Saturday, September 8, 2018


It is Saturday, September 8. 

MUST READ. Steve Skardon has given us another eloquent missive on the state of the schism. He has written a long and thoughtful reply to a letter from the senior warden of St. Philip's, Charleston. I highly recommend it. Find it here .

We are now in the midst of an information campaign in the history of the schism. The general outline of the legal settlement has already formed. The courts have recognized Episcopal Church control over 29 parishes. In all likelihood, the courts are about to recognize the Church diocese as the legitimate and legal heir of the pre-schism diocese of South Carolina. This means that the 13,000 communicants in the 29 parishes have to choose whether to stay in the buildings and return to the Episcopal Church bishop or leave the buildings and form new congregations elsewhere. It may very well be that Judge Dickson will expedite the return of the properties at the hearing in late October. If not then, soon thereafter. It is just a matter of time.

The Lawrence diocese has been on a all-out campaign to convince the 13,000 communicants to leave the buildings when the time comes. However, they keep saying it is a longtime off in order to keep people contributing to lawyers. The DSC campaign started last December with a "template" on congregational relocation put out by the diocese and sent to the parishes. Then, in March, April, and May the diocesan leadership conducted two "teaching" courses on "theology" at St. Philip's and St. Michael's. This was nothing more than an anti-Episcopal Church propaganda campaign. This was videotaped, packaged, and sent to all of the parishes, many of which have replayed it in their localities. It is available online at the diocesan website. Lastly, in late July and early August, Bishop Lawrence made a five-stop speaking tour of the diocese proclaiming his view of the schism. A thousand people turned out for his performances.

In case anyone has forgotten, there is an exhaustive history of the schism that will tell you all you want to know about it. It is my book, A History of the Episcopal Church Schism in South Carolina. It is available from numerous vendors besides the bookshop at Grace Cathedral in Charleston. Amazon has it for as little as $10. 

The fourth professional review of my book was recently published in Church History, the premier scholarly journal of Christian history. You may find the first page of this review at the journal's website. It is in Volume 87, Issue 2 (June 2018), pages 645-647. Find the first page of the review here . The reviewer was Frank G. Kirkpatrick, professor emeritus of church history at Trinity College, in Connecticut. The review was laudatory:   "Caldwell provides us with what will surely become the definitive history of what went on in South Carolina..." In another place, he wrote:   "As a history, Caldwell's book is about as good as one can get in dissecting and laying out the story of a diocese in conflict with the larger body to which it was affiliated." I am happy to say that not one reviewer, indeed, not one person, has disputed a word of the book. No one has taken issue with anything I have written there. The criticisms have been stylistic, too long, too detailed, too much information, too many documents, repetitive. Actually, I do not see any of this as criticism. In short, the reader can have confidence that what is written in the book is trustworthy.

The 13,000 communicants would be wise to consider all the information available about how they got to where they are and what this means for their future. They should take what their self-serving officials are telling them with a grain of salt.

On another subject, membership. We now have the official membership figures from the Episcopal Church for 2007 to 2017. Find the charts here . Two points:

1---"Underground Pewster" said Upper South Carolina had fallen 19% in Average Sunday Attendance and asserted this was because of Bishop Waldo's promotion of a "false gospel." The official figures of baptized membership do show a decline in membership in Waldo's years of 2009-2017, but the amount is 8%, far from the drastic number claimed by "Pewster." The national church membership declined by about 18% in the last decade.

2---The Episcopal Church in South Carolina shows steady gain in membership, to 7,309 in 2017.

2013 - 5,781
2014 - 6,387
2015 - 6,706
2016 - 7.053
2017 - 7,309

2013-17, TECSC gained 26% in membership. As I have pointed out, the 50 local churches of the Lawrence diocese lost 33% of their communicant numbers around the time of the schism, 2011-2016.