, a topic that everyone knew was important to Lawrence. In the vote, two-thirds of the convention voted for the resolution, after it was slightly revised. One-third abstained or voted against.
The historical fact is that the DSC has never refused Mark Lawrence anything. It is unthinkable that they would deny him his wish to join ACNA. This begs the question of why there is no special convention this Fall. If this decision, like all others, is a slam dunk, why not go ahead and call a special convention to approve and get it set up for the March 2017 convention to give second and final passage? Is it because they are unsure of passage? I would be very surprised if this were the case. Or, are they waiting for the state Supreme Court ruling?
There has been no public explanation of why a special convention has not been called this Fall. But then, DSC operates under a lot of secrecy, has for years. However, it does make one a little suspicious that all is not well in DSC these days.

Sunday, October 9, 2016


The organization of Anglicans called the Global South has just held its sixth conference, in Cairo. It issued two important documents that are worth studying, a Communiqué ( here ) and a Statement from the Global South Primates and GAFCON Primates Council Concerning Same-Sex Unions ( here > "Statement..." 08 October). These documents reaffirm two realities that were already apparent: homosexuality was the driving issue splitting the Anglican Communion, and Global South/GAFCON have failed to break up the Anglican Communion into two hostile camps on that issue.
The second item, the Statement, speaks for itself simply and clearly as it condemns homosexual behavior. It continues the fundamentalist belief that God assigned gender and that people who go against their assigned gender are rebelling against God. In other words, homosexuality is a learned behavior and not an innate state. "Our role is to restore them to God's divine patterns" (#10). Restore them. Homosexuals are not really homosexuals, they are "same-sex attracted" (#11). There is nothing new in this Statement. It would be dismissed offhand by a great host of psychological and medical professionals.
The first item, the Communiqué, is much more interesting and revealing about the state of the anti-homosexual rights provinces of the Anglican Communion. Here are some items to note in this document:
1---(#2) 16 provinces participated in the recent Global South conference. That represented less than half of the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion. It also meant 8 of the 24 provinces that are part of Global South did not attend. This indicates a weakening of the anti-homosexual movement in the Anglican Communion.
2---(#8) the new Global South Primates Steering Committee is headed, once again, by Mouneer Anis of Egypt (Mark Lawrence's constant defender). Of the nine primates, four are from equatorial Africa, the provinces that have been historically the most opposed to rights for homosexuals. This shows the continued importance of the issue of homosexuality among the core of Global South/GAFCON.
3---(#22a) Explicit recognition that the division in the Anglican Communion came from the issue of homosexuality: "We recognize that division and dislocation amongst orthodox Anglicans have arisen during the disputes on human sexuality." Any claim from the Diocese of South Carolina, or any other breakaway group, that this was about "theology" or "polity" is just nonsense. Even Global South finally admitted the obvious. It is time for DSC to do the same. The schism of DSC from the Episcopal Church was directly caused by DSC's rejection of equal rights for homosexual persons.
4---The Communiqué is replete with references to sexuality.
5---The attitude toward the Anglican Communion is ambivalent. On one hand it called for unity in the Anglican Communion: "bind Anglicans worldwide together as one people" (#23). On the other hand, it criticized the Instruments of Communion of the Anglican Communion for failure to "discipline" those [Episcopal Church] who supposedly abandoned the historic faith and to check the marginalization of Anglicans in "heterodox Provinces" [ACNA and DSC]. 
     It is important to note what the document do not say. It does not call for, or even imply, division, schism, or any form of rebellion against the Anglican Communion. Global South/GAFCON has abandoned its threat to bolt the Anglican Communion. In the end, it only set up a "task force" to study the future (#33).
     While Global South/GAFCON recognized the Anglican Church in North America as a fellow "province," the documents said nothing about supporting it for membership in the Anglican Communion. In fact, that is a dead issue. In last January's Primates' Gathering in Canterbury, Global South/GAFCON abandoned ACNA on the spot and agreed that if ACNA should want to join the Anglican Communion it would have to go through the Anglican Consultative Council. In addition, the primates recommended that ACNA NOT be admitted to AC. When the Anglican Consultative Council met last April, all but three of the Global South/GAFCON provinces attended. Not one of them raised the issue of the admission of ACNA to the Anglican Communion. The fact that the new Communiqué completely ignores the issue of ACNA's joining AC confirms the point that this is dead. GAFCON helped create ACNA in 2009 with the goal of making it the replacement province in the Anglican Communion to take the place of the Episcopal Church. It is abundantly clear now that this stratagem has completely failed.
     People of South Carolina should understand that joining ACNA will NOT be joining the Anglican Communion. ACNA is not now and will never be a province of the Anglican Communion. At best it is "recognized" by a minority, and a shrinking one at that, of the most socially conservative provinces of the Anglican Communion.
The take-aways from the recent Global South Conference:
---the hard right of the Anglican Communion is still obsessed with the issue of homosexuality.

---the hard right knows it has failed to remove the pro-homosexual rights provinces from the Anglican Communion, most notably the Episcopal Church. It is at a loss to know what to do about this.  
---Opposition to equal rights for homosexuals is declining in the Anglican Communion. One province after another is taking up the issue of equal rights for homosexuals. We are on the downward slope, historically speaking, on this issue that peaked in 2015 with the U.S. Supreme Court and the Episcopal Church's adoption of same-sex marriage.
---Global South/GAFCON is on the decline in the Anglican Communion. They know they have lost the war on homosexuality. They are now only fighting a rear-guard action to delay the acceptance of historic reality as long as possible. At this point, it is just that, only delay of the inevitable.