Friday, August 10, 2018

2nd., edition

Mark Lawrence made stop number five on his Last Hurrah tour yesterday at St. James Church, on James Island. I have now received two informative accounts of last evening's session. Here is one report of Lawrence's performance:

The event was pretty much the same as you have described before. About 200 people, jovial, smiling, and happy. There were TEC people there. All questions were from supporters, and a standing ovation with cheers went up when Lawrence said, "I'm not going anywhere." He was quite emotional throughout, especially in a long rambling answer to a woman's question about her friend's daughter married to a woman and conflicted between church and daughter. He got involved in gender identity ("changing the definition of human being, created male and female"). He tried to defend that the schism is not about homosexuality but breaking point for him was canon change about gender identity. He considered four choices: resign, retire, lead a charge out, meet with PB. He chose the last. Then Lawrence says Standing Committee said they did not trust her and "we will leave if they attack you," and they did. He became quite emotional saying how tough it has been trying to hold The church together.

Question from St. Philip's:  "Why do they want to take our property?" Answer, "Because they believe they are their properties." Then he said PB Allen was the last presiding bishop he could give his heart to --- a strange confession given his vows at consecration to obey...

Q: Are you making progress? A: Toward reconciliation? No. We will know more when Judge Dickson rules on execution (repeating that SC supreme court decision is un-executable) and this is not over. How long? Nobody knows, some say months, some say years.

Closing sermon was about going out to preach the gospel and plant churches. I can't locate his scripture about believers driven out of Jerusalem and promise that gates of Hell shall not prevail. Then "doesn't it seem like the gates of Hell are prevailing?" All about hopelessness, fear, despair in the culture. Challenge not to lose mission of God's people, to go out willingly to reconcile God and man for "sake of the Church." Pray for reaching the lost as much as for keeping our buildings. Let not the world think we are about buildings.


Here is another report of the evening:

Number in attendance: between 250 and 275 (fairly accurate intentional count by me).

Tone and tenor:  Congenial evening wherein Mark Lawrence held a one-man show. Masterful working of the crowd with humor mixed with pathos, evangelical fervor and pithy quotes. It occurred to me that if he were not the orator he is, the cause of DSC would have surely fragmented and shriveled long before now. Hence, the Tour.

Direct Quotes:  "In order to take out a diocese, you have to take out its bishop." Used to describe the long-standing supposed policy of TEC to invade disagreeable, non-liberal dioceses, and to further paint Mark and the DSC as innocent victims.

     "Our lawsuit (in Goodstein's Court) was not against TEC; it was to claim what was ours." Used in connection with a recounting of a clergy retreat held at Camp St. Christopher soon after the disassociation (I was in attendance), when there was an email sent to all the clergy in the diocese "using our seal and our name, inviting the clergy to a clergy meeting with a man claiming to be the legitimate ecclesiastical authority of the Diocese [vonRosenberg]. The invitation was sent by Tom Tisdale."

     "The state case is now back in the circuit court." This was used in a discussion claiming that "this is not over" and that there "are five opinions on the table making this SCSC ruling unenforceable."

     "I was in an untenable situation in which the '1's' were trying to take me out, and the '4's' were trying to pull me out. And I'm in the middle trying to keep the diocese in TEC and intact." Long section describing the labeling of the factions in the diocese "when I got here." The '1's' were the 10% of the diocese who would follow whatever GC said. "2's' were the ones who don't care what national church does and say, 'come see us once a year bishop, have a safe trip home. We'll call you if we need you." "3's' are the ones who are the 'Lowcountry Parishes.' They knew there was a problem and wanted to leave, but life happens and the parish goes on and maybe the next crisis will make us mad enough long enough to do something about it. The '4's' were always asking, "Are we leaving or are we going?" This meant, "Bishop are you going to lead us out? Or are we going to have to leave without you? These represented 20%.

     So, I had four options, as I saw it.  1) Retire. The diocese would immediately fracture and be swallowed up by TEC.  2) Announce retirement and stay for 18 month process of search and election of a new bishop. During this period TEC would come and "take me out."  3) Lead the diocese out. This would result in tying the matter up in endless lawsuits that could go on and on for who knows how long?" At this, he paused, looked down for a moment, and then looked up with a wry smile, at which the room erupted in laughter.  4) "Meet with the PB and try to negotiate. But the clergy back home didn't trust her. The Standing Committee made a resolution to disassociate if I were attacked. And that's what happened."

     "They (TEC) sued the Church Insurance Company and won a $5m settlement. When they pay their lawyers, they don't feel it. When we pay our lawyers, we do it with our own money and with great sacrifice. We know our struggle intimately we.."

My personal response:     As I was sitting there, I was not surprised by the spin. He left such gaping holes in the narrative that it's no wonder that TEC has been so successfully vilified in the minds of so many. All I could think of when he claimed to be in the middle trying to keep the diocese "in TEC and intact" (a phrase he used tirelessly) was "CHAPMAN MEMO, BARFOOT MEMO, CHAPMAN MEMO, BARFOOT MEMO, CHAPMAN MEMO, BARFOOT MEMO. You, sir, need to confess that you have been involved in and a leader of a long-running conspiracy to do harm to and replace the Episcopal Church as the Anglican identity in North America." I saw many people there whom I have known for decades and who greeted me warmly. I was saddened that they had been so thoroughly deprived of the truth.

Signed, "A priest in TEC who has served in this diocese for 30 years, and who is a Charleston native."


I must say a big "thank you" to these two reporters for describing so well what happened last evening. If I receive other reports, I will relay them.

Also, be sure to read Steve Skardon's report on last night's event at .

This ends Lawrence's whirlwind tour of the diocese from July 31 to August 9. At least we have a clearer picture now of the thinking among the DSC leadership at this point of the schism. As soon as I can, I will offer my analysis of Lawrence's talks.

One bit of news Lawrence offered last evening, I have confirmed:   Judge Richard Gergel has set the date of the federal case trial on or after March 1, 2019.