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, of Barnwell, Nov. 17, 2012, on occasion of the 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." The terms "Lawrence" and "TEC" were the only truthful parts 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, characterizing the Episcopal Church side. 

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. St. B's was established as an Episcopal Church in 1903.

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. Final remark of the trial.

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. Opening remark.

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.

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


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. 



Part 3 (of 3)---Initial Events.

(Originally posted on Feb. 17, 2015)
In Part 1 of this series, I gave my view of the underlying causes of the schism, namely the competing attitudes of religion that I called vertical and horizontal. In Part 2, I summarized the direct cause of the schism, the issue of homosexuality. In this Part, I will address the initial events.

To reiterate, great historical events have underlying causes, direct causes, and initiating events. The last of these, initiating event(s), is/are the specific act(s) that actually begin the course of events in the larger historical problem in question. For instance, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, was the indisputable initiating event of the United States' role in the Second World War. The U.S. declared war on Japan the next day. In most cases, the initial events are clear-cut while the direct cause(s) less so, and the underlying causes even less.

The schism in South Carolina was no exception to the rule. We can pin-point exactly when it occurred by the clear documents in the public record. On October 17, 2012, Bishop Lawrence spoke by telephone with the Presiding Bishop, Jefferts Schori, and told her that the Standing Committee's resolution of October 2 had gone into effect on the 15th. This meant that the Diocese of South Carolina had disaffiliated with the Episcopal Church as of 12:00 p.m. on October 15, 2012. This was the initiating event of the schism.

As we saw in Part 2, the resolutions passed in the TEC General Convention of 2012 set up the last stage in the diocesan move away from TEC, a trend that in fact had been going on for thirty years. GC had passed resolutions establishing a new liturgy for the blessing of same-sex unions and granting equality for transgendered clergy. Even though Lawrence had the right to ignore these resolutions in his diocese, he made it clear that he could not continue in an institution that promoted such. Lawrence returned home and declared a crisis. He met the Standing Committee that drew up a secret plan of action [it has never been revealed to the public]. Then, on October 2, 2012, the day before Lawrence was to meet the Presiding Bishop in New York City, the Standing Committee adopted a secret resolution, on Lawrence's advice, to remove the diocese from TEC upon "any action of any kind" against Lawrence. He met the Presiding Bishop on October 3 [he did not tell her about the resolution of the day before], then refused her invitations to meet again. On October 15, Jefferts Schori called Lawrence and told him that he had been charged with abandonment of communion by the Disciplinary Board for Bishops and that she had placed a restriction on his ministry (this was the first he knew of the DBB investigation). He was forbidden from exercising any ministerial duties. She also asked for confidentiality as she expected to meet him in a few days for further discussions in an effort to resolve the problem privately. Lawrence did not tell Jefferts Schori about the Standing Committee's resolution, just as he had not done so on October 3. As soon as Lawrence hung up the phone, he disregarded everything Jefferts Schori had said. Two days later he called her back to give her the news of the "disaffiliation." He made it retroactive to noon on October 15 because that was the time TEC "took any action of any kind" against Lawrence thus automatically kicking into effect the Standing Committee's self-generated secret resolution of October 2. Lawrence declared that this disaffiliation was official because he alone had told the Standing Committee they had the right to do it.

On the afternoon of October 17, immediately after Lawrence's call to Jefferts Schori, DSC posted numerous documents on its website announcing the news of the disaffiliation. Soon thereafter, Lawrence met with the clergy of the diocese to inform them that they were no longer in TEC. A month later DSC held a special convention, not to vote on disaffiliation, that had already been accomplished, they said, by the Standing Committee, but to change the canons of the diocese legally. A majority of parishes and missions sent delegates. All votes were by wide margins, showing the common support for the disaffiliation that was presented to them for affirmation. Even before this special convention met, the Standing Committee directed its lawyer, Alan Runyan, to prepare legal action against TEC in a pre-emptive strike to keep the properties of which they were in physical possession.

Under TEC canons, Lawrence could have had the restriction of October 15 removed from him in one of two ways. In one, he could have sent a letter to the Presiding Bishop who would then have the discretion of lifting the restriction (signs indicated she was anxious to do that). Or, he could have waited until the next House of Bishops meeting, in March 2013, and had a trial in the House. He may well have been acquitted. Lawrence, however, refused to choose either. He said he was no longer a member of the Episcopal Church and therefore not subject to any of its rules. Later, he somewhat disingenuously argued that he had not been restricted by the Presiding Bishop and therefore her restriction and subsequent removal were illegal. He based this on the apparent fact that he had not received a hand-signed document in the U.S. Mail. In fact, he himself said he had received the news of the restriction by phone and by e-mail on October 15. On December 5, 2012, seven weeks after Lawrence told her the diocese, including himself, had left the Episcopal Church, the Presiding Bishop informed Lawrence that she accepted his renunciation of orders and had issued a formal document called a Release and Removal in which he was released from his ordination vows and removed as a bishop. Lawrence maintained that he had not renounced his orders and that he was still the only legal and legitimate bishop of the diocese.

The question at hand was whether his resignation from the Episcopal Church, that he announced on October 17, also meant his resignation of his ordinations. The Episcopal Church alone had bestowed Holy Orders on him. The Episcopal Church alone had granted him the position of bishop. He had made a solemn vow to conform to the Episcopal Church. By leaving the Episcopal Church did he leave his ordinations and office of bishop? The Episcopal Church said yes; Lawrence said no. The idea that a person can resign from an institution and retain the rights and privileges that had been entrusted to him by that institution does not pass the common sense test. Nevertheless, the majority in DSC bought the claim and agreed with Lawrence. They kept him as their bishop regardless. This was confirmed in the special convention of November 17.

Thus, the initiating event of the schism in South Carolina occurred on October 17, 2012, retroactive to October 15. On the DSC side, the diocese saw itself as completely independent of the Episcopal Church. Lawrence and the other diocesan authorities proceeded on that course. They remained in active possession of all the diocesan assets and most of the parish properties. They prepared for a legal battle to guarantee that possession.

On the TEC side, events proceeded differently. On one hand, the Presiding Bishop continued to try to deal with the restricted bishop of South Carolina for seven weeks. On the other hand, she saw to it that a reorganization of the diocese would get underway while the bishop remained restricted. The lawyer she had retained long before gathered a local group of loyal Episcopalians to form a steering committee to manage a basic reorganization of the diocese. This was necessary because the entire governing structure of the old diocese had resigned from the Episcopal Church. The special convention of November 17 brought an end to the Presiding Bishop's efforts to work with Lawrence. It was clear to her by that point that she could make no settlement with Lawrence within the rules of the Episcopal Church. She promptly consulted the heads of the Church's provinces, found a majority agreement that Lawrence had renounced his ordinations, and proceeded to issue the Release and Removal of Bishop Lawrence on the basis of his having openly declared his disaffiliation with the Episcopal Church. A few weeks later, the local Episcopalians, the minority of the old diocese, met to reorganize the diocese and elect a new bishop. By that point, two separate dioceses existed, each claiming to be the only legal and legitimate Episcopal diocese of South Carolina.

Thus the historical documents show a clear picture of the initiating events of the schism in South Carolina. The twelve members of the Standing Committee unanimously conspired in secret on October 2, 2012, on the advice of Lawrence, perhaps backed up by his lawyers, to withdraw the diocese from the Episcopal Church at the first convenient moment. That moment came thirteen days later, on October 15. On the set-up that the conspirators had secretly arranged in advance, withdrawal on "any action of any kind," bishop-lawyers-Standing Committee agreed on the afternoon of the 15th that the secret resolution of October 2 had automatically gone into effect with the Presiding Bishop's application of the "restriction" on Lawrence. Lawrence called the Presiding Bishop back on the 17th to deliver the news. In fact, a group of no more than twenty people made a self-declared and voluntary "disaffiliation" of the diocese from TEC citing their own authority, which they believed the diocese had given to them. In short, a small group of leaders of DSC willfully and voluntarily broke away the diocese from TEC. They did so on the belief that the majority of clergy and laity would go along. 

In summary, the initiating cause of the schism was Bishop Lawrence's declaration of October 17 that the diocese had withdrawn from the Episcopal Church retroactive to October 15. The direct cause of this was DSC's rejection of TEC's reforms favoring homosexuals. This direct cause derived from the underlying generative factors that lay in the predominance of the horizontal movement over the vertical reaction within TEC.

The leaders of DSC, particularly Bishop Lawrence, have had different explanations of the causes of the schism. Before the break, Lawrence repeatedly claimed that the differentiation between diocese and TEC derived from three sources: theology, polity [church government], and sexuality. He continued to campaign on this for years before the schism. By theology, apparently he meant that the diocese had to pull away from TEC in order to preserve the true and traditional religion while TEC went off track into relativism. By polity, apparently he meant that the diocese had to keep the legal and legitimate structure of the Church because TEC went off into illegal alterations of its rules. By sexuality, apparently he meant that the diocese must defend traditional marriage and sexual morality while TEC veered off into a new definition of marriage and a new view of sexual morality. Conservatives generally believe that gender is assigned by God. It is not up to man to question that, let alone deny it and seek a different sexual expression, or even worse, alter one's God-given gender. (This old view may have been rolled back a bit as DSC promoted a self-identified homosexual man, a Trinity faculty member, who teaches that homosexuality is inborn.) If the Lawrence faction honestly believes they had to break away from TEC because of theology, polity, and sexuality, we must respect their right to their viewpoint. Besides, I do not think their pre-schism explanation of the causes is incompatible with what I have understood to be the underlying causes, direct cause, and initiating cause. I would take issue, however, with many of the assumptions they made in trying to substantiate their views.

Soon after the schism, DSC began to change its interpretation of the causes of the schism. Over the last two years, Lawrence and his assistant Jim Lewis have issued several statements denying that the schism was caused by the issue of homosexuality. They dropped the second and third legs of the pre-schism three-legged stool of theology, polity, and sexuality. DSC's current assertion is that it had to leave TEC because of theology and because TEC had mistreated its bishop. Lawrence insisted in his recent February 6 pastoral letter that DSC is "inclusive." This is in contrast to his long-fought campaign before the schism against what he called "indiscriminate inclusivity." The presently promoted mistreatment charge was not original to the differentiation movement. It developed late in the run-up to the schism and has been increasing ever since. The DSC witnesses in the trial last July showed the prevalence of this charge. Apparently the majority of DSC's communicants believe their bishop was an innocent victim of dark, malevolent forces from off. Thus, DSC has had two different, somewhat contradictory, explanations of the causes of the schism, one pre-schism, the other post-schism. The first conceptualization was actually closer to the documented historical record. The later victim theory is not supported by the historical evidence and should be discarded as self-serving myth.

This concludes my summary of the underlying causes, the direct cause, and the initiating events of the schism in the old Episcopal diocese of South Carolina. To recap, in my understanding of the documents and sources, the underlying causes were incompatible philosophies of religion, the direct cause was the issue of homosexuality, and the initiating cause was DSC's declaration of independence from TEC in October of 2012.

There are many other questions that should be addressed as we try to understand the history of the schism in South Carolina. For instance, was this inevitable, or could it have been avoided? Another would be, was the schism a long-term premeditated conspiracy among a certain group of people? If so, was Lawrence the leader or the follower in this conspiracy? These are all important questions that will have to be addressed in time.