Monday, May 29, 2017


In my history of the schism, I worked to put as much of the text in the original words of the actors as possible. There were hundreds of memorable quotes that revealed the thoughts and feelings of the people involved in the schism of 2012. These will resound through the ages. Here are some of the outstanding ones.

The unity of the Church is not the work of human hands nor of human minds, but the work of the Holy Spirit accomplished through the sacraments. The mother church is the flesh that bore us, brought us into this world as Christians.I have diligently searched Scriptures and prayer book and have found no ceremony where one can divorce one's mother.
---the Rev. Daniel Hank, Nov. 17, 2012, special convention DSC.

We dare not break our Christian fellowship by any attitude or act in the House of God which makes our brethren of other races as unequal or inferior.
---TEC General Convention, 1943.

This new movement is wrong because it is schismatic and divides the Body. Anyone who joins this movement is leaving The Church and starting a new one, whatever language is used to define the action. I cannot believe this is the will of God, who wills unity not division,; love not separation; obedience and not self-gratification.
---Bishop Gray Temple, 1977 DSC convention, on the schismatic movement following women's ordination.

[It] lit my fuse.
---Bishop Allison, 1987, on "Sexuality: A Divine Gift, A Sacramental Approach to Human Sexuality and Family Life."

That's a lie.
---Rev. Charles Murphy to Bishop Salmon, 1997 DSC convention, according to Nick Zeigler: "Suddenly there was a commotion on the floor of the convention, and I saw the Reverend Murphy striding down the center aisle shouting at Bishop Salmon (...) At one point the Rev. Murphy said in a loud voice that reverberated throughout the church, 'That's a lie.' The acrimonious exchange went on for several minutes before three hundred startled delegates."

The General Convention has endorsed a new religion.
---Bishop Salmon, Oct. 2, 2003, in aftermath of the Bishop Robinson affair.

We have a theology in practice [Prayer Book of 1979] which moves straight from creation to redemption, a nearly universalistic worldview in which the fall and sin have in essence disappeared! It is a gospel of affirmation rather than the gospel of salvation. We have moved from sinners in the hands of an angry God to clients in the palms of a satisfied therapist.
---Rev. Kendall Harmon, Plano TX conference, Oct. 7-9, 2003, on how the new prayer book had led the church astray.

It's not about me; it's about so many other people who find themselves at the margins.
---Bishop Gene Robinson, Nov. 2, 2003, at his consecration.

Our ultimate goal is the realignment of Anglicanism on North American soil (...) We believe in the end this should be a 'replacement' jurisdiction.
Rev. Geoffrey Chapman, Dec. 28, 2003, "The Chapman Memo."

There has to be a realignment of Anglicanism in North America.
---Rev. Kendall Harmon, Bloomfield Hills, MI, May 21-22, 2004.

This is your (...) moment to make up your mind (...) If you really want Global South to partner with you, you must let us know where you stand. Are you Episcopalian or are you network?
---Most Rev. Peter Akinola, primate of Nigeria, Pittsburgh conference, Nov. 11-12, 2005.

TEC has been weakened in the Diocese of SC by the systematic exclusion of clergy and lay leaders who support TEC, from the leadership of congregations and diocese. We are convinced that the situation is now critical and deserves your immediate attention.
---Lynn Pagliaro, for the Episcopal Forum, letter to TEC, June 2007.

The journey begins. Pack your things. Give your children your blessing. You've been in one place long enough.
---Rev. Mark Lawrence, Mar. 2006, reporting a message he received during a speaking in tongues episode in church, shortly before he was called to candidacy for bishop of SC.

I had a dream the night before the election. And in the dream it was a kind of Narnia type environment (...) Narnia, as in C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (...) And in the dream a queen stood up and said that I, Mark, had a monumental task calling me forward when I was too afraid to go alone (...) Told me that there was more in this than just me. There's a divinity that shapes our ends, as Hamlet put it in Shakespeare.
---Rev. Mark Lawrence, Sept. 15, 2006, eve of election as bishop.

The Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA) is dying---a comatose patient on life-support [caused by] the ethos of democracy rather than Anglicanism (...) its fatal allegiance to provincialism (...) strident nationalism.
---Rev. Mark Lawrence, "A Prognosis for the Body Episcopal," (Dec. 2005-Jan. 2006).

I will heartily make the vows conforming 'to the doctrine, discipline, and worship' of the Episcopal Church, as well as the trustworthiness of Holy Scripture. So to put it as clearly as I can, my intention is to remain in The Episcopal Church.
---Rev. Mark Lawrence, Mar. 7, 2007, letter to bishops and standing committees, nearing deadline for consents.

I, Mark Joseph Lawrence, (...) do solemnly engage to conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church.
Rev. Mark Lawrence, Jan. 26, 2008, consecration as bishop.

I am offended with the assumption there is only one orthodox bishop around here.
Most Rev. Jefferts Schori, Feb. 25, 2008, clergy conference, St. Andrew's, Mt. Pleasant, in response to a clergyman who quipped he was glad there was one orthodox bishop present, meaning Lawrence.

We are not two churches under one roof but two very different religions.
Rev. Al Zadig, Feb. 2008, following the presiding bishop's visit.

I don't know what's going to happen with our Diocese and its relationship with TEC (...) I trust our leadership.
Elizabeth Pennewill, at General Convention 2009.

You all know we are not gathering to have tea and crumpets. There is no way we as a diocese can function in the way we have before. How to move forward (...) is the issue.
Rev. Kendall Harmon, June 28, 2009, referring to the secret meeting of diocesan leadership to plan further disengagement from TEC.

We elected him to take us out of the Episcopal Church.
---Rev. Jeff Miller, Aug. 2009, referring to Mark Lawrence, according to testimony of the Rev. Dow Sanderson.

This Diocese will not condone prejudice or deny the dignity of any person, including but not limited to, those who believe themselves to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered.
---Resolution 5, "The Rubric of Love," DSC convention, Oct. 24, 2009. After tumult broke out, leadership tabled the resolution and killed it in the next convention ending the one and only attempt DSC made actually to deal with the issue of homosexuality.

Things are heating up in South Carolina.
---Most Rev. Jefferts Schori, Feb. 2010, to Executive Council of TEC.

The Presiding Bishop and I stand looking at one another across a wide, deep and seemingly unbridgeable theological and canonical chasm.
Bp. Lawrence, Mar. 26, 2010, to DSC convention.

I thought, I feel like for the first time, I am the bishop of this diocese.
---Bp. Lawrence, Nov. 15, 2011, after issuing the quit claim deeds, the issue that would get him charged with abandonment of TEC.

This is one of those times in life where to announce in advance what you are going to do is foolish (...) bank robbers do not announce their intentions in advance.
---Rev. Paul Feuner, Sept. 2012, in Prince George Winyah newsletter, referring to the leadership's secret plans to make schism. Presumably the poor choice of words was inadvertent. 

I am no longer an Episcopalian.
---Bp. Lawrence, Oct. 28, 2012, St. John's Church, Florence SC, bishop's forum. I was present.

Shepherd, where will you lead us from here?
---a layman, Oct. 28, 2012, St. John's Church, Florence SC, bishop's forum. The shepherd had no coherent response. I was present.

We have withdrawn from that Church (...) we move on (...) We shall move on. Actually let me state it more accurately, We have moved on. With the Standing Committee's resolution on disassociation the fact is accomplished.
---Bp. Lawrence, Nov. 17, 2012, to special convention, announcing the schism had already been made (Oct. 15).

The Diocese of South Carolina has canonically and legally disassociated from The Episcopal Church. We took that action before today's attempt to claim a renunciation of my orders, thereby making it superfluous. (...) So we move on---onward and upward (...) and I remain the Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina.
---Bp. Lawrence, Dec. 5, 2012, in response to the presiding bishop's declaration of the removal and release of Lawrence as bishop of the Episcopal Church diocese of SC.

Somebody decides he knows the law, and oversteps whatever authority he may have to dictate the fate of others who may in fact be obeying the law, and often a law for which this local tyrant is not the judge. Most human communities, from churches to governments to families, function more effectively in response to shared decision-making (...) Power assumed by one authority figure alone is often a recipe for abuse, tyranny, and corruption.
Most Rev. Jefferts Schori, Jan. 26, 2013, sermon at special convention of ECSC. 

I'm the only person in The Episcopal Church elected twice, and then went through two election processes and two deposition processes. Because they couldn't get rid of me on the first try, they had to make another try.
---Bp. Lawrence, Feb. 10, 2013, at Old St. Andrew's, on his victimization theme.

Bishop Lawrence spent years trying to keep us within TEC---only to be found guilty of abandonment while in the very midst of attempting negotiation. We were effectively fired upon under a flag of truce.
---Rev. Jim Lewis, Oct. 2, 2013, "The Real Story behind our Split with The Episcopal Church," in "Charleston Mercury." From the historical evidence, one may well dispute every phrase of this statement.

I am here with you with the consent of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
---Bp. Zavala, May 20, 2015, in Charleston. The Archbishop's office denied this claim.

Our legal suit is a tempestuous battle against 'the spiritual forces of evil.'
---Bp. Lawrence, Fall 2013, in "Jubilate Deo" legal fund-raising issue. 

We don't believe we were ever connected to the Episcopal Church.
---spokesperson for St. Bartholomew's Church, Hartsville, in circuit court trial, July 2014.

And it has been one of the joys of my life to have spent this time with you, and I look forward to the study and the review that I get to embark upon, and I'll miss you while I do it.
---Judge Diane Goodstein, July 28, 2014.

TEC is not organized in a fashion that in governance controls the Dioceses or the parish churches. Authority flows from the bottom, the parish churches, up.
---Judge Goodstein, "Order," Feb. 3, 2015.

May it please the court Madame Chief Justice, justices, I want to try and focus on what I think, what I have heard that suggests that "All Saints" does not apply here. There really is no legal or factual distinction between "All Saints" and the facts of this case.
---Atty. Alan Runyan, Sept. 23, 2015, SC Supreme Court.

Remember, recall Mr. Runyan that in "All Saints" there wasn't any dispute about the bishop's control (...) Here big question about the bishop's authority (...) so big difference between this case and "All Saints" where they wasn't any question about the bishop's ability to quit claim, would you agree?
---Chief Justice Jean Toal, Sept. 23, 2015, SC Supreme Court.

Sunday, May 28, 2017


"On the Schism - Part 1" (April 20) covered the use and misuse of history. "On the Schism - Part 2" (May 1) discussed the reasons why the fourth reform movement in TEC produced schism while the first three had not. In "On the Schism - Part 3," I will look at the question of whether the schism was the result of a conspiracy.

The word "conspiracy" can have different meanings. In the legal sense, it means a secret agreement among two or more people to do something illegal. Otherwise conspiracy can mean a secret deal among a group to something nefarious, not necessarily illegal. 

On the legal side, attorney Thomas Tisdale, representing the Church diocese in the circuit court, formally charged conspiracy. At first, he tried to get twenty-eight people named, but Judge Goodstein overruled it. Then, Tisdale charged that four prople were involved in a quid pro quo deal to make Mark Lawrence bishop of the diocese in return for his taking the diocese, with property in hand, out of the Episcopal Church. Goodstein overruled that too, as she did practically everything Tisdale requested. That is as far as the legal charge went.The legal issue of conspiracy was never really hashed out in court.

I am not qualified to speak to the legal issue of conspiracy, but I can speak to "conspiracy" in the historical and general sense.

Was the schism of 2012 the result of a conspiracy?

Short answer - Yes.

Long answer - requires a great deal of explanation. Space here does not allow a full discussion (my history of the schism is in press). I will summarize what I found in my research on the history of the schism.

The "smoking gun" of the conspiracy was the secret resolution of the DSC Standing Committee to "disaffiliate" DSC from the Episcopal Church "if any action of any kind" were taken by TEC against Bishop Lawrence. This was made on October 2, 2012, thirteen days before the schism happened. I counted seventeen people in on this act, the twelve members of the Standing Committee, and five others. Everyone knew that the Disciplinary Board for Bishops might be at work bringing charges against Lawrence. If the DBB did charge Lawrence with abandonment, the Presiding Bishop, Jefferts Schori would have to act. She would be required to "restrict" Lawrence formally. The October 2 resolution was a hidden trap set for the Presiding Bishop who was entirely unaware of it and would remain so until the trap had snapped closed. In short, the resolution was a set-up as an excuse for schism. It was a "conspiracy" of about seventeen people in the leadership of the DSC.

Now, the question is, how far back did the conspiracy reach in time before Oct. 2, 2012? This, unfortunately is impossible to know for sure given the documents publicly accessible now. Nevertheless, I will share with you what I found.

There are four substantial pieces of evidence that seemed to me to indicate a conspiracy before 2012. 1-Rev. Thomas Rickenbaker's testimony that he had been approached in late 2005 by two men from Bishop's Search Committee who said they were looking for a bishop to take DSC out of the Episcopal Church, property in hand. He made an affidavit and provided written testimony in the circuit court (he was not present in person). He gave a contemporary account to his bishop, Clifton Daniel. 2-Rev. Dow Sanderson's testimony in the circuit court that the Rev. Jeff Miller (member of the Bishop's Search Committee) had told him in 2009 that "we" had hired Lawrence to take DSC out of TEC. 3-By DSC's own documents, in 2010, Bishop Lawrence issued five quit claim deeds to parishes while the diocese still acceded to the Dennis Canon and to the Constitution and Canons of TEC. 4-In 2011, while Lawrence was being investigated the first time by the DBB, the DSC Standing Committee passed a resolution, similar to that of Oct. 2, 2012, to "disaffiliate" if TEC took any action against Lawrence. That one became moot when the DBB refused to charge Lawrence at that time. Whether these four items prove pre-2012 conspiracy must be left to the judgment of the reader.

Although the direct evidence of conspiracy before Oct. 2, 2012 may not be conclusive, there is a mountain of circumstantial evidence that must be considered. Space here does not permit a full accounting, thus a summary:

1. Diocesan leaders used the Robinson affair of the General Convention of 2003 to create a crisis to unite DSC in hostility against TEC. On August 18, 2003, the Standing Committee joined with the bishop, and several others to form a diocesan ruling block of two to three dozen people. All decisions from then on would be made as one and sent down to the deans, the clergy, and the laity. All pro-TEC elements in the diocese were excluded from the power block. When the Episcopal Forum arose, it was treated as the enemy. On Oct. 2, 2003, the special diocesan convention declared the right of nullification, local sovereignty, and defeated a resolution affirming loyalty to TEC. This set the template for the future.

2. In 2004, DSC was one of a dozen ultra-conservative dioceses of TEC to form the Anglican Communion Network. It demanded alternative primatial oversight, that is, authority of a foreign Anglican primate over their dioceses. This was impossible under the Constitution and Canons of TEC that forbade foreign rule in the Episcopal Church. TEC offered four plans of oversight within the structure of TEC. DSC, and the others in ACN, rejected all of TEC's offers. In 2006-07, four of the ACN dioceses declared, unilaterally, realignment to a foreign primate (Southern Cone), thus the first four schisms. DSC was to act several years later, after a new bishop was settled in place.

3. The Bishop's Search Committee of 2005-07 was a set-up to choose a new bishop overtly hostile to TEC. Although Bishop Salmon had sought to maintain the Constitution and Canons of TEC (he applied the Dennis Canon against All Saints, Pawleys Island), in the end he created a search committee guaranteed to lead to a new bishop who would not be so committed to the authority of TEC. Of the 12 members of the committee, 3 were named by Salmon, 3 by the Standing Committee, 3 by the Diocesan Council, and 3 by the diocesan convention. Thus, the ruling establishment set up the committee. Moreover, Salmon said that no nomination could come from the floor of the convention. All candidates would have to be approved by the committee. 

The Search Committee represented the ruling establishment. In time, all twelve members left the Episcopal Church. The committee conducted its business in secret. Its records, if they still exist, are hidden. It considered about 50 candidates, turned them all down, and called on Mark Lawrence to present himself. Lawrence was known to the committee as the leader of the opposition in the House of Deputies to Robinson in 2003 and as the author of an essay calling on the Episcopal Church to surrender its independence to the rule of the Anglican Communion. He was soon to write another paper advocating "dissociation" from TEC.

To summarize DSC before Lawrence became bishop (Jan. 2008), there is no hard evidence of a written, or even spoken, conspiracy. However, it was entirely possible there was an unspoken understanding, an attitude, of a trajectory of relentless hostility against TEC, the logical end of which would be schism. It did not have to be written or spoken. It could have been silently understood. 

4.  The trajectory of differentiation from TEC accelerated after Lawrence took office. In May of 2009, he gave at least tacit support to a pivotal act in disregard of the Dennis Canon. The Standing Committee, chaired by Rev. Jeff Miller, approved St. Andrew's of Mt. Pleasant's, movement of millions of dollars' worth of parish property into a irrevocable trust beyond the reach of the diocese and TEC. This was the practical end of DSC's recognition of the Dennis Canon although the state Supreme Court was yet to rule on All Saints and the diocese still overtly adhered to the Dennis Canon.

In 2010 and 2011, the DSC granted quit claim deeds to all local parishes.

5. The DSC leaders used the General Convention of 2009 to create a crisis in which DSC declared its virtual independence from TEC. This was planned in a highly secret leadership meeting of July 28, 2009. Diocesan conventions soon thereafter declared the sovereignty of the diocese, nullified resolutions of General Convention, resolved to withdraw from the governing bodies of TEC, revoked diocesan accession to the canons of TEC, and rechartered the corporation of the diocese to remove references to TEC. This was essentially the schism that formally occurred in 2012.

Lawrence was investigated by the DBB in 2011 following the virtual schism. The DBB refused to charge him choosing to give him every benefit of the doubt and forestall another diocesan schism. However, at the very moment the DBB cleared him, Lawrence announced the issuance of the quit claim deeds leaving TEC no choice but to enforce its authority over the diocese. Defiant disregard of the Dennis Canon finally forced a reluctant TEC to act. 

6. DSC leaders used the General Covnention of 2012 to set the stage for the final act of the schism that they had essentially made in 2010 (the only tie left was accession to the Constitution of TEC). They worked steadily the first six months of the year preparing the diocese for the event. The issue of homosexuality, that the leaders had used conveniently for years, now came to the front as TEC resolved to establish a liturgy for the blessing of a same-sex union. Homosexuality, long the leaders' wedge issue, now inflamed the diocese against TEC in the last push for "disassociation."  

Soon after the GC of 2012, the DSC ruling establishment met in an ultra secret session on August 18, 2012. Apparently this was the moment of decision for final schism. This gathering was so secret that no word of it has ever leaked out. A month later, the Standing Committee met in secret and discussed removing DSC from TEC. They asked of Lawrence his authoritative opinion on how the schism could be done. On October 2, he presented a 16 page explanation to the Committee approving, perhaps urging, of their right to disassociate the diocese from TEC. It was on the strength of Lawrence's letter that the Committee passed its unanimous, and top secret, resolution for schism on Oct. 2, 2012.

Looking back, the circumstantial evidence of a conspiracy seems overwhelming even if a legal case might be dubious.

A quid pro quo?

If there were a deal, as Tisdale claimed, between Lawrence and the diocesan power base, Lawrence apparently got the better part of it. This son of a postal worker, this man who spent eight years working his way through college, whose first rectorship was "under the poverty level" now has wealth he could only have dreamed as a child. His annual compensation package amounts to around a quarter of a million dollars a year. On Mar. 17, 2010, he was awarded a ten-year lease on the diocesan-owned $1-2 m bishop's residence in downtown Charleston at $1/yr. The rent on that place would be $5-10,000/mo. Even better, on Feb. 1, 2011, he got an open-ended employment contract whether he remained bishop or not. If not bishop, he would remain chief operating officer of DSC at full pay.

Lawrence has also built up his authority in the diocese. He spent the first few years bonding with the clergy and laity of the diocese until he routinely used the term "we." In March of 2010, the convention awarded him total authority over the constitution and canons of the diocese. His word was hereafter law and could not be questioned, let alone disputed (this was the basis of his letter to the Standing Committee on Oct. 2, 2012). He soon became the guiding power of the Standing Committee. By 2012, he had personal power over the Board of Trustees. He came to routinely appoint the members of the important diocesan committees. Of course, the clergy of DSC are entirely beholding to him having been released and removed from the Episcopal Church. He named the persons on the discernment committee and the Marriage Task Force. The convention has never denied Lawrence anything. Sometimes he puts his name on the line. In the convention of 2015, some delegates questioned a resolution condemning transgender. Lawrence made a personal appeal for approval. The meeting voted two-thirds to support him. This year, he made the vote on affiliation a vote on himself. Before the balloting, he made a long and personal appeal ("10 Reasons") for approval. The convention unanimously approved it, and by extension him. Under the terms of the Marriage Task Force actions, he can fire any employee of the diocese at will. It is hard to imagine a bishop with more power.

Meanwhile, the local parishes have come under complete control of the diocese. At the schism, they were presented with a "commitment" form to bond them with the diocese. In the lawsuits they were brought in as plaintiffs. No other schismatic diocese had done such a thing. In 2015, the DSC rejected, in their name, a negotiated settlement that would have given them their local properties and independence. They are being drained of money to pay for two sets of lawyers, one set for the parish and another for the diocese. Now they are trapped in a web and could not get out even if they wished.

Where does all this leave the Diocese of South Carolina having thrown in its fate to the decisions of its ruling establishment? When Lawrence became bishop in 2008, DSC had 27,003 communicants (active members). At last count, in 2015, it had 15,556 communicants. DSC is now 58% of what it was when Lawrence arrived. Its budget is a 66% of what it was then. The surviving members are facing ever rising legal costs and years more of litigation with a very uncertain future. Joining the Anglican Church in North America will not solve their problems. It is not now and almost certainly will not be a province of the Anglican Communion.

In the big picture, the schism of 2012 was part and parcel of a great cultural war in world civilization. The twentieth century saw the great democratic revolution of history. The Episcopal Church played a vital role in that fighting for rights, equality, and inclusion of all people regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation. However, not everyone in the Church agreed with the democratic revolution. Five dioceses voted to break away from the Church in a counter-revolution. The ultra-conservatives who made these schisms believe they are warriors in a great struggle against secular humanism. They have the right to believe whatever they wish. But the reality of history is clear. The tide is against them. They have already lost the war.  

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


Wednesday, May 24, 2017, 11:00 a.m. As of now, the South Carolina Supreme Court has not posted a decision for today. We are now in the twenty-first month of waiting since the hearing of September 23, 2015. Surely, on that day, no one thought we would be waiting so long for a decision.

NOTE on May 24. My manuscript, "A History of the Episcopal Church Schism in South Carolina," is with the typesetter who is composing the print pages. I am supposed to get the page proofs within a couple of months. I am working now on the topics for the index. When I get the pages, I can insert the page numbers with the topics and get the whole work back quickly to the publisher for printing. As you can imagine, the index is long and detailed. I do not know how many manuscripts are in line ahead waiting to be printed, but perhaps the book will be in hand before the end of the year. At 600 pages in two volumes, I imagine this is the largest work Wipf and Stock Publishers has ever issued.  

Monday, May 8, 2017


Last May 11, I posted photos of my garden. It is at its best in early May with all the roses in bloom (and the weather is still cool and dry). I am posting new pictures of my garden now and showing different scenes so as not to repeat the same from last year. I have not been able to work in my garden yet this year (weeds are evident), but I have finished my medical treatments and should be able to work outside soon. Even so, I walk and sit in my little Garden of Eden as much as I can and I am better for it every time. I never fail to marvel at the wonderful beauty of God's creation. 

Knock Out roses are unbeatable, reliable every year with little care. These make a border along the central lawn.

Pineapple guava  (Feijoa sellowiana) makes a nice woody shrub with beautiful blooms and edible fruit.

Looking toward the central lawn.

Dwarf Chinese indigo (Indigoferra decora).

Hybrid rose "Apéritif"

Oakleaf hydrangea is an old southern favorite that grows wild in shady spots across the South.

Knock Out Roses, loropetalum (purple), baby's breath spirea on right, windmill palm.

My best wishes to everyone. Get out and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors, garden or not, and thank God that He has blessed us with the great wonders of His creation.

Monday, May 1, 2017


On April 20, I made a posting on this blog "On the Schism - Part 1" giving some of the observations I had made while researching and writing about the schism. The post turned out to be surprisingly popular, 896 hits as of now. The next question I would pose is "What caused the schism?" In February of 2015, I posted three essays on this question looking at the underlying causes, the direct cause, and the initiating events. I reviewed those today and would not make any changes to them now. Thus, I am reposting them here.

After the causes, the next question I would pose is "Why did the fourth reform movement in the Episcopal Church produce schisms when the earlier three had not?" That is the topic of today.

Between 1950 and 2015, the Episcopal Church experienced a democratic revolution. What had been heretofore a conservative and staid denomination given to the endless reiteration of the lofty liturgies in the Prayer Book and disinterested in social causes changed (what I call vertical religion). Starting around 1950, really for the first time in history, the Church transformed itself into a socially conscious activist denomination devoted to righting the wrongs in society all around it (what I call horizontal religion). The Church devoted itself to four great reform movements, 1-civil rights, 2-women's equality and inclusion, 3-modernization of the Prayer Book, and 4-equality for and inclusion of homosexuals. Civil rights began in the 1950s and ran until the early 1970s. Women's equality occurred from the 1960s to the 1980s. The new prayer book ran through the 1960s and 70s. The last, rights for homosexuals lasted from 1976 to 2015.

The first three reforms certainly upset a lot of traditional Episcopalians who liked the old vertical religion and saw little or no need to change things. To my knowledge, civil rights did not cause any whole congregations to leave the Episcopal Church but many individuals did begin abandoning the "too liberal" Church, especially in the South. The next two reform movements came at about the same time, women's ordination and new prayer book. Here dynamics began to change. The two Church wings became particularly disturbed. Anglo Catholics took a dim view of the ordination of women and evangelicals held a similar attitude toward the revisions of the prayer book. Congregations began to split and new breakaway churches popped up around the country, at least two in South Carolina. By the 1970s, disgruntled Episcopalians began organizing into resistance alliances. Nevertheless, women's ordination and inclusion and the new prayer book were overwhelmingly successful. Not one diocese voted to leave the Episcopal Church following the first three reforms, civil rights, women's ordination, and new prayer book.

However, just as the Church was weathering the storms of the earlier reforms, the issue of homosexuality arose, first in the Church's General Convention of 1976. In 1979, GC passed a resolution stating that it was "not appropriate" for the Church to ordain "practicing" (non-celibate) homosexuals. Conservatives breathed a great sigh of relief. This remained until 1991. In 1989+, bishops Spong and Righter in Newark ordained "practicing" homosexuals in defiance of the GC resolution of 1979. Conservatives exploded and declared war. From 1991 to 1997, conservatives and liberals fought an open war in the Episcopal Church on the issue of the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals. General Conventions in this period were contentious to say the least. To make a long story short, the liberals won in this period. As a result, from 1997 to 2015, the Church openly approved of the ordination of homosexuals, confirmed a "practicing" homosexual as a bishop, established liturgical blessings of same-sex unions, and adopted same-sex marriage. It was a total victory for the reformers. Five dioceses voted to leave the Episcopal Church, something they had not done for the three earlier reforms.

Why did the last reform lead to schism when the first three reform movements had not?

There are several factors that should be taken into consideration is addressing this problem.

1. The issue of homosexuality was different than the earlier three because it operated on two levels, morality and polity. Many conservatives sincerely believed that the "practice" of homosexuality was sinful. They quoted the half-dozen verses in the Bible that they said upheld their view. If homosexual behavior were sinful, the Church should not condone it, let alone put "practicing" homosexuals in positions of authority and leadership. Liberals, on the other hand, held that homosexual behavior was morally neutral (amoral) and that the Bible verses were all debatable in context. The verses really proved nothing. Liberals insisted that homosexuals deserved human rights just as African Americans and women had. The Church must not turn away from them.

The Episcopal Church never had a full, open discussion of the issue of homosexuality and morality. It was far too difficult. Instead, the Church opened the back door and made a de facto acceptance of homosexuality by opening up ordination to non-celibate gays. By allowing ordination, the Church was in fact giving unspoken recognition of the amorality of homosexuality. This, however, was something the conservatives did not see until it was too late. The great battle that occurred around Bishop Robinson in 2003 had actually been settled years earlier "under the radar." The ultra-conservatives (about a third of the conservatives) refused to accept the legitimacy of the Church's reforms for homosexuals and resolved to have foreign primatial oversight for themselves.

2. A major difference between the first three reform movements and the fourth was in organized resistance. In 1996, the right-wing PAC, Institute on Religion and Democracy, funded by deep-pocketed right wing backers, set up the American Anglican Council for the purpose of diminishing the "liberal" Episcopal Church. They focused on the big issue of the day, homosexuality. From then on, the well-funded, organized, focused AAC sponsored and guided the resistance movement that eventually produced the diocesan votes for schism. By January of 2004, the AAC had played a major role in creating the Anglican Communion Network, a union of a dozen ultra-conservative dioceses. In 2007-08, four of these dioceses voted to leave the Episcopal Church, a major coup for the AAC.

3. Another major difference between the first three and the fourth reform movement was in foreign ties. There was little to no foreign connection to the first three. With the fourth, all that changed. In 1997, AAC sponsored the first union of American ultra-conservatives and equatorial African bishops. The common bond was opposition to rights for homosexuals. From 1997 to 2016, the tie appeared to grow. In 2000, the primate of Rwanda sponsored the first Episcopal schismatic group, the Anglican Mission in America (based in Pawleys Island, SC). After that Nigeria and Uganda also set up missionary districts to tie in the American ultra-conservatives. In 2008, the equatorial African Anglican primates took the lead in setting up GAFCON and gave the Jerusalem Statement that condemned homosexuality and rejected the authority of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. In 2009, GAFCON and the four breakaway American dioceses set up the Anglican Church in North America as the replacement province to take the place of TEC as the legitimate Anglican province in the U.S. In 2016, however, the primates began to back away from their stand and failed to defend ACNA in the Anglican Communion meetings of that year. Nevertheless, the support of the equatorial African Anglicans bishops has been crucial in the American schismatic movement.

4. One should also consider the role of technology. The Internet began in 1995. It revolutionized information and greatly facilitated communications around any number of causes. On Anglicanism in general, David Virtue's "Virtue Online" played a major role in publicizing the "orthodox" (anti-homosexual-rights) viewpoint. In South Carolina, Kendall Harmon's "Titus One-Nine" fulfilled a similar role on the local scene. One must not underestimate the power of the new communications.

5. Fatigue. One must not underestimate too the cumulative nature of the reform movements. By the 1990s, the conservatives reeled from battle fatigue. They had been fighting and losing for years. Homosexuality was the last great battle in a long war, but by then the fighters were battle weary. In 2003, with Bishop Robinson, it finally occurred to them that they had lost the last campaign and the whole war. Their appeal to the Anglican Communion to set up a "covenant" to force the Episcopal Church back went nowhere. The most exhausted of them threw in the towel. The last straw was the Church's election of a woman as presiding bishop in 2006, and a "liberal" one at that. At that very moment, the first ultra-conservative bishop (Iker) stood in the House of Bishops and demanded a foreign primate. It was the beginning off the end for Ft. Worth, San Joaquin, Quincy, and Pittsburgh.

6. Another point worth considering is the backlash of the angry white man. Equality for blacks, women, and homosexuals meant that the traditionally monopolistic white man would never again have unchallenged power. He would have to share with others. It is even possible that South Carolina's schism of 2012 was a delayed reaction to the civil rights' movement of the 1950s-70s. At that time, diocesan records revealed a loud protest against the Episcopal Church from large, conservative parishes in Charleston, but Bishop Temple at the time managed to keep the diocese on an even keel. After Temple retired in 1982, hostility to the national Church exploded in the diocese. 

In sum, the fourth reform movement on homosexuality led to schism because of the nature of the issue, the well-organized resistance, the foreign support for the TEC dissidents, the Internet, cumulative fatigue, and the backlash of the angry white man.

All of these factors were evident in South Carolina after Bishop Allison appeared in 1982. The last one, however, the angry white man, is impossible to document or quantify. In the thirty years after 1982, the Diocese of South Carolina built up hostility to the Episcopal Church that derived largely from the issue of homosexuality. The outcome of this was the schism of 2012. 

All things considered, the Episcopal Church weathered the opposition to the four great reforms well. Five of the 111 dioceses voted to leave, making less than five percent of the Church. This meant that more than 95 percent of the Church supported and accepted the reforms. Considering the dramatic magnitude of the changes, this is remarkable. Still, it is not insignificant loss for the Church.

If you have questions about the history of the schism in SC that you would like me to discuss in future posts on this blog, please e-mail them to me at . 

The next appropriate question might be, "Was there a pre-meditated conspiracy to make a schism in South Carolina?" (That is, was the shism in SC a planned event or just an accident of history?) 


Part 1 (of 3)---The Underlying Causes.

(Originally posted on Feb. 12, 2015)
All significant historical movements have underlying causes, direct causes, and initial events. The underlying causes are always most controversial, direct causes less so, and initial events usually not at all. Let's take the Civil War for instance. Historians have argued long and hard over the underlying or basic causes with widely varying interpretations. As an example, some prominent historians have described the root causes as the fundamental difference between incompatible economic systems, northern commercial and industrial capitalism against southern paternalistic agrarianism. Other historians have dismissed this theory in favor of one of a dozen other plausible explanations. In short, there is vast disagreement among professional historians on the underlying causes of the Civil War. There is less disagreement on the direct causes. The most commonly held view here is that the direct, or trigger, cause of the War was the issue of slavery, or more precisely, the expansion of slavery into the territories. This problem propelled the cascade of chain-link crucial events of the 1850's as the run-up to the War: Compromise of 1850, Dred Scott decision, Kansas-Nebraska Act, birth of the Republican Party, the Lincoln-Douglas debates, and the election of Lincoln as president in  1860 just to name a few. Finally, there is no disagreement on the initial event of the War: the Confederate firing on U.S. Ft. Sumter, in Charleston harbor on April 12, 1861. The Civil War is a good example of how historians have disagreed widely on the underlying causes, less on the direct causes, and not at all on the initial event.

The schism in South Carolina also has underlying causes, direct causes, and initial events. What I offer here is my interpretation of these. I have studied history for the past 61 years (since my Fourth Grade project on the history of my home state, Florida; I was hooked), Episcopal Church history for the past several decades, and the schism in South Carolina for the last few years. I am half through writing a rough draft of a narrative history of the schism.

Let's take up first the underlying causes of the schism of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina. What were the basic or root causes of the split? The first half of the twentieth century witnessed tremendous changes in world conditions in the First World War, the Great Depression, fascist and communist totalitarianism, and the Second World War. This was arguably the greatest period of violent turmoil and disruption in human history. Life could never be the same again. By 1950, with the apocalyptic wars and nightmare depression over and fascist totalitarianism crushed, matters had calmed down a great deal; and what came out of that near-death experience was new life. It had all been a moral crusade and a brilliant victory for the democratic forces of western civilization (Soviet totalitarianism was to collapse and die in the 1980's). Democracy became the prevailing system spreading around the world. With democracy came a new push for the features of democracy, personal freedom and equal rights (first glorified in the American and French revolutions of the late eighteenth century). In America, attention turned first in the early 1950's to the most glaring lack of democratic rights, the plight of the African Americans. Slavery, Jim Crow, and "separate but equal" had deprived them of human then democratic rights for more than 300 years. The Civil Rights movement swept the nation, particularly the South, in the 1950's and 60's as we all know. It brought major gains in freedom and equality for the black minority. Meanwhile, there had been other groups that had been denied justice and equality; and once the drive for rights for one group got underway, the others could not be denied. The second half of the twentieth century in America was the social and cultural working out of the victory of shining democracy over the evil of totalitarianism.

The dramatic changes going on in American society in the mid and late twentieth century impacted on all social and cultural institutions, including the churches. Every religious institution in the country had to decide how to react to the powerful social transformations going on all around them. No matter what they may have wished, they could not avoid it (many a white church in the South resolved to deny membership to blacks). The Episcopal Church was no exception. By 1960, its leadership and majority moved to cast their lot with the Civil Rights movement. Once committed, the Church was from then on an tireless advocate and worker for human rights, first for blacks, then for women, and finally for homosexual persons. The Episcopal Church became well-known in the U.S. as a great advocate for freedom and equality in American life. Its detractors called it too "liberal." It was certainly to the left of most major denominations, with the possible exceptions of the United Church of Christ and the Unitarians.

For a long time there has been a tension in modern Christianity between two widely varying philosophies of religion. For simplicity sake, I will call them "vertical" and "horizontal." The vertical view holds that religion is all about the salvation of the human soul; and that comes about vertically, that is, between one person and one God. It tends to be individualistic. Salvation guarantees life with God in the afterlife. On the far evangelical side, this is "being saved" or making a public profession of personal faith. Fundamentalists, charismatics, and Pentecostals are parts of this side. On the Catholic side of the vertical, salvation comes through the sacraments. Vertical philosophy tends to see religion as static. Evangelicals rely heavily on the scriptures, Catholics on the authority of the church. The tendency is to see truth as handed down from God once and for all. It should be changed only with extreme cause and care. This attitude held over into social and cultural views. The vertical side preferred to resist social and cultural changes.

In the second philosophy of religion, the horizontal view, human beings should put into action their personal salvations to carry out God's work in the world around them. In short, it is the belief that it is the Christian's duty to make the world a better place for people here and now. While vertical tended to be individualistic, horizontal tended to be communalistic, or group oriented. The vertical side preferred to look to life after death, the horizontal to life in this world. A common term for this view was "the Social Gospel." While the vertical focused on one person-one God, the horizontal focused on spreading the work of God out among the people. This made the horizontal approach much more open to social and cultural change and all kinds of reform in order to improve the conditions of human beings. People of the horizontal school criticized the vertical side as selfish, self-centered, uncaring, and uncompassionate. Those of the vertical persuasion criticized the other side as corrupting the essence of Christianity which is the salvation of the soul. They saw social work more as a dangerous deviation and distraction from the real work of religion. It would be an exaggeration, however, to see the two sides as completely exclusive of the other. It was more a matter of degree, or emphasis.

The two philosophies of religion came to odds in the Episcopal Church in the early 1960's. The leadership and majority of the Church adopted the horizontal philosophy; the Church has kept it ever since. The vertical side was the minority, and an ever shrinking one as time went by. The strong commitment of the Episcopal Church to such a well-defined movement as the Social Gospel was really something new in the history of the Church, indeed in Anglicanism. The Church of England (Anglican Church) was declared independent of Rome on the provision it be a generic church, one for all people of the realm. Thus, it had to avoid controversial issues. And this it did. Before the Civil War, the Episcopal Church was the only major Protestant denomination that did not split north-south. This was because the Church simply avoided the elephant in the room. No talk of slavery; no problem. For better or for worse, the horizontal party changed the history of the Episcopal Church in America after 1960.

There are different names for the vertical and horizontal parties; indeed, nomenclature is part of the problem. As feelings hardened, both sides became fond of using judgmental terms against the other: liberal and conservative, revisionist and orthodox, reappraisers and reasserters, revolutionaries and reactionaries. Actually, he last two are useful. The Episcopal Church after 1960 can be accurately described as revolutionary. The critical minority came to react, or try to go back to an earlier non-controversial period of vertical religion.

As the Civil Rights movement matured in the late 1960's, the issue of equal rights for women moved to the forefront. Every Episcopalian of my age range remembers the loud and angry arguments over the ordination of women, first whether they should be priests, then whether to allow women to be bishops. To say the least it was a major controversy within the Episcopal Church in the 1970's and early 80's. Some people, especially southern whites, had fled from the "liberal" Church in the 1960's for more conservative denominations. Now, even more left in disgust as the Church slowly and surely moved to incorporate women into the full life of the Church. Indeed, three dioceses adamantly refused to ordain women; and those three (San Joaquin, Quincy, and Ft. Worth) later voted to leave the Church. Moreover, who of my age could forget "the green book," a.k.a. services for trial use in the early 70's? More fuel to the fire. For some Churchpeople changing the prayer book was a line too far. They saw the 1928 prayer book as sacrosanct, much as many people regard the King James Bible. It must not be touched. All across the country little groups of dissidents pulled out to form independent "1928 prayer book" churches. And, this is not to mention the new hymnal in 1982. Meanwhile, bewildered by the unwelcomed changes going on all around them, the vertical-oriented minority in the Episcopal Church turned  ever more weary, wary, and defensive, in worsening fear of whatever next.

Yet, even while seeing their numbers falling and influence declining, the conservative minority in the Episcopal Church did not give up. In fact, there were signs of fighting back, of trying to stem the tide of this corrupt and corrupting modernism. In 1975, several evangelicals opened a new seminary in Pennsylvania devoted to the training of clergy in the conservative/evangelical mold. This was meant to be an antidote to the supposedly hopelessly liberal schools of theology maintained by the national Church. The new school came to be called Trinity School or Ministry, now a large and thriving school of theology, and still bedrock conservative. One of the founders and most active advocates was Christopher FitzSimmons Allison, soon to be bishop of South Carolina. The conservative minority in the Episcopal Church rushed to Trinity, for the evangelicals, and Nashotah House in Wisconsin, for the Catholics. Refusing to give up, the vertical party huddled in their bastions of learning and soon began sending out graduates into the dioceses that would have them. Mark Lawrence was an early graduate. While Allison was bishop of South Carolina (1982-1990) he brought in many alumni of Trinity and developed very close ties between the diocese and the school. The new deacons and priests from Trinity arriving in South Carolina brought with them their strongly evangelical religion and criticism, even hostility, to the Episcopal Church.

The Diocese of South Carolina was in the  mainstream of the Episcopal Church up until Allison's time. The preceding bishop, Gray Temple (1961-1982) was a great advocate for human rights. Under him, African American communicants of the diocese finally received full and complete equality, almost a century after the Civil War. Temple was also a great Episcopal Church loyalist binding the diocese as much as possible to the national Church. In 1973, he signed the charter of incorporation for the diocese with the state government. The charter explicitly said the diocese would operate "under" the Episcopal Church. He also saw to it that the Episcopal Church Constitution and Canons remained fixed before the diocesan Constitution and Canons and that the diocese explicitly adopted the Dennis Canon. Before 1982, there was no sign of any dissention between the Diocese of South Carolina and the Episcopal Church. All that changed with Bishop Allison in 1982 and his successor, Bishop Edward L. Salmon, Jr. (1990-2008).

By around 1980, the mood in the United States had changed noticeably. "The Reagan Revolution" of the 1980's reflected a national movement to reactionary conservatism. It initiated a period in which the country needed to pause and digest the enormous social and cultural changes that had occurred in the last two decades. Politically the country turned more conservative. The Episcopal Church, however, did not share in this turn. It retained its by now well-established commitment to social justice and equality. It did not help the vertical side that their numbers had been seriously weakened as many conservatives left the Church during the various controversial movements after 1960.

Civil rights for blacks, equality for women, new prayer book, even new hymnal were unsettling enough for many people, but the last straw, at least for the most conservative Churchpeople was the issue of homosexuality. By 1990, it could not be avoided. An openly homosexual man was ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church. This meant the Church had to come to terms with the issue of whether openly homosexual persons could be granted holy orders in the Episcopal Church. The matter ground on through the decade of the 90's as the Diocese of South Carolina increasingly opposed the idea, and by extension the national Church for condoning it.

In conclusion, the underlying cause of the schism in South Carolina was the earlier divergence in the Episcopal Church between the majority in the Church who were resolved to make the Church an important part of the social and cultural changes going on in America, and the minority in the Church who pulled back for religious conservatism. This was a tug-of-war between the horizontal and vertical partisans, but it was not a even fight. The horizontal side had the majority from the start and saw that majority increase. Eventually, the most anti-Church extreme conservatives found themselves in what they saw as a desperate situation. It was give up their principles or get out.

As the national Church remained on its horizontal track, the Diocese of South Carolina moved in the opposite direction. Increasingly guided by defiantly conservative bishops and Trinity-trained clergy committed to their certain out-of-the-mainstream version of Anglicanism that was ever growing apart from the Episcopal Church, South Carolina became increasingly hostile to the national Church policies. The Diocese of South Carolina moved down this path primarily because of its leadership. The people-in-the-pews had not suddenly changed as Bishop Temple was replaced by Bishop Allison. None of the neighboring dioceses went along with South Carolina. The diocese in the other half of the state, Upper South Carolina, had a far different experience than did the Diocese of South Carolina. The difference was in the leadership. Gradually the diocesan leaders in South Carolina played on the innate conservatism of their communicants enough to bring them along on the final issue of crisis in the Church, homosexuality.

In sum, the schism in South Carolina is the product of a deep division that occurred in the Episcopal Church in the late twentieth century. A majority guided the Episcopal Church along a certain social and cultural road while diocesan leaders in South Carolina from the dissenting minority nudged the diocese ever away from loyalty to the national Church. DSC made a counter-revolution against TEC, but it was a revolution from the top down.   


Part 2 (of 3)---The Direct Cause.

(Originally posted on Feb. 15, 2015)
In my last post, "What Caused the Schism in South Carolina? Part 1---The Underlying Causes," I offered my understanding of the fundamental causes of the schism. I saw it as an outgrowth of two widely varying philosophies of religion in the modern Episcopal Church (TEC) that I called for simplicity's sake "vertical" and "horizontal." The horizontal party prevailed in the national Episcopal Church after 1960 and set the agenda for the Church. They enacted sweeping social and cultural reforms, particularly for minorities. The vertical party, however, became dominant in the leadership of the Diocese of South Carolina (DSC) after 1982. In time the differences in viewpoints grew, all the while gradually pushing the two sides into ever more hostile camps. Thus, at root. the schism came from the clash of two opposing understandings of the purpose of religion, personal salvation and the Social Gospel. The former prevailed in DSC, the latter in TEC.

To repeat, great historical events always have underlying causes, direct causes and initiating events. In this post, I want to turn to the second of these, the direct cause. "Direct" can also be called "immediate" or "trigger," all meaning the same. In other words, what specific factor came out of the underlying causes to produce the historical event in question? Direct causes are always the outgrowth of the fundamental issues. They cannot exist separately or in a vacuum. Thus, the direct cause of the schism in South Carolina had to be a certain progression from the basic, or fundamental, causal factors.

My study of the history of the schism in the Episcopal Church diocese of South Carolina shows one clear direct cause, the issue of homosexuality. I found no other factor that was even debatable as the direct cause. This certainly does not mean, however, that it was the only cause of the schism. That would be simplistic. The issue of homosexuality must be kept in the context of its origins in the underlying causes of the schism. It derived from fundamental factors involving a much bigger picture, but in the end homosexuality was the specific part of that bigger picture that mattered the most in producing the schism of 2012. That is why it must be seen as the direct cause of the schism.

The issue of homosexuality worked between Church and diocese for thirty years, from 1982 to 2012. It has a long and detailed history. Unfortunately, there is not room on this post for a thorough examination of it. The best I can do here is to offer a summary. For more detail, see the "Chronology" post. To keep it simple, I will call the horizontal side, "liberal" and the vertical side "conservative."

Here is my understanding of how the issue of homosexuality directly caused the schism:

The question of whether open (as opposed to secret) homosexual persons should have the right of Holy Orders in the Episcopal Church arose in the 1970's on the heels of equality for African Americans and women. To the liberals, homosexuals were another mistreated minority that should be granted equality in the Church just as blacks and women had been. It was an issue of social justice. On the other hand, conservatives saw homosexuality as an issue of religion and morality. They saw homosexual behavior as sinful. In their view, people who willfully practiced sin should never be allowed positions of sacred authority. While conservatives had gone along with equality for blacks, however unenthusiastically, and most had grudgingly accepted the idea of the ordination of women, they would not do the same for homosexuals.

The conservative fight against homosexuality occurred in phases. In the first phase, 1970's-1996, conservatives worked within the Church to try to prevent the approval of ordination for homosexuals. The Church's triennial General Conventions of the 70's and 80's passed vague resolutions weakly supporting homosexuals but fell far short of approving ordination. After the start of Bishop Allison's tenure in DSC in 1982, DSC staked out its position. Under Allison and his successor Edward Salmon, DSC became a bastion of anti-homosexuality. This was bolstered by an influx of graduates of the new conservative seminary in Pennsylvania, Trinity. The diocesan convention of 1985 condemned in advance the idea of the ordination of homosexuals. At this point, the 1980's-early 90's, the anti-homosexual forces had the upper hand in both TEC and DSC. That was to change for TEC but not for DSC.

By 1989, the Episcopal Church was forced to come to grips with the issue. In that year, the well-known liberal bishop John Spong, of Newark, ordained to the priesthood an open and partnered homosexual man. In South Carolina, Kendall Harmon issued a fierce blast of condemnation in the newsletter Jubilate Deo that set the tone of response for the diocese. The diocesan convention followed along and even demanded that Spong be defrocked. He was not, but the battle had been enjoined. This battle, then war, was to last for the next twenty-two years. In the Episcopal Church, 12 dioceses (of 111) united to form a solid block on the right. DSC was one of the 12. For years to come, this block vigorously led the charge in the Church fighting against all moves favoring rights for homosexuals (the ultra-conservative 5 of the original 12 eventually voted to leave TEC; DSC was one of the 5). Between 1980 and 2012, DSC moved from the mainstream of the Episcopal Church to the extreme right edge, then beyond that into a separate realm.

The ordination of homosexuals issue was really just beginning. In 1991, Bishop Walter Righter, assistant to Spong, ordained another openly gay man to the priesthood. This second ordination could not be ignored. Like it or not, the Episcopal Church would have to decide whether it would accept ordination for openly homosexual persons. The issue rocked the General Conventions of the decade of the 90's. In 1996, conservatives reached the high point of their influence on the issue. They managed to get Righter put on trial for heresy. The court acquitted Righter and ruled that the Church could not prohibit the ordination of homosexuals. The conservative strategy had backfired. The court's decision broke the back of the conservative opposition and gave the green-light for the ordinations. DSC, however, would have none of it. The diocesan conventions, the Standing Committee, and the bishops all jumped on the issue in ever-louder condemnation. By the late 90's, they were calling for the withholding of money from TEC and forming bonds beyond. The adversarial relationship between diocese and Church was becoming more serious by the day.

Their failed gamble in the Righter trial forced conservatives to change their strategy. They had lost the internal fight to prevent the ordination of homosexuals. Where to turn next? They would have to go outside the Church. On this, they divided into two groups. The larger one decided to appeal to the conservative Anglican prelates overseas in order to put pressure on TEC to stop its new policy. The equatorial African provinces of the Anglican Communion, that actually had the majority of communicants of the world-wide Anglican Communion, and who were flexing their muscles, were natural allies for the beleaguered American conservative minority. Both were staunchly anti-homosexual. There followed several conservative-inspired international agreements such as the Lambeth Statement, the Windsor Report, and the Anglican Covenant. If the conservatives in TEC were trying to force their hand in the Church by outside influence, they were to be disappointed, again. While giving nods and lip service, TEC practically ignored all of the international initiatives. It became clear that the strategy of foreign pressure was bound to fail, much to the chagrin of the ever-more frustrated and angry conservatives.

There was another, at first much smaller, group of conservatives who chose another path after 1996. This bunch decided to leave TEC altogether. Arguably the most important early meeting of this second group was the First Promise gathering at All Saints in Pawleys Island, SC, in 1997, hosted by Chuck Murphy. Blasting TEC leadership and policies, it cast the Church as the adversary in the fight for the true [vertical] faith. The Episcopal Church was not just wrong, it was the enemy. It must be replaced by a new and pure church. In 2000, former DSC bishop Allison participated in the highly controversial ordination of Murphy as a bishop. Murphy and friends set up a new institution, the Anglican Mission in the Americas. At this point, however, at the turn of the century, most TEC conservatives were still not ready to jump ship.

The Robinson crisis of 2003 changed everything. Gene Robinson, an open and partnered homosexual man, was elected by the Diocese of New Hampshire as its next bishop. The TEC General Convention met shortly thereafter and the bishops affirmed Robinson's election by majority vote (Mark Lawrence, of San Joaquin, led the minority report in opposition). Robinson was then consecrated and installed as the bishop of New Hampshire. He was the first openly gay person to be a bishop in TEC. The conservative minority in TEC looked on in rage. It is fair to say the leadership of DSC exploded in unparalleled fury against TEC (see Chronology). They called an emergency special diocesan convention that appealed to the foreign Anglican primates to rescue the beseiged "orthodox," e.g. DSC, dioceses in America. Soon thereafter, DSC was a leader in the creation of the Anglican Communion Network, a decidedly conservative alliance looking for overseas ties. At the same time appeared the controversial Chapman Memo (Dec. 2003) that was circulated among the disgruntled right. It outlined a plan for a conservative replacement for TEC. A few months later, the Barfoot Memo called for primatial oversight from foreign primates as a step to replacing TEC. The Robinson crisis greatly bolstered the idea among the far right of TEC that they had no choice but to leave TEC. Most conservative Episcopalians, however, still held out hope that the foreign cavalry would arrive to save the day even as that appeared less and less likely. The path of "Alternate Primatial Oversight" went nowhere. Jefferts Schori offered a plan that was rejected by the conservative bishops. That idea died.

When DSC set up a search committee in 2006 for a new bishop, the anti-Episcopal Church movement in the diocese was stronger than ever and growing. The committee, that turned out to be solidly conservative, wound up with three names, all well-known and vocal critics of the Church and staunch opponents of ordination for homosexuals. The nod went to Mark Lawrence, of ultra-conservative San Joaquin, who had made a name for himself in the 2003 GC fight against Robinson and with several articles highly critical of TEC policies. It was clear the DSC leadership, now monopolized by conservatives highly critical of TEC, had found their soul mate.

For the majorities of the four far-right wing dioceses, the election of Katharine Jefferts Schori as Presiding Bishop of TEC in 2006 was the last straw: a woman, a liberal, and a strong advocate of rights for homosexuals. The majorities in San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, Quincy, and Ft. Worth all voted to leave TEC in 2007-08. Shortly thereafter, the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) was created and the four groups joined. GAFCON (Global Anglican Futures Conference), a coalition mostly of Third World Anglican provinces bound together by opposition to freedom and equality for homosexuals, recognized ACNA as the only legitimate Anglican province in America. Thus, the second strategy of the conservatives after 1996 had won the day. The far-right came to believe TEC could not be reformed and must be abandoned and replaced. In a sense, Chuck Murphy had won out. By 2009, all of the rest of the 12 dioceses' conservative block had to choose whether to follow their 4 sisters out of TEC or stay in and hunker down in their walled enclaves blocking out the despised reforms as much as possible. They decided to stay, all but one.

Internal institutional matters were different in DSC than in the earlier four cases of secession. In DSC, the years 2006 to 2009 were taken up by choosing a new bishop and allowing the outsider to get well-adjusted in his new home and role. Bishop Lawrence spent his first two years bonding with the diocesan leadership, the clergy, the communicants, and leading conservative bishops in TEC and overseas. All the while he had an increasingly adversarial relationship with TEC.

The TEC General Convention of 2009 passed resolutions favoring the rights or homosexuals to Holy Orders and calling for the creation of liturgies for the blessing of same-sex unions. As in the aftermath of the Robinson case of 2003, the DSC leadership exploded in wrath. Lawrence harangued the diocese against "indiscriminate inclusivity," his code term for opposition to homosexual rights. An urgent special convention was called to start the actions to remove DSC from TEC. The convention voted to start withdrawing from the governing bodies of TEC and to make null and void the recent resolutions of GC. A few months later, another convention declared DSC to be "sovereign." A few months after that, yet another convention proclaimed the virtual independence of DSC removing accession to the canons of TEC, revoking the Dennis Canon, and altering the corporate charter to remove TEC. Along the way, one resolution was offered that actually dealt with the subject of homosexuality (The Rubric of Love). The convention exploded in disagreement on how they should actually deal with homosexuality itself. Anarchy at hand, DSC leaders quickly tabled the resolution, then killed it. DSC never again tried to come to terms with homosexuality, only to condemn it. By 2011, DSC remained in TEC in name only. Lawrence proceeded to grant quit claim deeds to all the parishes in defiant disregard of TEC.

The TEC General Convention met again in 2012, this time to adopt the new liturgy for the blessing of same-sex unions and to recognize transgendered clergy. The DSC leadership used this to create a crisis. Lawrence dramatically staged a pre-planned walk-out of GC and returned home to move to a new level. As a public charade of peace, he met with Bishop Waldo, of Upper South Carolina, and Jefferts Schori, but offered no settlement. Meanwhile he met in seclusion with the Standing Committee to chart a course of action. Under Lawrence's direct advice as the only arbiter of the diocesan constitution and canons, the Committee drew up a secret resolution to withdraw DSC from TEC if TEC "took any action of any kind" against Lawrence. Twelve days later, the Committee put into effect the secret plan and the break was final. DSC declared publicly its independence from TEC in October 2012. The last stage in the run-up to the schism began with the General Convention's resolutions on homosexuality.

It had been a long and rough road from 1985 to 2012. The TEC General Conventions of 2003, 2006, 2009, and 2012 enacted the ordination of homosexuals, the blessing of same-sex unions, and rights for transgendered clergy. After each GC, the Diocese of South Carolina reacted in ever stronger vehement opposition and militant hostility to TEC. This track reached its logical conclusion in 2012. The issue of homosexuality was the direct cause of the schism in the Episcopal diocese of South Carolina.

In Part 3 of this series on the causes of the schism, I will address the question of what were the initiating event, or events, of the schism.