Wednesday, February 22, 2017


The judges of the United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, have ruled, unanimously, again. And, once again, as before they have remanded the case to the U.S. District Court in Charleston with directions to proceed. See the article in here . See also the article from ECSC, here .

Yesterday, February 21, 2017, three judges of the 4th Circuit issued a decision. Two of the three had sat on the first appeal, Motz and Gregory. Yesterday's decision, as the first, was written by Judge Motz. The judges said very clearly that the U.S. District court must adjudicate this case:  "Because the state and federal cases involve different parties and different claims, the district court abused its discretion under Colorado River by abstaining in favor of the state court proceedings." The elderly judge C. Weston Houck could not help but get this message of reprimand from his superiors. The three judges also reiterated the principle that federal law is superior to state law. They have ordered the district court in Charleston to reopen the case and proceed with it.

It remains to be seen how the district court will proceed. It is hard to imagine that the judges in Charleston would defy direct orders of their superiors a second time.

If the proceedings do return in federal court, the Episcopal Church side will have the stronger hand. Federal courts have consistently sided with the national church and its dioceses. 

In the federal case, Bishop vonRosenberg sued Mark Lawrence under the terms of the federal Lanham Act. Lawrence claimed to be the Episcopal bishop even though he had left the Episcopal Church and the Church had recognized vonRosenberg as the legitimate Episcopal bishop. Interesting to note that at the time of the schism in 2012 and immediate thereafter, Lawrence made a major effort to project himself as the Episcopal bishop and his organization as the Episcopal diocese. Soon, however, he and his aides dropped the word Episcopal, except in legal contexts, and now always refer to themselves as "Anglicans." Actually, they are Anglican in self-designated name only. They are not now and almost certainly never will be in the Anglican Communion. The Diocese of South Carolina is really neither Episcopal nor Anglican.

So, it is back to the U.S. District court in Charleston.

Monday, February 20, 2017


This has been an unusually mild and short winter here in the South. Today was in the 70's and sunny as it has been for weeks now. My garden is lovely although it will probably never be as beautiful as it was before last year's "exceptional" drought. I lost dozens of shrubs and trees. I am still grieving over my row of grand wax myrtles, full grown at 20', now all gone. Nevertheless, early Spring is here (although the calendar still says winter), and just when I needed gardening therapy the most. I fully intend to make the most of it. As age and health creep up on me, I do not have the stamina I used to have, but that is alright because it makes me rest more and take in the soul-refreshing beauty all around me. I am better for that.  

 Forsythia "Lynwood." The glory of late winter, it is covered with tiny bright yellow flowers before the green leaves appear. A "must have" shrub in the South. The never-failing brilliant herald of spring.

 Camellia japonica, "Professor Sargent." Every self-respecting southern yard and garden has camellia, "the winter rose." Prof. Sargent is a favorite. To me camellia is the "king" of the garden. Southern gardens typically also have lots of azaleas but they are often frail and fussy. All of my expired last year.

Spiraea thunbergii ("Baby's Breath spiraea"). Covered with tiny white blossoms in late winter. 

Many other plants are also blooming in my garden: loropetalum, winter honeysuckle, winter jasmine, and of course the bulbs, as daffodils.

We are having another strange season of a sort in our national government, and it is not a good one. Donald Trump has been president for one month. It has been chaos. We have 47 months to go. Actually, some bookies are giving odds he will not last the four years, either removed by impeachment or voluntarily quit. Personally, I find both of these far-fetched. The Republicans have control of Congress. They would be in no rush to remove a president of their own party. Impeachment would require a really shocking crime, such as being an agent of Putin. As far as voluntarily quitting, can anyone see Trump ever doing that? Certainly not with his ego.

There is so much wrong, one hardly knows where to start. I have been bothered by his war against the intelligence community. This is a mystery to me. I cannot figure why he is doing this unless he knows they have incriminating information on him and he is trying to intimidate them. I am concerned too with his bizarre foreign "policy." And what about his frightening attacks on the independent judiciary? I am most bothered by his war against the free press. He called it the enemy of the people. He could not be more wrong and dangerous. 

Trump has not settled into a presidential mode. He is still campaigning and playing to his base, the angry white working-class man. He is an ego-maniac who filters everything through the lens of self-image. He has the maturity of a second grade bully in the school yard. He has not changed. Why should we think he will? He is the founding fathers' worst nightmare. They knew that a democratic republic has an achilles heel. The majority can elect anyone, even a dangerous demagogue who could reverse democratic rights and principles. This is how Trump seems to me. However, the saving grace is that he is a minority president. The majority of voters did not choose him and still do not support him. His "unfavorability" ratings are over 50%. Most American do not want him to be president.

We have a constitutional crisis in this country. It is still too soon to tell how it is going to play out, but there is a rising consensus among the majority of Americans that this cannot go on as is for four years. What to do? If he will not quit on his own or if Congress will not remove him from office, we are stuck with him. He does not understand, let alone respect our constitutional system of government. Fortunately, there are other centers of power: Congress, the courts, the military, the bureaucracy, and the media. Even within his own administration there are views in conflict with the President's. It may be that a consensus will emerge that the government must go on by disregarding his antics. By common agreement among the other power centers, he could become irrelevant, that is, marginalized and ignored. Maybe, but there are several problems with this. Congress needs the president to sign their bills into law. The media also "need" him because his wild rants drive up ratings. We are fascinated by watching this "train wreck." The problem is we are all on the train. 

Still, I think it is a possible that the rest of the government could push Trump aside and go on although it will not be easy. I get the sense that they are beginning to coalesce around an understanding that Trump is "unhinged, unmoored and unglued," as the conservative columnist David Brooks said a couple of days ago (NY Times, Feb. 17, 2017: "What a Failed Trump Administration Looks Like." Find it here .) Other conservative spokespersons and outlets are joining in the chorus, perhaps most importantly that bastion of right-wing Republicanism, the Wall Street Journal. Democrats already consider Trump a dangerous lunatic. If the conservative Republicans continue on with this, a consensus will develop that he is too unstable to govern and must be disregarded for the sake of the nation. If so, the rest of the government must take over and run the country leaving our "Mad King George" out of the picture. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


In a stunning move today, the General Synod of the Church of England voted "not to take note" (read: to reject) the Bishops' Report on Marriage and Same-Sex Relationships. The bishops' had said that marriage in the church could only be between a man and a woman. This is a significant victory for marriage equality.

The vote to "take note" required majorities in each of the three houses. The House of Bishops voted 43-yes, 1-no. The House of Clergy voted 93-yes, 100-no, 2 abstentions. The House of Laity voted 106-yes, 83-no, 4-abstentions. The rejection in the Clergy meant the failure of the vote. The pro-homosexual rights parties declared victory. Interesting enough, some conservative elements did too. In their view the Report had not gone far enough to defend traditional marriage.

In the end, it was the ordinary boots-on-the-ground vicars who stood up for the people against the lordly bishops. Hooray for democracy, says this American cousin. 

The Church of England appears to be in disarray concerning the issue of homosexuality. This is not necessarily a bad thing.

We Americans can empathize. The Episcopal Church went through turmoil from 1976 to 2015 trying to come to grips with this issue. The matter really had/has three parts: the question of morality, the issue of the ordination of openly homosexual persons, and the Church's blessing of same-sex relationships. The second and third, of course, evolved from the first. Thus, the great question was whether homosexual behavior is immoral, as the conservatives insisted, or morally neutral, as the liberals said. The Episcopal Church never really had a great debate on this question because it was simply too disruptive. The second part, on ordination, was much easier to address. And, this is what happened in TEC. At first General Convention said the ordination of open homosexuals was "not appropriate." This was the stand through the 1970's and 1980's. By 1990, however, the bishops of Newark were ordaining open homosexuals. This forced the issue onto the General Convention. The 1991 GC was the most contentious in memory, tempers flared in the House of Bishops. The Church was roughly divided into thirds, one against ordination, one for, and one neutral. The war was for the neutral middle. In 1994 GC resolved that homosexuality could not be an obstacle to ordination. In 1996, an ecclesiastical court ruled that there was no Church doctrine to impede the ordination of homosexuals. This broke the back of the anti side which made a last stand in the 1997 GC. The next year, 1998, the ultra conservatives joined with the equatorial African bishops to push through the Lambeth Conference a resolution against marriage equality. Having lost the fight in America, they were going over the heads of TEC to try to get the Anglican Communion to make TEC back off. The ploy failed.

The third part, the Church's blessing for homosexual couples derived from the victory on ordination. The defeated conservative minority was too weak to block this. In 2012, TEC adopted a liturgy for the blessing of same-sex couples. In 2015, it adopted same-sex marriage. 

The nearest TEC ever came to a thoughtful, deliberate approach to the issues of homosexuality came in March 2003 with the House of Bishops' Theology Committee report called "The Gift of Sexuality: A Theological Perspective." This was a monumental compilation of careful considerations of Church leaders and academics. In conclusion, the report asked for time for the Church to reach consensus before legislative action. Unfortunately for the Report, it came out just before Gene Robinson was elected bishop. The vote to confirm would have to be taken up in the General Convention of 2003. This trumped the Report's recommendation. The cumulative effect of the various Church measures opening up ordination to open homosexuals and the landslide affirmation of Robinson as a bishop was to recognize homosexual behavior as morally neutral. The liberals won the war. They got both this and the ordinations. We all know what happened next. Five dioceses voted to leave TEC. 

The full inclusion of women and homosexuals into the life of the Episcopal Church came by action, by civil disobedience. The issues were presented to the Church which acted on them, and in the moment of crisis decided to approve both. 

In an ideal world, reasonable people can reach reasonable consensus agreements. Unfortunately, too often this cannot and does not work. Read Martin Luther King's Letter from the Birmingham Jail. So, good luck to the Church of England in reaching a consensus on marriage equality. At this point all the pro party is asking for is the blessing of same-sex unions in the Church. I am certain they will get at least this in time.

Civilization is moving toward full inclusion and rights for homosexual persons. GAFCON and Global South know they have lost the war. The GS and GAFCON primates' shrill denunciation of marriage equality of October 6, 2016, was just a desperate rear guard action. Same in the Diocese of South Carolina and the ayatollahs-of-Coming-Street's new Draconian decrees requiring everyone to sign oaths against marriage equality. Numerous Anglican provinces are moving inexorably toward marriage equality. Scotland appears to be next.

I especially recommend to you the Archbishop of Canterbury's eloquent statement on today's vote. Find it here . The Archbishop, who had just been humbled by his upstart clergy, conceded We need a radical new Christian inclusion in the Church. Amen. (South Carolinians will remember Bishop Lawrence's pre-schism crusade against "indiscriminate inclusivity.")

For the C of E official report on today's vote, find it here . For newspaper reports see here and here . 

Thinking Anglicans has the best guide to today's action. Find it here .   

Sunday, February 12, 2017


The so-called "consequences" imposed on the Episcopal Church by vote of the primates of the Anglican Communion in the January gathering in Canterbury were inconsequential. This is much to the chagrin of the anti-Episcopal Church party in the Communion. It is also in the "Alternative Facts" put out a few days ago by the Anglican Communion News Service. Why ACNS felt it was necessary to twist the truth on the consequences remains a mystery. Surely they knew they could not get away with it.

On 1 February 2017, ACNS posted an article, "Archbishop of Canterbury Sets Out Vision for 2017 Primates Meeting." Find it here . The article said: "Members of TEC participated in ACC-16 [the Anglican Consultative Council meeting of 2016] in Lusaka, but none took part in formal votes on issues of doctrine and polity." This was untrue.

The three TEC representatives in the ACC immediately issued a statement correcting the ACNS's misrepresentation. Find it here . The article was entitled: "Updated: Archbishop of Canterbury Sets Out Vision for 2017 Primates Meeting: Episcopal Church Anglican Consultative Council Members Issue Statement on ACNS Story's Claims." First, the three (Ballentine, Douglas, and Jennings) point out that the ACC accepted but neither endorsed nor affirmed the "consequences" against TEC voted by the primates. Then they made very clear they had voted on every resolution: "Each of us attended the entire ACC-16 meeting and voted on every resolution that came before the body, including a number that concerned the doctrine and polity of the Anglican Communion." So there, ACNS.

The next day, ACNS tied to backtrack by adding an addendum to their article: "all matters of doctrine and polity were agreed by consensus and no formal vote was necessary." This was an attempt to muddy the waters in order to hide their mistake. It did nothing to change the essential fact that the three representatives of TEC fully participated in every vote of the ACC in direct contradiction of the stated "consequences" sent over from the primates meeting of January 2016.

The fundamental reason why the "consequences" were inconsequential is the nature of the Anglican Communion. See the Wikipedia article on the Anglican Communion, particularly the section on the Instruments of Communion.

The AC is a set of 38 independent churches, called provinces, separated geographically. The essential requirement for being in AC is to be in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. The AC has no overall governing authority, neither executive, nor legislative, nor judicial. It has no written constitution, contract, or other binding document. It does have Four Instruments of Communion that evolved separately over time. 

The first Instrument is the most important, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Although a figurehead without the right to intervene in any local province he does have the power to call the Lambeth Conference and to issue invitations to the bishops to attend (he sometimes refuses to invite some bishops), and has the power to convene the meetings of the primates. Since a church has to be in communion with the Archbishop, he ultimately gets to choose who can be in the Anglican Communion (technically done by the ACC). For instance, he recently declared that he was not in communion with the Anglican Church in North America. He said it was a separate church not in the Anglican Communion. The ABC remains the essential power center of the AC, albeit a weak one.

The second Instrument is the Lambeth Conference. It can express the opinions of the majority but, as ABC, has no right to interfere in the local churches. In 1998 the LC passed a resolution rejecting marriage equality. The anti-homoseuxal party of AC has promoted this as the law of the AC, one of which TEC is in violation. In fact, the AC has no laws that can be enforced on the 38 independent churches. The 1998 resolution was only an agreement of the majority and cannot be forced on any province of the AC.

The third Instrument is the primates' meeting, an assembly called by and presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The 38 primates discuss and vote their opinions on various issues facing the AC, but again, they cannot impose anything on the individual churches. The primates have no authority to impose anything on the other three coequal Instruments of Communion since the AC has no constitution or other compact. This was the fallacy of the "consequences" voted by the January 2016 primates' gathering. The set-up of the AC gives no way a resolution of the primates can be forced on any other Instrument or on any province.

The fourth Instrument is the Anglican Consultative Council that is made up of representatives of all the 38 provinces, roughly proportional. It usually meets every three years. It is the only one of the four Instruments that has a written constitution. However, as the others, it can express opinions but cannot rule over or interfere in any province. It too is only an advisory body. In last April's ACC meeting, in Lusaka, the representatives "received" but did not endorse the primates' resolution on the "consequences" against TEC. As the TEC delegates said, they fully participated and voted on every measure in the meeting. In short, ACC rejected the primates' call for punishment against TEC. They could do such as a separate and constitutional entity of the AC beholding to no one. They did not have to obey anything the primates' said since there was no constitutional or legal requirement to do so. The ACC had every right to operate on its own, as it did.

In sum, the nature of the Anglican Communion means that each one of the 38 provinces is independent. The Instruments of Communion have only advisory powers. The Four Instruments are separate. No one rules over the others. Thus, the primates had no right to impose punishments on TEC in the other three Instruments of the AC. The ACC made this plain in its meeting last April.

The anti-homosexual coalition in the Anglican Communion is trying to stop the rising tide of rights, equality, and inclusion of homosexuals in the provinces of the Anglican Communion. For years after the anti-homosexual Lambeth resolution of 1998, and especially after the Robinson affair of 2003, they tried to impose a unified authoritarian force over the individual churches, as the Windsor Report and the Anglican Covenant. All failed. Numerous Anglican provinces are now following in the footsteps of Canada and TEC toward full human rights. GAFCON and its overlapping ally Global South have tried their hardest to stop this movement by changing the nature of the Anglican Communion. They wanted to unify the AC under a covenant rejecting rights for homosexuals. They failed. The tide is still rising against them. Nothing displayed this more clearly than their disunion and disarray in last January's primates' gathering. They failed to expel TEC. They failed to put in the Anglican Church in North America to replace TEC in the Anglican Communion. Their replacement strategem is now dead. The old Anglican Communion survived intact.

The ACNA is not now and will almost certainly never be in the Anglican Communion. The communicants of the Diocese of South Carolina who about to vote in favor of union with ACNA would do well to recognize this inconvenient fact.

GAFCON/GS's denial of human rights and attacks on TEC failed. Their scheme of Anglican Realignment is fizzling out. ABC, the real power center of the AC, has called the new meeting of the primates this year under the same motto of unity. ACNS's strange twisting of the truth about the "consequences" does not help. Recognizing the reality of the nature of the Anglican Communion would help.   

Saturday, February 11, 2017


"God pushes people to build bridges," says Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. Amen.

Last Sunday, Curry wrapped up a three-day revival in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. By all accounts it was a roaring success. His last stop was at the packed house of St. Stephen's of McKeesport. See the report here . May have been a coincidence, but St. Stephen's was the parish of Mark Lawrence from 1984 to 1997. In the trauma of division as the majority of the diocese of Pittsburgh voted to leave the Episcopal Church in 2008, St. Stephen's congregation finally resolved to remain Episcopal while still fondly recalling the young man from California who had led their flock so well.

Curry is famous as an electrifying preacher. He is just the one to lead the new "Jesus Movement" revival of the Episcopal Church. Surely, now is the moment for this.

The Presiding Bishop is to make five more stops on his year-long circuit of evangelism across America. Interestingly enough, the last stop will be in the Diocese of San Joaquin, November 17-19. Let's hope he holds his last revival meeting in St. Paul's of Bakersfield. That would be fitting. Lawrence was rector there from 1997 to 2007. DSJ was the original schismatic diocese, voting the second and last time in December of 2007 to leave the Episcopal Church. The majority of St. Paul's went along. However, the court returned the property of St. Paul's to the Episcopal diocese in 2013. The majority of the congregation moved out as Trinity Anglican Church.

Too bad that Curry did not include South Carolina in his circuit this year (he will be in Georgia). But then he did make a great and wonderful visit to Charleston last April when South Carolinians needed him the most in the wake of schism and the Mother Emanuel massacre. When he left, hearts did not ache quite so much.

Bridges: love, compassion, healing, reconciliation, brotherhood and sisterhood. That is what we should be about, not schisms, walls and separations. Presiding Bishop Curry's message is exactly what we all need to hear now in McKeesport, Bakersfield, Charleston, and everywhere.   

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


This year, 2017, marks the tenth year since the first of the diocesan votes to leave the Episcopal Church (TEC). The Diocese of San Joaquin was the first to resolve to leave, in December of 2007 (the first of the two votes was the year earlier). Then followed Pittsburgh, Quincy, and Fort Worth, all voting to transfer to the Anglican province of the Southern Cone (South America). In 2009, these four joined in the start-up of a new church called the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). On October 15, 2012, the diocesan leadership of South Carolina declared a "disassociation" from TEC  making the fifth schismatic diocese.

After ten years, it is appropriate to look back, review, and assess the five schisms. What caused the schisms? How have the departing groups fared since they left TEC? How has TEC fared? What is the outlook for the future?


A summary of the causes of the schism is in order. The basic cause was a disagreement over the philosophy of religion. After the 1950's, TEC moved into a new phase of its history, into a horizontally oriented social activism. The majority of TEC championed equal rights and inclusion of African Americans, women, and homosexuals. A traditionalist minority, however, objected to this demanding that religion must remain vertical, that is to devote itself to salvation of the soul, one person and one God. They declared faith unchanging "the faith once delivered." As God controls the universe, we must preserve the social order. 

The traditionalist minority (they called themselves the "orthodox") was first enraged over the ordination of women. Three of the five later schismatic diocese refused to ordain women to the priesthood. This was mild, however, in comparison to their reaction to the equality and inclusion of homosexual and transgender persons. TEC's affirmation of the first openly gay bishop in 2003 lit the fuse for the ultra-conservatives' explosion. The election of the first female presiding bishop in 2006, and first woman primate in the Anglican Communion, added to it.

The American ultra-conservatives (people who refused to accept the legitimacy of the ordination of openly gay people) and equatorial African primates united to form a movement called the Anglican Realignment. This was meant to split off the anti-homosexual majority of the old Anglican Communion leaving out TEC, Canada and anyone else favoring equal rights for all. In 2008, this coalition formed GAFCON and signed the Jerusalem Declaration that rejected equality for homosexuals and denied the authority of TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada. In 2009, the ultra-conservative-GAFCON coalition formed the Anglican Church in North America. Its aim was to replace TEC as the legitimate Anglican province in the U.S. and Canada. American ultras saw the Anglican Realignment as the viable alternative to TEC. They believed the majority of the Anglican Communion was conservative enough to maintain vertical religion and overcome the hated social reforms. They sought to change fundamentally the Anglican Communion.


The Diocese of San Joaquin was one of the three that refused to ordain a woman to the priesthood. Its highly conservative bishop, Schofield, began leading the majority away from TEC by the early 2000's, well before Jeffert Schori's election. Mark Lawrence was rector of one of the largest parishes of this diocese, St. Paul's of Bakersfield. This was a relatively small diocese, of about 6,000 active members.

In 2008, the House of Bishops deposed Schofield. 

Ironically, the first schism resulted in the greatest legal victory for the Episcopal Church. Eight years in the state courts found all in favor of the Church. Judges ruled the Church to be hierarchical. In the end, the entire chain of state courts agreed that the breakaways had to return all the assets and properties of the old diocese to the rightful owners, TEC and its diocese. The Anglican diocese is now in the process of complying with the court orders. This was a complete legal victory for TEC.

The Anglican diocese's website lists 40 local churches, about half outside the old diocesan boundary. This diocese does not reveal membership numbers. The Episcopal diocese lists 19 local churches. The 2016  Episcopal Church Annual gives 2,131 active members. Apparently, roughly two-thirds of the old diocese went along with the schism and one-third remained with TEC. Without sufficient statistics, it is impossible to know membership trajectories.

Lawrence's parish, St. Paul's of Bakersfield, went along with the schism (Lawrence was conveniently absent for the vote; he had just won consents to be the next Episcopal bishop, of DSC). From 2007 to 2013 St. Paul's was Anglican. By court order, the Episcopal diocese regained the property in 2013. The majority of the old congregation moved out to become Trinity Anglican Church. The assistant rector there is Joseph Lawrence, a son of Mark Lawrence. This congregation raised $2.7m to build a new campus on the west side of town. According to its website, Trinity has an Average Sunday Attendance of around 180 and an annual budget of $572,000. The old church, St. Paul's Episcopal, has an ASA of 110 and a budget of $235,000. Again, about a 2-1 split.

The Anglican diocese has the majority of the members of the old diocese. However, they lost all of the assets and properties.


As San Joaquin, Pittsburgh began moving away from TEC in the early 2000's under Bishop Duncan. After the Robinson affair of 2003, he became the leader of the alternate primatial oversight movement that formalized into the Anglican Communion Network of a dozen ultra dioceses. Unfortunately for him, he agreed to a legal "Stipulation" in 2005 that all property would remain with the Episcopal Diocese. 

In 2008, the House of Bishops deposed Duncan and the diocesan convention voted a second time to leave TEC. Three years of litigation followed in which the chain of state courts agreed that the Stipulation meant all assets and properties would remain with TEC and its diocese. However, some parishes owned their own properties; and a few refused to vacate returned facilities. 

The Episcopal diocese rebounded as the majority. In 2015, it listed 34 local churches and 8,688 members. The Anglican diocese declined. In 2014, it listed 7,937 members (with a large share outside the old diocese); in 2015 it listed 6,929 members, of which 5,765 were in the territory of the old diocese. Since the schism, the Episcopal side has grown and is now much larger than the breakaway side which seems to be declining.

Mark Lawrence was rector of St. Stephen's of McKeesport, Diocese of Pittsburgh from 1984 to 1997. At the schism, the parish wrestled with its choices but finally resolved to remain with TEC. To this day Lawrence is warmly remembered in the old parish he served well.

The people who made the schism in Pittsburgh wound up losing both the assets and the majority.


TEC and its dioceses won complete legal victories in San Joaquin and Pittsburgh, but this was not to be the case in the Diocese of Quincy, in fact, the opposite. 

This was one of the smallest dioceses in TEC, with just 2,200 members before the schism. It was also highly Anglo-Catholic and one of the three dioceses that refused to ordain women. 

In 2008, a majority vote in the diocesan convention resolved to leave TEC for the Southern Cone. Keith Ackerman, a friend of Lawrence's from Pittsburgh days, was bishop. The Presiding Bishop accepted his resignation and granted a formal Release and Removal from the office of bishop. He was not deposed by the House of Bishops the way Schofield and Duncan had been. She was to do the same for the next two bishops to leave TEC, Iker and Lawrence. They too were granted Release and Removal rather than being deposed.

The case between the two dioceses went up the chain of state courts which ruled consistently under strict construction. They said that since TEC did not explicitly forbid a diocese from seceding, it could do so, and keep the assets to boot. They found that legal rights remained in the local party and that TEC was not hierarchical (the California courts ruled the exact opposite).

The split of the old diocese was again about 2-1. Of the 22 local churches, 18 followed the schism with about 1,400 of the original 2,200 members. Four congregations remained with TEC, the largest being St. Paul's of Peoria. Afterwards, nine congregations made up the Episcopal side. Owing to its small size, the Episcopal party resolved to merge with the Diocese of Chicago in 2013. The Anglican diocese of Quincy does not release its membership figures; therefore, it is impossible to know its size or development. However, according to its website, it has 16 churches in the old diocese and another 20 beyond, as far away as Hawaii. By all appearances, the Anglican diocese is doing well. It wound up with the assets and the majority.


Another decidedly Anglo-Catholic diocese that adamantly refused to ordain women was Fort Worth, under its formidable bishop, Jack Iker. In fact, immediately after Jeffert Schori's election in 2006, he arose to demand alternate primatial oversight, by a foreign primate, in the House of Bishops. He did not get it, but he did get a schism in 2008. 

The litigation went to both sides. The early judgment found for the Church side, but on appeal this was overturned. The court then reversed itself and found for the Iker side. This is now in the state court of appeals. We are awaiting a judgment at any time. One interesting point was that the state supreme court, in remanding the case, declared that the Dennis Canon could not be enforced since it did not contain a provision that it could not be revoked (if this principle were followed invariably, few laws could ever be enforced).

In this instance, both sides use the identical titles and marks. 

As with Quincy and San Joaquin, the Anglicans of Ft. Worth refuse to give their membership and financial statistics making it impossible to judge their size and growth. We do know that there were 55 local churches before the schism and that the majority went along with Iker. As of last year, the schismatic diocese listed 40 of the 55 and another dozen churches beyond. In 2016, the TEC diocese named 17 local churches and 36 missions and stations with around 8,000 members (the number in the Church Annual for the year 2014 was 4,617).


The experience of the Diocese of South Carolina was considerably different than the first four cases. 

In the first place, the schism was made in secret by a small clique of bishop-lawyers-aides-standing committee. On Oct. 17, 2012, it was presented as a fait accompli to the clergy and laity to be rubber-stamped by a diocesan convention. In the second place, DSC had aggressive lawyers who took the initiative and established the advantage in court. Through this chosen court, they quickly seized control over the names, marks, rights, and property before the Church side could get organized. They also bound most of the parishes into the lawsuit making it impossible for them to act independently. In 2015, when TEC offered to give the parishes their property in return for the diocesan assets, DSC instantly and disdainfully rejected the offer. The local court later rendered a sweeping verdict in favor of the local diocese over TEC. This was appealed to the state supreme court. We are awaiting their decision, now for 16 months and counting. This will be the first time that a state supreme court will rule on the issue of the relationship between TEC and her dioceses. If the Church loses, the decision is likely to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. So far, the federal courts have been reluctant to get involved even though the TEC side has appealed to them.

DSC claimed that their schism had nothing to do with homosexuality. They insisted it was all about theology and polity. However, post-schism DSC, of all the five, has been the strongest in opposing rights for homosexuals and transgender. It has adopted strict policies rejecting marriage equality even requiring diocesan bodies, parishes, employees, and anyone wanting to use church property to sign written oaths of this. It has declared marriage to be a lifetime commitment between one man and one woman (but it still allows remarriage in the church---consistency has never been a strong point of DSC). 

See my posting of Jan. 4, 2017, "The Continuing Decline of the Diocese of South Carolina" for details of the impact of the schism on each side's membership. In short, when Lawrence became bishop in 2008, DSC had 27,670 communicants (active members). 50 of the 71 local churches went along with him in the schism. Just before the schism they had 21,993 communicants. After the schism, in 2013, the number was 17,998. In 2014 this fell to 16,361; in 2015 to 15,556. DSC churches lost 29% of their membership as a result of the schism. Almost all of the large parishes endured double-digit declines. Overall, DSC lost 44% of its membership under Bishop Lawrence. Its trajectory is clearly downward. Meanwhile the TEC diocese is up 16 % to about 7,000 communicants. As in the earlier cases, South Carolina was about a 2-1 split. However, DSC is suffering a rapid rate of decline. The seriousness of this fall is magnified by the rising need to pay between 40 and 50 lawyers for the ongoing litigation in both state and federal courts. DSC has had a number of fund-raising campaigns, even going so far once as having Lawrence call his courtroom opponent evil ("the spiritual forces of evil"). It has been an expensive, not to mention ugly, course of litigation.


Three of the five schisms have been settled in court: San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, and Quincy. The Episcopal Church and its dioceses won in San Joaquin and Pittsburgh. The secessionist diocese won in Quincy. So far, the schismatics have had their greatest success in Quincy. Two cases are still hung up in state courts, Fort Worth and South Carolina. Of all the five cases of litigation, South Carolina is the most important because it will be the first decision by a state supreme court. No court has made a definitive ruling on the Dennis Canon in the context of Church/diocese. 

The five schisms had mixed results. For the breakaways, the Diocese of Quincy was most successful winding up with the majority of the communicants, local churches, and properties. Pittsburgh was the least successful. The secessionists there wound up losing in court and losing the majority of the old diocese. In San Joaquin, the Church won the property but lost the majority of the people. Fort Worth and South Carolina are to be determined, but the majorities of the communicants are remaining with the secessionists.

Four of the five are in the ACNA with South Carolina about to join them. ACNA is a separate Christian denomination that is not now and will never be in the Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Church is rebuilding the five dioceses hit by schism. The Anglican Communion has reaffirmed its commitment to its unity with the Episcopal Church.

Sooner or later the U.S. Supreme Court will have to make a definitive ruling on the question of the sovereignty of the Episcopal Church, that is, whether the Church has the right to control its local dioceses or not. Thus, the issues involved in the schisms will remain for years to come. 


All five of the secessionist dioceses left TEC because they believed they had a viable alternative. The Anglican Realignment movement had started in 1996 as the ultras in TEC formed a union with the anti-homosexual-rights Anglican primates of equatorial Africa. The goal was to coalesce a majority of the Anglican Communion around an anti-homosexual rights agenda. This movement gained great momentum in 2003 at the Robinson affair. An immediate result was an ultra scheme to peel away the far-right dioceses from TEC to join with the anti-homosexual-rights overseas primates. This produced the first four schisms in 2007-08. After GAFCON and its Jerusalem Declaration appeared in 2008, the American ultra-equatorial African union created the Anglican Church in North America expressly to be the replacement province to take the place of TEC in the Anglican Communion. The first four secessionist dioceses promptly joined. ACNA was recognized as a "province" by the GAFCON/Global South faction, whose provinces actually counted the majority of the members of the Anglican Communion. The ACNA archbishop was made a member of the primates' councils of GAFCON/GS. After this, it looked as if this movement would succeed in dividing the Anglican Communion into majority anti-homosexual-rights and minority pro-homosexual-rights hostile parts. 

In South Carolina, the diocesan leadership counted on this Anglican Realignment movement as they planned their schism. They believed they would be leaving the corrupt minority and joining the "orthodox" majority part of the old AC.

The DSC leadership miscalculated, however. The AR movement did not turn out as they thought it would. In the January 2016 primates' gathering in Canterbury, the Archbishop of Canterbury guided the primates into "walking together" and away from schism. The majority of the primates abandoned ACNA, even as its archbishop looked on. They agreed to minor "consequences" (punishment) for TEC as retribution for its pro-homosexual/transgender reforms. In later meetings in 2016, the GAFCON primates grumbled but also backed away from the replacement scheme for ACNA as well as any other talk of schism or other division of the old AC. With this, the original aim of ACNA died. ACNA will not become a part of the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Realignment will not divide the old Communion into majority/minority camps. The South Carolina diocesan leadership's gamble to leave TEC for a rising "orthodox" majority failed. DSC is now in nowhere going nowhere. With nowhere to go, it is moving to do the next best thing, join ACNA, even though they know they will still be out of the Anglican Communion. The Archbishop of Canterbury has declared ACNA to be a separate Christian denomination. It is not now and, in all likelihood, will never be in the Anglican Communion. It is "Anglican" in name only.

Thus, the majorities of the five schismatic dioceses will wind up together in the ACNA self-declaring themselves to be "Anglican." Other anti-homosexual-rights Anglicans will welcome them as friends but they cannot make them part of the Anglican Communion. The five departed ones are consigned to live just beyond the edge of the Anglican Communion. Perhaps they will be content with that. Perhaps not.

As for the Episcopal Church, there is no denying the schisms have hurt. For an international institution, division and loss are not good things. I do sense a slight turning back toward a more balanced horizontal/vertical trajectory. It is too early, however, to judge how the schisms may affect TEC's institutional integrity. It depends on how the courts rule on the question of where sovereignty lies, particularly on the strength of the Dennis Canon. In a way, though, even if the Church winds up "winning" it has also "lost" a lot. This is regrettable.

It is hard to see much good to come of the five schisms. There is plenty of bad, the brokenness, the hard feelings, the deadly competitions in civil courts, the human and monetary costs. And, for what? If the "orthodox" sincerely objected to the ordination of women and the inclusion of open homosexuals, they would have been allowed to continue under the tolerant policies of TEC. Ordination is now and always has been at the discretion of the local bishop. At both the blessings of same-sex unions and same-sex marriage, TEC took pains to allow local dioceses to refuse these. All five of the departing groups could have remained in TEC and peacefully practiced their own sincerely held understandings of religion. After all, most of the dozen ultra dioceses did remain in TEC and they have done this. Therefore, I have to conclude that the schisms were both unnecessary and harmful for both sides.

A personal note.
I have finished my manuscript of the history of the schism in South Carolina. At present it is 500 pages with 50 pages of footnotes. I condensed it from 600+ pages. I am negotiating with publishers for a paper book. The length is a problem. It would be an expensive book. If all else fails, I would publish it as an e-book on Amazon. This could be done instantly. One could buy it for a low price and have it on a Kindle reader. At any rate, it should be available in the foreseeable future.

I am beginning a course of medical treatments that may last for several months. They have a high rate of success, but along the way may cause me to fall behind in my posts on the history of the schism. This site has had 172,461 hits in its three and a half years of life. Hundreds of readers consult it regularly. I do not want to disappoint anyone. I will try my best to keep up this little blog. It means a lot to me, and I hope it does to you whether you agree with my interpretations or not.