WHAT'S GOING ON WITH DSC'S "DISCERNMENT" ON AFFILIATION?
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.